Extremely Positive News Coming Out of China Theme Parks Regarding Coronavirus Closures

With the entire planet is focused on irradicating the Coronavirus, there is a lot of uncertainty. For those of us that follow, work for or with theme parks and attractions, there are a lot of questions we don’t have the answers to at the moment. The biggest question is: will theme parks ever return to some sense of “normal”? Oddly enough, China may very well be an early indicator of that answer.

While Shanghai Disneyland has slowly reopened their hotels, Wishing Star Park and Disneytown as of March 9th, the park remains closed. Based on evidence of what is happening, it’s very possible that Shanghai Disneyland (the park) could start to reopen in phases fairly soon.

On Friday, March 20 Shanghai Haiching Ocean Park reopens after being closed since January 24 as a response to COVID-19 concerns. When they reopen in phases, they will have some new procedures in place. These include temperature checks of every guest who enters the park (commonplace for Chinese citizens since the outbreak). They are also limiting capacity in indoor and outdoor attractions. You’ll also see a total suspension of cash transactions, which limits human physical interaction. Many retail locations across Europe and North America are slowly adopting the same practices.

Legacy Entertainment, who designed the park, had this to say. “These last two months have been among the most challenging our industry has ever encountered,” said Barry Kemper, Legacy’s Chief Operating Officer. “We deeply admire the leadership shown by our Shanghai Haichang Ocean Park partners and clients in the face of this great adversity. Their thoughtful and carefully considered actions are setting a model for the rest of the world to follow. We are confident that other theme park and themed entertainment owners and operators will soon be looking to Haichang and others as they cautiously take the first steps back towards normalcy.”

Normalcy, or at least some form of it, I think is what we are all going to be craving over these next few weeks. Personally, I have been looking for glimmers of hope for since all of this started. This was actually the light at the end of the tunnel I was looking to see.

Originally posted by InPark Magazine, the President of the Thinkwell office in Asia posted the following to her own Facebook page recently. She’s been on the ground in Shanghai since before COVID-19 started. Frankly, it’s one of the best pieces of positive news I have seen so far. Considering China has been on lockdown for the longest, I found this highly encouraging.

Paul Redding (Vice President of Thinkwell Asia) and Kelly Ryner (President of Thinkwell Asia).

Greetings from Beijing! I know, I’m lousy about keeping up on facebook and I haven’t opened it since Christmas, but as I see all of the news breaking in the US, I couldn’t help but want to jump in and let all of our friends know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. We’ve been on “government lockdown” since the last week of January now and the spread of COVID-19 is barely a trickle proving it does work.

In the last week of January we were in denial, couldn’t believe this was happening as all of the theme parks and movie theatres and schools closed until further notice by government mandate overnight. Lots of talk about overreactions because this sounded like it was just another strain of the flu.

The first week of February was Fear and Depression about what this meant for the economy compounded by all of the flights getting canceled and wondering if we had done the right thing staying here. Tracking down our employees, making sure they were safe and self quarantining as instructed by the government and getting their computers delivered so that we could all start working from home.

Somewhere in the second week of February came Acceptance. Everyone was following the rules, and I was doing my research to understand the facts as being delivered by the medical community rather than journalists. A tremendous help to my peace of mind.

We were assured that grocery stores would operate as normal, so nobody panicked hoarding goods and it gave us an excuse to get out of the apartment every 3 days to do a little food shopping.

For those that don’t love to cook, restaurants kept cooking and kept the delivery guys busy. Delivery happens a lot faster with no traffic! Everyone’s temperature is taken looking for fevers as they come in and out of their communities, any shops, cafes or eateries. Starbucks closed a huge percentage of their shops for a few weeks, but they’ve started opening back up again for take-out.

In these last few weeks, traffic is starting to pick up as businesses start reopening. It was eerie the many weeks of silence. Peaceful at the same time.

Spring has sprung so we grabbed a little sunshine yesterday near the Forbidden City at a place that would normally be packed shoulder to shoulder with local tourists and practically had the place to ourselves. We took the opportunity to drop our masks for a bit and snagged a photo.

All I can say is, listen to the scientists, don’t panic, follow the rules, and try to enjoy a quieter life for just a bit. It’s a wonderful time to do all those little things around the house you never have time to do. It will be a few weeks. We are starting week eight now and on our way back into the office . . . .

Wishing you all love and good health!

Kelly Ryner, president of Thinkwell Asia

If anything, her message is one of hope and clarity in a time that is unsure and rocky. We will share more encouraging messages like this as we see them. Hang tight everybody, we will get through this.

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