Theme Park Insider

Is the Brexit good or bad for the Orlando theme parks?

June 24, 2016, 8:45 AM · With the United Kingdom voting narrowly yesterday to leave the European Union, people in the tourism industry will be wondering how the change will affect Britons' travel habits.

The United Kingdom sends hundreds of thousands of visitors to Central Florida and its theme parks each year. The UK sent 1.7 million of the 11.2 million overseas visitors to the state of Florida last year, according to state tourism officials. That's second to Brazil among nations outside North America.

However, the British Pound tanked against the US dollar last night as the Brexit vote totals came in, showing a win for the "Leave" side. So in the short term, Brexit will be very bad for the Orlando theme parks. A weak pound makes visiting the United States much more expensive for UK residents, which likely will persuade more of them to stay home or to look for cheaper vacation alternatives. On the flip side, a weaker pound makes Britain a more affordable destination for Americans, who might decide this summer's the time to visit the Harry Potter-themed Warner Bros. Studio Tour in Leavesden rather than the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Orlando.

For now, though, the United Kingdom remains in the EU. The process of extracting the UK from the EU will take at least two years, during which UK citizens may continue to travel and work across the EU without visas and special paperwork. What happens after that, though, is up in the air. The United Kingdom retained its own currency and never adopted the Euro, which should lessen the economic impact and smooth the logistics of an exit. But Britons might decided to spend the next two years cramming as much Continental travel in as they can afford, saving trips to Orlando for some other time. (Update: Rephrased to remove confusion between EU and the Schengen Area.)

After the Brexit is complete, however, it's possible that spending time in America might end up on equal logistical footing with travel to France and Spain for UK residents, if more limitations return for travel to European countries. That could then help Florida, as it would no longer suffer the logistical disadvantages it now has versus vacation destinations in southern Europe. But it's possible that the UK's new leadership (Prime Minister David Cameron just quit) could negotiate easy travel to certain EU countries after the Brexit. And US customs is US customs. Again... at this point, who knows?

Ultimately, the health of UK tourism abroad will depend upon the health of the UK economy at home. The Brexit may result in the loss of work permissions for millions of EU citizens now living in the UK. If they leave the United Kingdom en masse, as Leave supports seems to be hoping, that might open many new jobs for Britons, raising wages and prosperity. However, as the Stay side warned, the loss of all those immigrants also means the loss of their economic demand — all the stuff that they bought and paid for in the UK. The question is if that loss of demand will lead to greater job losses than gains, throwing the UK into recession and depressing citizens' ability to afford travel abroad.

In the years ahead, we'll find out which side was right. Not through logical arguments or lessons applied from elsewhere, but through hard, real-world data in the UK. Until we get those answers, though, the short term answer is that a weaker pound means fewer visitors for Central Florida's theme parks.

Replies (17)

June 24, 2016 at 9:24 AM · The pound dropped 10%, but recovered to 6 - 7% dropoff. Not enough to hold off a vacation. In the long term, the UK is better off managing its own economy.
June 24, 2016 at 9:41 AM · As a UK resident I can tell you that there is very considerable shock in the UK right now and considerable anger at the result. If any of you have been following the campaign you will know that it was fought with scant reference to facts or economic truths and lots of references to nebulous concepts of 'greatness' and 'independence' and 'freedom'. Oh, and a lot of blatant lies. The immediate impact has been terrible and the long term effects may well be bad for Orlando. My wife and I were planning another major vacation there in a couple of years from now. The pound had already been slipping against the dollar and unless it rallies considerably we will have to reconsider. That 6-7% would be more than enough to make a difference between 'yes' or 'no'. I suspect our situation will be repeated across the whole UK.
And as for being better off managing our own economy - we already did. All we've now done is basically throw away all the trade advantages we had that made our economy so strong. It's unlikely our economy will be anything like as strong again in the foreseeable and even long term future.
June 24, 2016 at 10:22 AM · It's not a good day for the UK today ... But I'm coming back to Orlando and all its parks next April ... Even if I've got to sell a kidney ... ??.. ??...??...??
June 24, 2016 at 10:38 AM · In addition in the rest or Europe the stocks are tumbling down. There is no reason that should continue but the only good thing at the moment I can come up with is that it is a nice time to visit london for a week.

In the long term I think Europe will try to become stronger so no other countries drop off (something you hear now in all other EU countries).
This uncertain times will always stop people generally to go on an expensive holiday.

The whole passport thing is a non issue. Besides that the BS with the visa and waver program is already a huge hurdle to get into the US (even more so then the former Soviet Union!) with their ridiculous terrorist scare but that didn't stop anyone from visiting the US for a vacation, it was just annoying.

June 24, 2016 at 10:46 AM · It should be bad long-term for Disneyland Paris and other European parks. Despite spending vacations in the US, most Brits I've talked to have already traveled to DLPR or Europa Park, etc. Spain might be hurt in particular, because that was also a popular vacation spot with a lot of second homes of UK residents, from what I understand.

As for Orlando, UK and Brazil's political struggles might mean a slight decrease in tourism and profits across the industry. The real question is, can they supplement that with domestic guests?

June 24, 2016 at 10:59 AM · I would expect the European parks will hit a bit of an upswing if guests decide to vacation at places like Disneyland Paris rather than in Orlando.
June 24, 2016 at 11:07 AM · The short term impact is bad news for Britain, but the long term impact will see a resurgence of the UK back to it's prominence and it will probably propel the UK well past most EU members. I say good on the UK. They've effectively given the proverbial middle-finger to the globalist agenda of the EU. The EU will try to make them pay for it, but the UK has much more freedom to negotiate terms of their own trade deals with the major producers and importers of the world (China, U.S., Japan, Australia, etc.). If Trump wins, it's good news for the U.K., as he will accelerate favorable trade deals with the U.K. Hillary....she's in bed with the globalists and world-banks so Britain will suffer.

"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquillity of servitude than the animating contest of freedom, — go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!"
-Samuel Adams

June 24, 2016 at 12:29 PM · WDW Orlando is just as present in marketing over here as Disneyland Paris. I did try to look into a weekend trip to DLP once but from my non london location (Glasgow) I think it ended up being so expensive that getting the "proper" experience in Orlando wouldn't have cost much more. ]

I think it will be more interesting seeing how this affects Merlin. Will it affect where they focus on expanding the Dungeons, Taussads and Legoland brands? EFTA/EU membership is built on four pilliars - Free movement of Goods, Services, labour and Capital. If barriers start to appear for the latter between EU and UK, it might encourage them to look more outside the EU than they were before.

June 24, 2016 at 1:36 PM · Also being from the UK I can tell you both sides were full of scaremongering and lies, will it be good or bad no one knows, many lied to try to save there jobs on both sides, one side one the other side are looking for new employment and our ex prime minister may have more hidden shares he cared to lie about, who knows, it could be like all those people, politicians, banks etc who told us it was bad not to be part of the Euro years ago yet we appear to have survived with the British pound so who knows, it may be good to control our own destiny but unless we try we won't find out I guess, be good to look back at this post in 12 months and 24 months where we will have a better outlook on life in the UK. P.s. The pound tumbled but I bet come a week or two it will recover.
June 24, 2016 at 1:48 PM · It annoys me as an Aussie as our dollar also dropped 4% with the turmoil it created. We've already booked and paid for some of a US holiday next January. Hopefully our dollar will right itself by the time we go.
June 24, 2016 at 2:54 PM · Brexit is one more nail in the coffin of the EuroDisney disaster.

The EU should wise up, fire Juncker and offer the Brits a better deal to stay.

Global elites have grown fat, corrupt and stupid, just like the French aristocracy before the revolution.

June 24, 2016 at 3:06 PM · "will it be good or bad no one knows"
"P.s. The pound tumbled but I bet come a week or two it will recover."

Make up your mind JK.

June 24, 2016 at 4:20 PM · I know we try to steer clear of politics here. But I will just say that I have never been so deeply ashamed to be British as today.

Anyway.

I'd suggest the single biggest effect of this to international tourism - and whether UK residents choose to visit other continents rather than mainland Europe - could be how we renegotiate our relationship with the single aviation area. In theory, we might be able to seamlessly opt back in. But it's unclear at the moment.

Another longer-term effect is that we may well have just triggered a domino effect across the EU. It has seriously bolstered the case for parties across the continent to call for their own referendums. If we start to see a mass exodus (which will admittedly take significantly longer than our own minimum-two-year withdrawal) then the global effects will be more pronounced.

In the meantime, I'm going to use up the stash of Euros I have leftover from past trips, continue to make the most of the amazingly simple and positive system we've worked so hard to create up til now (man, am I going to miss those brilliant e-passport terminals) and tick off a few more of the continental parks on my list.

We may have a general election called as soon as October. So there's no real way of knowing our direction of travel as a nation from here.

To sum up the general mood when it comes to listening to people who might be able to offer some informed advice, I'll sign off with the quote that's come to define this whole sorry affair, from the man who might well soon be our Chancellor of the Exchequer: "Britain has had enough of experts."

June 24, 2016 at 4:34 PM · Very unlikely an election will be called as the law was changed in 2011 with the 'fixed term parliament act'
June 24, 2016 at 9:07 PM · **shudders at the thought of discussing politics on this site**

Sounds like American politics.
The urban, younger, and more educated on one side.
The older, rural, and less educated on the other.

I know JK Rowling was very upset with the results.

June 25, 2016 at 8:31 AM · I don't think in the short-medium term this will make much of a difference to UK visitors deciding to go to Orlando.

Remember, during the recent recession the pound fell almost to parity with the Euro (£1 = €1.04 euros at one point, it's currently at €1.23 after the brexit vote) and it has been down to just over US$1.40 (near where it is now) in the 00s, but people still carried on going on European sun holidays and to Florida, in similar numbers

I agree entirely with JK - especially that many europhiles (I was one at the time) spoke of serious consequences when the UK didn't join the Euro currency 16 years ago, yet we seem to have done very well not doing so - people forget things very quickly (or are too young to remember). I think there is a lot of unnecessary doom and scaremongering going on.

I was always a supporter of the EU and the outcome of the referendum is sad but a vote is a vote and no point in us Brits being angry. Sadly, aside from all the lies put around by both sides, the EU is expanding too much, too fast, so a result like the brexit vote was inevitable at some point, and the UK probably wont be the first country unless the EU reforms a lot. The EU has its good points but it is a, largely, unaccountable bureaucratic nightmare sadly.

I will just add to Gabrielle, I can see what you are saying but in this case it is not an entirely accurate comparison 'older, rural and less educated on the other (leave) side' - In The UK this has been a part myth put about by unhappy press/media and unhappy voters. Whilst many 18-25 year olds (around 70%) supported remain in EU, this rapidly starts to change when you get into mid 30s and above, who are certainly not old. Outside london, in England and Wales, regions typically voted 55-60% to leave (with a good number of individual areas at 60-70%) - So the media would be suggesting that a large proportion of the English/Welsh are old and/or uneducated. I am certain this isn't the case. I know plenty of younger/educated people who voted to leave.

I will just add to Ben that the e-passport terminals are nothing to do with the EU directly (they have them in some US airports) and they will continue regardless. The only thing that will/may change eventually is the customs lines will change from having one for EU/UK citizens and one for all other visitors, back to UK and all others. Wind the clock back 20 years and it used to be much faster getting back into the UK than it is now.

June 25, 2016 at 7:30 AM · The fixed term parliaments act isn't worth the paper it's written on. Although it does require a supermajority to call an election, the act itself only requires a simple majority to repeal, restoring the ability to call an election to the PM.

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