A trip to Walt Disney World or Disneyland with the whole family is too expensive. Former and current Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger recently admitted customer affordability issues at an investor conference. And the direct consequences of price-gouging families, plus the 'woke' backlash, might have led to one of the slowest periods at Walt Disney World in Orlando on July 4 in a decade.
Disney World in Orlando is suffering - here it is nearly mid-July, schools are out, families are on vacation, and the streets at Disney are just about empty! pic.twitter.com/y0wf0ZvB4Z— Old Spook 👻 (@maxheadroom470) July 8, 2023
The Wall Street Journal cited new data from Touring Plans, a company that tracks wait times at theme parks, which reported Disney World and Disneyland in California had significantly lower wait times to get on rides on Independence Day weekend.
According to Touring Plans, Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park in Central Florida experienced the third-slowest day in the past year. The average wait time at the Magic Kingdom park was around 27 minutes, down from 31 minutes in 2022 and 47 minutes in 2019.
"It's something that nobody would have predicted—just unfathomable," said Len Testa, a Touring Plans data analyst.
Disney executives have warned about expected weaker earnings from the US park segment. Days ago, KeyBanc Capital Markets downgraded Disney over fears of stalled growth due to lower attendance at its theme parks and lower streaming viewership.
Disney's market capitalization has been halved since peaking at $335 billion in March 2021.
To stoke demand, WSJ noted, "The Orlando-area resort is even offering hotel discounts around Christmas, typically a peak period."
The drastic slowdown in visitors at its US parks comes as the company hiked prices and eliminated complimentary amenities.
Stephanie Oprea, an Atlanta-based senior planner and director of marketing for Pixie Travel, an agency focused on Disney vacations, said rising park costs had led some families to vacation elsewhere.
"People might be a little bit fatigued with price increases based on the economy at the moment," Oprea said, adding clients ditched Disney's parks for cruise or beach vacations because of high prices.
CEO Iger recently told investors at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media, and Telecom Conference that price increases at theme parks had become too aggressive.
Meanwhile, a Star Wars-themed hotel at Walt Disney World is set to close in the coming months because of lackluster demand. Two guests can expect to pay $4,800 for a two-night package at the hotel. Add kids, and prices are just absurd.
Sliding park demand could be due to a combination of an affordability crisis and backlash sparked by Disney's woke political agenda. We wonder what happens after student loan repayments restart in Sept...