Public anxiety over Coronavirus has been on the rise in recent days, as confirmed cases in the United States continue to multiply and events like SXSW have been called off. And while no theme parks have closed yet outside of Asia in response to this outbreak, the travel industry is forecasted to suffer unprecedented losses in the coming weeks and months the likes of which haven't been seen in decades. Disney has informed stockholders that it is expecting a loss of around $200 Million due to the outbreak, but many believe that to be a very conservative number in the wake of the spread of Coronavirus in the US.
While it is too early to say exactly what will happen in the future, here are some key ways the Coronavirus spread is affecting theme park operations in a big way right now.
1. Changing policies
Though you might not notice it, theme parks across the United States have been changing their policies, mainly with regard to sanitation and surfaces. Last week, Disney explicitly laid out new policies for sanitation in the wake of the Coronavirus epidemic, and The Washington Post reports that Universal Orlando Resort said in a statement officials were reinforcing health and hygiene procedures, enhancing cleaning protocols and are “ready to act as needed” should additional measures become necessary.
It is, of course, in theme park companies' interest to keep guests' confidence in the safety of theme parks high, especially as we head in to the Spring Break travel season. And even though theme parks are doing as much as they can to create as safe of an environment for guests as possible, there may be some circumstances where guests do not feel confident that visiting a theme park under the current conditions is a good idea...
2. Working with guests who cannot travel
Right now, if you have pre-existing plans to visit a theme park, but are reconsidering due to the Coroavirus outbreak, you have some options. If you are traveling by plane to get to a theme park, most airlines are allowing guests to push back (but not cancel) their travel without change fees, within a 6- to 12-month period (this varies by airline).
Similarly, most theme parks and resorts are also allowing guests with health issues who would be most affected by the Coronavirus to push back (but not cancel) hotel reservations, theme park tickets, etc. Though guests will need to contact the theme park /resort specifically to get more information about change windows (as these will again vary), almost all are offering guests who need to alter their plans at last a few options.