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Disney Parks Attendance Dipped, but Is Post-COVID Really To Blame?

A woman and young girl ride Dumbo
Credit: Disney

For more than a year, Disneyland’s gates remained closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Walt Disney World Resort was only closed for four months, but Disney’s European and Asian parks stayed closed for much longer and struggled to remain open for prolonged periods. Thankfully, COVID is largely in the rearview mirror, all of Disney’s theme parks are open, and many of the intense COVID restrictions are no longer in place.

guests wearing masks

Credit: Disney

Related: With Park Attendance on a MASSIVE Decline, Genie+ Price Hits RECORD Low

As the world really started to open up, the desire to travel and get out hit many people like a ton of bricks. That caused a huge surge in attendance and demand for reservations at Disney parks. As the capacity restrictions were lifted, many guests could tell you that the parks seemed to be more crowded than ever.

Despite an initial uptick in attendance, Disney recently revealed that its crowd numbers have been dropping.

guests character meet greet disneyland

Credit: Disney

On May 7, during Disney’s second quarter fiscal earnings call, CFO Hugh Johnston and CEO Bob Iger said that attendance had dipped. In addition to that, they expect attendance to dip even more next quarter.

“In terms of attendance, what we’re basically communicating is relative to the post-COVID highs, things are tending to normalize,” said CEO Bob Iger. “We still see in the bookings … as we look ahead … [signs that] indicate healthy growth in the business. So we still certainly feel good about the opportunities.”

However, not everyone believes that the attendance dip has to do solely with the fact that people got the travel bug out of their system.

A man and a woman smiling, taking a selfie with a colorful, whimsical alien puppet. they are standing in front of a vibrant, cartoonish backdrop with clouds and stars.

Credit: Disney

Visiting a Disney theme park is more expensive than ever, and many guests are now finding themselves unable to afford the magical vacations they love so much. Many wondered when Disney would out-price itself, and it seems that time might have come.

Demand “softened” because Disney chased a LARGE portion of their audience away with price hikes, nickel and diming, needless complication, and a decrease in the overall quality of their domestic theme park product.

Cruise business is BOOMING as families look for value elsewhere

For the last 5-7 years, people have come home from a Disney vacation and shared with their friends and coworkers how expensive, complicated, and sub par the experience was. Disney is starting to see the consequences of combining penny pinching with price gouging.

Others questioned if COVID was really to blame because Disney’s biggest theme park competition — Universal Studios — is continuing to see a rise in attendance. And that attendance will spike when Epic Universe opens at the Universal Orlando Resort in 2025.

Is Universals impact on Disney starting to show attendance wise? In Disney’s earning CEO Bob Iger noted that “theme park attendance is finally leveling out post-COVID-19 closures and restrictions”. Unlike Disney Universal continues to see growing numbers above Pre Covid levels

During the earnings call, Bob Iger made a big announcement, its streaming business finally made a profit. Unfortunately, that was not enough to offset the negative, and Disney’s stock dropped by more than 10%.

Do you think Disney has finally out-priced itself and that is why attendance is lower? Let us know in the comments!

About Krysten Swensen

A born and bred New England girl living the Disney life in Southern California. I love to read, to watch The Golden Girls, and love everything to do with Disney and Universal. I also love to share daily doses of Disney on my Disney Instagram @BrazzleDazzleDisney!

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