Disney is “Desperate” for Parks Attendance Increase, According to Top Disney Travel Agent

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(Photo: Bryan Perri / Instagram)

When the co-owner of the top Disney travel agency in the country says Disney Parks attendance is way down, then parks attendance is down despite what the Disney PR spin doctors would have you believe.

When he uses language saying that Disney Parks are “desperate” to drive traffic, then you’d better listen.

It’s likely going to be bad news for cast members, as we’re already seeing Disney trim down its offerings. And if he’s correct, then winter may be coming to Disney Parks after the Q4 earnings reports are in.

Sorry, Pixie Dusters. There’s no spoonful of sugar that can make this medicine go down any smoother. Disney Parks attendance is in trouble.

Disney’s non-stop discounts means they’re “desperate.”

Pete Werner, co-owner of Dreams Unlimited Travel (the top performing Disney travel agency in the country) and owner of The Dis Boards, has plainly stated what a lot of us have known to be true for quite some time.

Disney Parks attendance is way down, and Disney might have brought this upon themselves due to all of the recent price increases.

On a recent podcast, Werner addressed the much talked about attendance decline from the perspective of a travel agent and Disney fan site owner.

“Every time there is a price increase… every time there is what we would term a ‘money grab’ by Disney, the question gets asked,” Werner begins, “At what point is it just going to be too much?”

Werner notes that this has been ‘an interesting summer.’ he notes that he has been selling Disney travel packages for over 20 years, and bluntly states “something’s up.”

He notes that that this year saw the single largest increase in the price of Annual Passes in Disney’s history prior to the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Walt Disney World. However, Werner notes that he’s getting inundated with emails from Disney featuring unheard of discounts.

Disney doesn’t discount anything… unless they have to.

Werner notes that he’s been hearing many people haven’t been renewing their annual passes, because Disney has finally priced them out.

He notes that the “midday break” ticket is completely unheard of, and also points to Disney potentially being in trouble.

Walt Disney World should be busy this Fall. But it’s not.

(Photo Credit: Tristan Pratt)

That doesn’t seem to bode well for Walt Disney World’s projected attendance going into what should be one of the busiest times of the year. Fall generally sees an uptick in attendance for seasonal events like Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival.

Galaxy’s Edge recently opened in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and a year ago Disney was worried where they would put all of the people.

But they’re not turning out. At least not in the numbers Disney had predicted. In fact, wait times for Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run in Disney World are pretty minimal, even compared to other newer rides in the park.

Compare this to the Hagrid coaster in Universal, which is still seeing wait times over 2 hours. And no, Bob Chapek, it’s not a failure. It’s legit demand for an excellent attraction that people are willing to wait to ride.

Clearly, Disney massively underestimated how busy they were going to be this Fall, and raised their rates in anticipation of bleeding out every Guest that turned up.

It was going to be like printing money.

But it’s clearly not.

Walt Disney World’s vacation package sales are down significantly.

Pete Werner doesn’t mince words.

“I will tell you that package sales to Walt Disney World are down significantly.”

He continues, “I will tell you anecdotally that traffic in the parks is lower than we’ve seen it in awhile.”

It’s no secret that Disney’s summer attendance was down, as many major news outlets covered it. Disney’s Q3 earnings report seemingly confirmed what many Disney parks watchers suspected — it’s worse than what Disney is letting on.

Disney CEO Bob Iger once said they raised prices to control crowds. But Iger also once said that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge wouldn’t need any advertising.

Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run opens in Walt Disney World. (Photo: Lauren Beal)

Werner points out that Disney CEO Bob Iger once famously said that Disney Parks were raising their prices to keep crowd levels lower to make for a better guest experience. (Oh, and to maximize revenue.)

Laughably, he spun the price increase as a good thing for Disney Parks fans.

Iger also stated that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge was going to be so big, that Disney wouldn’t even need to market it.

With many media outlets calling the Disneyland version a “flop,” it’s clear that maybe… just maybe… they should have spent more money marketing it.

“Didn’t Galaxy’s Edge just open? Wasn’t this supposed to be the Second Coming,” Werner asks.

He goes to to wonder aloud why we’re seeing all of the special discounts and special tickets appearing all of the sudden. “They’re running discounts out in [Disneyland] that I’ve never seen.”

“They are desperate to get people into the parks.”

Crowds are so light in Hollywood Studios (where the east coast version of Galaxy’s Edge resides) that all cast blackouts have been lifted from September 9th on.

2020 Won’t Get Much Better for Disney Parks Attendance.

Werner goes on to address concerns about an impending recession, which will absolutely impact such luxury expenses as Disney vacations. Some of his fellow agents commented that they’re seeing more and more people push vacation plans back to 2021 and beyond due to all of the construction currently going on in Walt Disney World, and many people are choosing to stay off property as Disney Resort Hotel prices have skyrocketed.

Werner says that if the economy goes into a recession next year, it’s going to throw a wrench into so many of Disney’s plans. He correctly points out that while Disney was telling itself things were fine, they clearly were not as for years there has been pushback from independent bloggers and podcasters about the pricing increases and other issues with the parks.

“This could end up being a perfect storm for them,” Werner says.

[Source: Dis Unplugged]

 

A Disney fan, but never a "pixie duster." As a former newspaper editor, web developer, and Disney comics freelancer, I'm able to combine that experience into writing about Disney objectively. Former editor of The Kingdom Insider. Current co-host of the Clownfish TV YouTube channel. Opinions my own.