The Disney parks around the world have started to reopen after being closed for months due to the coronavirus pandemic. Amid the reopening process Disney began to quietly close attractions and shows, cancel planned overhauls of attractions, and delay other reopenings across their sprawling properties. According to Disney’s second quarter earnings call on May 5, the company had $900 million worth of construction projects left for the rest of the fiscal year (ending September 26, 2020). That number is $400 million more on construction and refurbishment than in the 2019 fiscal year. The travel and tourism industry as a whole has suffered greatly through the closures of attractions. In fact, Disney’s theme park competitor Universal (part of the Comcast CMCSA family) lost 94 percent of their revenue in the second quarter. The theme park division generated a mere $87 million, which is down from $1.46 billion generated in the same period in 2019. The park operator has also paused work on their fourth Orlando gate Universal’s Epic Universe until the “future becomes more certain.”
During Disney’s park closures it’s estimated that the business lost an estimated $1 billion in operating income.. Almost half of the lost revenue was from the theme parks in the United States, the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, and the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. According to Disney, their international parks and Disney Cruise Line operations accounted for the rest of the lost income.
Parks around the world have reopened except the Disneyland Resort and Hong Kong Disneyland, the later of which is on it’s second temporary closure due to an increase in coronavirus cases. Even with parks reopening and gaining back some income Disney has been going over projects currently in progress with a more critical eye for their budget. In fact, within the first week of reopening Walt Disney World announced they would be closing two attractions and one nighttime show at their parks.
At Magic Kingdom, Stitch’s Great Escape had not been operating as a show, but as a meet-and-greet to see the character from the animated movie Lilo and Stitch. Now the entire area is empty with no future plans for the space in Tomorrowland. Over at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, Primeval Whirl, an off the shelf “Wild Mouse” carnival ride had been temporarily closed. This was due to lack of available replacement parts from the manufacturer, Reverchon Industries which filed for bankruptcy in 2008. Now Disney has decided to make the ride closure permanent. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park also lost their nighttime show Rivers of Light, which debuted in it’s original form in 2017, and had undergone an extensive refurbishment in 2019.
While not an attraction, Ample Hills Creamery, which had one store at Walt Disney World’s BoardWalk and one store in development at Disney Springs will not be open going forward. The trendy ice cream shop based in New York City filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, though a spokesperson for the company said back in March that the reasons for filing were unrelated to the pandemic. “Our agreement with Ample Hills Creamery ended earlier this year. As a result, Ample Hills will close at Disney’s BoardWalk and the proposed Ample Hills location at Disney Springs will not open later this year,” Disney said in a statement.
Disney’s Temporary Delays
Disney Projects Delayed Indefinitely
Even with all of the closures Disney is sure to make up for the money lost in new ways, even if that is at the expense of guests in the form of increased ticket or hotel prices. Some of these projects will eventually be opened for visitors and help the theme park arm of The Walt Disney Company to rebound over the next few years. Other projects will be canceled completely to make room in the budget for more pressing matters. Either way the ripple effect of Disney’s cancelation and delays could be felt for years to come by theme park fans.
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