News Park attendance showing significant softness heading into the Fall 2018

danlb_2000

Well-Known Member
Don't post much anymore, but this made me think, also made me a bit annoyed.

So attendance predictions look "soft" ok....

What does TDO do? Cut back labor, tighten up budgets, make an empty park feel fuller. Great! And, now, if their predictions are off, then this "optimized staffing" will make for a nightmare-ish park experience.

Wouldn't the better move be to fully staff and operate the parks. If attendance is soft, great, all the guests get a wonderful experience, making them more likely to return. Doesn't that seem like the better long term strategery?

Also, maybe it would help to give folks a reason to visit outside of whatever current festival Epcot is running and sundry after hour "parties" that effectively double the cost of your day at MK? I dunno...

Call me crazy.
Your crazy. ;)

You have to keep the shareholders happy, if revenue goes down you have to cut expenses somewhere to make up for it so it doesn't cut into the bottom line.
 

CaptainAmerica

Premium Member
Advertisement
Don't post much anymore, but this made me think, also made me a bit annoyed.

So attendance predictions look "soft" ok....

What does TDO do? Cut back labor, tighten up budgets, make an empty park feel fuller. Great! And, now, if their predictions are off, then this "optimized staffing" will make for a nightmare-ish park experience.

Wouldn't the better move be to fully staff and operate the parks. If attendance is soft, great, all the guests get a wonderful experience, making them more likely to return. Doesn't that seem like the better long term strategery?

Also, maybe it would help to give folks a reason to visit outside of whatever current festival Epcot is running and sundry after hour "parties" that effectively double the cost of your day at MK? I dunno...

Call me crazy.
I forget what the number is, but there's an "optimal" number of attractions for a guest to see in a given day. I think it's either 9 or 11. After that, the marginal satisfaction a guest gets from seeing additional attractions is negligible. In other words, a guest who sees 11 attractions is much happier than a guest who sees 6 attractions. But a guest who sees 15 attractions is not any happier than a guest who sees 11 attractions. So throwing labor at the parks in order to get guests from 11 to 15 isn't worth the cost because it doesn't actually result in the guests getting a "wonderful experience, making them much more likely to return" as you posited.
 

Notes from Neverland

Well-Known Member
Just my personal experience:
We spent a few days there over Labor Day weekend and it was crowded, but not horrific. Skip ahead to the next weekend, we went to Mickey's Not-So-Scary on the 7th and it wasn't very crowded at all, by Disney standards. We were able to keep riding Big Thunder on a loop because there wasn't really a wait. Big difference compared to the party we attended in 2017.
 

DougK

Well-Known Member
Don't post much anymore, but this made me think, also made me a bit annoyed.

So attendance predictions look "soft" ok....

What does TDO do? Cut back labor, tighten up budgets, make an empty park feel fuller. Great! And, now, if their predictions are off, then this "optimized staffing" will make for a nightmare-ish park experience.

Wouldn't the better move be to fully staff and operate the parks. If attendance is soft, great, all the guests get a wonderful experience, making them more likely to return. Doesn't that seem like the better long term strategery?

Also, maybe it would help to give folks a reason to visit outside of whatever current festival Epcot is running and sundry after hour "parties" that effectively double the cost of your day at MK? I dunno...

Call me crazy.
Disney management doesn't care about long term strategy any longer, they care about this year's bonus.
 

Kman101

Well-Known Member
Word from inside the park is that there are signs of some significant slowdown in attendance this month.

Alarm bells are beginning to sound, with various areas being asked to trim back labor and begin cost saving measures.

For those of you who may not be regular readers, this isn't entirely new, and has occurred several times over the last couple of years.
And cost cutting is their favorite go-to in these "hard times". They have to stop panicking and acting like they're going out of business. Slow times happen. I get they hate that, and have tried so very hard to stop the slow times. But this is it.
 

Kman101

Well-Known Member
Don't post much anymore, but this made me think, also made me a bit annoyed.

So attendance predictions look "soft" ok....

What does TDO do? Cut back labor, tighten up budgets, make an empty park feel fuller. Great! And, now, if their predictions are off, then this "optimized staffing" will make for a nightmare-ish park experience.

Wouldn't the better move be to fully staff and operate the parks. If attendance is soft, great, all the guests get a wonderful experience, making them more likely to return. Doesn't that seem like the better long term strategery?

Also, maybe it would help to give folks a reason to visit outside of whatever current festival Epcot is running and sundry after hour "parties" that effectively double the cost of your day at MK? I dunno...

Call me crazy.
It's why I rolled my eyes so hard they almost got stuck when I read "cost-cutting".

You said all I was thinking as well.

They panic like they're going to have to shut down tomorrow because of "soft attendance". Sorry Disney, you can't have it jamming all the time no matter how hard you try. Are the Halloween parties in August not enough? ;)
 

Kman101

Well-Known Member
two reasons
1. TSL never connected with the fans in terms of theme park success
2. Star Wars opens next year
Yep.

Shame about TSL. Many people actually do like it from what I can tell, but it's an "it is what it is" kind of thing, lol. It wasn't ever going to resonate like other lands do. I think the slashing of budget for the land didn't help matters. It's nice enough for what it is, but they really should have gone full out like the original intent was. Could have been so much more. It's still a draw because it's a new land in a park that desperately needed someplace new to walk around.

Did they actually expect the watered down TSL to be the draw of a Pandora, Potter, Cars Land or SW Land?

And yep, everyone not under a rock knows SW Land opens next year (so they're waiting). There also usually seems to be a slump around this time anyway, no? Why is there sudden panic?
 

Weather_Lady

Well-Known Member
It's why I rolled my eyes so hard they almost got stuck when I read "cost-cutting".

You said all I was thinking as well.

They panic like they're going to have to shut down tomorrow because of "soft attendance". Sorry Disney, you can't have it jamming all the time no matter how hard you try. Are the Halloween parties in August not enough? ;)
I totally agree.

I also think WDW underestimates the negative impact of its cost-cutting measures on guests. Soft attendance shouldn't only be seen as a reason to cost-cut, but WDW should be assessing whether prior cost-cutting is a contributing factor that is exacerbating soft attendance. Thanks to factors like crowd-adjusted staffing and higher prices, families like mine are choosing to travel to WDW less frequently. In some ways, it's sort of begun to feel like Disney is conspiring against us in our quest to have the optimal Disney vacation. Visiting during low crowds to take advantage of shorter waits? We'll "fix" that by cutting staff and capacity! Saving time in line with same-day Fastpasses? How about we arrange to have a few hundred thousand people competing with you for them 1 and 2 months ahead of time! Staying onsite for free parking and access to daily EMH? We'll charge for parking, cut back on EMH and let some guests pay more for the opportunity to get into parks ahead of you, and don't you even think about taking that extra ounce of shampoo home with you! Enjoyed the value of those CS toppings bars, did you? Well, no more guac for you! We're finding the "loopholes of fun" and closing them as fast as we can!

Hyperbole, to be sure, and we obviously haven't stopped going to WDW altogether, but the transparent cutbacks give rise to a bad vibe -- a perception that Disney is the bad guy you have to outsmart to get the most value out of your vacation, instead of your partner in that endeavor -- which at some point has got to start hurting the bottom line more than it helps it.
 
Last edited:

Andrew C

You know what's funny?
Premium Member
It's why I rolled my eyes so hard they almost got stuck when I read "cost-cutting".

You said all I was thinking as well.

They panic like they're going to have to shut down tomorrow because of "soft attendance". Sorry Disney, you can't have it jamming all the time no matter how hard you try. Are the Halloween parties in August not enough? ;)
I have no inside information but I don't know if it is panic. In other industries as well, whether it be retail, hotel, etc., when you forecast it to be slow (or it is unexpectedly slow), you reduce labor costs. You only get into trouble when you cut back too much and the guest experience is adversely affected (I believe this may have happened in Jan/Feb?). If they can avoid this, I don't think it is a big deal. It is definitely a fine balance. However, they better being working on some sort of mid-term strategy to see what is the cause of this and how they can turn it around and make some modest changes to attract crowds until SWL opens. Maybe people are just holding back until SWL.
 

Jon81uk

Well-Known Member
Beyond what they expected due to the "we'll wait until star wars opens" crowd?
This seems to be the big difference between Disney and Universal.
Disney haven't even got close to breaking ground on the Star Wars Hotel but it was announced a year (or more) ago.

Universal are over half way through building a Harry Potter rollercoaster, opening expected next year and there is no official announcement.

Yes there are always new things coming and Star Wars land is a huge new area, so will cause people to delay trips for it. But hold off on some announcements and it can help you.
 

ColdSarsaparilla

Well-Known Member
I hate to be so cynical, but Parks and Resorts has been taking advantage of WDW's goodwill and customer loyalty for some time... And I look forward to the day that catches up to them and they are forced to seriously rethink their strategy. That will be a good day.
 

Kman101

Well-Known Member
Adjusting staffing seems an industry norm. I’d be interested in what is meant by other cost-cutting measures this time. Assuming this is true.
Adjusting staffing is one thing. I've worked in enough places to have seen this happen. Like you I'm more interested in the other cost-cutting measures. How much more, truthfully, can be cut from the parks? Entertainment and characters feel at a bare minimum. Parades have been cut over the years, etc. I mean ... I get "cuts" from their perspective, but from the other perspective, they're not the go-to answer.
 

Kman101

Well-Known Member
I hate to be so cynical, but Parks and Resorts have been taking advantage of WDW's goodwill and customer loyalty for some time... And I look forward to the day that catches up to them and they are forced to seriously rethink their strategy. That will be a good day.
It slowly is. And by slowly I mean slower than a sloth slow. But still. I see glimmers of it. You can't coast for two decades, raise prices and not expect the public to start catching on. But it's been very very slow. I don't know if they'll ever see themselves get hit like some want them to be though.
 

jaxonp

Well-Known Member
Will be there at the end of the Month. I hope the crowds are still manageable. I really miss the Jan/Feb times of the early 2000s.
It was busy in January. The staffing cut thing happened but was slightly overblown. Attendance was up. I was there multiple times, you could not move through AK and parts of world showcase.
 

CaptainAmerica

Premium Member
I totally agree.

I also think WDW underestimates the negative impact of its cost-cutting measures on guests. Soft attendance shouldn't only be seen as a reason to cost-cut, but WDW should be assessing whether prior cost-cutting is a contributing factor that is exacerbating soft attendance. Thanks to factors like crowd-adjusted staffing and higher prices, families like mine are choosing to travel to WDW less frequently. In some ways, it's sort of begun to feel like Disney is conspiring against us in our quest to have the optimal Disney vacation. Visiting during low crowds to take advantage of shorter waits? We'll "fix" that by cutting staff and capacity! Saving time in line with same-day Fastpasses? How about we arrange to have a few hundred thousand people competing with you for them 1 and 2 months ahead of time! Staying onsite for free parking and access to daily EMH? We'll charge for parking, cut back on EMH and let some guests pay more for the opportunity to get into parks ahead of you, and don't you even think about taking that extra ounce of shampoo home with you! Enjoyed the value of those CS toppings bars, did you? Well, no more guac for you! We're finding the "loopholes of fun" and closing them as fast as we can!

Hyperbole, to be sure, and we obviously haven't stopped going to WDW altogether, but the transparent cutbacks give rise to a bad vibe -- a perception that Disney is the bad guy you have to outsmart to get the most value out of your vacation, instead of your partner in that endeavor -- which at some point has got to start hurting the bottom line more than it helps it.
I do think charging for parking was a major PR disaster. I personally don't have a problem with it as a guest, and I think a significant component of the decision-making was to steer people away from renting cars and instead rely on Disney transportation rather than just a new revenue stream, but I honestly think they would have been better off simply raising room rates an additional $15 per night across the board.

Also, did they really drop guac from Pecos Bill's?
 

monothingie

Not Monty
Premium Member
@wdwmagic is there any perceived softness for F&W? F&W and the MNSSHP seem like the main draws for the fall season, maybe they’re not the draw they used to be?

They must have been some forecasting about this, because they have been very aggressive with the hotel and package deals for the first half of the fall. Deluxe discounts are particularly deep, add an AP rate discount and you have almost 50% off rack rate for rooms at certain deluxe resorts like the GF.
 
Top Bottom