Thousands Rush In As Shanghai Disneyland Reopens

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2020-05-11 HKT 14:32

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  • Thousands rush in as Shanghai Disneyland reopens

Thousands of visitors streamed into Shanghai Disneyland on Monday for the first time in three months with one fan saying he woke up at 4am to get ready for the visit.

Shanghai park is the first facility reopened by Walt Disney Co after the coronavirus pandemic brought the Magic Kingdom across the globe to a standstill.

While Mickey Mouse joined familiar Disney characters welcoming the crowds, the Shanghai experience will not be as it was: instead of parades and fireworks, there are mandatory masks, temperature screenings and social distancing for visitors and employees.

Among the crowd on Monday was Shanghai Disneyland passholder Kay Yu. "I think [these measures] make tourists feel at ease," said the 29-year-old, who was wearing a Minnie Mouse hat and said he had woken up at 4am to make the trip to the park.

But the park has limited the number of visitors and some attractions haven’t been restarted. While it welcomed more than 10 million guests in its first year after opening in 2016, the park will now restrict visitor numbers to 20% of daily capacity, or about 16,000 people – far below a level initially requested by the Chinese government.

It has also scrapped parades and fireworks – replacing the latter with an evening light projection show – while interactive children's play areas and indoor live theatre shows are shut.

Still, the vast majority of its rides as well as most of its restaurants and shows will be open, said Andrew Bolstein, the park's senior vice-president of operations. More might reopen in time to come depending on the situation and government regulations, he added.

Visitors holding annual passes are being asked to reserve an entry time and day in advance, and tickets for the earliest days of Shanghai Disneyland's re-opening have been sold out.

Monday's guests, mostly parents with children or young couples, were greeted by waving park staff as they walked in, having been asked to show a green health code on their mobile phones before being allowed in. All wore masks.

Markers have also been added to areas where people might congregate, such as shops and entertainment areas, to tell visitors where and where not to stand, while audio announcements regularly remind guests to maintain social distance. Visitors on rides are also asked to sit well apart.

Still, the reopening comes after a weekend of unwelcome reminders that a second wave of the virus could happen, including the first confirmed case for more than a month in Wuhan, the city at the epicentre of the outbreak late last year.

Concerns about the virus weren't far from the mind of Shanghai Disneyland visitor Chen Xue, 31, who works in marketing and said she would have not come to the park if it were not for the social distancing measures.

"The virus is still not over and it has made me so incredibly anxious," she said. (Reuters)