For over three months, Shanghai Disneyland theme park has remained closed to guests due to the COVID-19 crisis. (Some of the retail and dining establishments have re-opened in accordance with social distancing while the attraction remained closed.) But today, during Disney’s Q2 FY20 earnings call, we finally received word that the theme park will officially re-open its gates on May 11! While this is exciting news, the resort will, of course, undergo some drastic policy and procedure changes in order to safeguard the health and wellbeing of its guests and cast.
These new policies include:
- Guest capacity will be severely limited. In order to achieve this as seamlessly as possible, guests will need to purchase dated admission tickets before approaching the gate. General admission tickets will no longer be accepted. Annual Passholders will need to make online reservations for their preferred visit date.
- Guests will need to undergo temperature screenings.
- All guests will be required to wear a face mask during their entire visit (unless they are eating).
- Fireworks, parades, and character meet and greets will not occur until further notice. There will be character appearances in appropriately themed places, but they will not be available for close interaction. Face characters will not wear masks. There will still be a light and music show (Evening Magical Moments) at the Enchanted Storybook Castle each night.
- Social distancing will be practiced in all queue lines and in other areas throughout the park.
- In accordance with Chinese government guidelines, all guests will need to submit their health QR code and proper identification.
While no official opening date or changed procedures were disclosed for the Orlando parks, we can make an educated guess that at least some of these guidelines would be utilized stateside. For example, a dated ticketing/reservation system would certainly simplify the logistics of opening a popular theme park at a low capacity. Do I want Passholders to have to “reserve” a date to visit the parks? Of course not. But as a temporary solution, it would avoid crowded gates and parking lots due to pent-up demand.
Additionally, I can definitely see Walt Disney World re-opening without fireworks, parades, or character meet and greets. While these things would certainly be missed, they aren’t necessary for a fun day at the park. Appropriate character “appearances” throughout the park would still preserve some of that Disney magic without putting either the cast or guest at risk.
Chapek has already alluded to guest temperature screenings in previous interviews. While I understand this sounds cumbersome, most guests are already going through a security line. Bag check is something we have all accepted as part of the theme park experience. I’m sure we can easily adapt to a temperature screening as well.
Of course, we will have to wait for future announcements to learn any concrete details about Walt Disney World. While there have been circulating rumors about a May 11th opening for Universal CityWalk, neither park has made any official statement concerning the re-opening of its shopping, dining, hotels, or theme parks.