The opening of Shanghai Disneyland in China on Monday showed the major changes that will most likely be coming to Disney World and Disneyland when the popular U.S. theme parks in Florida and California eventually reopen.
Guests and employees at the Disney theme park in Shanghai, which had been closed since Jan. 24 due to the coronavirus pandemic, were required to wear face coverings and had their temperature taken at the entrance to the park.
Social distancing was enforced on lines waiting for rides by having markings on the ground indicating where guests should stand. Photos from the reopening also show rides with rows of seats blocked off and rides with only one person per car or vehicle unless they are from the same group. Gloves were also required for any rides requiring people to use their hands.
Touch-free sanitizing stations were set up outside rides and ticket areas, and Disney employees regularly wiped down surfaces.
The Chinese government also mandated that the park operate at a maximum of 30% capacity, or 24,000 visitors, but Disney CEO Bob Chapek told CNBC on Monday that it was operating below that capacity. The entry of guests was also staggered to avoid people waiting in large groups together to enter the park.
"I look at this as a stair step,'' Chapek told CNBC. "We're going to be very conservative, we're going to be very prudent, we're going to be very disciplined about how we open up. And then we're going to ramp up and increase."
Chapek also said to expect similar safety measures at its U.S. parks to the ones used in Shanghai.
"Along with social distancing, one of the things that we're likely going to require is masks for both the cast and the guests," he said.
Disney World in Orlando, Florida, is now accepting reservations beginning on July 1, according to its website, but has not given a firm date for when it is reopening. The location has been closed along with Disneyland in California since March 27 because of the pandemic.
The company announced on its blog last week that it will have a phased reopening of the Disney Springs shopping area adjacent to the park in Orlando starting on May 20 with new safety measures, including face coverings for shoppers and employees.
Disney's chief medical officer, Dr. Pam Hymel, outlined the expected new safety measures in a blog post, writing that physical distancing guidelines, limiting the amount of visitors, increased cleanings and screenings and masks for visitors are being planned as part of the phased reopenings of all the parks.
Disney has been hit hard by closures related to the coronavirus outbreak, reporting a 58% drop in income from parks and cruises in its most recent earnings report. The company estimated it lost about $1 billion due to the closures.