Disney World Criticized for Throwing Massive Celebration Ahead of Coronavirus-Inspired Closure

This is not how to do social distancing.


Image via Getty/Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service


Disney World, due to its status as a wildly popular gathering spot for those looking to simply enjoy life despite the bullshit, announced last week that it would be temporarily closing its doors amid growing national efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19. Photos and video from Sunday night, however, have both perplexed and angered many as it would appear that social distancing recommendations were not followed in the slightest as a crowd assembled for a sendoff of sorts.

Swaths of people showed up to catch the Magic Kingdom's final fireworks show before the kickoff of the temporary closure, which is currently expected to last through at least the end of the month. PerUSA Today, Disney World President Josh D'Amaro was also in attendance, notably rocking a Mickey glove.

Here's the scene from Main Street USA tonight as Walt Disney World President Josh D'Amaro is joined by beloved Disney characters to say goodbye to guests (biggest cheers for Big Al and Wendell!) pic.twitter.com/O0YFpy29XA

— BlogMickey.com (@Blog_Mickey) March 16, 2020

Cast members took part in the gathering, with one commenting on Twitter that the evening also marked a "celebration of the thousands of Disney College Program participants" who were affected by the closure.

Hundreds of Cast Members, myself included, are here to say goodbye to the Magic Kingdom and Walt Disney World for the time being. But, this is also a celebration of the thousands of Disney College Program participants who had their program ended suddenly this weekend. We ❤️ you! pic.twitter.com/DObaspj5fF

— Tharin White (@TharinWhite) March 16, 2020

"We are proceeding with the closure of our theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and Disneyland Paris Resort, beginning at the close of business on Sunday, March 15, through the end of the month," a Disney World rep originally announced last week. 

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However, many concerned citizens were quick to add some societal context to Sunday's sendoff proceedings, particularly amid a growing number of areas around the country that are implementing measures to temporarily close bars, restaurants, and other entertainment venues due to novel coronavirus fears.

In NYC, for example, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that—starting this Tuesday—restaurants, bars, and cafes will only be allowed to serve take-out and delivery. "Nightclubs, movie theaters, small theater houses, and concert venues must all close," he said.

And in Florida, the home of Disney World, mayors and other regional leaders have been advising residents to practice social distancing by staying at home as often as possible. This, of course, is why the photos and footage of Sunday night's final brouhaha were met with widespread condemnation:

why am I the only one who sees this as a public health nightmare.

None of these ppl are tested.
all of these people are touching each other, breathing the same air.
now they're going to go on a plane
into a crowded airport
and then to their home town
bringing with them pathogens

— Dr. Christopher Gennari (@profgennari) March 16, 2020

This was Disneyworld tonight. And also exhibit a as to why we are toast. Baffling stupidityand irresponsible! #CoronavirusOutbreak pic.twitter.com/GzxvycbVUD

— TreyLA 🌎🌎🌎 (@treyinla) March 16, 2020

This is the dumbest thing I’ve seen in a long long time

— Kelsey Rae (@Kel_C_Rae) March 16, 2020

Disney World throws a goodbye party last night. Characters practice social distancing. Thousands of people? Nope. 🤷‍♂️ pic.twitter.com/8XJgIddjVW

— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) March 16, 2020

Everyone: omg Disney is going to be empty, you won’t have any lines because of the virus
Reality: everyday has been pack!! #DisneyWorld pic.twitter.com/vNPpGaqJFY

— a. (@___ama3) March 15, 2020

Are you fucking kidding me?? https://t.co/I568XuhCpF

— Abigail Disney (@abigaildisney) March 16, 2020

Even Abigail Disney, a documentary filmmaker whose great uncle was the late Walt Disney, was appalled:

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