Shanghai Disneyland set to reopen with social distancing guidelines

Tons of hand sanitizer and shorter lines expected at the first Disney park to reopen.

Hu Chengwei/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Shanghai Disneyland is set to reopen on May 11 and tickets for Monday have already sold out, according to CNBC. On Thursday, a video was released detailing the expansive social distancing measures guests will need to follow. The park is cleared to accept 24,000, or a third, of its typical capacity and has turned to ticket reservations to ensure this.

What to expect — Starting Monday, guests will need to reserve a QR code ticket in advance and bring a government ID, mask, as well as an official Shanghai Health QR Code from the day of the visit. The health QR code is doled out as soon as guests arrive at the park and have their temperatures taken with infrared cameras that appear to be fitted with facial recognition software. The code is a government-backed contact tracing system supplemented by the park’s mandatory ID match between the ticket holder and buyer.

From that point, the reservation code is checked before you head through security. Strangely, by the time you get to the actual entrance where IDs are taken, none of those workers in the video have gloves. Up until that point, interactions are pretty contact-free, but entrance workers must physically handle/scan IDs.

In terms of park experience, all lines will have marked waiting areas to maintain distances. Though masks must be worn as soon as you hit the health checkpoint, they can be removed when eating. Certain dining tables won’t be available for use to keep distance between guests. Similarly, on larger rides, there will be a seat between groups while smaller rides will only permit one group per car. Additionally, hand sanitizer stations are placed at ride exits, and contactless payments are encouraged at stores and restaurants.

In easily the most hilarious part of the video, it’s announced that you can still find characters around the park, just from a distance. At that moment, our park guests wave at classic characters, including Minnie Mouse doing her best Eva Peron impression, on a balcony that might as well be in Argentina.

What does this mean for theme parks? — Shanghai Disneyland was the first of Disney’s theme parks to close on January 25, with the Hong Kong park following the next day. Other Shanghai Disneyland properties, including Disneytown and the Disneyland Hotel, were reopened on March 9 with such sustained success the park is set to do the same.

The measures being taken for the park to gain some revenue will provide a blueprint for other Disney parks around the world which are expected to stay closed indefinitely. Last year, Disney's Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products division brought in 37 percent of the company’s overall revenue. While Shanghai seems poised to handle this new normal, the other parks will likely struggle with local contact tracing infrastructure and the willingness of guests to wear masks.