Disney World Had a Slow Holiday; Is DeSantis To Blame?

Walt Disney Co.  (DIS) – Get Free Report is assessing its attendance figures at the Disney World Resort in Florida after the Fourth of July holiday and it’s not looking good.

The July Fourth holiday is usually one of the busiest times of the year for Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom, considered a high-demand ticket. Guests could expect long wait times in standby lines of popular rides, such as about an hour wait at Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Hollywood Studios or at Space Mountain in the Magic Kingdom.

DON’T MISS: Disney’s Feud With DeSantis Escalates (Here’s Why)

The parks are a destination for both locals and tourists from other parts of Florida or out of state on July Fourth. Disney World in March concluded it’s year-and-a-half-long 50th Anniversary celebration that kept the theme parks pretty busy for the duration. Disney’s executives have said that they expected crowd levels at the parks to decrease with the end of the anniversary celebration, and that has apparently has happened since April.

The Disney World Resort’s most recent ride opening was Tron Light/Cycle at Magic Kingdom in April 2023, and in May 2022 it opened Guardians of the Galaxy: Comic Rewind at Epcot. However, the House of Mouse’s Florida theme parks will not be opening any new or refurbished rides through the end of the year and into next year that could draw huge crowds. The retheme of Splash Mountain into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure won’t be completed until late 2024. 

Without a bright new ride, the crowds might not be picking up for awhile. But the end of the anniversary celebration doesn’t fully explain the drop-off of attendance.

Image source: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Disney World Parks Have Decline in Attendance

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has embarked on a campaign against Disney for taking a stand against the governor’s so-called Don’t Say Gay legislation and some blogs have speculated that DeSantis’s battle with Disney might have some impact on falling attendance at Disney parks. DisDining.com said in April 2023 that the parks were beginning to see smaller crowds that pushed the Genie+ ride entrance feature to $15.

Then on July 4, the Disney World had its slowest Fourth of July holiday in 10 years, based on average ride wait times tracked by thrill-data.com, BlogMickey reported.

The DeSantis factor might be one to consider if other theme parks weren’t experiencing a similar decline of attendance. This reporter’s trip to Cedar Fair’s  (FUN) – Get Free Report California Great America in Santa Clara, Calif., reveals a light crowd at the park at 11:30 a.m. (opened at 10 a.m.) and 5 or 10 minute waits at some of the park’s more popular rides, including The Grizzly and The Demon.

Guests had longer waits on certain other popular rides, such as former Top Gun ride Flight Deck, RailBlazer and Gold Striker. One of the worst lines in the park was the security line to get into the park, which took 35 minutes, an unheard of amount of time compared to Disney, Universal Studios or Six Flags Entertainment  (SIX) – Get Free Report parks that use high-tech metal detectors and scanners.

Universal Orlando Resort Also Had Decrease in Guests

The Great America security staff checks individuals with handheld metal detectors. Instead of placing a guest’s bag on a conveyor belt scanner, such as at an airport or as they do at Six Flags parks, Great America workers will dig through guests’ bags one by one with a drumstick from a drummer’s drum kit inspecting the bag. Legendary Beatles drummer Ringo Starr would be proud.

Chances that DeSantis had anything to do with Disney World parks’ decline in July Fourth attendance are pretty low, since Comcast’s  (CMCSA) – Get Free Report Universal Orlando Resort also had record low attendance on July 4, based on thrill-data.com statistics, InsideTheMagic.com reported. Your best bet is that economic distress, such as high inflation and recession worries, are causing a reduction of guest attendance at theme parks.

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