Universal Orlando Asks Fans About Post-Corona Changes

April 17, 2020, 10:52 PM · Universal's theme parks are surveying fans about potential changes to parks' operating procedures once they reopen, including requirements for face masks and temperature checks.

The survey, which was emailed this evening, begins by stating that "once state governments permit it, Universal Orlando will reopen." It then asks "how likely are you to consider visiting if the park reopens following its pre-Coronavirus standard operating and safety procedures?" with responses ranging from "very likely" to "very unlikely."

The short survey goes on to ask respondents to respond to potential changes to resort operating procedures, with reactions ranging from "this would make me feel more comfortable" or "this would be a major problem for me." On the next page, Universal asks people to record their reactions if Universal did not implement the changes.

Hearing from readers, there appear to be multiple versions of the survey. But aggregating the questions, the suggested changes include:

Many states and the federal government have now released guidelines for allowing businesses to reopen once the number of Covid-19 cases begin to decline in communities. As we suggested earlier this week, these many of these guidelines will require theme parks to change their standard operating procedures to comply.

Universal's survey provides specific examples of such changes. One cannot infer that these are changes that Universal would implement once it reopens its parks - only that Universal would like to know what the public reaction to these potential changes would be.

Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood are closed through at least May 31, according to the latest statements from the parks.

Replies (56)

April 17, 2020 at 11:11 PM

Some questions just are not best answered by asking everyone how he feals about it. This is definitly one of those.

April 17, 2020 at 11:18 PM

I am sure that Universal will do what needs to be done to comply with state and federal restrictions in order to reopen. But I understand that Universal - or any park - would like to know what their customers' reaction to those changes would be in advance. Thus, the survey.

As I suggested earlier, state restrictions are one thing. But if people won't come to the parks in spite of, or because of, those restrictions, that's another issue for parks to consider as they decide when to reopen.

April 17, 2020 at 11:30 PM

I like that they want guests input. Issue being, we know how wildly varied folks can be on theme parks in normal times, let alone now. For every person willing to take total precautions, another will go "it's just a flu, I don't need a mask, we're fine in Florida heat." But as Robert points out, getting some input is much better than planning without it.

April 18, 2020 at 12:21 AM

Quite a lofty goal if they think they can do massive amounts of testing each day while our country is still woefully unprepared in that regard.

April 18, 2020 at 1:01 AM

Honestly, if the parks were open tomorrow with no changes whatsoever, I'd go and take my chances. However, I know many would not, so some change is inevitable. It's extremely smart of Universal to survey prospective visitors and get an idea of what everyone needs to feel comfortable. Theme parks are going to need to walk a fine line between enough safety procedures that the average guest has no issues visiting and too many safety restrictions for the average visitor to enjoy their day, and I think this is a good way for them to get a starting point.

As for me, I'd be good with any combination of the following from the list:

-Everyone on property must undergo a temperature scan, and those that are abnormally high (say 100+) are not permitted to enter
-Touch free payment and elimination of self-service food options
-Social distancing practices, ride vehicle sanitation procedures (though maybe just restraints rather than the whole vehicle), and virtual queues when possible, but only to the extent they can be performed without excessively sacrificing efficiency (I'd say lines cannot increase beyond 25% of their pre-corona wait and virtual queues are only if physical queuing space cannot accommodate the current queue with required separation).
-50% of park capacity to start, with a goal to ramp it up to around 80% gradually as demand and conditions permit
-Shows and parades without permanent venues are cancelled, but those with stadiums can perform to appropriately distanced audiences. Indoor rides remain operational.

Most of the others I don't really like, but would probably still visit if they were in place. However, I would absolutely refuse to visit if a test was required to enter. I don't think it's a bad idea to require employees to be tested prior to returning to work, but once they're cleared they should be good to go unless they start showing symptoms or are known to have direct contact with someone who tested positive.

April 18, 2020 at 3:05 AM

Sanitation of ride vehicles on this kind of scale is totally impractical even with reduced park capacity. Remember the industries experiment with VR on roller coasters? Rides like Kraken and Revolution rarely ever had a lines to begin with then all of a sudden they had hour+ waits...imagine sanitizing each seat on a ride like Space Mountain. How does that work on an omnimover? Hand Guests lysol wipes and go through thousands and thousands of packages of them every day at every attraction? I don't see how that works under any circumstances.

And social distancing 6 feet at place like Disney World is totally impossible, even if there were way fewer people there there is no way to enforce that and lets be serious a lot of people don't care or will not follow the rules on purpose because they think its stupid. Is Disney going to kick out hundreds or thousands of vacationers, who are staying on property and spending tons of money, every single day for not following the rules? And then they're going to have to deal with "this business didn't care about my safety and now i'm sick i'm blasting the social media and suing" crowd.

The reality of the situation is that there is no way to keep people from getting the coronavirus at these parks. It's a public gathering, there is a chance you're going to get sick pandemic or no pandemic. Universal chose not to furlough their employees and probably now are regretting it and need the $. IMO the parks are just better off being closed until the paranoia dies down.

April 18, 2020 at 3:00 AM

Sorry AJ but the only option that would tempt me to go back to a theme park at the moment would be to test all employees and guests for Covid-19. Provided the tests are reliable then none of the other measures are needed though touch free payment options would be nice.

April 18, 2020 at 5:08 AM

I'm with Wizard on this one.

If a test is available that can deliver a categorical answer within 15 minutes as to whether you do or do not have the virus then it's a no-brainer because what that allows you to do is create a closed environment (i.e. a theme park) within which you know for sure no one has the virus. At that point you don't need social distancing, any kind of reduction in capacity, or any cancellation of parades, fireworks, etc. BUT you have to be 100% certain that the test is accurate.

April 18, 2020 at 5:10 AM

Surely the only sensible approach is to test all employees and guests prior to admission. Everything else is irrelevant and safeguards nobody. I would much rather wait 15 minutes to get clearance knowing that everybody else in the park is also clear. Then I can enjoy the day instead of worrying everytime I pass somebody who coughs.

April 18, 2020 at 5:40 AM

The only way to guarantee safety is testing everyone. Temperature checks are useless since you be asymptomatic and still spread the virus. And social distancing and facemasks will be nearly impossible to enforce. There are plenty of adults who won't listen and try getting all those excited kids to listen. Plus are facemasks in the Florida summer heat realistic for a whole day at the park? It will be a hassle and cost money to implement the testing, but imagine the fallout of bad press if someone catches the virus at one of the theme parks? Or an outbreak with multiple cases? They cant risk that bad publicity

April 18, 2020 at 6:03 AM

I hate to say it buy surveys like this one will never provide the real answers as to what people will do. Just look at all the surveys about the lottery and if people would rather have more winners or higher prizes. The answer always comes back mire prizes but ticket sales prove that answer is wrong. Now, as for themeparks, Disney, Universal and the others have to change their survey policies of health issues. They need to ignore the passholders and stick to polling the general population. Do people want the 15 minute test and only let in those clean? Of course. The question is who pays for the test? Are people really willing to drive to the park, pay $25 to park, wait 20 minutes in line to have the test? Wait 15 to 20 minutes more for the results? Then either be kicked away or wait in another 15 minute line to get into the park? How about those who planned a vacation? Spent thousands on a flight and hotel? One person in the family tests positive? So they can't go in. Do you think Disney or Universal will give them a full refund for all their expenses? No. Do you think they will ever come back? No. They will be very upset they spend thousands for absolutely nothing. Temperature checks should be done but the idea that anything can really be learned from surveying passholders is just wrong and will give the wrong answers on health issues.

April 18, 2020 at 6:37 AM

@Douglas Dickson Temperature checks are useless as people are reported who don't feel ill at all but carry the virus. Their temperature isn't rissen.

I couldn't care less for the current "mass shooter/terrorist" check that is done now. It's theater and gives people a fall sense of security. There is no county in the world except for the US who does this non sense.
I don't know about the quality of the tests. In what stage can the virus be detected? Also how would it work in reality, a long line with people waiting endlessly to get a blood sample taken (as it's the most reliable test), add hysterical kids in that process, then in a holding area to wait if you are positive or negative. Keeping 6 feet distance while waiter otherwise everyone in the holding area could get it. That will take forever to get in.
The only way I can see this work is for hotel guest as this can be done at any hotel entrance.

April 18, 2020 at 6:58 AM

@OT. I know temperature checks are far from perfect but I actually think we agree. No syst3m will work. Limiting the parks to those stay in onsite hotels is closest to being able to keep people safe. However, unless all employees are forced to stay on property too, the risk exists. That is why the only survey which would provide accurate infotainment is of the general population and what people will accept. I know we will go to WdW in June if its open but we just want to experience the beauty of the park and don't care about the rides. I know, I am in the minority but that is how I feel.

April 18, 2020 at 7:31 AM

I’m not sure such a test exists. At (Scottish Parliament’s) First Ministers questions this week, Nicola Sturgeon was asked why asymptomatic patients returning to care homes aren’t being tested. The answer was if they’re asymptomatic the test result is unreliabke, often reporting false negatives.

April 18, 2020 at 8:12 AM

Honestly, EVERYTHING SHOULD STAY CLOSED!
And people who think the parks will open again are completely wrong, The harsh truth is that THINGS WILL NEVER BE THE SAME! And to the people who want to reopen everything, For Shame, This is the new world, A world where we need to stay indoors to stop any new virus in the future.

April 18, 2020 at 8:13 AM

I see Universal is just trying to see what sticks. Unfortunately this survey is going to individuals who are still under the impression that this is just the flu. I'm unsettled by some of the comments on other blogs, totally eldritch and uncanny.

@Douglas I totally agree.
@AJ I'm not sure how that benefits anyone to have the employees tested but not the guest. I can't phantom the idea of employees being lead out into the park like blind sheep knowing that guest are privileged enough to decline testing while subliminally not giving a damn who they might infect.

April 18, 2020 at 8:23 AM

No questions about ticket prices? With unemployment skyrocketing and great uncertainty about the future of the economy, who is willing to spend a couple hundred bucks on a luxury item like a day at a theme park?

April 18, 2020 at 8:46 AM

I agree that a test for all guests and employees would make people feel safe in the parks. I know I’d be willing to arrive earlier, if that was a requirement. Then, as David Brown said, there would be no need for any in park changes. You can enjoy the day, just as you normally would.

@Typhoon2000 I honestly don’t know whether you actually believe what you’re saying, or if you’re just attempting to troll, but of course the parks will reopen again. It’s ludicrous to think that they won’t.

April 18, 2020 at 8:45 AM

TH, I don't know if this is the case for Universal, but I really believe Disney has successfully convinced a lot of people that a trip to their parks is an "essential" purchase. In a time of uncertainty, people will double down on those things that affirm their identity - and for a lot of people, Disney really is that thing.

Personally, I think it's going to be a while before I'm back in a park, regardless of when they open. I do trust the big chains to put the appropriate measures in place, but I don't trust other visitors to abide by them. Too many people still not taking this seriously - and all it takes is one person to bring it in. It's just not worth it.

April 18, 2020 at 9:07 AM

80’s man, Im just nervous about what will happen, Just lots of emotions going through

April 18, 2020 at 9:50 AM

It’s natural to be nervous, but there’s no need to over-egg it.

April 18, 2020 at 10:33 AM

PEOPLE IN FLORIDA ARE STUPID!, THEY ARE GOING ON BEACHES!

April 18, 2020 at 10:38 AM

Typhoon,

If people on the beach are practicing appropriate social distancing, the risk from a walk on the beach is negligible.

Given what’s happening elsewhere in the US, it’s clear certain release valves are necessary.

Here in the UK there’s steps being taken to reopen parks.

April 18, 2020 at 10:47 AM

Actually Typhoon2000, some people pretty much everywhere are stupid. Just apply the 80/20 rule. 20% of the people cause 80% of the problems. 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people.

You're just seeing the Florida knuckleheads. But they are everywhere.

April 18, 2020 at 10:53 AM

One problem with the testing - who pays for it? Your health insurance certainly won't.

(Unless you can get Dr Leo Marvin to write you a prescription for a vacation.)

"It says, 'Take a vacation from my problems.'"

April 18, 2020 at 12:11 PM

I've been reading these comments for a while and have to say Everyone knows everything and Nobody knows anything!
This shutdown is just to get prepared. Get hospitals their equipment and PPE to be ready for wave #2 which will inevitably happen.
Those at higher risk will and should stay home, like myself.
Those not will take the risk and nobody will be able to convince them otherwise.
Myself, as soon as there is a therapeutic, I'm out of the house.
The Government can only hold people down for so long until people decide for themselves whether the risk is worth it and as long as the healthcare community is well equipped to handle it then I say let them go.
I know this is controversial, but there are a few states with random testing that shows 30% or more of people tested are positive with zero symptoms, so the death rate is much lower than reported. No, I still do think this is worse than the flu, but still not worth a year long shutdown.
I await the beatdown, LOL

April 18, 2020 at 12:46 PM

@MrTorrance raises a good point: Folks want to go out. I'm sure many have seen the mantra even among people who want to stop the spread: "it's 50-50 I catch a virus but 100 percent I go bankrupt if lockdown continue so I'm willing to risk it." If my local bars/resturants were to open, folks would gladly go there. You know NBA teams would be ready to play tomorrow, even if it's before no fans in some gym.

People are not meant to be cooped up inside constantly. I only go out maybe once a week for a dinner and then my UPS job but even I'm feeling that pressure. It's why folks have to go on walks and jogs, just to stay sane. And it's why a bigger push to get back to some sense of "normalcy." Now maybe theme parks are too much but folks are feeling the tension of the last month and need a release fast or things are going to explode in an uglier way.

Problem being that scores of hospitals still unprepared (let's not start a debate war on the reasons) and too many people still brushing it off as "just the flu." Yet there are signs of hope given how well South Korea has handled it and the talk of governors on reopening plans.

This was a massive wake-up call for us as a society, one we probably needed. We now see not to take things for granted and appreciate stuff and I hope we can carry that for a while instead of "well, this was a nice break of a month, back to the old ways!" Because the "old ways" are still going to be much different for a while to come yet history does show sooner or later, we can bounce back. Like many, I hope for sooner.

April 18, 2020 at 1:39 PM

Using Shanghai Disneyland as a model, I would expect resorts and dining/shopping to open prior to parks. My thoughts on how parks reopen...

My gut is telling me a few things will be different. No shows or parades for a while. Temperature checks when entering Parks & Resorts. Everyone must wear masks. I'm surprised they haven't proposed this already. I could see them doing a 50% capacity reduction. Reserved ride times for every ride. And 50% ride capacity. The only other thing I could think of would be to have ride attendant give each guest hand sanitizer before entering the ride. (Kinda like they do on cruise line at the restaurants)

April 18, 2020 at 1:52 PM

If Universal were to offer a C19 antibody test to get into its theme parks, I'd pay the $100+ for a ticket just to get that test. A day in the park after the test would be a free, extra bonus.

Given the current state of active-infection testing in the United States, people might show up at Universal to get those tests, if Universal somehow magically had an unlimited supply available. Which would in turn make healthy people *less* willing to visit the parks - 'cause that's where all the sick people are going to get tested.

So, uh, yeah, some of these suggestions are *very* hypothetical.

April 18, 2020 at 3:06 PM

Look at the beaches in Florida ONE hour after re-opening!
People want normal!
Spending thousands to go to a theme park is about the experience, not a single or multiple rides. They are OK, but without the experience nobody will go.
Sorry, it's the truth, I go every single year, but will never go back with restrictions, it just will not be any fun.
Does any business think people will pay airfare, check into a hotel just to be told they can't enter the park? Will Universal reimburse those expenses? NOT. Seriously, nobody will go. #Truth, even though I don't use twitter LOL

OK, can't say Nobody, but it will be very very few.

April 18, 2020 at 3:16 PM

First. Most of the comments the last few weeks are not being honest about one thing. You all are theme park junkies. If you are under 60 years old, (and don't live with anyone over 60 yrs old or with a major pre existing condition) of course you all are going to go back to your favorite park to the extent that you can financially afford it. Once they open and you see people on social media having fun and posting pics, your worry about being put in the hospital will fade. Plus, if you are under 60 the chance of being put in the hospital is low. More and more studies are showing 50 times the number of people or more have already been infected and not realized it. Thus, having already gained a large amount of immunity to it.

What I can see disney and universal doing (while opening with reduced capacity) is requiring people to not be allowed to go off property during their stay and requiring at least a 2 night stay. If people agree to that, they would be able to open sooner. That defray's the cost of the test (somewhat) since you can administer it once during the guest's 2 to 8 night stay. I suppose if the guests are willing to pay for another test upon returning, they could be allowed to leave the property to go out to dinner or to stay off site.

April 18, 2020 at 3:33 PM

The US government also is very close to it's borrowing limits. The US already has 1 of the highest debt loads in the world. As people are unemployed longer, a greater and greater percentage of people will proportionally be willing to take more of a risk. Just as driving a car to Orlando is a risk. If that does not become the case an ever increasing number of businesses will never open again. This would in turn, result in more market control for the remaining businesses and much higher prices on a wide variety of products for the next 20 years.

April 18, 2020 at 4:27 PM

The(reliable)super fasst test is utopian. Frankly even a very unreliable one is. That will hapen eventually, sure, just that at this point Universal won´t have to bother anymore with testing since it will be over anyway.

It also seems rather weird to think the safety measures required by customers for their individual safety could be stricter than the ones imposed by government, since the major risk isn´t really the one for the theme park visitors but for whoever else they might infect in an older less healthy demographic. Sane people in risk demographics won´t touch a themepark until there is a vaccine anyway.

That said please don´t underestiimate what that virus can do to favourable demographics aswell. We´re talking about a very liited risk of death, the risk of an intensive care stay is still quite substancial. There is a substancial risk that those cases might suffer chronical long term health issues both neurological as well as wiht lungs- we don´t really know for sure at this point.

Also, 60 seems like a very optimistic cut off point, id rather go with someting like 35 and even then only with a confirmed good health record considering risk factors like blood pressure, diabetis and smokeing.

April 18, 2020 at 5:44 PM

"Also, 60 seems like a very optimistic cut off point, id rather go with someting like 35 and even then only with a confirmed good health record considering risk factors like blood pressure, diabetis and smokeing."

LOL, your spelling of diabetis reminded me of the Wilford Brimley commercials. No disrespect, just funny!
As a Diabetic, I find it concerning that i'm lumped into this category. I have an autoimmune issue, not overweight, in good shape, exercise and eat good. I think just because the statistics of poor communities with high rates of certain health issues are dying does not mean everyone is at risk. A lot of people that died, very unfortunately, did not have any clue they were diabetic or had heart issues.
Again, everyone knows everything but nobody knows anything!

April 18, 2020 at 6:15 PM

So, to defend my rationale for my comment on testing last night, here are my thoughts in brief:

-Tests are in short supply, and it is unlikely a private non-medical company will be able to acquire the millions of tests needed in order to ensure all visitors are tested onsite on a daily basis
-Testing tens of thousands of guests per day is simply not practical, and the guest limit required if all were tested would probably result in operating at a significant loss
-Testing is not cheap, and if guests were told they had to pay a surcharge to get tested prior to entry for the test (let's say $40 per person per day), I think a lot would defer their visits.
-Even the best tests are not 100% accurate, so there is still a chance someone with the virus could slip through. Even if the test had 95% accuracy and only 10,000 people a day visited, that still means up to 500 of them could have received an inaccurate result.
-In order for testing to be effective, all guests would have to remain isolated from each other (likely waiting in their private vehicles) until their test results came back. Otherwise, someone could potentially contract the virus from an asymptomatic positive carrier while waiting to get tested.
-Testing adds far more liability on Universal's part. By doing so, they're essentially certifying that nobody on property has the virus, and therefore they could probably be held fully liable for any outbreak that was linked back to their property. Additionally, the PR fallout would be far, far worse.

Short version, it's not reasonable on a number of levels and there is next to no chance it will ever be implemented. If not being tested at entry is a dealbreaker, better plan your trip for 2021.

As for testing employees, I personally feel that every business where employees interact directly with customers should require all employees to be tested prior to returning to work. This would be a huge step in reducing the chance of workplace spread, and if you knew that x% of the population had already tested negative it would go a long way in helping to trace future cases, as well as reducing the need for some of the stricter safety protocols elsewhere.

April 18, 2020 at 7:14 PM

@AJ Hummel: I fully expect at reopenings, various businesses require testing for employees, especially for, say restaurants. Now, maybe not all (I full believe that when, say, Best Buy reopens they'll have the same giant plastic screens you now see at grocery stores and gas stations at cashiers) but it is a key way to make sure customers feel safer.

April 19, 2020 at 2:37 AM

How does one go about getting on the list to take part in the surveys? Thanks.

April 19, 2020 at 10:44 AM

I've posted this before, but does no one remember the last day of Disneyland in March, when we knew full well what the coronavirus could do? The place was PACKED.

Did no one watch the news this weekend when they opened the beaches in Jacksonville? PACKED.

As soon as the parks can open, they will, and while they'll have some "safety theater" like added sanitizer stations, and maybe certain cast members in masks, it will otherwise be business as usual and the place will be, you guessed it, PACKED. My money says the first week Disneyland is back open, the room rates will be at or near the annual high, because people will be beating each other to get back in there.

Smart? I don't know. But if people are willing to turn six months spending money into a long weekend at Disneyland, they'll sure as heck risk the virus.

April 19, 2020 at 11:57 AM

How would theme parks administer a test to every guest without them being within six feet of each other, while they wait at the slammed entrance for 15 minutes?

Guaranteed spread.

IMHO, any policies the parks adopt will be to make us feel safer, nothing more. It's optics.

April 19, 2020 at 1:07 PM

@ AJ Hummel I agree with everything in your last post, with exception to the idea of all employees who interact with customers being tested before returning to work.

The reason I disagree with that, is because all that would prove is they PROBABLY weren’t positive the first time walking through the door. Who is to say they won’t get infected during their first customer interaction though, or stopping at the gas station on the way home ? Ultimately everyone still needs to safeguard themselves and make smart decisions, whether they have tested negative at some point, or never have been tested at all.

I think the testing resources need to be saved for those who are needing medical attention, as opposed to being used as a proactive measure.

April 19, 2020 at 1:04 PM

@ Thecolonel While Disneyland may indeed be filled to whatever the new capacity may be upon re-opening, I think local passholders will have a bigger impact on that than out-of-town Resort guests. The average person won’t have the disposable income (or paid time off available) to travel to California, and stay at the expensive onsite resorts.

April 19, 2020 at 3:59 PM

From a medical perspective, testing everyone would be a waste of time and money. The antibody test is not perfect. One a mass scale it would be hugely costly both financially and in time. It would also have many people with the disease testing negative. It relies on the body to have mounted a response to the virus, which in the first few days of being contagious would not occur.

The result is a contagious people who can infect others waking around believing they are safe and not obeying any social distancing. It would almost be safer not to test people.

Temperature scanning is a good idea though. It is cheap and fast. Thermal monitors can read people's temperatures remotely and instantaneously. Although not very sensitive (ie - it will miss many people with this disease) it is a simple screening tool to remove potential carriers from the park.

Ultimately, social distancing when enforced works. Look at any country that had done it properly and the curve has flattened. In Australia we are doing very well currently and will soon be able to slowly reopen things, (our testing and tracing regime had also been incredibly thorough and effective).

The idea of trusting people to manage social distancing is ridiculous. Collectively people are morons. Whilst many may be sensible, too many are not. Opening things in America now would be stupid, you do not have control yet, and the testing infrastructure is woefully inadequate. Unfortunately your leadership has failed you, and this will stay on way longer than it may have otherwise.

Stay home and stay safe.

April 19, 2020 at 4:38 PM

@grant Crawford raises a good point on things about distancing. It's why these shelter orders exist and stuff like filling skate parks with sand, you can't trust folks not to be idiots.

A guy in Philly shared a great line from how someone asked "why can't we have sports open with rational thought distance rules?" To which he replied "have you ever BEEN to a Philly sporting event? Give us an inch and we'll take ten miles."

This whole thing reminds me more and more of the brilliant line from Men In Black: "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it."

April 19, 2020 at 8:19 PM

@grantcrawford. The fact that australia is so much ridiculously below how many people normally die in your country with the flu, tells me that your politicians and health professionals are attributing many covid deaths to the normal flu. It is frankly difficult to decide what category to put the illness in. In the U.S. health professionals seem to be counting everything involving a lung illness to Covid. One really will need to look at normal death rates vs death rates this year. When they come in for the entire year to see what countries did a better job. It is all too easy for governments at any level of the burocracy to influence the stats up or down based on methods and assumptions.

The US has been counting people are covid deaths (presumed) even when they had never had a covid test. For instance. Just based on them having a significant lung type illness when they died.

April 19, 2020 at 8:26 PM

Common sense is also going to tell us that disneyland will be much closer to capacity than WDW. As we know WDW is much more reliant on international visitors. Especially Brazil. Ongoing data tells us the Brazil is likely going to be one of the hardest hit countries on the planet. WDW also gets a ton of people from NY, NJ and Mass. Also very hard hit. Also. the UK. Will also be within the top 10 percent of countries hard hit. The US president is not going to allow travel to the US from these countries for at least through 2020. People with a Chinese passport will prob not be allowed for a much longer period. Although we love individual Chinese people their government has lost all trust and we can not rely on official Chinese Communist gov stats to make health decisions on every again.

April 19, 2020 at 9:09 PM

Davedisney - I can tell you categorically that Australia is not significantly underestimating it's COVID-19 death rate. We are just into Autumn and flu season isn't for another couple of months. That is why our current flu deaths are low, and in the March report were within normal ranges for this time of year. Due to the increased level of respiratory testing due to COVID, figures are more accurate than they usually are. Our health system has not been overwhelmed, and doctors are not inappropriately attributing deaths to incorrect causes. Politicians do not control this data, our health system is largely apolitical.

As far as the US goes, it is incredibly unlikely you are overestimating the deaths due to COVID-19. The CDC has identified that in January and February the deaths in the US were declining (as expected coming out of Winter). In March there was an alarming increase in the number of pneumonia deaths not attributed to coronavirus.

If the US wants things to open up and the economy to pick up, controlling the disease needs to occur first. Then testing and monitoring needs to be escalated to detect any flare ups and isolate them quickly. This is occurring in some states, but unless widespread control is achieved it won't be successful.

Some good leadership would go a long way.

April 20, 2020 at 8:57 AM

For any kind of testing to be relatively successful, it would have to be as non-invasive as possible... like the saliva test, although I believe that currently takes 24 or 48 hours to render a verdict. I can't imagine many guests are going to want to suffer the nasal swab way up your nose or any kind of a blood test on their *vacation.* If a 15-minute saliva test that was proven reliable was available, then that might work. But the best thing they have to go on now is temp checks and masks. Even with temp checks you'll have tons and tons of pissed-off customers who somehow have a fever but not C-19. What happens then?

April 20, 2020 at 1:14 PM

@MrTorrance well said. There's no perfect way to insure that all guests would be virus free. I know the theme parks will implement some safety measures to make guests feel safer though. I just hope it's not extreme.

When going to a theme park there is, and has always been a risk in picking up an illness. That's not new. I've always brought hand sanitizer to use after going on a ride & before eating etc.
I have a close friend who is a nurse at a local hospital here in CA. He's commented that this virus is just highly profiled by the media, but if people looked at the number of people who die of the flu every month, every year, they would be scared & want to stay home even before this virus came along. As Bilbo said, "going out your door is a dangerous business."
We need to be smart & wash hands etc yes. I'd be willing to go to a theme park again, even soon. A temperature check is plenty for me. Hand sanitizer provided at restaurants would be nice.

April 20, 2020 at 1:41 PM

So many of these proposed actions are so murky because of the nature of this virus. The temperature check requirements are essentially worthless because people can be asymptomatic transmitters of the virus, so gate and employee temperature checks will not guarantee that the virus is not present in the parks. I was at the grocery store this weekend and saw a manager walk down the line of cashiers to take their temperature, and felt it was akin to the "security theater" we've come to expect from the TSA that is just a show instead of a tangible level of protection for employees and customers.

Also, I think the most important thing to note regarding the proposal to perform any sort of check or test of employees prior to allowing them to work would be a requirement that companies grant a minimum 2 weeks of paid leave for any employee that is not allowed to work because they failed any of the tests or exhibited any symptoms that would prohibit them from working. If employers have to start paying workers 2-weeks' pay because they came to work with a 100-degree fever, that is going to put a huge strain on the company's finances and employee pool. If a worker actually tests positive for the virus, how far back do employers have to trace their contact? If the contact tracing is for more than 12 hours, you're likely taking additional employees out of commission for 2 weeks. At some point, theme parks are liable to be paying more employees sitting in quarantine than are physically working in the parks.

The testing of guests is just as problematic. How do you tell the family of 5 that showed up from Australia on their very first WDW vacation that they can't come into the park because their 3YO has a fever and cough that didn't start until they arrived in the States? Will WDW recoup the family for their travel for what has become a wasted trip? What if they have a note from their family doctor stating that the child normally runs a fever and coughs due to a known medical condition? If you decide to perform anti-body tests (or require them prior to arrival), that's probably just as problematic. Doctors in China and South Korea have already seen that COVID-19 can return to patients that have already defeated the virus, and become carriers of it again even though the symptoms of the return infection are far more mild than the first time.

There's really no "magic bullet", and even when a vaccine is available, there will be people that either can't get it or don't have access to it for many many months after its initial distribution. I strongly believe that any procedures enacted by theme parks will be just for show, and to create an atmosphere that makes guests feel safer when in reality they're not any safer than they would be at their local laundromat. In the end, you take a risk every single day you get out of bed each morning, and that didn't change the day the world learned of COVID-19.

April 20, 2020 at 2:03 PM

Totally agree, Russell.

April 20, 2020 at 3:35 PM

I have to agree with Russell but seeing how so many folks are reacting in various ways, so many will accept any "show" just to get back to a sense of "normalcy." I agree, life is risk, it just has to be balanced somehow. As I said, reopening too soon is a bad idea but we also can't stay like this for another six months so there will be something shifting soon.

April 20, 2020 at 6:21 PM

Even the 15 minute tests aren't perfect. People may get exposed and the test won't pick it up for some period of time. People can be carriers, and not show any signs, so the temperature test isn't perfect. The bottom line is that walking out of your house every day, is a risk. It's always a risk. It always has been. Hopefully... no one else will get it (dreaming).

I'm ready to go back to Disney or universal as soon as they open.

April 20, 2020 at 8:15 PM

Life is a risk. What does that even mean? Just go on about life normally and if you get sick you'll roll the dice?

The issue is that when this virus goes unchecked you get the chaos seen in Italy and New York. It spreads rapidly through the community, the health care system is saturated. People stay at home and die in bed. This is what the Spanish flu was like. 100 years ago.

Have we learnt nothing?

You're ok to roll the dice on your life, fine. You're young and healthy, the odds are in your favor. How about the three people you infect. How about the 27 people they infect, or the 81 people they infect. Or of those 111 people you infected, a couple died. That's ok though, life is risk. I work on the front line. If our hospitals fill up in Australia, I'm pretty much at the highest risk of getting COVID. My biggest fear is that if I do, I may then unknowingly spread it to people who don't have three same odds of survival as me.

This is not the flu, it is far more contagious and if it spreads the health care system will not cope. Sensible management will get it under control, and with good testing and slow reopening of services, life can get more normal. Theme parks will reopen.

I love theme parks, this is why I love this site. But if people going to theme parks puts other people's life at risk, when does that become acceptable. Are we that selfish that our own pleasure is more important than the communities health?

I understand that any day we can get hit by a bus and that's it, but this is not the same as that. I also understand that there will need to be a balance made between the risk to the community and what is economically acceptable. But America is not at that point yet, you do not have control at all. Stop thinking about opening theme parks, and start thinking about how you as a country can beat this thing so that it's safe to open theme parks.

I have a vested interest in that. I want to go back to Disneyland and universal studios. So please get this right.

April 21, 2020 at 5:11 AM

I think this image is good at showing it’s not the flu.

https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/ea3e38a6b82a2d7e6298aa9302608c579b59a44c/0_0_756_491/master/756.jpg?width=465&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=80d3ef908ee722c9757f4a0fba520f24

If it was just like the flu, the spike in that chart would not happen.

April 24, 2020 at 2:32 PM

Temperature checks are not a perfect solution -- there is no perfect solution. But that doesn't mean they're useless! Most people with the virus will have a temperature, so if you implement temperature checks, you're minimizing the risk by screening out people with a fever.

The only way to guarantee you never catch the virus, or some other communicable disease, is by living in a bubble for the rest of your life. Does anyone want to live like that? Let's reduce the risks as much as possible, and wait until infection rates are well past the peak. But beyond that, only chronic germaphobes will accept being locked up for years to come.

April 24, 2020 at 3:16 PM

They're not completely useless, but they're also not a great or very reliable tool. I think they're being used and promoted right now because they're the only quick and easy way to see if there's a decent chance that someone might have the virus. The reality is that people might have an elevated body temperature for a lot of reasons other than being infected with the novel coronavirus. Given the current climate and awareness, it's less likely today that a guest with a fever is going to visit a theme park or other high density public venue, so the number of people that would be turned away through temperature checks will be low. However, the biggest issue with temperature checks are that people can carry and transmit the novel coronavirus for DAYS without exhibiting a fever, and many never exhibit a fever before coming down with debilitating symptoms.

Temperature checks are nothing more than a panacea to make guests feel that they're safe, and introduce potential liability to property owners and businesses that require temperature checks for entry. Guests that go through the temperature check, and see everyone else go through the same procedure, think that they're entering a space that is devoid of potential vectors of the virus. This show of "safety" from park owners and operators (the same would come from parks that provided guests PPE like masks and gloves) would open them to litigation from guests that trace contraction of the virus to their properties. While I think such litigation would be frivolous and likely thrown out, it would still require additional insurance and lawyers on retainer to handle, increasing the daily operational costs beyond just the cost of temperature monitoring.

What has been suggested for some public buildings and offices is a more covert temperature monitoring system, like "eye in the sky" security in casinos to monitor temperature of guests at all times (including discretely at entry gates) using remote sensors/cameras hidden throughout the property. That would eliminate the guests turned away at the gate from a direct temperature reading and allow for a more discrete confrontation between a fevered guest and park officials. It would also eliminate the false sense of security provided by highly visible temperature check stations that ultimately do little to identify potentially contagious guests.

I think another big issue that people aren't talking about is what happens if it takes years to develop and distribute a viable vaccine? There are plenty of viruses out there that have no vaccine and remedies are essentially just band-aids to reduce the severity of symptoms. Still more viruses have circled the globe thousands of times with decades elapsing between their discovery and completion of a vaccine. Does anyone really think that the world will be willing to stay on lockdown for YEARS waiting on a vaccine? Just because top virologists and epidemiologists are promising a vaccine within 18 months doesn't mean it will happen. There may simply not be a viable way to effectively eliminate this contaigon, and humanity may have to accept the consequences of living what was a "normal" life with a greater risk of dying or accept being locked in our homes for the rest of our lives.

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