UPDATE: Walt Disney World announced Friday that masks will not be required outdoors starting Saturday, but will still be needed upon entering and throughout all attractions, theaters and transportation. Universal Orlando also said guests will no longer be required to wear masks while outdoors starting Saturday.
A future trip to a Disney theme park might not require a mask.
Walt Disney Co. officials spoke about looking at changes to mask requirements during the company’s quarterly earnings Thursday, hours after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced new masking guidelines.
Disney’s second-quarter revenue dropped as the pandemic continued to weigh on its parks and theme parks.
“Today’s guidance that we got from the CDC in terms of those that were vaccinated do not necessarily need to wear masks anymore, both outdoors and indoors is very big news for us,” Disney CEO Bob Chapek said in the call with analysts.
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Chapek said demand for the parks has been increasing and the company has started to raise theme park capacities based on earlier guidance from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who last week issued an executive order canceling remaining local COVID restrictions – including mask mandates in public areas. Privately-owned businesses can still require masks.
The CDC said fully vaccinated Americans, for the most part, no longer need to wear masks indoors and don’t have to wear masks outdoors, even in crowded spaces.
“Particularly if anybody’s been in Florida in the middle of the summer with a mask on. That could be quite daunting,” he said. “We think that’s going to make for an even more pleasant experience.”
Revenue from parks dropped 44% to $3.17 billion. But parks are beginning to show signs of life after being shuttered during most of the pandemic. Disneyland in Anaheim, California, reopened on April 30, after the quarter ended after being closed for 412 days due to COVID-19.
Disney World in Orlando said it would begin phasing out temperature checks for visitors at all locations that currently require them starting May 16.
In an interview with CNBC’s Fast Money Thursday, Chapek said there’s “going to be a lot more comfortable people this summer in Orlando, you can only imagine what it’d be like in 95 degrees, and 95% humidity wearing a mask so we’re thrilled to be able to do that.”
He said he expected park attendance to go up significantly “in relatively short order” and that 80% of furloughed park employees have been called back.
Disney+ grows but misses expectations
Disney+ subscribers more than doubled from a year ago to 103.6 million subscribers as of April 3. That was lower than some analysts expected, but Chapek said the company is still on track to reach its goal of 300 million to 350 million subscribers across all platforms by 2024.
Revenue per Disney+ customer dropped 29% to $3.99. That’s because the figures include Disney’s offering in India, where customers pay less than in other parts of the world.
The cost of Disney+ rose $1 in late March, from $6.99 a month to $7.99 a month. Annual subscriptions increased from $69.99 to $79.99.
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Contributing: Jayme Deerwester and Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY; Associated Press
Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko