Precautionary Measures Walt Disney World Could Take When It Reopens
Now that experts believe that the Coronavirus pandemic has peaked in Florida, we can think about the return of Walt Disney World. COVID-19 concerns will remain in place for at least another year, though.
So, Disney officials must take steps to protect the health of park guests. Here are some safety measures Walt Disney World might employ when the parks reopen.
First of all, please understand that these measures are speculative rather than confirmed. Executive Chairman Bob Iger has discussed several of them during interviews and essentially confirmed that one will happen. Still, take them all with a grain of salt.
You may remember hand sanitizer as that stuff you used when you didn’t have liquid soap available. Then, Coronavirus happened, and hand sanitizer has become the toughest thing to acquire in society today.
Part of the reason stems from historical supply and demand. The product wasn’t that popular, and so few companies mass-manufactured it.
This product is now a way of life, and that statement should include Disney visits. Before Walt Disney World closed, the parks had already introduced hand sanitizer stations in high traffic areas. It’s reasonable to assume that Disney may ask guests to use the product regularly during visits.
Obviously, the word ‘mandatory’ is challenging to enforce. Cast members can’t physically force guests to clean their hands. However, Disney employees can stress it enough that customers get the hint, though.
Proof of Health/Contact Tracing
Iger recently spoke with KABC about his joining a California economic recovery task force. During this interview, he stated the following:
“…but it’s likely that we’re going to need some mass testing, at scale, and some form of contact tracing as well so that we can identify people who have been exposed or people who have had the virus and may be of harm to others.”
What is contact tracing? This helpful TechCrunch article explains the process in detail. The short explanation is that technology allows healthcare officials to identify people most susceptible to infection.
In this scenario, the person receives a notification and a warning to take care of their health. In extreme examples like a pandemic, healthcare officials will recommend self-quarantining.
Also, contact tracing will identify people with whom the potentially ill person interacted. All of them are susceptible to the spread of infection, too. So, they receive medical alerts, as well.
Contact tracing isn’t a new medical concept. However, it’s easier to achieve now, thanks to the prevalence of smartphones. Whether you realize it or not, your phone contains tracking software.
Companies like Apple and Google are working on tech to improve contact tracing, and Disney may require it at the parks. In fact, a form of this strategy already exists in China and at Shanghai Disneyland.
Park officials require consumers to show a QR Code that displays their health status. A green code means that the person isn’t at risk to get or pass along COVID-19.
The idea works in other parts of the world. However, civil liberties matter more to Americans. It’s unclear whether Disney can/would require park guests to participate in contact tracing.
Required Face Masks
I know that some people hate this idea. Parents are especially resistant to the thought, as they can’t imagine forcing their kids to wear a mask. That goes double for small children, the ones under the age of five.
Still, there’s an inescapable reality here. The Coronavirus pandemic spreads through the air. To reduce the odds of infection, people need to wear masks…and I’m not just talking about Disney parks here.
As the social media meme suggests, I’m not wearing a mask for me. I’m doing it for you. And I kindly ask that you reciprocate.
Disney construction crews are already wearing masks. I’ll be surprised if cast members don’t have masks when they return from furlough, too.
Asking guests to wear masks during the pandemic is the next logical step. And it’s one that Iger has hinted may be in the cards for Disney parks, at least in the short term.
Don’t look at this as a negative, though. Cute Disney-themed masks could become a hot park trend over the next few months. I’m already seeing a lot of people on social media posting pictures of masks they’ve ordered online that feature Mickey Mouse, Stitch, and various Princesses.
Disney face masks could be the spirit jerseys of fall 2020!
Social Distancing in Line Queues
Here’s a likely step that will prove challenging to implement. Current signs hint at relaxed social distancing policies in Florida starting in June. When that happens, Disney may reopen its parks.
However, things won’t return to normal until Coronavirus has a cure, or people build up a tolerance to it. So, some form of social distancing will remain a part of society for a year or more.
This concept causes challenges at Walt Disney World and Disneyland. Guests have waited in line queues since opening day. Herd mentality and overcrowding are an accepted part of the process.
Disney has already dropped hints that it’ll work differently when the parks reopen. Parades, fireworks presentations, and other mass gatherings may not come back at first.
Even if they do, park officials won’t allow guests to crowd together. Similarly, attractions that have historically included waiting areas may work differently.
Let’s use Mickey’s PhilharMagic as an example. Guests enter the facility and then stand in a waiting room until the show begins. As a precaution, Disney might skip this step and send guests directly into the theater instead.
You’re likely wondering how that would work. I’ll write a full article later this week explaining more details about how to implement social distancing at Disney theme parks.
For now, what matters is that Disney must implement some form of relaxed social distancing policies when it returns. Otherwise, many guests won’t feel confident enough to visit.
Out of everything listed here, temperature checks are closest to a mortal lock. Disney’s already employing this practice at Shanghai Disneyland, which isn’t even open yet.
The Chinese theme park has reopened some of its stores and restaurants along with one hotel. Guests who want to visit the park must pass a temperature check. Park officials are taking no chances on someone sick spreading infection on the Disney campus.
Iger has explicitly stated that temperature checks are a likelihood when Disney’s American parks return. In fact, they might become standard from now on. From a business perspective, Disney should discourage sick people from entering the parks anyway, right?
Really, do you want to stand in line with someone who knowingly suffers from a contagious disease? Disney should take a step forward to a better tomorrow at its theme parks by prioritizing the health of its guests.