The Amazing Things Disney Has Done during the Pandemic
Since late-February, The Walt Disney Company has absorbed a savage number of negative headlines.
Starting with the surprising announcement of Bob Chapek as new CEO, Disney has suffered through discussions about broken rides, closed parks, and health concerns.
During these four months, people have overlooked the undeniable truth here. The company has performed admirably during impossible circumstances.
Here are several things that Disney has done right during the pandemic. In reading this, you’re going to feel a lot better about your Disney fandom.
Let’s begin with the obvious one. In early March, the writing was already on the wall about ncov-2019.
Circumstances had forced Disney to close its parks in China and, later, Japan.
However, nobody expected the Happiest Place on Earth to close.
After all, people could count on one hand the number of times that Disneyland shut down for a day.
An extended period qualified as unprecedented, yet that’s precisely what Chapek and his boss, Bob Iger, chose to do.
Disney became the first major theme park in America to close due to Coronavirus concerns.
On the date of the announcement – and you’ll laugh bitterly at this – California had reported 36 cases the previous day.
The state had confirmed 198 Coronavirus infections with four deaths.
That modest number was enough for Disney’s brain trust to move to protect its loyal customers.
Walt Disney World would follow Disneyland’s lead two days later. When the Orlando park closed, Florida had reported 149 cases.
Soon afterward, SeaWorld Orlando and Universal Orlando Resort felt shamed into following suit.
Friends, I want you to imagine how much worse the situation would be if Disney hadn’t led the way on this matter.
Target Reopening Dates
Disney’s decision-making wasn’t due to PR concerns, either. The company proved this when it announced return dates for its parks.
Whereas other companies rushed back their theme parks in early June, Disney waited until mid-July for its American locations.
Take a moment to contemplate how savvy these decisions look at the moment.
This week, Florida has reported more than 25,000 new cases, while California is nearly at 30,000.
In fact, Florida just confirmed more than 10,000 infections in two days.
Impressively (but disappointingly), Disneyland just announced that it won’t reopen on July 17th as expected.
Instead, the park will remain closed since the pandemic continues to cause problems in the Golden State.
If Disney officials had reopened Disneyland and Walt Disney World in early June, at least one park might have had to shut down again.
More importantly, thousands of cast members and California/Florida residents would have had their health jeopardized.
Disney chose customer and employee safety over money. Isn’t that refreshing compared to some other businesses in the news this month?
Disney saved lives with its cautious approach to Coronavirus.
Removed Attractions and Amenities
When the parks do reopen, Disney won’t operate everything as usual. Instead, some attractions and amenities will remain on hiatus.
Crowd-gathering events like parades and fireworks would cause some guests to violate social distancing policies.
So, Disney has made the tough but correct call to suspend these performances during the pandemic.
The company’s executives chose this path while understanding that it will cost Disney money.
Some guests will choose to skip a vacation until their beloved shows come back.
Once again, Disney’s choosing the health of its customers over revenue on a balance sheet.
The changes won’t stop with presentations, either. Some theme park attractions aren’t safe enough in the current climate.
Epidemiologists warn of the dangers of enclosed spaces.
So, Disney won’t run some shows based on Disney animated classics like Frozen, The Little Mermaid, and Frozen.
These attractions would draw crowds, but they also feature sing-along elements. And we know now that singing is a likely way to spread the virus.
Splash Mountain Changes
This one happened right as I was ready to publish the article. However, it might be the most impressive one.
I won’t re-hash recent events in society other than to say that most smart people are aware of the class struggle of African-Americans.
Disney’s faced the same issue for many years now. Unfortunately, one of its best attractions shares a connection to the most embarrassing Disney movie ever.
No, I’m not talking about Mars Needs Moms.
Song of the South demonstrates that cultural norms in one era can seem barbaric decades later.
Movie executives have correctly buried the film in the Disney Vault, where it will never see the light of day again.
Sadly, Splash Mountain, arguably the most entertaining theme park attraction ever built, features elements from Song of the South.
Park officials have considered replacing those features for the entirety of the 21st century.
Given recent events, Disney executives have thankfully stepped forward and will lead by example on this one.
Splash Mountain will undergo plussing at Disneyland and Magic Kingdom.
Both parks will feature a new version of the attraction, one with a vastly superior theme.
Yes, The Princess and the Frog will provide the backdrop for the new and improved version of Splash Mountain.
While I loved the old version as much as anyone, I am THRILLED that Disney has done the right thing.
Yes, I’ll miss the Laughing Place, just like everyone else. Still, the entirety of Splash Mountain should present a message of positivity.
We all know that the ride doesn’t in its current form.
Hamilton and other Disney+ Maneuvers
Some of Disney’s best decisions haven’t involved the parks. For starters, movie executives wisely delayed the release of Mulan and Black Widow.
Even now, Mulan’s release remains up in the air, even though it’s theoretically only a few weeks away from its release date.
Movie theaters have remained closed during the pandemic and only recently started reopening.
During this downtime, Disney has demonstrated agility and forethought by shifting titles to its most recent business endeavor, a streaming service.
Disney+ qualifies as one of the financial success stories of the pandemic, as its subscriptions have grown at a historic rate.
Iger, Chapek, and their employees have primed the pump by pushing quality titles to the service.
The moves started with Onward, the Pixar film that had its theatrical release undercut by the pandemic. Disney+ has hosted the movie for several months now.
More recently, Disney added Artemis Fowl, a mediocre movie that probably would have lost a lot of money in theaters.
The next movie is the one that has everyone excited, though.
When Disney acquired the rights to Hamilton, the plan called for theatrical release in October of 2021.
Instead, Disney+ will stream the movie starting on July 3rd. People pay hundreds of dollars for a ticket to this play.
For $6.99 a month, Disney+ subscribers can watch it in the comfort of their own homes.
Decisions like this have elevated Disney+ at a time when the rest of the company has struggled.
Disney officials deserve massive credit for turning a negative into a positive during the pandemic.
Finally, the most impressive feat during the pandemic is that Disney has adapted to Coronavirus concerns better than any other theme park company.
When Disney Springs reopened, guests couldn’t believe the level of forethought involved with the safety measures.
Disney officials checked temperatures, required masks, and mapped walking paths. Cast members received training on how to enforce health guidelines.
The totality of Disney’s improvements ensured the safety of guests.
MickeyBlog has covered this aspect exhaustively. So, you know all the details by now.
However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention these changes. They’re the greatest proof that Disney has dealt with the pandemic better than anyone could have reasonably expected.
Feature Image: (Matt Stroshane/Disneyland Resort)