It’s a whole new world, or at least it’s going to be at Shanghai Disneyland and future Disney Parks as they reopen during the worldwide pandemic known as COVID-19. Chinese Press were recently allowed to see some of the mitigation measures Disney has employed in Shanghai Disneyland. These measures have been put in place in order to assuage guests, many who will fear contracting the virus whilst visiting what is supposed to be a magical vacation destination. Normally when you are in the proverbial Disney bubble nothing is supposed to remove you from the magic but as you can see from these safety and mitigation measures there are going to be constant reminders you are not visiting a Disney theme park in normal times. From the time a guest enters the park through a facial recognition system that detects body temperatures, to the time they walk up to Cast Members holding signs reminding them to practice social distancing, till they leave the park and discard their mandatory mask 😷 coverings, every guest of Shanghai Disneyland will know this is not Disney vacationing as usual. Disney has used tape everywhere. There are taped boxes on the ground for family or friends to stand within when watching Disney entertainment. Curiously only one meter apart from the next taped landing spot, instead of the two meters or six feet of social distancing widely espoused here in America. There are pieces of tape telling you where to stand for any outdoor lines and the markings and tape continue when you enter restaurant queues and of course the queues for rides have them as well. Disney and the Chinese in charge of Shanghai Disneyland are also enhancing sanitization procedures, skipping rows on ride vehicles when possible, alongside severely capping attendance figures. This of course leaves many especially, those of us looking on from America with plentiful questions. But before I really get into my thoughts on the latter, I invite you to watch the entire video below (after you’ve read my disclaimer about the video in the caption below, explaining how it comes from Chinese State media and we abhor Communism) which displays the measures I’ve described above. The video does provide you a sense of the new normal Disney is trying to build. Later you can decide if this is right for you and your family.
Da Mouse’s Take
Disney has implemented a ton of mitigation measures and that’s what they are measures that may mitigate disease transmission but will not provide true safety. Much like with bag checks the idea isn’t true safety but the perception of it. Do bag checks work, sure they do to an extent and so will non-medical masks and spacing out guests. That all being said the only reason these parks can truly operate is due to the fact that China’s COVID-19 cases appear to be at the very least increasingly subdued. American factories have been ramping up in China for weeks, signaling the health of their workers. Retails shops have opened. If it was suspected that COVID-19 were a highly active pandemic in China a theme park would be one of the worst spreaders of the virus imaginable this side of cruise ships and tragically nursing homes.
Of course China is also seeking PR wins with most of the world angry over its reluctance to share information about COVID-19 at its earliest stages thereby delaying the global response and undoubtedly destroying and or ending the lives of many that otherwise may have seen better outcomes. Sadly, it appears Disney that is desperate to fix its cash flow problems and is increasingly cozy with the Chinese government has no problem putting its park as the figurehead in what looks to be Chinese propaganda.
As far as the merits of the mitigation measures, non-medical masks do little to stop the spread of Coronavirus other than to reduce the number of large droplets of the virus that would be expelled during a sneeze or cough. There’s a reason doctors use N95 masks. Even in this video you can see that the Disney official has no fear mingling with the Chinese press and not staying physically distanced. He even puts his hands on one of the Chinese Cast Members. Now I can’t tell you if everyone in this video was tested for COVID-19 prior to this tour but the mostly likely answer to that is pretty obvious. Having security officials touch every bag with their hands unless they use hand sanitizer every single time is asinine if you are trying to stop the spread of a highly contagious virus. The very next step after that is to hand over your Government ID to a Cast Member who scans and then hands it back to you. They are doing this for everyone that attends. Again if you remove logic and science this is all wonderful. If you have next to no transmission again none of this really matters. So you have to decide what’s really going on here. When Disney inevitably opens you’ll also need to decide whether the risk of acquiring the disease is worth the leisure trip.
Of course not everything Disney is doing is bad or not well intentioned. I personally visited Walt Disney World just before Disney shut the domestic parks down and they were already showing the might of the Walt Disney Company providing hand sanitizer after every attraction and dispersed just about everywhere throughout the park. So I can attest to the fact that Disney will do everything in its considerable power to keep you and its Cast Members safe during its operations even during a pandemic. It’s also in their business interest to make you feel as safe as possible so whether you are in Shanghai or in Anaheim you’ll return to Disney Parks once again. And despite my qualms about Disney and China’s close relationship we do need Disney in these times because there are so many incredible people within the Walt Disney Company who do carry on Walt’s legacy and bring joy to millions around the world. And in a time like this we all can use some happiness.Like everyone else we hope Disney can have a speedy recovery from the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic on its business and I hope I can visit Disney Parks sometime in the near future again.