MickeyBlog News for February 15, 2021
Happy Valentine’s Day, my many loves!
This week’s edition of MickeyBlog News will discuss Disney’s money, theme park plans, and recent changes.
Also, you should beware of Hitchhiking Ghosts, especially if you’re driving an electric car. I swear this will make sense in a bit.
Disney’s Money Matters
Last Thursday, The Walt Disney Company announced its earnings for the fiscal first quarter of 2021.
This timeframe ended on January 2nd, which means that it’s from the 2020 holiday season.
Analysts had expected a bumpy road for Disney, but the company surprised critics yet again.
Disney stock earned $0.32 instead of expected losses of $0.41, and the company’s quarterly revenue soared to $16.25 billion.
As a reminder, the company earned $14.71 billion during the third quarter. Once again, Disney is trending in the right direction despite Coronavirus.
Speaking of which, Disney’s executive team indicated that COVID cost Disney $2.6 billion for the quarter.
Several parks closed for some/all of the fiscal quarter, and Disney Cruise Line and Adventures by Disney remain unavailable.
So, how is Disney earning so much money given all these problems?
The short answer is DTC, aka direct to consumer. Subscriptions to Disney’s core services increased at the end of 2020.
Disney+ alone has now reached 94.9 million subscribers.
This is the moment when I remind you that the most optimistic five-year plans for Disney+ suggested 60-90 million…after five years.
Disney+ has achieved those goals in less than 14 months! In December alone, eight million customers signed up, presumably due to the debut of Soul.
ESPN+ and Hulu have combined 51.5 million subscribers, with ESPN+ at 12.1 million and Hulu at 39.4 million.
During 2020, Disney modified its parameters to emphasize that it’s primarily a digital company now.
The results speak for themselves, as Disney is closing the gap with Netflix, which claims nearly 204 million subscribers.
Disney Theme Park Plans
CEO Bob Chapek and his team confirmed some other aspects of Disney’s 2021 plans. Theme park fans, in particular, should pay attention.
Disney expects that face coverings requirements will remain in place throughout 2021.
Yes, this statement implies that the 50th anniversary celebration at Walt Disney World will include face masks.
Chapek suggested that the situation exists beyond Disney’s control. It’s at the mercy of vaccination rollouts around the country.
That’s a statement I’ve indicated previously. Disney will not jeopardize the health of its customers by relaxing current policies.
This decision applies to everyone, even those who have received both doses of the vaccine.
Similarly, social distancing rules will remain through the end of the year as well.
However, Chapek and his team envision that these tactics won’t be necessary for 2022.
The vaccination rollout has ramped up in its speed in recent weeks. The CDC reports that 10 percent of the U.S. population has received at least one dose.
The current target date for half the country’s vaccination is just before July 4th. The expected 70 percent/herd immunity date is the start of September.
Given this information, Disney appears likely to re-address its policies early in 2022 or possibly even the end of 2021.
Chapek has indicated next year, but the more efficient rollout plan in place at the moment could speed up the timeline. We’re all hoping for that!
Park Changes You Should Know about
First of all, EPCOT brought back a favorite this week. The Leave a Legacy wall panels have returned in their new permanent location.
Park officials had removed the final vestiges of the former structures in August of 2019.
At the time, Disney announced that Leave a Legacy would return soon in a new location.
Then, the world caught fire due to the pandemic, wreaking havoc with Disney’s many plans for the overhaul of Future World.
The new location resides just past EPCOT’s security scanning station. You’ll notice some ridiculously shiny walls that have a golden effect.
These numbered walls feature all the names from the previous Leave a Legacy. Better yet, a nearby QR code will allow guests to search for specific names.
Using this functionality, you can find out exactly where you should look for the name of your legacy tile. It’s more efficient and modern now!
The other EPCOT news is that the main barge for Harmonious has arrived at its destination.
Walking around the World Showcase this past week, I noticed so many guests excitedly pointing to this silver structure.
The framework is impossible to miss and thrilling to see in the distance.
Now is a fantastic time to take pictures with World Showcase Lagoon as a backdrop. It doubles as a timestamp in future years!
Meanwhile, at Magic Kingdom, the Main Street Firehouse has returned in its new, post-Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom form.
So, you may carefully inspect Main Street Fire Dept. Engine No. 71 again.
At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, park officials have addressed throughput issues on the Wildlife Express Train.
Disney has constructed barriers between sections to increase capacity.
During the day, the relatively empty park can have a 45-minute wait for this train. It’s something Disney needed to address.
Other Disney News
Fans wondered whether Main Street, U.S.A. would include a Super Bowl celebration this past week.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the big game, with Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski filming a Disney commercial.
The Man Called Gronk later headed to Disney, where he participated in a Cavalcade and even did some Disney TikToks.
So, Disney managed to recognize the nearby team’s victory without risking anyone’s health.
Next year’s Super Bowl champion should enjoy a more full-throated Disney celebration, though.
In non-park news, Disney Legend Charles Boyer recently passed away. The Master Illustrator (actual job title!) has drawn many Mickey Mouse paintings you know.
For example, his take on Walt Disney’s Best Friends involved a tribute to Disneyland firefighters. He also drew a mesmerizing Triple Self Portrait of Mickey.
In Disney+ news, Gina Carano’s tenure ended harshly. In 2020, rumors suggested that Carano’s character from The Mandalorian would receive a spinoff.
Those rumors reached a crescendo during November, as Disney headed toward its December Investor Day.
Alas, some unsettling tweets caused Disney+ executives to reconsider. Then, she made other social media posts this week that provoked outrage.
Disney executives firmly stated that they don’t have a working relationship with Carano right now and won’t hire her again.
As such, a Cara Dune standalone project is now on hold. My suggestion is to provide the same opportunity to Sasha Banks, who appeared in season two.
Finally, Haunted Mansion fans should watch this Chevy Bolt commercial just in case they missed it…
Those people are a lot happier about unexpected car passengers than I would be. Still, that’s an excellent commercial.