A Temperature Test to Visit Walt Disney World?

April 7, 2020, 10:12 AM · Will theme park fans have to submit to a temperature reading to get in when the parks reopen?

The Walt Disney Company Chairman Bob Iger suggested in an interview with Barron's, published today, that might be the case. He compared temperature screenings to the bag checks that theme parks and other public facilities implemented after the September 11 attacks.

"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," Iger said.

Ultimately, as the Four Keys of Disney says, the number-one priority is safety. And safety includes not just keeping people and cast members safe, but allowing them to feel safe, as well. Opening the parks will be for naught if the majority of Disney's potential customers do not feel safe when visiting them.

The shoulder-to-shoulder social experience that theme parks previously have delivered is not what people are becoming conditioned to feel as safe, not without testing to confirm that the people around you are free from a virus. In the absence of widespread testing to determine who is positive, and a follow-up antibody test to see who is immune, a temperature scan at least shows who has symptoms of an infection.

However, as we have learned (unless, of course, you are the Governor of Georgia), people without symptoms can carry and spread SARS-CoV-2, so a temperature scan as your bags are being checked might not be enough to provide the sense of safety and security that many fans might demand in the post-corona world.

But, as. I wrote in my newspaper column this week, What is the post-coronavirus future for theme parks?, "every industry disruption creates a business opportunity. The parks that survive and thrive in the post-corona world will be the ones whose leaders are envisioning that future correctly right now."

Replies (10)

April 8, 2020 at 4:26 PM

There will be changes I believe as some folks are going to jump right back "this was an extended break, it goes back to normal" while others are far warier. I think it might depend on where you're from as some folks from high-infected areas have different views than in lower-infected ones. It will be a big shift for so much of our society but I'm sure Disney can find a way to manage it.

Of course, we still have those who think a simple bag check is akin to a full on strip search so can see several being upset about "some intrusion on my privacy."

April 9, 2020 at 12:31 AM

I’m praying it reopens by Memorial Day, No matter what shape the parks are in, I will still be happy

April 9, 2020 at 10:04 AM

Older article this, but a thought just occurred. Some airports are able to measure people temperature from a distance automatically. You walk down a small corridor and a camera with an infrared sensor measures your temperature. A system like this at a theme park would be unintrusive and probably unnoticeable.

April 9, 2020 at 4:05 PM

Tokyo Narita does this, but that's indoors. Could that still be done outside for a theme park? Or would parks need to construct a climate-controlled indoor space for the scans?

April 9, 2020 at 4:13 PM

I suggested this 6 weeks ago and got "hammered". I think there will now be one single entry line [spaced] line with your immediate party. (No more crowding the entry gates) Large groups will have a separate check in process. I think if anyone in the immediate party has a high temperature, they will have a secondary screening, and I am sure Disney will now staff full time Medical Assistants/Nurse Practitioners at entry. I think they will also have testing kits for influenza and COVID. Any party that has someone that to be tested might be sent back to a resort or property until the results come back.

I would say good bye to touch points and bio metrics (temporarily anyway). I think they will have a holding lane for bag check and park entry, once again so entry points are not crowded. While intrusive, I also think they may ask for pre-screen or health certificates for local residents, after all, if you came off a plane, how could you assure, you were not introduced to something?

April 9, 2020 at 4:22 PM


Is it conceivable that Disney may just decide on short term basis "virtual park entry" meaning, you are given an entry time from a web site or from the parks app when you arrive in the park perimeter?

Essentially breaking it into phased park entry in 15 minutes segments for the first 2/3 hours of the day? Closing the parks early and having a phased exit?

April 9, 2020 at 4:41 PM

My company sells non-contact (forehead) thermometers, which are backordered by all global manufacturers for at least the next 2 months. They are also prone to errors because of variation in skin temperature. Will be interesting to see how quickly the parks think they can install them (Memorial Day?) and how park guests handle waiting to enter a park, with the hot FL or CA sun beating down on them, and be denied entry.

The early days of implementing this could rival when the parks implemented enhanced security measures, which wasn't fun.

April 9, 2020 at 5:56 PM

What about those who have the virus but are asymptomatic?

What about if I just run a hot temperature in the Floridian sun?

I read Iger's comment more as a note to the public that Disney Parks will consider guests' health above all else—as it should—rather than a heads up that this will be the new M.O.

April 10, 2020 at 11:26 AM

All great questions and comments. Disney brass will have to think this through. What does social responsibility matter when you have people roaming around in the park that are asymptomatic? Not to mention the proximity in resort elevators, bus lines, skylines, monorail. Limited capacity really means nothing if they can't not assure themselves or guests that it will limit further illnesses.

April 10, 2020 at 12:14 PM

I still think they will have to have primary and secondary screenings for those they suspect could potentially be ill. The government is talking about immunity cards for those that have recovered. Consider if you have to have something of this nature to travel using commercial systems..?

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