Disney’s Shanghai park to reopen Monday. The rest? Who knows


Disney will reopen its Shanghai theme park Monday, though it will limit guest count and require other health measures like face masks, contact tracing and social distancing. 

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Disney will reopen its Chinese theme park Shanghai Disney on Monday, the company said Tuesday, but other parks’ reopening dates are still a big question mark.  

“While it’s too early to predict when we’ll be able to begin resuming all of our operations, we are evaluating a number of different scenarios to ensure a cautious sensible and deliberate approach to the eventual reopening of our parks,” Disney’s new CEO Bob Chapek said during a call to discuss the company’s financial performance in the first three months of the year. 

For Shanghai Disney, all guests and employees will be required to wear masks. The only characters that won’t wear masks at Shanghai Disney are “face characters” like Disney princesses, and they will be kept at a distance from crowds. So even at Shanghai Disney, nobody will be taking selfies with Elsa anytime soon. 

The company said the Shanghai reopening will come in phases, with limits on attendance using an advanced reservation and entry system to control guest attendance and maintain social distancing and other preventative health measures. That includes the use of masks, temperature screenings and other contact tracing and early detection systems, Chapek said. 

Disney‘s theme parks have closed indefinitely to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus and the respiratory disease it causes, COVID-19. But Disney’s parks, cruises and resorts are crucial to the health of the company. Fans enjoy tracking the box-office records that Disney’s movies tend to shatter with blockbusters from Marvel, Star Wars and Pixar, but Disney’s parks division is much bigger, dollar for dollar. Disney’s sales generated by parks, products and experiences more than doubled that of Disney’s studios last fiscal year. 

In other words, movies are the heart of Disney’s business, but the company will bleed out faster because of park closures.

In the first three months of the year, Disney estimated that COVID-19 closures and other coronavirus disruptions cost its parks division $1 billion in lost operating profit. Overall, the company missed about $1.4 billion because of the pandemic in it fiscal second quarter. 

Disney’s Shanghai and Hong Kong theme parks have been closed since January, its Tokyo park shut down in February, and its US and Paris parks closed in mid-March.

Despite the Shanghai reopening, Disney’s Chief Financial Officer Christine McCarthy noted the rest of the parks’ future was still unclear. “There is limited visibility into the timing of reopening, and the conditions under which we can reopen the rest of our parks and resorts, cruise ships and Disney stores,” she said in a call to discuss results Tuesday. 

But the company’s chief medical officer released a report on the company’s plans and considerations for reopening parks, resorts and stores. 

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