Coronavirus Impacts on Disney Parks and Resorts Update
Okay, you’ve read the news by now. You know that Disneyland and Walt Disney World have both announced that they will close soon. It’s an unprecedented situation, and you want to know what’s going on. Here’s an update on the impact of coronavirus on DVC and Disney theme parks.
Upcoming Disney Vacation Club Reservations
It is important to note that in a communication from Terri Schultz, Senior Vice President on March 13, 2020, it was stated that, “should you decide to cancel an impacted Disneyland Resort or Walt Disney World Resort stay—by phone or online, vacation points used for that resort reservation will be returned to your current use year, meaning they will not be placed in a holding account or forfeited.” Please scroll to the bottom of this article to view Terri Schultz’s entire communication.
Are Parks Closing?
Yes. Shanghai Disneyland closed on January 25th, with Hong Kong Disneyland following suit the next day. On Leap Day, February 29th, Tokyo Disneyland joined the other Asian parks in going offline until the COVID-19 epidemic slowed down.
Alas, that hasn’t happened. Instead, Coronavirus now qualifies as a pandemic. If you’re interested in tracking the disease, Johns Hopkins is providing a remarkable service, an interactive map of confirmed cases.
The data on this page tells the story. Out of roughly 140,000 reported infections, more than half are from China. So, those two theme parks had to close. Disney worked with the Chinese and Hong Kong governments to make the right call.
The Tokyo Disneyland decision exemplifies high-quality leadership. Japan has registered 650 cases thus far. The government took action, the citizens trusted them and followed the appropriate tips, and the country has mostly avoided catastrophe. The closing of Disney parks here is reflective of proactive protective measures.
The other three Disney parks are currently open. However, that situation will change soon. Disneyland will close on Saturday, March 14th, through the end of the month. Walt Disney World and Disneyland Paris will shut down after Sunday, March 15th, and stay that way for the rest of March.
With all these changes, March 16th becomes a historic day. It’ll be the first time in Disney history that all theme parks around the world have closed on the same day.
Why Are the Parks Closing?
Obviously, Disney is closing its last three parks to stop the potential spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s easy to say but hard to visualize, so let me use a sports example.
You may have heard that an NBA athlete named Rudy Gobert touched a bunch of microphones but then learned that he had contracted coronavirus. Here’s why his act of stupidity was so impactful.
Gobert’s NBA team, the Utah Jazz, had played several other squads over the past 10 days. During this time, the athlete might have been an active carrier. Nobody knows for sure. So, everyone involved with those teams could have gotten the virus as well.
Then, those teams played other NBA franchises. With only one player testing positive, the entire league became exposed to the spread of coronavirus. To wit, one of Gobert’s teammates, Donovan Mitchell, also tested positive. The rest of the league is holding its breath right now in hopes that the other players are safe.
Unfortunately, the players aren’t the only people at risk. Everyone at the stadium from parking lot attendants to ball boys to owners could contract the disease. And those people have families and friends with whom they interact each day. Everyone’s at risk here.
Now, let’s talk numbers. Disneyland and Magic Kingdom hosted 108,287 daily guests in 2018, the most recent park attendance numbers that we have. I’m not even factoring in the other four parks when I say this, only the main American Disney theme parks.
If any of those 108,287 people tested positive for COVID-19, everyone else would be susceptible. Then, if any of them tested positive, well, you get the point. With more than 250 reported infections in California, Disneyland was particularly susceptible. It’s a house of cards facing strong winds. Disney did the right thing here.
When Will Theme Parks Return?
My family had planned to vacation at Walt Disney World in May and again in October. So, I fully understand the frustrations of Disney Vacation Club members right now. We spend all year dreaming of our Disney vacations and hate the thought of losing them.
Unfortunately, I can’t point to a specific return date for Disney’s American theme parks. All I can do is relay the information that I have. Park officials have announced closures through March 31st. That doesn’t guarantee that they will open on April 1st, though.
Tokyo Disneyland had planned to return on March 16th. However, the parks have recently decided to remain offline through early April. Again, this choice stems from Japan’s cautious approach to the matter, one that has paid dividends for the entire country. They’ve avoided the worst of a nightmarish situation.
In North America, Disney has taken every precaution possible. The company has canceled all March cruises and even stopped production on some of its live-action films. If other companies and individuals are equally responsible, healthcare officials should bring the pandemic under control. If not, we all have worse things to worry about than our next vacation.
Learning from Shanghai Disneyland
We can look to Shanghai Disneyland for signs of what should happen next. That park was the first to close, and the country has suffered the most during the pandemic, at least in terms of volume.
Amid the coronavirus’ devastating societal impact, Shanghai Disneyland received some good news on March 9th. Chinese officials believed that the situation had improved enough that they okayed the reopening of several Disney businesses.
Starting this past Monday, Shanghai Disneyland restored operations at some of its shopping and dining locations. Park officials have described it as a “first step of a phased reopening.” This step occurred on the 45th day after the park closed originally.
Thankfully, the other parks have learned from what happened in China. Disneyland and Walt Disney World should return to full operations much quicker, barring something unforeseen.
People know to take the situation seriously now, which explains why the NCAA Tournament, MLB spring training, and the NBA have all stopped for the moment.
What does this mean for us as DVC members? All March trips are obviously off now, and I wouldn’t feel a lot of confidence about early April ones, either. Beyond that, I have every confidence that Disney parks will be back up and running harmoniously.
As an FYI, DVC Resale Market will provide weekly updates to keep you informed about Disney’s status.
Expect More DVC Resale Market Updates!
As an FYI, DVC Resale Market will provide weekly updates to keep you informed about Disney’s status. In fact, here’s one! The Senior Vice President of DVC, Terri Schultz, just sent this letter to all members:
By now, you’ve likely learned that, in an abundance of caution and in the best interest of our Members, Guests and Cast, we are temporarily altering numerous operations at Disney destinations in light of the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation.
As you are a deeply valued part of our extended family, I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you directly some details of these plans, along with a few updates pertaining specifically to Disney Vacation Club.
At Walt Disney World Resort, theme parks, water parks, miniature golf courses and the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex will suspend operations beginning March 16 through the end of the month. Walt Disney World Resort hotels, including Disney Vacation Club Resorts, as well as Disney Transportation systems and Disney Springs, will remain open until further notice.
At Disneyland Resort, Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park will close from March 14 through the end of the month. The Hotels of Disneyland Resort, including The Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, remain open until March 16, and the Downtown Disney District remains open until further notice.
Disney Cruise Line will suspend all new departures beginning March 14 through the end of the month.
The Disney Vacation Club Member Services team will continue to serve you during their regular operating hours. As we anticipate high call volume in the weeks ahead, we encourage you to visit disneyvacationclub.com for general information and kindly ask that you contact Member Services only if you need assistance with an existing reservation for a stay this month.
Note that, should you decide to cancel an impacted Disneyland Resort or Walt Disney World Resort stay—by phone or online, vacation points used for that resort reservation will be returned to your current use year, meaning they will not be placed in a holding account or forfeited. Similarly, cancelling an impacted Disney Collection reservation will return those reservation points to you immediately for your future use as reservation points.
Please also note that, in light of current events and as part of our commitment to delivering accurate information, we will not mail the spring Disney Files Magazine and will instead add adjusted content from that issue to the summer edition, scheduled to begin mailing in June.
As you can imagine, we are in close, frequent contact with appropriate officials and health experts, allowing us to continuously monitor this evolving situation and adjust accordingly.
I’ve long believed that challenging times bring out the best in families, and I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have you as part of ours. All of us at Disney Vacation Club thank you for bearing with us through these extraordinary circumstances, and we look forward to normal operations returning as soon as possible.”