COVID-19 has completely upended daily life for Disney cast members at the company’s theme parks, resorts and Disney Cruise Line. Meanwhile, as guests try to cancel, reschedule and find refunds for their Disney plans, there’s another group that’s trying to adapt to all the closures and cancellations – Disney fan websites and blogs.
A large number of websites cover Disney news and provide resources for guests planning a vacation to a Disney park or a Disney cruise. What are they doing and how are they getting by during these uncertain times?
We reached out to more than a dozen Disney websites and blogs and were lucky enough to have a great conversation with Dusty Sage from MiceChat.com and Scott Sanders from DisneyCruiseLineBlog.com about how they’re doing now that every Disney destination is closed. We’ve also offered our own take on each question to represent some of the smaller voices in the community.
How have the Disney closures and cancellations impacted your website? Is traffic up, down or the same?
MiceChat: As a Disney news and entertainment site with a large built in community, we are seeing record traffic right now. Folks want to know what’s going on and they also need a little diversion from the topsy-turvy world we are living in.
DCL Blog: Traffic hasn’t changed all that much, there are spikes when new blocks of cancellations hit, but there have not been dips outside of normal traffic.
Notes from Neverland: With our most popular content being resources for when guests are either planning a Disney vacation or are currently visiting a Disney theme park, we’ve seen a significant drop in traffic due to COVID-19. That’s mostly expected and we’re working to tap into new audiences.
How has your website adapted? Has your content strategy shifted?
MiceChat: Instead of the usual two or three articles a day on MiceChat, we’ve ramped up to 3 to 5 articles a day. We are still offering park content, but have bumped up our entertainment content to help fill the void. MiceChat has added professional journalists, educators, entertainment veterans, Ex-Imagineers, and even some Disney Legends to our staff.
DCL Blog: So far, I spent most of my time re-coding some components on the site that were developed at a time where I knew a lot less about web development. I am trying to keep up with regular posts and continue to publish recurring content as normal. If anything has shifted, I am more focused on avoiding any and all speculation in my posts. I do NOT want to say anything that would give our readers a false impression or hope for a future sailing.
Notes from Neverland: Content has slowed as news and advice for planning a trip aren’t the most relevant topics at this time. Instead, we’re focusing on more community-driven content (like this post you’re reading) or stories such as the 7 best smelling rides in Disney World, the 5 best Disney World YouTube channels, and our look at whether Disney World is actually haunted.
Are you branching out more into other mediums (social media, YouTube, etc) during these times?
MiceChat: We’ve long been on all the different social platforms, but focusing on an expansion of our Facebook Groups and YouTube offerings in conjunction with our increased daily articles on the website.
DCL Blog: Not really, Twitter is my main social media playground and I am still there with updates. In fact, there is a lot that I put out on Twitter that never hits the website. If anything, my social media has been featuring more what are we doing to occupy our time and what trouble our cats are causing. (Click here to follow DCL Blog on Twitter)
Notes from Neverland: Our social media approach has changed slightly, but not drastically. We’ve joined the countless others in reminiscing with Disney photos and posting pictures that make us long for the future.
What has surprised you the most about the Disney community and their response to this?
DCL Blog: I loved seeing the support of the College Program kids by a friend of ours. That was awesome.
Notes from Neverland: The Disney community is an extremely passionate one, which can lead to arguments over things like the future of Epcot and whether a specific new ride or attraction matches Walt’s original vision. These days things feel a bit different. The Disney community can share one common goal and is trying to make the best of a tough situation. All of the creativity that has emerged – such as the Disney “rides” people are creating at home – have been amazing to watch.
How quickly do you think guests will return once everything reopens?
MiceChat: We wish we had a crystal ball to foretell when the parks will reopen and how long the travel industry will be impacted. But just as it is now expected that more restaurants will fail than will be able to reopen, we expect there to be long term damage to the travel and entertainment sectors. We are praying for a speedy recovery, but preparing for the worst.
DCL Blog: This is the million dollar question. I’ve had people say it will be a while before they step foot back on a cruise ship while others are chomping at the bit to get back on a ship.
Notes from Neverland: Unfortunately, there isn’t a switch that will instantly return things to normal. Things will probably look quite a bit different when the parks and cruises eventually reopen to guests. Many will try to return as soon as things are back up and running – regardless of what that looks like – while many won’t be in a financial decision to do so.
Any last thoughts?
MiceChat: We’d like to leave you with this Winnie the Pooh quote which we recently ran in one of our articles. We hope it provides some inspiration to all those reading: “YOU’RE BRAVER THAN YOU BELIEVE, AND STRONGER THAN YOU SEEM, AND SMARTER THAN YOU THINK.” – WINNIE THE POOH
Notes from Neverland: Times are tough for Disney, cast members and everyone who loves Disney parks and cruises. These are unprecedented times. But, Disney and the community that surrounds it is a resilient one that thrives when under pressure. We can’t wait to see the passion and enthusiasm when this eventually passes.