From Disneyland’s “Black Sunday” to Orlando’s Pandemic Reopening, Here’s a Look at the Theme Parks’ Not-So-Magical Moments

The Mad Tea Party: Making adults regret last night’s drinks since 1955. Credit: Loomis Dean/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

As the COVID-19 pandemic swells in Florida, what we’re told is pixie dust is still spreading smiles (and maybe something else) to eager guests visiting Orlando’s Walt Disney World Resort, which recently reopened after a four-month closure. Is the situation in the Sunshine State really that bad? Well, as of Tuesday, July 15, roughly 19,334 people are hospitalized across the state — beds are full and resources are strained — and, on that same day, a record 132 COVID-19 patients died, making it the single deadliest day in Florida so far.

Meanwhile, cases of COVID-19 are spiking again in Southern California as well, delaying the reopening of Anaheim’s Disneyland. Coincidentally, Walt Disney’s first-ever theme park turns 65 on July 17, 2020 and, normally, guests streaming into the park to celebrate the anniversary would be greeted by a plaque that reads: "Here you leave today/ and enter the world of/ yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy." In the wake of the pandemic, the inherent escapism in the words takes on a more foreboding tone, especially as guests queue up for hours and hours for the chance to purchase anniversary-themed items from the World Of Disney Store, a shop located just outside of the park’s locked gates.

As Walt Disney World Resort teeters on the precipice of near-disaster, and as fans risk it all for Disney-themed face masks nearby California’s landmark park, we can’t look back at Disneyland’s opening day without discussing the parks’ current climates too. Have your FastPasses (and E Tickets) ready as we take a look at some of the parks' not-so-magical moments.