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Walt Disney Co. executive chairman Bob Iger says talks are underway about best practices for when the North American theme parks reopen.
For the moment, the Disneyland Resort and the Walt Disney World Resort are closed indefinitely amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In an interview with Barron’s published Tuesday, Iger said one option is to take guests’ temperatures before they can enter a park.
“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,” Iger said. “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. 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.”
Continued Iger, “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.”
The company announced in late March that Iger and recently named CEO Bob Chapek would both be taking salary cuts (a 100 percent cut for Iger and 50 percent for Chapek) while the business was in flux due to the coronavirus.
The parks closed the weekend of March 14. No cases of coronavirus have been linked to Disney parks.
Last week, the company stated it would furlough employees “whose jobs are not necessary at this time” beginning April 19. With all the parks and shopping districts closed, along with the hotels and stores, that number is expected to be large.
Saying this was his biggest challenge to date, Iger discussed the overall mood of Disney right now. “We’re optimists, although we’re also obviously realists, too,” he told Barron’s. “Optimists, because we have faith in the long-term prospects of our businesses, and our brands, which I think are important here. We know they have always been a place for people to go, whether it’s a movie or a park or ESPN, to enjoy their lives and to distance themselves from whatever daily issues they may be facing.”
As for films skipping theatrical release in favor of video-on-demand or Disney+ amid the pandemic, Iger said, “In terms of movies going ahead after Artemis [Fowl], there may be a few more that we end up putting directly onto Disney+, but for the most part a lot of the big tentpole Disney films, we’ll simply wait for slots.”
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