Disney’s theme parks, shopping complexes, and hotels around the world have been closed for the longest period in the company’s history. Its newest park, Shanghai Disneyland, closed at the end of January. By mid-March, all the media mogul’s theme parks around the world had been shut down.
However, there seems to be a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. CEO Bob Chapek announced on a Tuesday earnings call that Shanghai Disneyland is set to reopen Monday, May 11. This is the first park to reopen, with the others still closed indefinitely – but it looks to be a first step to parks around the globe starting the slow process of opening to the public once again.
A number of new rules have been put in place for guests and employees at the theme park starting Monday. These include guests and employees being required to wear face masks when in the park except when dining, and touchless hand sanitation stations added to the park entrance and all queue entrances and attraction exits. All guests will get their temperature checked before being admitted to the park. All dining areas, attractions, and lines will be set up with social distancing in mind and high touch areas (vehicles for rides, handlebars, turnstiles, and railings) will be constantly sanitized.
More Rules For A New Disney Experience
All guests will also be required to pre-purchase their tickets, meaning no walk ups. Tickets went on sale Friday, May 8, and were sold out for opening day and the weekend of May 16 and 17 before the day was over. While this is likely tied to people wanting to visit a park that has been closed for over three months, it is also probably tied to the reduced capacity. Shanghai Disneyland’s total capacity is 80,00 people and the China government capped the capacity for the park when reopening at 30% or 24,000.
Disney is beginning the reopening at an undisclosed capacity lower than 30%. In the next few weeks, assuming everything runs smoothly, they will build up to the allotted 30%. This lower capacity will allow guests to visit the park with much shorter wait times for attractions, which could be another reason for the tickets quickly being sold out.
Shanghai Disneyland reopening is in no small part due to China’s ability to steeply flatten the curve. At this point most consumer-based businesses, aside from movie theaters and many live entertainment venues, have been able to open their doors and resume business. In more than three weeks, there have been no new deaths from COVID-19 and only 260 people remain in hospital due to the disease.
Chapek has made it clear that parks would only reopen if they wouldn’t be losing money by doing so. Hopefully the Shanghai Disneyland reopening will go smoothly and reclosure won’t be an issue. This will likely be a blueprint for how other parks will reopen in the future as well, assuming it is successful.
Meanwhile, In Florida…
Shanghai Disneyland is not the only part of the grand reopening. According to the official Parks Blog, the Disney Springs shopping complex in Walt Disney World resort in Florida will also be partially reopening. It was announced on Thursday that the center would begin a phased reopening on May 20.
Similar to Shanghai Disneyland, new safety measures will be put into place to try and keep employees and guests healthy. This phased opening will be following guidance of government and health officials. The first phase will include the opening of some third party owned restaurants and stores and will likely include similar guidelines to those required in Shanghai Disneyland. Requiring face masks, social distancing in lines, increasing sanitization, minimal contact services, and additional safety training for the employees.
In more positive news, Disneyland hotels in Anaheim, CA are now beginning to take reservations this summer starting July 1 even though there is still no set date for when Disneyland, California Adventure, or Downtown Disney shopping center will open. This could indicate that the company is hoping to reopen this summer, though. A lot of this is likely riding on the success of the phased reopenings of Shanghai Disneyland and Florida’s Disney Springs. Hopefully all goes according to plan.
How do you think the phased reopening will go? Do you think it is too early to be reopening, or do you think the safety measures put in place will be enough? Are you excited for the parks to reopen? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or on our social media.
Sources: The Hollywood Reporter