Is Disney in Survival Mode? The 2020 Reality of Parks and Films | Inside the Magic


Deep into 2020, many of us feel like we are in survival mode. You want Halloween decor out early? Go for it. Craving a Peppermint hot chocolate and twinkle lights? Stir it up. In a year that been pretty stinky all around, we’re trying to find joy and keep on going until 2021 hits. It appears in a recent article that some fans think Disney is doing the same: shifting into survival mode.

As the Disney Parks (and Disney filmmaking) sputtered to a halt this past march, the magic seemed to stall. With the phased reopenings as the summer went one, we also saw an attempt at an overprepared park and fewer Guests for safety. We saw cuts to entertainment, Resorts remaining closed, and the cancellation of programs like Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, and later, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Fans are greatly upset at the loss of the Cinderella Castle lights, along with the annual holiday party.

But these large events being canceled is no big surprise. They typically attract large swaths of people and were quick ways to continue a high level of security. But fewer Guests also means less revenue. In that light, not as many people are traveling, eating, spending or vacationing, meaning Disney’s wallet is a bit drained. This has inevitably led to further cuts like the cancellation of the annual Gingerbread Displays, or the holiday Candlelight Processional held each year at EPCOT.

And as we have reported before, we know these projects are indefinitely stalled: Spaceship Earth and Mary Poppins at EPCOT, and Reflections a Disney Lake Side Lodge.

On the other side, we’ve also seen Disney offer some very attractive incentives to get people to spend or attend, including 30% discounts for Annual Passholders and tickets with flexibility, discounts, and hotel room perks for Florida locals. Cinderella’s Royal Table, one of the hardest dining reservations to score (the restaurant is very small), slashed prices with the absence of live Princesses, hopefully making the experience more even-keeled. Nestled among these perks is another one that may yet cost Disney in terms of labor and basics: extended Park hours over the holiday season. With the Castle getting new projections, Walt Disney World is seemingly hoping to draw in a few more Guests.

Of course, Disneyland continues to be shuttered, with no sign of a reopening date. We wait, right along with the State of California.

Disney’s film and television arms have also struggled to reopen smoothly. Production prep and planning stalled as execs had to figure out how to reopen safely, pushing projects back as well as taking potentially large hits to box office earnings with theater blockbusters like Mulan and Black Widow.

2020 has already gone down in history as one of the worst years financially for movie theaters and production companies. Disney itself has had to pause several films and Disney+ original shows such as The Little Mermaid live-action remake, while The Falcon and the Winter Soldier had to pause production completely. In fact, Christine McCarthy, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for The Walt Disney Company has said of filmmaking:

“I would really think the new reality is what we are living in right now until there is a vaccine that is widely available.” -Christine McCarthy

As time goes on, things will hopefully get better. Guests will return and more restaurants, shops, and snack stands will reopen. It is possible that capacity is capped for a while until society as a whole regains its footing and confidence returns to the market. Until that time, we’ll be watching and enjoying whatever Disney content we can glean, be it Season 2 of The Mandalorian or the future of the Hocus Pocus 2 movie.

Leave us a comment below about what you’d like to see return to Walt Disney World or how you are shifting gears!

Lindsey is a true « Disnerd! » A costume designer by profession, she lives in Atlanta where she writes for her blog, founded in 2012. She loves to visit Walt Disney World either with her family or with friends on Dapper Day, where Disneybounding is the name of the game. Adventure is out there!

Inside the Magic was created in 2005. What started as a tiny central Florida based website and short weekly podcast that provided our audience the opportunity to visit Walt Disney World virtually has grown to the publishing company it is today. We focus on bringing you all things fun so you can plan your theme park vacation, enjoy Disney at home, and more.

ITM now consists of multiple writers living near both Disneyland and Walt Disney World theme parks and around the world. This allows us to bring you the most interesting, entertaining, and unique entertainment experiences, covering theme parks, movies, TV, video games, special events and so much more.

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