The Happiest Place on Earth may soon be welcoming visitors again. On Wednesday, Disney CEO Bob Chapek announced that Shanghai Disneyland will reopen on May 11. Following the announcement, Disney Parks Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pamela Hymel shared new plans Disney is exploring for reopening its US locations, which closed indefinitely in March.
One of the new safety measures is phased reopening. This means Disney will begin by gradually and partially reopening certain locations, meaning retail and dining areas will likely open before theme parks.
If you've ever been to a Disney theme park, especially during peak days, you know how packed it can get and how crucial FastPasses are. On a normal day at Disneyland, park attendance is 65,000 people, according to Walt Disney Imagineering director Kim Irvine. So physical distancing and capacity measures are major focuses as Disney prepares to reopen. Dr. Hymel says that Disney will implement physical distancing guidelines based on guidance from health authorities, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and appropriate government agencies.
The new measures will likely include a guest capacity based on state and federal guidelines. Disney is also exploring ways technology can help with social distancingexperiments in this arena include using virtual queues at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
Other new measures include increased cleaning of high traffic areas. Disney will follow guidelines from the medical community and the government for enhanced screening procedures and prevention measures; this means guests will likely need face coverings. Disney Parks have already implemented new measures such as installing hand sanitizers and hand washing stations. Disney is also planning on providing new training for cast members.
While Disneyland and Disney World are accepting reservations starting June 1, there still isn't an official reopening date for either park. Overall, Disney has been hit hard by the ongoing pandemic. According to the Associated Press, its second quarter profit dropped 91 percent, and the company said its costs from the pandemic cut its pretax profit by $1.4 billion.
Shanghai Disneyland has sold out all tickets for May 11. The theme park said that all tickets were snapped up in a matter of minutes after sales commenced at 8 am on Friday.
Advance ticketing and reservations are required to enter the park during the initial phase of reopening. The park has not officially announced the number of visitors allowed at this stage. Bob Chapek said on Wednesday that it will start running at a capacity far below the government's suggested cap of around 24,000 visitors.
The park said that it will introduce a bevy of measures including social distancing, mask wearing and enhanced disinfection to ensure the safety of visitors.