Disney Sets Final Piece Of Parks Reopening Plan, But Uncertainty Looms In Florida And California
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Tokyo Disneyland is the last Disney theme park to announce plans to reopen. However, the expected return of visitors to all company locations by mid-July is due to an increase in COVID-19 infections, particularly in Florida.
Tokyo Disneyland officials said Monday the park would reopen on July 1 and would be the first in Shanghai and Hong Kong to host the event after months of pandemic shutdowns. Disney World in Florida, Disneyland Paris and Disneyland in Anaheim are planning July 11th, 15th and 17th as key dates for their gradual restarts.
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Shopping and dining at Disney Springs, Florida has already reopened, with masks and social distance requirements, just as the state passed 100,000 coronavirus cases on Monday. In the Osceola and Orange counties, where the Disney properties are located, there are new infection rates every day that are more than four times higher than two weeks ago. Outbreaks at a Philadelphia Phillies training site in Clearwater and the University of Florida athletics program, as well as concerns from some NBA players about restarting the league at a Disney property in Florida in late July only add to the uncertainty.
A petition has been circulating in recent days asking local Florida officials to postpone the reopening of Disney World and other Disney properties. By Tuesday it had collected more than 6,000 signatures. She urges the Mayors of Orlando and Orange County to “rethink the opening of theme parks and resorts until COVID 19 cases no longer increase and there is no longer a risk of this disease affecting our working performers / team members, their families broadcast and our guests in the theme park. "
The resort union coalition, whose 17,000 members include about a dozen Disneyland unions, recently sent a letter to California governor Gavin Newsom asking him to poke a pin when Disney Park restarted. The increase in COVID-19 cases in California is not quite as alarming as in Florida, but is putting pressure on communities that are nervous for economic reasons to reopen.
For Disney, the closure of the park cost the company significant revenue in 2020, as did the loss of movies and live sports, and the hangover is expected to continue through 2021. In the quarter ended March 31, earnings were generated in the company's parks, experiences. Consumer Products business declined 10% to $ 5.5 billion and operating income decreased 58% to $ 639 million. However, investors haven't lost confidence - the company's stocks, which hit a low of $ 79.07 in the panic period of March when the pandemic broke out, have mostly been trading above $ 110 in recent weeks. They closed at $ 116.59 on Tuesday, a fraction, but still well below the $ 140-150 level in the final weeks of 2019.
On a Disney-owned property outside of Orlando, ESPN Wide World of Sports is slated to host the return of the NBA and Major League Soccer in games without fans this summer. Some NBA players have already opted out, and players must notify the league by Wednesday if they want to participate. Supporters of the plan note that half of all cases in Florida are in the southern part of the state, far from Orlando, about 25% of which are in the Miami region.
Rich Greenfield, a Wall Street analyst at LightShed Partners, has often tweeted about his skepticism about the return of theme cartridges before mask or vaccine for the virus is available. "Reopening Disney will be more difficult than investors believe, let alone get visitors back to normal," he wrote on June 19.
However, there is a lot of bullish sentiment in the market. Jessica Reif Ehrlich, analyst at Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, recently raised her price target for Disney and confirmed her buy recommendation for the stock.
The media giant is "well positioned to get stronger as a result of the crisis," she wrote in a message to customers, noting that the COVID-19-driven re-evaluation of the cost structures in the parking unit could improve profit margins in the long term.
A Disney representative did not immediately respond to Deadline's request for comment on concerns about the park's reopening.
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