Disney CEO: Masks Likely Required for Disney World Guests
New Disney CEO Bob Chapek just gave a wide-ranging interview to CNBC following Shanghai Disneyland’s successful reopening day. Topics covered included the future of Walt Disney World and Disneyland, as well as the film slate, Disney+ and more. In this post, we’ll recap some of what was discussed and what clues Chapek gave about the Walt Disney Company’s roadmap for the next few months.
We’ll start with Shanghai Disneyland, the reopening of which was the likely impetus for the interview. Last night, we watched this 85-minute live stream of this Shanghai Disneyland’s opening plus a number of Instagram stories from people who know who live in China. By appearances, things went well. Attendance appeared modest, wait times were short, and guests were (mostly) complying with requirements of social distancing and wearing masks.
Watching Shanghai Disneyland’s reopening was probably the most excited and happy we’ve been in weeks. Even though we have “complicated” feelings about going back, it was nice to see. The entire world is going through a tough time right now, and it felt like a glimmer of hope during that. Having even one Disney park in the world open sends a symbol of returning to normalcy–people going back to enjoying fun and frivolous things…
Not to bring this crashing back to reality too quickly, but it’s worth emphasizing that Shanghai Disneyland is dramatically different from Walt Disney World and Disneyland for a number of reasons. Testing, tracing, and the prophylactic measures taken in China all differ from the United States. As do new cases–Shanghai was never the epicenter of the pandemic, and the city has had no new cases since March 3.
It also helps that the majority owner of Shanghai Disneyland is a state-controlled company, meaning the park has both the blessing and liability shield afforded by the government. There are myriad other cultural, demographic, and logistic differences between Shanghai Disneyland and Walt Disney World. All of which is to say that we don’t want to draw too strong of conclusions from that park’s reopening, even if the lessons there will undoubtedly be applied to the domestic parks.
During his CNBC interview, Disney CEO Bob Chapek spoke about the reopening of Shanghai Disneyland. He described the local market there as “short book,” meaning that most guests plan visits and buy park tickets with little notice, as opposed to booking vacation packages months in advance (like at Walt Disney World).
Chapek indicated that Disney is significantly constraining attendance, and that nearly all advance reservations have been booked. “We’re pretty much booked out for the rest of the week. We have a few tickets available on a few days, but essentially, everything is gone.”
This claim is dubious–as of this morning, every day after today (going by China Standard Time) for the rest of the month had both full and half-day tickets available. Despite initial widespread reporting that reopening day tickets sold out in minutes, more availability was released and tickets were available through the weekend.
In any case, Chapek reported receiving countless emails from guests eager for the parks to reopen (that’s undoubtedly true). Chapek noted that for many people, Disney represents “some semblance of normalcy.” He further stated that Disney wants to reopen as soon as possible around the world, but is moving cautiously, responsibly, and slowly.
Chapek pointed to the reduced capacity reopening in Shanghai Disneyland as a small step towards reopening other parks, a “stair-step” towards prudently ramping up to normal operations.
The plan at Shanghai Disneyland is to go slow and steady, increasing capacity numbers by 5,000 guests per week in compliance with government health and safety guidelines.
Chapek praised guest compliance with the new safety measures, before being asked a couple of questions about the timeline for reopening Hong Kong Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Resort.
(Nothing really substantive was said about either. We know from recent social media photos that HKDL is preparing the parks with similar infrastructure to what was installed in Shanghai two weeks before that park reopened. Japan just extended its state of emergency, so Tokyo Disney Resort is unlikely to reopen anytime in the next month.)
When asked specifically about Walt Disney World reopening in July, Chapek indicated that he wouldn’t comment on any specific dates. (In case you missed it over the weekend, Walt Disney World Delayed Bookings Another Month, suggesting that July 1, 2020 is now the earliest reopening date for the Florida resorts.)
Instead, Chapek said in large part it will depend upon guidance from the state and local governments, plus healthcare experts and hospitals in the area where Disney operates, plus their capacities.
Chapek did strike an optimistic tone when discussing the reopening of Disney Springs, which he compared favorably to Disneytown at Shanghai Disney Resort. He noted that Disney dipped its toes in the water with Disneytown, and will be doing the same with Disney Springs.
He indicated that the soft opening of Disneytown went incredibly well in terms of guest cooperation, and hopes that this has paved the way for a “great rebirth” of Disney Parks. Chapek also stressed guest behavior and compliance, intimating that subsequent progress will likely hinge on how well guests do with the new rules imposed at Disney Springs.
When asked about health safety protocol and potential impediments to reopening Walt Disney World and Disneyland, Chapek spoke of cultural norms and environment.
He also broached the topic of face masks, which have already proven to be a lightning rod for controversy among some Disney fans.
Regarding face masks, Chapek said: “one of the things we’re likely going to require is masks for both the Cast and for the guests. And I think the masks for the guest will be something that culturally is different. In Asia, as you know, it’s fairly commonplace for folks to walk around in public with masks on.
That is not the case in the United States. So that will be something that will be a little trying for some of the guests, particularly in the hot, humid summers that we tend to have.”
From there, the interview bounced to the topic of Disney’s upcoming Mulan release, which Chapek confirmed will go forward with its July 24, 2020 release date. He believes there’s sufficient pent-up demand for the release, and it will be sufficiently safe for film-goers to return to theaters.
There was also talk about releasing more on Disney+ (or not), the stoppage of film production in California (including the upcoming season of the Mandalorian), live sports on ESPN, the Chapek-Iger relationship, and more.
You can watch Chapek’s full CNBC interview for yourself:
Overall, it’s interesting to hear directly from Disney’s CEO as to what’s on the horizon, and what the internal thinking is right now within the Walt Disney Company. While a lot obviously remains unknown (and is still subject to change) this is the second straight time we’ve found Chapek’s words encouraging (the first being the recent earnings call).
Chapek once again reinforced Disney’s resilience, and pointed to the (many) bright spots for long-term success even as many of Disney’s business units are hit especially hard right now. We’re not exactly “Chapek cheerleaders,” but we are certainly rooting for the company’s ongoing success. He’s demonstrated more poise and eloquence in the last couple weeks than we’ve heard in any previous interview, which bodes well. Some leaders are forged in crisis…maybe that’s exactly what’s happening here?
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What do you think of this news? Think this bodes well for the reopening of Walt Disney World’s parks & resorts within the next few months? Are you excited to see that Shanghai Disneyland has reopened, even if you won’t be visiting anytime in the near future (or ever)? Any questions? Keep comments respectful, apolitical, and on topic. Anything not following these requirements will be removed.
Haha Tim, now you know what it feels like trying to use logic with the anti-shooting or anti-fireworks zealots with their preachiness and fallacies. Do not negotiate with them; they will just come back for more…
If Disney requires masks, this won’t be a discussion. Either you go and wear one or you don’t get in.
Speaking of ‘growing up’ as you put it, people need to stop saying anyone who disagrees with them is ‘bullying’. That word is now meaningless from overuse…
I understand your point. It’s a challenge with kids. It could a good adults-only experience, however. With so few people (30%) in the parks, it would be easier to practice social distancing, etc. I usually don’t do the rides, I just walk around. I mainly stay in Epcot and Animal Kingdom. Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios I could do without.
Disney is now getting in the act of making masks.
Note the disclaimer. Also, wonder where they’re manufactured…
It looks like the disclaimer was written by the lawyers at Disney. I’d bet they were made in China or someplace in Asia
Never in my life would I think that it would be wearing a mask that would divide people so sharply. If we had leadership that delivered a clear message there would not be this division and rhetoric. It is sad to see that we can’t all work together to make this an easier and safer transition into our new normal.
Agree, Anthony. The “new normal” is going to be wearing a mask and social distancing…for the foreseeable future. IMHO…
I personally do not think there will be some kind of miracle vaccine developed.
No, this situation is NOT in any way a ‘new normal’ for us.
I agree with Mrnico. This is NOT a new normal. It’s something we’re going through at the moment, until we come out the other side. Treatments are being refined and perfected. Vaccines will be developed. We beat polio, measles, mumps, smallpox, and myriad other infections that caused so much harm. COVID-19 is a nasty, dangerous thing, but it WILL be relegated to background noise over time. It’s a respiratory virus, not a lifetime commitment like HIV or Herpes.
Jay, I sure hope we come up with at least a good preventive. Even HIV is not a guaranteed death sentence like it was in the late 80s. And hepatitis can be cured too (some types). Most diehard Disney people are fairly positive. I’m thinking that come September, trying to wear a mask will be worth it to get photo opportunities of parks with fewer people in the way…
I only mean a new normal for the foreseeable future, however, maybe masks will become more commonplace in the USA as they are in Asian nations.
@Cathie – Agree with your statements I do. 🙂
I think Disney made the right decision here. If WDW is going to reopen, masks need to be a requirement. While there is no way to completely eliminate the risks, cloth masks keep guests safer because they keep infected people, (including those who are Asymptomatic and are completely unaware that they are infected with COVID) from spreading the virus. They contain the respiratory droplets so they don’t travel as far, thereby making the 6 foot social distancing more effective. As Andrew stated, cloth masks do very little to keep viruses out, but they are somewhat useful in keeping infected respiratory droplets IN. So while I agree with Disney’s decision to require masks if they reopen, I’m (sadly) waiting till that requirement is lifted before I return for a visit. So disappointing we had to cancel our June trip and oldest daughter’s graduation celebration. But it just makes us look forward all the more to a future visit.
Disney has not made that decision. They are in the process of consideration and weighing all the options. I do hope that they will look at the scientific proof and make their decision based on that. Masks should be optional, not a requirement.
If anyone can figure out a way to get to some kind of return to normal with large crowds I believe it will be Disney.
I also think that these people who won’t wear a mask or think that Disney won’t require a mask are in denial.
If you see them in Shanghai where people are much more compliant then for sure you’ll see it in the United States.
Frank, I believe you are right, but they are more political they should be and the political winds are for masks right now.
Remember: you wear a cloth mask to keep others safe, not to keep yourself safe from infection. The cloth masks do help in containing infected droplets from traveling as far. And since research indicates that over 85% of COVID cases are undetected, people who think they are healthy could unknowingly be spreading the virus, even when they speak, thereby infecting others and causing the death of those more vulnerable. Also remember that the droplets can linger in the air more than just a few minutes, so while waiting for an attraction, moving from one designated spot in line, forward to the next, you’ll be breathing in the same possibly contaminated air as the previous occupant of that spot in the line. You wear a mask to protect others, which is vital for areas where thousands gather, environments like theme parks. But in our self-centered society doing something to protect others that may not go over very well. However I do agree that wearing a mask is not something I want to do on vacation, especially not in Florida heat, I’ll choose to just stay home till the restriction is lifted. I did read read today that a 100% effective antibody treatment (NOT the convalescent plasma) has been discovered and can get FDA approval much faster than a vaccine. There is hope on the horizon for those of us Disney fans who want to return to the park without being required to wear a mask.
It’s nice to see I’m not the only person who is 100% against masks. I’ve said it before…PPE will NEVER work in the US parks, particularly in the Florida summer and with small children. The WHO, CDC, and the panic-driven media will never tell you this, but since I care about this online Disney community, allow me…
There is new evidence that face coverings are doing more harm than good. Not only will they “soil” easily by being constantly touched and handled, but breathing in your own CO2 is detrimental to good respiratory health and immunity. Just Google it — it’s all there for public knowledge. Combine that with summer Florida heat & humidity, and Disney will have a catastrophe on their hands. I realize Disney needs to mitigate risk, but they also need to be practical and stay true to the Guest experience. Ya know, good ol’ common sense???
I’m with the MAJORITY of folks here in that we are cancelling our October trip (and not re-booking) if these intrusive measures are in place. Not paying thousands of dollars for a half-assed experience. Sorry, Disney.
However, I think this begs the question…does anyone else think this is what Disney wants anyway? Thousands of cancellations over the next few months is a quick and easy way for them to maintain crowd control without other measures. Think about it. They are all laughing at us now over at Team Disney.
Right. When in doubt listen to “Doctor Google.” (eye roll)
“I’m with the MAJORITY of folks here in that we are cancelling our October trip (and not re-booking) if these intrusive measures are in place. Not paying thousands of dollars for a half-assed experience. Sorry, Disney.”
I think you need to grow up a little bit.
I totally agree with you. Except Disney’s bottom line is $$$. They have to be hurting right now. I doubt if they want to lose more. And it’s not just the cancellations. Vacation club members are checking into selling their property. That’s 40 years worth of guaranteed money. Problem is: my DVC rep won’t return my phone calls.
I apologize for overreacting.
“I think people who are screaming here and bullying everyone regarding masks are mostly locals or ones who do not pay a lot of $$$$$ to come to Disney, so they don’t mind.”
When I read that, it seemed you were suggesting something about locals and those spending less $$$$$ for their trip. But that was my interpretation, and may not have been what you were attempting to say. However, when you said you thought that those screaming and bullying about masks were mostly locals or those who didn’t pay a lot of $$$$$, your tone came across as inflammatory, which may be why I overreacted.
I’m a DVC owner and yes i live in florida and i pay annually big $$$$ for that. I don’t agree with wearing mask since they are already going to be testing temps, etc… as you enter. Now is I think mask should be optional and at the indv’s choice. Mask already make it harder to breath through and when temps hit 100 degrees and humidity hits 100%, people will start dropping like flies. Then you will see disney being sued because they knew that precaution could in itself be dangerous for people.
Sorry about that Mallory, that was not what I meant. Everyone can be a bit on edge right now, understandably. I apologize for misunderstanding, and I did not mean for my reply to come off as inflammatory. I am sure we can all politely agree to disagree and hopefully things will work out OK one way or another. Most importantly is to get through these tough times.
Andrew is right in his assessment of cloth masks. Besides, wearing any sort of mask all day in Florida’s heat just sounds like a key ingredient in a recipe for misery. We have visited WDW annually for the past 20+ years, usually in their off season (mid November or January) and even though the parks are only at a fraction of capacity, in recent years it’s still uncomfortably crowded. I cannot fathom maintaining even close to 6 feet distancing from other park guests. Leaving every other row empty in the ride vehicles or theaters will not allow for that. Our family will wait a year or two to return, when we can fully enjoy the ALL the magic of Disney.
“Spending more $$$$$ on your DW vacation may mean you are wealthy, but it doesn’t mean you love Disney World more than people not as wealthy.”
I don’t understand what you don’t understand about my comment. This is not about being wealthy and what you can afford or not. Or about loving Disney more then the next guy. I assume everyone who reads this great blog are very fond of the Disney Parks, otherwise they would not be reading it.
This is about the issue of not willing to wear a mask after having spend over $10K on a vacation. We actually DO save for several years to travel to Disney, can’t afford to fly there every year. And we stay in value resorts as well, as the higher-priced ones are way above our price range. It is still very expensive for our family. We are not able to just stop by the Parks for a few hours at our convenience, as locals do. And then leave when wearing a mask gets too uncomfortable. For the kind of money we pay to be there, we really try to get the most out of the experience.
Knowing that cloth/home-made masks are really NOT all that helpful, I will not wear it for 12+ hours walking through the parks in the summer heat. I will wear it while shopping, out doing errands, etc., even knowing that it is useless, to make those who believe in them feel better. But I AM NOT DOING IT during a really pricey vacation in the summer heat. Sorry. I know most people here agree with me and some do not, and that is just fine. We have to be respectful. And continue to take all the safely measures and practice social distancing. This thread of comments is specifically about masks being mandatory at Disney, not about anything else.
Whilst I probably will not get to go to WDW anytime soon, I do have a Haunted Mansion Dooney print themed mask that I bought from a seller on Mercari. I also have a couple of Vera Bradley ones in the Night and Day print, regular blue disposable style ones that are from Walmart’s website and ordered the fishing style hats with the plastic that covers in front of your face shield style. I saw a picture of Courtney Cox sporting one of them and honestly, she found a way to look cute! (I know, of course Monica from friends is going to look cute and we know that Monica would be the first to sanitize everything in site. ) So, even though I don’t like wearing them, I’m going to for the meantime, even if it’s just when I go grocery shopping. I heard someone sneeze the other day when I had to get supplies and so didn’t realize how much that sound would affect me now, even though it’s severe allergy season here and again in September- October! So playing the guessing game of allergies vs rona, which is it stranger who sneezed very loudly? *sigh* For those of you who are wearing masks when venturing out, any favorites? So far the easiest to breathe through for me are the disposable light blue ones.
What about the kids that won’t keep a mask on? Toddlers are very finicky with things like that. Or kids with special needs that wont either?
My 2 year old won’t even keep her shoes on for long nevermind a mask. This is impossible. I can’t breathe with a mask on either.. Trying to carry her around the park with a mask on. No way. I’m not able to. Sad but I will have to wait until masks are optional. I personally think masks should always be optional. If you feel safer with a mask on.. By all means wear it. I don’t think anyone should be forced to wear a mask- not even cast members. Your body= your choice. If you feel it offers protection..put your own mask on. I am more than happy to social distance, wash hands and use sanitizer. That is sufficient to me. I don’t want to live in fear. I am certain I have already had this virus. My family has already had this. We are going to catch illness in life. That is part of living. I don’t fear catching illness in life. Vaccines or no vaccines. I don’t hold my employer responsible for me getting sick. I take reasonable precautions every single day at work. I keep my hands clean. I don’t touch my face. Now I social distance. This behavior remains the same at work or personal life. This has kept me safe. I get sick sometimes but that’s ok. I get over it. If I was a high risk individual I would stay home longer.
It seems insane to me to go through all this to open business. Temperature checks? So many people don’t get fever. Some will take Tylenol. Masks? Ineffective for the majority. Many masks haven’t proven effective. People will take them on and off to eat- more touching of the face and more germs spreading. Kids and masks.. Haha. Just .. No.
I miss the Disney parks very much. I would go if the masks weren’t required but there is no way my 2 year old can handle it. I’m not sure I could either.
Instead of all this craziness why can’t Disney put up a disclaimer that you may get sick by coming and it is at your own risk? They are doing social distancing, hand sanitizer and encouraging hand washing.
We have a trip planned late this year and unfortunately we will have to cancel if masks are required for guests. Paying thousands of dollars for a vacation while hiking around parks with a mask on does not sound enjoyable to me, more importantly my kids are 4 years old and will not keep a mask on longer than 15 minutes. The mask will spend more time on the ground than on their face which will defeat the entire purpose. Disney caters to families, kids, etc. what in their right mind makes them think kids will wear these all day?!? And if you say well kids under x age don’t have to wear them then what is the point ??? If masks are to keep unknown carriers from infecting others (so it’s not to keep you healthy but keep others healthy) how does me wearing a mask help keep others safe but my kid who has been exposed to me not wearing a mask is ok?
I will sign a waiver, get my temp checked, follow whatever rules but wearing a mask is not going to happen.
Demand for a product or service drives business. Stop saying wear a mask or don’t go as if Disney can require masks, cancel fireworks and parades and more and remain a popular vacation destination. The public does have a right to express concerns and desires. It’s what drives business.
Michelle, totally agree with you. They have taken the magic away, they are no longer Disney. Anyone who wants to go and wear a mask, etc.. will find out after their next trip there, that they resent paying a lot of money for a vacation destination that has lost it’s allure.
No way I want photopass pics with a mask on or hanging off neck or face. I agree there is no proof cloth masks are effective. I do not find it amusing to have them to tell a story to my grandkids. Capacity is already reduced to 25% and additional sanitation implemented. That appears sufficient to curb risk. Iger is way off base telling us we need to accept a cultural change from the society that caused it. They need to tell us the plan soon so we can decide if our summer includes Disney or not.
Same here. I hope Disney will heed to the majority opinion here and make masks a recommendation, NOT a requirement. Otherwise, we are not coming and will use our vacation savings elsewhere or at a later time when masks are no longer an issue.
We have an over $10,000 Disney World vacation planned for this summer but definitely will not be going if masks are required. Somehow walking around for hours with my nose and mouth covered in the Florida heat and humidity just doesn’t seem very appealing!
The biggest problem is that CLOTH MASKS ARE NOT EFFECTIVE. It is not about rights, “land of the free” and such. It’s simply about scientific proof. They do not help. There are studies to support it, and there is practically NO scientific support that shows them helpful. NONE. Social distancing – yes, hand-washing/sanitizing – yet, but not those “simple face coverings.”
If everyone could be provided an N95 (or at least a medical grade surgical mask) and was able to wear it without problems, that’s different. But those thin or hand-made cloth masks are useless. If it makes you feel better, do wear one, but don’t make me do it, as it is USELESS!!!
My family will be canceling our over $10K vacation if masks are mandatory. I do think Disney will care, especially if everyone starts doing it, what with $11 billion debt on their hands. I think people who are screaming here and bullying everyone regarding masks are mostly locals or ones that do not pay a lot of $$$$$ to come to Disney, so they don’t mind. I do and will not go if masks are forced upon me and my family.
I too have an $11,000 vacation planned this fall. If masks are required by that time, I will be canceling our vacation plans as well and will return when masks are not required. It’s hot enough down there without masks. No way am I doing it with a mask and have pictures that I don’t want. I go for smiling faces, laughs and fun. It’s just not worth the price to pay. Sorry. I ain’t doin’ it.
“I think people who are screaming here and bullying everyone regarding masks are mostly locals or ones that do not pay a lot of $$$$$ to come to Disney, so they don’t mind.”
I don’t quite understand this comment. People who can’t come to Disney World every year or who can’t afford deluxe hotels and many expensive meals may actually look forward to their Disney World visit MORE -because it is not a yearly/expected/routine trip- they may have saved for years. They may actually be MORE disappointed to have to cancel their vacation. Spending more $$$$$ on your DW vacation may mean you are wealthy, but it doesn’t mean you love Disney World more than people not as wealthy.
I completely agree and just emailed Disney to inform them that if masks are required we will be canceling our October vacation (which was rescheduled from March and was supposed to be our honeymoon).
If you agree with the above statement I suggest letting Disney know directly. Email them. Call them. Tweet them. If people cancel left and right because of masks that will certainly influence the policy they make regarding masks.
I think some people need to better informed before criticizing. One person said why should healthy people have to wear masks? Had they been informed they would know a person does not have to have any symptoms but can still have the virus. That’s a major part of the problem because they are asymptomatic and spreading the virus with out knowing. I want to see smiling faces on healthy children. Wear a mask so you won’t spread the virus.
Nina – an asymptomatic person is a HEALTHY person. Meaning, their immune system is able to process the virus and not make them ill. And that person should NEVER had to give up their civil liberties. If you are at risk, by all means, wear a mask. But do not demand that from the majority. Not fair.
There could be some interesting photo-ops. Masked people getting photos with masked characters. A few decades from now when you show your grandchildren you will have an interesting story to tell. 🙂