Bit by bit, some parts of the world are reopening and the news about the Shanghai Disneyland getting reopened after being shut tight to curb off the spread of the Coronavirus is a good news. Disney is beginning to reopen its core business back to visitors this week but with mandatory usage of face mask and social distancing measures still in place.
Although the park had been shut off way back since January, after several weeks, the park will now be reopening with a maximum of 24,000 being allowed in the park daily which is a measure to keep visitors safe from contracting or spreading the COVID-19 disease. This number represents only 30% of the regular park’s capacity.
Reports has it that even though the number of visitors allowed are in thousands, fewer than the new mandatory number of visitors showed up on the first day and that the mood was muted as masked visitors were greeted by costumed cast Disney staffs shouting welcomes to the muted visitors probably due to face masks or just the psychological effects the pandemic has caused people altogether.
To ensure the safety of visitors, new health measures were introduced to the park. Masks are now mandatory as stated before for all guests and new bins have been dotted across the resort where old masks can be safely disposed. Guest also must have their temperature taken on arrival and be able to show an all-clear green QR code from Shanghai’s official diagnostic app.
Purple mats are also placed on the ground which show visitors how far apart to stand and alternate rows left empty on rollercoasters. Also, seats and safety bars are regularly disinfected while some interactive rides requires the usage of disposable gloves.
“We have a very dedicated team of custodial cleaners that we’ve increased the number of […] throughout the park that are constantly wiping down all the surfaces,” the SVP of operations at the resort, Andrew Bolstein, told CNN. “We’ll be able to strike that right balance between the safety and health and confident side, and then the magic that we’re able to deliver every day.”
The initial interaction between the costumed cast members (Disney employees) which includes meet and greet has now been changed to only poses for pictures fro afar. Many of the park’s more spectacular attractions, including parades, theater shows, and firework displays, have also been suspended to avoid a build-up of crowds.
This still might be like a pilot test whereby the company’s executives and staffs will get to monitor this reopening and the success of it could have a positive effect on future reopenings. The park staffs numbering 43,000 in total were furloughed from the Walt Disney World in Florida alone and the closure had cost the company a blow of nearly US$1 Billion.
Although there is nothing official about the reopening of other parks but the resort in US could be opened next afterwards. Shanghai Disney reopened gradually, with a nearby shopping mall containing Nike, Starbucks, and Lego stores opening in March, reports The New York Times. In what could be a similar sequence, the shopping mall in Florida’s Walt Disney World, Disney Springs, begins phased reopening on May 20th with limitations on visitor numbers.
The reopening according to Joe Schott who is the general manager of the Shanghai resort was going on smoothly and “So far, guests are being very, very respectful about social distancing,” Schott told the NYT. “It has been an emotional morning,” he said, but “[t]here is light at the end of the tunnel.”