New Report Exposes Disney World Attendance Plunge, Bad Business Practices, Soaring Prices to Blame

in Disney, Disney Parks

Walt Disney World inside of EPCOT with a red arrow trending down.

Credit: Edited by Inside The Magic

The Walt Disney Company just reported on its first-quarter earnings call, which reflects how the parks, specifically Walt Disney World, and the company did overall through December 30, 2023.

Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort as seen from an archway.
Credit: Disney

The Walt Disney Company Quarter One Earnings Call – Billions Made Despite Lower Attendance Rates at Disney World Resort

In the latest quarter, revenues remained steady compared to last year’s period, totaling $23.5 billion. While domestic park operating income saw a modest decline of 2%, revenues increased by 4%. Despite Disney earning billions in Q1, Disney World revenue was down overall. Spending did increase, but that was mainly due to ticket prices jumping high compared to previous years, leading to bad business practices and higher prices to blame for fewer folks vacationing in Florida during Q1.

The earnings report for Q1 2024 of Walt Disney World highlighted several key factors influencing its performance:

  • Decreased attendance and occupied room nights were attributed to the absence of the prior year’s quarter’s 50th-anniversary celebration.
  • Elevated costs driven by inflation, albeit partially mitigated by cost-saving measures and reduced depreciation.
  • Enhanced guest spending, fueled by higher average ticket prices, somewhat offset by lower average daily room rates.

Disney CEO Bob Iger commented that a year ago, Disney had outlined their ambitious plan to return “the Walt Disney Company to a period of sustained growth and shareholder value creation.” Based on the earnings report, Walt Disney World Resort saw a heavy decrease in attendance rates and spending through its parks, despite the company earning billions from other locations, including Disneyland Resort in California.

According to the earnings report, the Disney Cruise line did wonders in Q1 compared to the domestic Disney parks, with the blame being on inflation, higher prices, and more. Ultimately, the decision to increase things like ticket prices, annual passes, dining and retail experiences inside of the U.S. parks, along with higher costs to book a Disney on-property resort hotel – all led to Disney making horrible business practices decisions, which caused fewer people to want to vacation in Orlando or Southern California.

A little girl looking up at Spaceship Earth inside of EPCOT at Walt Disney World Resort.
Credit: Disney

Theme Park Results

Here is the latest information from Bob Iger during the quarter-one earnings call moments ago on the Disney parks and experiences, including Walt Disney World Resort. As will notice, more people are spending money rather than attending the Disney World Parks in Orlando:

The decrease in operating income at our domestic parks and experiences reflected lower results at our domestic parks and resorts, largely offset by higher results at Disney Cruise Line.

At our domestic parks and resorts, lower results in the current quarter compared to the prior- year quarter were due to:

  • A decrease at Walt Disney World Resort reflecting a modest decrease in revenues and higher costs. These impacts were due to:
  • Lower volumes due to decreases in attendance and occupied room nights, both of which reflected the comparison to the 50th anniversary celebration in the prior-year quarter
  • Higher costs due to inflation, partially offset by cost saving initiatives and lower depreciation
  • Increased guest spending due to higher average ticket prices, partially offset by lower average daily room rates

Results at Disneyland Resort were comparable to the prior-year quarter as revenue growth was largely offset by an increase in costs. These impacts were attributable to

  • Increased guest spending primarily due to higher average ticket prices
  • Attendance growth
  • Higher costs driven by inflation
Fireworks above the castle at Hong Kong Disneyland
Credit: Disney

International Parks and Experiences

Higher international parks and experiences’ operating results were due to:

  • Growth at Shanghai Disney Resort due to:
  • Higher volumes attributable to an increase in attendance. The park was open for all of the current quarter compared to 58 days in the prior-year quarter as a result of COVID-19 related closures.
  • Guest spending growth due to an increase in average ticket prices

Higher operating income at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort attributable to:

  • Guest spending growth primarily due to an increase in average ticket prices
  • Higher volumes resulting from increases in attendance, which benefited from the park being open for more days in the current quarter, and occupied room nights
  • Increased costs driven by inflation and new guest offerings

Results at Disneyland Paris were comparable to the prior-year quarter due to:

  • Higher costs primarily attributable to increased operations support costs and inflation
  • Lower volumes primarily due to a decrease in attendance. The prior-year quarter included the 30th anniversary celebration.
  • The comparison to a loss in the prior-year quarter on the disposal of our ownership interest in Villages Nature
Disneyland Resort Firework show taken from paradise pier rooftop
Credit: Disney Parks Blog

With Disney announcing an attempt at putting billions into bringing guests back into the domestic parks, folks are clamoring for the theme park giant to stick to its empty promises and commit to getting around that Disney magic that was once felt throughout all the wonderful locations at Walt Disney World Walt Disney World, including Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom, and EPCOT – and Disneyland Resort, including Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park.

Downtown Disney, Disney Springs Blizzard Beach, the Cinderella Castle, the Grand Floridian Resort, Space Mountain, Main Street, U.S.A., Toy Story Land, and many others – all provide guests with that special Disney experience that you can not get anywhere else in the world – only at a Disney park near you.

For more information on everything announced and reported from the Walt Disney Company earnings report, click here.

in Disney, Disney Parks

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