PHOTOS: Shanghai Disneyland Reopens, Offering a Glimpse at Very Different Park Experience
Face masks, temperature checks, social distancing mats and more are all in store for new visitors
Shanghai Disneyland has officially reopened — and it certainly looks different than it did pre-coronavirus.
Disney announced on Tuesday that the Chinese park — the company's largest international location — would be reopening its gates on Monday, May 11, for the first time in over three months. Tickets for the first few days sold out immediately on Friday morning after becoming available to the public on the park's website.
Joe Schott, the president and general manager of Shanghai Disney Resort, shared that the park would be opening under "enhanced health and safety measures," and warned that "some things will look a little different," in the announcement on Tuesday.
Photos from the park’s opening day support Schott’s statement, as new social distancing protocols are put into action.
Guests are now required to wear face coverings, and temperature screenings are being taken at the entrance to the park. There will be limits on the number of visitors inside the park, allowing only 30 percent of its normal capacity. Guests are also being given staggered entry times, to minimize the number of people waiting to enter the park.
To keep people apart, colorful mats on the ground indicate where guests should stand while they are waiting in lines and watching performances (which have also been limited), and employees hold signs reminding people to maintain a “respectful social distance” from others at all times.
Social distancing is also being practiced on rides and attractions.
Some rides have entire rows of seats blocked off, while some coasters are allowing only one person per vehicle unless they are from the same party. Gloves are now required for several rides that require the use of your hands, like Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue.
“For myself – and for our Shanghai Disney Resort cast members, who have taken great care to prepare the park for our guests – this is a very special moment,” wrote Schott in a blog post on Monday. “Making magic means even more to us today, as we reflect on the resilience of our community; our wonderful cast members who worked so diligently to preserve the park during the closure; the enthusiasm of our guests and fans; and, of course, the determination and dedication of the medical workers and first responders who helped to make this possible.”
“For Shanghai Disney Resort, while this is a key step in our phased reopening, there are many more milestones to come for us and our sister parks around the world,” he continued.
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Disney is also exploring a potential phased reopening of its U.S. theme parks after Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida were closed indefinitely in March.
Disney Parks’ chief medical officer Dr. Pamela Hymel wrote in a blog post on May 5 that the company is considering “how best to begin the reopening process, including a gradual reopening and/or partial reopening of certain locations."
On May 7, they announced that Disney Springs in Orlando will begin a phased reopening on May 20, though the rest of Walt Disney World — including theme parks and resort hotels — will remain closed for now. The shopping and dining destination will be the first Disney location in the U.S. to open back up.
The practices currently in place in Shanghai are similar to what the U.S. parks may do, according to Hymel.
"As you can imagine, managing guest density in queues, restaurants, hotels, ride vehicles and other facilities throughout the park and across the resort is a major focus, as we implement physical distancing guidelines based on guidance from health authorities, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and appropriate government agencies," Hymel wrote.
Other new procedures Disney is considering to roll out include "increased cleaning and disinfection" of high-traffic areas and "screening and prevention support" for guests.
According to the company, health measures such as adding hand sanitizers and handwashing stations across its parks "have already been implemented."
Disney's theme parks and cruise businesses have been severely impacted by the coronavirus crisis. The company reported a 58 percent drop in operating income for 2020's second quarter, compared to the same period last year, during a call with analysts on May 5, according to CNBC. Disney also said that it estimated that $1 billion of revenue has been lost due to park closures.