Disneyland Resort attendance is flat this summer.Disneyland: Summer attendance totals for the two Disney Resort parks is apx. 60,00 daily, same as last year. Disney execs were expecting 20,000 more a day with the new Cars Land expansion.
From Rob PastorIt's being reported (Mice Age) that Disney is disappointed with Disneyland resort attendance this summer. While DCA attendance is up, Disneyland attendance is down. Total two park daily averages of 60,000 are flat from last year's same averages. Disney execs were expecting 80,000 per day averages with the DCA expansion. Reader surveys & comments on Mice Age are heavily weighed towards blaming the large price increases for the disappointing attendance figures. Reports are that competitors Universal Hollywood, Knotts & Seaworld are experiencing attendance increases this summer. What do you think are the primary reason(s) for the flat attendance at Disney Resort?
Posted July 22, 2012 at 7:20 AM
Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.
From Chad HAdd to that a change in vacation style from international visitors, favouring cheaper and closer to home experiences whilst money is tight.
Posted July 22, 2012 at 7:38 AM
From Robert NilesUh, what about annual passholder blockouts? Let's not forget that the vast majority of Disneyland's million-plus annual passholders have been blocked out since about a week after the Cars Land debut. Thanks to Disneyland's dependence on APs, summer isn't the busiest season at the resort, so I wouldn't read too much into attendance data from the past month. Let's talk in late August, when hundreds of thousands of annual passholders are let back in the gates.
Posted July 22, 2012 at 8:11 AM
From Tim HillmanRob, this is just another example that the Disney brass just don’t get it. The world has changed, and they don’t understand the new paradigm.
Posted July 22, 2012 at 8:32 AM
Disney doesn’t drive the market anymore – Universal does.
Yes, Disney has the numbers, but they are no longer seen in the industry as the innovators and the risk takers. For decades, Disney wore that mantle, but now the torch has been passed to Universal. Universal gives us the exiting new high tech attractions and immersive, well-themed lands, and they do it quickly while Disney just plods along with their bean counter management style.
and here’s another flame-worthy observation.
With the incredible attractiveness of the Disney and Universal resorts in Florida, the Disney venue in California is not seen as a “must see” attraction anymore.
It wasn’t that way when I was a kid many years ago. My family once took a three-week trek across the country with the highlight being a day at Disneyland, but I don’t think too many families are doing that anymore. For the past few decades and especially the last few years, central Florida, not SoCal, has been considered the heart of the theme park industry, and that’s where the folks are heading. Sure, if I’m in the Los Angeles area, I’ll set aside a few days to visit Disneyland and California Adventure, but plan a trip specifically to see the Disneyland Resort? I don’t think so.
So, if the Disney brass wants to see an attendance increase of the magnitude that they expect, they need to understand that it is going to take more than money – especially in California. They’ve got to beat Universal at the innovation and development game, and even more difficult to do, they’ve got to overcome their own success in Florida. Until they do that (and build a third venue in Anaheim) the Disney California properties will be a second choice for most of us.
From Dominick DThe numbers will be made up when APHs are let in.
Posted July 22, 2012 at 8:51 AM
From Chad HThere might be something in that Tim... In my "Fantasy US Holiday" (Holiday being British English for Vacation), my "Dream stops" are Canada's Wonderland (to pay homage to its former sister park the now long gone Australia's wonderland), one of the Bucsh parks, Vegas, and Universal Florida... The Disney parks are a place I might try and add in there if I had a spare day away.
Posted July 22, 2012 at 8:53 AM
Now maybe its because Disney doesn't particularly target me as a non-family-with-kids traveler, but if they don't buck up they do risk becoming an also-ran.
From Tim HillmanI find Robert's observation interesting. The AP holders are waiting until their summer blackout is over. Isn't that another way of saying that the new DCA is so underwhelming that the majority of locals are saying that they can wait to see it?
Posted July 22, 2012 at 8:59 AM
From Zack McDonaldIn June and early July we had lots of ads for DCA in Texas. That was unusuall because we usually get the generic Disney adds that have both FLA and CA in the ads. I am the only kid at my school that has been to Disneyland everyone else goes to FLA. If they do get people from Texas to visit CA they are only taking business away from FLA.
Posted July 22, 2012 at 10:14 AM
From Rob PastorIt's interesting that even factoring in the AP summer blackouts, the Disney execs were expecting 20,000 more visitors a day. Guess the tea leaf readings weren't accurate. Seems like the large AP price increases were mostly meant to decrease the future totals on AP's and move to a more tourist oriented attendance. That business plan may be flawed.
Posted July 22, 2012 at 11:05 AM
From N BUniversal seems to add areas and attractions that appeal to a wider range of ages than Disney. Cars Land is very well done, but how many California teenagers are going to pile in a car to go see it like they do around here when a new coaster is added at Six Flags Great America?
Posted July 22, 2012 at 11:16 AM
If Transformers makes it's way into Universal Studios Orlando, the park will see a nice increase in attendance just for one ride. The Potter expansion will be huge, they will see somewhat equal numbers as IOA did when HP opened, in my opinion.
Universal seems to be doing things right these days. HP only took a year to bring back a return on the initial investment. I am not sure what the expansion costs were at DCA, but without a huge increase in attendance, it may take many years to pay for itself.
I will wait until I see the figures a full year after the re-grand opening to see if it was worth the time and investment.
From Dominick DN B, I think Disney offers a wide range for ages. Take the Fantasyland Expansion for example:
Posted July 22, 2012 at 12:00 PM
The little kids will be amazed
From James RaoTim, I disagree with at least one of your points... for me and mine the only trip we are currently planning is a week at Disneyland and DCA (we may sneak in one day at Universal for Transformers - what else is there to do at USH?). Why go to Orlando when so much construction is still underway? I see Orlando as the place to be in 2014 when New Fantasyland is done.
Posted July 22, 2012 at 1:22 PM
As for the attendance at DLR and the APH... why in the world would you buy an annual pass AND pay again to see the new stuff during the blackout? That suggestion is from way out in left field.
Back to the topic of flat attendance, my guess is that most out of town folks are waiting for the kinks in the new attractions to all be ironed out before investing in a week long excursion. Plus the fact is that while Disneyland is not as busy as normal, DCA's 30k a day is an impressive number leading to very long lines at key attractions - lines most travelers want to avoid.
I'm patient... I can wait another six months or so for the "newness" to wear off... heck, I still haven't been to Harry Potter Land at IOA... patience is key!
From Robert NilesTim, I think all the locals who are interested in Disneyland/DCA already have APs. Locals don't go to Disneyland as much in the summer. That's the out-of-market tourist season.
Posted July 22, 2012 at 3:55 PM
From Tim HillmanJames and Robert, I understand what you both are saying, but consider this. Disney just spent $1 billion on upgrading DCA with no apparent net increase in attendance for the Disneyland resort. Sure, when WWOHP got added to IOA, attendance at USO dropped, but overall resort attendance went up. The same can’t be said for Carsland. The locals are opting to wait, and the vacation travelers are shifting their dollars to DCA only at the expense of Disneyland. And the other parks in the SoCal area are showing an increase in attendance?
Posted July 22, 2012 at 6:14 PM
This is bad. If I were a Disney executive, I’d be worried too. Either the park hasn’t been marketed properly like IOA wasn’t marketed properly in its early years or people are so used to being underwhelmed by Disney that they just don’t care that much. I vote for the latter because when was the last time you failed to see Disney market something properly?
Carsland and the improvements to DCA are a move in the right direction for Disney, and the Disneyland Resort will see an increase in attendance, but this is not the home run hit that WWOHP is for IOA. Unfortunately this will probably be the same response that we will see to the Avatar attractions being developed for DAK. After WWOHP Phase II and Transformers hit USO, people may just say “Meh” to Avatar.
And I’m curious about something. If people could only choose to go to one region to visit theme parks – SoCal or Central Florida - which would they choose? Sounds like it’s time for another vote on TPI, and I’d bet the answer will tell you a lot about why Carsland and the new DCA are such an underwhelming success.
From Dominick DTim Hillman says: "when was the last time you failed to see Disney market something properly?"
Posted July 22, 2012 at 7:07 PM
I respond: The Avengers.
From Kevin CThe Fantasyland expansion looks beautiful, but holds no interest to me as a young adult without kids.
Posted July 22, 2012 at 8:04 PM
I get down to Universal 3-4 times a year, and lately there's been something new open or in the works each time I go.
I understand the appeal of Disney, but the crowds and the long wait times and the inconvenience of having to wait for buses all the time just isn't worth the money to me.
From Rob PastorOff topic a bit, but Disney (confirmed) will be decreasing the late magic hours to two hours beginning 1/1/13 at the Walt Disney World parks. Is this another bean counter dictated policy? We stay at the Disney on site hotels even though they offer very little in extra amenities. Now they are decreasing what little they offer to their on site guests. The 3 extra late hours were probably the best extra available to on site adult guests. This is a bit disconcerting that they are taking away benefits instead of adding. Cost cutting might be related to the much lower than target Disneyland resort numbers. Will we see more of the same?
Posted July 22, 2012 at 8:48 PM
From James RaoTim, I can't speak for Robert, but from my standpoint, I think it is too early to call Carsland anything but a huge success. Attendance is up at DCA, and the reviews are all glowing. Once the APH start spilling back into the parks this discussion will be moot. Patience. I know folks like to pick at the top dog, but in this case it is just too early to say anything but, "thank goodness Disney is creating such marvelous themed environments." And with Disney profits at over $1B a quarter, I don't think the executives are anything but ecstatic.
Posted July 22, 2012 at 9:13 PM
As for WWOHP, the comparison is apples and oranges. With attendance at an all time low, Universal had no where to go but up. If IOA ever pulls the numbers of Disneyland (highly unlikely if not impossible - they were barely able to handle the crowds they had back when HP opened) then you'll see the same sort of flat response to new additions. In other words, when all the theme park fans are ALREADY going to your park, how do you increase attendance?!
From Sarah BarnesI'm not sure I get this Universal is better as it offers something to everyone arguement. Having recently returned from So Cal, I can say the only thing we did not enjoy was Universal. We were two adult females one 60 one 35. We really felt there was nothing there to interest us. It was too loud and too crowded to be comfortable. Our only highlight was Shrek, oh and we did enjoy our lunch at Mel's diner. My mum though the fries there were some of the best she had ever had perfectly cooked not to greasy or soggy. On the other hand we did enjoy Disneyland and the fact our longest wait was just over an hour for Luigi's Flying Tires. I think perhaps higher prices and slightly lower crowds are not a bad thing as it makes a return visit all the more likely.
Posted July 23, 2012 at 12:04 AM
From Rob PAnyone here heard of the recession or has this passed them by quietly as they kick back sipping their margaritas ?
Posted July 23, 2012 at 5:11 AM
I don't read too much into stabilised attendance figures for Disneyland or DCA.
Surely we would have been expecting a small drop in attendance had Disney not built Cars Land.
When the economy picks up , if it ever does, then we may see increases. At the present time I think they'll all be doing well just to maintain attendance levels where they are........and, no , I don't blame the Annual Passholders for waiting to maximise the value on their tickets. Tourist season or not. I'd do exactly the same if I had one.
Fools rush in etc.............
From Dominick DSarah, it's true that Universal has something for everyone, but that usually only means 1 or 2 rides.
Posted July 23, 2012 at 7:18 AM
From Tim HillmanJames, I’m not sure where we are disagreeing since I agree with almost everything you say. I think we both agree that the DCA expansion/rework is going to eventually be a net positive for the attendance numbers, Disney as a corporation, and us as consumers of theme park entertainment. The only argument may be in the analysis of the situation.
Posted July 23, 2012 at 12:43 PM
I think that the Disney brass who are disappointed with the attendance figures for the Disney California resort are sadly mistaken in their analysis of the situation. Disney is so wildly successful around the world that, relatively speaking, a modest investment of $1+ billion to fix a flawed park just doesn’t get their core market all that excited. How else can you explain the lack of enthusiasm among the AP holders (they can wait until the blackout days are over?) and the vacation travelers (no increase in attendance for the Disneyland Resort during the tourist season?)? Plus when you roll in all the flaming bags of poop they’ve left on our doorsteps over the past several years (the original DCA, ½ day DAK, DCA and DAK vs. IOA, DCA and DAK vs. TDS), I think that the folks who are not die-hard Disney fans are somewhat reluctant to spend their hard earned dollars on another Disney product unless they’re sure it is a smash hit.
From James RaoI think the only thing we agree on is that Six Flags Saint Louis is a pit. When it comes to Disney, the gap between you and I is as wide as the gap between Captain America's Diner and good food.
Posted July 23, 2012 at 2:26 PM
PS I like DAK, except for the broken Yeti.
From Rob PastorAnother aspect to examine is what long term effect the "huge" June 2012 AP price increase will have on AP cancellations and therefore future attendance. I would expect a jump in attendance end of August & early September for the AP curiosity factor of the new land, but will that sustain itself beyond that time if there are indeed a large percentage of non renewal AP's ? The Disney gambit appeared to be an increase in tourist attendance, and therefore bigger individual spending, and a clearing out of AP's to make comfortable space for the added tourist crowd. But if the tourists aren't coming in increasing numbers, the entire strategy has a serious flaw. The Mice Age article also alluded to insider info that Disney was planning two more price increases which now would be questionable. One other point. The down time for Radiator Racers has been significantly greater than a normal new attraction. Both the race track portion and the AA's have had issues on the Universal Rip Ride Rocket level. When the web sites start joking about the down time, that too may be having an effect on the attendance figures.
Posted July 23, 2012 at 1:24 PM
From James Rao^Downtime and effects issues....The main reasons why my trip to DLR is on hold. That and the possible September refurb of the Indy ride. Oh, and finances + job concerns.
Posted July 23, 2012 at 1:53 PM
From Tim HillmanIt's all about perceptions, James.
Posted July 23, 2012 at 3:17 PM
You're amazed by Disney when they build the best theme park in the world with someone else's money. I'm amazed that it takes someone else's money for Disney to build the best theme park in the world.
TDS, IOA, DAK (without Expedition Everest) and DCA were all built around the same time. I find it incredibly sad that Disney saved their worst efforts for their American market and couldn't even do as well as their half-pint and poorly managed domestic competition.
From James RaoTim, I am amazed by Disney ALL THE TIME. However, I can see I have to be very careful about my word choices as you are very passionate in your disdain for all things Mouse-produced (except TDS).
Posted July 23, 2012 at 5:58 PM
Let me rephrase: IMHO, Disney builds the best parks period. They build especially amazing, off-the-charts, one-of-a-kind, masterpiece parks when they have carte blanche to do whatever they want, as in the case of TDLR.
And while I too am a huge Universal fan, I am not ready to give IOA the Golden Ticket for Being The Greatest Park In North America. Instead of perceptions, consider the facts: IOA has only one well themed, Disney-caliber land (Wizarding World), only one superb opening day attraction (Disney/Marvel's Spider-Man), only one outstanding table service restaurant (Mythos), and only one new ride addition since June of 2006 (Forbidden Journey). The rest of the park is about on par with the original incarnation of DCA. I think Universal has cast an Imperius Curse on you, my Disney hating comrade.
From Dominick DI agree with everything James said.
Posted July 23, 2012 at 4:20 PM
From James Rao^Uh-oh. ;)
Posted July 23, 2012 at 5:59 PM
From Tim HillmanActually, James, I must be giving the wrong impression because I think that the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland (in addition to TDS) are superior to IOA. I would be crazy to declare otherwise.
Posted July 23, 2012 at 7:52 PM
My primary issue with Disney is not with their parks but rather with the cheapness of their management. I love most aspects of their parks. I detest the bottom line mentality of their management.
One day, I hope you get to visit Tokyo DisneySea and see firsthand the amazing results the Imagineers can achieve when they are unshackled. I know I was delighted for several hours with the magnificence of their creation, and then the anger and frustration set in when I realized that we will probably never see Disney build a park of this magnitude all at one time in the United States.
BTW - It's good to see that Dom has your back. You go, Dom!
From James RaoTim, I stand corrected. In fact, methinks that you and I are not far apart in our feelings towards the dreaded Disney bean counters. However, Carsland and the New Fantasyland expansion are both perfect examples of a management team that is more than willing to roll out the cash to improve their parks. Which is why I feel optimistic about the way things are trending.
Posted July 23, 2012 at 8:29 PM
As for Dom having my back, well, he's gonna jump off here in a second because I give all the credit in the world to Universal (and to a lesser extent SeaWorld and Busch Gardens) for all of the improvements going on at the US Disney parks these days. Were it not for the competition pushing Disney, they would still be a slumbering giant.
And Tim, no matter how much we fight over the good theme parks, we'll always have common ground when it comes to our disdain for Six Flags. =)
From Alan HiscuttFeeling the urge to wade in with my two cents (ugh that feels weird to say as a brit but anyway) Disney has always been the pinnacle of Theme Park design IMO. The entire process from start to finish screams attention to detail. Little nods to films of the past and staying true to Disney's values is only too apparent.
Posted July 24, 2012 at 3:22 AM
Universal on the other hand will go out of the way to give us what we want. The clamour for Transformers in Orlando seems to have been acknowldged. It appears that the voice of the people has been heard and we get what we want.
Disney will not change anything that does not fit into their image and values, they seem to have a vision and if the potential attraction doesnt fit, then it doesnt get built. A shame yes, but having been to Disney with kids, it hot the mark. My step son was 11 when he first went to disney world, he remembers the magic, he recalls the excitement and can tell you every detail of the park and now he is 20. On the other hand he recalls only the rides at Universal and even then not in a great amount of detail with the exception of Jaws and back to the Future. Yes, I am aware of the contradicion when I said Uni gives us what we want and then took away 2 of the most popular rides it ever had.
What I said probbably makes little or no coherent sense but hey, bottom line, I love theme parks, will still visit Disney, Busch, Universal, Legoland, Thorpe, Chessington and any other park I have not mentioned here as often as i can, regardless of past experience, each trip is assesed on its own merits.
From James RaoI found this tidbit in the same Mice Age article that originally inspired this thread:
Posted July 24, 2012 at 4:28 AM
"We [MiceAge] firmly believe that as long as the resort doesn’t move forward with another round of price increases this year that they will see a major rebound in the fall and winter once annual passes are unblocked."
As Robert and others have commented, the APH is key when it comes to DLR, and they will be rockin' Carsland in the latter half of the year.
From N BSo much hate for Universal..... So, after the new Potter area opens and hopefully Transformers gets added, we can see the same people post about the 29% increase in attendance and how the numbers have to be wrong because a Disney owned park in North America finally got knocked down a slot below IOA?
Posted July 24, 2012 at 5:23 AM
Stating that a company has the "best parks period" is purely opinion, not fact.....
Cars Land is not a rousing success... (as of yet) if the attendance numbers haven't budged. They based a land on a movie that was a hit in 2006, then a sequel everyone hated (except me apparently). Cars doesn't carry the same appeal as something like Potter.
Cars Land has a few kiddie rides and a Test Track clone and they expect it to pull in crowds like HP did? HP only added one ride, re-badged two others and is a huge success.
Like I said, Universal seems to be doing everything right these days.
From Don NealWhile I understand your statement NB that these are only opinions, customer surveys, attendance, and revenue speak volumes to back up the claims that people have made. No, not on a technical level with definition but in a broad scope for the sake of this conversation. Yes.
Posted July 24, 2012 at 7:32 AM
The problem with these conversations is lack of definition or context. What are we really comparing between Disney and Universal? Just investment in the future? What about maintaining the great rides of the past? What about customer service? Cleanliness of park? Quality of food? Safety? Theming?
Each person could go through that list and argue the things that matter to them and completely ignore topics that don't matter to them. But if you are to properly qualify a park or brand as being better than another then there must be criteria for all to be measured by.
That will never happen in a forum like this but I would love to see the rating systems adopt this kind of approach where each park, attraction, restaurant was rated for each of these things or at least three (experience, cleanliness, and service).
My recent tript to Universal Orlando was a bit of a letdown not because the rides were bad but because of many other factors. I pointed these out and people immediately took it as I was picking on Universal, putting them and their ride technology or innovation below Disney, and therefore was a Disney snob (not really so much here on TPI as a few other boards). Like I can't be critical of these other factors that Universal may not do as well as Disney although they charge the same ticket price? Shouldn't there be the same value/experience for my dollar?
Disney has a very complete package in my opinion. Innovation, quality, service, cleanliness, great food, and a commitment to the overall experience...the magic. Some people don't care about that and want straight up thrills so one's reaction and value placed on that experience will differ greatly from another thus keeping the argument of Disney vs Universal always in a subjective space.
But hey, that's the internet for you :)
From James Rao@Don, I agree. And for the record I am, as I have stated many times before, a huge Universal fan. I personally do not think they are on the Disney level, but they are certainly in the "theme park" conversation, along with Busch Gardens, SeaWorld, Dollywood, and Silver Dollar City.
Posted July 24, 2012 at 1:30 PM
@N B, I must ask you to reread my post, as I clearly stated that it was "my opinion" that Disney makes the best parks (although one could argue that attendance numbers back up my claim).
As for the facts I listed about the relative stagnation of Islands of Adventure, they are not debatable. One new attraction in 6 and a half years, while a good one, is not a very impressive feat (I have the same complaint about Disney's Animal Kingdom and Epcot, btw). However, I agree with you that Universal, across all their parks, is doing a lot of things right these days. However, you have to keep in mind that they were bottoming out prior to 2010. When you bottom out, you either rebound or you close up shop. I, for one, am glad Universal was able to rebound!
Back to the facts: DCA's attendance is way, way up since the opening of Carsland and Buena Vista Street (almost double the daily attendance by all accounts). And Radiator Springs Racers, that Test Track clone, as you so eloquently refer to it, consistently features two hour waits, so its popularity is not in question either. The merits of the attraction, which neither of us has experienced, are of course open for debate, but the fact that it has had a huge and positive impact on DCA's numbers is not.
Again, I do not hate Universal. Go back and read my posts in this thread and many others... I have been touting the virtues of their Orlando parks for years (especially back before they started to gouge us with Disney-fied admission prices while still failing to keep their parks maintained in a fashion that we expect from such expensive admission charges). I am simply tired of the endless Disney vs Universal debate. Both offer great adventures for theme park fans. Clearly Disney is far and away the favorite of a majority of people, but that doesn't mean we can't like Universal, too. And there is no question that Universal is cornering the market in high tech innovative attractions, which prompts competition and rewards us fans with even better "stuff" to experience.
It may be an either/or scenario for you, N B, but for the rest of us, we can have our Disney and our Universal too. The world needs both if the industry is to continue to grow. Disney being in first place doesn't amount to a hill of beans if the company in second place doesn't constantly strive to achieve bigger and better things that keep both companies moving forward.
From Dominick DRSR isn't a Test Trak clone. Just because they use the same ride systems doesn't mean they're clones. Take Spiderman and Transformers for example. While very similar, they have their differences (Transformers mostly relies on screens where Spiderman has more themed environments). A clone is a ride such as Simpsons where they have the exact same ride and queue.
Posted July 24, 2012 at 1:54 PM
From N BI guess my point is Disney put in all new rides for Cars Lamd and Universal only built one for HP. I expected attendance to increase dramatically at DCA just like everyone else....
Posted July 25, 2012 at 10:46 AM
I am surprised that the attendance hasn't risen sharply since then. Yes AP holders will boost gate numbers, but aren't those passes already paid for?
Yes, they will count as another tick at the turnstyle, but they aren't really paying to get in that day. So, is this just a way to inflate attendance for appearance only?
I don't get the Disney mentality. For some reason, the die-hards want the parks to dominate the top slots of every list for attendance for the sake of bragging.
Wouldn't it be nice to walk into the Magic Kingdom and have less people walking around? It's like some of you people pride yourselves on how packed the parks always are and that is all that counts.
There are thousands of complaints you can read about Disney overcrowding and poor vacation experience because they pack as many guests in as possible. That is not a "magical" vacation in my book.
From Dominick DNB, it's their fault for going in the crowded season.
Posted July 25, 2012 at 10:51 AM
From Don NealNB, I think you have answered your question and may not have realized it. Sometimes adding to a park isn't about increasing attendance at all, it's about providing more space to handle crowds, more to do for those crowds, and keeping people interested in returning despite the crowd. The new Fantasyland in my opinion has a lot more to do with these issues than trying to get more people through the gate.
Posted July 25, 2012 at 12:45 PM
From James RaoI keep missing something here... DCA has been setting attendance records. Most days it is doubling its daily attendance from last year. If the numbers hold up for a full year, DCA could hit the 10M mark and be right up there with the best of the best. My guess is things will taper off, but DCA is doing gangbusters right now.
Posted July 25, 2012 at 7:36 PM
With the majority of Annual Passholders blocked out both parks are balancing the crowds the way they SHOULD be! Disneyland is getting a little less people due to the reopening of DCA, but even with the increases at DCA most of the huge crowds are mugging Carsland and Radiator Springs Racers (like what happened with the Wizarding World when it opened - everything else was walk-on), so the rest of the park should be pretty manageable! Also, DCA was designed to manage very large crowds, and now that all the walls are down and everything is running with Disney-style efficiency, the proof is in the cozy cones!
As for Disney World's overcrowding issues, the #1 vacation destination on the planet is bound to get busy from time to time. But then again, all great theme parks do! Even Universal finally had some big crowds a few years back when a certain boy wizard took over operations.... and have you ever been to HHN? Yikes!
When it comes to large crowds at theme parks, you just need to formulate a plan and remember to take midday breaks and enjoy the hotel pool. Busy days mean longer hours, so leave around noon, then come back after 5. No sense trying to kill yourself on vacation!!!
From N BThe bottom line (according to the title of this post) is attendance is flat since the opening of Cars Land.
Posted July 26, 2012 at 9:43 AM
I wonder haw many HP crazed teens made the trek to Orlando after the grand opening? I am guessing it was a lot from the figures. The difference is, Universal appealed to an entire group of people who may not have ever gone out of thier way to visit USF once HP opened.
Cars Lans is a family area with rides designed for chilren. California teens are not going to visit DCA because of the new expansion. My point is, when you expand, you have to appeal to new audiences, not the same ones who visit year after year with thier children.
The Magic Kingdom Dumbo #2 is not going to get people to visit, it is simply designed to leave people %50 as frustrated as if they had to wait for the original only.
If you ever go to IOA and visit HP, take a good look around while you are in there or waiting in line for FJ. There are a lot of families, but a good percentage of the crowd seemes to be groups of teen agers, just like you see at Six Flags.
Even my wife commented on how the crowds were less family oriented at USF on our last vacation. The good news was, we didn't see one group of 500 Brazilian tourists at either park. I am guessing they they must all come in July.
I think a lot of people underestimate how 14-18 year olds drive the economy when it comes to shopping and being entertained, especially Disney. This is why Avatar (if or when it goes in) will not be as popular as Potter. The age group it appeals to is 20-40 year olds and these people work for a living.
The Avengers would be a much better choice, but that can't happen in Orlando.
From Don NealNB said: "I think a lot of people underestimate how 14-18 year olds drive the economy when it comes to shopping and being entertained..."
Posted July 26, 2012 at 10:25 AM
I understand your point about this age group but their contribution is mostly in the consumables space (music, candy, movie tickets, clothing) not $3,00-10,000 vacations. The parents pay for those items. The demographic with the most income spent on entertainment is the 18-35 year old male (according to the last report I saw a while back). However, they have debt (student loans, first car, personal entertainment, etc) and are more interested in going on an adventure vacation, the beach, or whatever So they are not in the target demographic for Disney and likely just within the outer rings for Universal.
Disney does their homework, as does Universal. If you think Disney is blind to the market and it's potential, you don't understand big business in America. Any company that size invests millions in market research looking for growth opportunities and changes in consumer trends.
Disney is wise not to focus on that young of an age group with limited spending potential.
Regarding your comparison to Harry Potter's grand opening, let's compare apples with apples. Harry Potter as a brand is a cultural phenomena in and of itself. Universal did a great job with the brand but regardless, people were going to show up in droves whether Universal did well or not. Comparing "Cars" which was just a decent Pixar movie but not great with something as big as HP is just not a fair comparison.
From Dominick DWanna know how many crazed Star Wars fans I saw at SWW? A lot, more so then Potter. As for the deal with teens not caring about the expansion, IT'S DISNEY!!! You're never too old for it!
Posted July 26, 2012 at 10:26 AM
From Rob PastorNB: A couple of your points seem to be a pertinent reasons for the flat attendance. Another important point, which was previously brought up by another poster, was the inability of Disney Resort (CA) to attract tourists to the resort. Disney Resorts (CA) marketing and outreach to other areas of the country to specifically visit Disney (CA) instead of their generic Disney ads for all of the nation's Disney resorts does not seem to have worked very well. Disneyland resort, may well just remain largely a southern California resort, regardless of Disneys efforts to attract higher purchasing tourists. And in the future, Disney probably solved their California Adventure white elephant problem, since now the locals may be more pre disposed to splitting their time between the two Disney parks. But something that remains to be seen is whether the huge AP price increase will significantly reduce the number of AP holders next year. If it does, Disney will have to increase the tourist numbers to keep the attendance numbers up. This is something that will be interesting to watch for 2013 & 2014. Keep the discussion going. There have been some very insightful ideas bandied about by all of the posters.
Posted July 26, 2012 at 10:28 AM
From James RaoThe buying public is reflected in the 18 - 49 demographic. That is a fact. Under 18 you get a park like Six Flags that is in and out of bankruptcy court every five or ten years. Over 49 you get a bunch of blue hairs only interested in having their buffet dinner at 4:00 in the afternoon (tongue in cheek there , folks!).
Posted July 26, 2012 at 10:50 AM
Basically, N B, you don't like being surrounded by crowds of people (especially Brazilians) when you want to relax. Who does? Most of us just lock in a plan of attack, deal with it, and have a blast anyway. You take a different path and find a less popular venue. I have no problem with that course of action. But your hatred of crowds is a you issue and not a Disney issue. And it has nothing to do with DCA, which is doing amazingly well.
You keep comparing Carsland to the Wizarding World, but the difference is, when Harry Potter opened it pulled attendance from IOA's closest competition for your coveted "teenage" market: SeaWorld (attendance was down 12% that year). Attendance at the Disney parks and BGT was largely unchanged. The only park competing with DCA for the coveted family dollar (the 18 - 49 demographic) is Disneyland, which happens to pull more folks than all the other parks in the SoCal area combined. Therefore, it is Disneyland that is taking the largest hit as record breaking crowds pack into DCA to see the hottest new addition since your beloved Wizarding World. So yes, attendance is flat across the whole of the resort, but DCA is booming. Carsland is an unqualified hit.
My main question, N B, is why do you want DCA/Disney to fail? Do you actually think Universal will keep spending money like they are if Disney goes belly up? We as fans receive the biggest benefit when both companies succeed. Don't hate - it makes lines.
From Rob PastorI believe NB's point is that families with teenage kids clamoring for a vacation are more attracted to Harry Potter & Universal. The parent's are paying for the vacation. And those parent's are probably in the 30 to 48 demographic. Plus adults may often also be more attracted to the Universal Florida parks & Citi Walk. But Disney owns the families with young children demographic. There's no doubt about that. And there's many out there that love both Disney & Universal. That's great...But, getting back to NB's point on California, I might tend to agree with him that one of the reason's for the flat attendance is that there is not that driving need to get to the park to see Cars Land right now. They'll ultimately get there on their own terms & enjoy it, but it's not a cult following like Harry Potter or even Star Wars. Cars Land looks pretty good and will probably be well attended for a long while. But will large numbers of people actually plan a vacation around it like they do Potter? I think not.
Posted July 26, 2012 at 12:54 PM
From James Rao^Why not? Radiator Springs Racers has been called the greatest WDI accomplishment since Disney himself was cryogenically frozen years ago - even better than Orlando's vaunted Tower of Terror. If you are a Disney fan (and obviously there are many out there apparently lurking in the shadows), the only place to experience this one-of-a-kind attraction is DCA. You better be planning a trip! I know I am.
Posted July 26, 2012 at 2:36 PM
Furthermore, families who are letting their teenage kids plan their vacations are likely looking at visiting Cedar Point (reputation), Busch Gardens Williamsburg (Verbolten), or Dollywood (Wild Eagle) instead of Universal Orlando. Harry Potter is geared more towards eight to twelve year-olds, college students, adults who like reading kids books, and adults who hate crowded theme parks, rather than your average high school student.
From Rob PastorJames: Good points. If Cars Land was in Disney World Orlando, I would agree with you. But I don't believe the regular Disney tourist will travel to Anaheim(LA in reality) just because Cars Land was open. I've been to LA once, see no viable reason to vacation there, and would never go back unless it was business oriented. LA is a over crowded mess, in my opinion. I just don't see Disney being able to reverse the notion of Disney Resort as basically a locals park, and only a so so tourist destination.And the flat attendance is probably a barometer of that.That might be a good idea for a poll, to see what percentage of non California readers are actually "planning to go to Disney Resort" to see Cars Land within the next 12 months. My guess would be that a lot would like to go but only a few will actually make the trip.....I've spent a lot of vacation time at the Universal Orlando parks and I would tend to agree with NB that the crowds are heavily teen aged, young adult & middle aged adult oriented, including those crowds in the Harry Potter area. But certainly not as teen aged dominated as Cedar Point, Kings Island and the other coaster parks. I think Universal, with the theme parks and the excellent Citi Walk, has found a really good demographic niche that allows it to survive amongst Disney's dominance. And Universal is making small inroads into the young family business with Despicable Me (hugely popular with young kids)and their new parade. I was really surprized at the intense interaction and energy of their parade with the kids.
Posted July 26, 2012 at 4:22 PM
From James RaoGotta hate those mute points. Well, N B, at least Todd's got your back. His facts (the numbers don't lie, but you should review them before spouting off erroneously), sanity (something about a chicken dinner), and sobriety (cesspool of despair...really?) may be in question, but he is passionate (at least when it comes to grandmothers) nonetheless. Gratz.
Posted July 26, 2012 at 7:34 PM
Rob, I know a lot of Disney fans and they all want to go to DCA and visit Carsland. However, wanting to go there is not the issue. As you said, Anaheim is not as tourist friendly as Orlando (understatement of the year?), so that is definitely a problem, and something Disney may have to address at some point if they want the resort to grow beyond its 20 million visitor level. Back to your point, though, you seem to be agreeing that the local visitors are the backbone of the resort, which implies that once the local blackouts are lifted attendance will peak again. Which is what most of us have been saying all along.
Regardless, my next big trip will be to DLR... if I can dream it, I can do it!
From Dominick DMust... Hold back... Disney rage.... Ok, ok, I think I can be fine. One more negative thing bout Disney, though, I gonna do a Hulk rage.
Posted July 26, 2012 at 5:34 PM
From N BOh, my lord.... OK.... Disney has the best parks, period. Nothing compares to them anywhere on Earth.
Posted July 26, 2012 at 8:39 PM
From James RaoN B, when Todd's done dyeing his hair blonde and embroidering swastikas on his Hogwarts jammies, he'll read your post. And when he does, he's not gonna be your friend anymore. Do you really wanna turn on him like this?
Posted July 26, 2012 at 9:23 PM
From Sarah BarnesSo to this poll thing mentioned vaguely somewhere above in the ranting. I just wanted to say I'm a non - californian and came this summer to Disneyland to see Carsland. In fact I'm not even from the United States. Oh and I loved Carsland, loved Disneyland and plan on coming back in 2014 as I enjoyed it so much. (Going to Paris next year) So it's not just a locals park.
Posted July 26, 2012 at 11:44 PM
From Don NealI can't even take Todd's post seriously. I was laughing so hard I almost spit my Diet Coke all over the screen. If that was intentional then congrats on a hilarious post....if not, then I apologize. LOL :D
Posted July 27, 2012 at 5:57 AM
From James RaoI am sure it was intended to be funny, Don. At least I think and hope it was. I know I laughed until my Disney Princess Heart-Shaped locket almost fell off.
Posted July 27, 2012 at 10:52 AM
Best thing is N B's response. It is complete genius as it can be applied to both Todd's and Dominick's posts.
Gotta give N B credit. Obviously "real" Universal Fan Boys are much smarter and wittier than the mouth breathers from the Mason/Sandusky/Columbus area! ;p
From Dominick DJames, would any of these be what you were wearing? ;)
Posted July 27, 2012 at 11:25 AM
From James RaoHahaha! Those are awesome, Dominick!! But, no I was just joking around. Figures Disney has filled the heart shaped locket niche as well!
Posted July 27, 2012 at 12:23 PM
From Mike GallagherWhere's Jessica? :(
Posted July 27, 2012 at 12:28 PM
From Don NealJames won't admit it, but his Disney locket actually has Miss Piggy on it ;)
Posted July 27, 2012 at 12:29 PM
From Dominick DMike, Jessica isn't a princess. I promise I'll give you something Jessica related ;)
Posted July 27, 2012 at 12:52 PM
From James RaoDOES NOT!!!! Don Neal is a big, fat LIAR!!!! ;p
Posted July 27, 2012 at 8:05 PM
My my, but this conversation certainly has gone down the proverbial tubes.
From Mike GallagherDom, princesses are in the eye of the beholder :)
Posted July 27, 2012 at 1:50 PM
From Chad HWhere can I get a Miss Piggy Locket?
Posted July 27, 2012 at 10:33 PM
From N BBTW, this is how I have stayed married for 17 years.... I would rather admit defeat and move on with the least amount of drama as possible. Besides, I'm too lazy to hold a grudge.
Posted July 27, 2012 at 10:33 PM
I was just pointing out what I felt to be a valid argument as to why attendance hasn't spiked dramatically as of yet. I'm sure Cars Land is awesome and I liked both movies. My biggest thrill would be walking through and taking in the theming / sights as it looks like a carbon copy of Radiator Springs.
I'm sure the racers are cool, but the other rides just wouldn't get the adrenaline going.
p.s. I don't want Disney to fail, they need to push Universal to innovate and vice versa. I am looking forward to seeing a huge theme park expansion battle in Orlando.
From James RaoTodd, so everyone who likes Small World is a pedophile? Interesting how your brain...um... "works". Honestly, isn't there an iron ride park nearby where you and your Brown Shirt friends can kick back in your jackboots and relax? There must be something you can do on a Saturday afternoon besides posting inane, tasteless drivel in an otherwise good-natured discussion thread???
Posted July 28, 2012 at 1:27 PM
If you're done reading the Potter books, I am sure there are some other children's books we can recommend for you to read. Most of them with short chapters and lots of pictures.
From Mike GallagherGREEN EGGS AND HAM!!!!!!!
Posted July 28, 2012 at 3:25 PM
From James Rao^PERFECT!!! It even has that Universal Orlando cross over - yes, folks, there is a Dr. Seuss themed area at IOA. Please take some time to venture out of the Wizarding World and see the rest of the park when you visit...
Posted July 28, 2012 at 3:36 PM
From Mike GallagherI only used it because Green Eggs and Ham is one of my two favorite books of all time. The crossover was appropriate, but unintentional.
Posted July 28, 2012 at 4:15 PM
One of my real regrets is that..on my sole visit to IOA..the restaurant in Seuss Landing that serves Green Eggs and Ham had stopped serving it by the time I got over there. I figured it was an all day thing.:(
From Dominick DI've only seen Green Eggs an Ham open about 2 times since its seasonal (not sure if it still is). A lil off topic, but I was just glancing over the Be our Guest menu, man does the food sound great!
Posted July 28, 2012 at 4:20 PM
From Don NealJames, James, why do you deny your love of Muppets and specifically swine princesses? Its time to embrace your inner muppet and be free of this charade! :)
Posted July 30, 2012 at 8:24 AM
Yes, the Be Our Guest restaurant looks like it could be something really special.
From James RaoSee my previous response regarding Don's lies about my supposed love of those talking socks!
Posted July 30, 2012 at 12:36 PM
From Don NealWe'll find out the truth some day when James releases his book "The Truth About the Hippos". All the juicy details will be inside along with him finally admitting his secret love for muppets and torrid affair with Miss Piggy. =D
Posted July 31, 2012 at 10:39 AM
From Mike GallagherI could make a joke about that, but there's kids reading, so I'll refrain.
Posted July 31, 2012 at 11:51 AM
From James RaoWe shared dinner once, and I did buy Miss Piggy some lipstick, but that is as far as things went. As for our one dinner out, she ate everything at the table. What a complete hog!
Posted July 31, 2012 at 10:01 PM
From james vickyI do not know if I have ever been so sick of Disney. They truly seem to be out of their minds. I was discussing this offline the other day and while it's easy for us to play armchair quarter back, how can they be this out of touch.
Posted August 1, 2012 at 2:05 AM
From Don NealCan you elaborate on "out of touch"? Your statements are broad and dramatic without pointing to any particular events or decisions that do not fit with current trends?
Posted August 1, 2012 at 5:50 AM
Keep in mind Disney has no competition in the family with small to middle aged children theme park market so the trends of others, including Universal which caters to families with older children, teenagers, and adults, do not matter as much to Disney.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts. :)
From N BI have an idea what James is talking about, but I will wait to see his response. I was thnking the same thing when I hit the TPI home page today.
Posted August 1, 2012 at 9:39 AM
From james vickyI do not know if I have ever been so sick of Disney. They truly seem to be out of their minds. I was discussing this offline the other day and while it's easy for us to play armchair quarter back, how can they be this out of touch.
Posted August 4, 2012 at 4:06 AM
From James RaoN B, you still have an idea what vicky is talking about? If so, kudos to you.
Posted August 4, 2012 at 6:16 AM
Over 125m visitors last year, and yet they are "out of touch". I shudder to think what would happen if Disney had a clue.
From Tony Dudajames vicky is a SPAMMER. Robert... Robert...Where are you? Oh...yeah...there...never mind. Enjoy your 'working' vacation.
Posted August 4, 2012 at 8:02 AM
From James RaoJust announced in Disney's earnings call: "Disneyland set a Q3 record for attendance thanks to Cars Land. And California Adventure is now drawing almost 50% of the total attendance for DLR."
Posted August 7, 2012 at 2:22 PM
Flat attendance. Blah, blah, blah... What-ever!
This discussion has been archived, and is not accepting additional responses.
Theme Park Insider Guidebooks
Top U.S. Theme Parks
Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
Other Top International Parks
Readers' Top Themed Rides
Top Roller Coasters
Top Theme Park Shows
Features, News and Advice
2013 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2012 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2011 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2010 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2009 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2008 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2007 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2006 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2005 Blog PostsDec.
2004-2005Staff column archive