Ghost Town: Disney World Empty as Guests Avoid Florida Vacations

in Walt Disney World

Magic Kingdom crowds aerial view at Disney World

Credit: bioreconstruct

It’s summer vacation, and families usually flock to Magic Kingdom Park, EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. But Walt Disney World Resort guests say crowds aren’t the same as they used to be.

Walt Disney World Resort’s crowd lulls started last year amid the Mouse’s battle against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. After DeSantis took over the former Reedy Creek Improvement District and appointed his own board members, some Disney Parks fans refused to spend money in Central Florida. Other guests avoided the Disney theme parks following travel warnings from human rights organizations spurred by anti-LGBTQIA+ and anti-immigrant legislation in the Southern state.

Ron DeSantis sitting in front of a flag.
Credit: Ron DeSantis

As Walt Disney World Resort prepares for the grand opening of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure later this month, the Central Florida Disney park is offering some of the same enticing discounts it did to bring back crowds in 2023. For example, the 4-Park Magic Ticket lets adult guests visit Magic Kingdom Park, EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios for $99 per day.

Unfortunately, theme park and Disney Resort hotel discounts aren’t bringing the crowds back to Walt Disney World Resort. Recent guest reports claim that Magic Kingdom Park, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney Springs feel like ghost towns.

“Why does Disney seem ‘slowish?’” Redditor u/bradyaaron667 asked. “…When it is June. Not complaining at all.”

“I’ve found summer not to be as crowded as it once was,” u/osufeth24 replied. “Since Covid, families have no trouble taking kids out of school now and going during other times of the year when it’s not as hot. It’s one reason why February has become so busy.”

A lull in Walt Disney World crowds, with only a few Guests standing outside Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run.
Credit: Inside the Magic

Related: Spring Break Surprise: Disney World Attractions Crash as Parks Remain Empty

“I think to some extent these trips are over researched,” said u/vita10gy. “We keep saying there are no slow times…then 4th of July is an absolute ghost town. People’s kids lost all that school so what’s one more week to go to Disney when it’s ‘slow’? Maybe we’ve just seen which months are slow times shift because everyone everywhere looks up the same advice on when they should and shouldn’t go.”

But others blamed Walt Disney World Resort for updating the Disability Access Service (DAS) guidelines, excluding guests who previously used the free service to wait virtually instead of in standby queues. Instead, guests are encouraged to use Rider Switch, a new return-to-line service, or purchase Disney Genie+.

“The DAS changes have some people canceling and, if reports are to be believed, a lot fewer people in the Lightning Lanes,” u/dbtrb22 wrote.

Walt Disney World crowds walking down Main Street, USA.
Credit: Inside the Magic

“The DAS changes have been a huge factor,” u/Appropriate-Turnip69 agreed. “I completely understand their need to crack down because abuse of the old system was out of control, but they’ve gone to the other extreme.”

Walt Disney World Resort doesn’t publicly release attendance numbers. Still, if attraction wait time trackers and discount availability are to be believed, the Central Florida Disney parks are slower than average for June. Follow Inside the Magic for the latest Disney park news and updates.

Have you noticed lower Walt Disney World crowd levels? In the comments, share your experience with Inside the Magic. 

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