Capacity levels are going up at Walt Disney World

The latest state and federal Covid guidelines will make for an "even more pleasant experience" at Walt Disney World parks, according to CEO Bob Chapek.
The latest state and federal Covid guidelines will make for an "even more pleasant experience" at Walt Disney World parks, according to CEO Bob Chapek.

Disney has already started increasing capacity at its Walt Disney World Resort theme parks in Orlando, CEO Bob Chapek said.

Bolstered by recent guidance from the state of Florida and the CDC, Chapek said during the company's financial results call Thursday that there will be an "immediate increase in the number of folks that we're able to admit."

He also called the CDC's Thursday guidance that vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks indoors "very big news for us," especially with summer right around the corner.

"We think that's going to make for an even more pleasant experience," Chapek said, and will likely spur a rise in attendance at the parks.

Disney initially operated Disney World at 25% capacity when it reopened last summer. That has increased to 35%. Chapek did not say what the capacity level would be raised to on Thursday's call, nor did he announce any specific new guidance regarding the wearing of face coverings.

The Walt Disney Co. is seeing encouraging signs of recovery from the coronavirus pandemic in many of its businesses, including its theme parks, Chapek said.

Bob Chapek
Bob Chapek

He specifically applauded the reopening of the Disneyland Resort's theme parks in April, calling the response "overwhelmingly positive."

Disneyland recalled over 10,000 employees to reopen the parks, and retrained them to operate within California's new health and safety requirements, he said.

Disney's open theme parks in the U.S. continue to operate at or near their reduced capacity levels in the current quarter. Demand is "strong" and "growing," Chapek said.

CFO Christine McCarthy said revenue at all of Disney's open parks exceeded the costs associated with opening.

• Cover story: Disney's evolving new normal

Chapek pointed to upcoming projects, specifically the opening of Avengers Campus at Disney's California Adventure park at Disneyland. That opens June 4, and after a recent visit, Chapek called the Marvel-themed land and its attractions "truly phenomenal."

Disney Parks, Experiences and Products saw a 44% reduction in revenue, to $3.2 billion, in the second fiscal quarter of 2021 compared with the same quarter in 2020. The segment operated at a loss of $406 million, compared with its second fiscal quarter of 2020, when its operating income was $756 million.


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