At this writing, the global tourist industry is in contingency mode, reacting to the Covid-19 virus outbreak that's already infected nearly 114,000 citizens and killed nearly 4,000 worldwide.

One of the first conglomerates in the industry to react was Disney, which declared a temporary shutdown of Disney park operations in Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Tokyo while beefing up measures to ensure Walt Disney World in Florida is safe for the spring break invasion of tourists. What will take place at Disneyland Paris, where an employee recently tested positive for the virus, is unknown.


But outside the U.S., the Tokyo franchise is the most successful Disney park operation, making it a critical revenue source, which explains why it was given a date to reopen when the closure announcement was first made Feb. 27. Understandably, it must be a spooky experience at the moment to walk through the complex with a ghost town vibe in the air contrasted with the hordes of folks that took in the surroundings earlier this year.

It's also a feeling that Disney hopes will waft into the ether once the locks become undone, but that timing will heavily depend on how the virus is being dealt with by whatever medical experts are equipped to take on this outbreak. And the park did introduce a few measures like making more hand sanitizer available as well as training mascots how to get help if approached by a patron that may have had symptoms of the virus.

Keeping those measures once the park reopens would be prudent, but visitors can likely expect a few other changes when that happens.

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Park closed until at least March 16

At this writing, Tokyo Disney is closed with plans for it to reopen March 16. But with virus casualties still on the rise, it would come as no surprise if that date is pushed back.

With Japanese statistics last registering more than 500 infected and 19 deaths and the prime minister giving himself carte blanche to impose a state of emergency if needed, patrons might be waiting at those gates a little longer, if permitted to go outdoors at all.

Those gates, by the way, have been reinforced since November with metal detectors and X-ray scanners, technology that understandably can't keep a virus out. But for visitors who haven't been to the park in a few months, that's one visible change to keep in mind once the turnstiles get back into gear.

Cast members might offer medical aid

The costumed array of Disney icons are at a theme park for more than just everyone's amusement. They're mobile forms of branding and everything they do has to keep Disney in the best light possible. They also have to follow strict etiquette when they're forbidden to talk, sing or even show any form of exhaustion, a challenge for those wearing furry costumes during the mid-day heat.

Some procedures involving characters might change if Tokyo Disney reopens later in March. While hugging tourists will be discouraged, the cast will be allowed to wear masks. And in the case of an emergency, characters might not engage in any dicey hands-on assistance if they encounter anyone with flu-like symptoms. But count on Mickey, Minnie and the rest of the gang to be more aggressive in flagging down on-site medics.

Expect more stringent sanitation procedures

Even before the park was shut down, Tokyo Disney officials were issuing precautions that visitors and staff had to take while on-site, such as going back home into isolation if anyone felt any symptoms that could even remotely resembled the virus. Hand-washing and avoidance of face-touching were also stressed, while efforts were being made to ensure hand sanitizer was more readily available.

Since the closure of all three Asian Disney parks, executives have since stepped up sanitation procedures at its remaining attractions in Anaheim, Orlando, and Paris. Hand sanitizers are being made a lot more accessible, all of them with Disney brands, of course. And staff will be focusing on a more thorough cleaning of high public contact areas to mitigate any spread of the virus on the premises.

If Tokyo Disney reopens March 16th, it's not likely the virus will have completely disappeared but will remain a major health concern. Logic dictates that the same measures implemented at other parks will also be put in motion at the Tokyo attraction.

Things might get a bit more expensive

Virus or not, visitors will notice one substantial change when they return to Tokyo Disney once it's back for business. Passes will be easier to get and tickets will get more expensive. Single-day adult passes are going up by nearly $5 to $75, while teens will face a $3 increase to $65. Younger patrons will still be able to get in with a $45 charge. Those hikes won't be enough to recoup any lost business since the prices were imposed before the park was closed.

Access within the park will become a lot more convenient thanks to the introduction of the FastPass via a smartphone app. It won't make it cheaper to get into the park but the FastPass feature can scan a QR code at any on-site attraction at designated times to enable patrons to beat the lineups. Which certainly beats the in-store queues elsewhere for toilet paper, masks and hand sanitizer.

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