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I've seen at least a dozen staff members that are simply holding signs that say
“please maintain appropriate social distance.”
Nearly five months since Hong Kong Disneyland shut its doors amid the coronavirus outbreak,
it's now reopening.
I've arrived on its re-opening day to see how amusement parks are operating amid a global pandemic.
Since the start of the year, the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in the closure of theme parks
worldwide, including Disney parks and Universal parks and resorts.
The opening here could set the tone for how theme parks will operate in the future as
lockdown restrictions ease around the world.
Disneyland Hong Kong closed at the end of January, just days after the first case of
Covid-19 appeared in the city.
After a hiatus for nearly five months, it welcomed its first visitors on June 18, with
strict measures in place, including temperature checks at the entrance, compulsory usage of
face masks and operating at a reduced capacity.
Similar measures are in place at Shanghai Disneyland, which reopened in May after
a 15-week closure, and has restricted its capacity to 30 percent, or about or about 24,000 visitors.
Likewise, Universal Studios has also gradually reopened in phases at limited capacity.
Nearly a week before Hong Kong Disneyland reopened, another major attraction here,
Ocean Park, also reopened at 25 percent capacity, with plans to allow up to 50 percent capacity.
Because the park's occupancy is so limited, most rides don't have a typical wait time that
you would expect here.
I just rode the Hyper Space Mountain Roller Coaster, and pretty much just walked right in.
If a guest's face mask slides off, I notice staff are quick to enforce the rule by asking
guests to put it back on.
But of course, if guests are eating and drinking, they can take off their masks.
I see a lot of hand sanitizer dispensers have been added throughout the park.
and a lot of times I saw employees encourage guests to use them before and after rides.
Cast Members are making cameos around the park but, because of social distancing measures,
you won't have the typical Mickey Mouse meet and greet and things like that until further notice.
Even as theme parks reopen, a fast recovery is unlikely to happen anytime soon,
with economies contracting and unemployment at record levels.
The global amusement parks sector is expected to shrink by 2.7% to $71.6 billion in 2020,
compared to $73.5 billion a year before.
In February, Disney said that it expected to lose up to $175 million if its parks in
Hong Kong and Shanghai remained closed for two months, and they did.
To add to its woes, Hong Kong Disneyland was struggling even before the pandemic.
At the start of 2020, the park announced loses of more than $13 million for the 2019 fiscal year
as social unrest in the city deterred visitors to Hong Kong.
It doesn't help that Hong Kong has a small domestic market, unlike Shanghai.
Loyal theme park visitors in the form of season pass holders have provided theme parks with
a source of recurring revenue stream in recent years.
However, that relationship may be under threat as purse-strings tighten and safety remains a concern.
Until Covid-19 testing becomes ubiquitous and a vaccine is found, the slump in visitors
is expected to last for two years.
For guests who want to visit here, they'll have to buy tickets online at least seven days in advance
and fill out a health declaration form.
Usually, if you leave the park and you want to come back in, you have to show your ticket
and you get a stamp on your hand but, because of health issues,
now you have to show your ticket and, instead of a stamp, you have to show a photo on your
phone that you took inside the park earlier that day so they know it was in fact you
who was in the park.
This has definitely been an experience like no other to an amusement park for me.
Aside from the obvious face masks and social distancing measures, just being in an
amusement park with a much smaller crowd has definitely been a different experience.
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We went inside Hong Kong Disneyland during a global pandemic | CNBC Reports

8 Folder Collection
Summer published on July 31, 2020
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