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5 Hospitality Lessons From Disney World’s Reopening

Disney World’s Reopening

Disney is proof there can still be the happiest place on earth during a scary time in history.

Disney World in Orlando FL reopened theme parks this week to overall pleasant reviews. Some even argue the Magic Kingdom is safer than the grocery store now.

It makes you wonder: Can I use a little Disney magic to prevent the spread of COVID-19? If you’ve been mulling over the best ways to make guests feel safe in your restaurant, check out these tips…

1. Limit occupancy

What Disney did: Disney cut the level of guests in theme parks down to a sixth of the normal amount. Only 10,000 showed up on the reopening day. Before the pandemic, 60,000 people from around the world explored the Magic Kingdom daily.

Lesson: Depending on your state’s government different rules will apply. In Florida, restaurants are allowed to operate at 50% capacity. The Magic Kingdom opened expecting 25% of their usual occupancy and even fewer arrived.

2. Mandatory face masks

What Disney did: There is a rule that all guests and cast members need to wear face masks throughout the park. It may be a little strange picking up your pictures at the end of “Big Thunder Mountain” and seeing you screaming your head off with a mask on. But it is the safest way to ride right now.

Park guests are able to take off their face masks at designated rest areas throughout the park. There are three “relaxation stations” where guests can cool off and remove their face masks.

Lesson: It’s not mandatory in Florida to wear face masks. It may be in the best interest of your business to make it a requirement, however. But, like Disney, set up an area where your guests can remove them for a little while.

3. Sell face masks

What Disney did: Disney sells face masks with different movie characters and branding on them. It makes it a little more normal to wear one and it’s even a little fun – especially for kids. Guests love personalized merchandise and like having gear that reflects their unique personalities.

Lesson: This is something a lot of businesses have started and you can, too. Create masks with your logo and create new ones. It’s an opportunity to make money and to enforce the new normal of shielding guests from spreading the virus.

4. Hand sanitizer stations

What Disney did: The Magic Kingdom has hand sanitizer stations all throughout the theme parks, including restrooms, and even in hotels. Disney is doing this as a complementary offer and not charging their guests.

Lesson: Set up hand sanitizer stations and even offer bottles to your guests. It may cost a little more but offering it at no charge ensures guests are more likely to use it. That way you don’t need to worry that guests aren’t using hand sanitizer because they didn’t bring any.

5. Plastic dividers

What Disney did: Set up plexiglass, plastic dividers in line queues. It’s a smart way to keep social distance while waiting in line for a ride. It helps limit respiratory spreading and eases guests’ anxiety in the park.

Lesson: This is especially a great idea for restaurants. Maybe moving away from plastic dividers and putting up partitioners between distanced tables. They limit respiratory droplets that spread COVID-19. It’s just that little extra coverage in case guests are forgetful and remove their face masks.