Main Street U.S.A. entrances, loom large in the popular imagination as symbols of Americana. Disney World has been closed since March 15 because of the pandemic, and its reopening carries a certain symbolism in itself, an attempt by fans to reclaim a semblance of normal life and an effort by a coronavirus-battered Disney to demonstrate that a visit will remain a cultural rite of passage for many children.
deal with the league. (Disney-owned ESPN is a broadcast partner of the N.B.A.) Major League Soccer is also in talks to restart its season from the resort’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, which Mr. Chapek noted had high security and “turnkey” broadcasting capabilities.Shanghai Disneyland reopened on May 11, the government limited attendance to one-third of normal capacity.41 percent of the city’s work force, according to the trade organization Visit Orlando. Central Florida’s other theme parks will begin reopening on June 1, when Legoland, owned by Britain’s Merlin Entertainments, unlocks its gates. NBCUniversal’s three Orlando theme parks, home to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, will reopen on June 5. SeaWorld, which offers aquatic zoo exhibits (“Dine with Orcas”) and looping roller coasters, will restart operations on June 11.roasted turkey legs annually.
Theme parks have high costs. It takes a minimum number of people to operate the rides and a minimum amount of electricity to power them. Then add in upkeep, taxes and insurance. To cover those expenses — just to break even — Disney must sell a certain number of tickets. The company also makes money by selling food and merchandise and renting hotel rooms, all of which are driven by attendance.
So how can Disney make money if the resort opens to low capacity?
The media analyst Michael Nathanson said in an email that he had little clarity on the matter. (“None, zero!” was his precise answer.) Jessica Reif Ehrlich, a Bank of America analyst, said Disney could “cut down capacity for a period of time and still be profitable — well, well below 50 percent somewhere.” She added, “There are more things that Disney can do to contain costs than you might think. Fewer cashiers on duty. Fewer ride vehicles in operation. Some hotels still closed.” There will be no signature fireworks displays or parades, which involve hundreds of performers and pose crowd-control challenges.
Mr. Chapek positioned the reopening as providing “positive net contribution” to the company’s parks business. That means Disney World may not be profitable at first. However, revenue from reopening at a limited level is expected to exceed the costs associated with reopening and offset a good portion of the property’s fixed costs. In other words, Disney may ultimately lose money until capacity can be increased. But not as much as it would if the parks remained closed.
especially hard hit from the pandemic, with its theme parks shut, movies postponed and ESPN cable channels without live sports to televise. Total profit in the most recent quarter declined 91 percent from the same period a year earlier.surprisingly strong moneymaker for media companies. For the 2019 fiscal year, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts had an operating profit of more than $4.5 billion, an increase of more than 100 percent from six years earlier. The top five theme park companies in the United States — Disney, Universal, Cedar Fair, Six Flags and SeaWorld — had combined attendance last year of about 288 million, up 4 percent from a year earlier, according to the Themed Entertainment Association.new attractions and resort hotels; fading worries about security in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks (and the 2015 attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, which prompted Disney and Universal to install metal detectors at their front gates); and the so-called experience economy, where people — millennials in particular — started to see memorable events as a mandatory rather than optional expenses. A high-season, single-park adult ticket at Disney World now costs $135, up from $82 a decade ago, and demand has not eased. Lines still stretch for an hour or more on popular rides like the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Avatar Flight of Passage.Theme Park Insider. “Given the expense, particularly in the middle of a recession and with huge unemployment, a lot of people may stay home until the experience gets back to normal.”
Sue Pisaturo, who founded Small World Vacations, a New Jersey agency that specializes in Disney trips, said interest had been “surprisingly strong” in recent weeks. “Some people are definitely raring to go,” she said.
But she predicted that mask requirements would keep some people away. Heather Abbott Vogel, an agent at Destinations in Florida Travel, agreed.
“I’ve had clients say, ‘If I have to wear a mask, I’m staying home,’” Ms. Abbott said.