What Happens to WDW / Disney Parks during a massive correction / recession?

EPCOT-O.G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
I know we're in uncharted territory, and things are not looking good economically now (with inflation, the markets, etc.) Employment is still holding strong, but a lot of households are feeling the pinch from gas price increases and inflation affecting groceries.

I was not alive, nor did I attend, the parks during previous big economic corrections (1970's oil embargo, early 90's recession, early 00's recession, the Great Recession of the late 00's). I feel like each of those moments posed incredible challenges to the parks (and the tourism industry in general). In some cases, it seems entire parks weren't built (Westcot) or were substantially affected (Animal Kingdom, DCA).

To those that have lived through those times, and studied them, what was the general way in which the parks managed to soldier on during those times?

[This is not meant to minimize the broader societal/economic effects, but rather to get a sense of how something that is considered a luxury manages to maintain itself when money suddenly becomes tight or nonexistent.]
 

brettf22

Premium Member
I still remember the pay 4 days, get 3 free promotion. Those were the days.
Ah, 2009-2010. While bad from an overall economic sense, that time was incredible for discounts. Not only did they offer buy four, get three free resort nights, this overlapped with gift card promotions for each room, and “free admission” (in the form of a gift card) on your birthday.

Given these promotions, I believe we stayed at Pop Century for $45/night that year.
 

Lilofan

Well-Known Member
Ah, 2009-2010. While bad from an overall economic sense, that time was incredible for discounts. Not only did they offer buy four, get three free resort nights, this overlapped with gift card promotions for each room, and “free admission” (in the form of a gift card) on your birthday.

Given these promotions, I believe we stayed at Pop Century for $45/night that year.
Incredible discounts is an understatement. Many lost their homes and jobs in 2008,9 recession and real estate values plummeted like a rock. Some with cash bought at very depressed prices. The used car market was filled with inventory when consumers sold some of their assets back to the dealer and some parents pulled their kids out of private school or colleges because they could no longer afford the fees.
 
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Ldno

Well-Known Member
This is indeed uncharted territory, yes we had experiences in the past but the 2009-2010, and 9/11 incidents did not have a Covid Precedent, covid wiped a lot of people’s bank accounts, savings and 401k’s are wiped, gas prices are up, inflation, the bear market and the loss of money in crypto, people will start penny pinching and since Disney is already struggling I highly doubt we will get discounts considering how much everything is valued at the parks already.

Crazy times.
 

Brad Bishop

Well-Known Member
They embrace their annual passholders with discounts to hotels instead of pushing them aside.

Every other park treats annual passholders as something akin to "superfans" or, at least, "loyal", but Disney sees them as filler. When times are great, as they are now, they don't need the filler and don't encourage passholders to come and stay. When times are bleak, they're all about encouraging the passholder to come and visit.
 

Lilofan

Well-Known Member
This is indeed uncharted territory, yes we had experiences in the past but the 2009-2010, and 9/11 incidents did not have a Covid Precedent, covid wiped a lot of people’s bank accounts, savings and 401k’s are wiped, gas prices are up, inflation, the bear market and the loss of money in crypto, people will start penny pinching and since Disney is already struggling I highly doubt we will get discounts considering how much everything is valued at the parks already.

Crazy times.
Theme parks struggling? On the contrary forum members say the parks are packed with extensive wait times to ride the attractions.
 

Disstevefan1

Well-Known Member
I know we're in uncharted territory, and things are not looking good economically now (with inflation, the markets, etc.) Employment is still holding strong, but a lot of households are feeling the pinch from gas price increases and inflation affecting groceries.

I was not alive, nor did I attend, the parks during previous big economic corrections (1970's oil embargo, early 90's recession, early 00's recession, the Great Recession of the late 00's). I feel like each of those moments posed incredible challenges to the parks (and the tourism industry in general). In some cases, it seems entire parks weren't built (Westcot) or were substantially affected (Animal Kingdom, DCA).

To those that have lived through those times, and studied them, what was the general way in which the parks managed to soldier on during those times?

[This is not meant to minimize the broader societal/economic effects, but rather to get a sense of how something that is considered a luxury manages to maintain itself when money suddenly becomes tight or nonexistent.]
WDW will be just fine. Folks with money are not bothered by recession, they will continue to show up.

Let's say the recession/correction increases to full force. These folks may have a BETTER guest experience as the parks will not be mobbed with the regular folks..
 

Ldno

Well-Known Member
Theme parks struggling? On the contrary forum members say the parks are packed with extensive wait times to ride the attractions.
A little far fetched or bold for me to say but it’s just the corporate lingo and false positive attitude they convey that’s not sitting right with me at the moment, in perspective the ridiculous price increases are filling in the cap for the time being because we really don’t know if the park reservations fill the parks to 100% 100k guests or if 100% full is like 50k guests at magic kingdom for example.

Disney for sure is penny pinching and running skeleton crews otherwise they would get rid of park reservations instead of claiming that it’s perfect for them because of “logistics”. I’m going next week but I for one will not have the usual spending cash this time around because of this current situation. Like Brad Bishop mentioned, they don’t make money from Passholders Anymore, they want every single guest to cough up money.

Staying in a WDW resort used to give you equal perks but now staying in the cheap and entry level resorts is not good enough that they are pushing “deluxe” resorts for more perks and that should tell you everything you need to know about the current situation at the parks. WDW will always be fine but it’s just the recent corporate behavior that’s telling me otherwise.
 
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Disstevefan1

Well-Known Member
A little far fetched or bold for me to say but it’s just the corporate lingo and false positive attitude they convey that’s not sitting right with me at the moment, in perspective the ridiculous price increases are filling in the cap for the time being because we really don’t know if the park reservations fill the parks to 100% 100k guests or if 100% full is like 50k guests at magic kingdom for example.

Disney for sure is penny pinching and running skeleton crews otherwise they would get rid of park reservations instead of claiming that it’s perfect for them because of “logistics”. I’m going next week but I for one will not have the usual spending cash this time around because of this current situation. Like Brad Bishop mentioned, they don’t make money from Passholders Anymore, they want every single guest to cough up money.

Staying in a WDW resort used to give you equal perks but now staying in the cheap and entry level resorts is not good enough that they are pushing “deluxe” resorts for more perks and that should tell you everything you need to know about the current situation at the parks.
Looking forward to your trip report @Ldno. While they would like to take more of your spending cash from you, they are doing just fine with what they are already getting from you…
 

CaptinEO

Well-Known Member
DL was less crowded in the recessions but it wasn't as much of a ghost town as people try to make it out to be. Early 2000s were nice, APs were cheap too.

The 2008 recession I don't recall seeing any difference in crowds for Disneyland.
 

Sirwalterraleigh

Premium Member
A little far fetched or bold for me to say but it’s just the corporate lingo and false positive attitude they convey that’s not sitting right with me at the moment, in perspective the ridiculous price increases are filling in the cap for the time being because we really don’t know if the park reservations fill the parks to 100% 100k guests or if 100% full is like 50k guests at magic kingdom for example.

Disney for sure is penny pinching and running skeleton crews otherwise they would get rid of park reservations instead of claiming that it’s perfect for them because of “logistics”. I’m going next week but I for one will not have the usual spending cash this time around because of this current situation. Like Brad Bishop mentioned, they don’t make money from Passholders Anymore, they want every single guest to cough up money.

Staying in a WDW resort used to give you equal perks but now staying in the cheap and entry level resorts is not good enough that they are pushing “deluxe” resorts for more perks and that should tell you everything you need to know about the current situation at the parks. WDW will always be fine but it’s just the recent corporate behavior that’s telling me otherwise.
While they are penny pinching…Disney has wanted 100% predictability to control staff costs and Direct people down to a T for over 30 years.

In fact - that maybe why Iger/chapek agreed to the transfer when and how they did. They implemented a scheme they both wanted and got what they wanted? It’s possible.
 

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