Disney Parks and Resorts are going to reopen soon. There is no doubt about that. However, as the amusement behemoths sit empty, Disney is losing an estimated $30 million a day. Construction has ceased, and 43,000 Disney World employees have been furloughed.
Here at Inside the Magic, we’ve shared the news that Executive Chairman and Former CEO Bob Iger has taken back more control of the Walt Disney Company and that it’s a good bet the theme parks and hotels of the Disneyland Resort and the Walt Disney World Resort will reopen in June. But, it could take years for the parks’ attendance to return to its pre-pandemic numbers. Iger also made it a point to outline some expectations we should start to hold regarding the reopening.
According to The New York Times, “Mr. Iger also sees this as a moment, he has told associates, to look across the business and permanently change how it operates.”
That being said, let’s take a moment to look to the long-awaited reopening of the Parks. What will it look like?
1. There May Be Fewer Cast Members
It is expensive to run a theme park for a day. Yes, power, food, and plumbing take up a large chunk, but the Cast Members’ salaries also add up. A microscope will be put on the staffing numbers to see how many are truly necessary. So fewer cast members could be on and off stage when the parks reopen.
Another contributing factor to the fewer CMs would be residual social distancing measures. It is quite possible to see Disney limiting the number of guests admitted into the parks at a time and therefore limiting the number of cast members exposed to the guests.
Mr. Iger is now intensely focused on remaking a company that will emerge, he believes, deeply changed by the crisis. The sketch he has drawn for associates offers a glimpse at the post-pandemic future: It’s a Disney with fewer employees, leading the new and uncertain business of how to gather people safely for entertainment.
Iger later told the New York Times that he did not recall saying there would be fewer Cast Members at the theme parks once they reopen, although he reportedly said that he anticipated The Walt Disney Company having fewer employees, so at this time nothing is for certain.
[Iger] told two people that he anticipated the company having fewer employees. (Mr. Iger said in an email on Sunday evening that he had “no recollection of ever having said” that he expected a smaller work force. “Regardless, any decision about staff reductions will be made by my successor and not me,” he added.)
Either way, Iger makes it clear that any cuts to the Disney workforce will be done by his successor, Bob Chapek.
2. Prices Will Likely Be Increased
Again, Disney is losing a lot of revenue keeping its theme parks closed. While it is providing several incentives to bring guests back after the crisis is over, prices on food, tickets, and hotels will be increased since the year began, and we should expect more in the future as the company looks to recoup faster. In fact, the extra increases have already begun:
With the parks back up and running, Cast Members back on the payroll, and construction projects resumed, Disney will likely have to compensate for the lower revenue coming in from the predicted lower park attendance.
3. Construction Delays
It has not just been the theme parks and complete attractions that have been sitting still since the parks closed, all construction projects have also been halted. Long-anticipated lands, attractions, and restaurants originally supposed to be completed in plenty of time for Disneyland’s 65th birthday this summer and Walt Disney World’s 50 Anniversary celebration in 2021. These include and the other plans for EPCOT’s revamp and the new hotel.
However, Disney Parks and Resorts has lost months’ worth of construction time, and they have already begun accepting the delays. The first announcement came a few days ago when Disneyland announced that the opening of the Marvel-themed land, Avengers Campus, at Disney California Adventure.
4. Quality Will Remain the Priority
But the one thing Disney fans should not expect is a decrease in quality. Bob Iger wants the post-pandemic Disney to be more efficient than ever and by asking fewer guests to pay a little more and wait a little longer, he intends to keep the same standard of quality, service, and real-world magic that only Disney has been able to hit.