Disney is one of the hardest-hit businesses by COVID-19, having had to close its locations in California, Florida and overseas indefinitely as the world continues to battle the pandemic. The company started closing parks on January 25, with the Shanghai Disney Resort being first, followed by Hong Kong Disneyland on January 26, Tokyo Disney Resort on February 29, and the Paris and California parks on March 14. The last park to shut its doors was Disney World in Florida on March 16, and since then all the parks have remained under lock and key. As a result of the closures, the company could lose more than 500 million dollars in admission revenue, and even if it reopens this year, it’ll likely make much less than usual, with a vaccine not expected to be ready until late 2021. But life must go on, and Disney is finding ways to cope with the situation.
Exploring other revenue-generation avenues
While admission fees generate a lot of revenue for Disney, almost all of it goes into covering the huge running costs involved, including paying their employees, or cast members as they’re referred to, covering energy bills, taxes and more. What has made Disney a multi-billion dollar company is their other revenue streams, such as selling merchandise, television stations and movies, which are still generating revenue. Another Disney revenue stream that is performing well under the current conditions is their subscription box service. Disney has multiple subscription box options that both kids and adults are enjoying at different price points.
Dealing with employees
Like many other businesses that are missing the revenue they need to cover running costs, Disney announced that it would furlough 100,000 employees in April, representing about 50 percent of the company’s workforce. And it’s not just the theme park employees that were affected; other divisions, such as the TV and movie studio divisions, were also forced to downsize employees. In a gesture to help the impacted workers, the company said it will still pay 100 percent of health insurance costs for every employee for up to a year.
Keeping fans entertained
With all its theme parks closed indefinitely, Disney recently launched a new website called Disney Magic Moments to ensure that their loyal fans can stay entertained while stuck at home. Fans were treated to a live stream of the Happily Ever After fireworks show and can also access theme park content on the website, including recipes for its famous churros, singalong time with the Dapper Dans, and virtual rides through some of its most famous attractions. The website also includes a new digital series, “At Home With Olaf,” which teaches viewers how to draw Disney, Pixar, Star Wars and Marvel characters.
Considering reopening options
While initial projections indicated that all Disney parks would remain closed until January 2021, there’s hope that all parks could be open by the end of the year, with some even looking like they’ll be back in business as early as May. Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that Shanghai Disneyland will reopen on May 11 but under various rules, including limiting attendance, having an entry control system, temperature screenings, following social distancing rules, and ensuring everyone wears a mask. Tokyo Disney Resort and Walt Disney World in Florida are also discussing a re-opening date in May or early June under similar restrictions. Disneyland Paris could remain closed until September, with France being one of the hardest-hit European nations. Hong-Kong Disneyland and Disneyland California are yet to give a clear indication of when they’ll be reopening.
The coronavirus pandemic is causing devastation in every business, and ‘The Happiest Place on Earth’ has not been spared. The only thing that the Disney shareholders, executives, employees, and millions of fans across the world can do is wait for the world to deal with the virus once and for all so that they can go back to having amazing experiences in the parks.