Disney, Universal Take Opposite Steps Toward Social Distancing

May 19, 2020, 3:26 PM · As if visiting a theme park resort during a pandemic wasn't already potentially stressful and confusing, now we see that Disney and Universal are taking opposite approaches to promote social distancing.

At CityWalk, Universal has put down floor markings showing people where to stand when queueing. But at Disney Springs, Disney is using its floor markings to show people where not to stand.

Hopefully, people will shrug off the difference and do what they're supposed to at each resort. But given the importance of people changing their former habits to help prevent spread of Covid-19, it would be nice if we could at least get consistent messaging and instructions on what people are supposed to be doing.

The phased reopenings of CityWalk and Disney Springs should help each company determine best practices with new health and safety procedures. Deciding whether it's clearer to mark where people should stand or should not stand is one of those details that needs to be resolved. At Shanghai Disneyland, Disney established that it would go with the "don't stand here" route to keep people an adequate distance apart in queues. But many other businesses, including Universal, are going with the "stand here" approach.

We could debate the merits of each forever, and I expect readers to start with that in the comments. But absent any federal government leadership here, it'd be nice to see an industry association such as IAAPA step forward to provide guidance.

The theme park industry is the business world's expert in managing crowds efficiently. So theme parks have an opportunity here to help teach countless other businesses around the nation and the world by example how best to protect and promote the safety of their customers while doing so with grace and goodwill.

But theme parks will need their example to be clear and consistent to do that.

Replies (8)

May 19, 2020 at 3:46 PM

If video cassettes and DVDs (remember them?) taught us anything is that uniform consistent standards will take a while to be established ??

May 19, 2020 at 4:15 PM

Soon as I saw what Shanghai Disney was doing with the massive "DON'T STAND HERE" stickers, I thought, why not show where to stand, rather then where not to stand.
If you have a cat, you know they are drawn to special spaces. Meaning, if I take my belt off, buckle it and lay it on the floor, my cat will make her way into it. If I put a sheet of paper on my sofa, she will sit on it. I think people are sort of the same way. They will be drawn to stand ON the special thing. It's much like how the pre-board Cast Members try so hard to get people to stand on the numbered markers at Star Tours and the Tower of Terror so they can full all the seats.

May 19, 2020 at 4:28 PM

Actually, I've seen this at stores as some folks just interpret them different ways. Some will stand where they shouldn't and not where they should. I know, it's odd but it happens, folks just seem to see it in a different way.

May 19, 2020 at 5:07 PM

It's like being asked to make a fast food run.

Disney - Go anywhere you want, but not to McDonalds.
Universal - Go to Wendy's.

May 19, 2020 at 5:09 PM

To me, the issue with Disney's method is that they use both "stand here" and "don't stand here." In queues, squares are marked to tell you where not to stand, but then in viewing areas the squares are where you're supposed to stand. While I think marking where to stand is probably better (unless it's a long area guests are just supposed to pass through), I think either method can work. However, it needs to at least be consistent at a location.

May 19, 2020 at 5:18 PM

I think if they use the "Stand Here" stickers on the floor, the stickers would get dirty and eventually hard to read which would mean replacing them again and again so i get why they used the "Don't Stand Here" stickers instead but again, a lot of people just plain don't read lol.

May 19, 2020 at 5:25 PM

Yeah, I think it's easier to use "Stand Here". If I see a "Don't Stand Here", I'm going to wonder where they want me to wait.

Maybe we should put this to a vote, Robert.

May 19, 2020 at 6:30 PM

Just so long as they don't put striped tape on a checked floor like they did in Shanghai Disneyland's Pirates restaurant, I can figure it out. That floor was gonna trigger my migraines.

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