MickeyBlog News for November 16, 2020
For the first time in ages, The Walt Disney Company lost money for a fiscal year…and Disney stock went up anyway.
I’ll explain why in the latest edition of MickeyBlog News, which comes with a decidedly mixed message about Disneyland.
Let’s Talk Disney Stock
Last Monday, Disney did absolutely nothing, yet its stock increased by 10 percent.
How is that possible? Everyone knows that the only thing that has derailed the company in 2020 is Coronavirus.
The instant those concerns vanish, Disney will become a revenue juggernaut unlike it’s ever been before.
So, when Pfizer and BioNTech announced that they expected to mass-produce a vaccine by next spring, Disney stock exploded.
I don’t want to put the cart before the horse here, but this possibility presents the first ray of hope-based sunshine since March.
However, Disney would receive even better news later in the week.
On Thursday, the company symbolically held its 2020 fiscal earnings report.
Ordinarily, Disney performs this call on a Tuesday, but Thursday signified the first anniversary of Disney+.
Make no mistake on this point. Everything about the call circled back to the staggering success of Disney’s streaming services.
On its first birthday, Disney+ has already gained 73.7 million subscribers…and will debut in several Latin American countries this week.
Not coincidentally, Disney plans another Investor Day on December 10th, at which point it will update subscriber numbers.
Everything from here counts as gravy, though. Even the most optimistic five-year plans for the service estimated 60-90 million subscribers.
Disney did that in a calendar year, and that’s not even all of it!
Hulu and ESPN+ have subscriber totals of 36.6 million and 10.3 million. Yes, those two core businesses total nearly 47 million on their own.
In total, Disney streaming has passed 120 million monthly subscribers! Look out, Netflix! You’re getting chased by a Mouse!
Other Quick Hits
For the first time anyone can remember, at least since the 1970s, Disney reported an annual loss.
Coronavirus cost the company dearly, as its GAAP accounting for the fiscal year included a final revenue shortfall of $2.83 billion.
Marketwatch reported that FactSet records only date back to 1980. So, it’s been at least that long since the company lost money for a year.
In fact, Disney hadn’t suffered a quarterly loss since 2001. Then, Coronavirus caused losses in the past two consecutive quarters.
History will remember that only a global pandemic can slow Disney’s momentum.
The parks have suffered the worst, as revenue dropped 61 percent year-over-year.
Disney suggested that Coronavirus cost the theme park $2.4 billion during the quarter.
Along those lines, company executives indicated that Disneyland is unlikely to reopen during the fiscal first quarter of 2021.
To you and me, that’s the end of 2020, with the last date probably on December 29th or 30th.
So, this isn’t earth-shattering news but rather grim confirmation.
Like much of the country, California’s rolling back some of its reopening phases due to yet another outbreak.
The state averaged roughly 7,350 new cases per day this past week, which makes the return of the parks extremely unlikely anytime soon.
Disney did provide one surprise, though. The company canceled all hotel reservations through the end of 2020 for regular guests.
However, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa will reopen on December 6th.
Disney believes that some DVC members may want to visit even with the parks closed. I went into detail about the thought process here.
Disney Park News
Money’s the story this week at Disney. Still, we did learn some fascinating park tidbits.
A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance had added plexiglass dividers on the ride carts.
Park strategists took this step for dueling purposes. The barriers protect guests from flying droplets.
Also, Disney may safely add more capacity to the rides this way, vastly improving throughput.
MickeyBlog visited Disney’s Hollywood Studios on Saturday, and you can watch what I mean in this video.
Fast forward to the 32-minute mark to watch MickeyBlog’s First Family board the ride cart with plexiglass barriers.
I mention this because we now know why Frozen Ever After underwent a refurbishment.
As part of the renovations, Disney added plexiglass barriers to the Viking ships.
This tactic has substantially reduced wait-times for Frozen Ever After, and they were already quite reasonable.
Across Walt Disney World, the parks have changed their operating hours once again.
Park officials continue to tweak to find the best balance between guest safety and customer satisfaction.
However, the biggest beneficiary here is Disney Springs, which will now close at 11 p.m.
These operating hours will occur in December and part of January, which has ripple effects during Christmas Week and New Year’s Eve.
No, you cannot ring in the New Year at Disney Springs, barring a future extension to midnight, but you can get pretty close with an 11 p.m. closure.
Remember that Disney doesn’t always kick out guests when Disney Springs and the parks reach closing time.
Other Park/Media Updates
Of course, the other big Walt Disney World news is something that MickeyBlog tracked earlier this week.
Hotel resorts have added their Christmas trees and other decorations.
MickeyBlog’s holiday elves went resort hopping to take pictures of the various locations. Check the archive to see them all!
In Disney entertainment news, WandaVision finally received a release date. It’ll debut on Disney+ on January 15th.
The streaming service is currently airing new episodes of The Mandalorian (Sasha Banks this week!) and will debut Pixar’s Soul on Christmas.
So, customers will have something new and exciting to watch on Disney+ from now through the start of March!
Meanwhile, John M. Chu, the director of Crazy Rich Asians, is developing a relationship with Disney.
Chu had previously agreed to direct the pilot for Willow. Now, he’s ready to helm the live-action remake of Lilo & Stitch.
That loud SQUEEEE! sound you just heard is my wife celebrating the existence of this project.
Lilo & Stitch had been announced as a Disney+ release. However, Disney may be re-thinking that approach.
Stitch’s merchandising sales suggest that a theatrical debut could earn a lot of money if Disney chooses to go that way.
The last Disney park news is tragic, as Alex Trebek died last week at the age of 80.
Everyone knows and loves him for his lifetime of service as the host of Jeopardy.
To EPCOT fans, he’s that much more special, as he appeared in-character on Ellen’s Energy Adventure.
You can watch it and appreciate his greatness here:
Finally, you should all watch this, as Disney’s done it again: