On March 12, 2020, the Walt Disney Company put out statements that said Disneyland Resort would be closed effective March 14, and Walt Disney World Resort would be closed effective at the end of the business day of March 15. Both U.S. resorts would be closed through the end of March, due to the threat of coronavirus.
On March 27th, the company released an update, stating that, “As a result of this unprecedented pandemic and in line with direction provided by health experts and government officials, Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort will remain closed until further notice.”
A lot of people have asked why they didn’t just announce it that way in the first place, instead of giving people hope that the parks would be open by early April?
I don’t know that answer for sure, but I think I have a few hypotheses.
The need to change reservations would have been overwhelming
Disneyland has three hotels on property. Walt Disney World has about twenty-five. Cast members (employees) who work at Disney Reservation Center (to say nothing of travel agents) had a hard enough time making changes for the guests (customers) who had on-the-books reservations and plans to have Disney vacations for the last two weeks in March (on top of those who had a vacation scheduled further out and now wanted to reschedule). I mean, I read stories about people being on hold for 4 hours. I can only imagine what it would have been like if virtually EVERYONE was calling to change or cancel their vacation plans.
People wouldn’t have been ready to hear it
In mid-March, we were still getting our feet with this whole coronavirus thing. Most restaurants, schools, etc. were still open. The concept of social distancing was still very new. Some people were still thinking it was being overemphasized by social media and used as a scaremongering tool to get clicks.
Lots of people were still living their everyday lives.
It wasn’t until March 11 that the World Health Organization declared the virus to be a pandemic. On that day, we had a couple of hundred new cases of the virus in the U.S., which added to the few hundred cases we already had. About two weeks later, we had over 18,000 new cases in this country in one day, and over 100,000 cases total in this country alone. To date, over 2,000 Americans have died from it. It’s in every state. Many schools are closed. Theaters have closed. Restaurants and bars have closed. Sports teams have canceled whole seasons. At least a third of U.S. citizens are under “stay at home” style orders.
We understand it now.
Most people “get” that we shouldn’t be able to go out by Easter Sunday and it’s not going to be over in a couple of weeks. They know we’re probably looking at months. Potentially lots of months.
If you told people 2 weeks ago that Disney was closing and they didn’t know when it would open again, there would have been a lot of die-hard Disney fans who would have flipped out. As it was, I saw people 2 weeks ago who, upon reading the parks would be closed until the end of March, had their fingers crossed for their trips on April 4th; now they’re crossed for Oct. 4th. People who planned to go this summer are considering next summer instead.
When they announced the Disney parks would be closed for 2 weeks, both Joe and I immediately said that was just the beginning. We knew what was coming down the pike. And now, so do other people. On the whole, they “get” the sad facts about coronavirus more than they did 2 weeks ago, and, I think, are more realistic about the future.
I don’t work for Disney, and, of course, am not involved in whatever Zoom conference where these kinds of decisions have been made. But, especially knowing that the Asian Disney parks had already closed for the long term, my guess is that it was probably in their plans all along to have the long term closures for the U.S.-based parks. But to go from “We’re open!” to “We’re closed until further notice” would have been pretty harsh. So they eased into it.
If that was the case, I can respect that.
#stayhealthy #stayathome #washyourhands
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary