Disney Springs partially reopens with new safety procedures in place

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — About one-fourth of the stores and shops at Disney Springs reopened Wednesday, an exciting step forward for guests, business owners and employees.

The Polite Pig was one of the 44 shops and eateries that opened on the first day back.

“I honestly think this is going to work out well for us at Disney Springs,” said James Petrakis, owner of The Polite Pig. “We have a good amount of outdoor seating and people seem very into that right now."


Disney took the lead by setting ground rules, requiring temperature checks and face coverings for anyone 3 years or older.

“You have people not wearing them correctly, but … other guests are saying something to them 9 times out of 10,” said Shelley Caran, who runs the blog On the Go in MCO.

Even as temperatures reached the 90s, Disney Springs visitor Geo Zaroff said wearing a masking “doesn’t really bother me that much.”

He said he kept his on until sitting down to eat with his mom and sister.

“I felt safer there than going to my local Publix or something,” Zaroff said.

Floor markings will also ensure social distancing. Hand sanitizer stations were also set up.

Click here to read what safety precautions Disney Springs is taking

Petrakis said The Polite Pig is taking additional steps. There’s limited indoor seating and more outside seating.

“We put plexiglass around the register to protect our employees and the guests,” he said.

Business was solid on reopening day, Petrakis said.

“We’ve been full for most of the day,” he said. “When I say full, I mean that’s relative to the restrictions and social distancing.”

Visitors said despite of the new rules, there’s still magic in Orlando.

“We need some magic right now,” Zaroff said.

LIVE UPDATES: Orlando’s major theme parks expected to reveal planned reopening dates tomorrow

Outside of Disney Springs, Uber and Lyft driver Juliann Hugh said she would go to Disney Springs “just for curiosity.”

She said she wasn’t going to Disney Springs on Wednesday but was hoping to get ride-share clients.

She hadn’t had any as of Wednesday afternoon, but said she’s “hoping for one.”

Petrakis, who also owns The Ravenous Pig in Winter Park and Cask and Larder, said Disney Springs’ resurgence could only mean good things for Central Florida’s economy.

“I think it's going to be a local crowd to begin, but I think it will show the rest of the country, ‘Hey, Orlando's slowly coming back, Disney's coming back,’” Petrakis said. “It's not going anywhere.”

Disney said it plans to study how Wednesday and the rest of reopening goes, adjust signage and using that for when the parks reopen. No date has been announced yet.

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Cierra Putman

Cierra Putman, WFTV.com

Cierra Putman flew south to join Eyewitness News in July 2016.

Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.