Shanghai Disney Resort is Open and I’m Emotional

shanghai disney coronavirus
Image via Wikimedia Commons//Fayhoo

Shanghai Disney Resort has opened its gates and I’m surprisingly emotional about it.  This is the first step on a long journey towards normalcy. 

Ever since it was announced that Shanghai Disneyland would be opening on May 11th, I knew I’d be glued to social media just to see how this would play out.  What I didn’t expect was to get super emotional over a guest winding their way through the Pirate of the Caribbean queue, pointing out the social distance precautions along the way and giving us a glimpse at the new normal.  But here we are.

Chris Explorer” is a Tokyo-based Asia theme park expert who has been documenting his day in the park, so I highly recommend going and checking out his feed.  As other theme parks in Asia begin to open, I expect he’ll be in the loop on how all that’ll play out, so go give him a follow if you want to stay up to date on that particular topic.

The theme park is currently limited to about a third of its normal capacity (24,000 guests are being allowed in per day), their entrance times are being staggered, and all guests are required to wear a face mask while in the park, only being allowed to remove it to eat.  All guests are required to have a clean bill of health, which is tracked by a QR code app on their phones.  And, as highlighted in the embedded clip above from Chris, social distancing markers are everywhere.  Based on social media posts, most of the queues seem short to begin with, but the distancing precautions are present throughout the lines.

They’ve taken some extreme precautions to keep people safe, and, thanks to those limitations, people get to experience a little bit of Disney magic while the world goes through this extremely stressful global event.  There are kids in Shanghai that get to see their favorite Disney characters and families getting to enjoy their favorite rides.  It’s something I didn’t think I’d be seeing quite so soon and I didn’t realize just how badly I needed it until I watched some of the videos.

It’s good to see this step forward, even if being surrounded by visual reminders that we’re living in a sort of dystopian atmosphere on a global scale.  But I’m not gonna lie, it’s super eerie to see everyone in face masks and Mickey ears as they roam about the park.  It’s very much something out of a dystopian doomsday novel, but that’s just how our reality is now I guess.

But this is what’s required to even make this possible.  It’s going to take everyone pulling together to help reduce transmission in order for us to even take a step towards normalcy.  If people don’t abide by the precautions that have been put out for us, it could cause a spike in transmissions and set us back weeks or months as we move towards recovery.  So as eerie as it is, please follow the rules so we can have a little bit of positivity in our lives.

Of course, even with these precautions, there’s a chance that this could lead to an uptick in cases.  While I certainly hope that’s not the case, there is an uneasy curiosity to see how things are in two weeks time.  In a strange sense, Shanghai Disney is acting as a sort of canary in a coal mine for theme parks around the world.  If they can do this successfully, other places can follow their lead once they’ve reached similar conditions. 

Sadly, this could also provide a false sense of security for places who have not yet reached the conditions required to reopen.  While China has taken the threat seriously with these measures and made reopening their park possible, that’s not the same everywhere and I don’t expect any of the other parks to open up any time in May.  I would guess Walt Disney World would be next as they plan on opening Disney Springs on May 20th, but our numbers are still incredibly high here, so even that feels premature.

Alas, Florida has been one of the places pushing for eased restrictions the most, so I would put money on those parks beginning to reopen next month.  Besides the Chinese QR code app, I also expect Walt Disney World’s requirements to be similar, but I’m not sure if it’ll be as strictly enforced or as tolerated by the attendees.  I hope to be wrong on this bit, but we’ll see.

For now, we can all live vicariously through the lucky 24,000 people who got to visit Shanghai Disneyland today.  Check out the #ShanghaiDisneyland hashtag on Twitter and the Shanghai Disneyland search results to see for yourself how things are going.  I wish all the attendees well and hope the world can follow their lead in a measured, responsible way so that we can all start getting back to doing the things that we love.

Author: Angel Wilson

Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.

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