Disney CEO mulling mass temperature testing when theme parks re-open

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With COVID-19 shutting down most non-essential businesses and services, furloughing and/or laying off employees, and causing most sectors of the economy to hemorrhage money, it’s no wonder companies are already considering how they could re-open.

Bob Iger, CEO of Walt Disney Co., is pondering what such a future would look like. Perhaps, he suggests, it would look like testing the temperatures of all of the guests before they enter the theme parks.

“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 in an interview with Barron’s. “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 that takes people’s temperatures, as a for-instance.”

Not only does he think that this would be a solid way of ensuring the customers’ safety, but he also believes that we will be transitioning into a world where customers expect companies to take more precautions.

“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,” Iger explained.

Ultimately, he noted, it’s okay to be optimistic as long as it’s tempered with a sufficient amount of realism.

“We’re optimists, although we’re also obviously realists, too,” he concluded. “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 BizPac Review reported on April 5, Iger and CEO Bob Chapek had agreed in March to take 100 percent and 50 percent pay cuts, respectively. While this may have seemed an economically wise decision, many complained that he was not the whole story. While the cuts only applied to Igor’s base salary, – which was $3 million – it said nothing of the benefits and additional compensation he would receive over the year, amounting to almost $44.5 million with both figures coming from the most recent fiscal year. In fairness to Iger, the additional compensation is performance-based, and it is incredibly unlikely that he will make that much this year.

But while all of their North American theme parks are closed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Disney’s income has not totally dried up. Many of their long-anticipated movies were set to release in theaters during this time, but have not seen their big debuts in places where non-essential businesses – such as cinemas – are legally forced to stay closed. While some of these films may go to their streaming service Disney+, Iger noted that they will wait to share their biggest productions.

“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,” he revealed.

Twitter reaction to the idea of testing all visitors before they are allowed inside the parks was swift and decidedly negative:


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