By Ariel Zilber
Walt Disney World and Disneyland have seen significantly shorter wait times to get on rides — a sign that visitors are staying away this summer as the Mouse House struggles to attract guests apparently put off by the exorbitant ticket prices, according to a report.
Data from the analysis firm Touring Plans shows that smaller crowds have descended on The Walt Disney Company’s US-based theme parks as well as its competitors, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The thinning traffic is bad news for the entertainment giant, which is in the midst of a $5.5 billion cost-cutting spree that has resulted in layoffs across its divisions, including sports cable empire ESPN.
Touring Plans, which measures wait times through information posted by Disney parks on their mobile apps, compiled data comparing the average wait times for rides at the four Walt Disney World parks in Orlando, Fla.
In 2019, the average wait time to board a ride in the Magic Kingdom was 47 minutes.
The pandemic-hit 2022 saw the wait time shrink to 31 minutes. So far this year, the average wait time is 27 minutes.
Wait times for rides at EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom follow the same trajectory, according to Touring Plans.
Hollywood Studios, which features Disney’s Star Wars attractions, saw its third-slowest day of the past year on the Fourth of July, according to Touring Plans.
Jaime Brown, a Walt Disney World annual pass holder who lives in Celebration, Fla., told The Journal that she visited all four of the resort’s theme parks during the week of July 4.
Brown said that she managed to easily patronize attractions that are normally in high-demand such as Spaceship Earth and the Topolino’s Terrace restaurant.
“I couldn’t believe how light the crowds were,” Brown told The Journal.
Travel agents and industry analysts say the combination of high theme park ticket prices, Florida’s sweltering summer heat, and the allure of visiting Europe and other foreign destinations could explain the downturn in foot traffic at the Mouse House.
The Post has sought comment from The Walt Disney Company.
Earlier this year, Disney CEO Bob Iger, who returned to helm the company following the turmoil-filled reign of his handpicked successor Bob Chapek, rolled back some price hikes at his theme parks while reinstating some free services that were available to visitors.
Chapek had scrapped the free service in 2021, charging Disney World annual pass holders to download photos snapped during rides and meet-and-greets with Disney characters.
Disney increased the number of days that $104 tickets will be available while decreasing days it will charge its highest price tier — $179 — for adults.
Iger also scrapped the parking fees he instituted for guests at Disney-run hotels who drive to the theme parks.
Disney angered visitors in 2018 when it started charging between $15 and $25 per vehicle per night.
In fiscal year 2022, Disney theme parks generated $28.7 billion in revenue and $7.9 billion in profit — topping their pre-pandemic performance from 2019 ($26.2 billion in revenue, $6.8 billion in profit).
Disney has also found itself embroiled in political controversy — butting heads with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over issues such as sex- and gender-identity education for youngsters as well as the status of the formerly autonomous tax district that governs the land on which its theme parks sit.