There have been a few items recently in the world of Disney news that are worth discussing for the common thread that will weave together the company's theme for 2021....change on an unprecedented scale.
Starting with the rumour that Bob Iger will be named as US ambassador to China. First and foremost, it's not official and there are many reasons for and against his nomination. Without wading into the politics of the situation, speaking from the perspective of Disney, the loss of Bob Iger to the company isn't that big, especially when they've already transitioned much of his role already to Bob Chapek.
Disney executives come and go, much like all other corporate entities. The company itself has seen and reacted to departures in the past, from the sudden death of Walt, to Michael Eisner, to Iger. What this will mean for the company is more interesting than the loss of a single executive; the Chapek year(s)? will be in full effect. Although many have very strong opinions of Chapek, the truth is, until Bob Iger leaves, we don't really know what Chapek brings to the company. For instance, we may see the loss of themed hotel rooms (which is a loss in my humble opinion), but we may also see the launch of sorely needed work on Disney retail website software that will improve the supply chain issues plaguing ShopDisney.com.
Next is the return of the Electric Water Pageant. This isn't surprising, especially when you consider that it happened AFTER the path connecting the Grand Floridian to the Magic Kingdom opened.
This is actually going to help social distancing efforts at the end of the operating day since it will encourage use of the paths and reduce the bottleneck of people getting on the monorail and water taxis back to their Seven Seas Lagoon resort hotel. For those on the monorail, it also adds interest on the trip back to the TTC.
Which brings me to the theme of change on an unprecedented scale. Right now, there are 3 Disney resorts open (Orlando, Tokyo, and Shanghai) and 3 closed (Anaheim, Hong Kong, and Paris). This represents 5 theme parks closed and 7 open. It's a huge financial loss for the company and with threats of lockdowns in the US, travel restrictions, and other measures to combat COVID-19, the company needs to become more adaptive and flexible, in ways it hasn't had to be.
Expect minor additions to be added to theme park offerings such as modified firework shows, the water pageant return, special merchandise, and limited time experiences as an effort to keep those coming to the parks willing and able to do so.
Let's face it, many of the people willing to make the trip already have and after Christmas, crowds are going to drop off. Without some new offerings that won't break the bank or shouldn't be delayed to a time when crowds return, the parks will empty out. So, parking a Harmonious barge in the World Showcase lagoon, minor fireworks launching from the castle during a projection show, and other easter eggs that they place around their open resorts will continue to happen to have something newsworthy and spark interest in going to the parks.