Shanghai Disney Resort’s New Approach to Queueing
One of the biggest questions any attraction needs to answer when considering operations in this new age is how to ensure social distancing throughout its facilities. Maintaining one to two meters of spacing between customers is one thing in supermarkets, but quite another in a theme park. How, for example, do you ensure that crowds do not form at the entrance at opening time or there is adequate spacing on a roller coaster? Since reopening Shanghai Disneyland on May 11th, the Walt Disney Company has seen success with its initial approach to these issues.
For starters, there are no on-site ticket sales—eliminating lines at ticket booths. All tickets must be purchased online through an advance reservation system. Even annual pass holders are required to book their date and time in advance. The reservation system staggers entry times, controls attendance numbers and enables Disney to prevent large crowds from gathering at the entrance first thing in the morning when the park opens.
The entry queue areas have social distancing markers on the ground, but unlike many places, the lines and boxes do not indicate where a guest should stand, but instead where they shouldn’t. “We found it was easier to tell the guests where not to stand, and then leave the empty space where they can stand,” Shanghai Disney Resort Senior Vice President of Operations Andrew Bolstein told media on a tour of the park.
How did Shanghai Disney Resort reach this decision and others concerning ride queues, signage, and more? IAAPA chats with Bolstein to learn more.
FW: Shanghai Disneyland’s approach to queueing and social distancing is innovative. How did it determine that it’s better to show guests where not to stand?
Andrew Bolstein: Shanghai Disney worked very closely with the local government on all aspects of our reopening plan. As we developed our social distancing strategy, we spent a lot of time benchmarking in Shanghai and talking with others in the industry to inform our decisions. We also thoroughly tested all new measures and procedures instituted in the park.
Initially, we did test markers indicating where guests “should stand,” as well as markers where they shouldn’t, at locations throughout the resort in order to determine the best option. What we found was that the markers indicating where guests “should not stand” caught their attention much more effectively. They’re perceived to be more like a warning, so we moved forward with this approach.
The resort’s approach to implementing queue safety changes as guests approach a ride. Why?
Guests first encounter the “should not stand” markers at the Main Entrance, and we continue to use them in the sections of attraction queues that we estimate will be used for the majority of each day. After passing through the entrance, guests understand the procedure and follow it well in the in-park queues.
For the actual ride loading areas, though, where guests are already in their separate groups, we use markers with numbers or boxes to help assign spaces. This approach is consistent with our attraction loading procedures to help space out our guests for both their safety and comfort.
How did you determine that the social distancing markers should be purple and yellow? What considerations went into their design?
The colors and iconography for all signs and markers related to the new pandemic response are kept consistent throughout the resort. We believe this consistency helps our guests identify a graphic vernacular that they can recognize and understand more easily. Regarding the specific colors, yellow traditionally relates to warnings. We chose it because we want to capture guests’ attention quickly. Purple also works well for us at Shanghai Disneyland across most areas of the park, so the two together create a perfect partnership.
Are there some rides on which it’s harder to ensure social distancing than others?
During this initial reopening phase, the daily guest capacity of the park has been limited, which helps us to encourage social distancing in every location of the park. While the capacity on certain attractions has been more heavily impacted than others—such as “Peter Pan’s Flight” and “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh,” where we limit each ride vehicle to only one group of guests—the impact has been manageable, and guests are responding very positively, which we are very thankful for.
Tell us more about how the new measures been received.
Social distancing measures in response to the pandemic have become a part of all our daily lives. Shanghai Disney Resort’s approach and procedures are in line with prevention efforts taking place across the country.
Our guests have been very receptive to all the social distancing measures that have been put in place at Shanghai Disneyland, and every Cast Member has gone through extensive training so that they are able to adequately assist guests with the new measures and procedures.
However, despite our thorough testing, you never know how well it will truly work until guests enter the park and start interacting in the environment. So now that we are open, we will be able to continue to adjust and adapt our measures according to guest feedback and behaviour observations.
We hope we are setting a good example to others in this industry around the world who are also thinking about the measures and procedures to implement when the time comes for them to reopen as well.
Disney theme parks have traditionally given a lot of thought to the psychology of queueing, so that waiting in lines is not boring or seem too long. Were there any psychological considerations that played a role in how the new rules are implemented?
Our Imagineers design all Disneyland attractions to feature fully immersive and exciting queue environments that take into account the guest experience while waiting. Shanghai Disneyland is no different. During this initial reopening phase, we are fortunate to be able to continue to use our existing queue environments as much as possible and still leverage the theming and in-queue entertainment provided. In the queue for “Pirates of the Caribbean – Battle for the Sunken Treasure,” for example, guests are immersed in a pirate’s world, with rooms filled with trinkets and hidden treasures.
Shanghai Disneyland’s pre-opening video is atypical, in that it has a much greater focus on operations than a typical Disney ‘milestone’ video. Tell us about Disney’s thought process in producing this.
It was so important to us that the public and our guests clearly understand the new operational procedures that are in place for their safety, both before and during their visit to the park. We wanted to leverage this communication to educate the public and guests, and we realized that the best way to do this is with an eye-catching, clear and memorable video, rather than just lines of text. While including fun Disney theming, we wanted the video to be helpful and informative, so we walk them through the entire process from making reservations through social distancing to leaving the park in an orderly manner at the end of the day.