Physical distancing has been phased out on certain Walt Disney World rides, despite the COVID-19 pandemic being far from over. 

As reported by Attractions magazine, for several weeks Disney has been loading every row on rides with “high backs” on seats, such as Expedition Everest and Slinky Dog Dash. Disney said this was done with the support of local health officials because the “high back” seats create a physical divider between guests. 

However, the change is not exclusive to those rides. Blog Mickey reported Tuesday that there are no longer empty seats between guests on Avatar Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom, putting parties together nearly elbow-to-elbow on the attraction. 

Universal Orlando had begun sitting riders in every row on roller coasters back in September. Other COVID-19 safeguards, such as face mask requirements and encouraging distancing in queues, remain in place. 

The Orlando Sentinel reported Tuesday that Central Florida are reporting about half as many patients as the mid-July peak in hospitalizations, but health officials say the same efforts to limit COVID-19 transmission are still necessary. 

“You have to be on a high level of alert,” Dr. Antonio Crespo, medical director of infectious diseases at Orlando Health, told the Sentinel. “I know it’s been a long year, but I always say that this is a marathon and we are only half-way through.”

Joe Rohde traces his Imagineering career in new interview 

In an interview with the Orange County Register, departing Disney Imagineer Joe Rohde reflected on his 40-year career with the company.

The article covered everything from Animal Kingdom to Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission:Breakout, but also touched on how Rohde doesn’t want to be remembered as “a rage against the machines kind of guy.”

“That is not the lesson I want to leave,” he said. “I very much believe that creative people succeed best when they step forward and lay claim to the most adult role in the room.”

Knott’s offering takeout menu from Taste of Merry Farm

California’s COVID-19 surge led to the cancellation of Knott’s Taste of Merry Farm, but guests can get a tiny taste of that event. 

Guests can visit the Cable Car Kitchen just outside the gates of Knott’s Berry Farm for a select to-go menu from the canceled food festival. Some of the available items include turkey bites, beef empanadas and brussel sprouts gumbo.

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