Why Is Disney World Reopening a Month After Universal Orlando?
We have cause to celebrate today Disney friends with the news Walt Disney World will be opening its gates starting on July 11th.
As we previously reported here at MickeyBlog, the first theme parks to open will be the Magic Kingdom and the Animal Kingdom which will officially reopen on July 11th. Then on July 15th, EPCOT and Hollywood Studios will once again start welcoming guests.
However, if there’s one question that people are asking after today’s announcement it is “Why is Disney World opening over a month after Universal Orlando and SeaWorld?”
This was the subject of an article that appears in the Orlando Sentinel this afternoon which is definitely worth checking out. One annual passholder, Dani Meyering when interviewed by the Sentinel said, “My jaw dropped” after hearing the news of a mid-July opening.
The piece in the Sentinel, after interviewing various Disney insiders argues that the later reopening day emphasizes the difference in corporate philosophies between Disney, Universal and Orlando.
“They’re also the most-visited attraction, so they absolutely have to set the gold standard,” Meyering added.
The reopening plans were submitted to the Orange County Economic Task Force this morning for approval. Disney’s plans passed unanimously including by Orange County Mayor Jerry Demmings. Now it is over to the desk of Gov. Ron DeSantis who needs to officially sign off on the plans.
While all of this is still to happen, Universal Orlando who submitted plans one week ago will be pushing forward with plans to open on June 5th SeaWorld will also be looking to open on June 11th.
When asked about the delayed Disney World opening CEO Bob Chapek said, “We got a different situation frankly than Universal does because we’re much bigger.” When speaking to Bloomberg media earlier today he added, “We have a much more complex business. We’ve got a different labor situation.”
A mid-July opening also gives Disney World more time to implement new systems to keep guests safe. One such tool will be a NEW reservation system designed to control crowd levels. Little details were released regarding how the system will work but it’s a story that we here at MickeyBlog will be following closely and we promise to keep you updated.
Chapek said, “It’s going to take some time to take the millions of reservations that we already got on the books and then switch that to a new reservation system, so we think July is the right time for us.”
Robert Niles, who regularly writes for the Orange County Register said of the July reopening plan that it’s hard for Disney to do something small because “they’re the behemoth.” He added, “When they reopen, they’re going to draw a lot of people into Central Florida,” Niles said. He said he believes “Disney feels that responsibility.”
The gradual approach by Disney also gives health experts time to review the opening procedures at other parks and track the spread of COVID-19, all preventive measures in ensuring that a second wave of the virus doesn’t prove catastrophic. As Niles told the Sentinel, Disney’s take might be that it’s best to let the other parks open first.
Disney World, which operates four theme parks versus Universal Orlando’s two also employs about 77,000 cast members. That is more than three times as many people as Universal. Its property also has more hotels.
There’s another factor in the reopening of Disney World Resort that we’ve been reporting on regularly over the last few weeks and that is the possibility of the NBA bringing their season to Walt Disney World. There are also many logistics involved in setting up and organizing events at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The July opening gives Disney time to do just that!
“They are all big machines, but Disney is the big one,” said attractions analyst Dennis Speigel of International Theme Park Services. “They have a bigger engine to start.” Case in point is the fact that Disney had to furlough over 100,000 employees due to the COVID-19 closure including nearly 43,000 for its union coalition. Universal, on the other hand, has kept many full-time employees working making it slightly easier for an early opening.
Over the next month there is must work to be done to welcome guests to the theme parks in a COVID-19 World. From plexiglass and cashless payments to face masks and social distancing queues. Disney must first get its cast members up to speed and spaces ready to go.
We’ll continue to follow the progress in the weeks to come. Keep following along with MickeyBlog for the latest news and updates.
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Source: Orlando Sentinel