Disney on its long road back to recovery from the Coronavirus Pandemic

Disney’s Road to Coronavirus Recovery: The Timeline of the Pandemic Response

The COVID-19 Pandemic has affected us all. Some have lost their lives others their livelihoods and even those of us who have been spared the worst have had our way of life dramatically impacted. That is why I felt the responsibility to convey the facts of COVID-19 and share with you how The Walt Disney Company has responded in the face of incredible adversity to their business. Of course there will be time for commentary and opinions and we have plenty of those as you all know but in times like these we know you need hard truths and it’s what we do best here at Da Mouse. So that’s why we thought it best to start our Disney’s Road to Coronavirus Recovery series with a timeline of COVID-19 facts along with Press Statements from the Walt Disney Company. We’ll also update this timeline as Disney continues on its path to recovery and we’ll include links to our articles that relate to the current crisis. We hope you find this a useful resource. Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected but also to Cast Members who many through no fault of their own find themselves facing financial hardships that we know can lead to other impacts. Stay safe, stay strong and we’ll all get back to the lives we love soon enough.

December 31, 2019 – China’s Wuhan Municipal Health Commission reports a cluster of pneumonia cases in the Wuhan, Hubei Province.

January 5th, 2020 – The World Health Oragnization (WHO) publishes its first Disease Outbreak News on this novel form of Coronavirus. It contains a risk assessment along with other information as provided by Chinese officials to the WHO at the time.

January 12, 2020 – China publicly shares the genetic sequence of COVID-19.

January 13, 2020 – Officials confirm a case of COVID-19 in Thailand which represents the first recorded case outside of China.

January 14, 2020 – The World Health Organization infamously tweets.


Many U.S. officials including the President of the United States believe this to be a case where the WHO was spreading Chinese propaganda. On that same day the WHO’s technical lead noted there may have been “limited human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus.”

January 22, 2020 – The WHO issues a statement declaring that human-to-human transmission is indeed taking place in Wuhan, China.

January 25, 2020 – Shanghai Disney Resort Closes.

February 25, 2020 – Robert Iger steps down as CEO as Bob Chapek is elevated to the role.

February 29, 2020 – Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea close.

March 9, 2020 – Shanghai Disney’s Disneytown, Wishing Star Park and Shanghai Disneyland Hotel reopened with limited capacity and reduced hours.

Visitors are required to wear masks during their entire time at the Disney Resort. They will be screened for fevers, one of the tell-tale symptoms of coronavirus. Guests will have to scan their “Shanghai QR Code” when entering shops and dining areas.

(Disney shared in their previous earnings call that a two month closure of Shanghai Disneyland would lead to a loss of $135 million whilst closing Hong Kong Disneyland for the same period would represent an estimated loss of $145 million).

March 12, 2020 – Disney announces that Disneyland will close on March 14.

Hours later, Disney announces that Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Paris Resort will close at the end of business on Sunday, March 15th.

Disney Cruise Line will stop cruise departures on Saturday, March 14.

Domestic Walt Disney Company employees are asked to work from home if they can. Disney will pay employees during the closure period through the end of the month.

March 14, 2020 – Disneyland and Disney California Adventure close their gates to the public.

March 20, 2020 – Disney Releases Onward after just a couple weeks in theaters and pushes up its release onto Disney+ as theaters across the United States and around the world are closed.

March 27, 2020 – Disney announces the extension of their closure at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts until further notice.

They also announce the decision to continue paying their hourly parks and resorts cast members through April 18.

April 19, 2020 – Disney furloughs about 43,000 employees, only keeping a limited number of essential employees. These employees will retain their health benefits but have to seek government unemployment benefits.

April 30, 2020 – Disney begins selling Disney character adorned cloth face masks in the United States.

May 4, 2020 – Dr. Raul Pino, Health Officer for the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, declares 10% of Orange County’s positive tests are from asymptomatic Covid-19 patients.

He also informs the public that 93% of all cases in Orange County have recovered.

Thomas Mazloum, Senior VP of Resorts at Walt Disney World, addresses a question about a potential reopening date at an Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force subcommittee.

We do not have any opening date yet. As some of you may know we at this point we’re taking bookings that were in June, that doesn’t mean that we are opening in June. At this time I just want to make it clear that we do not have any plans to share about Walt Disney World or for that matter any of our other parks at this point. Clearly regulatory guidance is an important element of this in each area and country where we work. At this point I just want to be clear that we simply don’t have any plans to share about Walt Disney World yet.

Thomas Mazloum Senior Vice President of Resorts at Walt Disney World

May 5, 2020The Walt Disney Company reports its Q2 Earnings and announces Shanghai Disneyland will open May 11th.

May 7, 2020 A phased reopening is announced for Disney Springs beginning May 20th.