When Will Walt Disney World Reopen?




Disney has much to do before opening the parks at Walt Disney World. The first of their twelve parks to reopen is Shanghai Disneyland on May 11th. There they have an approach that draws on the success of the Disneytown, Wishing Star Park, and Shanghai Disneyland Hotel reopening at the beginning of March. 


While these measures may be useful in China, Disney will have to consider different practices for the safety and security of its guests at Walt Disney World. Disney will have to modify operating practices, enhance sanitation, and develop touch-less solutions. It has a huge task ahead, and the pressure to get cast members back to work is immense as Disney is one of the largest employers in Florida. Disney takes on responsibilities in a deliberate way, and they will be sure to take steps that will protect the public, its cast members, and its reputation.


Shanghai Disneyland COVID protections


Disneyland has implemented an approach that is required by the government of China. They will accommodate social distancing within queues, ride vehicles, restaurants, and throughout the park. They will also increase the frequency with which they sanitize and disinfect. Guests will have to provide their 'green' government health QR code, along with their Disney QR code, and present their photo identification. 


During the initial phase reopening, Shanghai Disneyland will introduce limited attendance, which will be executed through advance ticketing and reservations. Guests will purchase dated admission tickets before their visit. Annual Passholders will make reservations for their park visit. 

How will Disney Modify Park Operations and Employee Practices?


Disney has to establish a game plan for reducing the spread of all viruses. This strategy includes modifying high traffic spaces, developing new employee practices, and changing operations. 


Providing cast members CDC recommended face coverings and gloves, and transparent physical barriers will allow separation between cast members and guests. These barriers are especially needed in quick service food locations where the ordering queue can become quite congested. 


Furthermore, new signage that encourages physical distancing between guests and cast members alike in tandem with visual markers will instill a new culture of being together while separate. 


There is a multitude of spaces where guests gather; fireworks displays, parades, quick service queues, attraction preshows, and stage shows. Disney should provide visual guidance discouraging congregating in crowded areas. They should limit the number of cast members and guests in different areas. They should also require guests and cast members to wear face coverings when not eating. Also, reconfiguring spaces may eliminate the need to cancel individual experiences, as long as the theme park capacity is reduced.


How Will Disney Reduce the Need To Touch Things?


My first thought for my next Disney visit is, how will they solve for the tap-style entry and hands-on security? In Shanghai, you produce your photo id, your green Health QR code, and your Disney QR code. This process is after you have had your temperature scanned and gone through the traditional security process. I surmise that this process will not work in the US. 


While the walkthrough temperature screen appears innocuous at first glance, it is the process with which the government of China tracks people moving within the country. Disney would have to update its terms and conditions with a promise not to distribute our personal information. They already follow us with our tickets, magic bands, and their app; therefore, this should be easy for them to implement.


The security process will need overhauling, as well. When a person arrives in the park with a backpack, to have a cast member who has been inspecting the purse of a prior guest touching the bags to follow while wearing the same gloves can lead to contact transmission. This process should be replaced with airport-style bag scanners, as Universal already has in place. Adding frequently sanitized bins with lids would ease the most worried mind. 


For the tap-styles, instead of the guest providing identification and or fingerprint scanning, add monitors so that when the guest taps their magic band or card, their face appears on screen for the cast member to verify. As all tickets are purchased in advance, the guest can provide their image when purchasing the ticket online. An upload of each ticket holder's driver's license or passport to verify the account can serve as an extra layer of protection from fraud. 


Once inside the park, additional measures to reduce touch, such as expanding mobile ordering, will lessen the chance of disease transmission due to contact. 


What Will Disney Do to Sanitize the Parks After Opening?


Heightened sanitation practices must be implemented to protect guests and cast members from viruses. Here are some methods that Disney should implement. 


1. Provide touchless hand sanitizers for employees and guests in backstage facilities and front-of-house areas where hand washing is not available. 

2. Schedule regular handwashing breaks for cast members. 

3. Provide touchless lotion stations for castmembers. Many people do not want to wash their hands as frequently as they should due to their hands drying and cracking.


4. Post handwashing guidance for guests and cast members.

5. Provide employee training on how to prevent the spread of viruses. 

What Changes Will Disney Make With Their Cast members?

Disney must take on health screening procedures for all cast members. Employees should not arrive at work if they feel ill, showing any signs of illness, or they come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. This procedure will require Disney to have a reserve pool of cast members, as any team member who cannot show to work should be required to self-isolate while awaiting their test results. Furthermore, Disney will have to update their sick-leave policies to accommodate these processes. 


All in all, Disney is deliberate with every action they take. They will ensure to carry the appropriate course of action to ensure that guests will feel the Disney magic during their next visit. Disney will not open until they have processes and procedures in place that will protect the guest, the cast members, and the bottom line.