Visitors in face masks streamed into Shanghai Disneyland as the theme park reopened Monday in a high-profile step toward reviving tourism that was shut down by the coronavirus pandemic.
The House of Mouse’s experience in Shanghai, the first of its parks to reopen, foreshadows hurdles global entertainment industries might face. Disney is limiting visitor numbers, requiring masks and checking for the virus’s telltale fever.
China, where the pandemic began in December, was the first country to reopen factories and other businesses after declaring the disease under control in March even as infections rise and controls are tightened in some other countries.
“We hope that today’s reopening serves as a beacon of light across the globe, providing hope and inspiration to everyone,” the president of Shanghai Disney Resort, Joe Schott, told reporters.
Tourism has been hit especially hard by controls imposed worldwide that shut down airline and cruise ship travel, theme parks and cinemas. Disney blamed a 91 per cent plunge in its latest quarter profit on $1.4 billion in virus-related costs.
Shanghai Disneyland and Disney’s park in Hong Kong closed on Jan. 25 as China isolated cities with 60 million people to try to contain the outbreak. Tokyo Disneyland closed the following month and parks in the United States and Europe in March.
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China has allowed shops and offices to reopen but is keeping cinemas, bars, karaoke parlours and other businesses closed.
Disney guests, some wearing Mickey Mouse ears, and children in Little Mermaid, Mulan, Minnie Mouse and Snow White costumes were checked Monday for fever at the park gate and then walked down nearly empty lanes as employees waved to them. The company’s signature tune, “When You Wish Upon a Star,” played over loudspeakers.
Disney, headquartered in Burbank, California, said some outlets in Disney Springs, a shopping, dining and entertainment complex attached to the Disney World theme park in Florida will reopen this month. The company has yet to to set a date for reopening Disney World or its other parks worldwide.
Visitors to Shanghai Disney are required to show government-issued identification and use a smartphone app issued by the Shanghai city government that tracks their health and contacts with anyone who might have been exposed to he virus.
That allows the company to “understand and regulate the flow of traffic,” said Bolstein.
Activities including children’s play areas and indoor theatre shows are closed in line with government restrictions, Bolstein said.
“We hope to bring them back some time soon,” he said.
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