Bob Chapek Talks About The Future of Phased Disney Parks Reopenings, Films, and His Role as CEO on Interview with CNBC; Emphasizes Guests Must Wear Masks and “Do Their Part” For U.S. Reopenings

Jessica Figueroa

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Bob Chapek Talks About The Future of Phased Disney Parks Reopenings, Films, and His Role as CEO on Interview with CNBC; Emphasizes Guests Must Wear Masks and “Do Their Part” For U.S. Reopenings

Jessica Figueroa

Updated on:

Bob Chapek Talks About The Future of Phased Disney Parks Reopenings, Films, and His Role as CEO on Interview with CNBC; Emphasizes Guests Must Wear Masks and “Do Their Part” For U.S. Reopenings

Today, Disney CEO Bob Chapek gave an exclusive interview to CNBC just hours after Shanghai Disneyland closed after its first historic day back in operation in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. The market generally looks towards Disney as the proxy on how to carry out phased reopenings on a large scale, so not only are Disney Parks fans following reopening guidelines, but the general public is interested in just how Disney is going to manage the reopening.

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Currently, “stay-at-home” stocks for companies that specialize in video conferencing, broadband, and online gaming (like Zoom and Blizzard) are on the up and up, with Disney still struggling to keep their parks, cruise line, and film studio afloat during the extended, unprecedented closures. Not surprisingly, Disney+ has been the company’s saving grace, with the streaming service surpassing 54.5 million subscribers this past week.

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Earlier today, former Disney Imagineer Bill Coan, now CEO of ITEC Entertainment also spoke to CNBC regarding the Disney model for reopenings. Given that Disney Parks are essentially small cities in and of themselves, adapting things such as public transit, restaurants, and entertainment to new health and safety guidelines will take some time as they face the same challenges as the rest of the world does in reopening. Coan stressed the importance of cleanliness, or at least “the perception of cleanliness”, as the company’s reputation precedes them, and guests anticipate a high level of safety within Disney Parks. Coan believes Disney’s reopening will still rely on state and federal regulations, but once they are able to reopen, business will be back up very quickly.

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Chapek referred to Shanghai as a short-book market, where typically tickets are sold on a week-by-week basis. The phased reopening was controlled through the sale of “significantly constrained” ticket quantities. Nearly all advance reservations have been booked, with the exception of a few weekday slots, which speaks to the love that consumers have for the brand across the world. Chapek stressed the fact that fans can’t wait for the parks to reopen, as many look to it as the return to “some semblance” of normal. While the company is looking to reopen the parks as soon as possible, they also need to ensure that they do so in a responsible way. The company is excited to welcome back guests and Cast Members, and they’re encouraged by what they’ve seen in Shanghai so far, as “a first step.”

In terms of furthering the current phased reopening, Chapek remarked that the company needs to be “very conservative, very prudent” in moving forward. At Shanghai Disneyland, the plan is to increase the amount of guests by 5,000 each week, with the government’s permission.

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When asked whether the parks can potentially manage 100% capacity while maintaining social distancing guidelines, Chapek answered that it really “depends on the guests.” He emphasized the need for guests to be diligent about maintaining social distancing:

“If guests continue to behave in the way that they have, we may be able to approach that… We’re all playing our part in this ecosystem of safety, if you will, and we’re going to do our part and we need our guests need to do their part, too.”

When asked about a potential July reopening date, Chapek declined to comment on any specific dates, as he stated that it will depend on state and  local government regulations, plus hospital capacity at medical centers near the Disney Parks. With Disney Springs reopening on May 20, they’re looking to test protocols much like they did with Disneytown in Shanghai Disney Resort.

CNBC asked the key components needed to get the parks to reopen. To that, Chapek responded that social distancing, as well as masks, will be required for all Cast Members and guests. While masks are a cultural norm across parks in Asia, he also recognized that guests across U.S. parks will have to adapt to wearing masks in hot, humid environments (like Walt Disney World.)

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As the conversation shifted to movies, Chapek stated that limited capacity across movie theaters moving forward will mainly be an issue on Friday evenings and weekends, and can be something that is managed by the exhibitors the company partners with.

“At Disney, we’re a bunch of optimists. We have to manage people’s anxieties with people’s demands. If you do it in a relatively smart, responsible way, it’s possible.”

Big, tentpole films will continue to go to theaters, but they’ll continue to look at Disney+ for releases on a case-by-case basis in order to remain flexible with theatrical releases.

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Finally, Chapek was asked about his ongoing tenure as CEO, where former CEO Bob Iger has had to notably step in at various stages throughout the health crisis:

“This is an unprecedented situation… I knew there would be disruption in my tenure as CEO. What I didn’t realize––it would happen that fast or that profoundly.”

Chapek mentioned that the company is wholeheartedly embracing a team approach to figure out what’s best for investors, guests, and Cast Members alike. In closing the series of questions regarding parks, films, and his tenure as CEO, Chapek said, “Disney will be back stronger than ever.”

You can watch the full interview on CNBC here.

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36 thoughts on “Bob Chapek Talks About The Future of Phased Disney Parks Reopenings, Films, and His Role as CEO on Interview with CNBC; Emphasizes Guests Must Wear Masks and “Do Their Part” For U.S. Reopenings”

  1. Good luck on a mask in the summer. I live right next to magic kingdom and it was hell 2 weeks ago at 10am for 30 minutes outside.

  2. At this point, if you are not wearing a mask you are being a selfish jerk. If I see someone in a populated place without a mask I assume that they are ill-informed or have zero consideration for those around them.

    • Excuse me, but who made you the moral arbiter of what other people do and don’t want to do. Unfortunately my partner and I have had to deal with intolerant bigots such as yourself for quite some time now. If you have a problem with others enjoying themselves by not wearing a mask when it is not necessary, then just stay home and continue with more foolish “self quarantining”.

    • I’ve observed 100s of people in my town wear masks only the see that most are wearing them improperly or contaminating them. They pull them out of thier pocket walking in to a store, pull them down to touch their face, touch the outside and touch products. People at the parks will do the same. So while I’ll comply with Disney’s rules and wear a mask I’ll know its really not doing anything.

    • That’s not true at all. Just a month a ago they will telling us you did not need to wear a mask. I see people wearing the same non-cloth masks every single day without throwing them away. Don’t tell me that is better for their health.
      Per WHO “There was no evidence that wearing a mask in the community prevented healthy people from picking up respiratory infections including Covid-19”

    • You are the ill-informed one. Masks don’t work. You are in charge of your own immune system. Turn the TV off and do your own research. Bahhhh.

    • People who already have difficulty breathing (for example, those with asthma or panic disorders) have valid medical excuses not to wear masks.

    • OR conversely, they have a respiratory condition that exempts them, you know you can think all are jerks but your comment reflects your level of “jerkness”

      • OR conversely, people with respiratory conditions should know better than to be outside, with or without a mask, in a place where large amounts of people gather while the country is experiencing a widespread disease that attacks the lungs. If people like that feel the need to be at Disney Springs right now, then they’re not all that interested in protecting themselves, let alone others.

  3. I’ll do my part and wear my mask but I wonder who is right, the CDC or WHO. One says yes the other says, ehh. Most masks will be contaminated within minutes of being in the park, if not by lunch. If you brought a cloth mask and you aren’t washing it correctly every time you take it off or put it in a pocket its contaminated. You’d need a cloth mask for every day of your trip. Disposables are great, if you can find them to buy. Also children under 2 are not to wear masks per the CDC. So that is a chunk of guests that won’t be wearing the mask, and good luck getting a kid to wear one all day. There is a question of whether or not this is just truly a false sense of security. Speaking with my sister in law whom is both a nurse and avid Disney fan, she says it is pointless unless you are sick. Majority won’t wear the mask correctly and that will limit their effectiveness as well. It’s Disney’s right to require this and I’ll comply because the need to be back in the parks outweigh my annoyance of the mask debacle.

  4. Doesn’t sound like much of a leader to me, let’s max the parks out to capacity and it’s the “guests” fault if they can’t social distance. How about determine the number of people that can safely enter a park and cap capacity there.

    • Chapek wasn’t built to be a “Leader” of anything let alone a Company like Disney! I hope the shareholders find it in them to Fire this Fool!

  5. Oh God, I honestly thought that Disney could not have picked anybody worse than Iger to run the company, was I wrong. This oaf clearly does not have the intelligence or decision making capacity to run a company the size of Disney. Any idea that I may be wrong about this clod evaporated as soon as he said that masks will be required. If this simpleton thinks for a moment that my partner and I are going to wear a face covering in July-August in the parks, then the shareholders should immediately do whatever it takes to get this financially reckless fool away from any serious decision making.

  6. If Disney is requiring everyone to wear a mask in the hot summer sun in Florida, they are going to have more people fainting. Being able to breathe is more important.

    • People wear them in July in Japan and it is WAY more humid than Florida, believe it or not. You’ll live, maybe don’t run with it on and remember to drink water.

      • “You’ll live” is not the same as “you’ll have a magical time with lifelong memories of pure fun with your family.” That’s what people in the US look for out of a Disney vacation. I cancelled my vacation and won’t go back until the mask requirement is eliminated – not just for me but for cast members too. There simply isn’t any magic in hospital masks.

        • No one said you have to go. I’m not fighting that you should go, I’m fighting that you can’t show up without one when it is deemed necessary.

    • Lol I run many miles each day in a face mask. If you can’t survive in the heat with one on, maybe you should think about some better life choices. The mask isn’t the enemy, your own lack of self discipline is ✌️

  7. Disney should not rest on its laurels, there are many loyal Disney fans, but the cost of a Disney vacation will push most people away if they have to deal with the discomfort of wearing masks around, reduced attractions, and even more intensely long lines. Factor in the fear that many people will have of traveling, let alone being in a crowded park like Disney, things are going to be very rough for them. I think Disney is having the exactly wrong messaging, they need to assure people that everything will be back to normal, and that they will open once it is safe to do so. People will not spend thousands on a Disney vacation if they’re going to do it in fear.

    • Just wait till everything is back to normal then go. We’ve already cancelled our trip for this year

  8. Well I hope Disney is ready for a lot of vacation cancellations. People will not pay premium pricing to get half the experience. Plus, I feel wearing a mask all day in the dead of summer will be a deal breaker for many. It was for my family. As much as I love Disney,, my family and I won’t be back until we can get the full Disney experience. However long that may be.

  9. 100% canceling our trip in July with the FDrecovery offer. We’re NOT walking around in the HOT/HUMID Florida summer HEAT with masks on.

  10. From the WHO: When and how to wear medical masks to protect against coronavirus?

    If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with COVID-19.
    Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
    Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
    If you wear a mask, then you must know how to use it and dispose of it properly.

  11. The more people who cancel their trips because of the mask requirement the better. I live in S FL & have been wearing a mask when out & about & we’ve already had temps in the 90s. Wearing a mask really isn’t that big of an inconvenience and if there’s a chance it will keep others from becoming sick then fine.

  12. Everyone’s yelling “Open the Parks!”… Disney has a plan for that which includes a mask requirement “I’m not going if I need a mask!”…. make up your mind here people. If the worst part of your day is wearing a face mask consider yourself lucky. So many woe is me personalities that think a mask is the end of the world… grow up.

  13. Your “rights” end where they intersect with my safety and the safety of others. If you don’t like the mask requirement, then don’t go until safety guidelines are lifted and no longer necessary. If you miss Disney to such a degree that you’re willing to brave the heat and humidity of July and August just to get there sooner, even though those months are known to be uncomfortably hot under normal, “non-mask-wearing” conditions, then I don’t see how a mask requirement is going to be the ultimate dealbreaker for you. So what it comes down to is this: You do you, but plan accordingly. Disney is not required to change its approach to match your preferred vacation strategy. Besides, it makes more sense to go when you know you’ll truly enjoy it, even if it means waiting a while.

  14. It’s nice to see I’m not the only person who is 100% against masks. I’ve said it before…PPE will NEVER work in the US parks, particularly in the Florida summer and with small children. The WHO, CDC, and the panic-driven media will never tell you this, but since I care about this online Disney community, allow me – there is new evidence that face coverings are doing more harm than good. Not only will they “soil” easily by being constantly touched and handled, but breathing in your own CO2 is detrimental to good respiratory health and immunity. Just Google it – it’s all there for public knowledge. Combine that with summer Florida heat & humidity, and Disney will have a catastrophe on their hands. The fact that Chapek and the buffoons at corporate think they can execute against the plan they laid out is hilarious. I realize Disney needs to mitigate risk, but they also need to be practical and stay true to the Guest experience.

    • Everyone knows that google is a much more reputable source than the WHO and the CDC. It’s funny how everyone trusts these sources until they tell them something they don’t like. Also if the best part of the guest experience is “not wearing a mask” obviously Disney is doing something wrong.

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