MickeyBlog News for April 13, 2020
One part of The Walt Disney Company received great news this week. All other core businesses experienced yet another frustrating week in quarantine. I’ll tell you everything you need to know in the latest edition of MickeyBlog News.
Always Look on the Bright Side
Let’s start with the positive news. Disney+ debuted in several countries over the past 10 days. The new markets led to another staggering triumph for Disney.
Disney+ has reached 50 million subscribers in less than five months. Yes, that’s an average of 10 million new customers per month.
India is responsible for a lot of new traffic. Disney cleverly packaged its streaming service with the already popular Hotstar. By taking this approach, the company sold eight million subscriptions in India.
Overall, Disney+ has shattered its five-year goals already. The service represents the company’s one bright spot during the Coronavirus outbreak, which has otherwise crushed Disney’s core businesses. Speaking of which…
Details about the Furlough
Last week, Disney executives announced that the company would furlough many of its cast members. The employees who work at the parks, resorts, and accompanying businesses will stop receiving paychecks on April 19th.
To make that happen, Disney had to negotiate with the unions, which cover employment agreements for many cast members. The company has finalized those details in recent days.
The Service Trades Council Union Coalition, which includes more than 40,000 Walt Disney World employees, has accepted that Disney has no choice here. The union discussed the details on Facebook Live on Saturday, April 11th.
Cast members will receive healthcare for a full year. Also, the Disney Aspire college education program will remain in place during the Coronavirus shutdown.
Disneyland managed a similar agreement with its workers. Deadline has published many details of the deal. The most crucial part of both negotiations is that cast members keep their pensions, full-time benefits, and tenure.
About the Competition
We rarely discuss Universal Studios in this space, but something happened the other day that merits mention. Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando Resort will remain closed through the end of May.
NBCUniversal executives revealed this information while announcing furloughs for its employees. Park workers will receive paychecks through the end of April. On May 3rd, they will get sidelined until Universal parks return.
So, Disney looks a bit worse for paying its staff for two weeks less. However, that’s not the main takeaway here for Disney fans. It hints that all Orlando parks are out of business until June 1st.
Universal Orlando, Walt Disney World, and SeaWorld have an agreement in place. The three Central Florida parks communicate about matters that impact the area.
Universal recently went off the reservation when it announced a closure through April 19th. Its Orlando officials apologized profusely about this behind the scenes. I doubt that they’d do it again without discussing the matter with Disney and SeaWorld.
For all the people wondering about timelines, a hint came from an unlikely source. ClickOrlando hosted a live chat with the mayor of Orange County, Florida.
The mayor, Jerry Demings, suggested that the parks could re-open in early June. Here is his exact quote:
““I believe, given the models, it could be June — early June — where we see some relaxing of the restrictions in place. But they would have to stay in place to some degree through late summer.”
Demings points to positives in the greater Orlando area. Most importantly, hospitals are seeing less COVID-19 related activity. Meanwhile, health officials predict a peak over the next two weeks.
Again, we’re all just reading the tea leaves here, though.
Other Disney Closures Get Extended
Tokyo Disneyland will remain closed through at least mid-May. This news would have seemed unlikely a few weeks ago. Japan had largely avoided the worst part of the pandemic.
Sadly, the situation has regressed in recent days. Japan’s reported cases have doubled over the past week. The country has declared a national state of emergency.
A month ago, Tokyo Disneyland seemed most likely to return first among the Disney parks. Now, it might wind up last. Coronavirus is absolutely merciless.
As the virus continues to spread, Disney officials have acknowledged the obvious. Disney Cruise Line won’t host any sailings until May 17th, and the Disney Wonder will shut down through June.
Disney has also canceled all Adventures by Disney river cruises through June. And the company has informed Disney Vacation Club members that it has postponed the Moonlight Magic events in April and early May.
One strange situation unfolded over the past few days. Disney’s Cultural Representative Programs cast members learned that they would get shipped home by April 18th.
Disney did this as part of its cast member furloughs. However, the decision called into question the short-term future of the program.
Well, I’m happy to report Disney Careers has posted opportunities for Norway and Germany pavilion employees. The dates for these jobs would begin from August to November of 2020. So, things are looking up.
Of course, the news isn’t all great. The other day, I wrote about potential delays to upcoming Disney attractions. Sadly, one of my suppositions proved correct.
The official Disneyland site has removed all references to an exact opening date for Avengers Campus. With construction workers unable to finish the project, a delay was inevitable.
Some Good News for Disney+ Fans
I recognize that recent MickeyBlog News updates have felt like repeated kicks to the teeth. Well, I do have one other bit of good news, especially for fans of The Simpsons.
To date, the beloved television series has proven the most popular program on Disney+. The management team has noticed this and leaned into it.
The next time that you load Disney+, you’ll find The Simpsons Collection features a new set of groupings. These four Collections episodes into specific groupings.
The Simpsons Sports includes some of the show’s best sports episodes (duh!), The Simpsons Travel highlights the family’s adventures abroad, and so forth.
The collections come with 9-14 episodes per batch, enough to entertain you for hours during the quarantine. Also, it’ll give you a chance to think about all the stamps on Lisa Simpson’s passport. That kid’s eight years old, and she’s visited six continents!
Also, Disney+ added another treat for Disney fans the other day. Maggie Simpson in Playdate with Destiny is now available. This short film played before Onward in theaters. And it’s terrific!
Okay, that’s all the news for this week. Stay safe and optimistic, everyone!