Why Doesn't Disney Be Upfront About Closure Duration?
The Coronavirus pandemic has taken the world by storm, and Disney is not immune. The Walt Disney World theme parks and resorts have all shut for the longest period of time in their existence as the world stays at home to help stop our hospitals from being overrun.
The Walt Disney world theme parks closed on March 16th, and at the time Disney said they were closing until the end of March.
In line with state and federal guidance, Walt Disney World theme parks and Disney owned-and-operated hotels are currently closed through March 31.
You might have read "with an abundance of caution" once or twice, too.
A two-week closure seemed incredibly optimistic, especially as the virus spread was doing nothing but growing exponentially. Even early UK government models didn't see the peak of the virus until May. With the USA being a week or two behind us, there's no way Disney could reopen their parks.
Surely Disney know that, too. So why give such an unrealistic timeframe in the first place?
1. Nobody really know what will happen
The virus is spreading like no other virus has spread since 1918. Even though governments can predict what might happen, every day something changes to make it hard to predict. Disney aren't going to announce a closure duration for longer than it needs to. They want to open their doors again as soon as possible. They will be taking advice from health and government officials on when it can reopen, and that advice usually changes daily.
2. Cast member pay & unions
When Disney decides on set dates to close, it has its' cast members to think about. Disney is paying all their cast members during the closure (which is fantastic and should be applauded), however Disney is a huge company with many different types of staff salaries, hourly wages etc. Then you have union employees to which adds to the complication, all has to be agreed and sorted out ahead of time.
3. Shareholders & stock price
At the end of the day, the Walt Disney Company is for-profit company. That company has the responsibility to its' shareholders, and a lot of the time, the top executive pay and bonuses are based on stock performance. And while the general stock market is incredibly volatile in these unknown times, Disney stock will take bigger hits if more bad news (like extended closures) has to happen, whether it's inevitable or not. Doing it in smaller chunks sends less of an initial shock to Wall Street creating a panic sell of stock.
4. Dealing with refunds and reschedules
From what I hear, Disney are working hard to offer people refunds or rescheduling, and phone wait times are hours long. If you've had to call, you'd have experienced this. Imagine if they announced they were closing until June 1 straight away. They'd have 2 months of guests bookings to sort out. Doing it in smaller stages allows them to deal with the most upcoming bookings first.