Taking people’s temperature before entering a Walt Disney World theme park is a good idea. I know that not everyone who has COVID-19 has a fever, but many do. If taking temperatures stops just one person from getting sick I am all for the inconvenience. That said, the system is not perfect. I discovered that for myself when I went to Epcot on August 8.
Let me state right off that I had no symptoms of Coronavirus, and I have not been around anyone who has been exposed. I wouldn’t go to Walt Disney World with a cold, let alone a deadly virus. So please don’t think that I should have stayed home. And yes, the story has a happy ending.
It is always hot in the summer in Florida, but this is 2020, and it has been especially brutal. On August 8 I was able to obtain a last minute Disney Park Pass reservation for Epcot, so I headed to the park in the early afternoon. I parked in Create, which is not one of the two closer areas. The sun was relentless, and I am fair skinned. I did not wear a hat (please don’t tell my parents!) and sunscreen does not keep your skin temperature down. I could feel my skin temperature rising as I walked towards the Temperature Check area, and I had a feeling that I was going to have a problem.
Temperature Check is run by Advent Health, who has been contracted by Walt Disney World. The people running it are not Cast Members. Still, I have yet to come across one who has not been pleasant. A young man held the thermometer to my forehead. He said, “Let me try this again.” He tried three times total, and I was not surprised when he told me that I would have to wait.
A Cast Member went with me to where the two cool down tents are located. We made small talk while I tried to keep the sun off of my forehead. There was already someone in one of the tents, and there was no one working in the other. I was not the only one who had a problem. By the time I got into the tent, there were at least six groups in a line behind me.
It’s only one party at a time in the tent. I was there by myself, but if one person in a group has a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher the whole group will wait in the tent together. There is very cold water available, and there’s a fan and probably AC in the tent. It was quite a bit cooler in there. The woman who was working there from Advent Health said that I could remove my mask if I wanted to. We chatted a little bit, and she admitted that it had been a busy day for them because the sun was so bright.
After about a minute I could tell that my skin had already cooled off, and I guess I wasn’t bright red anymore (I get very red in the sun). She took my skin temperature. I passed, so I left, and the next group entered the tent. The whole process for me took maybe five minutes out of my day. With only one tent available, though, the people behind me had to wait quite a bit longer.
If someone does not pass the second temperature check, that person and the rest of his or her party will not be allowed in the park. Hopefully taking temperatures will not only help slow the spread of COVID-19, it will make parents think during cold and flu season. I’ve seen kids at Walt Disney World who were sick and miserable, but their parents still didn’t postpone their vacations. (This is why I carried hand sanitizer to the parks long before it was a trend.) Knowing that they might not be allowed in the park could keep some families home, and let their kids get the rest that they need.
The rest of the day was great. Some highlights are that I saw Winnie the Pooh three different times, and I bought a Spike the Bee sipper. He’s now proudly displayed in my home. I told you that there was a happy ending.