Coronavirus vaccines began being distributed in the United States just before the start of 2021, and it appears that there’s a chance they could become a mandatory treatment for those who want to travel once again — including those who want to go back to Disney Parks and Universal Studios theme parks.
A South Florida CBS Affiliate station, CBS12, published an article discussing how “Vaccine Passports” can soon become required by certain businesses such as airports, movie theaters, and other places of business:
Governments, airlines, employers, universities, and many other businesses are intensely debating how best to review verified health records during the pandemic to monitor the spread and promote vaccinations.
With the vaccine passport, your COVID-19 records may soon function as an actual passport. Think of arriving at the airport, pulling our your smartphone and scanning a digital record of your vaccination or negative test.
Reporter Denise Sawer also mentions that a digital Vaccine Passport could feature a QR code that would unlock vaccine and COVID-19 testing information. This would make it scannable at venues like stadiums, movie theaters, and other places already accustomed to scanning QR codes of paperless tickets. Such a practice could become the norm — it already has at parks like Shanghai Disneyland, which introduced advanced health screenings when it reopened.
With the vaccine passport, your COVID-19 records may soon function as an actual passport. Think of arriving at the airport, pulling out your smartphone, and scanning a digital record of your vaccination or negative test. @CBS12 pic.twitter.com/yyvUbYIUXs
— Denise Sawyer of CBS12 (@DeniseCBS12) December 29, 2020
CNN also noted how the idea of a Vaccine Passport to screen travelers for COVID-19 could impact vacationing in 2021 and beyond. Travel experts believe that having this Vaccine Passport could help restart and revitalize the travel industry and boost consumer confidence. If this were to become required by airports, airlines, and other venues, what would that mean for Disney and Universal theme parks?
Vaccine Passports and Your Disney or Universal Vacation
The requirement of Vaccine Passports has the potential to have a rather significant impact on Disney and Universal Resorts and theme parks in Florida and California.
Vaccine Passports and Disneyland Resort, Universal Studios Hollywood
If Vaccine Passport requirements are implemented, it could be argued that it would have the most significant impact on the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, and Universal Studios Hollywood.
We at Inside the Magic have continued to report on how the vaccine can only help Disneyland’s current state of operations. Disney’s first resort remains the only one to not reopen during the pandemic and California Governor Gavin Newsom hinted back in October that large theme parks like Disneyland Resort — and several other California industries — may not be able to reopen until the vaccine was readily available.
“The real question is, when in 2021 are we going to see broad availability and distribution of tens of millions — dare I say, hundreds of millions — of doses of vaccine made readily available in a way we can be confident about the efficacy of the vaccine and the impact of the vaccine on immunity,” Newsom said in a statement back in October 2020.
California began acquiring Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine in mid-December, sparking hope that this could only be a significant step closer to Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure at Disneyland Resort, as well as Universal Studios Hollywood theme park in Los Angeles, finally opening their gates once again.
Considering California’s strict measures during the pandemic — relative to the current reopening protocol in Florida — and our previous coverage of rapid COVID-19 tests possibly becoming necessary for theme park access, it might make sense for the State to decide that all incoming visitors would need to present a Vaccine Passport at ports of entry, at the very least. Enforcing a policy where only those who are virus-free or vaccinated get to enjoy theme parks like Disneyland and Universal Studios also seems like a logical extension to help ensure the safety of everyone in the area.
However, it should be mentioned that Disneyland is in Orange County and Universal Studios Hollywood is located in Los Angeles County, and they will most likely continue to endure individual treatment under Newsom’s tier scale. The reopening of theme parks, according to the current guidelines, will be handled on a county-by-county basis. There is also still no official reopening date scheduled for the Disneyland or Universal theme parks. Keep in mind, though, that once a vaccine is widely available, this may change. We continue to await more information.
Vaccine Passports and Disney World, Universal Orlando
Across the country, the Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort have already found ways to navigate the turbulent times. As they close out a holiday season with several days at max capacity, it appears they have already won over consumer confidence.
However, Vaccine Passports could still affect Central Florida’s mega-resorts. Considering Governor Ron DeSantis has all but completely reopened the Sunshine State, it is unlikely that his administration would implement a state-wide policy.
Voluntary requirements from individual airlines or airports like Orlando International Airport (MCO) could begin to act as a third-party filter that neither Disney nor Universal has any control over. If travelers flying into Florida already have to be vaccinated or test negative for COVID-19, they would already be screened before heading to the theme parks.
This could help them the theme parks further their “ongoing evolution of park practices.” Only allowing those Guests with Vaccine Passports into the theme parks could create a “Disney Bubble” — an environment that allows for the return of experiences like full parades and character meet and greets as well as possibly the elimination of face mask mandates. This is something that many have speculated could work for Disneyland, for example.
It has also been mentioned that a Vaccine Passport could benefit movie theaters. Both Universal Orlando and Disney World host a movie theater located in their respective shopping and dining centers CityWalk and Disney Springs. Requiring a proof of vaccinations or negative COVID-19 tests at the door could also increase the confidence in moviegoers yearning to return to theaters and help restart an industry that has been all but decimated by the pandemic.
Note that at this time, this is all pure speculation based on the proposed Vaccine Passports, as there hasn’t been confirmation of exactly how a system like this would be rolled out. We will continue to monitor this story and update our readers as more information surrounding Vaccine Passports come to light.
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