disneyland photo taken by Peter

Right now Disneyland and Universal Studios are facing the unprecedented situation of being completely closed for an extended period of time in order to help stop the spread of the coronavirus across the United States. As of now, there’s no estimate as to when the parks will re-open, but thanks to a new statement from Bob Iger, executive chairman of the board for the Walt Disney Company, and some surveys from Universal Studios, we have some idea of what it might be like when business resumes.

Theme parks re-opening isn’t exactly a big concern for the country at this point, especially since many will likely be hesitant to head straight back to crowded venues as soon as the pandemic slows down. However, we must remember that these theme parks employ thousands who are currently furloughed, and they need jobs in order to live their everyday lives. That’s why Disney and Universal will have safety and hygiene as top concerns in order to keep their customers as safe as possible when the time comes.

Bob Iger recently spoke to KABC about how they intend to address all the appropriate concerns once Disneyland and Disney World are allowed to open back up for business. Iger said:

“Clearly, making people feel safe from getting the virus is the biggest obstacle and it’s clearly complicated. It’s not just about — as far as we know — social distancing. It’s about taking a number of steps, implementing a number of procedures to make sure that people feel safe.

One of those procedures will be increased hygiene, but it’s likely that we’re going to need some mass testing, at scale, and some form of contact tracing as well so that we can identify people who have been exposed or people who have had the virus and may be of harm to others. Those initiatives are needed in the absence of therapeutic medicine or a vaccine, which is months to a year away.”

The last part of his quote is moreso addressing what California will need to do as a whole with regards to restarting the economy. The state’s governor Gavin Newsom is assembling a task force that will evaluate how to safely revive the economy, and Iger believes certain steps will need to be taken in order to allow theme parks to re-open. So don’t anticipate some kind of testing at Disney theme park gates or anything like that.

For Disneyland’s part, President Rebecca Campbell said in a statement that she is confident the park will come out all right on the other side:

“As a company and employer, we are committed to taking appropriate steps to care for our cast and protect our business. And as a member of this community, we are proud to call Anaheim and Orange County home. While none of us knows exactly how long this will last, I think we know one thing… Orange County will emerge better and stronger than ever before.”

Universal Studios Hollywood coronavirus

Universal Studios Surveying Customers About Restrictions

Meanwhile, Universal Studios is surveying their customers to find out how they’d feel about certain restrictions at their theme parks as soon as they are allowed to re-open, as well as attending the parks in general once business resumes. Here are some of the precautions that the survey asks about (via Theme Park Insider):

  • Limiting attendance to 25%, 50% or 75% of the park’s capacity
  • Requiring guests and/or team members to wear face masks
  • Requiring guests and/or team members to have their temperature taken before entering
  • Requiring guests and/or team members to have daily rapid COVID-19 testing
  • Suspending x-ray conveyor belts at security
  • Eliminating self-serve food and beverage options
  • Establishing enhanced sanitation stations
  • Implementing touch-free payment for food, merchandise and parking
  • Implementing social distancing standards all over the parks
  • Implementing a virtual line waiting system for all or most attractions
  • Removing 3D glasses from attractions
  • Wiping down vehicles and seats between rides
  • Seating guests in every other seat for rides and shows
  • Suspending parades and nighttime shows
  • Closing indoor attractions and shows

Many of these will be measures that are taken by default (and should maybe become standard practice), but Universal Studios wanted to survey guests to see how they would feel about these measures being taken. Their goal is likely to see what is most important to theme park attendees when the parks re-open and see what will make them most comfortable about returning to theme parks.

But for now, this is something we’ll be waiting awhile to see implemented since theme parks are still closed indefinitely, and there’s no specific timetable for when they will re-open. What would it take for you to return to theme parks in the near future?

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