Earlier this week Disney seemingly confirmed what many summer visitors already knew: theme park attendance had fallen at Walt Disney World. Though executives were quick to tell investors that attendance was actually up at Disneyland during the summer period, at the company’s flagship resort in Orlando, things cooled off over the summer in a major way, with the massive post-COVID surge of the past few years seemingly coming to an abrupt end.
The cause of this slowdown is debatable, as there are plenty of factors that could be contributing, including a lack of new attractions on the horizon, the increasing cost of travel, Disney’s own price hikes, and larger economic factors. However, Disney certainly isn’t just sitting still while attendance stalls, and is working to re-ignite demand in some very interesting ways.
1. More deals and discounts
Image: DisneyFrequent Walt Disney World visitors know that the resort isn’t shy about offering discounts and deals throughout the year, especially on hotel stays. However, it looks like Disney is really hitting the gas right now by offering some very specific deals (like ticket savings at EPCOT and Disney’s Animal Kingdom) to try and entice guests to visit the park and they have even re-introduced “bounceback” offers to try and boost their 2024 attendance early. We’d guess that these discounts will continue into the new year, as Disney works to recover their lost summer attendance during the busy holiday period.
2. Investing in new and returning entertainment
Image: DisneyEntertainment is a key part of the Walt Disney World experience, and it looks like Disney will be expanding in this area in the near future. Already, a new, unnamed show has been confirmed to be coming to EPCOT before the end of the year, and now it looks like the Tree of Life Awakenings show at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, which was paused back in March, will be returning in the fall.
Though nothing boosts attendance like new attractions, Disney doesn’t really have much in the pipeline, aside from the Journey of Water Inspired by Moana walk-through attraction, which is opening later this year. Fortunately, entertainment is cheap and easy to deploy, and we’d wager that more limited-time entertainment offerings will be announced in the coming months if attendance continues to be slow.
3. A stronger focus on annual passholders
Image: DisneyWalt Disney World annual passholders haven’t had it easy over the past few years. Price hikes, pass unavailability, and reservation issues soured a lot of Disney fans on the passholder program in the post-COVID era, with many saying they would not be renewing their passes again until things improved. Fortunately, it looks like Disney is at least trying to bring some of these passholders back into the fold with exclusive discounts, perks, and more. Passes have also been made available indefinitely, allowing guests to once again join the program at-will instead of waiting on limited time purchase windows.
Only time will tell if these measures will alleviate Walt Disney World’s attendance woes, but if the holiday season underperforms, expect a lot more changes in the new year as the resort continues to look for creative ways to boost attendance that don’t involve building a new ride.