July is going to be a busy month for Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) shareholders, though not quite as hectic as it was shaping up to be until a few days ago. The media giant announced over the weekend that it would be pushing out the release date of its live action reboot of Mulan from July 23 to Aug. 21. A couple of days earlier, it announced that the two theme parks at its original Disneyland resort, in California, would not reopen on July 17 as originally planned.
There is still a lot going on at the House of Mouse. Let's go over a few of the dates that Disney investors will be watching in the month ahead.
The next Disney-branded theme parks to resume operations will be Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. The two Japanese gated attractions will begin welcoming visitors on Wednesday. Tokyo Disney is the only Disney resort that is not at least partially owned by the entertainment behemoth. The Oriental Land Company owns the Japanese resort. Disney does receive licensing fees from the business, and naturally it also makes money from consumer product sales.
Japan has benefited from an aggressive initial approach to the COVID-19 crisis and so far has recorded fewer than 1,000 deaths from the pandemic. It will still follow the blueprint laid out by Disney parks in Shanghai and Hong Kong, which have already reopened with temperature screenings, limited guests capacity, and social distancing at attractions. It's also making face coverings a requirement, but relaxing them during the hot and humid summer months for guests outdoors who are able to keep at a reasonable distance from other visitors.
In what is likely to be the biggest thing to hit Disney+ since The Mandalorian last November, the game-changing Hamilton musical will be available on the fast-growing streaming service on Friday. The recording of Lin-Manuel Miranda's bar-raising masterpiece with the original Broadway cast was going to debut next year, but Disney realizes that now is a pretty good time to drop a piece of hearty content in an otherwise lost summer. In Hamilton-speak, Disney is not throwing away its shot.
The first two of Disney's six stateside theme parks will soon open for the first time since its resorts on both coasts shuttered nearly four months earlier. Disney World's Magic Kingdom and Disney's Animal Kingdom will resume operations on July 11. The resort's other two theme parks -- Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios -- will unlock their turnstiles four days later.
Disney has taken a more cautious approach in reopening its Central Florida resort than rival attractions. The last major competitor to open did so on June 11, a month before Disney. Disney World has also been slow to resume hotel bookings and ticket sales, doing what it can to keep initial demand in check until it works the kinks out of the process.
A few hours before Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios get back to business, Disneyland Paris is set to open the gates at its two theme parks. Disneyland Paris is the only fully owned Disney resort outside the United States, so it's not an insignificant event for Disney shareholders.
It's not just Hamilton debuting on Disney+ in July. Muppets Now will launch at the end of the month, billed as the franchise's first unscripted series as well as first original series for the streaming platform. The first season consists of just six episodes, but naturally more seasons will follow if the series proves popular. As a bellwether media stock, Disney knows how to play the content game.