Just four days after Disney reopened its theme park in Florida to visitors, it will re-close its theme park in Hong Kong due to a surge of COVID-19 cases there.
The contrasting situations underscore the current risk, both in health safety and in corporate reputation, of reopening tourist attractions amid the still-ongoing pandemic.
Disney’s (DIS) entire business has been hit hard by the pandemic: for more than three months, all of its theme parks in the world were closed, all of its cruise lines were halted, all of its Disney retail stores were shut, its cable subsidiaries ABC and ESPN are starved for live sports content; and it has twice delayed the theatrical release date of its live-action remake of “Mulan,” first from March 27 to July 24, then to Aug. 21.
But the theme parks are the profit engine of the company. Shanghai Disneyland was the first Disney theme park in the world to reopen after lockdown, on May 11, and remains open.
Hong Kong Disneyland reopened on June 18 and will now “temporarily” close again on July 15 after Hong Kong reported 52 new COVID-19 cases on Monday.
Interestingly, hotels at the Hong Kong theme park will remain open. Disney said in a statement that the park has “put in place enhanced health and safety measures that reflect the guidance of health and government authorities, such as social distancing measures and increased cleaning and sanitization.”
Disney World in Florida reopened on July 11 at significantly reduced capacity, and is requiring all visitors to get their temperature taken at the gates and wear a mask inside. While visitors to the park generally had positive reviews of the experience on social media, Florida over the weekend reported a new single-day record for new COVID-19 cases: 15,299.
Florida now has 13,150 COVID-19 cases per 1 million people, while Hong Kong has 203 cases per 1 million people, leading critics to say that Disney appears to be acting far more cautious abroad than in the U.S. But Hong Kong Disneyland is majority-owned by the Hong Kong government, which mandated the closure.
In an interview with CNN, parks chief Josh D’Amaro said Disney World is “being incredibly aggressive in communicating to our guests” with signs using the characters from “The Incredibles” to tell visitors to wear a mask, wash their hands, and keep six feet apart from other people.
While D’Amaro defended the park’s safety measures, Disney World deleted a tweet from its @DisneyParksJobs account over the weekend of a “Welcome Home” promotional video that was widely lampooned on social media.
Daniel Roberts is an editor-at-large at Yahoo Finance and closely covers Disney. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwrite. Read more: