Shanghai Disneyland moves to reopen safely, positive sign for China’s economic recovery: experts

By Yang Hui in Shanghai and Huang Ge in Beijing Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/11 19:13:40

Resumption positive sign for epidemic fight, China’s economic recovery: experts

Shanghai Disneyland, which was shut down on January 25 amid the novel coronavirus epidemic, reopens on Monday - the world's first Disneyland to reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: Yang Hui/GT

Shanghai Disneyland reopened on Monday at 9 am, receiving its first guests after being shut for more than 100 days due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Shanghai facility is leading the reopening of Disney's theme parks across the globe, with world tourism under mounting pressure amid the pandemic. The reopening signals progress for China's efforts to contain the virus and offers a vote of confidence in its economic recovery, experts said.

Around 6 am, visitors were waiting outside the gates of Shanghai Disneyland as safety lines drawn on the ground kept them at a safe social distance from one another.

"I got here at 6 am with my friends as we thought there would be crowds eager to have fun in the park after its long closure. We had to show our health codes and get our temperatures checked," a Shanghai resident surnamed Xu, who was first in line, told the Global Times on Monday.

"It's quite meaningful to be here on the first day of the reopening and show our nation's progress in containing the virus. I'm so excited, and my boyfriend even took a day off to accompany me," a visitor surnamed Wang from Shanghai said.

Apart from local visitors, the park attracted fans from other regions of the country. "I came to Disneyland from [North China's] Tianjin. The reopening is uplifting after we were kept indoors for so long due to the pandemic," a visitor surnamed Li told the Global Times.

"It's a pity that the float parade and luminous phantom show are not available now since the park is trying to avoid big gatherings, but it's understandable and we should not lose our nerve amid the pandemic," Li said.

Shanghai Disneyland is the world's first Disneyland to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Shanghai resort was shut on January 25.

Most entertainment facilities, catering venues and shops resumed operations on Monday. But some interactive offerings such as children's play areas and indoor theater performances such as Eye of the Storm: Captain Jack's Stunt Spectacular and Frozen: Singing Gala remained temporarily closed to tourists.

To keep things running smoothly, the park has strengthened prevention measures. Employees must wear masks, all park vehicles are regularly disinfected, some attractions leave empty seats between visitors, and hand sanitizer is placed at every attraction exit. 

"We will disinfect every table after customers finish their meals and leave," an employee at a cafeteria in the park told the Global Times.

The number of visitors on Monday was down significantly compared with pre-pandemic figures because of restrictions on the flow of visitors, the Global Times learned on Monday.

As of 10 am, hundreds of visitors who had made reservations to enter the park at 10:30 am were already lining up.

Currently, the park is only admitting 20 percent of its maximum visitor capacity and visitors need to preorder tickets or use annual cards, according to Bao Zhaotian, a senior vice president of operations at Shanghai Disneyland Resort. 

Disney epitomizes the virus-stricken world tourism sector - the global entertainment giant faces great financial pressure such as labor costs and equipment maintenance fees, so the resumption will help it reduce losses, Liu Dingding, an independent analyst based in Beijing, told the Global Times on Monday.

But the reopening is not just Disneyland's business because joint prevention and control of the virus involves every segment of society, Liu said. 

"It will take more time to see how the park operates after the reopening, as China will normalize such prevention measures in the future. But if something goes wrong, the park may have to shut down again," Liu said.

The Chinese government announced on Friday that entertainment venues such as parks and scenic spots could reopen if they control visitor flows and require bookings in advance.

"The peak season of theme parks always comes during the summer, when Disneyland gets visitors from outside Shanghai, and how to control the visitor flow in a proper way matters a lot," Shenzhen-based analyst Wu Hao told the Global Times.

On Friday, more than 1,000 tickets for Shanghai Disneyland were sold out within an hour after going on sale at 8 am and more than 15,000 tickets were sold during the day, according to travel platform

The theme park also launched "half-day" tickets, allowing visitors to enter starting at 2 pm. The tickets are valid from the date of the reopening until June 9.

More domestic theme parks are likely to follow in Shanghai Disneyland's footsteps. 

A total of 418 domestic theme parks listed on online travel agency had resumed operations as of Monday, with the reopening rate being 30 percent of all domestic theme parks, according to media reports. 

Newspaper headline: Shanghai Disneyland moves to reopen safely


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