All rise! What is not “rising” at Walt Disney World? From the Resistance to Skywalker and potentially even Disney virtual queues, a lot of things are on their way up. No ballons are necessary, Doug and Russell. You can save them for the unbirthday birthday party. Ok, end tangent, back to Disney virtual queues. The rumor wagons are circling and it has everyone wondering, did Disney tip its hat on what’s to come with how we queue up?
There’s only one attraction virtually queueing up at the moment, we’re looking at you Rise of the Resistance. At both Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World and Disneyland, the only way to experience the newest attraction on Black Spire Outpost is to join a boarding group or the Disney virtual queue. The boarding group process is within both the Disneyland app and My Disney Experiencefor Walt Disney World parks. From requesting a boarding group to finding updates and being notified it’s your time to ride, everything stems from the apps.
More Virtual Queues?
The date, March 17, 2020. The location, Disneyland Parks app. The update, “My Queues”. As part of an update to the Disneyland app, a new option appeared called My Queues. Located on the app’s homepage, next to the Join Boarding option for Rise of the Resistance, is this new option for a screen showing all your queues.
This addition raises many questions, why queues? Could we see more Disney virtual queues? Is this only for Disneyland? How would this impact the Fastpass system? And, the questions go on from there. We will save the you extra reading of more questions and dive into the theories.
The DVC Duo Theories
We have a lot of theories but talking about Disney virtual queues we really have two that stand apart. First and foremost is we cannot ignore what is happening in the world. No not Disney World, the world as a whole. As we all do our part to stay safe and keep others safe, one has time to think of the day when Disney reopens the parks.
When the parks reopen is it fair to say there will more than likely be new procedures due to COVID-19, with an emphasis on social distancing. Adding virtual queues to the Disney parks could very well be a way to help lower the amount of guest interaction within confined spaces. Guests would be able to wander the parks and keep safe distances from each other. We know what you’re thinking, then all the guests will just be out in the park and keeping social distancing. You’re right, and that is an upcoming article. Stay tuned.
Our other theory is Disney has been planning an expansion of the virtual queuing system all along and this is the catalyst to accelerate the change. It’s well known to Disneyphiles, that when guests are in queues they are not spending money in the stores or on tasty treats. Additionally, the wait times are where Disney usually gets the lowest guest satisfaction ratings. Even though the standby queues are attractions all to themselves. With more Disney virtual queues guests would be able to experience other aspects of the parks while “waiting” for their time to ride. They could find that perfect souvenir, enjoy lunch, or seeker out the Hidden Mickey’s.
By expanding the Disney virtual queues to more attractions it would give guests more options on how they chose to “wait” for an attraction. We would not be surprised to see a Disney virtual queue system added to the majority of the bigger attractions. The question becomes would we see this at Walt Disney World. Our best guess is that Disney will test the system on the west coast then potentially move it to Walt Disney World with a few tweaks. Disney is looking for its next iteration of the Walt Disney World FastPass system and this could be just one aspect of it. If more Disney virtual queues mean more time to search for Hidden Mickey’s, count us in!
You say resorts, we say hotels. It’s like saying potato or spud. At the moment, there are a lot of unknowns around the world and it will be some time before we know the full impact of COVID-19. With everything going on it does raise the question, what could happen to the Disney hotel projects? Let’s jump in our timerover and see if the future is really in the past!
First stop, 2001. The last time we saw any Disney hotel projects impacted by the happenings from around the world was a day every American will never forget. September 11, 2001. Earlier that year, in January of 2001, Walt Disney World announced a new Disney hotel project, Pop Century. The original concept called for two separate resorts, Pop Century, The Classic Years, and Pop Century, The Legendary Years. Each resort would have their own check-in areas and be connected by The Generation Gap Bridge over Hourglass Lake. The resorts would be built in phases with Classic Years first (2002 completion) and the Legendary Years later (2003 completion).
In the months following the national tragedy, travel to Walt Disney World and everywhere decreased sizably. We were in an economic slowdown. With fewer guests coming to the parks the demand for a new resort lessened. The future of the Pop Century came into the question. The Classic Years Resort was planned to open March of 2002. Due to tourism plummeting around the world Disney canceled the opening of The Classic Years, as well stopped all construction of the Legendary Years.
Disney did ultimately open the Pop Century Classic Years in December 2003. The Legendary Years was left “abandoned” for ~10 years. Once guest attendance returned and exceed previous levels, Disney shifted gears and turned The Legendary Years resort in the Art of Animation.
Each of the resorts is in a different stage of development, with the Star Wars project the furthest along. Additionally, with the Star Wars resort being more a “boutique” size hotel, we would expect this project to continue. If, and it’s a big if, at the moment, Disney decided to walk away from any of the projects our assumption would be Disney’s Reflections. Moving away or scaling back on this DVC resort would make the most sense, as the sales of the recently opened Disney Riveria Resort (DVC as well) have been slow. We would expect sales would continue to be slowed through this unprecedented time.
The Disneyland DVC resort should continue forward as well. It is well known within the DVC community that the demand for a second DVC resort on the west coast is through the roof.
We’re crossing our fingers none of the Disney hotel projects are impacted. However, if the past tells us anything, even if they are impacted, Disney could very much revisit the impacted project in the future. At this moment, there is nothing confirmed by Disney. It will be some time before we hear if any of the plans change. For now, let’s jump back into our timerover and head home. Stay safe everyone!
No, we’re not talking about Splash Mountain. Though, it is a “big splash”. We’re talking about the big news the Walt Disney Company dropped on February 25, 2020, announcing Bob Chapek as the new CEO. For Disneyphiles it’s one of the moments you’ll always remember where you were when you heard the news. Many people knew it was only a matter of time before the original Bob, Bob Iger that is, would step away from his helm and fade to the background. Regardless of how you feel about the new Bob, Bob Chapek that is, there will be ripples in the water from this “big splash”. Let’s take a look at a few.
The Parks Say…
The Magic Kingdom was not excited about the news. To say the least. In the matter of a week, three of the park’s iconic attractions went arie in what could be labeled as Disney attraction civil disobedience. We’re looking at you, Jungle Cruise, PeopleMover, and Haunted Mansion. In a less tongue in cheek perspective of the Chapek announcement, the Disney parks will be directly impacted in a different way. With Chapek moving up to the CEO position it leaves a vacancy in Walt Disney Parks, Experience and Products role.
Say hello to Josh D’Amaro. If the Disney parks have a say in who would assume the role previously held by Chapek, we’re guessing they would vote for Josh. He is a beloved leader within the company by both guests and most importantly the cast members. After restructuring Adventures by Disney to what we know it as today, then reestablishing Disneyland as the “People’s Park”, Josh is now overseeing Walt Disney World. Or as we say, the last step in becoming a Disney global leader.
There is no information directly linking Josh to the position, but he is by far the fan favorite to assume the position. The longer Chapek holds off on making a decision the chances improve for Josh. Regardless, of who assumes the position, the new leader will have more of an impact on the day to day operations and overall strategy for the parks than Chapek. But, we’ll get more into that.
Bring On The IP?
There’s no doubt over the past 10 years we’ve seen Disney bring more Intellectual Property (IP) to the parks. From Toy Story Land to the opening of Frozen Ever After, and of course Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, every new experience is linked to a Disney property. The question becomes was this is an Iger or Chapek decision? Bob Iger is known for acquiring Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars, as well as saying we need to see more “Disney ” in the parks. What is unknown is if Chapek feels the same way or was just following the lead of Iger. We can assume but only time will tell for sure.
What is known is Chapek’s desire to be more agile when it comes to reacting to box-office success. One of his pet projects is a concept known as the interchangeable attraction or the black box attraction. This would be a space where Disney could quickly swap out out IP for another when Disney hits a home run at the theaters. For example how Frozen was a huge hit. The question becomes how quickly could we see this concept become a reality.
A Grander View
What’s this new view? It’s everything. Everything Disney as a company has hand in. Traditionally, when your view and responsibilities grow it means you’re less involved in the day-to-day. This relates directly to the parks and leads us to believe whoever assumes the role of Walt Disney Parks, Experience and Products will have the greatest impact on what we experience as guests. Chapek will definitely provide guidance and direction, but will have less involves in the execution.
Time will tell. Whenever there’s a change at the top it’s an exciting time, as no one knows what to expect. In the DVC Duo, the change from Iger to Chapek has raised more questions than answers. Based on the 3-year deal what looks to be happening is Disney saying to Chapek “show us what you got”. This is the same deal Iger received when taking over Eisner and he made a “big splash”. Hello, Pixar! Followed by many more splashes over the years. What will Chapek’s “big splash” be? It’s a mystery, but we’re putting over money another Asian park. Can you say India? Well, that’s a story for another day and our “big splash”!
Peel. Apple. Get it? Oh, how we make ourselves laugh. Hopefully, you as well. In recent days, an old question has been raised within the financial community, could Apple buy Disney? The long-running rumor has resurfaced and it got us thinking. Could this really happen? Well, there is no better time than the present to bite into this ripe rumor. Grab your peeler and less get to the core of the big question, could Apple buy Disney?
Oh, the layers to peel to back on this. To buy any company, let alone a company the size and magnitude of the Walt Disney Company, a business would need to raise a large amount of capital (cash and assets). Unless you’re Apple. It’s well known that the technology giant is one of the company’s with the most available cash with estimates around $100 billion. It’s known the company is looking for ways to bring the cash into the US by paying the least amount of tax. An acquisition would be one way.
Ok, they have the cash, but why would Apple buy Disney? Beyond the desire to bring the cash stateside, Apple is amidst building its own streaming service. Apple TV+ launched on November 1, 2019. The majority of the subscriptions on the platform are currently “free” subscriptions, as Apple gave anyone spending $50 or more a month on an Apple service TV+ at no cost. The platform is still building out its shows, movies, etc. It’s a service that’s craving content. What does Disney have a lot of? Content. Everywhere you turn at Disney you see loads of content. This is even before they acquired Fox.
Why Has The Rumor Return?
We’re living in a very unique time in our world’s history. It’s the pink elephant in the room known as the coronavirus. With the world focused on the health and safety of everyone, as it should be, Wall Street is circling. They’re circling around the Disney stock and its large drop over the past few weeks. The stock is dropping for multiple reasons, with the main two being the closure of the parks/cruise line and the impact on the global box-office. According to Bernie McTernan, Securities Director at Rosenblatt, the company is under scrutiny from investors and under pressure to turn things around. He continues on to say the stock price is ripe for a purchase from a company like Apple.
Why It Won’t Happen
Assuming the Federal Trade Commission and Disney investors would approve a deal in the first place, which they more than likely it would not, there are many reasons why this would not happen. When someone says could Apple buy Disney, they are usually only looking on the surface. Peeling back the layers, for Apple to buy Disney it would take upwards of $400 billion to do so. Do you know how many Mickey bars you could buy with that much money? Us either, we don’t have that many toes, lets just a lot.
How do we get to that evaluation? Even at the current stock price, it’s projected that Disney stock would get a 50% premium on top of the current price. With the premium, the stock price would equal ~$140 per share. This would make a buyout equal to ~$400 billion. Even Apple doesn’t have this amount of cash on hand to make a purchase. They could raise capital to do so. Once again this assumes both the Disney investors, as well as the Federal Trade Commission, would approve it.
Rumors and people asking the question, could Apple buy Disney, are sure to continue for years to come. Ultimately, you never know what could happen, no one saw Disney buying Fox, but odds are very low of this ever occurring. In the DVC Duo house what we would like to see is a partnership between the companies. Just imagine the type of experiences they would create combining the Apple technology with Walt Disney Imagineering. Now that would be Imagination Pavilion we would like to see! For now, the idea Apple could buy Disney will remain a fun lounge discussion. Shall we meet at Abracadabarand see if we can make this rumor disappear?
Grab those binoculars! Or Magic 8 ball. The choice is yours! We’re taking a look into the future at the potential impact the Coronavirus could have on Walt Disney World. First and foremost, the most important thing is the health and safety of everyone around the world. There is no doubt the impact the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is already having on a global scale. It’s an unprecedented time for us all. We send our best to everyone and know our thoughts are with you. During this time we will continue to provide content as we always do, sarcasm and dad jokes included. With that said, let’s see how it could change the long-term plans for the Walt Disney World parks.
History Tell Us
As they say, we can learn a lot from our past! When it comes to outside factors impacting the overall direction of the Walt Disney World parks we don’t have to look too far back. We may not need those binoculars after all. The last time something on this scale occurred was back in 2008. In 2008 it was the financial crisis that affected the global economy.
Prior to 2008 Walt Disney World had plans for a variety of updates. Within these updates were two continually talked, never forgot projects in the Monsters, Inc Scream coaster (replacing Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster) and Hyperion Wharf (later became Disney Springs). Neither of these projects were blue-sky ideas, as Disney release concept art for both, with the Monsters, Inc Scream coaster only be shown to cast members. Both of these projects were filed away in the infamous Walt Disney Imagineering filing cabinet. Yes, that same cabinet we mentioned in our Galaxy’s Edge Restaurant. They were both filed away as the financial crisis impacted the Walt Disney Company on many levels and in an effort to “right the ship” Disney moved away from many known and unannounced projects.
Passholder Insights: Hyperion Wharf would have been located where the Boat House and Morimoto Asiaare located at Disney Springs.
At the moment, all of the Disney Parks around the world are at different levels of closure. With the parks themselves all being closed. It is the first time in the history of the company that all the parks are closed at the same time. How Disney is handling the situation is, to say the least, spectacular. All cast members will be paid during the closures, additionally, they’ve addressed the guest experience on all levels. From annual pass extensions to waiving all change/cancellations fees, and providing future credits for park tickets that are either not used or partially used. For all the details please reference the following information.
Each of the parks closed on the following days:
Shanghai Disneyland – January 25, 2020
Hong Kong Disneyland – January 26, 2020
Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea – March 1, 2020
Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure – March 14, 2020
Disneyland Paris – March 16, 2020
Walt Disney World – March 16, 2020
There are aspects of the parks in China reopening within the region. On March 9, 2020, Shanghai Disneyland reopened its Downtown Disney section of the park. On March 11, 2020, Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea extended their closure from March 16, 2020, to an undetermined date in early April 2020.
The Disney parks in the US are projected to reopen on April 1, 2020, based on the current announcements from Disney. Please note we would not be surprised to see this date pushed further into April if not May, similar to how Tokyo Disneyland readjusted their opening date. Additionally, Disney will also be closing all Disney operated stores within their Downtown and Disney Springs areas on March 17, 2020. The closures continue with all Disney World resorts in the continental US either closing or they are already closed. All of the Disneyland Resort will be closed effective March 16, 2020. Walt Disney World resorts, Disney Vero Beach Resort, and Disney Hilton Head Resort closed on March 20, 2020. Disney’s Aulani Resort will be closing on March 24, 2020, at 5 pm local time. All resorts are projected to be closed through March 31, 2020.
On Friday, March 20, 2020, runDisney official announced the 2020 Star Wars Rival Run weekend would be canceled. The event was scheduled to take place from April 16th to 19th. All races will be refunded within six weeks of the announcement. For more details please see the following notice from runDisney.
UPDATE: On Friday, March 27, 2020, Disney announced they were extending the closure of Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort for the foreseeable future. All cast members will continue to be paid through April 18, 2020.
UPDATE: As of Friday, March 27, 2020, Disney’s Aulani Resort, Hilton Head Resort, and Vero Beach have all shifted to closed until further notice. Our assumption is they will follow local regulations as it relates to essential businesses.
UPDATE: As of Saturday, March 28, 2020, Disney has offered a Free Dining Plan at Walt Disney World to any guest whose reservation was canceled due to Coronavirus (between the dates of March 16, 2020, to May 31, 2020). The offer is for is available for travel between June 1, 2020, and September 30, 2020. Additionally, Disney is only taking resort reservations for trips that begin on June 1, 2020, for all guests.
The Fine Print For Free Dining:
Cannot be combined with any other discount or promotion.
Advance reservation required.
Length of stay is 2 nights – 14 nights
Ticket requirements: 2-day minimum; all ticket types included (i.e., Base, Park Hopper, Water Park & Sports, Park Hopper Plus
Offer excludes the following room types: campsites
Children ages 3 to 9 must choose from the children’s menu, if available.
Gratuities are not included.
Theme park admission is required for some dining locations
This offer is subject to availability. Everyone in the same room must be on the same package. Theme park tickets valid for admission beginning on the date of check-in and must be used within a limited number of days, depending on the length of stay and ticket.
Please note the parks could open prior to June 1, 2020. Disney has not announced when the parks could reopen.
With the closures, Disney has estimated they could see a minimum of $280 million drop revenue associated with the Asian region. Estimates for the other Disney parks have not been estimated, but early indicators are saying The Walt Disney Company could see at least an 11% drop in revenue projections.
Walt Disney World is already seeing the impact of the Coronavirus. According to Len Testa of Touring Plans, Disney took a proactive approach with reducing costs at the parks with the removal of certain experiences. One of the experiences effected is The Muppets Present: Great Moments of American History which was located in Liberty Square of the Magic Kingdom. The original plan called for the popular show to continue after its return for the holiday season. However, Disney removed the show once it heard the early reports around the Coronavirus in Asia.
Additionally, performers around Epcot’s World Showcase including the British Revolution in the UK Pavilion and Matsuriza (drummers) in the Japan Pavilion have performed for the last time. It is unknown at this moment if they will return when the parks reopen or not.
UPDATE: On March 17, 2020, it was confirmed that all construction around Walt Disney World has been halted. According to a report from the Orlando Business Journal, Walt Disney World shut down all construction sites to compile with CDC recommendation that we should have groups of 10 or more people. The source for the Orlando Business Journal article is Mark Wylie, president, and CEO of the Central Florida chapter of Associated Builders & Contractors, Inc. It’s unknown when construction would resume. At the moment, there has been no comment from the Walt Disney Company.
With the delays in construction, it could be assumed the opening date for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure will be pushed back from the projected May opening. It’s believed the attraction has about 8 weeks of work left to complete the project.
Long Term Impact
The time has come! At the time of writing, it is still unknown the total financial impact the Coronavirus will have on the Walt Disney Company. The financial implications span from all the parks to the reduction of revenue from merchandise and of course from movie studios. Looking back at history it’s fair to say the loss of revenue from the parks will impact the attractions and experiences slated to be coming to Walt Disney World, as well as other parks. More than likely it will not impact the projects currently underway from being completed.
So what could be impacted?
According to Jim Hill of Jim Hill Media, the project most likely to change is the Mary Poppins attraction for Epcot’s United Kingdom pavilion. Similar to Monsters Inc. Scream Coaster we could see this attraction put on hold.
Beyond Mary Poppins, many of the attractions that could be impacted are anything associated with Phase 3 or Phase 4 at Epcot. We’re looking at youImagination Pavilion and World Showcase. World Showcase? Yes, World Showcase. Let’s just say in the DVC Duo house we believe this could impact the addition of another country to the area.
The one attraction in the “gray” area on how it could be impacted is Spaceship Earth. As we discussed in the following article, behind the scenes there is chatter on which direction Disney would go with the update, major overhaul (18+ months) or breaking the project into two mini-updates. In the DVC Duo house, we believe this unexpected global crisis could have a larger impact on how Disney could update Spaceship Earth in the form of downsizing the project.
Outside of Florida, we’re hearing talks of the Quinjet attraction slated as the Phase 2 of Disney’s California Adventure Avengers Campus could be impacted. No decisions have been made and a lot will depend on the months to come. Phase 1 of the California Adventure is going forward as planned with the Spiderman attraction and the Pym test kitchen.
It’s not if, but more like how much will the Coronavirus change the scope of the Walt Disney World and all Disney park projects. With Disney more than likely to see a large financial impact from the outbreak, they will have to scale back somewhere. It will be some time before we get the full view of the overall impact of the Coronavirus. Our first insight will come at the next Disney quarterly earnings call estimated to be May 13, 2020. Ultimately, the most important thing is the health and safety of everyone.
We will continue to update this article as more information becomes available.