All construction at Disney World has been halted due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the region’s leading building trade organization (through the Orlando Business Journal). This post covers shutdown details and speculation about how certain projects will impact.
In our past posts about Walt Disney World closes due to COVID-19Many readers have wondered whether the closure of the parks will speed up construction and renovation work with no guests in the way. In theory, this is not a completely unusual idea. Some jobs that are mainly done overnight can be done outdoors during the day.
In fact, this was such a common question that we focused specifically on both repairing the Everest Yeti expedition and Star Wars: increasing resistance in our industry Walt Disney World Closure FAQ. Our answer to both: don’t expect it. Now we have confirmation …
In a statement to the Orlando Business Journal, Mark Wylie, president and CEO of the Central Florida Chapter of Associated Builders & Contractors Inc., said that all construction projects at Walt Disney World have been stopped. It was not known whether construction workers would be paid or when construction work in the parks would resume.
Construction is booming in central Florida, but Wylie expects other construction sites in the region to close. “You will be closing many construction sites,” said Wylie of the Central Florida region. “It already has a huge impact on the economy.”
The disease control and prevention centers are now moving to President Coronavirus Guidelines for America – 15 Days to Slow Coronavirus Spread (COVID-19)who recommends canceling or postponing events with 10 or more people. It is not immediately clear whether this is the trigger for the closure of construction sites by Walt Disney World or whether it is a matter of reducing costs with closed parks and an impending recession. (Or both.)
In our area near Walt Disney World, housing for new homes and street construction has continued (as I type this, I can literally hear the work outside). It remains to be seen whether this will continue – both in view of the new recommendations / restrictions and due to an expected decline in demand. Unfortunately, it becomes difficult for many people.
Regardless of how quickly the situation is resolved, there will likely be failures in the tourism sector beyond the end of this year. In the long run, Walt Disney World will be fine, but the short to medium term impact could be significant. (WDW’s perception of being overpriced, which people laughed at with # BROKE or Most Expensive Day Ever shirts, could be difficult to overcome.)
There were cuts in entertainment in the days before the parks closed. This is probably just the beginning. We’ve already discussed the possibility that Walt Disney World could adjust schedules, downsize projects, or stop indefinitely, depending on how long the parks are closed and how the pandemic is having an economic impact.
This would not be unprecedented. Disney’s Pop Century: The legendary years are the most notable recent example. This is the second phase of a resort that was announced at the beginning of the new millennium. September 11 occurred during construction and tourism to Florida collapsed.
The first phase of Pop Century finally opened (apparently), but was delayed by more than a year. On the other side of Hourglass Lake and Generation Gap Bridge, the semi-finished “abandoned” resort was clearly visible and sat like this for almost a decade. Above is a photo I took about a decade ago (excuse the old film processing … I went through it a phase.)
At this point, Walt Disney World announced the Art of Animation Resort, which used the lobby and motel style buildings that had already been constructed. (If you’ve ever wondered why the little mermaid’s rooms are so different, now is your answer.)
Here are the projects that we expect to be most likely to be affected this time …
Reflections – A Disney Lakeside Lodge – This still has to be done vertically, which means that it is not even as far as it was in the legendary years when this project pressed the pause button for almost a decade. In my opinion, Reflections Lodge is the project that is most likely to be permanently canceled or at least postponed indefinitely. At least I would be surprised if Reflections – A Disney Lakeside Lodge opened before 2023.
Disney Vacation Club already has many unsold points, and a recession would make it difficult to sell them. In addition, foreclosures are likely to outperform new sales, which means DVC’s point base is increasing. There is also the possibility that you will need to exercise the pre-emption right to increase the resale value.
Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser Resort – This project is much more advanced, the outer construction is almost complete. We expect this hotel to open more or less as planned, but possibly on a modified scale. There are some big questions here. How much has been invested in research and development? How much investment still needs to be spent? What are the operating costs / profit margin for the existing concept?
All of these are relevant considerations to assess whether the Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser Resort is maintaining its current scope and ambitions. If most of the money has already been spent and the operating costs are not prohibitive, there is no reason to adjust the plans. If lowering nightly tariffs would affect margins, don’t be surprised if cuts are made.
Epcot Festival Center – The architectural heart of the redesign of Epcot is the unnamed festival center. Innoventions is almost completely demolished and Epcot’s central spine is a mess, so this project will continue in some form.
In addition, the festival center will (probably) generate revenue directly. Food and alcohol are sold inside, and it’s safe to assume there is some sort of dessert party on the roof. A complete cut in the multi-storey project therefore seems unlikely. Making it less architecturally ambitious doesn’t.
Spaceship earth reimagining – The courageous step here would be to push ahead with this redesign as planned, even if this means that the last guests have already experienced this incarnation of the attraction. Visitor numbers are likely to drop in the short term, even if the parks are reopened. Now is the perfect time to do as much as possible in Epcot with fewer crowds.
The easier way is to publish a statement that starts with the words “due to guest demand …” indicating that the project has been postponed so guests whose trips have been canceled or postponed can say goodbye. Our money is for the latter, but we hope for the former.
Play pavilion – It has been speculated that the Play Pavilion, which officially opens “in time for Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary”, could open later this year if participation in the park and the lack of other activities in Epcot so require. The focus here is on speculation – practically no rumors have been leaked about actual progress in this pavilion.
This is likely to push back the opening of the Play Pavilion, closer to the official start of Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary. This is due to both the construction delays that will occur due to this interruption and the lack of demand / need.
This is more or less the case when other projects such as Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, Tron Lightcycle Run, Harmonious, Space 220 Restaurant and other additions are available.
You will be affected to the extent that construction is inactive, but there is not even a remote danger that these projects will be stopped. You are just too far and Walt Disney World will do it need Sparkling additions that tempt guests to visit the time after the recession.
Beyond what we have listed here, expansion plans that have not yet been announced or have started to work are likely to have the greatest impact. Expect pretty much everything to be put on hold, at least in the short to medium term. Don’t be surprised that the next D23 Expo contains very few announcements and mainly reveals new details about existing projects.
There is a silver lining as all of this is likely a return to aggressive discounting. Some readers have feared that Walt Disney World will continue to raise prices to compensate for the closure of the parks. That’s not how it works. As always, Disney calculates what the market will wear … and when the parks reopen, Walt Disney World will simply not carry the previous prices. On a positive note, Disney could use entertainment as a cheaper way to lure guests back to Walt Disney World. It’s obviously too early to say, but this could mean new fireworks, parades – maybe even a night parade – to mark Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary …
Are you planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn more about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For information on food, see our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. Read our tips on saving money on Walt Disney World tickets to save money on tickets or to determine which type you want to buy. Our article “What to pack for Disney trips” takes a unique look at clever objects. What to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help you. Our best starting point for comprehensive advice Walt Disney World Travel Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
Do you expect long-term effects on projects related to Walt Disney World? What do you expect it to be canceled or postponed indefinitely? Things you don’t expect to be affected? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Do you have any questions that we can answer? Listening to your feedback – even if you do not agree with us – is interesting for us as well as helpful for other readers. Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
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