COVID-19 | Shanghai Disneyland to reopen on May 11 as pandemic hits Walt Disney with $1.4 billion profit cuts

Bob Chapek, the CEO of Walt Disney said that as the company sees ‘encouraging signs’ in return to normalcy in China amid the ongoing global COVID-19 outbreak, and it plans to reopen Shanghai Disneyland on May 11.

He elaborated that strict distancing measures will be implemented including masks for guests and employees, temperature checks, contact tracing and other early detection systems.

Walt Disney estimated on Tuesday that global measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic has cut down the company’s profits by USD 1.4 billion, mostly from its shuttered theme parks, with more to come as executives detailed how the economic fallout would affect every part of its business for the foreseeable future.

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The total operating income for the first quarter that ended on March 28 fell by 37% from a year earlier to USD 2.4 billion, the world’s largest entertainment company told The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, while revenue rose by 21% to USD 18 billion. The business impact of the pandemic will likely be even more pronounced in the current quarter. Shutdowns that first began in Asia became more widespread globally only in the final few weeks of Disney’s fiscal second quarter.

Analysts have further downgraded Disney’s stock even as stay-at-home orders are lifted later and businesses reopened.

Chapek, said that the Shanghai Disneyland would reopen in a phased manner that would include limits on capacity, and mandatory masks for guests as well as temperature screenings before entry. Performers who portray characters like Snow White won’t wear masks but will keep a distance from guests, he was quoted as saying by the Journal.

The Chinese government, meanwhile, is also limiting the capacity at the park to 30%, or about 24,000 guests, Chapek said. The park will operate at capacities far below that in its first days of reopening, he added.

According to Variety, Disney has closed its theme parks in the U.S. — Disneyland and Walt Disney World — until further notice. All of its theme parks worldwide, from Paris to Hong Kong to Tokyo, are currently closed, though Shanghai Disney Resort as of March 9 partially resumed shopping, dining and other recreational operations. Hong Kong’s resort also has hotels that are open.

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