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News Park attendance showing significant softness heading into the Fall 2018

CaptainAmerica

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.
Was MNSSHP ever an actual draw? I always viewed it as more of a way to monetize existing guests rather than a way to attract incremental ones.
 

ColdSarsaparilla

Well-Known Member
This news while the economy is strong gives me hope they are inching perilously close to the tipping point... Fingers crossed. Of course, nothing will change until they see if Stars Wars meets/exceeds expectations or under-performs. Again, I hate to be the Debbie Downer, but here's hoping for the latter.
 
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monothingie

I once was a ferret for a day.
Premium Member
Was MNSSHP ever an actual draw? I always viewed it as more of a way to monetize existing guests rather than a way to attract incremental ones.

I would think so, both parties Xmas and Halloween for the most part are during the slowest times. (Except for thanksgiving and Xmas week). I’m guessing in addition to what you said they could have been viewed as reasons for visits.

Of course when you start them in mid August I’d imagine it looses its uniqueness and then becomes just an up charge cash grab
 

TOCPE82

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.

Preach. This is my exact thought as well. They'll tell their friends about that great experience and about how September is the best time to be there!
 

TOCPE82

Well-Known Member
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.
But what about the average waits for those rides. I know I'm happier the less time I spend in lines.
 

Weather_Lady

Well-Known Member
Also, did they really drop guac from Pecos Bill's?

Sadly, yes. When we visited last spring, the guac was gone (along with the queso, which had been removed previously). They were selling little 2-Tblsp. condiment cups of it as a "side" for $2 apiece (also available for a snack credit, LOL!). Such a small thing -- but those small things add up after a bit.
 

tissandtully

Well-Known Member
Does it not have to do with the flagship park (MK) now closing earlier on more nights due to a Halloween party that started in August? I mean, that's gotta have some sort of impact when the main draw closes at 6pm to those who don't wanna fork out another entry fee in addition to what they already spent, so people will plan around that.
 

AndyS2992

Well-Known Member
I was supposed to go this year, right now in fact, (Sep 3 - 16) however prices now are just too high for us so we’re going to Disneyland Paris this November instead. The resort parking fees were the nail in the coffin really. So we are waiting for the 50th in 2021, assuming it starts in May that year as usual and will go in September and will not rent a car to avoid those fees. So saving up for that and hoping all the upcoming new additions will be up and running.

Another annoyance being Halloween parties starting earlier and earlier meaning less time at MK and no fireworks those nights either which sucks especially when we go late August/early September. UK schools are still on summer break and having Halloween shoved down your throat at this time is ridiculous. Night of a joy has gone however so that’s at least one good thing that has happened lately.
 

CJR

Well-Known Member
Honestly, if they had the right people running the parks, it wouldn't have been unexpected given the situation this year.

They have a major land opening next year and a weak slate of new attractions this year. Don't get me wrong, TSL is fun, but compared to SWL next year and Pandora previously, it's weak. Add to that, prices have never been higher overall, such as they're charging for parking at hotels now, and it's really not all that surprising.
 

CaptainAmerica

Premium Member
But what about the average waits for those rides. I know I'm happier the less time I spend in lines.
That's already "baked in" to the 11 attractions. However much line you wait in that allows you to do 11 attractions is the optimal amount of line to wait in. Obviously "optimal" for any particular guest would be zero lines, but Disney's research tells them those zero lines and maximum attraction counts don't actually make you any happier or more likely to return.

Sadly, yes. When we visited last spring, the guac was gone (along with the queso, which had been removed previously). They were selling little 2-Tblsp. condiment cups of it as a "side" for $2 apiece (also available for a snack credit, LOL!). Such a small thing -- but those small things add up after a bit.
Is it possible they go back and forth on this depending on the price of avocados, which fluctuates all over the place? I feel like the guac was available when I was there in June.
 

MickeyMinnieMom

Well-Known Member
Honestly, if they had the right people running the parks, it wouldn't have been unexpected given the situation this year.

They have a major land opening next year and a weak slate of new attractions this year. Don't get me wrong, TSL is fun, but compared to SWL next year and Pandora previously, it's weak. Add to that, prices have never been higher overall, such as they're charging for parking at hotels now, and it's really not all that surprising.
I don’t think it’s a question of the wrong people running Parks. Projections just aren’t an exact science and involve myriad assumptions. I don’t expect any company or the best management to get them right every time. They need to adjust staffing with crowds and projections — that’s the only thing that makes sense in this industry.

I was glad they extended hours this Aug as compared to the lunacy of MK closing by 10pm every night like last year. And they kept all of DHS open late instead of JUST TSL, avoiding mirroring the nonsense from last year of only keeping Pandora and not all of AK open. I like that they adjust and try different permutations — they can’t be right every time.

If they now need to scale back staffing to accommodate lower than expected crowds in the Fall, that seems reasonable — if they’re projecting that continuing.

The only thing I’d worry about is major cuts that diminish the experience greatly. Which I wouldn’t anticipate as they know this is a lull until SWGE.
 

Weather_Lady

Well-Known Member
Is it possible they go back and forth on this depending on the price of avocados, which fluctuates all over the place? I feel like the guac was available when I was there in June.

I don't know. If you pull up the Pecos Bill's menu on the Disney website right now, it lists guacamole as a $2 side item, but of course it could be out of date. (Perhaps we need a sticky thread someplace for this: "Guac Watch 2018")! ;)
 

CaptainAmerica

Premium Member
I don’t think it’s a question of the wrong people running Parks. Projections just aren’t an exact science and involve myriad assumptions. I don’t expect any company or the best management to get them right every time. They need to adjust staffing with crowds and projections — that’s the only thing that makes sense in this industry.

I was glad they extended hours this Aug as compared to the lunacy of MK closing by 10pm every night like last year. And they kept all of DHS open late instead of JUST TSL, avoiding mirroring the nonsense from last year of only keeping Pandora and not all of AK open. I like that they adjust and try different permutations — they can’t be right every time.

If they now need to scale back staffing to accommodate lower than expected crowds in the Fall, that seems reasonable — if they’re projecting that continuing.

The only thing I’d worry about is major cuts that diminish the experience greatly. Which I wouldn’t anticipate as they know this is a lull until SWGE.
+50 points for using "myriad" correctly.
 

wendysue

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.

I think it's caught up. I can't even bribe my family to go. They say the value just isn't there for their family trips. My husband and I used to go twice a year, but just can't afford it any longer. We downsized again and again, but the park tickets being several hundred dollars now....oh well.
 

larryz

post hoc ergo propter hoc
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.
It's only hyperbole if it's beyond reasonable expectation. Everything you mentioned can, does, and has happened.
 

Weather_Lady

Well-Known Member
I think it's caught up. I can't even bribe my family to go. They say the value just isn't there for their family trips. My husband and I used to go twice a year, but just can't afford it any longer. We downsized again and again, but the park tickets being several hundred dollars now....oh well.

Good point! When I told my husband we could buy seasonal annual passes to Universal for the entire family (with "seasonal" blockout dates being the week of Christmas and the month of July), for less than it would cost us for 3-day Magic Your Way Disney parks tickets, he was astounded. We ended up booking two Universal vacations this year, for less than the cost of a single vacation at WDW. I still love WDW, but it has priced itself into being a "once-every-few-years-splurge" for us, instead of a regular, annual or semi-annual destination.
 
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xdan0920

Think for yourselfer
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.

Lotta numbers there. What about the marginal satisfaction for not having to wait 20 min for food because they closed half the QSR in the park for "staffing"....or getting to meet Goofy in a line of 7 instead of 37 because they have a full cast available?....or the marginal satisfaction you get from catching a bus in a short amount of time because they kept enough drivers on to keep people moving? and so on and so forth...
 

CJR

Well-Known Member
I don’t think it’s a question of the wrong people running Parks. Projections just aren’t an exact science and involve myriad assumptions. I don’t expect any company or the best management to get them right every time. They need to adjust staffing with crowds and projections — that’s the only thing that makes sense in this industry.

It's my opinion that the wrong people are running the parks. I agree with your assessment that "it happens", you're not wrong.

The issue lies into managerial decisions that got us to this point. They overly marketed the addition of two more minor attractions. They decided to follow trends instead of set them by charging for parking at their hotels, something they've never done before. It's not surprising that the numbers aren't up to par this fall, when you look at the work to boost guest spending. I think if they had done a few things differently over the past couple of years, the numbers would have met expectations.
 

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