While Disney+’s subscriber figures have received a boost from the COVID-19 lockdowns, the Walt Disney Company faces a lean 2020. Summer blockbuster tentpoles have been kicked back until later in the year, ongoing productions are on indefinite hiatus and merchandising sales are way down. But one of the most dramatically hit areas has been Disney’s theme parks, which have been shuttered in the US since mid-March.
There are some signs that the parks are planning to re-open, but the experience of visiting them could be very different. At least, that’s according to WESH’s Amanda Dukes, who’s been keeping an eye on the reopening plans. Last week, she posted that Disney was currently working on a plan to submit to the Florida Economic Recovery Task Force. That seems to be confirmed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who said:
“Disney has given an indication that next week, they will submit their plans, and once they do, then we will schedule that for a full briefing before our Economic Recovery Task Force as well. So at this point, it’s an undefined time or date, but we do look forward to seeing that sometime next week.”
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One major aspect is that park attendance will be restricted to 20-30% capacity. The primary reason for this would be to maintain social distancing within the park and help with cleanliness, as queues, rides and restaurants are transmission hotspots. This will inevitably impact the atmosphere of the park and I’d imagine that some of the bigger public attractions designed for large crowds will be scaled back or remain closed.
However, Disney is expecting lower attendance in general for quite some time as the public will still be nervous about transmission and more cautious with money for a while, so they may also see this as a way to preemptively avoid headlines about empty parks.
The flip-side is that if you’ve been put off visiting Disney parks for fear of giant queues and yelling crowds, this brief window might be the perfect opportunity to experience a more tranquil Most Magical Place on Earth. On top of that, most analysts expect big discounts in ticketing as they attempt to rebuild some momentum.
No word yet on when the reopening might happen, but we could have a long wait.