Disney World will likely have a tougher time than Disneyland when it comes to attracting customers after the social distancing guidelines lift. This was the conclusion one experienced financial analyst made after conducting a study on Disney’s theme parks. According to Wall Street veteran David Miller, this difference in prospective recovery has to do with the type of visitors each park attracts.
“By our estimation, 85 percent of the attendance base in Orlando — in a normalized environment, forget about the virus for a second — comes from out of state or out of country,” Miller explained to The Hollywood Reporter in a recent interview. “Which means you pretty much have to fly there. So, it is a two-step process with getting consumers conformable with going back to the parks. You have to be comfortable No. 1 with getting on a plane … and then you have to be comfortable actually going into the park and hope that it is a fairly sterile environment and that people will hopefully adhere to safe social distancing.”
Miller also said the theme parks will base their reopening strategies on one of two models, depending on the amount of visitors they will receive. If the amount will be high, Disney will be required to issue social distancing guidelines similar to those of civic authorities. But if the amount of visitors will be low, such precautions won’t be necessary. Of course, the existence – and availability – of a vaccine against the coronavirus would drastically brighten up Disney’s financial future.
“At least with theme parks, there’s no secular threat in going to the theme park unless there is no cure for the virus,” Miller went on to state. “Eventually, there is going to be a vaccine. Eventually life will return to normal, but no one knows how quickly. Because of the reorganization of the [Disney] business line, the parks and experiences strategic business unit is now the largest unit. So when you close your largest unit, that’s serious earnings power that gets extracted out of the model. The problem is, everyone is modeling different numbers because no one knows when these parks are going to reopen.”
Recently, the LA Times reported that Disney may not be reopening any of its US parks until 2021. The company’s CEO, Bob Iger, mentioned they were considering screening the temperatures of visitors as a potential safety measure, but has not mentioned anything regarding when business will resume as usual.