Disney World Sees Its Largest Dip in Attendance Since the Depths of the Pandemic

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Statue of walt disney holding hands with mickey mouse, known as the "partners" statue, with cinderella castle in the background at a sunny disney theme park.

Credit: Becky Burkett

During his third-quarter earnings call with investors, Disney CEO Bob Iger said that he fully expects Disney World crowds to start to “level out,” which is code for the parks are going to see some slow times ahead. But with the end of the pent-up travel after the COVID-19 Pandemic, Central Florida is learning just how low those crowds will get.

People walk through a busy, colorful theme park area with futuristic decor and attractions. Shops and rides line the path, and various families and individuals can be seen, some with strollers and others taking photos. The atmosphere is vibrant and lively.
Credit: Christian Lambert, Unsplash

Related: Disney World Crowds Disappear for the Start of Summer

While the Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort don’t release attendance figures, the Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond does, and it gives us a pretty good idea of just how many people are coming to Central Florida. And April was not good.

According to a press release from Diamond, the Tourism Development Tax was down 10 percent in April over last year. This is the most significant single drop since February 2021, when people still weren’t traveling due to the pandemic.

Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond told Click Orlando: 

We haven’t seen a drop like that in a while and I hope that it’s a one-time thing and I hope that it’s because March was so good that it took some of April’s business. March was a record. It had never been that good before, as far as the numbers it was the highest ever and you wish you could have months like that all the time.

You had people traveling earlier. Prices are a little bit higher so there’s that. You’re going to have more taxes, 6% on a room, so I think when you combine all those things, then you get a good month. You know I think we’ve had 8 out of 10 months where the numbers have been down. It’s just a little slower and a little slumber because last year was just so good it’s hard to say at that level forever. 

A busy street filled with people walking and sitting, surrounded by buildings with colorful decorations. The area has a festive atmosphere, with trees lining the street and small flags flying atop the buildings. The sky is overcast.
Credit: Nicholas Fuentes, Unsplash

Related: Signs Are Pointing to a Very Slow Summer For Disney World

The good news was that March set a record for tax revenue collected; however, there was a 25 percent decline from March to April this year.

Several explanations exist for the decline in theme park attendance and hotel rentals in April, including an earlier Easter and Spring Break this year, which helped boost March’s tax revenue collections. The good news for Central Florida is that summer is upon us, and travel is beginning. However, the bad news is that some tourists are heading to Florida’s beaches rather than its theme parks.

A large geodesic sphere, known as Spaceship Earth, is illuminated in vibrant rainbow colors against the night sky. Flags can be seen in the bottom right near trees silhouetted by the glow of the lights.
Credit: Disney

Related: The Crumbling Castle: Disney World’s Cheap Upgrades Are Falling Apart in Front of Guests

The other bad news for Central Florida’s theme parks is that reports suggest that visitors are holding off trips to Disney World and the Universal Orlando Resort until 2025, when Epic Universe opens. Disney World is opening Tiana’s Bayou Adventure in the Magic Kingdom later this month. However, it is still unclear how many visitors will schedule their vacations around the opening of a single attraction.

Orange County’s Tourism Development Tax helps pay for Visit Orlando and the expansion of the Orange County Convention Center. So far this year, the tax is down 1.4 percent compared to last year.

How were the crowds the last time you went to Disney World or Universal Orlando Resort? 

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