Just a month after re-opening for park guests, Walt Disney World is re-strategizing as they forge a new path amidst the global coronavirus pandemic. This week, Disney World has announced they will be adjusting the operating hours at all four theme parks at the Orlando resort. The move comes at the same time Disney CEO Bob Chapek went on record saying some park guests are reportedly canceling their trips and billions of dollars lost in the first months of park closures.
As reported via The Hollywood Reporter, Disney World will be opening and closing Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, EPCOT, and the Magic Kingdom within an hour or two of the previous hours. However, the hours for the first Disney World location to re-open, Disney Springs, will be unchanged. These new hours across the various Disney World locations will take effect on September 8 and are expected to last through October. It’s unclear if there are plans to revert to the previous hours or further adjust after October.
News of these adjusted hours arrives just one month after Disney World completely reopened to guests on July 11. Upon re-opening, it was made clear new health and safety protocols would be in place, like wearing face masks, in order to keep guests safe from the potential spread of COVID-19. The move was monumental, with Disney keen to re-open following a four-month shutdown in the early days of the pandemic which left the company working hard to re-assess how to survive this unprecedented event.
The impact of the pandemic on Disney’s finances has been incredible. During an earnings call last week, it was revealed (via USA Today) the company lost nearly $5 billion in losses in April, May, and June. Additionally, Chapek has noted during that same call (via CinemaBlend) how the second wave of COVID-19 sweeping through the nation as the summer comes to a close has affected guest reservation habits. He shared, “Unfortunately, [COVID-19] struck again and all the numbers started going up. This gave some level of trepidation to travelers that were anxious about long-distance travel getting on a plane and flying to Walt Disney World. So what we’ve seen is that we’ve had roughly 50% of our guest base still traveling from a distance…We’ve also had a higher than expected level of cancellations once somebody does make a reservation because as the disease ebbs and flows they might necessarily cancel.”
Allie Gemmill is the Weekend Contributing Editor for Collider. You can follow them on Twitter @_matineeidle.
Here are the new hours announced earlier this week (all times in ET):
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (previously 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (previously 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.)
- EPCOT: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (previously 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.)
- Magic Kingdom: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (previously 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.)
- Disney Springs: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily (hours remain unchanged)