May 6, 2020

With Shanghai Plan, Disney Offers Blueprint for Domestic Park Reopening

Could Disney’s Shanghai park’s guidelines for reopening be the blueprint for California and Florida parks?

Image Credit: Getty Images, Hu Chengwei

The Walt Disney Co. on Tuesday announced Shanghai Disneyland Park will reopen May 11. The sprawling Chinese destination was the first of the company’s parks to go idle in late January due to the coronavirus pandemic, while Disney’s parks in the U.S. have been closed since mid-March.

And while CEO Bob Chapek said on a Tuesday earnings call it was too soon to talk about the Anaheim and Orlando parks again welcoming guests, the company laid out exactly what Shanghai will undergo to reopen, which may give some insight into what’s to come domestically. 

“We know how much our guests have been looking forward to returning to Shanghai Disneyland, and our cast is excited to begin welcoming them back,” Chapek said Tuesday. “As the park reopens with significantly enhanced health and safety measures, our guests will find Shanghai Disneyland as magical and memorable as ever.”

For Shanghai, some of the new measures and procedures include: All guests will be required to pre-purchase admission tickets, no walk-ups. Once in the park, all guests (and employees) must wear a mask, except when dining. Guests will also have their temperature checked before entry. Ride queues (wait lines), restaurants and ride vehicles will be structured to promote social distancing, according to the company. Hand sanitizers will be placed at Shanghai queue entries and attraction exits. Likewise, high-touch areas (ride vehicles, handlebars, queue railings and turnstiles) will have increased sanitization. 

The Shanghai park has a capacity of 80,000 people, but under government restrictions, it must be capped at 30 percent, which is 24,000 visitors a day. Chapek noted the park would open with an unspecified capacity lower than the 30 percent, but after a few weeks, it would be increased to the 24,000-guest level. The Disney CEO made it clear during the Tuesday earnings call that no park would be reopened if it was forecasted to lose money, saying he believed there is plenty of “pent-up” demand. “If we open up 50 percent less (capacity), we won’t have trouble selling that,” said Chapek. “We will staff accordingly for whatever that level will be.” 

Last week, an Orange County, Florida, task force released its initial guidelines (expected to change and evolve) for reopening Walt Disney World in Orlando, which included that all employees be required to wear face masks; touchless hand sanitizer stations be placed at each ticketing entry, turnstile, ride/attraction entry and exit; staff be required to have a temperature check prior to shift; and all railing and surfaces wiped down regularly.

***This article was originally printed in The Hollywood Reporter, written by Ryan Parker. ***