The Return of Shanghai Disneyland

The iconic canoe from Enchanted parked by the unloading area of Voyage
to the Crystal Grotto, under the view of the Enchanted Storybook Castle.
This post is a little delayed due to time zone differences, but date-wise, today, May 11, marks the reopening of Shanghai Disneyland after a several-months closure due to the novel Coronavirus threat.  This marks a new chapter in theme park operations in a post-COVID world, where social distancing, limited capacities, and extra health precautions are being taken to ensure that large gatherings can occur safely while still providing memorable experiences.

Shanghai Disneyland is being capped at 20% of its 80,000 person max capacity, meaning no more than 16,000 guests can enter the park in any single day.  Queues have been marked for social distancing, and guests are given temperature checks before entering and required to wear masks.  There will be no parades or fireworks shows--at least for now, in an effort to minimize crowd congregation.  The elimination of the park's several great indoor theater shows aims for the same purpose.  And guests must make reservations for attendance in advance, rather than walk up and purchase tickets on the same day.  That part is not unlike the Flex Pass annual passport option for Disneyland California guests.

All of this provides some clues for how the other Disney parks may operate when they reopen, including the U.S. parks.  Of course, being the first to reopen, Shanghai Disneyland will play the part of the guinea pig, and if the measures nevertheless allow future outbreaks to occur specifically from the park, it may prove difficult to implement any sort of park operations until the pandemic has either spread to the point of people developing herd immunity, or a vaccine has been produced, vetted, and mass-distributed.

It's an unprecedented time in our society and in the world of themed entertainment.  Disney itself reported losses of $1.4 billion this past quarter due to Coronavirus-related shutdowns.  We'll have to see how the company--and our beloved parks--can rebound from such enormous challenges.


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