Thousands Respond to Disney’s Stay-at-Home Advisory: Park Deserted

in Disney Parks, Walt Disney World

Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom Park with only a few people around it.

Credit: @ResortTV1 via @DisneyGlimpses

Guests have listened to Walt Disney World Resort’s warnings to stay out of the parks, and now, we can see that Disney is making a dramatic turn to try and get more guests back in the park, and spending money.

A picturesque view of a fairy tale Cinderella Castle with spires, under a clear blue sky with the sun setting behind, casting a warm glow over the scene.
Credit: Disney

Now that we have turned the corner of spring break and the long Easter weekend, it seems Disney is going through a downtime. When kids are on school breaks or there are long weekend holidays that also allow most adults to be off of work, we typically see an influx in the parks. In Disneyland Paris and Disneyland Resort, we actually saw the parks hit capacity over Easter!

Walt Disney World was certainly busy, with over 7 million guests flying into Orlando International Airport, but not everyone went to the most magical place on earth.

At Disney, we have started to see prices rise at unprecedented rates.

When ex-CEO Bob Chapek was in charge, these price hikes began taking a dramatic upward turn, so much so that when current and prior to Disney CEO Bob Iger returned to office, he acknowledged that Disney was becoming too costly and that The Walt Disney Company was going to relax on the constant increases on ticket costs, and other items around the Disney parks to make Disney a little more “affordable” once again.

A family enjoys a meal in a grand dining room with large, ornate windows in the background. The mother, wearing red, smiles at her daughter in a blue dress and tiara as they discuss
Credit: Disney

Now, just a year later, Bob Iger has announced that in 2025, ticket prices for Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and EPCOT will be increasing, erasing the promises he so recently made.

We have also seen the cost of Disney Genie+ increase as well. Disney Genie+ debuted in 2021 as a way to offer guests the ability to skip the line via the new Lightning Lane system, which replaced the complimentary FastPass system that was previously in place. Basically, things work similarly; if you purchase Disney Genie+, you are able to make a Lightning Lane selection to skip the regular queue for an attraction at the park you will be visiting.

Once you ride that attraction at your designated time, you can select another ride and book a Lightning Lane for whatever ride you would like, so long as it still has time slots to choose from. Guests can continue to do this all day until there are no Lightning Lane’s available, which does happen with the popular attractions quite quickly. Disney advises guests that with Disney Genie+ they will likely be able to use the Lightning Lane for 2–3 rides each day.

Entrance to a magical world: driving towards the iconic Disney World Resort under a clear blue sky.
Credit: Inside the Magic

When the system was introduced, the cost was $15 per person for all parks, no matter the date.

One year after that, in October 2022, Disney started increasing that cost with a variable pricing scale, which would have the price of Disney Genie+ change per date and per park. During spring break, we saw the cost of tickets hit their all-time high at $184 per person to visit Magic Kingdom, and Disney Genie+ hit a whopping $35 per person.

Knowing that it was meant to be a busy season, and that these price hikes often correlate with demand, many guests took that as a warning from Disney to stay home if they want to save money and not deal with massive crowds. In return, Disney’s plan actually backfired, as we saw the theme park looking like a ghost town during a time that was historically a moneymaker for the House of Mouse. 

A monorail glides along a track in the foreground with the iconic geodesic sphere of epcot's spaceship earth in the background under a clear blue sky.
Credit: Inside the Magic

Now, Disney is attempting to remedy these high prices by finally reducing Disney Genie+ to the prices that it once was. 

Disney fan site WDW Magic set up a useful chart to show the prices of Disney Genie+ today, versus what they can be at their highest and lowest. As we can see below, all the costs for the system are at their lowest possible point.

  • Multi-Park Genie+ $23
    2024 Max $39, Min $23
  • Magic Kingdom Genie+ $23
    2024 Max $39, Min $23
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Genie+ $15
    2024 Max $29, Min $15
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios Genie+ $21
    2024 Max $35, Min $21
  • EPCOT Genie+ $17
    2024 Max $32, Min $17

We can also see that individual Lightning Lane prices for popular attractions that charge per ride and are not included in Disney Genie+ are at their lowest costs.

  • AVATAR Flight of Passage $13
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind $14
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train $10
  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance $20
  • TRON Lightcycle Run $20
An image of the Tower of Terror, a gloomy, haunted-looking building, illuminated by a neon sign under a stormy sky with a lightning bolt striking.
Credit: Disney

If we also look at wait times, we can see even these low Disney Genie+ have not remedied Disney’s lower attendance as popular rides like Haunted Mansion, Soarin’ Around the World, Space Mountain, Meeting Mickey Mouse, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Expedition Everest, Pirates of the Caribbean, and so many others are under 35 minutes at the time of this article’s publishing.

Even the most popular rides, such as Slinky Dog Dash and Avatar Flight of Passage, have a 60-minute wait, which is abnormal for those attractions.

It appears that guests are no longer clamoring to go to Disney World. This is likely due to the fact that many parents have been priced out of the possibility of taking their families to the parks. It is very easy to spend between $5,000 and $10,000 conservatively for a week of Disney World tickets, food, hotels, and merchandise.

It appears that even Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has realized that families need more affordable activities to take part in when they visit.

Today, we shared that, “Just a few weeks before Memorial Day weekend, one of the busiest tourist periods for theme parks across the country, Governor DeSantis has announced that all Florida state parks will offer free admission”.

Disney and DeSantis have been in a battle for years now. 

The clash between the conservative governor and the renowned media corporation intensified notably when former CEO Bob Chapek openly criticized the contentious “Don’t Say Gay” law (formally referred to as the Parental Rights in Education Act), a significant component of DeSantis’s political agenda.

Governor Ron DeSantis speaking during a televised interview, with an american flag in the background.
Credit: DeSantis

However, after a recent settlement, DeSantis has changed his thoughts on the company and is looking to cooperate with Disney instead of fighting them after removing Reedy Creek from Disney, taking the land back for the state, and naming it the Central Florida Tourist Oversight District. The governor has allocated billions of dollars towards enhancing the Interstate 4 Highway, which serves as the route to Magic Kingdom. Furthermore, he utilized the influence of the Florida pension system to support CEO Bob Iger during the recent proxy battle for the Disney board.

That being said, the new free state park offer that he has made may affect sales for Disney over Memorial Day weekend, another time of the year when Disney is often at its peak in terms of capacity and pricing.

Do you think that the cost of a Disney vacation has become too expensive? 

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