Disney World May Have an “Attendance Problem”, Report Says

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Credit: Disney

Walt Disney World Resort has had an exciting couple of years.

From closing down for nearly four months at the start of the pandemic and losing almost $5 billion during that time to its continued phased reopening that still has select attractions shut down at this time, it has been a period in time for the company in which it won’t soon forget.

mickey mouse in front of cinderella castle
Credit: Disney

If you attend a Walt Disney World Resort theme Park today– whether that be Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, or EPCOT– you’ll notice that operations are about as normal as they’ve been in quite some time. Other than requiring face coverings on attractions and distanced character meet-and-greets, with select attractions like Fantasmic! that have undergone refurbishment still awaiting a return, the Disney Parks are operating with distinct normalcy.

However, just because the Parks are returning to normal does not mean everything is entirely perfect.

disney world crowds
Credit: Theme Park Express on Twitter

A report from The Street, a finance and investment website, says that though attendance has picked up over the past year, there still may be an “attendance problem” for Walt Disney World Resort.

The report reads:

Between lockdowns and fear of catching COVID-19, the early days of the pandemic have certainly been disastrous for the theme Park industry — attendance at the 25 biggest parks in the country (Disneyland, Disney World, and Universal Studios are all on this list) fell by 67% between 2019 and 2020, according to a report by the Themed Entertainment Association and AECOM.

But by 2021, visitors were turning to theme parks for a pick-me-up during a drawn-out pandemic — along with rising attendance, average spending at all the Disney Parks also increased by 30% compared to 2019. Florida’s Governor, Ron DeSantis, is undoubtedly boosting attendance, taking a very conservative approach to the pandemic and prioritizing business over any restrictions.

Even so, theme Park attendance continues to be on shaky ground in the wake of new variants and rising case counts that cause the more cautious among us to postpone even domestic travel. In that sense, Disney’s focus on luring in Florida locals with various deals may be a safer bet than across-the-board discounts to all visitors.

“While re-opened theme parks were a positive driver for the broader business this past quarter, that was accomplished largely with just domestic crowds in attendance,” Stephen Guilfoyle wrote for TheStreet’s RealMoney. 

The report says that Disney has focused on Florida locals in the wake of rising case counts and new variants, with international and even domestic travel still on “shaky grounds.” This strategy can be seen in the 20% discount that Disney World offers Florida residents on hotel stays during the summer, its typical peak time.

Related: Universal Surveys Annual Passholders On Disney Genie+, Lightning Lane

A group of people standing in front of a crowd; Walt Disney World
Credit: @3BridgesNick

Florida residents can save 20% for stays most nights from March 11, 2022, to July 7, 2022 at the following Resort hotels:

old key west disney world
Credit: Disney Vacation Club

Florida residents can save 15% for stays most nights from March 11, 2022 to July 7, 2022, at the following Resort hotels:

coronado springs
Credit: Disney

Florida residents can save 10% for stays most nights from March 11, 2022, to July 7, 2022, at the following Resort hotels:

  • Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort
  • Disney’s All-Star Music Resort
  • Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort – reopening March 31, 2022
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House
  • Disney’s Beach Club Resort
  • Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
  • Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • Disney’s Pop Century Resort
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Family is playing football; Disney All Star Sports
Credit: Disney

There’s no doubt that crowds have begun to pick up in the Disney Parks, and this can be seen in increasing wait times. However, it still should be noted that Park reservations have been available since the holiday season ended and that growing uncertainty could affect this coming spring and summer, as the report indicates.

Do you think Disney World is about to have an “attendance problem?” Let us know in the comments.

Let the expert team at Academy Travel help you plan your next magical vacation to Walt Disney World Resort’s four theme parks — Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios — and the Disney Springs shopping and dining district! Or, how about Disneyland Resort for a trip to enjoy Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure? 

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