Disney’s theme park revenue saw revenue decline by 37 percent in its fiscal year ending Sept. 30 — hardly a surprise, considering the sustained impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Disney parks worldwide.
Disney’s Parks, Experiences and Products segment ended fiscal 2020 with 16.5 billion in revenue, down from $26.2 billion in 2019. The Walt Disney Company as a whole posted a net loss of $710 million for its fourth quarter and a net loss of $2.83 billion for the year.
It’s the first time the company has reported an annual loss since 1980. Disney estimated that the pandemic cost the company $7.4 billion in operating income in the fiscal year, $6.9 billion of it coming from the theme parks division.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek singled out the continued closure of Disneyland as a sore spot, describing the guidelines released by California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration as an “arbitrary standard” that is “decimating” small businesses around Disneyland.
“We are extremely disappointed that the state of California continues to keep Disneyland closed despite our proven track record,” Chapek said on Thursday’s quarterly earnings call.
Disney chief financial officer Christine McCarthy later said that Disney now expects Disneyland’s theme parks to remain closed through at least the rest of the calendar year. The two parks have been closed since mid-March.
Chapek sounded more optimistic about the rest of Disney parks, saying each park is making a net positive contribution — essentially, that means each resort is losing less money being open under COVID-19 restrictions than it would lose remaining closed.
Disney World has seen strong advance bookings for the upcoming holidays, according to Chapek, and the resort has become more efficient regarding COVID restrictions, allowing park capacity to be increased to 35 percent of maximum while still adhering to CDC guidelines.
“It shows the love that guests have for our experiences that we have within our parks and the tremendous IP that we have as a company have, but I also think it speaks to the trust that people have, given the track record that we now have after months of operating across the globe with very stringent guidelines,” Chapek said.
Chapek did not address the 28,000 layoffs that were implemented across the company’s Parks, Experiences, and Products division in the last month. He also did not address reports that salaries were restored for he and other Disney executives before mass layoffs were announced.
For Disney Cruise Line fans, Chapek said there is now “a light at the end of the tunnel” thanks to new CDC guidelines for cruise ships, but he did not give a date when Disney will sail again.
The pandemic has altered the timetable for the line’s three new ships. Chapek said the first new ship, the Disney Wish will now debut in summer 2022, followed by launches in 2024 and 2025 for the other two newcomers joining the Disney fleet.
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