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Signs That COVID Is Hurting Reopened Las Vegas & Disney World

by SharonKurheg

With all the places in the U.S. that had to close due to COVID-19, Walt Disney World (WDW) and Las Vegas (LV) seemed to be among the ones that most people were the most emotionally attached to. Both are always in the “Top 10” of popular places people visit, and of those various Top Tens, I’d bet that they’re two of the places that the most amount of people go back to, over and over.

So when both entities reopened, LV on June 4 and WDW on July 11, there were initially a lot of people who were ready to get up and go.

There were videos of LV’s reopening casinos filled (to their allowed capacity) with unmasked people. “It’s almost like it was before” was the sentiment a lot of fans said. And I guess it was…except for the possibility of coronacooties being spread from who knows how many unmasked people.

LV casinos, restaurants, bars, retail, etc., opened slowly; every few days to a week or so you’d read about more places that were opening up again. Oh, and masks became required.

WDW’s reopening was significantly more controlled. You could only enter the parks with a reservation (and a ticket, of course), and when park reservations first opened, they were initially limited to those with hotel reservations, followed by those with multi-day tickets in hand, followed by those with annual or seasonal passes that were not blocked out during the summer. The first several days, as well as multiple weekends “sold out.” Once inside the parks, all patrons were required to wear masks.

There are a little over 2 dozen Disney-owned hotels on Disney property. Not all were available when the parks first opened, and several were (and are) in use as “bubbles” for MLS and the NBA (who may not be enjoying living at WDW as much as one might think).

Since then, both LV and WDW are still open but as someone looking in, it really looks like both are hurting quite a bit. Take a look:

Las Vegas

  • Multiple casinos and companies are warning their employees of upcoming furloughs and layoffs.
  • The Wynn Las Vegas is closing some of their casual restaurants on select weekdays. Some of their fine-dining venues will operate on a limited basis throughout the week. And at Wynn’s Encore resort, the spa and salon will only be open on the weekends. That all tells you that weekdays in LV are slow.
  • The Venetian Resort has stopped weekday hotel bookings at its Palazzo tower (read: not enough people are staying at the Venetian on weekday nights).
  • Las Vegas Sands president and COO said during the company’s Q2 earnings call that they’re at about 50% occupancy on the weekends and significantly less than that on weekdays.

Walt Disney World

  • As of this writing, every one of WDW’s 4 parks has full availability (read: no “sold out” days), every day, for as far out as the calendar will let you go (currently Sept. 2021). That’s at, what I’ve heard from a WDW employee is, a 25% capacity cap at each park.
  • When the going gets tough, WDW has historically relied on its Florida residents to get them through. Post-9/11. During the Great Recession. Slower seasons. You name it. Case in point, FL residents can currently save 40% off a special “FL resident only” 4-day ticket (which is absolutely UNHEARD OF in the summer season).
  • Although not all WDW resort hotels opened when the parks did, there was a schedule of when the rest (or at least most of the rest) would open. That list has just been changed & several hotels’ reopenings have been pushed further out into the future, along with the notification that they, “…will continue to evaluate the situation and reopen more locations when the environment is right to do so.” (read: there aren’t enough people staying at Disney to warrant keeping all those hotels open)
  • Based on an internal memo to Disney cast members (Disneyspeak for “employees”), it appears there are going to be significant cutbacks of previously-announced future projects. That only happens when money is an issue.

Why Is This Happening?

It’s easy to figure out the probable reasons why this is happening.

  • First and foremost, people just aren’t traveling. Fear, lack of money, an ever changing playing field in terms of quarantine, and the list goes on. Domestic travel is bad enough. But international travel is at a near standstill, so any foreign tourists (which, I’m admittedly not as sure about LV, but is a decent-sized chunk of WDW’s visitors) would be out of the picture.
  • WDW is in Central FL. Florida is currently the 2019 Novel Coronavirus capitol of the world. Nevada isn’t doing that well with its cases either, to the point where their governor is trying to figure out a “Plan B” because their Plan A isn’t working very well. On top of that, cases are also up in California, and CA typically represents about 20% of LV’s visitors. Smart people don’t go to places where a potentially deadly virus is running rampant.
  • It’s a smaller scale reason, but anti-maskers (read: those who just won’t wear one, but we’ll add those who simply don’t want to wear a mask in the summer for hours on end [and who can blame them?]) won’t go to either place, since masks are required virtually everywhere at WDW, and indoors in public places in LV.

Should Vegas and WDW Close Again?

So you’ve got all these people NOT going to two the biggest tourist towns in the country. Should they shut down?

I think both entities opened because there was a financial need to, alongside having respective fans who were ready to go once they opened. Obviously not as many fans as they would like, but what can ya do…there’s a pandemic going on.

There are both pros and cons to their staying open, as well as if they closed again. I suspect that both LV and WDW are making SOME money; I don’t see how or why they would stay open if they were doing so at a complete loss. Whatever the case, honestly we don’t know what’s happening or being said behind the scenes, and it’s not our decision anyway, so it’s not yours or mine to say.

However I will say that it appears they’re hurting, and probably will continue to hurt until this crisis is done. Unfortunately, whether they continue to make cuts, or eventually decide to close entirely until times are better, it makes for a whole lot more people in the industry who will be not working. 🙁

#stayhealthy #staysafe #washyourhands #wearamask

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

2 comments

Christian August 2, 2020 - 10:14 pm

As a business owner whose business has shut down, reopened, and is shut down again, I can say with some confidence that it’s complicated. In a technical sense I’d guess that WDW at least is losing money but is helping cash flow by staying open.
There’s a fair chunk of costs every time you close like food spoilage and setting things up for long term storage, so it’s worth thinking about that before doing an extended closing for a second time. Follow that with costs that occur regardless of whether you’re open such as cleaning, required minimum maintenance, and pest control. Then there’s another set of expenses when you reopen after an extended closing such as fresh inventory for food products. Another consideration is personnel costs: if you have to rehire the vast majority of your workforce after half a year or so, you’re just going to lose a lot of them so what will rehiring and retraining costs be, both in money and productivity?
Ultimately I suspect that WDW is losing money but between income from the customers they do have and the high cost of closing again with a reopening very possibly in a half year or so, it’s just more practical to stay open under the current circumstances. LV is so many different businesses that it’s a lot tougher to generalize.

Reply
SharonKurheg August 2, 2020 - 10:22 pm

Thank-you for the insight.

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