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Old 12-21-2002, 07:34 PM   #1
AKLRULZ
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Disney attendance down, Universal up...

Interesting article in the Orlando paper about attendance and park rankings...

Theme Park attendance...
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Old 12-24-2002, 02:53 AM   #2
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Re: Disney attendance down, Universal up...

I wonder at times how Disney will do when they totally take away the Disney Club. To me, the Disney Club breeds brand loyalty to the Disney Resorts and Disney products. There are just enough perks associated with it to keep me coming to the resorts and spending my money at their stores. Prices on the other hand keep increasing at the Disney resorts making them much more expensive than comparable hotels outside of the Disney area. We stayed in a beautiful and rather spacious room at the oceanfront Westin Resort in Hilton Head Island, S.C. for less than what I spend to stay at a moderate hotel in WDW. In spite of the fact that I love going to WDW, HHI was a much better vacation value for the money. As far as the Disney stores go, with the disappearance of most adult clothing at the retail stores; I spend very little money there. When the Disney Club is gone, there will be no incentive to ever shop there as there is very little in the way of collectibles there either.

So back to the subject of attendance and park rankings...Perhaps this will be a wake-up call for Disney execs to go back to their roots and figure out what has always set WDW apart and made it the number 1 vacation destination.
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Old 12-24-2002, 06:53 AM   #3
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Re: Disney attendance down, Universal up...

I think Universal offered some great deals, and that brought in the visitors, like annual passes for $99. It sold us!!
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Old 12-24-2002, 07:13 AM   #4
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Re: Disney attendance down, Universal up...

Unfortunately, they probably won't flinch until they lose position in national ratings. The effects of the DC closing have yet to be felt and certainly can't be included in these numbers. I agree though, Disney does seem to be losing touch with those who make it what it is.
I doubt we'll see any improvement over the next few years either. The biggest factor keeping visitor numbers down is probably economic. Since the economic situation will most likely be short term, there's no incentive for disney to respond with anything that would cut into their earnings. [img]images/icons/frown.gif[/img]

[img]graemlins/usa.gif[/img] [img]graemlins/usa.gif[/img] [img]graemlins/usa.gif[/img]
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Old 12-24-2002, 12:29 PM   #5
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Re: Disney attendance down, Universal up...

Thanks Steve. Love seeing these estimates since the parks themselves won't release 'em. Doesn't tell us much about financial health but they're fun to see. And, since my shoppings done and I have entirely too much time on my hands till church [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img] ......

The sizes of the individual parks are so different that the park to park percentage comparisons are a little misleading. Using Amusement Business's own estimates from 2001...here's maybe a better way to comp em...

Universal/IOA
IOA:
2001 5.5 million visitors
2002 6.1 million visitors

up 600,000

Universal Studios Orlando:
2001 7.3 million visitors
2002 6.9 million visitors

down 400,000

US/IOA TOTALS
Total 2002 attendance -- 13 million
Change from 2001 -- up 200,000
% change from 2001 -- up 1.54%
--------------------------------------------

DisneyWorld
MK:
2001 14.8 million visitors
2002 14.7 million visitors

down 100,000

Epcot:
2001 9 million visitors
2002 8.3 million visitors

down 700,000

MGM:
2001 8.4 million visitors
2002 8.3 million visitors

down 100,000

AK:
2001 7.8 million visitors
2002 7.3 million visitors

down 500,000

DisneyWorld TOTALS
Total 2002 attendance -- 38.3 million
Change from 2001 -- down 1.4 million
% change from 2001 -- down 3.53%
------------------------------------------

Without financials, attendance numbers aren't much to go on. But, clearly when you do look at attendance by itself...

In 2002, DisneyWorld had 25.3 million more visitors than it's closest competition (US/IOA)...that's 3x the nearest competitor!!! And that's no knock on Universal.

US/IOA has two nice parks with some top notch rides and a couple of great resorts. But Disney's playing at an entirely different level than everyone else.

Universal's the closest competition. But if Disney's attendance just stays level in the coming year, US/IOA would need to see a 194% increase in thier 2003 attendance numbers just to pull even with WDW (US/IOA's increase this year was 1.54%)!

It deffinitely looks like Disney's still playing in a class by itself.
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Old 12-26-2002, 08:47 AM   #6
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Re: Disney attendance down, Universal up...

OH BOY! Does this usually mean some deep discounts are on their way?? [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]

For someone who has not been to WDW since the late 1980s, I can tell you that PRICE was what kept me away. It still would had we not gotten an RV that allow us to stay in WDW at Ft Wilderness for nearly what we used to spend to kennel our pet when we went on vacation! Now even our DD (dear doggie) gets to go with us. [img]images/icons/grin.gif[/img]

Hey that Universal $99 Annual Pass caught my eye too. Maybe WDW might consider dropping their price as well? Competition is a good thing!
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Old 12-26-2002, 12:38 PM   #7
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Re: Disney attendance down, Universal up...

There are so many factors that go into a drop or increase in attendance that it's hard to make general statements.

Yes, it's always better to get a discount. Will the demise of Disney Club make a difference? Disney is confident that their new Visa card will more than satisfy folks who currently depend on Disney Club. As Disney Club benefits are available through the end of 2003 for those who renewed, and the new Visa will be avalible sometime this spring, the jury is still out on whether there will be a significant negative impact. It certainly could not have had an impact on 2002 attendance, which is what we're discussing.

There's also a difference in attendance patterns between Universal and WDW. WDW is an international vacation destination, and the drop in international visitation (something like 10% since 9/11) is a very significant part of WDW's overall decline in attendance. Universal is much more of a regional destination; one that feeds off of WDW's national and international visitors, but is not dependent upon them. For example, a family from the UK often visits Orlando for two weeks. In that time they may spend 8-10 days in Disney parks, and two or three days at Universal. In short, for every international visitor that stays home, Disney loses three to five times as much business as Universal does. Similarly, a family visiting WDW from elsewhere in the U.S. may spend four or five days at WDW and (maybe) visit Universal for one day.

Far more of Universal's business comes from the local/regional market. The local market drives, rather than flies, and that's an important factor since 9/11. With a smaller percentage of visitors flying in, Universal will see a smaller negative impact.

As to discounts to stimulate visitation, we again have to compare the local market to the national/international. In this case, we have to compare the cost of Disney's Florida Resident Annual Pass with the price of a Universal pass (rather than the price of a non-resident pass), and look at what Disney and Universal have been doing to encourage local/regional visitation. (While Disney doesn't release this kind of information, I'm fairly certain that the vast majority of Disney's Annual Passholders pay the Florida Resident rate). Universal has offered discounts as a stimulus. Disney has added value, by offering additional perks and special events for Annual Passholders. It's hard to know which approach is working better. Disney has also offered special value-priced tickets in the local market. These offers were designed to be less suitable to a long-distance vacationer's needs.

Why should Disney focus its efforts on bringing in the locals, rather than encouraging long-distance visitors? The locals can visit almost at whim, throughout the year. That can add up to far more visits, more meals and snacks, etc. Perhaps a good admission discount will encourage a few people to overcome their fear of flying, but it's not all that likely, especially when you add the overall economy to the mix. Long-distance visitors have to pay for airfare, lodging, and three meals a day (rather than one a day for the locals) too, so admission prices are a far smaller part of their overall budget.

Personally, I don't think a discount on park passes will encourage a significant percentage of long-distance visitors. Meantime, all those people who would visit regardless of admission price would also get the discount. In short, Disney could pay a very high price to bring in a very few additional long-distance guests.

Disney is discounting lodging far more aggressively than in the past. There are code discounts out there for the general public that are equal to or better than the typical Disney Club or Annual Pass discounts. These deals have a direct impact on long-distance visitors, are carefully targeted, and let the company hold the line on admission prices.
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Old 12-26-2002, 01:07 PM   #8
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Re: Disney attendance down, Universal up...

Thanks Dave! Makes a lot of sense to me and thanks Steve for the article and Matt for the stats. All very interesting information.
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Old 12-26-2002, 02:08 PM   #9
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Re: Disney attendance down, Universal up...

Those stats are mindboggling! I keep hearing all the stuff about Disney losing money and how theme park attendance is down and all. However, when we were at WDW in June 2002, it was PACKED! And it was raining buckets the entire week, and it was still PACKED!!! We waited a long time to get on some of the rides and get into some of the shows! We can't afford to go 3 or 4 times a year, and will be lucky to make it there once every 3-4 years, but it will still always be my absolute favorite vacation destination!
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