The parks are clogged because Disney hasn't opened a theme park in 23 years (and counting). The U.S. population has increased by 20% since the last time WDW built a theme park. In addition, Disney has been heavily advertising internationally for almost 20 years, adding nearly another 20% to WDW's attendance. As a result, WDW attendance is up 40% since 1998 yet no 5th gate.While I mostly agree with the point you're making I want to clarify something here: This isn't so much about catering to the rich, as it is realizing and understanding that what they were offering before was severely underpriced. The consequence of re-leveling pricing to appeal to the masses, are parks that are clogged with people, day and night. Rides with 100+ minute waits. Restaurants booked out months in advance. Requiring a degree in industrial engineering to understand how to use Fastpass.
Meanwhile, over at Universal, they've already opened a water park and are in the process of building a third theme park.
Let's think about that for a moment. In 2019, WDW averaged 14.7 million annual visitors per theme park. Meanwhile, Universal Orlando averaged only 10.6 million annual visitors per theme park.
Yet it's Universal that is building another theme park!
Disney isn't building another theme park because the Two Bobs believe their 'Guests' will pay any price for 'The Magic.'
I suspect we're like many WDW 'Guests.' We look at prices along with the nickel-and-diming and ask ourselves, "What the heck is happening to Walt Disney World?" Our annual pass will increase by 25% when we renew next year. Disney restaurants that were selling a burger for $15 a few years ago are now charging $20. Disney's Magical Express is ending. Free FastPass+ has ended. Free MagicBands have ended.
We were just at the Boardwalk and the attendants told us they are not even heating the pools. We were at the Hard Rock earlier in the week and that pool most assuredly was warmer. We enjoyed ourselves immensely at the Hard Rock pool, shivered at the Boardwalk pool.
What the heck is going on at WDW!?!?
Repeating something I wrote about earlier, we've already cancelled nights from our WDW stays, rented out those DVC points, purchased Universal annual passes, and booked nights at the Hard Rock Hotel, Royal Pacific, and Portofino Bay. Amazingly, the points we rented more than cover the cost of our Universal annual passes and 3 different stays at Universal's 3 Deluxe Resorts.
Here's a sample of some December annual pass rates at Universal:
Here's are some rates at WDW hotels for those same nights:
I'm paying $204/night in December to stay at the Royal Pacific, putting me within walking distance of two theme parks. Best of all, that price includes unlimited Express Pass all day long.
What does $753/night at the Polynesian get me? The 'privilege' of paying an extra $10 to $24 for 2 attractions (each!), plus another $15 for Genie+. That's right, over $800/night with tax and parking, and I still have to dish out another $50 per 'Guest' for something that's not as good as Express Pass. For a family of 4, that's another $200 per day, practically the cost of the entire Royal Pacific room with Express Pass included!
Relating all of this to the subject of this thread, you want to know why Disney is looking for ways to cut costs because attendance has not rebounded?
Don't blame COVID.
Blame corporate Disney for the way it treats its 'Guests'.