Chapek talks with CNN Business about reopening the parks and how they will be different under the new health guidelines.
This interview has been edited and organized.
I am a Disney World Annual Passolder. Tell me why it’s safe for me and my family to return to Disney.
Okay, I think all we can say is that we have tried our best to open up responsibly. Local health officials, state health officials, national health officials as well as our own skilled doctors on staff to create new operating procedures, create new policies, create new training, create new hygiene standards. So that when a guest arrives we can be confident that the guests will always be with the Walt Disney Company and enjoy the parks so that they can perpetuate those spiritual memories for a lifetime.
What will parks look like in the new health guidelines?
Well, the first thing that will be different to look at is that we will have masks for both our guests and guests and this is definitely something we are not used to in parks. But you’ll see lots of tape at a distance of six feet in our line of lines and across the necessary parks so people can find out what six feet actually looks like. And we are going to help our guests maintain that social distance, which is extremely important.
Apparently Central Florida is incredibly hot during the summer. How do you plan to apply masked people inside the park after having mandatory guidelines?
Well, so far we have had the experience that guests are very cooperative when wearing masks. And I think it’s really going to be part of the deal to come to Walt Disney World with some skill. We are going to apply that rule. This is for the protection of everyone. We had a great experience in Shanghai. And so far the experience at Disney Springs, just a week later, the guests are willing to wear the mask because they know it’s good for everyone … you know I got this mask all month, and you forgot about it a while later and I think it’s magic maintenance Going to be part.
The first phase will have limited capacity, the plan said today, but did not say how limited it will be. Can you tell me, it’s 25%? 50%?
Well, unlike in Shanghai, where we had strict government orders about what the capabilities might be if we reopened, we don’t have Walt Disney World here. So what we’re doing is using six feet of social distance to determine what the capability should be. So our industrial engineers have been busy for the last few months, trying to figure out what it would look like, and the capability that we’re going to open up is actually down a bit where we really think we can stay on those six legs.
Obviously running a theme park with limited capacity is not profitable. But where will the breaking van be?
Okay, we won’t open the park unless we can afford our variable costs – basically our costs to manage the park. So even then it becomes a question of your overhead and the capital expenditures you try to cover. And we’re going to take some baby steps in that direction, but we’re not going to lose money when you open up. We will not necessarily work at full capacity.
You opened Shanghai, and now you plan to open Walt Disney World in Orlando. Do we have any information about Disneyland? Or the rest of the park around the world?
Again, we are taking our direction from the local government, both the Orange County government as well as the state of California. And they will advise us when we can reopen. We just learned this week that we’ll be in three steps as scheduled in the state of California, which I think is good news for Disneyland fans. But especially when it will happen how it will all be explained and we will work with our state and local authorities to ensure that it is also done in a responsible way.
If you keep the parks closed, you reduce the risk of any guests or staff getting sick. Unfortunately, this removes many of your employees from work. How do you balance these risks?
This is basically a million dollar question that I think all municipalities as well as people who run large theme parks like Disney theme parks have to deal with. To some extent, however, a confidence has been created in the Walt Disney Company that we will act responsibly when we decide to open. However we have found an innumerable, layer upon layer of defenses against this virus.
We will check the temperature every day for our cast members when they come to work every day. But we sent [each cast member] They have their own personal thermometer so they can take their temperature before working. We talked about masks, we talked about social distance, we talked about new and improved hygiene and things like sanitation – even better than you use at Disney. We’ve got so many levels that we believe we can still open up responsibly even though there’s still a risk and it’s everyone’s job to assess that risk considering their own situation.
Is Disney ready to shut down again if there is a significant second wave later this year?
One of the reasons we move forward so slowly, so deliberately and so cautiously is because we hope to avoid this kind of situation and we think through moving forward very carefully and deliberately, that we can reduce the possibility of such a thing.
Well I think, you know, you get back to your roots. You go back to the fact that I feel the envy of each of our companies, which is the strongest – if not the strongest – brand of the world, the incredible casts that are passionate about what they do, the magic they provide to our guests.
We’ve got an incredible wealth of franchises and content that we can create to put in places like Disney + or in movie theaters. So, really, our strength in the past is our strength in the future. And that is what will drive our magic to recovery. And so, I’m bullish about the future. I am extremely bullish about the Walt Disney Company and its power and goal of creating spiritual memories that last a lifetime.
I think we’re talking about a vibrant revival of the travel business, a vibrant return of enthusiastic guests to the Disney experience around the world, and a restoration of the magic that everyone wants so much.
The park reopens, are you going on that first ride?
Am I going on the first ride? I like Pirates of the Caribbean. It’s a classic attraction and I’ll go ride anytime
As long as the pirates are six feet away from each other.
The pirates have to stay six feet away from each other, yes.