Shanghai Disney gets reopening date: How it could steer the way for Central Florida theme parks

Shanghai Disney gets reopening date: How it could steer the way for Central Florida theme parks
Shanghai Disney Resort has the Enchanted Storybook Castle lit up with the words “thank you” in numerous languages for medical professionals all over the world. (Courtesy: The Walt Disney Company)

ORLANDO, Fla. — Disney officials announced this week that Shanghai Disney will be its first park to reopen following the coronavirus pandemic.

Disney, Florida’s largest single-site employer, took a $1.4 billion quarterly hit due to the COVID-19 shutdown last quarter, the company announced Tuesday. The quarterly report only encompasses two weeks of the closure, which means next quarter’s losses could be even greater.

Disney Parks Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pamela Hymel laid out how the reopening of the Shanghai park on May 11 could steer how parks like Disneyland and Walt Disney World reopen later on.

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Video: Shanghai Disney gets reopening date: How it could steer the way for Central Florida theme parks

“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,” Hymel said.

She said that could mean the reopening of retail and dining locations prior to the theme parks.

Putting protocols in place for physical distancing and capacity measures, she said, will be a major focus, including exploring ways to use technology like the Play Disney Parks App and through virtual queues, which have already been used at Disneyland and Walt Disney World prior to the pandemic.

Reopening the parks also means new measures for cleaning and sanitizing, as well as screening and prevention measures such as face coverings.

“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,” Hymel said.

Duncan Dickson, a retired professor of theme park management, said he believes in the U.S. we’re about eight weeks behind Shanghai when it comes to the pandemic.

“I’m hoping by mid-July we might see something around here,” Dickson said.

He said the parks reopening here depend on a decline in positive COVID-19 cases in the U.S.

Dickson said the reopening of Shanghai Disneyland will not only be the test for Disney, but it will serve as a guide for Disney World as well as Universal Studios and SeaWorld.

VIDEO: Disney reports $1.4B quarterly hit due to COVID-19 shutdown