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Though it is not clear when Walt Disney World theme parks will reopen in Orlando, Florida, as the coronavirus has shut down most nonessential businesses, Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger says he has a plan in mind that may include temperature checks.
“One of the things that we’re discussing already is that in order to return to some semblance of normal, people will have to feel comfortable that they’re safe. Some of that could come in the form ultimately of a vaccine, but in the absence of that it could come from basically, more scrutiny, more restrictions,” Iger explained in an interview with Barron’s.
“Just as we now do bag checks for everybody that goes into our parks, it could be that at some point we add a component of that that takes people’s temperatures, as a for-instance," he continued.
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Disney’s Orlando theme parks have been shut down since March 16. A few days later, its neighboring company-owned hotels and stores also closed their doors to the public.
In this Jan. 15, 2020 photo, Mickey and Minnie Mouse perform during a parade as they pass by the Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)
Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California, has been closed as well as Disney’s foreign theme parks in Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai.
There is no official reopening date at this time as the U.S. and the rest of the globe try to fight off the deadly respiratory virus. In Florida, where Disney’s largest theme parks are located, more than 250 people have succumbed to the virus, which has in turn caused local governments to enact stay-at-home mandates.
With these precautions in mind, Iger told Barron’s Disney executives have been studying China’s heightened security measures and health monitoring for economic recovery.
“So we’ve asked ourselves the question, let’s prepare for a world where our customers demand that we scrutinize everybody. Even if it creates a little bit of hardship, like it takes a little bit longer for people to get in,” he said.
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In this March 13, 2020 photo, a hand sanitizer station is displayed at the entrance of Walt Disney World Resort’s Magic Kingdom Theme Park. (Cortney Moore/FOX Business)
Iger also believes the coronavirus pandemic will change how Disney properties operate in the future.
"I don’t think we’re ever going to see a return to business as usual in the sense that, I can’t speak for all companies, but Disney will take this opportunity to look for ways to run our businesses more efficiently when we come back,” he said.
Iger, who has worked at the Walt Disney Company for over 20 years, stepped down as chief executive officer in late February. He is being succeeded by longtime executive Bob Chapek.