When Will Disney Reopen? 2021?
Disney has been affected on just about every single level by the COVID-19 pandemic. Their movies cannot be seen in theaters and their six theme park resorts around the world have been shuttered for extended periods of time. Shanghai Disneyland was the first of the resorts to close three months ago tomorrow with Hong Kong following the next day and the others in the weeks to follow.
The long term closures of the Disney parks are really unprecendented. During the early days of Disneyland, the park would close midweek in coordination with Knott’s Berry Farm. It also closed briefly for the JFK assasination in 1963 and after 9/11 while the Florida parks gained a few additional closures due to hurricanes. But this is so much different.
Disney Is In A World of Hurt
Since the COVID-19 related Disney shutdowns began, the company has furloughed more than 100,000 workers, while laying off all of their College Program and International Programs cast members. They have had to put their many construction projects on hold and financially the company is bleeding money.
Remember back in February when Bog Iger said the company would take a $175 million hit for the then expected 2 month closures of Shanghai & Hong Kong Disneyland? Well those parks have now been closed for 3 months and the real cash cows that are Disneyland and Walt Disney World have now been closed for more than a month with no reopening in sight.
The other day UBS analyst John Hodulik predicted that the Disney parks wouldn’t reopen until January 1, 2021. His prediction was part of a wider look at Disney where he downgraded the stock from ‘buy’ to ‘neutral’. According to Market Watch, “His base case now assumes that the company won’t be able to reopen its parks until Jan. 1, 2021, and he expects the company’s attractions business to remain pressured even beyond then.”
Disneyland & Walt Disney World Closed Through 2021?
While a lot of what Mr. Hodulik says about Disney’s business and the pressures they face as a company over the next couple of years are true, I just don’t see how or where he gets the January 1, 2021 number. Would Disney purposely close during their busiest season just to AVOID the crowds? The answer is no. Unless something changes drastically, Disneyland and Walt Disney World will not be closed through 2021.
To look at how/when Disneyland and Walt Disney World will open, let’s go back to China. Most of you probaly aren’t aware, but China has had a sort of theme park renaissance the past 10-15 years. I visited the country for the first time in 2008 when a handful of the new breed of amusment parks had emerged, but now dozens of world class parks from OCT, Sunac and Fantawild are spread across the country. And these parks are reopening!
Chinese Theme Parks are Reopening
Fantawild for example is very close to opening all of their parks around the country. In fact, their highly themed new park in Hubei has officially reopened after a 2 month lockdown. Yes, the Chinese theme parks are opening all across the country. They are checking temperatures, limiting guests and even spreading them out while riding, but they are opening!
To be fair, Disney is not Fantawild, OCT or Sunac. They are Disney! Maybe the reopening of Shanghai Disneyland will tell us something about how the reopening of Disneyland and Walt Disney World will be handled.
Shanghai Disneyland Appears Close to Reopening
Shanghai Disneyland has now been closed for three months, but the park is very close to reopening. How do we know that? Back on March 9, 2020 the Shanghai Disney Resort’s Wishing Star Park, Shanghai Disneyland Hotel and Disneytown shopping district all reopened. Now, this week we have seen them testing parades and even social distancing procedures that will be used when the park opens.
— DONGDONG (@gourmetdyy) April 22, 2020
Breaking：look at these stickers in line-up area before security check
，keep social distance to avoid #speakmoistly #ShanghaiDisneyland #SHDL #上海ディズニーランド #Disney #Disneypark #Disneyland pic.twitter.com/6pj4xJ31Bk
— DONGDONG (@gourmetdyy) April 22, 2020
If Disney seems to be getting ready to reopen their Shanghai park, then surely they won’t leave all of their others shuttered for another 7 months?!? But when will the U.S. Disney parks reopen? No one knows, but just like with most of Vegas, I am hearing June as the timeframe they are shooting for, with the virus data obviously being a driving factor in that decision. As of now, Walt Disney World lists park hours for May 16, 2020 and after, while Disneyland has no published hours through the end of June.
Disney Working Towards Reopening Disneyland & Walt Disney World
To reopen Walt Disney World and other tourist attractions Florida’s governor has set up a task force to look at how the state will reopen. Among the members of this task force are Bob Iger and Josh D’Amaro who recently took over as the President of Walt Disney World. This task force is actively looking at how parks like Disney and their rivals Universal, SeaWorld & Legoland among others will reopen. The goal is to get them reopened soon.
While the politics in California and thus at Disneyland are different, tens of thousands of people rely on Disney for their jobs and I expect the company to move to reopen using the knowledge they gain from potential Shanghai and Orlando reopenings. Yes, we’ll likely see measures like temperature checks and decreased capacity, but I expect the parks will reopen in some form WELL before 2021.
When Will Disney Reopen? 2021? – Bottom Line
While it is too early to tell when Disneyland will reopen and it is too early to tell when Walt Disney World will reopen, there are positive developments when it comes to the reopening of theme parks in China and plans to reopen the Disney parks in the United States. Disney will no doubt be under tremendous pressure as a company given their overexposure to crowded places, but the evidence seems to indicate Main Street USA will once again be open for business sooner rather than later.
All of the evidence points to Walt Disney World and Disneyland opening far sooner than 2021. What do you think?