ORLANDO, Fla. - All eyes are on Shanghai Disneyland as it is the first major theme park to reopen following the global coronavirus pandemic.
Experts say it will set the stage, not only Walt Disney World's reopening, but also for all other Orlando attractions.
“Frankly, this is a little bit of an experiment,” said Robert Niles, editor of ThemeParkInsider.com.
A test run of Disney proportions, Shanghai Disneyland will reopen to guests on Monday with new COVID-19 preventative measures. If successful, Disney World’s reopening may look very similar.
“A lot of new things are going to be happening in Shanghai that we can look forward to at some point happening here in the United States,” said Niles.
The changes start before the guest even arrives to the park. Visitors will have to pass a health screening via an app.
“People have to have apps on their mobile device with a QR code that shows that they are not currently sick and you have to be able to show that in order to get into the area,” said Niles.
In addition to showing the healthy QR code at the gate, guests will undergo a temperature check and must wear a mask at all times, except while eating. Once inside the park, it won’t be as busy as usual. The government is limiting capacity at 30 percent and social distancing will be part of every aspect of the experience.
“They’ve put these posters down on the ground, six feet long saying ‘don’t stand here’ in order to enforce social distancing in cues,” said Niles.
Entertainment is also impacted. No close-up photos or interactions with characters will be permitted and the beloved parades have been suspended.
“Those parades, dance parties, fireworks, you’re just not going to see those things on the program,” said Niles.
Disney is in the spotlight.
“There’s huge pressure on Disney at this point because they don’t have the roadmap from anyone else, this is Disney’s task to come up with the plan, not just for itself, for its own theme parks but for the whole rest of the industry,” said Niles.
So, it’s time to see that Disney magic at work because what happens in Shanghai, could affect parks around the globe.
“If something goes wrong there, if people don’t show up, because they don’t feel safe, if operations break down and people aren’t getting that Disney magic in any form and worst case scenario, if this leads to some kind of second wave outbreak, if any of those things happen, it’s going to set back the cause of reopening any American theme parks, substantially,” said Niles.
Shanghai’s Disney Springs equivalent has been open for about a month, practicing social distancing and spacing out tables. Disney Springs will be the first attraction at Walt Disney World Resort to reopen. It will happen in phases, beginning May 20.