Disney yet to announce reopening plan, but industry and analysts are watching

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

Investors and park fans are watching to see how Walt Disney Co. reimagines the “happiest place on earth” for a world altered by the coronavirus. The high-touch, high-volume, kid-centered nature of the parks, and Disney’s need to prevent damage to a brand synonymous with safety and families, will make reopening difficult, experts said.

Read more from Reuters.

I still think the Fun Spots and Knoebels' of the world will pull the trigger on reopening first. Both because of their size and the general political/social belief of the operators.

ApolloAndy's avatar

I'm sure Disney is under a huge amount of pressure to reopen, but I just don't get how this will work. If you took the full 107 acres[1] of MK (including landscaping, rides, backstage areas etc.) and divided it up into 3' radius circles, you'd get ~165k circles. Generously, 33% of that is usable by humans, maybe 20% of those humans are cast members's. So ~43,500 guests if they don't have to ever move and just stand in a one spot all day. Which is already well shy of the park's average attendance of 57k. Regardless of how they do or don't do queues, restaurants, etc. I think they're going to have to cap capacity around 50% and even then, it's going to be really hard to maintain a 6' distance from others.

And I also wonder how crowd management will work? Will they have CM's policing distancing and mask usage? Will they turn people away at the gate after a certain point? Will they only open the parks to resort guests? What will they do with AP's? Can/will they distinguish between local AP's and AP's who travel? I'm sure there will initially be a surge of Disnerds wanting to go, but will the economic problems lead to 50% demand a month later anyway?

I am fascinated to see how this plays out, and not just because I had to cancel my Disneyland trip scheduled for April and am now sitting on thousands of dollars of Disney gift cards.

[1] Wikipedia, though lots of other figures are roaming around.

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

Jeff's avatar

I can tell you that I'd be in no hurry to get on a monorail at closing.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

Lord Gonchar's avatar

ApolloAndy said:

...it's going to be really hard to maintain a 6' distance from others.

I think if you're afraid of the virus, you're probably not going to Disney parks any time soon. If you're not afraid, you're likely not concerned about following the 6-foot rule in a hard, strict way.

There's really no way to enforce it (especially on the level Disney would have to) and my real-world, anecdotal experience says people who have been still going out - while being more respectful of personal space than pre-virus - aren't even close to following social distancing guidelines in any consistent way whatsoever. (and we're that state that's supposedly doing it right)

And, sadly, I think this is where the conversation turns to comparisons/claims of securty theatre.

Jeff's avatar

I'm not sure I would call it fear. Self-preservation is a natural and useful instinct. I think it comes down more to understanding the real risk, and with mixed messages from political leaders, and scientists dealing with a limited set of transmission data, it's hard for most people to assess the risk.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

Lord Gonchar's avatar

What a weird piece to cling to from that post - the choice of qualifier?

Ok, then let's call it 'concerned about' or 'unsure of' instead of 'afraid of' - everything else still applies.

If you're ok with going to WDW anytime soon, you're likely not concerned about a hard 6-foot rule enforcement on the midways.

Jeff's avatar

Words matter if you want to speak the same language. I just don't think fear is the primary motivator in any of the "what now?" questions.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

Lord Gonchar's avatar

The motivation wasn't the point.

Especially the motivation of people not going in a discussion about how to handle the people going.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar,

I work in an arm of the industry and I've listened in on a number of webinars and conference calls over the past month on reopening strategies and enforcement of social distancing is a frequent topic. I think personal responsibility is the only reasonable means of enforcing it, but there are a lot of people that feel that the bulk of the responsibility is on operators. Both ends of the spectrum are probably setting a dangerous precedent and a balance in between leaning more toward personal responsibility makes the most logistical sense.

99er's avatar

^I think this is the route most parks are going to go when it comes to common areas/midways around the park. Parks will have signs throughout but you aren't going to see employees enforcing it.


...The most obvious consideration for most people may be, why do I need to stand 6' away from the people I live with? Why can't we have clusters of "families" and keep those clusters 6' from each other? But the only way to enforce that is for the individuals to do the enforcing: the operators have no way to know who belongs together.

I wish we had better information about transmission vectors in open space. It certainly seems that surface touch is still the primary source of infection. Otherwise, coughing and sneezing in a face-to-face interaction, I get that. But how much risk is there in talking and breathing, and does it justify the widespread facemask fetish for healthy people even though it suggests increased danger of touch-based infection?

In reality, what we really need is a better source of real-world data about the actual level of infection AND illness. 97% of the population of Marion Correctional (around 2,800 inmates) tested positive, and of those, 98% were completely asymptomatic, only 38 (1.3%) needed hospital care and none died (nan%). So what's going to happen when we start letting this thing spread a little? Will it be more like Marion Correctional, where lots of people get infected but it honestly doesn't matter because nobody gets sick? Or is it more like some of these nursing homes where everybody gets sick and a bunch of people end up dead?

But we don't have that data, testing is invasive, slow and unreliable, antibody testing is less reliable, and it has become abundantly clear that the computer models are completely out of whack for this thing. It's really starting to feel like three months into this thing we still don't really understand it well enough to respond to it in a truly appropriate way. "Do something!" still feels like the order of the day, and by now we really should be past that.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
/XXX\ /X\ /X\_ _ /X\__ _ _ _____

Jeff's avatar

Well, the governor of Maryland had to import tests from South Korea and guard it with the National Guard, if that tells you anything about our national ability to test.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

hambone's avatar

RideMan, I'm not sure where your data on Marion Correctional is from. The Marion Star yesterday reported a total of 7 prisoner deaths at Marion; 30 statewide. All the ones who have been identified, as far as I have seen, have been aged 60 and up. (One might ask what the value of keeping a 92 year old in prison is, but that's a different topic possibly for a different site.)

Your larger point is correct - we need more testing data to understand this. Until someone can explain why - as was pointed out the other thread - New York City has had 13,000 deaths in 8 million population while Ohio has had 1,000 deaths in 11 million, the simplest explanation is that it just spread faster here. Which does not bode well for reopening amusement parks or much of anything else.

Last edited by hambone,

Is there anywhere in the country that’s enforcing social distancing within families? I can’t speak for anywhere else, but in Texas, you don’t have to social distance with your own family or even your own group at a restaurant table.

ApolloAndy's avatar

"Remember restaurants?" - Californians

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

Tommytheduck's avatar

hambone said:

Until someone can explain why New York City has had 13,000 deaths in 8 million population while Ohio has had 1,000 deaths in 11 million, the simplest explanation is that it just spread faster here.

Besides the (obvious) fact that NYC is so densely populated, wasn't there also the issue of highly attended St Patricks Day parades? Pretty sure Mardi Gras is a contributing factor to why New Orleans also had a higher than average rate of infection.

On topic: Personally, I'm not in a hurry to return to my home park, CP, this year. Mostly out of virus concerns, because the risk is not worth the reward, which in this case is simply stuff I've already been doing for 20 years.

On the flip side, I will absolutely take the chance when work sends me to Tampa after Iron Gwazi opens up. And if by some miracle the Deftones/Gojira show I have Pit tix for still happens in August, I'll still go because Deftones is so high on my "Must see" list.

The Corona Virus legit scares me, as I'm in my 40's. Wearing a mask in public is not an issue for me and I have no problem when a co-worker shoots me a funny look for wiping down every surface at work for 10 minutes before actually doing any work.

hambone's avatar

Yes, obviously the density of NYC - and high use of public transit - caused the virus to spread faster. (The St Patrick's Day parade was cancelled.) So the virus has reached more people here, hence more people have become sick and died. What that implies to me, absent some other factor, is that other places will gradually approach NYC's mortality rate (as a percentage of the population) as they reopen, people return to offices and restaurants and stores, etc.

(Gradually is better! It means hospitals aren't as overwhelmed - not to mention morgues - and there's more opportunity to develop effective treatments.)

sirloindude's avatar

I spoke a bit about this in the other thread, but given resource usage even at peak times, some states have a LONG way to go before approaching New York City's mortality rate. A lot of large states never hit their overall capacity.

13 Boomerang, 9 SLC, and 8 B-TR clones


ApolloAndy's avatar

Did New York / to what extent did New York exceed it's health care capacity? Do we have better numbers for mortality with health care vs. without?

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

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