Donald Luskin of SmartMoney magazine writes about his recent experience at Disneyland, crowded and merchandise crazy as it was, being evidence that the US Economy is no where near being in recession. It’s a good article, but I’m not sure that I would use the crowded condition of Disneyland as a barometer of economic healthy. Lack of crowds, maybe.
In the last 10 years or so, Disneyland managers have gotten so good at predicting attendance and scheduling labor hours to match, that the park appears crowded at all times. By keeping Big Thunder Mountain running with three trains and just one side they can save a lot of labor hours; by cutting down on restaurant hours they can save a lot of labor hours; by adjusting fast pass to standby queue ratio, they can keep more people in the general areas of the park instead of in queues. All these tools, and more, conspire to make the park look busier than it really is.
Now, on the other hand, if it’s 6pm and you can shoot a cannon down main street and not hit anyone, that’s a bad sign for sure. But the step from busy to empty is a lot closer these days than it was in the past.
One thing I’ve noticed is a lot more Europeans. All of my friends and I have let our passes lapse, $500 for my wife and I doesn’t seem worth it right now. I’m sure all us locals will head back to the park once money doesn’t seem quite so tight.
It will be interesting to see what happens at the park if the European economy continues to slow and the dollar and Euro head back towards parity.