Earlier today, The Walt Disney Company announced that Shanghai Disneyland Resort would be reopening on May 11, just under a week. Of course, many fans have had questions about what that will look like as there is still uncertainty in the world about COVID-19. This afternoon, Dr. Pamela Hymel, Disney Parks Chief Medical Officer, has given some insight into what the “new normal” will look like in Disney Parks around the world.
Here are the changes that Dr. Pam has announced.
- Phased reopening: We’re looking at all of our locations and how best to begin the reopening process, including a gradual reopening and/or partial reopening of certain locations. For example, the opening of retail and dining locations prior to the opening of our theme parks.
- Physical distancing and capacity measures: 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. This will likely include implementation of guest capacity measures to comply with state and federal guidelines. We’re also exploring ways to use technology to aid us in these efforts, like with our Play Disney Parks App and through virtual queues at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
- Cleanliness and sanitization: We’re planning increased cleaning and disinfection, determining where that should take place (for example, in high-traffic areas), and the cleaning products and processes we’ll use.
- Screening and prevention support: We’ll follow guidance from the government and the medical community regarding enhanced screening procedures and prevention measures, including those related to personal protective equipment (PPE), such as face coverings. Some measures, like adding hand sanitizers and hand washing stations across our resorts, have already been implemented.
- Cast training: We’re further emphasizing our strong culture of health and safety amongst our cast members, and will continue to provide new training and reinforcement as we get closer to reopening.
Of course, these are some big changes from the operations we saw before the parks closed. Dr. Pamela Hymel also noted that these changes are just the beginning and Disney will continue to monitor the situation and adapt as needed.
I am personally very interested to see how virtual queues could be implemented throughout Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort. It has been an effective process for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance on both coasts and I would be interested to see how it would work for multiple attractions across the resorts.
Of course, Disney will not push the parks to reopen before they are ready. They have said that they will monitor the situations and will only open if they can safely welcome guests through the gates once again.