The state of the Disney Parks around the world is constantly in flux.
Just recently, we got news that some hotels at Disneyland Paris have new reopening dates, while another is set to re-close soon. Meanwhile, Shanghai Disneyland has announced that it will be increasing capacity and entering a new phase of its reopening. What caused Shanghai Disneyland to increase its capacity, and what does it mean for Walt Disney World? Come with us on a journey across the world to see what we can discover.
Just a few days ago, we shared with you that Shanghai Disneyland would officially be increasing park capacity. According to the Disney website, this change comes as a result of China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism recently issued “Notice on Further Business Resumption of Tourism Enterprises.”
Previously, operating capacity of tourism sites in China was set to 30% of permitted capacity. The new notice raises operating capacity to 50% of permitted capacity.
According to the Shanghai Disney Resort website, they increased their daily park capacity as a result of the policy change and because overall market conditions have continued to “rebound.” Increased attendance has allowed other policies to also change. For example, once capacity increases are in effect, Annual Passholders and General Admission Ticket holders will be able to visit Shanghai Disneyland park any day that they are eligible based on their ticket type. Park Reservations, however, will still be required.
But, the resort does have special rules for days forecasted to be “high attendance days.” According to the Shanghai Disney Website, “if a date is forecast to be a high attendance day based on government guidelines on maximum capacity,” Disney reserves the right to suspend the sale of all tickets and block out Annual Passholders’ passes for that day.
So, it looks like the reasoning behind Shanghai Disneyland’s increased capacity is twofold. First, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism’s change in policy allowed for this to occur. According to AP News, China began to further ease domestic tourism restrictions after a string of nine days wherein no new local COVID-19 cases were reported.
Second, the financial market in China has continued to rebound. This may give families more confidence to spend some of their more disposable income in places of entertainment, like Shanghai Disneyland, with the hope and understanding that financial conditions will continue to allow them to work and earn more money in the future.
What does that mean for Walt Disney World? Currently, the exact daily guest capacity that Disney has set for its Florida parks is unknown. According to Deadline, “Florida’s Economic Recovery Task Force set theme park capacity limits at 50% initially but J.P.Morgan’s Quadrani expect[ed] Disney [would] reopen to more limited capacity of about 25% and increase attendance gradually.”
We’ve seen crowd levels change since the parks first reopened, and there certainly have been days where crowds in the parks have been noticeably larger. We’ve also seen new Park Pass Reservations released for Annual Passholders, who now compose a larger part of the parks’ attendance.
Are more guests simply coming to Disney World? Is Disney World adjusting its Park Pass system to take into account the shift in its guests? Is Disney internally increasing its capacity limits within the overarching rules set by the Task Force? And, perhaps most importantly, what would prompt Disney to increase it’s capacity limits in the future?
If Shanghai Disneyland is any indication, it would likely depend on two factors: (1) government policies supporting increases in capacity, and (2) greater upward trends in the financial market. It appears that the capacity limits set by the Task Force may already be greater than what Disney has been allowing in the parks.
Presumably, Disney may allow more guests to enter the parks following a period wherein there are no or fewer new domestic COVID-19 cases, either in Florida and/or a regional area, reported.
The counties in Florida where Disney is located are currently in Phase 2 of the “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery.” Phase 3 would begin once “there is no evidence of a rebound or resurgence of COVID-19 cases” and certain benchmarks are met.
The plan for Phase 3 notes that theme parks may return to normal operations “with limited social distancing.” Once Phase 3 is reached, we expect Disney would further increase capacity in line with the requirements.
In terms of the financial market, according to The Miami Herald, a new report indicates that Florida’s “economy is expected to contract by 6% year-on-year in 2020 — but will bounce back with growth of 7.6% in 2021.” Perhaps once we see this growth, Disney will increase its capacity limits as well.
Keep in mind, Disney World has a lot more moving parts than Shanghai Disneyland Resort with its multitude of hotels, theme parks, water parks, and transportation. Also, the parks both deal with different conditions both socially and economically.
While they are both Disney parks, they are, essentially, a world apart. Still, if Shanghai serves as any kind of example, then we may expect more capacity increases as economic and health conditions improve, and as government policies provide for greater limits.
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Do you think Disney World could get a similar increase in capacity like Shanghai is seeing?