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Disney World may need more time to recover than Disneyland, report says

Disney World and Disneyland may have different reopen strategies

Toy Story Land is part of Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
Toy Story Land is part of Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
John Raoux, AP

California’s Disneyland and Florida’s Walt Disney World may recover in vastly different ways from the coronavirus pandemic, according to an analyst.

What’s the news:

  • Wall Street analyst David Miller told The Hollywood Reporter that the parks won’t reopen at the same time. In fact, Florida’s park may take more time to reopen because of the international aspect.
  • Miller said: “By our estimation, 85% 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. 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 said there are two strategies at play for the parks. One includes social distancing measures. The other strategy doesn’t include social distancing because attendance is limited, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
  • Miller said: “At least with theme parks, there’s no secular threat in going to the theme park unless there is no cure for the virus. 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.”
  • Universal Studios Orlando may struggle to reopen as quickly as Universal Studios Hollywood for the same reason, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Opening in 2021?

According to MarketWatch, UBS Analyst John Hodulik, who often comments on media investments, said Disney might not reopen its parks until 2021.

  • Hodulik said: “(T)he economic recession plus the need for social distancing, new health precautions, the lack of travel and crowd aversion are likely to make this business less profitable until there is a widely available vaccine.”
  • Hodulik said parks may “regain their recent operating cadence in (about) 18 months, coinciding with the earliest expectations for a widely available vaccine for COVID-19.”
  • Swiss banking giant UBS said Disney might wait until Jan. 1, 2020, to open again, according to Los Angeles Times. Attendance at that point would be 50% of what we saw in 2019.