Walt Disney World lodge availability is restricted for sure dates in 2024, prompting reader questions and considerations about crowds. This submit addresses what’s happening with the bought out resorts, regardless of the rise in discounting and exhaustion of pent-up demand, and commentary about potential causes for this.
If this feels like deja vu once more, it ought to. We’ve lined this very same matter two years in the past through the coronary heart of Walt Disney World’s fiftieth Anniversary celebration. Again then, “revenge journey” was all the trend, not each resort had reopened, and even those that have been operational had all of their buildings open because of staffing shortages.
Quite a bit has modified since then. Revenge journey has principally flamed out, and Walt Disney World really has seen year-over-year decreases in each attendance and lodge occupancy. (This isn’t merely hypothesis–that hyperlink goes to an earnings name the place Disney executives themselves said this.)
Equally as important, the Port Orleans and All Star Resorts reopened, as did Animal Kingdom Lodge. And though there are nonetheless nagging staffing shortages, these have been largely addressed. Common housekeeping is again, with buildings and rooms all again on-line.
The top result’s that provide is not constrained in any significant manner, and demand is just not artificially heighted because of individuals making up for misplaced time. Provided that there at the moment are extra obtainable rooms within the stock and fewer individuals competing for mentioned lodging…what offers? Why are resorts nonetheless promoting out at Walt Disney World?
Actually, I don’t suppose that is some enormous drawback. The one cause I’m addressing this in any respect is as a result of it has turn out to be a typical reader query in the previous few months, often pertaining extra to crowd ranges than issue in scoring a resort reservation. Which means planners who’ve already booked lodging proceed checking for availability as a result of they’re utilizing that as a sign for attendance or crowds. (We’ll circle again to this angle in a bit.)
Loads of longtime Walt Disney World followers aren’t used to resorts promoting out as a result of, traditionally, that didn’t occur a ton in 2019 or earlier. (This solely pertains to the motels and not Disney Trip Membership. By its very nature, DVC is designed to function at near 100% occupancy. For quite a lot of causes past the scope of this submit, sure DVC resorts have totally booked up months upfront for a very long time–and that’s solely worsened since Aulani and the Poly bungalows.)
To make sure, some motels did promote out as did sure dates. Regardless of astronomical charges, the week between Christmas and New Yr’s Eve has at all times been a preferred time, and reservations might be aggressive for some resorts or room classes. In case you go manner again, we’ve heard tales of followers reserving New Yr’s Eve 1999 as far upfront as potential out of fears about Y2K, and pondering that if anyplace can be ‘secure,’ it’d be Disney. It in all probability would’ve been an analogous story for the precise day of Walt Disney World’s fiftieth Anniversary had that been throughout a standard time.
Setting apart these extremes, the underside line is that the resorts didn’t function anyplace close to 100% occupancy pre-closure. The overwhelming majority of the time, there have been ample lodging choices obtainable–and never simply dear suites or multi-bedroom villas. You might not have the ability to rating the resorts at a reduction (Free Eating did e-book up, even throughout low season journey dates when the parks weren’t busy), however there was nearly at all times one thing to e-book.
Though pent-up demand has largely exhausted itself now, Walt Disney World remains to be working from a better baseline. Some followers have (mis)interpreted these year-over-year declines as that means that the parks are lifeless or doing poorly. That isn’t even remotely the case–they’re simply down (barely!) from the record-setting numbers of 2022.
In different phrases, Walt Disney World overperformed in 2022, and now it’s underperforming relative to these file numbers as pent-up demand dies down…nevertheless it’s nonetheless overperforming relative to 2019 or earlier! CEO Bob Iger additionally has addressed this in the identical earnings calls when discussing decrease attendance and occupancy, mentioning that “Walt Disney World remains to be performing properly above pre-COVID ranges: 21% increased in income and 29% increased in working revenue in comparison with FY2019.”
This isn’t only a Walt Disney World phenomenon. Vacationer growth tax collections for Orange County, Florida fell year-over-year all through 2023, with November (the newest month for which there’s information) marking the seventh lower in income within the final eight months, in accordance with the county comptroller. (Vacationer growth taxes are collected through a 6% tax on lodge bookings.)
Between April and November 2023, each month noticed a lower in vacationer tax collections in comparison with 2022 besides September, which was solely up by 0.8%. Orlando lodge occupancy was additionally down in comparison with 2022, at 69.8%, a drop of over 10% year-over-year. The typical every day fee for motels was $180.44, down 4.2% year-over-year.
Nonetheless, the Orange County comptroller additionally indicated that 2022 was an “extraordinary” 12 months for Central Florida tourism after the pandemic, and that after that record-setting 12 months, it was not shocking that there can be a decline in Orange County tourism. Like Walt Disney World, the county as a complete remains to be up significantly as in comparison with 2019 and earlier.
Furthermore, Go to Orlando has reported that lodge bookings for 2024 are already outpacing final 12 months by over 5%, and advance airline ticket gross sales into Orlando have been additionally up within the first quarter of 2024 by roughly 10%. Greater wait occasions and our anecdotal perceptions of ‘looks like’ crowds so far in 2024 at Walt Disney World recommend that this pattern is enjoying out on the parks, too. (See Winter (Nonetheless) Is Not Off-Season at Walt Disney World.)
That is itself noteworthy, as we had been anticipating an additional exhaustion of pent-up demand over the course of 2024. What if, as a substitute, this 12 months marks a rebound? That 2023 was the ‘off’ 12 months for households that go to semi-frequently, and so they’re returning to Central Florida in 2024. Kind of just like the accordion impact in visitors, however for pent-up demand. That coupled with diminishing fears of a recession and bettering shopper confidence, may lead to a bounce-back 12 months for journey to the Orlando space.
For its half, Walt Disney World might be doing what’s essential to incentivize followers to return, pulling the right “levers,” and so forth. We suspect that is the case with resort reductions, which have gotten extra aggressive within the final year-plus. Walt Disney World went from providing nearly no common public promos in 2022 to having its full slate of 2019 presents obtainable once more (e.g. Free Eating, bouncebacks, PIN codes), some with the very best financial savings since 2018.
Whereas we anticipated offers like Free Eating to return for the late summer time and early fall low season, we have been actually a bit stunned by how aggressive Walt Disney World was at discounting common journey occasions–like Spring Break and Easter. In an effort to keep away from an additional drop in occupancy, it’s potential Disney received too “beneficiant” with its particular presents, past what what was essential to hit reserving targets.
There’s additionally the truth that so much is occurring in Central Florida and at Walt Disney World specifically. The Professional Bowl is arising. Conventions are slowly-but-surely returning. RunDisney has hit the bottom operating with its return. There are a number of occasions on the ESPN Extensive World of Sports activities on lengthy weekends all through the winter and spring months, and it wouldn’t shock us within the least if these are all larger than final 12 months.
These occasions can have a serious impression on resort room availability, as there are tons of attendees and so they take up enormous blocks of particular motels. That, in flip, reduces stock there and pushes different individuals to completely different motels. Actual world occasions just like the NFL Professional Bowl and WWE Monday Night time RAW have a equally oblique impression. Attendees e-book up motels round Orlando and flights into the town, however seldom go to the theme parks.
Suffice to say, there’s a ripple impact felt all through motels within the area, together with WDW. That is true even in terms of occasions that aren’t occurring at Walt Disney World and may have minimal impression on crowd ranges.
To that time, on-site motels promoting out fully could cause planners to freak out that the parks are going to be chaotic and crowded. Which will be true…generally. However there are a few issues to remember.
The primary is that almost all of company within the parks at any given second come from off-site. This contains these staying in third social gathering motels round Orlando, nevertheless it additionally contains the rising inhabitants in Central Florida and past inside driving distance. Locals would possibly merely come out for the day when the climate is good, as a result of there’s a ticket deal, or to benefit from the present taste of EPCOT’s pageant.
Furthermore, simply because somebody is occupying a room at Walt Disney World doesn’t imply they’re contributing to crowds. I can’t inform you what number of occasions I’ve stayed at Coronado Springs when the resort has been completely slammed, however the buses to the parks have been downright lifeless. Different occasions, the resort hasn’t appeared that busy, however the buses have been packed.
The discrepancy is convention-goers, who overwhelm parts of the resort infrastructure (and by infrastructure, I imply bars and sizzling tubs) however usually don’t attend the parks in the identical quantity as common ole vacationers. So the resort might be at ~95% occupancy because of a conference, and it may really feel that manner within the widespread areas…however not on the buses. In contrast, the resort might be at ~65% occupancy with out a conference, however really feel far worse on the buses. It’s all about demographics and the visitor combine.
It’s an analogous story with youth teams collaborating in sporting occasions on the ESPN Extensive World of Sports activities. To make sure, a few of these youth occasions can enhance general crowd ranges within the parks. The larger ones particularly can have a fabric impression on the parks, particularly for those who go to the identical park as their total (or giant parts of) their group attends.
Anecdotally, I might say it’s far more widespread to see teams of cheerleaders or dancers within the parks than it’s a herd of white collar convention-goers sporting lanyards and Patagonia vests. But it surely’s additionally true that the youth teams are primarily there for the sporting occasions, and the park days are optionally available icing on the cake.
To some extent, it’s even potential that convention-goers and youth teams are occupying rooms and ‘blocking out’ company who would in any other case go to the parks. Whereas we will quibble over the extent to which this does or doesn’t happen, or this group or that contributes (or doesn’t) to crowds, the underside line is that lodge availability (or lack thereof) is just not essentially a great predictor of crowd ranges. There are too many transferring elements and added variables.
Finally, that ought to assist clarify what’s happening with unavailable rooms at Walt Disney World…at the very least to a point. Greater than anything, I feel that is merely the “new regular.” There’s a better baseline degree of demand as in comparison with 2019 and earlier, Walt Disney World is pulling extra “levers” to maintain occupancy as shut as potential to that record-setting 2022, and there’s in all probability nonetheless “localized” pent-up demand for sure sorts of journey–conventions, youth teams, worldwide company, and so forth.
Once more, I don’t suppose that is something to be involved about. I do suppose it’s an interesting topic, and in addition suspect that it’ll be a pattern that lasts till the following recession or financial downturn. Even when it’s not thought of revenge journey, it’s in all probability truthful to say that folks have reevaluated their priorities and can proceed to position extra of an emphasis on in-person experiences and journey for the foreseeable future. Which means resort occupancy will stay excessive in Central Florida, whilst tons of latest motels proceed being constructed. Whether or not that’s sustainable indefinitely is one other matter for an additional day, however it’s for now.
In case you’re in search of key takeaways, the primary can be that–as mentioned above–motels being bought out doesn’t essentially imply heavy crowds. It’s actually a sign that might be the case, nevertheless it’s hardly conclusive. Second, longtime Walt Disney World followers who used to do last-minute lengthy weekend journeys on a whim ought to begin attempting to plan earlier. I’ve talked about just a few occasions that I’ve stayed at Coronado Springs and All Star Sports activities greater than another motels within the final two years. That has not been as a result of these are my two favourite resorts at Walt Disney World. Be taught from my errors and provides your self a bit extra lead time.
Planning a Walt Disney World journey? Find out about motels on our Walt Disney World Motels Critiques web page. For the place to eat, learn our Walt Disney World Restaurant Critiques. To save cash on tickets or decide which sort to purchase, learn our Suggestions for Saving Cash on Walt Disney World Tickets submit. Our What to Pack for Disney Journeys submit takes a singular have a look at intelligent gadgets to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Experience Guides will assist. For complete recommendation, the very best place to begin is our Walt Disney World Journey Planning Information for the whole lot you have to know!
Have you ever encountered a number of bought out resorts at Walt Disney World throughout a time you didn’t count on to be busy in 2024? Ideas on lodge stock does or doesn’t impression crowd ranges within the parks? What do you suppose is driving the supply subject at Walt Disney World? Do you suppose pent-up demand is an ongoing subject, with individuals (nonetheless) making up for misplaced time touring and never caring how a lot they’re paying? Do you agree or disagree with our commentary? Any questions we will help you reply? Listening to your suggestions–even if you disagree with us–is each attention-grabbing to us and useful to different readers, so please share your ideas under within the feedback!