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Shanghai Disneyland to Reopen May 11 With Social Distancing

Disney will enact social distancing and government-mandated precautions, such as mask requirements and temperature screenings

Disney CEO Bob Chapek told investors on Tuesday the company plans to reopen its Shanghai Disneyland park on May 11.

The theme park has been closed due to the coronavirus pandemic since Jan. 25. Chapek said during the company’s quarterly call with Wall Street that typically Shanghai Disneyland operates at 80,000 visitors per day. The Chinese government will limit that number by 30% to 24,000, but Disney plans to open below even that as the park gets its bearings under a new reality.

“We know how much our guests have been looking forward to returning to Shanghai Disneyland, and our cast is excited to begin welcoming them back,” Chapek said in a statement. “As the park reopens with significantly enhanced health and safety measures, our guests will find Shanghai Disneyland as magical and memorable as ever.”

Chapek said during the call, which was streamed on the company’s investor site, that Disney was evaluating ways it could reopen other parks with some “density control” efforts.

Disney chief financial officer Christine McCarthy made sure to note that there “is limited visibility into the timing” of opening the company’s other parks around the world, particularly in the U.S.

The company said that it estimates that its parks business took a roughly $1 billion hit to operating income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s not about break even, but just making a positive contribution,” Chapek said during the quarterly call. “We wouldn’t open any park unless we could make a positive contribution to overhead and overall net profitability.”

For Shanghai Disneyland, it’s first phase of reopening will come with enhanced measures and procedures that Disney said will comply with government recommendations.

The company will implement a number of new protocols, such as limited and pulsed attendance using an advanced reservation and entry system. That means that visitors will be are required to purchase admission tickets for a specific date and annual pass holders will have to make a reservation before arriving.

With that, capacity at the park will be recommended and managed in queues, restaurants, ride vehicles and other facilities. Lines will be structured and ride vehicles will be loaded to promote social distancing.

Disney also said it would implement temperature screening and the use of the government-issued Shanghai Health QR code, a contact tracing and early detection system used in China. Additionally, guests will have to wear masks during, except when dining.

“Given the constantly changing global health environment, these practices may evolve as we consider the latest guidance, but we will share more information with you as we look towards reopening,” Disney’s chief medical officer Pam Hymel said in a statement. “Our focus remains on the health and safety of the entire Disney community — including the wellbeing of the Cast Members who are caring for and securing our parks and resorts during the closure. We continue to learn from these experiences and will carry these lessons into reopening and beyond.”

Hand sanitizers will be available at the line entrances and the exits of attractions. The company said that “high-touch” areas, such as ride vehicles, handlebars, railings and turnstiles will have increased sanitization.

Disney will also train its cast members on new procedures with an emphasis on contactless guest interaction, cleaning and social distancing and will receive additional protective equipment including masks.

Disney closed its Disney World and Disneyland resort and theme parks in Orlando and Anaheim, as well as others around the world, on March 14.

Disney’s parks, experiences and products division, which includes all of the company’s theme parks, resorts, and cruise lines, is its biggest contributor to revenue. In 2019 the division contributed $26.2 billion to Disney’s overall revenue of $69.6 billion.

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