Disney's doctor starts to layout considerations for opening theme parks

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

From the blog post:

To that end, I want to share an update with you about our plans and considerations as we prepare for the reopening of our parks, resorts and stores. At Disney, we’re exploring:

  • Phased reopening: We’re looking at all of our locations and how best to begin the reopening process, including a gradual reopening and/or partial reopening of certain locations. For example, the opening of retail and dining locations prior to the opening of our theme parks.
  • Physical distancing and capacity measures: As you can imagine, managing guest density in queues, restaurants, hotels, ride vehicles and other facilities throughout the park and across the resort is a major focus, as we implement physical distancing guidelines based on guidance from health authorities, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and appropriate government agencies. This will likely include implementation of guest capacity measures to comply with state and federal guidelines. We’re also exploring ways to use technology to aid us in these efforts, like with our Play Disney Parks App and through virtual queues at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
  • Cleanliness and sanitization: We’re planning increased cleaning and disinfection, determining where that should take place (for example, in high-traffic areas), and the cleaning products and processes we’ll use.
  • Screening and prevention support: We’ll follow guidance from the government and the medical community regarding enhanced screening procedures and prevention measures, including those related to personal protective equipment (PPE), such as face coverings. Some measures, like adding hand sanitizers and hand washing stations across our resorts, have already been implemented.
  • Cast training: We’re further emphasizing our strong culture of health and safety amongst our cast members, and will continue to provide new training and reinforcement as we get closer to reopening.

Read more from Disney Parks Blog.

Jeff's avatar

I think Gonch is going to get his "everything is scheduled" reality sooner than later. Also, I wonder how long the parks have had a "Chief Medical Officer."

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

Fun's avatar

Dr. Hymel has worked in that role for almost a decade now.

I wonder what the Fun Spot "Chief Medical Officer" will have to say.

Sounds like a nightmare to implement.

I can definitely see reservation times for everything. Virtual queue lines. You just show up at 1:15 to ride space mountain instead of the 1 hour fast pass window.

Lord Gonchar's avatar

Jeff said:

I think Gonch is going to get his "everything is scheduled" reality sooner than later. Also, I wonder how long the parks have had a "Chief Medical Officer."

We were already a good chunk of the way there. Ironically, I never even thought of it in this scenario and it's so obvious, it hurts.

Doesn't matter how I got there, I got the result. 😉

The one thing I keep thinking when I read about parks flirting with 100% virtual queues is something we used to discuss in the great front-of-line debates of the 00's - now you won't know who is getting preferrential treatment. There's no line to cut. You have no idea if I was told my wait was the same 40 minutes as you or I only had to wait 20...or not at all.

ApolloAndy's avatar

Well, the problem with virtual lines is that all those people have to be somewhere. If you're doing strictly virtual lines, you're wasting a lot of large, open spaces that, with proper markings, could potentially absorb a lot of people.

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

Jeff's avatar

That's the real variable that I don't entirely get. If we're being honest, most of your time in any theme park is spent walking around. How does one account for that?

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

kpjb's avatar

Yes. Queues get people off the midways. You can go to all virtual queues, but if that means another 15,000 people wandering around then I'm not sure how that helps. You can open a park at 50% capacity, but if all those people are wandering about then it's going to seem ridiculously crowded.


Here is the preview being given for Shanghai Disney's setup. It took a pandemic to get people to wash their hands. Now we need to teach them to follow directions on the ground, which they're already not doing at stores who have placed direction of travel indicators.

June 11th, 2001 - Gemini 100
VertiGo Rides - 82

Yikes. I understand the push to reopen. Business gotta business, after all. That said, after watching the video, that doesn't represent anything close to something I would want to do with my family as part of a "big" Disney vacation. That is borderline dystopian. I could see accepting that experience for a day trip to a regional park, but the experience is so antithetical to what a Disney trip is supposed to be for a family (to me, anyway) that I can't imagine doing it. It's all so impersonal, which is either by design or just an unavoidable consequence of the design. Either way, that's not a vacation. That's a day (or many days) of near constant worry about whether you're in the "right" place and doing the "right" thing while being constantly reminded that the world is upside down.

Putting my blinders on and just watching the video it seems pretty straightforward as they walk through the park. But then I remember that there are going to be several thousands of people doing this all together. I suppose if everyone is playing nicely then it would be OK. So maybe in China this has a chance to work. But then I think of the good ol' USA where people are going nuts about being told to wear a mask. A few unruly folks and and I am afraid that things will get ugly over here.

Zero chance this works in the United States. For one the marking systems for distancing throughout the park are not consistent. In some areas there are signs telling you were not to stand and other times you are supposed to stand on a yellow line. In queues those marking are on hand rails. In restaurant signs on tables are not going to prevent people from sitting there. Chairs will need to be removed.

Did anyone else catch them throwing out a meter for social distancing? Is the standard in China different than in the states? Maybe I misheard but I swear I heard one meter several times in the video.

My biggest concern is that all of these protocols are put in place but they broke down very quickly with just a few people in the park. There were countless instances where social distancing was violated (entering the park, bag check, cast members on parade float, tai chi with Donald Duck, queues for rides, etc.)

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