Thousands of visitors streamed into Shanghai Disneyland on Monday for the first time in three months as the Chinese park became the first reopened by Walt Disney Co after the coronavirus pandemic brought the Magic Kingdom to a standstill.
While Mickey Mouse joined familiar Disney characters welcoming the crowds, the Shanghai experience will not be as it was: Instead of parades and fireworks, there are mandatory masks, temperature screenings and social distancing for visitors and employees.
A girl wearing face mask poses for a picture at Shanghai Disney Resort as the Shanghai Disneyland theme park reopens following a shutdown due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Shanghai, China May 11, 2020. (Reuters)
Still, the vast majority of its rides as well as most of its restaurants and shows will be open, said Andrew Bolstein, the park's senior vice-president of operations. More might reopen in time to come depending on the situation and government regulations, he added.
Zhang Zhongyu, a 29-year-old passholder and visitor who works in importing, said the things he missed most about the park were the shows and the parade - two attractions that have been cancelled.
“I'm a little disappointed, but there's nothing we can do - thinking of the virus, you have to avoid guests gathering closely, it's understandable,” he said.
Workers wearing face masks prepare social distancing markers at Shanghai Disney Resort. (Reuters)
“It's like a feeling of coming home, I feel extremely happy,” said passholder Yu.
“For us fans it's very meaningful to be here on the first day of its reopening, and to be able to experience its reopening, it feels like a magical day.”
Still, the reopening comes after a weekend of unwelcome reminders that a second wave of the virus could happen, including the first confirmed case for more than a month in Wuhan, the city at the epicenter of the outbreak late last year.
The number of new cases in China, where the epidemic first emerged late last year, has sharply dropped in recent weeks but sporadic outbreaks continue. Some 17 new COVID-19 cases were reported for the mainland on May 10, rising from a day earlier and marking the highest daily increase since April 28.
Concerns about the virus weren't far from the mind of Shanghai Disneyland visitor Chen Xue, 31, who works in marketing and said she would have not come to the park if it were not for the social distancing measures.
“The virus is still not over and it has made me so incredibly anxious,” she said.