Josh D’Amaro named Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products

Josh D’Amaro

Josh D’Amaro former Walt Disney World President has been named Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, succeeding Bob Chapek, who became CEO of The Walt Disney Company earlier this year in February 2020.

Bob Chapek, Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company announced that Josh D’Amaro has been named Chairman, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, and Rebecca Campbell has been named Chairman, Direct-to-Consumer and International. Mr. D’Amaro and Ms. Campbell will report to Mr. Chapek.

Rebecca Campbell

“I am certain he will take Disney’s Parks, Experiences and Products segment – home to some of our company’s most iconic and beloved businesses – to exciting new heights in the years to come.”

“Our company is very fortunate to have a deep bench of talent and we’re extremely pleased to welcome these two exceptionally qualified Disney veterans to our senior management team,” Mr. Chapek said.

“Both Josh and Rebecca have more than two decades of leadership experience with the Company, a keen understanding of our brands and businesses, and a shared passion and vision for delivering extraordinary entertainment and one-of-a-kind experiences.”

VE Day and Disney’s Contribution To The War Effort

Today marks the 75th Anniversary of ‘Victory in Europe Day’ when the war against Nazi Germany in Europe came to an end.

During World War II, Walt Disney Studio’s was heavily involved in the war effort by producing propaganda films for the US government and training films for the Army and Navy. 

Disney also created insignias for all branches of the armed forces.

If you want to find out more about Disney’s involvement in World War II the book “Disney During World War II: How the Walt Disney Studio Contributed to Victory in the War
by John Baxter will be an excellent addition to your Disney book collection.

Leaked Cast Member FAQ Reveals Disneyland Paris Reopening Plans.

Euro Disney SCA has revealed details of the reopening process for Disneyland Paris in a leaked FAQ document sent to Cast Members.

The leaked document which is published below doesn’t reveal any details on the possible reopening date of the restort but one important detail is included.

Disneyland Paris believes that the restort does not fall under the ban on gatherings of over 5,000 people that runs until September 2020 as outlined by France’s Prime Minister Edouard Philippe last week.

When do you expect our destination to reopen?

We look forward to welcoming guests as soon as it is advisable but it is still too early to announce a reopening date.

Public or private gatherings are limited to 10 people until June 1. Could our destination reopen on June 2?

We are working closely with other Disney Parks, public authorities, our social partners and our reopening plans will be presented to our CSE (Social and Economic Council).

It is still too early to announce a reopening date, as the situation is still evolving.

Events involving more that 5,000 people will not be able to take place before September 2020. Given that Disneyland Paris hosts more than 5,000 guests and Cast, does this mean that Disneyland Paris will not open by then?

That restriction to 5,000 people mentioned by Edouard Philippe is related to one-off events that must be declared to the Prefecture in advance – like festivals, professional fairs, sporting events, soccer matches etc. It is our understanding that our destination is not affected by this measure. We will continue to work closely with the authorities to adjust our plans based on their latest recommendations and therefore, we might need to be adjust our operations when we re-open. For more information about this restriction not related to Disneyland Paris, please visit the sites of the public authorities.

The Prime Minister also announced that the major sporting events will not take place before September. Could the Run Disney be called into question?

The Disneyland Paris Run Weekend is scheduled to take place from September 24 to 27. We will continue to adjust our operation and events based on updated public and health authority guidance.

What are the elements taken into account in these reopening plans?

Our reopening approach include considerations for all elements of the Cast and Guest Experience, including physical distancing, cleaning measures, etc. as well as government and health authority guidance. As always, the safety of our Cast Members and Guests are at the forefront of our approach to reopening. We will share more with you as soon as possible.

When will these plans be released?

We will share more specific plans when we are able. It is still too early to share the reopening plans. Plans are in accordance with government guidance and must be shared with our CSE (Social and Economic Council).

Businesses are allowed to reopen on May 11. Why not reopen the Disney Village shops?

We will continue to assess the situation and share more information when we are able to do so. The government shared it will discuss reopening plans for bars and restaurants at the end of May.

Re-opening of Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel Postponed.

Disneyland Paris has announced that the scheduled reopening of Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel on 15th June 2020 has been postponed.

In line with French government safety measures, the continuing refurbishment of the hotel has been temporarily suspended and no new opening date has yet to be announced.

Disneyland Paris said it hopes to be able to share further information, once it has been advised by the French authorities that construction and refurbishment works at the hotel can continue.

Shanghai Disney Resort begins phased re-opening with enhanced health and safety measures.

Shanghai Disney Resort has been closed since late January 2020 due to the coronavirus COVID-19 pamdemic. But since 9 March the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel, Disneytown, and Wishing Star Park have re-opened with a limited number of shops and restaurants operational.

The Shanghai Disneyland Resort posted the following update on their website explaining the Heath and Safety measures being implemented at the Resort:

Shanghai Disneyland remains closed as we continue to closely monitor health and safety conditions and follow the direction of government regulators.

However, as the first step of a phased reopening, Shanghai Disney Resort will partially resume operations on March 9, 2020 with a limited number of shopping, dining, and recreational experiences available in Disneytown, Wishing Star Park and Shanghai Disneyland Hotel.

Each of these resort locations will operate under limited capacity and reduced hours of operation.

The Disney Car and Coach Park and the Disneytown Parking Lot will also reopen.

The resort will provide an extensive range of measures, designed to ensure a safe and healthy experience for all guests, Cast Members and Disneytown tenant employees, including strict and comprehensive approaches on sanitization, disinfection and cleanliness.

In accordance with relevant regulations, every guest entering Shanghai Disney Resort will be required to undergo temperature screening procedures upon their arrival and will need to present their Health QR Code when entering dining venues, and are required to wear a mask during their entire visit.

Guests will also be reminded to maintain respectful social distances at all times while in stores, queues and restaurants.

Please refer to the Shanghai Disney Resort official website and app for the operation hours of Disneytown and Wishing Star Park.

Disney ceases paying 100,000 Cast Members to save $500 million a month.

The Walt Disney Company will cease paying more than 100,000 Cast Members this week, nearly half of its workforce, as the world’s biggest entertainment company tries to weather the coronavirus pandemic lockdown. 

Suspending pay for thousands of Cast Members will save Disney up to $500 million a month across its theme parks and hotels, which have been shut in Europe and the USA for almost five weeks.

Disney is slashing its fixed costs in a much more severe way than other theme-park operators such as NBCUniversal and Warner Media. The move has raised significant reputational risks for the century-old empire behind Mickey Mouse. 

The decision leaves Disney Cast Members reliant on state benefits — public support that could run to hundreds of millions of dollars over coming months — even as the company protects executive bonus schemes.

The company has yet to comment on its 2020 dividend plan but in recent years has made semi-annual payments typically worth $1.5 billion.

By contrast some big multinationals, including L’Oréal and Total in France, have vowed to forgo state aid in a show of solidarity with taxpayers. 

Disney over the past month has raised debt and signed new credit facilities, leaving the company with about $20 billion in fresh cash to draw upon for a downturn. “They could afford [not furloughing staff],” said Rich Greenfield, analyst at Lightshed Partners. 

However, Greenfield cautions that Disney is probably braced for a “very prolonged shutdown”. Disney made nearly $7 billion in operating income from its theme parks, experiences and products business last year, making up nearly half of all operating profits.

Shares in The Walt Disney Company have fallen by a quarter since the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. “With labour accounting for approximately 45% of operating expenses and 33% of total expenses, we assume notable savings,” said JPMorgan’s Alexia Quadrani, who estimates the furloughs, alongside other cost cuts, will save The Walt Disney Company around $500 million a month. 

Disney will provide full healthcare benefits for its American Cast Members placed on unpaid leave. From April 2020 onwards, Disney urged Cast Members to apply for the extra $600 a week of US federal support available through the $2 trillion Coronavirus Stimulus Package. 

In Orlando, home to more than 70,000 Disney Cast Members, Florida offers unemployment payments of up to $275 a week for 12 weeks — among the lowest rates in the US.

Salary payments will also be stopped for most of the 17,000 Cast Members at Disneyland Paris, who will be placed on France’s “Partial Activity Scheme”.  This allows companies to reduce staff hours or furlough workers while the French government covers up to 84% of their net salary. 

Some Union Representatives have assailed Euro Disney SCA for failing to top up the French government’s support.

“Will we have Disney+ ?” asked the CFDT Union, noting Executives were “no doubt much more comfortable in confinement than most of the company’s Cast Members”.

Djamila Ouaz, a CFDT Union Representative, did acknowledge the relatively better position of Cast Members at Disneyland Paris. “We are in France, so we have Unions and legal rights to defend ourselves,” she said. “In the US it’s a catastrophe.” Top Disney Executives have made salary sacrifices to “better enable the company to weather the extraordinary business challenges”.

Bob Iger, Executive Chairman
The Walt Disney Company

Bob Iger, Executive Chairman, gave up the remainder of his $3 million salary for this year, while Bob Chapek, who recently replaced Mr Iger as Chief Executive, will forgo half his $2.5 million base salary.

Disney has protected the incentive schemes, which account for most of the executives’ remuneration.

Mr Iger earned $65.6 million in 2018 and $47 million last year, The latest package is more than 900 times that of the median Disney Cast Members earnings, which stands at about $52,000.

Bob Chapek, Chief Executive Officer
The Walt Disney Company

Mr Chapek could potentially earn an annual bonus “of not less than 300%” of salary, in addition to a long-term incentive award of “not less than $15 million”.

Speaking at Disney’s annual shareholder meeting in March 2020, Mr Chapek said: “Our ability to do good in the world starts with our Cast Members . . . who create magic every day. Our commitment to them will always be our top priority.”

Could Disneyland Paris Remain Closed Until Disney’s Halloween Festival?

French President Emmanuel Macron appeared in a televised address from the Elysee Palace on Monday, 13 April 2020.

In an address to the nation yesterday (13 April 2020) French President Emmanuel Macron announced  that the country’s lockdown will be in force until at least 11 May 2020, and that borders with other countries would remain shut until the crisis was resolved.  

Warning that the new date might not mean a guaranteed stand down from the country’s preventive measures against the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, Mr Macron said: “May 11 will only be possible if we continue to be responsible civic respecting the rules and that the spread of the virus has actually continued to slow.”

It was also announced that outdoor sporting events, festivals, and entertainment and leisure venues would not reopen until two months later in July 2020.

Officials have warned that the situation remains serious – especially in the Ile-de-France region around Paris – with no rapid return to normal in sight.

On the assumption that restrictions are lifted in France on 11 May, could Disneyland Paris possibly resume operations in August or September once the new heath and wellbeing procedures as discussed recently by Walt Disney Company Chairman Bob Iger are implemented at the restort to ensure the safety of Guests and Cast Members against the Coronavirus.

French President Emmanuel Macron with Walt Disney Company Chairman Bob Iger
in happier times.

Following the cancellation of the employment contracts of the restorts temporary summer season Cast Members, Disneyland Paris would find it difficult to resume full operations until mid September. 

With plans for schools throughout Europe to reopen in early September after a seven month shut down, would Euro Disney SCA President Natacha Rafalski make the decision that it would be financially viable to fully reopen the entire resort in August? or wait and reopen in September?

From the safety of the lockdown bunker deep in the basement of Salon Mickey Towers – Duffy and I envisage a phased reopening of Disneyland Paris.

With the two theme parks Parc Disneyland and the Walt Disney Studios Park reopening in August 2020 to enable temporary Cast Members to be trained and the new health procedures implemented.

Following with the reopening of the resorts seven themed Disney Hotel’s in mid September.  In time for the beginning of Disney’s Halloween Festival.