What Is Really Going On with Disneyland?
Have you kept up with the news regarding the Happiest Place on Earth?
Presuming that you have, you’re undoubtedly confused.
Just this week, Disneyland Resort announced plans to reopen Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.
Around the same time, Disney canceled all hotel reservations through the rest of 2020 and performed additional layoffs.
These statements appear to conflict. So, let’s try to make some sense of it.
What’s the Latest with Disneyland? Well…
The Return of the Grand Californian
Disney owns and operates the Disney Vacation Club (DVC). This membership program allows guests to stay regularly at DVC resorts.
This business doesn’t work the same as other Disney entities for an interesting reason.
The management team doesn’t refer to DVC as a timeshare program. However, the premise works similarly.
Disney must abide by real estate laws in all applicable states where DVC runs hotels.
You may wonder why I’m mentioning all this. Well, it’s oddly crucial to this conversation.
With Disneyland closed since mid-March, DVC owners at the Grand Californian haven’t got to use their points.
Disney cannot do anything about this, but the membership rules and applicable real estate laws require the company to offer rooms.
So, when you read that the Grand Californian will reopen, it’s not the great news you’d like.
Instead, this movie is indicative of Disney’s dilemma. At Walt Disney World, Disney reopened its DVC resorts weeks before the parks returned.
In fact, the first two resorts to return were ones at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort and Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort.
These locations could host tourists and entertain them even without theme parks, as that’s their everyday practice.
When Disney reopened the DVC resorts at Walt Disney World, few guests arrived.
However, management could rightfully argue that they provided members with the opportunity to spend their points.
The program participants who did stay had their points removed from the system, Disney’s real goal.
The same practice applies to the return of the Grand Californian. The resort will reopen on December 6th, nearly nine months after it closed.
Few guests will stay, but DVC may begin balancing its inventory system.
That’s the only purpose for the hotel’s return.
The Mixed Message of Grand Californian’s Return
The cancellation of all other Disneyland hotel reservations represents the other shoe that dropped.
Disney has accepted the reality that California’s governor won’t budge on the subject of public safety.
Park officials rightfully point to the success of Walt Disney World and other Disney locales around the world as proof of concept.
The specific concept involves Disney’s ability to protect guests during a pandemic. The company possesses ample proof to make that argument, too.
Still, Disney came to an impasse with California’s government. No amount of political pressure on the local or national level would sway public officials.
So, Disneyland Resort must maintain its current status for the foreseeable future. That means the hotels cannot open right now.
I realize that sounds inconsistent with the previous statement that the Grand Californian will come back next month.
Here’s the thing. Disney will only open that resort to DVC members, which means it’s not taking regular reservations.
Also, the notification about Grand Californian’s return suggests that restaurants and other amenities may not be available.
This statement makes sense, given that Disney just laid off another batch of Disneyland employees.
In a vacuum, the company cannot operate stores and eateries for a small group of customers. The idea is patently absurd in the wake of layoffs.
Disney’s Official Statement
Ken Potrock earned the promotion of a lifetime on March 18th. He became President of Disneyland Resort.
To this date, he has yet to perform his job duties with an open theme park, which is insane. He’s been on the job for eight months!
As Disneyland’s situation continues to confound, Potrock published this statement:
“After nearly eight months our parks and hotels remain closed, and while we have had some successes — like the opening of the Downtown Disney District in July, shopping and dining coming soon to Buena Vista Street and today’s announcement that we will reopen Disney Vacation Club units — the recently released state guidelines put us in limbo regarding a reopening timeline in the foreseeable future.
As you know, we’ve already taken the heart-wrenching action of laying off thousands of our Cast on both coasts. We expected to be able to open our parks in Anaheim, given our proven ability to operate with responsible health and safety protocols as we have in all of our other theme parks around the world, but unfortunately, this has not been the case.”
His frustration is palpable, and he sounds like he’s entered the acceptance phase.
Here’s the part of the conversation nobody likes. Disney and California officials started butting heads over reopening guidelines in early October.
At the time, the Golden State had confirmed 834,000 cases. California may have crossed one million by the time you read this.
That’s a jump of 166,000 cases in a little over a month.
The state didn’t reach 166,000 total cases until June 18th, more than three months after the pandemic shut down American society.
The speed with which we’re catching the disease has increased in recent weeks. The governor has a reasonable argument for taking a cautious approach.
Similarly, Disney can highlight supporting facts that prove its parks operate safely. It’s the rare instance where nobody’s wrong, but everyone suffers.
However, for the first time in ages, we can all see some light at the end of the tunnel.
We finally have some movement on the vaccine front!
Regeneron and Remdesivir have received most of the headlines thus far, but Pfizer just stole the show.
The company revealed that it has produced a vaccine with 90 percent efficacy in trials.
Even better, Pfizer suggests that it’ll mass-produce the vaccine soon.
In fact, a New York Times article suggests that “30 to 40 million doses” will be available by the end of the year.
As with the Measles vaccine, you’ll need two doses. Still, that number would allow for the treatment of 15 million patients.
Despite how poorly the United States has addressed COVID-19, the total number of infections is roughly 11 million. So, that’s a massive number of doses.
From there, Dr. Anthony Fauci predicts widespread availability by April of 2021.
Dr. Anthony Fauci tells @jaketapper that an average American could potentially have access to a coronavirus vaccine by April of 2021. pic.twitter.com/u2yn1hI0Mp
— The Lead CNN (@TheLeadCNN) November 10, 2020
Presuming he’s correct, California could roll back its theme park guidelines in a matter of months.
Now, I’m assuming that a trial vaccine will cure a pandemic, which is a pretty big leap of faith.
Still, science may solve the Disneyland dilemma before California and Disney do.
If Pfizer delivers as promised, society may return to normal by next spring, enabling the return of the Happiest Place on Earth.
So, let’s all hope and pray for that, okay?