So how bad will this COVID-19 mess get?

February 28, 2020, 2:38 PM · This is where we are with the global coronavirus outbreak — right now, half of the world's top eight most-attended theme parks are closed.

Yesterday, Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo DisneySea and Universal Studios Japan closed for the next two weeks as part of a nationwide shutdown of tourist attractions across Japan. They join China's Shanghai Disneyland, which closed in January for an indefinite period. Hong Kong Disneyland also is closed in an effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

If you know me, you know that I go fanboy over three things: theme parks, IndyCar and The Amazing Race. But today, CBS suspended production of Season 33 of The Amazing Race, which was filming in Great Britain. I'd been following the production via the spoiler board on Reality Fan Forum, which had tracked the show through its first two legs, in London and Scotland, before CBS pulled the plug and flew everyone home to the US.

Our sister website, Violinist.com, today wrote about the partial shutdown of global violinmaking center Cremona in Italy due to concerns about the virus. It's not IndyCar, but Formula 1 already has cancelled its Chinese Grand Prix with teams growing concerned about other races on the calendar, which is scheduled to start in two weeks in Australia.

And anyone with a retirement account in the US probably has been watching the stock market tank over concerns that the virus will cripple the global economy, with supply chains disrupted in China, and events and travel being cancelled all over the globe.

Will this get worse before it gets better? If the virus spreads in Europe and the United States, will theme parks and other destinations have to close as they have in Asia? Will the virus - or just the fear of it - keep enough people home to trigger a downturn in theme park attendance? Are we headed into a wider-spread economic recession as a result of the virus? If so, how badly will the travel industry be hit?

Trust me, this is the topic of discussion within the travel industry right now. But right now, all we have are a whole bunch of questions and not nearly enough answers.

For now, though, I am still traveling. How about you?

Replies (14)

February 28, 2020 at 2:54 PM

Japan's theme park closures are just a drop in the bucket. What about the upcoming Olympics? Last month Japan said they were prepared to go on as scheduled, although London official stated they could be moved there at a moment's notice. But that was last month. The frenzy is increasing, especially with the stock market decline this week.

I plan on travelling as usual, although my trips will be in-country (South Dakota and Vegas).

February 28, 2020 at 4:55 PM

You can’t live your life in fear. It’s the same thing with terrorism. Yes, both are scary. But...you can let it consume your life. You have to live, and enjoy your life. Otherwise, you’re not really living.

With the Coronavirus, just take the recommended precautions: 1.) wash your hands with soap and water. 2:) don’t touch your face without washing your hands. 3.) sneeze and cough into your arm, elbow, in your shirt, etc. 4.) wipe things down with Clorox, and disinfectant wipes. 5.) if you feel sick, stay home, and go visit your doctor.

The odds of getting the Coronavirus are still small. There’s more of a chance of getting into a car accident, or getting hit by a car crossing the street. Even if you were infected with the virus, you’re not going to die. The mortality rate is extremely low from the virus. It’s not a death sentence.

As far as traveling, I’m still going to travel. I’m going to South Dakota the end of June. I’m also going to Disneyland, the end of August. You can’t live your life in fear.

February 28, 2020 at 5:24 PM

“Even if you were infected with the virus, you’re not going to die. The mortality rate is extremely low from the virus. It’s not a death sentence.” I think the 2,800+ people who have died from it, would disagree.

February 28, 2020 at 6:13 PM

80sman, yes, people from other countries unfortunately have died from the virus. The ones who did, visited the epicenter of the virus. Most of them visited Wuhan, China. In the United States, no one has died from the virus. That doesn’t mean it won’t, or can’t happen. The best thing to do is to take precautions, such as washing your hands, with soap and water. Stay home if you’re sick. Sneeze and cough into your arm, and elbow. Don’t touch your face without washing your hands.

I understand it’s a serious health issue worldwide. Yes, people, sadly, have died from the virus. But according to the New York Times, 80%, or more of the cases have been mild, and people have recovered. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/27/world/asia/coronavirus-treament-recovery.html

February 28, 2020 at 9:04 PM

I will continue to visit the parks. It’s not an issue for me and will continue to enjoy what Seaworld and Disney have to offer.

To put things into perspective, 2 previous strains of the Coronavirus had a much higher fatality rate, yet somehow we survived those. Covid-19 at the moment stands at 2%, SARS was 20% and MERS, 30%.

As Robert alluded to, some of us have much more concern about our 401Ks, than some virus that may, or may not, affect our lives.

Let’s also not forget we survived the Mayan end of world in 2012, Ebola in 2014, Nostradamus doomsday in 1999, Bird flu, Swine flu, Zika .... the list goes on.

As Lance Corporal Jones once or twice!! said “Don’t panic, Mr Mainwaring, Don’t panic” ... :)

IMO human life on earth will cease to be because of an extinction protocol virus, but I’m pretty confident Covid-19 isn’t it.


February 29, 2020 at 7:00 AM

It is a little too early to completely freak out, since there is a lot still unknown about the virus. But, it should definitely be something that we are paying attention to.

Somewhere between $5,000,000,000,000 and $6,000,000,000,000 was lost globally in a week ... regardless of what happens with the virus in the US or wherever, there are some serious consequences ahead. Those are numbers so big that it is hard to wrap your head around.

Regarding travel, I wouldn't immediately discount a person's decision to postpone a trip due the unknowns of the virus. I think it is a matter of perspective. As an annual passholder who lives 2 hours from Orlando, I can postpone my next day trip until the dust settles and more is known about the virus. If I had saved for years, booked airline tickets, taken time off of work etc. - the decision might be much more difficult and complicated.

Certain cities (New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orlando) are going to present an elevated risk chance of coming in contact with someone from a known infected area. How much higher of a risk? Probably not much, in reality, but still an elevated risk. If I stay indoors during a thunderstorm, my risk of being struck by lighting is essentially 0. If I go outdoors, the risk is still relatively low that I would get hit by lightning. And it probably isn't going to happen. But I've increased my risk nonetheless.

February 29, 2020 at 9:03 AM

Timbo23 yes, compared to the population of the world, the mortality rate is low, but the point I was making, was that to those 2,800+ people, it WAS a death sentence. They were infected and they did die. I guess I just found it a little insensitive to claim the opposite.

February 29, 2020 at 9:49 AM

Just remember, the people that have died from COVID-19 are overwhelmingly older, babies and toddlers and other people with compromised immune systems. The death rate in the rest of the population is extremely low. For a healthy 30 year old, it probably wouldn't be much worse than a cold if they got sick at all. Unfortunately, you can be a carrier with no symptoms and still pass it on without knowing it for the first couple of weeks.

February 29, 2020 at 10:40 AM

80sman, I didn’t mean to say that the 2,800+ people who died lives didn’t matter. It’s very sad that they died, as a result of the virus. I just meant overall, in the world, the fatality rate is low. But I would never say that someone’s life doesn’t matter, or discredit ones life in any way. I was just stating statistics from the CDC, and World Health Organization. Yes, the ones who have died, it’s very sad. In a sense, it was a death sentence for them. But in terms of world population, the fatality rate of death from the virus, is very low at 2%.

February 29, 2020 at 11:11 AM

Without arguing with anyone, whether coronavirus ends up being worse than SARS is still up in the air. I don't fault ANYONE who changes vacation plans over this, just as I don't fault Disney for shutting down now three resorts.

I also am 100% on board (well, not literally taking their trip with them, but I get it) towards those who continue to travel.

Personally? I work with the public, even at my current job in a casino. Not as many as I would see every day as a Disney cast member, but...still a lot of people. I'm taking my chances just by showing up to work. What am I gonna do, go broke because I don't want to risk dealing with someone who may have this, and refuse to go to work? Or do I "suck it up" and risk infecting our 90-100 year old guests?

So for me, personally, no travel right now. Not because I'm afraid of dying (I've got a decent immune system), but because I'd be worried about spreading it to those who do NOT have the protections that I have in regard to my age and overall health. But that's just how I feel about it. You are free to disagree, and I'm not likely to flat-out tell anyone that they are wrong unless they say "I'm going to Wuhan and then I'm going to sneeze on everyone I see."

Until we know more, it's all guesswork.

February 29, 2020 at 2:14 PM

COVID-19 isn't Just a 2% mortality rate. Firstly, it is quite contagious - we don't know truly how contagious yet cause no one really trusts China. It has spread globally, and will continue to do so. We haven't seen the peak yet.

If you do get it, we think there's a 2% mortality. Maybe more, probably less. But if you do get it there's a 100% risk of quarantine, for at least 2 weeks (probably more). That's stuck at home. Hope your Netflix is paid up and that uber eats is happy to leave stuff outside your doorstep.

Then if you get properly sick it's a hospital admission. I'm a doctor, I don't want you near me. You might end up in ICU fighting for you life. There's currently 7 people in ICU in Singapore out of 98 confirmed diagnosis. It's not a pleasant place to be, and if you make it out you're debilitated and scarred, both physically and emotionally.

The best way to combat this is to limit is spread. The less people who catch it, the less people that die. That is why Japan has closed schools and theme parks. That is why they'll beat the disease.

Should it change your travel plans? Probably not yet. I'm making sure that anything I book at the moment is refundable though, and I'm going to be buying up some non perishable foods for the pantry just in case. Is this overreacting? I really don't think so, it's small stuff that won't affect my lifestyle to do.

Just don't be the guys that discount this as nothing. Don't be the 30 year old that catches it thinking that "I'm healthy, I'll be ok!". Cause then you'll spread it to you're grand parents, or your newborn neice. The less people who catch it, the better everyone is.

February 29, 2020 at 3:03 PM

Grant Crawford, I understand what you’re saying. I agree, the less it spreads, the better for everyone. The CDC has reported that 80%, or more of people infected, develop mild symptoms, and recover within a week or two. Yes, COVID-19 is a major health concern globally. There’s no question about that. It has brought fear to people around the world. But so did MERS, SARS, and Ebola.

Listen, nobody wants to get COVID-19. The media drives people into mass hysteria. It’s okay to prepare, in the event you are diagnosed. I went to the grocery store, and bought some extra things. It’s always good to be prepared. I didn’t overreact. I just picked up a few extra things. Just like I would In case of a hurricane, or a blizzard.

The problem is we don’t know a lot about the virus. The symptoms have been described as similar to the flu. Many people die from the flu every year. It’s just we don’t have as much information on COVID-19. I’m hoping as the weather turns warmer, there will be less spread of the virus. Just as the flu typically does. The likelihood of getting it is still low. You have to live your life. What are we going to do... sit in our houses all day, and watch tv? We just have to take the necessary precautions, such as washing your hands, and try not to spread germs. I know it doesn’t seem like it at the moment, but this will pass in time. All viruses and diseases do. It’s just a matter of when at this point.

February 29, 2020 at 4:38 PM

I have no doubt this will pass. The question is how far it will spread first. What you're doing is sensible, and good hygiene goes a long way with this.

I personally don't like to compare this to any other disease. There's a lot we don't know about it yet, and there's a lot more to a disease than simply it's mortality rate or how contagious it is. Some experts are predicting the worldwide infection rate COULD go as high as 40%. Even if the mortality rate is 0.5%, the implications of that are mind boggling.

The financial implications of this are already frightening, but markets will cone back.

I think we just need to be wary, and not dismiss this at all. If Disneyland or Universal are closed, we'll survive. And so will the theme parks.

February 29, 2020 at 6:02 PM

Grant Crawford, I couldn’t agree more. You’re absolutely right in everything you just said. If Disney, or Universal close, it’ll probably only be for a short period anyway. Just like the parks in Japan, they’re closed for a short period. I’m going to Disneyland in August...I think I’ll be able to go.

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