Last week, I singled out three dates in June that will matter to Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) shareholders. Apparently this month is going to be even busier than that, with a lot of important events happening in the coming weeks.
With a theme park finally reopening, fresh streaming content, and the resumption of cruise sailings, there's a lot going on this month. Let's see what investors should watch out for in June.
It might seem odd to be talking about Halloween while we're technically in the homestretch of springtime. But for years, theme parks have been milking the popular holiday months ahead of the actual Oct. 31 date. Last year was the exception because of the pandemic, but 2021 is a whole new ball game.
Disney World in Florida is introducing its After Hours Boo Bash in August, allowing guests to come decked out in Halloween costumes to the Magic Kingdom on selected nights after the park closes to day guests. Despite being shorter than the previous Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party that it paused after 2019 and having fewer perks, the prices are markedly higher. Tickets start at $129 for the three-hour fete, and will set folks back as much as $199 on Halloween itself.
Tickets go on sale on Tuesday, June 8, for guests booking stays at select Disney World hotels during Boo Bash nights, but everyone else will be able to purchase admissions on June 15. The price points might be steep for a three-hour event, but by limiting capacity to roughly a third of an average day's attendance, the tickets will sell out on some nights.
Disneyland Paris will reopen to guests on this date next week. The original Disneyland resort, in Anaheim, California, reopened at the end of April for the first time since the pandemic shutdown. The French resort was briefly open last summer, but as the COVID-19 case counts began to spike throughout Europe, that resort closed down as well.
It's fair to say that Disneyland Paris isn't as popular as most of the other Disney-branded resorts. But it still matters to shareholders since it's the only resort outside the U.S. that is fully owned by Disney.
Content is king at Disney, and that's particularly true for its streaming services. The Mandalorian put Disney+ on the map, just as The Handmaid's Tale made Hulu an essential entertainment platform.
Hulu doesn't get the same kind of coverage as Disney+, but it actually generates roughly double the revenue of Disney's namesake service. It's seen largely as a hub for third-party shows beyond its original pieces, but it's not well known for its digital movies. Hulu hopes to make its own luck with the horror film False Positive that begins streaming on the service on June 25.
Heading back to Disney's theme park turnstiles, Disney World rival Universal Orlando, owned by media rival Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), announced late last month that it will bump up starting pay at its Florida resort to $15 an hour beginning June 27.
Hiring in the service industry has been a challenge, and Disney thought it had everything covered three years ago when it announced plans to gradually hike starting wages until they hit $15 an hour in October of this year. Disney may or may not respond to Comcast's move, but if it's struggling to stay staffed while its rival a few highway exits away is doing just fine, it could be a compensation issue.
The last of Disney's segments to get back on course is its cruise line business. Disney operates four ships, with three more on the way in the coming years. It is firming up plans to start test sailings on June 29, a step that regulators are requiring if cruise ships can't guarantee that they will have 95% of guests and 98% of crews fully vaccinated.
If the two-night test sailing is successful, it could pave the way for a return to sailing later this summer. With cruise lines clearly the hardest hit industry among travel and tourism stocks, it's comforting to see Disney raise its anchor again.