Disney World Attendance Light or Not?

Michael over at the All Things Diz blog has some great analysis of the current anecdotal reports of light attendance at Disney World despite the Disney Company’s announcements that things are, mostly, fine.

The other demographic they don’t break out is per resort occupancy, just overall occupancy rates. My guess is that, as usually would be the case, the Value resorts are stuffed to the gills, the camping side of the campground is booked solid, and it’s not until you get into the Moderate and Deluxe resorts that you start to see occupancy drop.

If Wikipedia is right (though we could cross reference with The Unofficial Guide if we really wanted too), then by my calculations there are about 22,216 hotel rooms distributed as follows:

* 8,324 Value Rooms (about 37% of the total)
* 7,089 Moderate Rooms (about 32% of the total)
* 6,803 Deluxe Rooms (about 30% of the total)

And yet, still no progress on the Pop Century Legendary Years area to expand Value resorts. Instead we get more DVC. Michael, where does DVC fit in this? Basically steady business for the mouse.

My personal feeling is that things are down about 5-10%. But think about taking five percent of the cars off the road during rush hour; that’s all it takes to dramatically improve speeds. The same thing applies for queues and walkways at the theme park. Disney parks are such huge capacity swallowers, that you just can’t see most of the people most of the time because they’re inside attraction queues or in the shows. It takes that extra 5% for the crowds to really start showing up.

6 thoughts on “Disney World Attendance Light or Not?”

  1. I tend not to look at the on-property occupancy rates as an overall indicator of health. While WDW would get more financial gain from guests staying in its own resorts, the amount of ticket upgrades, free dining plans and other perks might negate that difference.

    I was a Cast Member in 1998. I’ve made several trips to WDW since then, to visit friends, family and just get my necessary does of Pixie Dust. The true indicators of economic health, in my mind, are the number of outdoor food stands and merchandise carts that are actually open. Most guests wouldn’t notice an area missing a cart, but to the keen observer you see what’s not there.

    How clean is the park during your visit? How friendly are the Cast Members? WDW was the gold standard I used to compare other employers in attitudes toward customer satisfaction and employee morale. I hate to say it, but in the past decade, I’ve seen a significant decline in both at WDW.

    Expanding DVC makes sense. There’s a steady income of mortgage, maintenance & tax fees. I know, I pay them every month. Even though visits to WDW seem like the American Dream (remember the “I’m going to Disney World” campaign?) there’s more money to be had from the non-American tourists. A substantial number of DVC owners are from the UK and other countries outside the US.

    While the overall traffic and profits are down, I’d be very interested in the delta in the revenue per guest number. Those still visiting the parks might be spending more per capita than those who stay at home.

  2. I think aging of the baby boomers (born 1946-1964) is fueling the DVC right now and will for at least another 10-15 years.

  3. I want to see some numbers from parks elsewhere – Disney and non-Disney. You see, this anecdotal slump coincides with my own experience at Alton Towers (The UK’s second-largest Amusement Park and largest Theme Park – both by footfall) recently, where crowds were way down and queues for popular rides preposterously short (One notable example is Oblivion, on the the Park’s most popular – queue time of 0 minutes). And this is in late July/early August, right after all the schools have let out for the summer.

    I really hope the bottom has not finally globally fallen out of the amusement park industry as a result of the economic meltdown.

  4. I was at the Magic Kingdom (Orlando) on July 28 and August 1, and the lines at the big attractions were about long as usual (i’ve been maybe 30 times in the past 30 years), 60 minutes or so at the most crowded times.

    However, Space Mountain was closed both days, which surely shifted the crowds to other parts of the park.

    Had SM been open, i would guess that the lines at other big attractions and generally would perhaps have been about 5%-10% shorter than usual.

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