The Walt Disney Company officially closed the gates at Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts in mid-March and had previously hoped to make them operational again in April. Due to the continuous spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus though, the parks stayed close and will remain that way with no official date for when they will re-open. It remains to be seen how different the parks themselves will be when they do finally reopen be it additional precautions will likely need to be taken or perhaps a cap on visitors for guests to feel safe, which executive chairman Bob Iger is aware may need to happen.
"One of the things that we’re discussing already is that in order to return to some semblance of normal, people will have to feel comfortable that they’re safe," Iger told Barron's in a new interview. "Some of that could come in the form ultimately of a vaccine, but in the absence of that it could come from basically, more scrutiny, more restrictions. Just as we now do bag checks for everybody that goes into our parks, it could be that at some point we add a component of that that takes people’s temperatures, as a for-instance."
"We’re studying very carefully what China has been trying to do in terms of their return to normalcy. And one of the things that’s obvious is they’ve conscripted a large segment of their population to monitor others in terms of their health. You can’t get on a bus or a subway or a train or enter a high-rise building there—and I’m sure this will be the case when their schools reopen—without having your temperature taken."
Iger went on to say that they're still preparing for this level of inspection for guests hoping to enter the parks but haven't committed to it just yet. The former CEO said that he believes customers for places like Disney will demand a certain level of scrutiny for their safety, even if it means creating "a little bit of hardship."
"Just as the case after 9/11 where people ultimately lived with the notion that in order for them to enter a building, if you’re in an office building you have to show a picture ID or get your picture taken and be screened," Iger added. "Or in order to enter a park you have to put your bags out there to be checked and you go through some kind of metal detector. Or certainly what’s going on in airports with the TSA."
Prior to closing for the coronavirus pandemic, both Disneyland had only closed a handful of times prior including a day of mourning following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and immediately after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Both Disneyland and Disney World have been closed previously due to natural disasters like the Northridge Earthquake in 1994 and various hurricaines, but this marks the first extended closure of both parks ever.