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.

Disney Considers Temperature Checks Of Theme Park Guests Says Bob Iger.

With Disney theme parks temporarily closed throughout the world due to the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic, Bob Iger is beginning to picture what Disney theme parks could look like after the pandemic.

In an interview with American financial newspaper Barron’s, the Disney Chairman and former CEO explained that in order for things to return to “some semblance of normal,” park visitors will have to feel safe.

“Some of that could come in the form ultimately of a vaccine, but in the absence of that it could come from basically, more scrutiny, and more restrictions,” Iger said.

“Just as we now do bag checks for everybody that goes into our parks” Iger said “It could be that at some point we add a component of that, that takes people’s temperatures”.

Iger also added that he and the team at The Walt Disney Company are “very carefully” studying China’s actions in terms of the country’s return to normalcy.

“One of the things that’s obvious is they’ve conscripted a large segment of their population to monitor others in terms of their health,” Iger said. 

“You can’t get on a bus or a subway or a train or enter a high-rise building there — and I’m sure this will be the case when their schools reopen — without having your temperature taken.” continued Iger.

Iger says the Coronavirus Pandemic is the “biggest business interruption” The Walt Disney Company has faced, but he remains optimistic about the long-term prospects of the business. 

“We know when it ends that we will have things for the public to enjoy and to escape to, maybe in ways they will appreciate more than they ever have,” Iger said.

Disneyland Paris Threatens Temporary Cast Members With Contract Termination And Blacklisting.

With the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic causing disruption throughout the world, Disneyland Paris has been forced to closed until further notice, with Disney agreeing to pay furloughed Cast Members until 19th April 2020.

But according to newspaper reports Disneyland Paris has been threatening Temporary Cast Members with early contract termination and blacklisting in an attempt to cut costs.

French newspaper Le Monde has published accusations that the Human Resources Department at Disneyland Paris are threatening temporary Cast Members with blacklisting and early contract termination in an attempt to force Cast Members to agree to a mutual contract breach.

The temporary Cast Members being targeted are amongst the 350 actors, dancers, stunt performers and technical crew that were hired for the resorts Marvel Season of Super Heroes, the Frozen Celebration, Stark Expo, and the Mickey and the Magician show.

Le Monde reports that the temporary Cast Members received an e-mail on 1st April 2020 requesting that they agree to “an amicable break” in their “employment contract.” Citing “exceptional circumstances”. 

Disneyland Paris proposed “the early termination by mutual agreement” of their “employment contract from April 1, 2020.” Adding pressure, these Cast Members had very little time to consider their options, as the email requested them to “please confirm agreement before April 2, 2020.”

The Cast Members contacted their unions for assistance and the General Confederation of Labour, one of the restorts largest trade unions recommended refusal of the   unilateral break demanded by Disneyland Paris.  

A majority of the Cast Members agreed, and rejected Disney’s proposal.

Before this, Disney allegedly attempted to threaten Cast Members with blacklisting.

A Cast Member named Jean told Le Monde “Before this e-mail, four days ago, many of us  received telephone calls from the Casting Department at Disneyland Paris to find out if they were willing to break their contract on their own,” adding that they said “If you refuse, you will be blacklisted at Disney!”

This was a complete change in approach from Disneyland Paris, according to Jean. “Disney had offered to put us in partial unemployment from 1st April”. This was a policy that was requested at a meeting of the resort’s Conseil Social et Économique (CSE), or Social and Economic Council on 29th March by the resort’s 15,000 Cast Members. Supported by the French government, the cast members were set to receive 84% of their net salary, with Disneyland Paris paying the balance, but only through to 19th April.

The Cast Members of the canceled shows were prepared to accept these partial unemployment measures, even if it would reduce their number of hours, which would be a serious blow to them, as to receive French state benefits, each artist must work a minimum of 507 hours over a period of one year.

With a large number of the temporary Cast Members refusing Disney’s offer, the resorts management could force the agreement through “without waiting.” There is a possibility that Disneyland Paris could cite “a case of force majeure,” or a chance occurrence, a legal term which would allow the company “to fire us without our consent,” Jean noted.

By doing that, the Cast Members would receive the full amount they’re owed through to the end of their contracts, which expire in June, but Disney could refuse to validate their hours, putting their status as temporary workers and state benefits at risk.

In addition, these artists working for Disney would likely lose their homes there, as some are foreigners and provincials living in Paris and “are housed in Disney Cast Member residences,” Jean claimed.

This puts the foreign Cast Members in a very difficult situation as due to the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic many countries have closed their borders and numerous airlines are grounded, therefore stranding them in France with nowhere to live and no income.

Disneyland Paris has been contacted for comment.

Source: Le Monde

Disney Theme Park Annual Pass Tickets Monthly Payments Suspended

The Walt Disney Company has announced that they are temporary suspending the monthly payments for Annual Pass Tickets for Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort in California with Annual Passholders who pay monthly no longer having to do so.

Monthly payments will restart again once the theme parks reopen. Those who pay annually for their Annual Pass Tickets will be able to extend the expiry date of their Annual Passes by the duration the parks remain closed.

Disney To Furlough Employees

The Walt Disney Company has said it would begin to furlough employees “whose jobs aren’t necessary at this time” amid widespread business closures, in the latest sign of the harsh economic fallout from global coronavirus crisis.  The furloughing process will begin on 19 April 2020.

The impact is expected to be significant. Disney’s parks and resorts employ more than 170,000 people, many of whom are part time.

Those affected by the program will remain Disney employees through the duration of the furlough period, Disney said. The company also promised full healthcare benefits, and will cover the cost of employee premiums.

Disney’s  announcement does not include union members, who are covered by collective bargaining agreements.