Things We Still Don’t Know about Disney’s Reopening
This week, Disney will present its plans to reopen its Walt Disney World theme parks. Once Florida officials sign off, the Most Magical Place on Earth will return.
Guests will still have questions, though. Some are more than ready to rush to the parks, but others understandably worry about their health.
Here are a few questions that are yet to be answered about the reopening of theme parks.
Are Disney’s New Rules Reasonable?
By now, we’ve covered the modified rules enough that everyone should know them by heart. Disney will:
- Check your temperature before allowing you to enter the parks
- Require face masks
- Limit park capacity to as little as 20 percent of maximum
- Enforce social distancing with markers
- Hand sanitizer stations at regular intervals
- Frequent cleaning of high-volume contact spots
- Limit ride throughput to maintain social distancing
So, the first question is whether Disney will protect the safety of guests enough with these measures. However, there’s a secondary concern.
Will people feel like these changes impinge on their park experience?
I think most people would agree that the rules are reasonable with regards to protecting guests’ health.
Disney has spoken with the CDC and WHO about the safest practices. The company has taken steps that should dramatically reduce the odds of infection.
Do these changes come with a reduction in customer satisfaction? I don’t see why most of them would. If anything, they increase the odds of guests experiencing more attractions per visit.
However, one sticking point has become a hot-button issue.
Are Masks Viable?
I’ve linked a video that demonstrates why Disney will require guests to wear masks. It combines footage from an NHK documentary along with a MythBusters clip.
Guests at a meal all utilize the same items. They grab tongs and plate lids and the like. Unfortunately, such behavior causes the spread of invisible germs everywhere.
The video employs fluorescent lighting and paints to show how insidious the spread of bacteria. Had these been Coronavirus droplets, everyone would risk infection.
Disney executives understand the danger, which is why they’re requiring masks. In an unexpected turn, some guests are providing pushback over safety measures.
These Disney fans dislike the idea of wearing hot masks on a Florida summer day. And that’s a totally understandable position anytime other than a pandemic.
Right now, Disney needs its guests to think about the safety of others. So, we’ll all have to grin and bear it for a while.
Will loyal fans do that? Thus far, the limited test at Disney Springs has proven successful.
Realistically, the theme parks are a different beast, though. Will all guests honor the face mask requirement? Nobody knows for sure.
Exactly What Will Be Open?
This question matters the most out of everything that is not health-related. Which theme park attractions and shows will reopen with the parks?
Disney has confirmed that Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom will reopen on July 11th followed by Disney’s Hollywood Studios and EPCOT on July 15th.
Park officials have also stated that parades and nighttime presentations won’t return for a while. Also, Disney will limit park capacity in the short term.
The reality is that Disney would waste money by running every attraction when it doesn’t host enough guests to populate the rides.
So, something like Dumbo the Flying Elephant or Magic Carpets of Aladdin may seem superfluous. I’m merely picking out these rides since they’re similar in design, but you get the point.
Also, Disney has stated that “high-touch experiences” can’t return yet for health reasons. And that’s totally understandable.
So, yes, Disney parks are reopening. But that doesn’t mean that everything will return as we remember it.
We do know that Shanghai Disneyland was running shows again by its second week of operation. So, Walt Disney World might follow a similar trajectory.
If not, how much will change during the summer and early part of the fall? The Disney that we know will feel slightly different during the next visit, which is totally fine by me.
I’m more likely to remember the experience if it’s different.
How Well Will Social Distancing Rules Work?
In watching lots of videos from Shanghai Disneyland and (especially) Disney Springs, I’m pleasantly surprised by the social distancing rules in place.
The yellow markers and ground signs clearly identify where guests should and should not stand. And Disney has even improved some previous trouble spots.
If you’ve visited Disney Springs, you know that some of the walkways are a bit narrow. You feel restricted as you start to walk down, especially if someone is coming the other way.
The management team has addressed that problem once and for all. Signs on each side indicate the proper walking path.
Guests should remain on the right on both sides. Since you’re facing forward, your right on one side is the opposite of the person heading the other direction.
Simple, smart changes like this one aid social distancing. And the ride/line markers provide a secondary service.
On many rides, nobody knows where to sit. For example, cast members direct people on where to get on the boat on Jungle Cruise. They do this because guests always look so confused.
With the markers, people walk right over to them and sit down. Similarly, some folks in ride queues get right up in your face. Personal distance isn’t a thing to them.
With the ground symbols in place, these guests will have a better idea of what’s expected of them. As such, I expect this part to work quite well.
Will People Follow the Rules?
Well, I say that, but it comes with a massive asterisk. I’m presuming that guests will behave themselves during a pandemic.
A few social media videos suggest that won’t always be the case. Everything falls apart if some a handful of disruptive individuals ignore the rules.
Disney executives understand this problem, too. The main reason why park officials have waited this long is because of the problem children.
Some people relish in misbehaving. If they do that at Disney right now, they could find themselves banned from the park.
Even so, this recklessness will receive a disproportionate amount of media attention. And it could scare off some of the more skittish potential customers.
I think that many of us have a memorable pandemic incident wherein someone behaved deplorably. How would any of us feel if that happened during a much-anticipated vacation?
The challenge that Disney faces is preventing the thoughtless from diminishing the park visits of respectful guests.
I know that we all have faith in Disney to run the parks reliably. So, that should be enough to overcome the misbehavior of a small number of people.