Disney World’s Florida parks are predicted to face a drop of 100 million visitors over the next two years due to the coronavirus pandemic, new research shows.
Walt Disney World’s four theme parks – Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom – could see 97.7 million fewer visitors in fiscal years 2020 and 2021, according to the report’s predictions from Wall Street analysts Cowen and Company.
‘With the spread of COVID-19 having accelerated in the US, we expect a prolonged impact to Disney’s parks,’ the report reads.
The lasting impact on Disney could last until about 2025, the year analysts believe the company will finally bounce back from the pandemic and return to profitability.
In fiscal year 2020, Disney’s parks are expected to see a 47 per cent drop followed by a 35 per cent drop in fiscal year 2021, according to the Cowen report.
‘We had previously assumed that the spread of COVID-19 would be relatively halted with social distancing requirements significantly lessened by late 2020,’ according the report reads.
‘We have now extended that timeline out to at least mid-2021. The situation remains very fluid and we do not rule out the possibility that the impact could last even longer.’
Meanwhile, Disneyland is projected to see a 32 million visitor drop over the next two years.
In 2019, Disneyland reported 18.7 million visitors, but that number is expected to drop to 6.4 million in 2021, according to the report.
Disney’s Anaheim theme parks are currently closed until further notice.
But Walt Disney World welcomed guests back into the Happiest Place on Earth when the Florida amusement park reopened on July 11.
However, Disney officials have already had to fix a glaring loophole in its face mask policies.
The company has banned guests from dining while walking through its parks, telling visitors that they must be stationary and socially distanced if they want to remove their masks to eat.
The initial policy asked that visitors ‘please bring your own face coverings and wear them at all times, except when dining or swimming’.
But the new policy, updated on Monday, clarified that guests ‘may remove your face covering while actively eating or drinking, but you should be stationary and maintain appropriate physical distancing’.
The park enforced a strict curriculum for what qualifies as a proper face mask, which prohibits ‘open-chin triangle bandanas,’ popular ‘neck gaieters’ and costume masks.
Face coverings worn at Disney World must be made of at least two layers of breathable material, fully cover the nose and mother, and be secured with some form of ties.
Both Disneyland and Disney World’s parks are located in two states that are currently seeing a rise in coronavirus cases.
California, which earned plaudits from health officials for aggressive early action that included the first statewide stay-at-home order, is among states seeing a surge.
On Wednesday, California reported its highest number of infections with nearly 13,000 cases. The state has also passed New York for the most confirmed cases with 409,000.
Meanwhile, Florida reported another 9,785 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday and an additional 139 deaths.
There are a total of 379,619 Florida cases with 5,345 deaths related to COVID-19.
As of Thursday there are more than 3.9 million confirmed cases of coronavirus in the US, which is far more than the infection rate that any other country has reported, and the death toll is more than 143,000.