Five ways Disney can get guests to visit on off-peak weeks

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Disney Parks recently announced a significant hike in the price of single-day admission during peak attendance times. This change, prompted in part by the capacity level crowds both Walt Disney World and Disneyland hosted over the 2015 holiday season, is meant to persuade day trippers to visit the parks during the historically slower seasons and hopefully balance out attendance. Aside from a discounted ticket, however, there are plenty more ways to entice visitors to vacation for a day at a Disney Park.

Here are our top five suggestions to help bring out the crowds:

#5 Extended Hours – It may be difficult for someone to justify an off-peak day trip to a Disney Park if their one-day ticket only allows them a maximum of nine hours of park time. At predicted low attended times of the years, Disney Parks historically adjusts their hours of operation, thereby potentially discouraging some guests from making the trip out. By opening early or pushing back closing time on announced dates, guests may feel it’s worth the trouble of visiting at a less convenient time of the year.


#4 Pin Trading Extravaganzas – Pin trading with park cast members can be a fun way to acquire unique and relatively inexpensive souvenirs. However, due to the popularity of the hobby (and internet sites that cheaply sell unpopular pins by the lots) it can sometimes take a lot of hunting until you find one worth trading for. If Disney Parks designated days where cast members were issued only the newest and most popular pins for trade circulation, pin enthusiasts everywhere might just arrange their schedules for it.

#3 More Themed Weeks – There’s a lot Disney learned from Star Wars Weekends. Some of that knowledge could be capitalized on by creating similar events for other popular categories of Disney fandom. What about adding an annual Disney Princess Promenade/Disney Pirate School week at Magic Kingdom and Disneyland? How about a Marvel Madness weeks to coincide with March Madness? What about hosting Disney’s own Fashion Week at EPCOT and inviting innovators in Disney Park fashions to reveal their latest designs? The possibilities for themed celebrations at a Disney Park are endless and could be a great way to bring out the crowds.


#2 Long-Lost Friends – In past years, both Magic Kingdom and Disneyland have hosted weeks when classic characters of yesteryear come out of retirement to meet and greet park guests. During these times, park goers have enjoyed the return of friends from Robin Hood, The Song of the South, Chicken Little, and Duck Tales as well as many more. Character greetings are ever-popular attractions, so by inviting a few long-time (though perhaps lesser known) friends back more frequently for pictures and autographs, it could draw in more fans. (SPECIAL REQUEST: I’d like to see Hercules and Tarzan arm wrestle Gaston. I doubt I’m alone in this.)

Another idea along these same lines would be to expand the current, traditional meet-and-greets to include additional supporting characters. Winnie-the-Pooh and Tigger could be joined by Piglet (who currently can only regularly be visited in The Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom), a dwarf or two could accompany Snow White, and Sebastian would be a great addition to Ariel’s grotto. Rare photo opts make for a unique park experience, and they could influence when a devoted Disney fan decides to visit.


#1 Free Disney Dining Plan – Historically, free dining plans have been one of the most coveted discounts offered by WDW for guests staying at a Disney resort hotel. This promotion is so popular that many annual vacationers will hold off booking their trips until they see which/if any weeks are eligible for it (and traditionally, when it is promoted, the weeks it’s offered are those with the lowest predicted attendance). Extending free or discounted dining to a day tripper at a Disney Park would surely cause a race to the gates. Second to park admission, food is typically the highest expense for one-day park goers, and many guests choose to bring at least some of their meals at home. If Disney is willing to foot the bill for even just one quick-service meal per guest, the spike in the attendance they see because of it would surely off-set the food cost.

What would entice you to make the cost of a day trip to Disney worth it?

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4 thoughts on “Five ways Disney can get guests to visit on off-peak weeks

  1. Michelle Snow

    I agree with #3 – plus they need to bring back the celebrity themed weekends. Marvel weekends, TGIF/Shondaland weekends, maybe do themed-weekends when big movies are coming out that maybe bring in a few of the cast. And not as special ticket events, but included with regular admission.

  2. Felecia

    That Robin Hood photo is everything!!!! Robin Hood is my absolute favorite and i still havent managed to catch him in the parks. I’m hoping characterpalooza will work out on our next visit. I would certainly make a special trip for a week they were scheduled to greet guests.

  3. Den

    I love the idea of extending the free dining plan to non-hotel visitors. I tend to wait for the free dining plan sale to book WDW vacations and get the best value, but it can still be hard to justify the cost of staying in Disney hotels, for the comparable price of staying in perfectly good places down the road. In 2014 I was unable to visit during a free dining period, so I stayed off-property at a Ramada hotel which was approx 5 mins drive to AK, and less than 15 to MK… Just as convenient if not more than some resort hotels. It was perfectly comfortable and certainly did the trick. I paid less than $20 a night for 8 nights (through an agent), plus $17 a day to park the car, so even with having to pay the full cost of dining, it still worked out hundreds of bucks cheaper! I’d definitely pay for the dining plan, if it was an option for off-property visitors, however!

  4. Disney Mike

    We only go during off-peak times of year. Never in the summer, never around holidays, never during spring break season. The lighter crowds at those times of year are all the incentive we need. I can’t think of anything that would make the off-peak times more appealing than that.

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