Disney Mask Mandate May Return, Fatal Infection Spreading Through California Air

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Disney California Adventure beore a storm hits

Credit: rikioscamera / Flickr

If you have ever been to California or even Las Vegas, you know that the air is a lot drier than usual — especially compared to the humid climate of Walt Disney World. With California neighboring the desert state, it is not uncommon for residents to suffer from things like the Santa Ana Winds, a weather condition in southern California in which strong, hot, dust-bearing winds descend to the Pacific Coast around Los Angeles from inland desert regions.

This can make it very hard for people to breathe, with dust and dirt whipping through the air. Now, California has another air problem that they must deal with.

Credit: Disney

Lately, California has been dealing with rough weather conditions, which have strongly affected Disneyland Resort as a whole.

As reported by NBC before the storm, “The first tropical threat to the U.S. this season isn’t on the East Coast or in the Gulf of Mexico — it’s in Southern California. Tropical Storm Hilary formed Wednesday morning along Mexico’s western coast and is forecast to bring intense rain to Southern California early next week. If it makes landfall, it would become only the fourth storm of at least tropical storm strength to hit the area.”

The publication continued to expand on how the hurricane would get worse over time, “Conditions are favorable for Hilary to increase in intensity over the next two to three days. The National Hurricane Center forecasts the storm’s peak intensity Saturday morning as a Category 3 hurricane with 120 mph winds. The storm is expected to weaken soon after that due to cooler ocean temperatures and potential land interaction with Mexico’s Baja, just south of California. By Sunday, heavy rainfall is expected to reach Southern California and southwest Arizona.” Thankfully, since we are now living in the future, we know that the storm did not do any severe damage.

Disneyland After Dark
Credit: Disney

That being said, the hurricane did shut down Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure one hour earlier than usual for precautions. 

Now, in California, another villain is in the air.

California health officials are warning of a potential increased risk of valley fever, a respiratory disease caused by fungus that grows in soil across many parts of the state.

The SF Gate reported, “This winter’s heavy rains may have caused an increase in the growth of the Coccidioides fungus, which causes valley fever, the California Department of Public Health announced in a press release. Valley fever occurs when dust containing the fungus is inhaled, leading to respiratory symptoms that can turn severe or even fatal.”

Pixar Pier at Disney California Adventure
Credit: Disney

Most cases of valley fever occur in California’s Central Valley, but rates of the disease have been increasing in areas along the Central Coast and in Southern California, according to CDPH data. Kern County has the highest rates of valley fever in the state, with 2,819 cases reported in 2021. With Disneyland located in Southern California, and this infectious disease picking up steam, the theme park and its guests may be at a higher risk.

“Breathing in even a small dose of the fungus can lead to infection. CDPH does recommend measures for reducing exposure to dirt and dust to help prevent valley fever, including keeping car windows closed and using recirculating air, if available when driving through areas where valley fever is common,” CDPH said.

Main Street, Town Square at Disneyland
Credit: Disney

It is now being recommended for residents to wear N95 masks in dusty areas, keep windows and doors closed during periods of windy weather, and wet down soil before digging to prevent stirring up dust in the air.

Related: Disney World Enters State of Emergency as Hurricane Approaches

At the moment, Disneyland has not instated a mask mandate for guests, but if the air quality continues to pose a threat, this can certainly be something we see more guests take part in for their safety, We still continue to see mask-wear since COVID-19 and the pandemic at Disneyland.

Deadly Disease at Walt Disney World

After COVID-19 and the pandemic, the last thing anyone wants to hear about is a new virus. Unfortunately, that is the case and a growing worry for many Floridians right now, as a mosquito infection is carrying a deathly variant that may put you in harm’s way. The location of this infestation that has just recently arrived in America may also put those traveling to Orlando to visit Disney World, the most magical place on earth, at risk.

Here is what you need to know and how to stay safe.

Guests look on inside the Magic Kingdom besides the Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse statue, Partners, at Walt Disney World Resort
Credit: Walt Disney World Resort

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the world shut down, including Walt Disney World. This was the longest shutdown in Walt Disney World Resort history and forced the company to suffer a financial loss, which they are still attempting to rebuild. Now, another issue is at hand.

Disney World reopened to Guests in July 2020 and has remained open since, along with a majority of the state. Because of this, Florida became, more than ever, one of the most sought-after states to visit because it had the most activities and sense of “normalcy” to offer, all while keeping safe. Walt Disney World Resort even became the most searched vacation destination!

Now, it seems a new virus has been found in Florida, and it is being caused by a bug bite. Florida health officials are warning residents about the risks of mosquito-borne illnesses after five cases of dengue fever were reported this month in a part of the United States where locally acquired cases are rare.

Disney VIP Tour
Credit: Disney

Of course, this can drive fear into guests at Walt Disney World, as their vacation plans may now put them in harms way.

As we have reported, “Dengue is a viral infection found mostly in tropical and subtropical climates, and mostly in urban or semi-urban areas. It is transmitted by female Aedes mosquitoes that have bitten a person infected with the virus.”

There are four dengue viruses listed by the CDC, and a person can be infected with dengue four times over their lifetime as the post-recovery immunity is type-specific. A second infection with a different stereotype of the virus than the first increases the risk of severe illness. (A possible fifth dengue virus has been reported, but not confirmed.)

If bit by a mosquito carrying the virus, symptoms will show up within a couple of days. Normal symptoms include fever, nausea, headaches, vomiting, muscle and joint pain. There are also more severe cases which will result in internal bleeding, shock and organ failure. It is sometimes called break-bone fever because of the severity of the muscle spasms and joint pain it can cause.

Guests walking down Main Street, U.S.A. in Walt Disney World Resort
Credit: Lee (myfrozenlife), Flickr

Although Dengue does not typically cause death, it can, much like we saw with COVID-19. The virus is not common in the United States, but with cases popping up slowly, it seems that these mosquitos are, unfortunately, taking a liking to the hot climate that surrounds Disney World.

There are now 215 confirmed cases in Florida. About 500 million people in the Americas, including Costa Rica and Cancun, are at risk of dengue in 2023.

Since October 30, 2022, two dengue vaccines have been authorized in various countries. New market research forecasts an 11.7% annual growth rate through 2030, indicating dengue vaccines could become a $1.2 billion market segment. About 100 million people get sick, and 40,000 die of severe dengue around the world each year.

Unfortunately, in addition to dengue, seven locally acquired malaria cases have been reported in Florida this year. Malaria is also a mosquito-transmitted disease.

A family enjoying the International Food and Wine Festival's offerings at the Mexico Pavilion in EPCOT
Credit: Walt Disney World Resort

The only definite way to know if you have the virus is through blood testing, which varies from place to place. The general recommendation is to do a PCR test, if your symptoms started within a week or less.

The best thing that you can do to protect yourself is to wear insect repellent when outside. These mosquitos like to be around people, so Walt Disney World Resort may be a potential breeding ground for the bugs.

How Will Disney Protect You?

Disney actually does well when it comes to keeping mosquitos out of their theme parks. Florida is surrounded by moist swamp ground, which is typically a haven for mosquitos. But, while walking around the Magic Kingdom, you may realize that nothing is really biting you.

Mosquitos lay their eggs in standing, stagnant water. This is why the swampland was the perfect breeding ground for mosquitos. So Disney knew that getting rid of any standing water was the first step in eliminating the pests altogether. Therefore, the building of drainage ditches throughout the park grounds would be created to remove any water before it could pool into areas and become stagnant.

Typhoon Lagoon Castaway Creek
Credit: Disney

It’s nearly unnoticeable by guests unless they’re really looking for it, but water inside the parks is always on the move. It’s either at the bottom of the 50-foot waterfall at the retired Splash Mountain, now Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, in Frontierland (Magic Kingdom) where it is constantly moving, thanks to the splashing that erupts as the log flumes descend the side of the mountain, or it’s located in an area where there are one or more fountains that keep the water churning.

Disney Mosquitoes
Credit: Disney

There are no areas of standing water in the parks, which makes it nearly impossible for mosquitos to lay their eggs.

Invasive Murder Hornets at Disney World

When guests go to Walt Disney World, they certainly expect to be “attacked” in a few ways.

You will be attacked by hugs from Mickey Mouse; you will be attacked by the salty scent of popcorn each time you walk by a popcorn kart and contemplate if you need another popcorn bucket, you will be attacked by crowds because even when it’s not too busy, it’s still a lot busier than you may expect, you will be attacked by the temptation to try all of the new delicious and themed snacks, and, you will surely be attacked by the desire to buy all the merchandise your luggage can carry. Another pair of Mickey ears? Yes, please.

A crowd of people on Main Street, U.S.A., watching the flag ceremony in front of Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World.
Credit: Disney Parks Blog

Now, the Sun Sentinel is reporting that a hornet attack is heading to Florida.

The publication reported, “Earlier this month, a backyard beekeeper in Savannah spotted two yellow-legged wasps, a species dreaded by beekeepers across the world.

Authorities swooped in and confirmed the finding to be the first live, wild specimen of the yellow-legged hornet detected in the U.S. The state quickly issued a rather stern warning: “It is imperative that these invasive pests are tracked and eradicated.”

Officials are worried because “the invasive hornets love to eat honey bees and their larvae, as well as other pollinator insects that are crucial to the state’s large agriculture industry”. Savannah is just 120 miles from the Florida border, and now Florida officials are worried, too.

Tree of Life at Disney's Animal Kingdom Park in Walt Disney World Resort
Credit: Disney

These “murder hornets” are over one inch big and love to hunt. It seems they like to attack bees, but if a human got in the way, you bet that they will be leaving their mark there as well.

Flesh-Eating Bacteria Heads for Disney Waters

Just near Disney World, flesh-eating bacteria is being discovered.

Fox News stated, “Five people are confirmed dead in the Tampa Bay area because of a flesh-eating bacterium known to lurk at beaches, Florida officials reported.” Tampa Bay is located just a short drive away from Walt Disney World Resort and is home to Busch Gardens. The city serves as a popular tourist destination for travelers, and does have some of the closest beaches to Walt Disney World, making it a frequently visited location for guests with their own cars.

Typhoon Lagoon
Credit: Disney

It seems, “the vibrio vulnificus bacterium’s natural habitat is in warm, brackish seawater because it requires salt to live. The bacteria typically grow more quickly in warmer months. Infections are rare, but health officials say those with open wounds, cuts or scrapes should stay out of the water.”

The publication continued, “Five people have died this year from reported bacterial infections, including two in Hillsborough County and one each in Pasco, Polk and Sarasota counties. There have been 26 reported cases of vibrio vulnificus infections in Florida since January, officials said.”

When attacked, the bacterium can invade the bloodstream, causing a severe life-threatening illness with symptoms including fever, chills, decreased blood pressure and blistering skin lesions. There were 17 reported deaths from this flesh-eating bacteria if Florida last year. Those who contract the bacteria may pass within a day or two of having it, but that average is one in five.

Typhoon Lagoon
Credit: Disney

Vibrio vulnificus can also cause disease in people who eat raw or undercooked oysters and shellfish, but luckily, it has never been reported to have contaminated any shellfish on Walt Disney World property.

The virus has not made its way to any Walt Disney World body of water that we know of, and cannot be transmitted from person to person. That being said, when people come to Disney for a vacation, many tend to leave the Disney bubble to explore other areas of the state, like Universal Orlando Resort just down the road or the tropical and stunning beaches.

As we mentioned, the Tampa Bay area houses some of the closest bodies of water, which means that anyone who is traveling to Disney World but also is looking to enjoy the beach should take proper precautions at all times.

Disney's Typhoon Lagoon
Credit: Disney

If going to the beach is a safety risk you do not want to take, visitors can always visit Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon, which is a water park that creates a mock beach, or they can stay at one of the more tropical Disney hotels like Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort or Disney’s Polynesian Resort, both of which have sand that looks out over the water. That being said, the water is not swimmable due to potential alligator threats.

In the past, we had seen dangerous bacteria enter Disney water park waters at River Country, the now shut-down water park, which caused one guest to die. This has not happened since, but it is proof that no matter how many safety protocols are put into place, Disney may not always be safe from harm.

Is Disney World Safe?

EPCOT at Walt Disney World Resort
Credit: Disney

In conclusion, although it may seem terrifying to read about all of the things ongoing at the Disney Parks at the moment that can affect you as a guest, the parks will only operate if they know they can do so safely. We have seen the theme parks shut down due to hurricanes in the past to protect guests, and of course, the COVID-19 pandemic kept all of the Disney theme parks completely shut down. This just proves that when a closure is needed, the theme parks and the Walt Disney Company will take action.

Have you ever been scared of traveling to a Disney Park?

If you are looking to visit Walt Disney World Resort for a magical vacation, the Walt Disney World Website can be a great tool to begin planning your trip! You can begin exploring their theme parks: Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and EPCOT. You can also take a look at their water parks where you can splash around in the chill of Disney’s Blizzard Beach (alongside new Frozen characters, Anna, Elsa, Sven, and Kristoff), or hit the waves at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon. When you get hungry or want to go shopping, Disney Springs is the place to be, especially with World of Disney there ready to help you pick up some souvenirs! You can also begin looking for your Disney World Resort! If you are looking to stay at a Deluxe monorail Resort like Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa or a Value Resort where you can hop on the Skyliner like Disney’s Pop Century Resort, it is always fun to begin looking for a room that would best suit you and your party. Plus, it has all the information you need to know on Disney Genie+ so that you will be ready to go on your My Disney Experience app once you download it! Click here to check it out today.

Or, are you looking to visit Disneyland? Considering Disneyland, located in Anaheim, California, is the first ever theme park, and the only one that Walt Disney himself was able to walk through, it holds a magical spot in all of our Disney-loving hearts. Seeing Sleeping Beauty Castle is a picture-perfect moment; there is so much to do! When it comes to attractions, Guests can enjoy the spooky adventures in The Haunted Mansion during the year and Haunted Mansion Holiday (featuring the characters from Nightmare Before Christmas) during the holiday season. Pirates of the Caribbean will take you on a swashbuckling journey, and Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain provide thrills like no other. Classic rides like Matterhorn Bobsleds, Storybook Land Canal Boats, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and Snow White’s Enchanted Wish are a must, and dining is excellent with stand-out locations like Blue Bayou and Carnation Cafe. Want to start booking so you can see Mickey Mouse in his home in Toontown? The Disneyland website has everything you need to know about the Disneyland app, hotels, tickets, and the Disney Genie+ service. Click here to check it out. 

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