At times like these, we turn to the experts to hear what they have to say. We’ve heard predictions about the Disney parks from a bunch of assumedly smart Wall Street analysts. The problem? Their predictions all contradict one another!
Analysts are saying that Disney World could reopen soon, this fall, or even next year. So, WHICH IS IT, smart people?! Will we be back in the parks closer to June — or closer to January? Or later? Let’s break it down… .
Some analysts are looking to June as a reopening for Disney World.
With Disney taking reservations in June and local task forces proposing phases and stages for reopening, some analysts are predicting a potential June opening for Walt Disney World. J.P. Morgan analyst Alexia Quadrani says that her teams are expecting the domestic Disney parks to reopen by June 1st, and they believe Disney could even turn a profit!
Why are they saying this?
So, how has Quadrani decided that June 1st is the day we’ll be back at Disney? She and her team are expecting health measures to have become less stringent around the country by that point, AND she notes that June 1st is the date that Disney is currently accepting reservations.
On top of that, things seem to be moving along in Florida one way or another. The state has already moved to begin opening different points of infrastructure. Relative to the rest of the country, Florida is quickly moving into a re-opening phase. The Governor’s office has put together the Re-Open Florida Task Force, made up of business representatives including Disney World President Josh D’Amaro, to discuss the protocols required to re-open different aspects of the economy.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was also quoted saying that Disney is “ahead of the curve” on reopening safely.
That said, the mayor of Orange County, Florida, has noted that Disney World will be on its own timeline regardless of what the various task forces decide regarding reopening state and county businesses. Theme parks will make their own call as to when to reopen and how gradually they will do so.
Some analysts predict a Disney World opening in the fall.
Some analysts are not quite so optimistic. Wells Fargo analyst Steven Cahall has expressed that Disney may not open until the fall and will likely operate with significantly limited capacity well into 2021. Cahall suspects that Disney may be facing “zero park attendance” through the end of the fiscal year in September and that they will operate at only 50% capacity through fiscal 2021.
Why are they saying this?
The factors that went into Cahall’s analysis depend on the feeling of safety for guests going to Disney World. He expressed that the parks may need to significantly limit capacity and that people may not become truly comfortable until there is a vaccine or more testing.
Cahall and his team at Wells Fargo acknowledge that a vaccine may not be widely distributed within the next 12 months. This explains why their attendance forecasts are on the lower side.
The fall prediction is corroborated by a few other points as well. In new government guidelines, it isn’t until Phase 2 that gatherings of more than 50 people and travel are addressed.
The above-mentioned Florida Task Force has also been discussing a gradual reopening of the parks. This would have the parks opening first to Florida residents, then to domestic guests, and finally to international guests. In this instance, the parks may open sooner, but Cahall’s predicted slog back to being profitable could be the reality.
Some analysts expect Disney World to remain closed through January 2021.
Most recently, Disney’s stock slumped due to predictions that an opening won’t be feasible until January 2021. UBS analyst John Hodulik noted that January was a viable prediction for Disney World’s reopening. Like Cahall, he is unconvinced that Disney will be able to rebound quickly, projecting that theme park revenue could plummet a whopping 92% from last year.
Why are they saying this?
Hodulik noted that “crowds are unlikely to return [to Disney theme parks] in full until there is a vaccine widely available.”
The Florida Surgeon General actually made a statement that supports Hodulik’s prediction, pointing out that it may not be safe for large gatherings to occur until the population achieves herd immunity or a vaccine is made widely available — which could take more than a year. He cautioned that Floridians may need to get used to the health precautions, one of which is the closure of the Disney parks.
So, when can we go to Disney World again?
When can guests go back to Disney World? Unfortunately, right now, it’s just not known. The analysts don’t even agree! A lot is still up in the air when it comes to the global health crisis and the decisions being made at the Walt Disney Company. It’s not really possible right now to definitively guess when we’ll be walking right down the middle of Main Street, U.S.A. again.
What we CAN glean from these conflicting statements is that Disney is reliant on a number of factors when it comes to reopening — including their own financial situation. According to Forbes, theme park guru Dennis Spiegel has been quoted as saying, “The way people visit theme parks will never be the same again,” and it remains to be seen if and how that sentiment will be played out.
Disney will work to make decisions in the interest of safety and in the interest of the company. So, whether the parks open in June or stay closed for a while, it will be based on both data that we as the general public can see and data that we can’t.
When do you think Disney World will reopen? Share your thoughts in the comments!