Bob Iger Suggests Temperature Screenings For Guests May Be Instituted When Disney Parks Reopen Following COVID-19 Pandemic

Disney Parks have been closed indefinitely for weeks now due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. While right now, the biggest question might be when the parks will reopen, there’s the inevitable follow-up question: What’s it going to be like when the parks do reopen? With social distancing guidelines in place and likely to be extended, plus face masks quickly becoming the new norm, one has to wonder what a post-pandemic park will look like. In a recent interview with Barron’s, former CEO Bob Iger shed light on what the future of Disney Parks might be like upon reopening.

Bob Iger and Bob Chapek

In his interview with Barron’s, Iger prided himself in the fact that once this all ends, the parks will be a place “for the public to enjoy and escape to––maybe in ways they will appreciate it more than they ever have.” However, knowing the new health and safety regulations in place, there may well be some changes. Iger spoke on the status of the parks after they reopen post-pandemic:

“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. 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.

So we’ve asked ourselves the question, let’s prepare for a world where our customers demand that we scrutinize everybody. Even if it creates a little bit of hardship, like it takes a little bit longer for people to get in. 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. 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.”

Many park guests may remember heightened safety restrictions throughout the parks after 9/11. Currently, guests at Shanghai Disney Resort are required to undergo temperature screening procedures upon their arrival. Them must also present their Health QR Code when entering dining venues, and are required to wear a mask during their entire visit. Guests are also reminded to maintain social distancing at all times while in stores, queues, and restaurants.

Iger also stressed the notion of ensuring that guests feel safe, and rebooting the company as efficiently as possible upon reopening:

“I don’t think we’re ever going to see a return to business as usual in the sense that, I can’t speak for all companies, but Disney will take this opportunity to look for ways to run our businesses more efficiently when we come back. So what we’re doing is thinking, OK, as things start to return, one, what must we address in terms of making people feel safe, but secondly, what must we address in terms of running the company more efficiently, given what we believe business conditions will dictate.”

How this will all be implemented in a place where guests have long been conditioned to “fill in all of the available space” is unknown, but if it means adapting to a new form of existence within the parks, we’re sure many guests will be quick to learn just to get back into their happy place.

Iger also commented on other pending topics, such as the current state of films already in production. While they’re opting to simply “wait for slots” for some of their bigger films, “there may be a few more” films that end up getting released on Disney+, as we’ve already seen with Onward, and soon enough, Artemis Fowl. You can read the full interview here.

How do you feel about temperature checks and other health and safety measures at the parks?