Shanghai Disneyland Holds “Grand Reopening” As Guest Capacity Slashed, Social Distancing Enforced

Global equity investors have sent markets soaring in recent weeks on the belief that the global economy can still somehow experience a “V-shaped” recovery. But to say this response is largely based on wishful thinking wouldn’t quite do it justice.

On Monday, Disney reopened Shanghai Disneyland for the first time in the three months since the pandemic closed most of China. However, even as the Shanghai park becomes the only major Disney theme park in operation around the world, strict public health rules imposed by local party officials means the park “will now restrict visitor numbers to 20% of daily capacity, or about 16,000 people – far below a level initially requested by the Chinese government,” reported Reuters.

It also means that visitors will be subjected to a battery of temperature checks, and constant nagging by park employees to observe social distancing rules like remaining 6 feet apart.

Disney scrapped all parades and fireworks, replacing those activities with an evening projection show. The park also shut down all interactive children’s play areas and indoor live shows. 

Andrew Bolstein, the park’s senior vice-president of operations, said most of the rides are open along with restaurants. He added that more attractions and shops would come online, but that will depend on government regulations.

Zhang Zhongyu, 29, a patron interviewed by Reuters, described the experiencing as being a little disappointing.

“I’m a little disappointed, but there’s nothing we can do – thinking of the virus, you have to avoid guests gathering closely, it’s understandable,” Zhongyu said.

The process for entering the park mirrors the procedures for an Amazon worker in America to enter the warehouses where they work Customers will pass through body temperature stations and show their health status on a smartphone app. Masks at Disneyland are required. Once inside, markers tell guests where they can and cannot stand. Audio on loudspeakers regularly reminds people of social distancing rules. Spacing on rides was also seen to limit virus transmissions.

As Bloomberg reports, tickets for Monday’s reopening “sold out in minutes.”

But even so, guest capacity at the park has been significantly reduced versus volumes that were seen in pre-corona times, and – as Kyle Bass pointed out a few weeks ago during an interview on CNBC – there aren’t many businesses that can survive on 20% of normal customer capacity.

So while the American financial press pumps the Shanghai reopening, the more important news out of China on Monday appears to be reports of a lockdown being reimposed at a town near the North Korean border following an alleged outbreak.

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