SHANGHAI – Visitors in face masks streamed into Shanghai Disneyland as the theme park reopened Monday in a high-profile step toward reviving tourism that was shut down by the coronavirus pandemic.
The House of Mouse’s experience in Shanghai, the first of its parks to reopen, foreshadows hurdles global entertainment industries might face. Disney is limiting visitor numbers, requiring masks and checking for the virus's telltale fever.
China, where the pandemic began in December, was the first country to reopen factories and other businesses after declaring the disease under control in March even as infections rise and controls are tightened in some other countries.
“We hope that today’s reopening serves as a beacon of light across the globe, providing hope and inspiration to everyone,” the president of Shanghai Disney Resort, Joe Schott, told reporters.
Tourism has been hit especially hard by controls imposed worldwide that shut down airline and cruise ship travel, theme parks and cinemas. Disney blamed a 91% plunge in its latest quarter profit on $1.4 billion in virus-related costs.
Shanghai Disneyland and Disney’s park in Hong Kong closed on Jan. 25 as China isolated cities with 60 million people to try to contain the outbreak. Tokyo Disneyland closed the following month and parks in the United States and Europe in March.
Disney is opening Shanghai cautiously as it evaluates reopening other parks around the world. Parks are a crucial revenue driver for Disney. Parks, experiences and product division accounts for around 30% to 35% of total revenue.
What the company learns in Shanghai could become a guide, executives said in a conference call to discuss earnings last week.