Disney Just Lost Millions of Dollars Proving That It Cares about You
You know the headline by now. The Walt Disney Company will close Disneyland from March 14th through the end of March. That’s 17 days without the Happiest Place on Earth, which feels like a fitting metaphor for everyone’s mood right now.
You may believe that Disney had no choice here, but you’re mistaken. Instead, Disney just threw away millions of dollars to prove how much it cares about your safety. Let me explain.
Disney Didn’t Have to Close
People don’t fully appreciate the self-governing power that Disney possesses. The company has anchored tourism in Anaheim, California, since 1955 and Orlando, Florida, since 1971.
In Anaheim, recent events have shown that Disney isn’t entirely above the law. However, the company claims more autonomy than virtually anyone else in the state.
Meanwhile, Disney literally runs its own government in Florida. During the 1960s, the state was so desperate for a Disney theme park that Uncle Walt negotiated unprecedented land rights. For its trouble, the state of Florida turned swampland into the most celebrated tourist mecca in the south.
With so much power, Disney executives call the shots to an extent. When the governor of California or Florida needs to make a call, the opinions of Disney lobbyists matter. They possess that type of power and influence.
Disney Did the Right Thing
In this particular instance, a matter of public health safety, Disney reviewed the guidelines set forth by the state of California and the city of Anaheim. After a detailed review, the company correctly decided to shut down the parks. Please don’t understand that it wasn’t under a legal obligation to do so, though.
Instead, Disney did this because it cares about customers. Roughly 200 people have contracted Coronavirus in California, and many other places on the West Coast have suffered similarly.
Anyone who has come into contact with any those of people is potentially susceptible, depending on the nature of the interaction. This pandemic shares unfortunate similarities with the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game in that way. Touching someone who touched someone who had the virus..well, it can get gross and phlegmy.
So, Disney has recognized that hundreds of thousands of guests come through the gates each week. It can’t risk having some infected people spreading the disease to others.
The company makes this decision despite the millions of dollars in lost revenue. You know all those price increases that you’re always complaining about? Disney’s not getting that money right now.
The company had estimated losses in the hundreds of millions due to closures at Hong Kong Disneyland and Shanghai Disneyland. Shutting down Walt Disney World and Disneyland for a few weeks will come with similar financial setbacks. Company officials wouldn’t do that unless they cared about your health more than their own bottom line.
Comparing Good vs. Evil
I’ll use a different entertainment example to prove the point. WWE, the professional wrestling organization, is scheduled to hold Wrestlemania 36 on April 5th. The venue is 80 miles away from Orlando in Tampa, Florida. The WWE hasn’t canceled this event yet and clearly will only do so if forced.
Similarly, the same people own the XFL, the fledgling professional football league. This failing experiment only produced roughly one million viewers per game last week. The facts suggest that nobody cares about it. Yet, as of this writing, the XFL is the only significant sports league that hasn’t delayed its season thus far.
Why have the XFL and WWE maintained their scheduled dates in the face of Coronavirus infection? They care more about money than people. Disney, the company that you love, isn’t selfish like that. It loves you back and has just proven so with its wallet.
Editor’s note: The XFL finally canceled its season a few minutes after this article was published.
The Benefits of Disney Closing
- Haunted Mansion
- Jungle Cruise
- Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover
Yes, a boat sank, a pair of PeopleMovers collided, and the entire Doom Buggy system shut down for a few days. Also, you may remember that Disney Skyliner incident the week after it opened.
The problem with running a place that’s open every day is the maintenance phase. Disney officials have created strict criteria for the safety of their attractions – see, they really DO love you! — and will not operate a ride at less than 99 percent efficiency.
The overnight shift at Disney theme parks is crucial to keeping the trains running on time, so to speak. These people perform all of the maintenance needed for the attractions to reach 99 percent. It’s a strenuous job, and it’s constant since Disney works on a 365-day calendar.
When Disney renovates an attraction, it does more than add a new coat of paint. Everything gets perfected so that it’s at 100 percent again. Alas, park guests expect all their favorite rides to work during a visit. It’s a vicious circle for park officials. Rides need work, but guests want them to operate during a visit.
Folks, Disney Never Closes
With Disneyland and Walt Disney World closing for weeks, park officials have a rare opportunity now. They can figure out why the Jungle Cruise boats are sinking, and the Doom Buggies are…not dooming? Well, you get the point.
In recent years, Disney has temporarily closed for earthquakes and hurricanes. However, once the rides have passed their safety checks, everything returns to normal. So nothing really changes.
This situation is different. Coronavirus will close Disney theme parks for longer than anything ever. At Disneyland, the deaths of JFK and Walt Disney didn’t shut down the park for long. On the day after 9/11, Disneyland was up and running again. The infamous Northridge earthquake stopped a World Series for a time. Still, the Happiest Place on Earth was open for business quickly afterward.
Disney theme parks don’t close, perhaps to their own detriment. With the forced downtime from the Coronavirus, cast members have a chance to fix all of the rides woes that you’ve read about. Even with a skeleton crew, Disney should be able to restore the magic at all its parks.
Similarly, without having to watch over daily operations, Disney executives can do something more productive in the coming weeks. They can plot the future of theme parks without getting distracted by the actual management of theme parks. It’s an unprecedented opportunity.
So, while Disney being closed right now sucks for everybody, it’ll prove remarkably beneficial in the coming months and years. Vacationers will enjoy the best possible Disney experience.