Disney hasn’t missed an opportunity to confound and stun customers during the coronavirus crisis. Now with COVID-19 positive cases at an all-time high, Walt Disney World has increased capacity by 40%.
Confirmed COVID-19 Cases Reach All-Time High in the US
There’s no question that COVID-19 positive test results have spiked in the United States. Some of the reasons for spiking positives could be the much wider availability of testing as mortality has not materially grown. According to the Johns Hokins last week, mortality rates for current cases have dropped to 0.33%, and overall mortality has consistently dropped from 2.6% a few weeks ago to just 2.2% now and dropping.
There’s no doubt that some of these deaths will nominally increase as the spiked cases work through the virus and treatment, but whether mortality is overall lower despite fuller hospitals will be something we won’t know for two weeks.
Nevertheless, cases this week reached new heights including Friday results of more than 180,000 confirmed positive.
Increased Capacity 40% at Walt Disney World
Disney, unspeakably tone-deaf, announced that they increased capacity from 25% to 35% – an increase of 40% from the week prior. Annual Passholders who have not cancelled their park passes should find greater availability to access the park but there are no guarantees. It was just a few weeks ago that Disney waved goodbye to 28,000 cast members.
While Florida has not yet hit the one million confirmed cases that both California and Texas can claim, the Sunshine State has been a hot zone for COVID-19.
The company also reported a $6.9 bn loss in part due to Park restrcitions – I’m sure this has something to do with the announcement. In fairness to Disney, the company needs to find a way back to full(er) parks at some point. The question is whether this is that point to try to make progress on park attendance.
Staying at a Disney Hotel Still Doesn’t Guarantee Admittance
Despite booking at a Disney resort amid a 40% capacity expansion, guests still aren’t guaranteed admittance to the parks. This is in addition to the elimination of fast passes, park hopper tickets, cessation of its famous fireworks program, and curtailed hours of operation (often common for this time of year.)
Am I the only one who finds Disney’s reactions to the challenges of COVID-19 as alarmingly amateur? Universal, who has a smaller footprint but similar-sized challenges in the same markets, hasn’t had the same problems as Disney. Even if the announcement was planned in advance of this week’s numbers (highly likely), this is the year of delayed/cancelled/postponed. Disney should have just retracted their increase given the sensitivity around the issue. They didn’t. From a marketing perspective, I personally think it’s a bad look for the entertainment giant.
What do you think? Should Disney have withdrawn capacity expansion given the volume of new cases? Is it important that Disney finds a way to survive despite the challenges?