Last week, Pfizer shared details about a promising coronavirus vaccine that has been 90% effective at stopping COVID-19 in recent trials. Then, Moderna also announced that their COVID-19 vaccination is also showing great promise.
This is excellent news for those who are hoping that not only the United States and the entire world but also The House of Mouse can get back to somewhat normal operations sometime in the relatively near future.
Like companies and businesses large and small, The Walt Disney Company — which largely relies on theme park revenue, film releases, and live sports for income — has been decimated financially from the coronavirus pandemic since all of these major profit outlets were shuttered for months and, in some cases, have still not reopened.
Disneyland Resort, for example, has been closed since March 14.
What does a vaccine actually mean for Disney moving forward, however? Here, we take a look.
Why The Walt Disney Company needs the COVID-19 vaccine.
On the surface, it seems as though Disney desperately needs a coronavirus vaccine to get back to normal operations.
And, while it is certainly — and undeniably — true that an effective vaccination for the virus will make it easier for Disney’s various sectors to operate (and for the world to recover), the company has proven its resilience and ability to adapt time and time again throughout 2020.
From pivoting to focus on the immensely popular Disney+ streaming platform to somehow managing to turn a net positive profit at both Shanghai Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort in Q4 of this fiscal year, Disney has made things work on a wing and a prayer — and with a whole lot of pixie dust, it would seem.
That does not, however, mean that a vaccine wouldn’t help Disney.
Characters may return.
That said, an effective vaccine will give Disney the opportunity to, perhaps, reintroduce some of the experiences they have suspended during their theme parks’ phased reopening processes. Character dining, like at Disney’s Contemporary Resort’s Chef Mickey’s [above] has been heavily modified to promote social distancing.
Many Guests will be thrilled to see the return of up-close character interactions with Disney Princesses, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck, and all of their Disney Parks friends! This may be made possible with the widespread availability of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Disney Cruise Line could get back on the water.
Additionally, a coronavirus vaccine will certainly make it easier for Disney Cruise Line to commence sailing again. All four DCL ships — the Disney Dream, the Disney Fantasy, the Disney Magic, and the Disney Wonder — are currently required to obtain “Conditional Sailing Certificates” from the CDC before they can even begin to think about adding new itineraries or carrying passengers.
Disneyland and Disneyland Paris could reopen.
Although Disneyland Paris is currently slated to reopen again in early 2021 — it recently closed a second time due to the COVID outbreak — California Governor Gavin Newsom has indicated that he would prefer a vaccine be available before allowing large theme parks to reopen to Guests.
Therefore, an effective vaccination would undoubtedly allow Disney to return to some sense of normalcy in regard to its Parks, Experiences and Products division, headed by Chairman Josh D’Amaro.
Why the COVID-19 vaccine needs Disney.
Disney, it seems, will be okay no matter what happens in regard to the pandemic. They continue to prove their ability to adapt, just as they have for decades — Mickey Mouse turned 92-years-old on November 18 and Walt’s business has reinvented itself many times in the intervening years.
The COVID-19 vaccine, however, just might need Disney more than most people realize.
A recent OC Register columnist stated:
But vaccine availability will not help theme parks and other businesses devastated by this pandemic if a supermajority of the public does not get the vaccine. That’s where Disney and other major theme park companies can help.
America will need a massive publicity campaign to convince hundreds of millions of people that the new Covid-19 vaccine will be safe, effective and necessary. Beyond that, the nation will need a public education campaign that tells people where, when and how they can get a COVID-19 vaccine. It’s too early to start that education campaign, since we do not yet know the details about how a COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed. But it is not too early to start building public demand for a vaccine.
And no one knows how to make the public want something as much as Disney.
The idea of using Marvel Studios superheroes, iconic Star Wars Jedi Knights, and classic Walt Disney Animation characters to promote the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine is novel — and would actually probably work.
People trust Disney. When the brand backs something, the general public tends to find it innocuous, family-friendly, and — perhaps most importantly — safe.
Motley Fool pointed out:
The [vaccine] announcement signaled a fundamental shift in the market psychology that has defined the pandemic era, as it now seems clear that the pandemic will have a definitive end and one that could come as soon as April. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, estimated that the vaccine could be widely available to Americans by April, with healthcare workers getting access as soon as December.
This is likely to send people flocking to Disney’s theme parks. Although we know the Disney Park Pass system will be in place at Disney World through at least early 2022, we do not know how it will evolve to accommodate additional Guests or reintroduce Park Hopper tickets.
The best way for Disney to ensure that their parks are safe — and the threat of COVID-19 spreading like wildfire — once a vaccine is available is to actively work to promote the fact that entire families should get vaccinated.
Should they do this by allowing Disney characters on vaccination promotional materials? What do you think?
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Inside the Magic overall.