Disney Eyes Key Step To Reopen Florida Theme Parks As Rival Gets OK

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Comcast (CMCSA)-owned Universal Studios has a reopening date for its Florida theme park, as Walt Disney (DIS) and Sea World Entertainment (SEAS) tee up to detail plans and dates for reopening in the Sunshine State. Disney stock fell.

Comcast’s Universal Studios Orlando theme park will reopen to the public at reduced capacity on June 5, Reuters reported. Universal Orlando was the first major theme park to present reopening plans before an Orange County (Fla.) task force on Thursday.

Upon restarting, the park will require staggered parking lots, temperature checks, mobile food ordering and wearing of face masks by guests and employees, a Universal Parks executive said.

Disney is accepting reservations for Walt Disney World starting July 1, but hasn’t given an official reopening date. Both Walt Disney World and SeaWorld Orlando will submit plans to reopen at future taskforce meetings.

Walt Disney World has been closed since March 16 due to the pandemic. Its Magic Kingdom was the most visited theme park in the world in 2018, drawing 20.8 million visitors.

At a roundtable with Vice President Mike Pence and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Wednesday, Disney executive George Kalogridis said Disney parks could reopen with 20%-30% capacity. Executives from Orlando’s other big two attractions also attended.

Kalogridis, president of segment development for Disney parks, pointed to the Shanghai park’s success. Shanghai Disneyland reopened last week after a coronavirus shutdown of more than three months, swiftlly selling out for the first day of reopening.

It has since been operating at 30% capacity, while requiring social distancing in queues, spacing on rides, and wearing of face masks. U.S. parks will likely require the same of both employees and guests, Disney CEO Bob Chapek has said.

Meanwhile, the Disney Springs mall in Orlando, Fla., reopened Wednesday, also limiting guest capacity. Disney is keeping other theme parks in the U.S., Europe and Hong Kong closed for now.

Shares dipped 0.4% at 117.32 on the stock market today. Disney stock is back above its 50-day line, an area of resistance in recent months. The relative strength line is rising bullishly after notching multiyear lows in late April.

Comcast, which runs Universal Studios theme parks, slipped 0.7%. Sea World Entertainment gained 0.5% and Six Flags Entertainment (SIX) gave up 0.8%.

Disney’s parks segment, once a steady profit driver, has turned into a drag on earnings due to the deadly virus. Profits in the segment crumbled 58% in the first quarter, with revenue dropping 10% as Disney closed venues, suspended cruises, and weathered supply chain disruptions.

The initial reopening plans come as Disney reshuffles its top leadership. On Monday, Disney named Josh D’Amaro to head the parks segment and Rebecca Campbell to take over the direct-to-consumer business, which includes streaming video.

This article was originally published on finance.yahoo.com/news.

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