UPDATE: May 26, 2020 – It’s the question on the lips of many restless families: When will Disneyland reopen? Today, California’s Health and Human Services Agency offered a hint at the answer. The agency has confirmed that Disneyland and other large theme parks will be included in Stage 3 of the state’s four-stage reopening road map.
“Theme parks are slated to open in Stage 3 if the rate of spread of COVID-19 and hospitalizations remain stable,” agency spokesperson Kate Folmar told the Long Beach Press-Telegram.
Governor Newsom has made comments suggesting that the state might enter Stage 3 as soon as June, but no specific date has been set. Even once the state declares the opening of a new stage, individual counties or municipalities may move towards reopening at different speeds.
“Phase 3 is not a year away. It’s not six months away. It’s not even three months away. It may not even be more than a month away,” Newsom said during a press briefing earlier this month. “We just want to make sure we have a protocol in place to secure customer safety, employee safety, and allow the businesses to thrive in a way that is sustainable.”
The California Department of Public Health is expected to issue guidelines to the parks, detailing protocols that may help manage the risks associated with reopening.
Each park may also be asked to submit their own safety plan prior to letting visitors in. It is likely that will include restricting capacity, perhaps to as little as 25 percent, at least initially. An Anaheim city spokesperson told the Press-Telegram that Disneyland had not yet submitted any such plan.
Disney has reopened its Shanghai park in a limited capacity, and theme parks and affiliated public spaces are already beginning a phased reopening process in Florida. It has been estimated that Disney lost $27 million per day during full park closures around the world.
April 25, 2020 – The road to seeing Disneyland reopen may be long and bumpy, one Wall Street analyst is speculating. In a memo released this week, the Disney-watcher told investors that he does not anticipate the park opening until January 1, 2021.
While not affiliated with Disney, John Hodulik has been a media and telecom industry analyst for the Swiss bank UBS for 22 years, and was already paying close attention to Disney long before the pandemic hit. His memo, titled “The Eye of the Storm,” included notes on how the pandemic may impact several facets of Disney’s business over the coming months. In the memo, he downgraded his rating of the company’s stock from “buy” to “neutral,” MarketWatch reports.
While Hodulik’s memo expressed concerns about pretty much every element of the Disney empire other than Disney+, his outlook for the parks division appears particularly bleak.
“Moreover, we now believe the lingering effects of the outbreak—including crowd avoidance, new health precautions, etc.—will dramatically reduce the profitability of these businesses even after they are reopened,” Hodulik wrote
Even when date for Disneyland to reopen is set, Hodulik says he does not expect the parks to “regain their recent operating cadence” until a vaccine for COVID-19 becomes widely available.
That could mean that there is some period of time when the gates are officially open, but admissions are significantly limited, or other precautions are put in place, before someday getting back to the packed parks we’ve come to expect.
Requests to Disney to comment for this article were not immediately returned, but Bob Iger, Disney’s executive chairman, discussed what a post-pandemic Disneyland might look like in an interview with Baron’s earlier this month.
“One of the things that we’re discussing already is that in order to return to some semblance of normal, people will have to feel comfortable that they’re safe,” Iger said. “Some of that could come in the form of a vaccine, ultimately. But in the absence of that it could come from basically more scrutiny, more restrictions. Just as we now do bag checks for everybody who goes into our parks, it could be that at some point we add a component of that, which takes people’s temperatures, for instance.”
The most recent update on the Disneyland website states that “a reopening date has not been identified.”
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