Disney World is Quiet 2023: Go Woke, Go Broke?

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If you were bracing yourself for queuing for hours and being packed cheek to jowl at Disney World this summer, you’re in for a surprise.

The good news is that summer 2023 might just be one of the best years to head over to Walt Disney World Resort, Florida, due to a precipitous fall in footfall that has shocked the theme park industry.

Yes, the Disney World Slow Down is Real!

Attendance level, crowds, and average wait times have been down month-on-month in the Spring and Summer seasons at Disney World compared to 2022.

This sad state of affairs has not only shocked Disney enthusiasts and pundits but also Disney itself. It’s a sad state of affairs, especially as this decline has been against the backdrop of the ongoing Walt Disney World’s 50th Celebrations.

Here are some of the sobering trends for Walt Disney World attendance in 2023:

  • The slowest six-week run at Disney World (second ½ of April to late May) since 2021
  • May was the quietest month at Walt Disney World since September 2022
  • A whopping 7 MINUTE drop in average wait times
  • At least a 5% drop in wait times for attractions like Magic Kingdom, or Animal Kingdom and a 25% drop for Epcot
  • Generally slow pre-summer season at Walt Disney World
  • Discounting by Walt Disney has become more aggressive with great deals (including 2024 bounceback offers) running through to Christmas

Disney CFO sounds the alarm

Ex-Disney CFO Christine McCarthy stepped down from Disney’s executive board in June, not before warning Disney investors of the big drop in demand for Disney World and the other Florida theme parks.

This pessimistic outlook was seconded by Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro, who noted better attendance rates at Disneyland.

Understandably there have been market jitters with Disney’s share price dropping more than 22% to a shocking low of $85.97.

But why is Disney World so quiet?

That is honestly the million-dollar question. Disney always seemed to be one of those unsinkable brands with people even taking out financing to ensure a trip to Disney World would be part of their children’s childhood.

Investors typically flock to Disney because its films, theme parks, and broadcasting are consumed by millions around the world.

As a $157.09 billion company Walt Disney Co is generally seen as too big to fail, but is the downturn at Disney World indicative of a bigger crisis at the helm?

Is this a case of ‘go woke, go broke’

Conservative pundits and political commentators are all over the misfortunes of Disney, citing the poor visitor numbers as an example of the much-memed ‘go woke, go broke’ effect.

Many conservatives are critical of Disney’s current diversity and inclusivity content on screen and in and around Disney theme parks.

In addition, conspiracy theories abound regarding the values and agenda of Disney in relation to children which may or may not be putting folk off heading to Disney World.

5 reasons why I think Disney World is struggling to attract visitors right now

While I think that Conservative families shunning Disney, could cause a big drop in visitor numbers and shake the brand significantly, I don’t think that that is the main reason Disney World is struggling right now.

In all honesty, there are far more serious issues for households than a boycott of Disney’s woke agenda.

Here are five reasons why I feel people are not going to Disney World right now:

  1. Inflation’s gonna inflate: Let’s be real. Inflation is crazy right now. It is eating out the purchasing power of the dollar, making a trip to Disney World a real stretch for many families.
  2. It’s just too expensive: Currently a typical US family of 4 will be spending an average of $6,320 for a Disney World vacation. That is simply too much money Disney!
  3. Crippling financing costs mean that the trip isn’t going on a credit card: Interest rates are similarly eye-watering, meaning that you can’t just put that Disney World trip on your card and forget about it!
  4. Gas prices are curtailing travel: Gas prices are crazy making a road trip to Disney World prohibitive.
  5. Universal Orlando is wooing international Disney World visitors: Shh! Don’t say I said so, but the Jurassic World VelociCoaster ride at Universal Orlando is amazing, plus it has a shiny new budget hotel at Universal’s Endless Summer Resort (take a look) 😉

Final thoughts: Disney needs to reflect

I think that the stagnation in Disney World footfall likely indicates a need for the company to go back to the drawing board and think about its value proposition to its customers.

What makes Walt Disney World special in the 21st century? Are the rides and attractions getting tiring?

Why are the values of Walt Disney Co.? Is the direction of travel that Walt Disney is taking going to encourage seniors to open their wallets and give their grandbabies the holiday of a lifetime?

Share your opinions below.

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