Disneyland Shanghai recently reopened with a sharply limited capacity. Currently the park is limiting capacity to below 30%, and guests must have a reservation (either a dated park ticket, or an actual reservation).
That “limited capacity” bit has us (and our readers!) a little worried. Is there a chance that Disney will limit capacity so sharply that there is a risk of guests not getting into the park even WITH a hotel reservation and park ticket? How is Disney World going to implement these capacity limits?
Let’s take a look at how Disney has handled this in the past.
Disney has had to limit park attendance in the past.
This isn’t the first time that Disney has had to place a limit on park attendance. In fact, it’s happened often, using several different methods.
Tiered Closure During Holiday Park Capacity Limits
Pretty much every year Disney has to turn guests away at the gates of Magic Kingdom during the holiday season! In this instance, the capacity limits follow a priority schedule where the parks close to walk-up guests first and then step up through the tiers — those with hotel reservations, annual passholders, etc. — until they close for everyone when the park hits its safe capacity.
With lowered capacities, Disney World could opt to use their usual capacity closure protocol considering it is already an established system. If this were the case, we would likely see the tiered closure introduced at a much smaller number guests — especially if Disney World’s capacity is as limited as Shanghai Disneyland’s.
Virtual Queues and Boarding Passes and/or Hotel-Guest-Only Systems
Another way that Disney has limited guest numbers in the past has been with virtual queues and boarding groups. These are being used right now with the all-new and mega-popular Rise of the Resistance, but before that, they were actually used to enter Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge as a whole.
In Disneyland, there was about a two month time period where only people with Disney hotel reservations could get into Galaxy’s Edge and all reservation holders had a limit of four hours in the land per reservation. If there is an issue of limited capacity, perhaps such queues could be implemented for different high traffic areas of the parks, or even the parks themselves.
It sounds kind of crazy to think of a potential time limit in the parks, but Disney does have experience utilizing a virtual queue system so that could be what they fall back on. Regardless, we already know that Disney is considering the use of virtual queues to help with distancing in lines!
We can also take a look at the opening of Disneyland Shanghai! SO FAR, the sitch in Shanghai is probably closest to what we can expect when Disney World reopens. The park initially opened with a new reservation system where guests — including annual passholders — had to make a reservation to get in the park. This way, Disney knows exactly how many people they are allowing in.
If all goes well in Shanghai, this reservation system presents a potential solution in Disney parks. In that case, you would know for a FACT, in advance, whether or not there’s space for you in the park. That reservation would mean entry, not just your ticket.
But currently, Disney has already sold hundreds of thousands of dated tickets for the remainder of the year. If the parks open with limited capacity, does everyone still get in, or do those with tickets still have to win the “lottery” of a reservations system? It remains to be seen.
In the case of a phased reopening, Florida residents may be the only ones who have to worry about not getting into the park.
If you don’t live in Florida, you may not have to worry about getting turned away at the gate at all. Per the proposed phased plan suggested by the Re-Open Florida Task Force, Florida residents could be the first guests allowed into the parks — exclusively.
Not only does this mean that non-Florida residents wouldn’t be able to get in, but it also means that capacity will naturally limit itself. As you can imagine, there are a whole lot more potential Disney guests outside of Florida than there are in Florida, but many are not able to travel at this time.
If Disney is considering turning ticketed guests away at capacity, the idea of Florida residents being solely allowed in the parks could make sense. If a Florida resident is turned away, they won’t have to travel as far and many of them won’t be spending a good bit of money on the hotel reservations either.
Still, Disney is allowing ANYONE to book vacation packages after July 1st right now. If a phased reopening with Florida residents first is the case, will they have to go through another round of canceling and rescheduling NON-Florida residents’ vacations? Maybe. After all, they’ve already done several rounds of cancellations. It’s not implausible that more will come.
What does all this mean for YOU? Will YOU get turned away at the gate?
This is all uncharted territory, so we have to be aware of the possibilities. As long as things go well in Shanghai, the case may be that advance reservations ARE the process. In this case, at least you’ll KNOW whether you’re in or not based on if you get a reservation.
But remember, just because the parks are open doesn’t mean your reservations are a go. Capacity limits, health measures, and phased reopenings could very well mean that your trip needs to be canceled or moved. Disney wants guests back to enjoying the parks as soon as possible, but there are a lot of caveats to doing so safely and responsibly.
It’s unknown at this time WHAT steps Disney World will take upon reopening. But at this time, we have a few possible options we can examine. We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear any concrete plans from Disney.
How do you think Disney would go about limiting capacity? Tell us in the comments!