Disney fans released a huge cheer when it was announced that Shanghai Disneyland was opening on May 11th. This is a huge step as it’s the first of the Disney theme parks worldwide to reopen after the closures due to the coronavirus.
The response from different countries around the world on how to control the spread of the virus has varied dramatically. While China was the original source of the virus, they eventually were able to control the spread throughout the country by essentially banning all travel. The Chinese government now issues tracking software for your phone that makes you scan a QR code which verifies your health status to enter a building, restaurant, take the subway, or go to work.
In a country like China, government intervention in everyday life is tolerated by the citizens because there isn’t really any choice.
But will some of the restrictions being put on visitors to Shanghai Disneyland work in America? Remember, we’re the country where people protested because they couldn’t get their Baskin Robbins ice cream.
The Disneytown, Wishing Star Park and Shanghai Disneyland Hotel shopping, dining and entertainment experiences of Shanghai Disney Resort have been open with limited guest capacity since March.
Based on what has been learned from those staged openings, here are the restrictions being put on the full opening of Shanghai Disneyland. Needless to say, there are some changes to what you’re accustomed to at a Disney park:
During this initial reopening phase, the park will institute new measures and procedures, including opening with limited attendance and required advanced ticketing and reservations, accommodating social distancing in queues, restaurants, ride vehicles and other facilities throughout the park, and implementing increased frequency of sanitization and disinfection.
- Purchase dated admission tickets for Shanghai Disneyland prior to their arrival, as on-site sales will not be available. Annual Pass holders must make a reservation for their visit date and time through Shanghai Disney Resort’s official online channels before their visit to the park.
- The majority of Shanghai Disneyland’s attractions, rides, some shows and shopping and dining locations will resume operations, with controlled attendance.
- Some interactive attractions and experiences, such as children play areas, and theater shows will remain closed
- To accommodate social distancing, parades and nighttime spectaculars will also return at a later date.
- During the initial reopening phase, a special Disney character procession, Mickey and Friends Express, will take place several times daily, and the Enchanted Storybook Castle will come to life with light and music at dusk each day with Evening Magical Moments
- Beloved Disney characters will appear in the park in a new way, as they make appearances in each of the themed lands, greeting and welcoming everyone back to Shanghai Disneyland. Close interaction and close-up photos with characters will be suspended during the initial phase of reopening.
There will also be several things mandated for guests:
- Provide basic personal information for each guest visiting the park, including name, phone number, ID type and ID number via Shanghai Disney Resort’s official online channels after purchasing a ticket and prior to arriving at the resort. A Shanghai Disneyland Reservation QR Code will be provided after the successful submission of the required identification information, and guests will be required to present the code before entering the theme park.
- Register for the Health QR Code prior to their arrival, which will be required to be presented upon entering any location at Shanghai Disney Resort. Only guests with a green Health QR Code will be allowed to enter the resort.
- Be prepared to present a China government ID card, or valid travel document, for each guest at the park turnstiles (photos or printed copies will not be accepted).
- Undergo temperature screening procedures upon arrival.
- Wear an approved mask during the entire visit to the resort, except when dining.
Considering that getting Americans to wear a mask in public is a huge undertaking, with many refusing to do so for varying reasons, what if once they’re in the park, a guest takes off their mask? How is Disney going to force guests to undergo a temperature check? What about having to register for a health code and having to show it everywhere you go?
When it comes to the experience, how will people respond to not being to meet their favorite characters? No fireworks or parades? Remember, these were precisely some of the things I suggested might not be coming back to the parks when they reopened.
Also, the need for annual pass holders to make a reservation takes away one of the great perks of having a pass, if you’re a local. You’re able to just stop by if you have some free time and catch a ride or two. If you need to book in advance, there might not be any space. What if you book and no-show? Will Disney eventually block you from making a reservation? Who knows?
How the U.S. Disney parks will reopen and what they’ll look like when they do is still an open question. Bob Iger has given some hints as did current CEO Bob Chapek on Disney’s earnings call. But will they look like Shanghai, or will Disney need to Americanize the system to make the guests happy? And will “what make guests happy” be the safety option? If so, which will win out?
How things go in Shanghai will direct Disney on what works and what doesn’t in regards to how a theme park operations in the near future. Whether they’re going to implement those changes to locations around the world is entirely different.
#stayhealthy #staysafe #washyourhands
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary question.