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Coronavirus And Disney: $175M Loss Expected – Before Disney Tokyo Closed

Photo via Disney

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Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger says the theme park giant is “sobered” by coronavirus concerns.

But during a shareholder meeting Wednesday, Iger said Disney is resilient and has a bright future.

90.7’s Abe Aboraya spoke with Orlando Business Journal tourism reporter Richard Bilbao about how coronavirus is impacting the tourism industry. Bilbao started by talking about Disney parks that remain closed overseas.

BILBAO: The one thing we do know right now is some of the parks remain close, specifically, Tokyo Disney, Shanghai Disney and Hong Kong Disney. But those parks are right now running either on a very limited access or closed. And what I mean by limited access is there are some of the parks that have opened up their hotels and their equivalent to what we have here in Disney Springs. So those are in operations, but the theme parks themselves aren’t operating.

As far as the numbers. Disney has said in the past that they expect to lose $175 million dollars in operating income from not operating those parks over the next month, which was announced back in February. So it’s around this time that they’re starting to feel that that economic hurt.

ABORAYA: We know that there have been at least five cancellations at the Orange County Convention Center. Is it pretty well expected that you start losing 100,000 people at the convention center, that’s going to impact Disney, because people come here and then they tack on a day or two and go to the parks?

BILBAO: We’re definitely gonna lose that. And actually, it’s eight conventions that are now lost. We’ve already lost that about $300 million in economic impact. And like you said, about 100,000 attendees. And that’s expected. And those are trips that would have eventually gone to the theme parks. I mean, those are business travelers that might bring their families who hang out at the hotels, and then they extend the vacation. So yeah, while the theme parks themselves haven’t really announced, or shall I say, confirmed that they have lost leisure travelers. But those are visitations that we would have seen at a theme parks that are not happening anymore.

ABORAYA: What are you keeping an eye on?

BILBAO: I think the biggest thing right now is whether we have a case here in Orange County. The fact that we’re still at zero cases as of right now doesn’t tell us the full story just yet. I believe when we have a case, everything might change. I’ve had an expert tell me that we might see the confidence that we have right now with a lot of our leisure tourists completely changed once we have a local case. We know conventions are already being hurt. And the next thing is going to be when we have that case, if and when we have that case, how does that create a trickle down?

ABORAYA: Is there anything else you want to touch on?

BILBAO: I think we are definitely going to want to keep an eye on how our convention industry hotels kind of bounced back from this, because we’ve had reported occupancies of as low as 20 percent for some of the convention area hotels, which is drastically low. That’s historically lower than 9-11 and the lowest points in the Great Recession. Those are huge losses for those hotels over the next two weeks. Now that might be a small sample, we might see them bounce back over the rest of the month. But as of right now, it’s going to be interesting to see how they react to that.

And on the other side is how the Orange County Convention Center reacts to adapting to the events being canceled. Obviously, they’ve had some events that have drawn thousands of attendees and millions and economic impact to the center already. They are hosting some events. It’s not like they’re empty. But the fact is what’s going to happen next, do some of these events come back, or do we lose them forever? I don’t think we lost them forever. But for example, one of the events we lost was a McDonald’s conference that would typically come here. And they’re a biannual event, so we’re not going to get them next year. We’re gonna have to wait and see if they come back in two years. I think they will. But, you know, that’s a business that we’re not going to recoup and that’s something that I think is going to hurt and we’re gonna have to see how we adapt to that stuff.


WMFE is a partner with Health News Florida, a statewide collaborative reporting on health care.

Health reporting on WMFE is supported in part by AdventHealth.

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Abe Aboraya

About Abe Aboraya

Health Reporter

Abe Aboraya started writing for newspapers in High School. After graduating from the University of Central Florida in 2007, he spent a year traveling and working as a freelance reporter for the Seattle Times and the Seattle Weekly, and working for local news websites in the San Francisco Bay area. Most recently Abe ... Read Full Bio »

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