Walt Disney World Attractions That Will Require Coronavirus Changes
We’re expecting Walt Disney World parks to return at some point over the next three months.
Bernie McTernan, a Rosenblatt Securities analyst, recently stated that he believes the parks will reopen on July 22nd. He has actually moved his company’s forecast up by 41 days.
With the parks poised to return, readers are wondering whether Disney must alter any attractions due to Coronavirus concerns. Here are some Walt Disney World attractions that will require changes.
Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin and Toy Story Mania!
First of all, we should acknowledge the fact that Disney officials have released guidelines about the parks.
One of them indicates that certain attractions may not open when Walt Disney World does. The management team has taken this step because some rides are problematic.
For example, Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin and Toy Story Mania! delight guests with their interactive elements. Guests play games wherein they capture batteries or pop balloons.
The ride cart doubles as a gaming controller, which means that guests tightly grip parts of it through the experience.
To operate the attractions, cast members must keep these places clean. The options are slowing down the ride throughput dramatically or not running the rides.
Now, the phased reopening guarantees that ride lines will shorten. Still, these attractions may need new hygienic practices in place to protect guests.
Enchanted Tales with Belle
I’m less worried about Enchanted Tales with Belle than some other attractions listed here.
However, this interactive experience comes with a couple of negatives. It’s an indoor activity with some childish play-acting.
Unfortunately, props play an integral role in the improv show, too. So, cast members must recreate the standard vibe of Enchanted Tales with Belle.
While doing this, Disney employees must protect social distancing requirements…in a room full of children.
Then, after each show, the props must receive intense cleaning.
I believe that Disney can deliver a tolerable version of the attraction. I’m not confident that park officials are ready for the aggravation, though.
Herding a roomful of kids isn’t simple when there’s not a pandemic.
Here’s a philosophical question. Would Haunted Mansion seem like Haunted Mansion to you without the Stretching Room?
This debate is ongoing in Disney circles. The reality is that the Stretching Room embodies everything worrisome during the pandemic.
Cast members bring you into a smaller room. Later, they ask that you move away from the walls.
Yes, this tactic represents the opposite of social distancing. Given how tight the Stretching Room space is, I don’t think Disney can fix it easily, either.
I suspect that park officials will do one of two things. The obvious solution is to skip the Stretching Room entirely.
Instead, park guests would skip straight to the Doom Buggy line. Cast members could monitor social distancing more easily here.
The more challenging strategy would involve keeping the Stretching Room running.
To achieve that goal, Disney must bottleneck the rest of the ride by limiting the number of guests in the Stretching Room.
This decision would honor the spirit (no pun intended) of Haunted Mansion. However, it would add complexity to daily ops during an already challenging time.
I’m picking Kilimanjaro Safaris since it features one of the largest ride vehicles. The issue is the same at many attractions, though.
One of the trickiest parts of social distancing occurs on the rides themselves. Imagineers have cleverly designed ride carts to maximize throughput.
Suddenly, that’s a bad thing. Cast members will temporarily “fix” the issue by spacing guests as far away from one another as possible.
On roller coasters and the like, the person in the front row will sit on one side. Then, the person in the second row will take the other side, and so forth.
This solution is imperfect for any number of reasons.
Stuff flies around ride tracks all the time. It’s my primary concern about forcing guests to wear masks.
If a mask lands in the wrong place, it could hit a ride sensor and trigger an automatic shutdown.
You’re a lot less worried about wearing a mask in Florida heat now, aren’t you? Despite this drawback and others, Disney’s plan makes sense.
However, massive ride carts like Kilimanjaro Safaris lead to a hard choice. Disney must decide how much social distancing is enough.
Should these jeeps seat guests every other row? Every third row? What’s enough to make guests feel comfortable?
I don’t have a good answer here. While I’m sure Disney’s done all sorts of research, cast members will ultimately feel their way through the process.
Mickey’s PhilharMagic and Other Theater Shows
This problem circles back to Enchanted Tales with Belle. Enclosed spaces, particularly indoors, are stressors until we have a Coronavirus cure.
I realize that people don’t want to hear this, but it’s an obvious statement. Every major movie theater in the country has closed due to COVID-19 fears.
On the plus side, theater owners have run some recent tests at theaters. They’ve reopened with new social distancing measures in place.
Like everyone else in Hollywood, Disney officials are carefully monitoring the results. They’ll presumably employ some of the same strategies at various theater-based attractions.
At a park like Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the discussion reduces to volume.
This park hosts a large number of shows. How many performances will park officials feel comfortable running at partial capacity?
This question might answer itself. If guests show disinterest in attending indoor shows, Disney can keep them closed in the short term.
Oddly, the problem magnifies in scope if people show up in droves to Frozen Sing-Along Celebration and the like. It’d be better for everyone if we all skipped shows for a while.
Shanghai Disneyland has returned at 30 percent capacity. Let’s presume that Walt Disney World follows the same trajectory.
This sort of social distancing might be the only thing that saves Mission: SPACE right now.
As a reminder, the mechanics of the ride require four guests to enter a tightly enclosed space and spend several minutes there.
Mission: SPACE is a nightmare during a pandemic. However, a potential solution exists.
If Disney allows guests to ride one person per ship, the odds of infection drop near zero. In fact, they are zero as long as cast members clean the capsules after each usage.
Ordinarily, I’d declare this impossible due to the throughput bottleneck. Since Disney’s limiting capacity, an opportunity is available.
People really could get to do Mission: SPACE by themselves, a singularly unique ride experience.
After all, one out of four seats is 25 percent. The math almost checks out.
Of course, the other factor is that many park guests travel with others. A party of two who feel safe together can get a capsule to themselves.
This tactic would double capacity to 50 percent.
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Test Track
I’ve already addressed one concern here. Ride cart spacing will impact, you know, all rides.
I’m referencing these two attractions for a different reason. Both of them employ Single Rider, which fills the ride carts to maximum capacity.
I just don’t envision any scenario where Single Rider operates until we’re much closer to the end of the pandemic.
So, these attractions, along with Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Expedition Everest, must adjust in two different ways.
As with Mission: Space, the reduction in throughput isn’t a significant matter, though. The limits on crowd capacity will negate the need for Single Rider anyway.
So, there are a bunch of attractions that will require changes.
I didn’t list some others like Twilight Zone Tower of Terror or Smugglers Run because the issues are the same as ones mentioned here.
These examples should be enough to indicate how much Disney must alter to safeguard its guests during these trying times.