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Disney theme parks may not reopen until 2021, Wall Street analyst says

Cinderella Castle, Magic Kingdom, Disney World, Orlando, Florida, USA

Disneyland and Disney World may remain closed until next year, a Wall Street analyst projected this week.

The theme parks first planned to reopen on April 1. They closed their doors in mid-March as the coronavirus outbreak started to spread throughout the U.S., but soon, Disney changed the date to “closed until further notice,” leaving fans to wonder when they’ll be able to soar through the sky with Dumbo again or get spooked in the Haunted Mansion.

Swiss bank UBS analyst John Hodulik told clients this week he thinks it’s likely the theme parks won’t open until January 2021, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“Moreover, we now believe the lingering effects of the outbreak — including crowd avoidance, new health precautions, etc. — will dramatically reduce the profitability of these businesses even after they are reopened until a vaccine is widely available,” Hodulik wrote Monday as he changed his Disney stock rating from ‘buy’ to ‘neutral.’

He also said next year’s attendance will likely be halved from 2019.

Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger told Barron’s the parks will require “more scrutiny, more restrictions” if they reopen before a vaccine is available so guests “feel comfortable that they’re safe.”

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

Several Disney fan forums have discussed what they say is a leaked plan for reopening Disney World that would include limited capacity, temperature checks at security and no parades, castle shows or fireworks. Guests would also have to sign a form waiving liability, The Times reported.

Disneyland has not confirmed if the plan is authentic.

Disneyland and Disney World’s Magic Kingdom are the two busiest theme parks in the world, according to The Times. In 2018, Disneyland had 18.7 million visitors.

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