Disney Shares New Health and Safety Plans for Reopening U.S. Parks (Video)

This is the first glimpse into what it might be like to visit the Disney parks post-coronavirus.

In January, Shanghai Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland temporarily shut their doors to guests due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tokyo Disney Resort followed suit in February, and Disneyland Paris, Disneyland in California, and Walt Disney World in Florida joined the list in March.

A lock hangs on the center gate between the turnstiles at the entrance to Disneyland in Anaheim, CA, on Monday, Mar 16, 2020. The entire Disneyland Resort is shutting down due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Jeff Gritchen/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

For the first time in the company’s history, all six international Disney parks were closed, leaving fans to wonder when and how their favorite theme parks would reopen. This week, Disney Parks chief medical officer Dr. Pamela Hymel revealed some of the measures the U.S. parks are considering upon reopening — an encouraging sign for people excited to visit the “happiest place on Earth."

Shanghai Disneyland Announces Plans to Reopen

On Tuesday, Disney announced plans to reopen Shanghai Disneyland on May 11, adding new health protocols and procedures to ensure guest safety. These measures include limited capacity in the park, controlled guest density in restaurants, attractions, and more with social distancing guidelines in ride queues, temperature screenings, increased disinfection and sanitization efforts, and cast member training. Guests will be required to wear face masks except when dining, and cast members will receive masks and other protective equipment.

An empty view of Star Wars Galaxy Edge at Walt Disney World
Disney Parks/Joshua Sudock

Potential Plans for Disneyland and Walt Disney World Reopening

In a post on the Disney Parks blog, Dr. Hymel listed the various precautions the U.S. parks are exploring to ensure guest health and safety when they reopen. Hymel says, “Together, with our colleagues in operations, and local health and government authorities, we’re evaluating several new and enhanced safety measures to do our part towards helping us stay well while we work, stay, and play at a Disney resort and a Disney store.”

These are the safety measures Disney is currently considering for Disneyland and Walt Disney World, according to Dr. Hymel:

  • “Phased reopening,” possibly starting with dining or shopping locations before the theme parks.
  • “Physical distancing and capacity measures” to manage the density of people in the (sometimes crowded) theme parks and comply with federal and state guidelines. This may include the use of virtual queues at Walt Disney World and Disneyland.
  • Increased “cleanliness and sanitization.”
  • “Screening and prevention support” following the guidance from the medical community and government regarding preventative measures like face coverings.
  • New “cast training” to go along with these health and safety precautions.

Dr. Hymel adds that these are just a few of the actions they’re currently contemplating, and they may change in accordance with updated guidelines from the relevant authorities. After weeks of not knowing what the future held for the Disney parks, it’s exciting to see progress toward reopening, even if we don’t know when that will be.

At the same time, these details led to more questions about other aspects of the Disney park experience. How will parade and show crowds be managed? Will character meet-and-greets continue? Will decreased park capacity make it harder for people to visit? These questions and more will hopefully be answered in the coming weeks as the situation evolves.

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