Walt Disney World and Disneyland have seen significantly lower wait times in the past month, in what some analysts attribute to one of the slowest periods in over a decade. Though Disney pushed out optimism earlier this year, investing in innovative projects such as a Star Wars-themed hotel, the amusement park has now been hit with an affordability crisis, not unlike the student loan repayments that will restart in September.
CEO Bob Iger has recently come forward at an investor conference to admit customer affordability issues, with pricing increases said to be “too aggressive”. Wall Street Journal data from Touring Plans, which tracks wait times at theme parks, paints a vivid picture of Disney’s stagnating success. At the Magic Kingdom park in Orlando, the average wait time decreased from 31 minutes in 2022 to 27 minutes in July. Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Central Florida also had the third slowest day in the past year.
“It’s something that nobody would have predicted—just unfathomable,” Len Testa, a Touring Plans data analyst, said.
And yet, despite the slowdown, hope remains for Disney’s future. The company has instituted a variety of deals around Christmas, a peak period, in order to encourage attendance. This includes hotel discounts in Orlando in addition to various other packages offered through Pixie Paper, an agency focusing on Disney vacations.
Still, even these attempts have failed to keep the majority of visitors away. With the price of packages at the Star Wars-themed hotel costing up to $4,800 for a two-night stay, and rising costs in general, people have instead chosen to take other forms of vacation, such as beach or cruise holidays.
Stephanie Oprea, an Atlanta-based luxury specialist planner and director of marketing for Pixie Travel, explained the issue.
“People might be a little bit fatigued with price increases based on the economy at the moment,” Oprea said.
The wake backlash, too, has had an effect on Disney’s success. The latest problems at Disney have come hand in hand with a certain politicization of content which may have alienated some viewers.
So far, Disney’s stock has taken a hit. Their market capitalization has been halved since March 2021, and analysts like KeyBanc Capital Markets have downgraded the company over worries of “stalled growth”.
The coming months will be telling, as students start to repay their debts. In the meantime, though, Disney’s dreams of a constantly growing user base remain like dreams of a good night’s sleep: out of reach.
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