The Good and the Bad at Shanghai Disneyland
Over the past several days, I’ve watched a lot of live videos from Shanghai Disneyland.
Thanks to social media, I’ve tracked how guests are accepting the new pandemic measures in place. Here’s the good and the bad about what I’ve noticed thus far.
Line Queue Problems
Park officials have implemented a solid plan for maintaining social distancing. Yellow markers identify where guests should stand while waiting in line queues.
In execution, the idea works masterfully. The visual cues remind guests about appropriate behavior. Unfortunately, there’s a flaw.
Before guests enter ride buildings for some attractions, they’re in undefined territory. Think of this space as no man’s land, a spot where social distancing collapses.
At Shanghai Disneyland, the yellow markers aren’t everywhere, and guests immediately forget themselves with the lack of structure.
I’ve watched people stand right on top of each other while waiting on Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure.
The strange part, the aspect I would never believe if I hadn’t watched it with my own eyes, is that these same people immediately fan out within the building.
The moment guests notice the yellow markers, they fall in line appropriately. Until then, it’s chaos. Park officials need to take steps to address this issue.
However, a fix isn’t as simple as you may believe. If the line queue here spreads too far, it can cause problems in other parts of Treasure Cove, the themed land.
As I watch this, I imagine a social distancing attempt at Spaceship Earth. The tight handrail section would have yellow markers at the correct spots.
Alas, most guests would wind up standing outside of the handrail section, and that’s where the system would break down.
The line queue for Spaceship Earth could stretch into other parts of the park. It would be an eyesore AND confusing to guests.
Thoughtless Guests Are Ruiners
Let’s presume that 95 percent of people follow all the rules and guidelines. I’ve noticed that a handful of thoughtless guests can still ruin the protective measures.
Yes, problematic guests have always caused issues at theme parks. During a pandemic, it’s more than just an eye roll, though.
If a drunk berates a cast member, other guests can protect the Disney employee. I’ve watched this happen many times over the years.
However, when careless people misbehave right now, they risk the health of other guests. And some of the stuff I’ve witnessed at Shanghai Disneyland scares me to death.
One woman was sweating profusely under her face mask. Her husband wanted to help her, which is commendable.
The way that he did something felt like a horror movie scene. The dude started using a cloth like a windshield wiper to dab the sweat off her forehead.
Droplets of sweat went everywhere. The camera accidentally captured one heading straight at the vlogger. I’m not sure they noticed, but I sure did.
I was forcibly reminded of this movie moment:
Another dude took off his mask while standing in line. What was the reason for this reckless behavior? He wanted to watch a video on his phone.
So, the guy leaned on the railing (strike one), removed his mask (strike two), and then absent-mindedly stroked his chin while watching (strike three).
His behavior demonstrated something we’re all experiencing right now. We have an entire lifetime of behavioral training.
During the pandemic, we’re being asked to relearn specific actions on the fly. As a people, we’re ill-equipped for this.
The Picture Problem
Many vloggers have happily reported about Shanghai Disneyland’s face mask success story. And it’s absolutely true.
For the most part, guests are honoring the park’s request to wear a face mask. Unfortunately, one noteworthy exception exists.
When people prepare to take pictures, they reflexively remove their face masks. It’s almost automatic that this step occurs.
Anecdotally, I’m noticing about three out of four guests pulling down their masks to pose for photographs.
I don’t even understand this behavior. I think that people would want to commemorate their park visit during this unprecedented time.
A photo of a loved one wearing a face mask would clearly define when the picture was taken. I see that as a good thing.
However, most people apparently feel the opposite. They don’t want their happy park photo ruined by a face mask reminder.
The fact that this is happening in a society that’s used face masks in public for decades is especially alarming.
I suspect that the overwhelming majority of American park guests will remove their face masks for photos.
Cast Members Need a Bit of Retraining
When we’re standing in line for rides, something frequently happens that we barely even notice.
Cast members get right up in our faces to ask how many are in our party. They do this because the areas are loud, and they want to hear the information accurately.
For Disney employees at the front of line queues, party number information represents one of the most crucial parts of their jobs.
Over the years, many cast members have developed a habit of body blocking guests. It’s a necessary tactic to prevent anyone from sliding by without giving party number information.
Right now, this behavior is problematic.
I’ve watched an uncomfortable number of cast members body block guests.
Now, these workers are wearing masks. So, the risk is minimal. It’s just a bad look.
Disney needs to retrain its cast members to respect personal space a bit more right now.
Kids Are Passing the Test
The pleasant surprise I’ve had while watching Shanghai Disneyland footage is that kids are acing the test.
Adults have worried that misbehaving children will cause problems by spreading germs everywhere. Well, I’m pleased to report this isn’t something I’m noticing.
In fact, kids are behaving better than their parents, which circles back to conditioning.
When parents tell children to act a certain way, the kids honor the request for the most part.
For some reason, adults notice when children do something wrong more than when they’re behaving appropriately. So, the negative sticks in the mind more.
However, the reality is that kids do listen to their parents. They can instinctively tell when something is serious to mom/dad. And Coronavirus definitely qualifies.
Even during a thrilling day at Disneyland, children are mainly keeping their masks on, standing by the yellow markers, and using hand sanitizer.
Whitney Houston was right about teaching kids well and letting them lead the way.
Unfortunately, their parents aren’t scoring as highly on the pandemic test. So, practice what you preach to your kids, ma and pa!
Disney’s Rules Work
Let’s focus on the positive. I’ve listed several instances where I cringed some while watching Shanghai Disneyland park videos.
Here’s the thing, though. If I described some things that I’ve seen at a local Kroger, they would sound just as scary.
One well-meaning employee stuck his head in our car window to verify an order that we’d already confirmed online. And no, he wasn’t wearing a mask.
We’re all flying without a net right now. None of us has lived through a pandemic before, and we’re all learning as we go.
My greatest takeaway from Shanghai Disneyland is that park officials have done a terrific job. They have developed a viable Coronavirus healthcare strategy, one that works well.
I’ve noticed guests sneezing and coughing, but it hasn’t stressed me in the least. The masks prevent the spread of disease.
Also, some of the worrisome matters I’ve listed here have actionable solutions.
Disney can fix the line queues by having cast members stand outside to maintain order. Or they can add more ground symbols to remind guests about social distancing.
Similarly, employee training will require an ongoing series of updates to allow for these unprecedented circumstances. What works today may grow less effective over time.
All these issues are correctable, but Disney’s overall plan is commendable. The company has implemented a practical strategy for protecting the safety of its guests.