Disney World is way from a ghost city this summer season

Quite than our typical yard barbecue and sparklers, my household determined to spend the Fourth of July at Walt Disney World. And opposite to what you will have learn in latest headlines, it was actually not a “ghost city.”

Similar to throughout any main vacation on the Central Florida theme park, we had been packed in tightly for the fireworks present, and wait instances on the Magic Kingdom surpassed the 60-minute mark for fashionable sights like Peter Pan’s Flight and Seven Dwarfs Mine Practice. And even earlier than I even stepped via the gates that morning, theme park reservations for Magic Kingdom had been bought out for the day.

Associated: Disney World making modifications to simplify visits and bringing again a fan-favorite perk

Nevertheless, it is usually true that some elements of the Walt Disney World advanced weren’t as crowded as we had anticipated.

For instance, on July 4, we park-hopped to Hollywood Studios earlier than the fireworks, and it was noticeably much less crowded than what I am used to on a typical summer season day. Wait instances had been a few of the lowest I’ve seen throughout common working hours, and the streets, whereas not empty, had been a lot simpler to navigate than on most busy summer season days.

However a day of not having to dodge as heavy of crowds as we anticipated whereas pushing a stroller via Hollywood Studios earlier than returning to a quite-busy night at Magic Kingdom doesn’t a ghost city make.

Telling folks that Disney crowds are dwindling actually makes for a snazzy headline, however primarily based on my expertise of being at Disney on the day in query and my behavior of checking wait instances even when I’m at house, there’s extra to this story.

No, Disney World shouldn’t be a ghost city


Whereas I might personally take pleasure in a crowd-free summer season at Disney World, that is not fairly the case.

This yr, July 4 fell on a Tuesday. It was one of many hottest Independence Days on latest file, with a excessive of 95 levels and humidity ranges as excessive as 87% within the Orlando space, in response to Time and Date. Distinction that with the typical excessive of 92 levels and common humidity of 73%, and you have a recipe for would-be company staying at house or by the swimming pool somewhat than in a sweltering theme park.

Reward your inbox with the TPG Each day publication

Be a part of over 700,000 readers for breaking information, in-depth guides and unique offers from TPG’s specialists.

Whereas I used to be thrilled to see a less-than-30-minute await sights in Galaxy’s Edge, this one-day anomaly seems to be a blip on the radar. A fast look on the My Disney Expertise app on the morning of July 17 exhibits that Disney has posted a 90-minute await Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and a 105-minute await Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.

So no matter led to unseasonably low waits on July 4 at that park is not holding almost as true a few weeks later — however that is to not say there aren’t some modifications in attendance patterns.

Wait instances had been decrease throughout Disney World’s 4 theme parks on July 4 this yr than within the earlier eight years (excluding 2020, when the parks had been closed as a consequence of COVID-19), in response to Thrill Knowledge, a web site that tracks theme park wait instances. However, in the event you have a look at different latest dates, the wait instances are nonetheless holding barely lower than in recent times however notably extra according to the pre-pandemic averages.

The beneath screenshot exhibits common wait instances July 9 between 2014 and 2023. The black line exhibits this yr’s wait instances.


That is one thing that Disney itself predicted previous to the usually busy summer season season.

Throughout The Walt Disney Firm’s second-quarter fiscal earnings presentation on Might 10, 2023, then-chief monetary officer Christine McCarthy instructed buyers, “Within the again half of this fiscal yr, there shall be an unfavorable comparability in opposition to the prior yr’s extremely profitable fiftieth anniversary celebration at Walt Disney World. We usually see some moderation in demand as we lap a majority of these occasions, and third-quarter-to-date efficiency has been according to these historic tendencies.”

Guests have seen a few of the shifts, as properly.

Matt Roseboom, editor and writer at Sights Journal, lives within the Orlando space and visits the parks typically. He has seen that each one of Orlando’s theme parks are “a bit much less crowded this summer season,” although he would not name them “uncrowded” by any means. He attributes the decline to a scarcity of huge new sights.

Regardless of Tron Lightcyle / Run just lately opening at Disney World and Minion Land being virtually full at Common Orlando Resort, Roseboom famous that one-off sights “simply do not carry the crowds like a full ‘Star Wars’ or ‘Harry Potter’ land would.”

And whereas many elements could also be contributing to attendance ranges maybe heading again to a extra traditionally regular sample, the downshift is not distinctive to Walt Disney World.

Associated: New sights coming to Disney World in 2023

Different Orlando theme parks are following an analogous sample

Entrance to Common’s Islands of Journey in Orlando. TARAH CHIEFFI/THE POINTS GUY

Thrill Knowledge’s knowledge exhibits wait instances are decrease than in recent times at different theme parks, as properly. For instance, Common Orlando’s wait instances on July 9, 2023, had been decrease than on that date in 2019, 2021 and 2022 (the park had solely just lately reopened and was working at restricted capability in 2020).


Many individuals level to Disney’s present ticket and lodge offers (which may prevent fairly a bit of cash, by the way in which) as proof the park is struggling to herald company. And whereas it might actually be true that incentives are again as a method to create extra demand, Disney’s not distinctive there as different space theme parks are providing equally profitable affords.

At Common Orlando, you may get three days free with a two-park, two-day ticket, and through SeaWorld’s summer season sale, it can save you as much as 45% on ticket costs.

There could also be an general shift in tourism


When taking a look at why wait instances for rides (and thus, estimations about attendance ranges) could also be inching again to historic norms, it is probably necessary to contemplate that Florida was one of many first states to reopen after tourism all however shut down in March 2020 as a precaution in opposition to COVID-19. Disney World closed its 4 Florida theme parks on March 16, 2020, and started a phased reopening a number of months afterward July 11, 2020.

Pent-up demand for Disney could also be on the decline

As a result of Florida welcomed vacationers so quickly into the pandemic when many different vacationer locations had been shuttered for months and even years longer than Disney World, individuals who had their hearts set on a sunny trip flocked to the Sunshine State and its world-class theme parks.

At this level, these vacationers have seemingly gotten that “Disney itch” out of their system. “I do suppose that the surge of individuals ready for his or her Orlando trip has handed and they’re going elsewhere,” Roseboom stated. “Many individuals will all the time make Orlando their go-to trip, however throughout and simply after the pandemic, Orlando was a straightforward go to for many Individuals.”

This downward pattern applies to Central Florida and past, not simply Disney, and the numbers assist the anecdotal proof that native residents like Roseboom are observing. In line with Florida tourism tax knowledge, journey is down this yr in various Florida counties. Vacationer Growth Tax collections in Orange County, the place Disney World, Common Orlando and SeaWorld are positioned, noticed a 6.7% lower in Might 2023 versus Might 2022. Resort occupancy within the county was additionally down 2.5% in Might 2023 versus the identical month in 2022.

The close by St. Petersburg-Clearwater space noticed a 3% lower in TDT for Might 2023 versus Might 2022. Volusia County noticed a good greater drop of 8.89% in TDT between April 2022 and April 2023.

This downward pattern has not gone unnoticed by Disney. In a latest interview with CNBC, Bob Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Firm, instructed CNBC, “Disney opened up early throughout COVID … it created an enormous demand and [Disney] did not have competitors as a result of there have been various different states that weren’t open but … there’s much more competitors at the moment.”

Worldwide journey and cruising are on the rise

So if individuals aren’t going to Central Florida, the place are they going? Now that the world is basically their oyster, vacationers look like spreading their wings and heading for extra far-flung locations.

“The massive story of the summer season is de facto Individuals flocking to Europe for these that may afford it,” Phillip Ballard, the chief communications officer of, just lately shared with TPG senior inns reporter Cameron Spearance in a narrative about summer season journey pricing tendencies. “There’s lastly sufficient journey confidence that Individuals have saved up sufficient cash that now’s the time to go to Paris or Rome,” he added.

AAA reserving knowledge backs up Ballard’s place. In line with AAA, worldwide journey is up greater than 200% in comparison with 2022, and worldwide lodge bookings are up greater than 300%.

The cruise trade, which was gradual to reopen as a consequence of many locations banning cruise ships, can also be seeing a surge in recognition. In late 2022, TPG reported that executives from lots of the world’s prime cruise traces predicted their ships could be crammed to capability by mid-2023.

AAA knowledge additionally exhibits that vacationers’ confidence in cruising is on the rise. A latest AAA survey discovered that “52% of U.S. adults are simply as seemingly or extra more likely to take into account taking a cruise trip as they had been earlier than the pandemic.” That quantity is up from 45% in 2022.

Associated: Essentially the most magical method to expertise Disney proper now could also be at sea

Florida’s political panorama seemingly does not assist

Right here in 2023, you most likely cannot have an entire dialogue about tourism in Florida with out addressing the state’s politics.

In 2022, a yearlong feud was set off between Disney and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis when Disney spoke out in opposition to the state’s “Do not Say Homosexual” invoice. Shortly thereafter, DeSantis tried to revoke Disney’s self-governing privileges by dismantling the Reedy Creek Enchancment District and put in a hand-picked board of these with a historical past of supporting the governor to supervise Disney’s authorities providers.

Associated: What it was like attending Disneyland’s 1st official Delight occasion

The 2 events are at the moment embroiled in a authorized battle over the case, and within the meantime, DeSantis has continued to point out assist for the exclusionary “Do not Say Homosexual” laws and comparable legal guidelines, together with a statewide abortion ban, a ban on gender-affirming care and a regulation barring college workers members and college students from being required to check with others by their chosen pronouns, in response to PBS.

Regardless of DeSantis’ stance in opposition to Disney and its “woke ideologies,” the theme park large hasn’t backed down. In the identical beforehand talked about CNBC interview, Iger stated, “We’re involved that [DeSantis] has determined to retaliate in opposition to the corporate for a place the corporate took on pending laws in [Florida] … to retaliate in opposition to the corporate in a manner that might be dangerous in opposition to the enterprise shouldn’t be one thing we may tolerate.”

It is too quickly to inform if the numbers will bear out a decline in attendance as a consequence of individuals staying away from Disney due to the corporate’s political stance, however a fast scroll of Disney-related hashtags that I choose to not hyperlink to point out that some loud voices are vociferously boycotting the corporate.

On the opposite facet of this coin, the political polarization in Florida has brought on some organizations to warn vacationers to take their enterprise elsewhere.

The NAACP stated in a latest assertion that “Florida is brazenly hostile towards African Individuals, individuals of coloration and LGBTQ+ people. Earlier than touring to Florida, please perceive that the state of Florida devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and the challenges confronted by African Individuals and different communities of coloration.”

Along with the NAACP, the Human Rights Marketing campaign, the League of United Latin American Residents, the Florida Immigrant Coalition and Equality Florida have all issued journey or relocation warnings for Florida.

What are you able to count on throughout your summertime Disney World trip?

It is obvious Disney is neither useless nor at most capability, so what are you able to count on from a Disney trip this summer season? About the identical as some other yr: sizzling and humid days, a day storm that someway cools issues off but in addition makes the air extra humid, and lengthy standby waits.


As I write this, on a Monday morning in mid-July, a number of waits are posted at properly over the hour mark, at the moment topping out at 105 minutes for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Slinky Canine Sprint is posted at 85 minutes, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is posted at 90 minutes, Avatar Flight of Passage is at 130 minutes and Seven Dwarfs Mine Practice is at 75 minutes, to call just a few.

In fact, you possibly can get fortunate and go to on a day that may be a bit much less busy than anticipated, and you may all the time mitigate your time spent in line — and within the blazing solar — with the acquisition of Disney Genie+. However in both case, do not pull as much as the gates of the Most Magical Place on Earth anticipating to come across very brief waits, as some latest headlines might have led you to consider.

That stated, there’s a potential shift in the place individuals are spending their PTO underway, however it’s at the moment at a degree that’s typically way more refined than the surprisingly brief 30-minute waits at Hollywood Studios on July 4. The proof at the moment suggests barely lower-than-normal crowds at Disney this summer season in comparison with the previous few years and a return to a extra pre-pandemic degree of busy. However that also means you are still more likely to come face-to-face with one-to-two-hour waits for prime sights, so pack a travel-friendly fan and brush up on our suggestions for profiting from a visit to Disney World.

Associated studying:

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button