Disney Parks Closed Through 2021? One Analyst Says So, But He Is Wrong!

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When Will Disney Reopen? 2021?

Want more Disney? Check out our new Disney Hacks podcast!

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.

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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.

When Will Disney Reopen? 2021?
Will Disney be able to avoid crowds like this when they reopen? This photo was taken in January as guests lined up early to get into the park for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

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

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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

When Will Disney Reopen? 2021?
Entry crowds to Shanghai Disneyland during my visit in March, 2019.

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.

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?
The Shanghai Disneyland hotel has already been reopen for 1 1/2 months.

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?

Want more Disney? Check out our new Disney Hacks podcast!

Shawn Coomerhttps://milestomemories.com/
Shawn Coomer earns and burns millions of miles/points per year circling the globe with his family. An expert at accumulating travel rewards, he founded Miles to Memories to help others achieve their travel goals for pennies on the dollar. Shawn also runs a million dollar reselling business, knows Vegas better than most and loves to spend his time at the 12 Disney parks across the world.

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13 COMMENTS

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13 COMMENTS

  1. My take, based on what is happening in Florida, is that Disney World and Resorts will fully reopen the second half of May to the first week in June when the summer season takes off. No way will Disney stay closed longer than the first week in June. This will possibly go for all theme parks across the U.S. as states, economies depend on summer travel dollars to fill government coffers. Also, cruise lines are preparing in Florida to set sail at the end of May in Port Everglades and Miami; cuise ship bookings are up and near sold out capacity for July and August sailings out of Florida. The race is on now to getting the economy up and running, and we can see that happening now at a rapid pace in the U.S. Already we’re seeing the gradual loosening of the lock down. By mid May most of the U.S. will be fully open again. Europe is reopening now. The green shoots can be seen and the worst of the pandemic is behind us. There will be a huge rush for travel and planes will again be packed as will hotels, eateries and attractions. Another three weeks and this will all be over. Businesses in America are flush with cash from getting government grants (free, no payback) and zero interest loans in the trillions of dollars. Most Canadian, Asian, American and European consumers are also swimming in cash from stimulus checks (most governments have provided some sort of aid to their citizens) and the money that they have been saving from not having been able to spend on discretionary consumption from home remodeling to haircuts to vacations to dental work). Look for a huge V recovery in the economy starting mid May. This happened after the 2008 global financial crisis. The real pain lasted only a few months. Stock markets worldwide currently are not doing badly, and on the fast track to recovering earlier losses. Things are not that bad.

  2. I think we need more data. Sure, China opened up their parks and their society again but many are skeptical that China is completely past the outbreak and until we see evidence that the outbreak has run its course there (we’ll know in a month if there’s no second wave), Disney will stay conservative.

  3. I don’t agree that Disney opens in the U.S. in 2021. There is no data to support either position. We know this because we’ve never encountered anything like this.
    Not even the Spanish Flu compares due to globalization and population. As was stated by david, we’re looking at a second wave later this year. From a historical context it could be worse than what we’re experiencing today. The window they have would be the summer, however there’s so many unknowns that they’ll be having to wait on and prepare for. In the end, it’s all just speculation by you, I and everyone else.

    I also believe Disney will open both parks at the same time and that politics will have nothing to do with this as they are a private business that won’t be forced one way or the other in their decisions. Or should I say shouldn’t. Either way they’ll manage this as they have the cash flow and their streaming service to at least slow the bleeding. The path forward should be guided by scientists, epidemiologists and people in their respective fields that know a whole lot more than you or I. Disney heavily relies on it’s image and as you know is a cultural staple. They’re not going to do anything to jeopardize their brand, especially here in the states.

    • Disney is about to reopen a park that they 100% manage in China. That is Disney making that decision along with the Chinese government. Also, Bob Iger and the President of Walt Disney World are on the board deciding the guidelines for reopening in Florida. Politics very well could play a roll in when one resort or the other opens. So could how the virus is spreading in the regions the parks are in.

      I wrote this because I felt it was important to look at the data given that analysts claim and the widespread coverage of it. There is data by the way. At least data in how parks are reopening and handling this. Again, most theme parks in China are now open. We can look to that and then to the moves Disney makes in that region to see what they will do here.

      I hope it was clear that my assertion the parks will open in 2020 is an opinion, but I tried to lay out the truth of current events so people could understand the current reality when it comes to that ultimate decision of reopening. I am not advocating for them to reopen soon or before anyone feels ready.

      Thanks as always Anthony!

  4. IMHO it will open in some fashion (limited as that may be) in 2020 just like I expect casinos to open.

    BTW there is a real chance of no effective vaccine (or it could take 2-3 years). The current t stay at home and social distancing are meant to SLOW, not stop, the virus so the HC system isn’t overwhelmed. People need to understand there is no long term avoiding or stopping the virus. It will continue to infect people and kill a certain percentage (hopefully we’ll under .5%) until 60-70% of people have been exposed to develop immunity (look up herd immunity). Life will have to go on with the understanding the virus will continue to spread. You can’t shut everything down To try and avoid it (cure is worse than the disease). People at high risk will need to isolate themselves while the rest of us slowly get back to some semblance of normal activity.

    Sorry to bust anyone’s balloon but this is a medical and economic fact. We can’t protect everyone without long term shutting down the economy which just isn’t a viable iption

  5. The problem is there is no “all evidence” right now. Whether it opens or not depends on factors that have not happened yet. It will be one of the last things to open due to the nature of the business. Whether it opens this year or not will depend in large part on how people behave over the next month or two and whether the follow social distancing advice and many ignorant governors are working to rush everything that will almost assuredly create another spike. Further – the liklihood of another outbreak in the fall/winter is a significant possibility. The fact remains ANYONE who says ANYTHING about when Disney will open is making a completely wild guess based on factors you cannot predict. The only thing that you can say with some assurance is a minimum time it will remain closed. But unless you’re an epidemiologist with a crystal ball – all other speculation is pointless.

    • I agree, although you can look at evidence as to how other amusement parks and indeed Disney is handling things elsewhere. I pretty clearly lay that out, because I know people are interested in what is happening, but no one actually looks at how the amusement industry is emerging from this. As I said the virus data will determine everything, but unless something changes drastically, Florida is already working towards the guidelines they need to reopen soon, not in 2021.

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