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Why Are Disney World Resorts Bought Out in 2024?


Walt Disney World resort availability is proscribed for sure dates in 2024, prompting reader questions and considerations about crowds. This put up addresses what’s occurring with the offered 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 over again, it ought to. We’ve coated 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 fad, not each resort had reopened, and even those that have been operational had all of their buildings open as a result of staffing shortages.

Lots has modified since then. Revenge journey has principally flamed out, and Walt Disney World truly has seen year-over-year decreases in each attendance and resort occupancy. (This isn’t merely hypothesis–that hyperlink goes to an earnings name the place Disney executives themselves acknowledged this.)

Equally as vital, 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 offer is now not constrained in any significant manner, and demand shouldn’t be artificially heighted as a result of folks making up for misplaced time. Provided that there are actually extra accessible rooms within the stock and fewer folks competing for mentioned lodging…what provides? Why are resorts nonetheless promoting out at Walt Disney World?

Actually, I don’t assume that is some enormous downside. The one cause I’m addressing this in any respect is as a result of it has grow to be a standard reader query in the previous couple of months, normally 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.)

Numerous 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 lodges and not Disney Trip Membership. By its very nature, DVC is designed to function at near 100% occupancy. For a wide range of causes past the scope of this put up, sure DVC resorts have absolutely booked up months upfront for a very long time–and that’s solely worsened since Aulani and the Poly bungalows.)

To make certain, some lodges did promote out as did sure dates. Regardless of astronomical charges, the week between Christmas and New Yr’s Eve has all the time been a preferred time, and reservations may very well be aggressive for some resorts or room classes. For those who go manner again, we’ve heard tales of followers reserving New Yr’s Eve 1999 as far upfront as attainable out of fears about Y2K, and pondering that if anyplace can be ‘secure,’ it’d be Disney. It in all probability would’ve been the same story for the precise day of Walt Disney World’s fiftieth Anniversary had that been throughout a traditional 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 accessible–and never simply dear suites or multi-bedroom villas. You could not be capable of 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 all the time 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 which 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 report 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% greater in income and 29% greater in working earnings in comparison with FY2019.”

This isn’t only a Walt Disney World phenomenon. Vacationer improvement tax collections for Orange County, Florida fell year-over-year all through 2023, with November (the latest month for which there’s information) marking the seventh lower in income within the final eight months, in line with the county comptroller. (Vacationer improvement taxes are collected through a 6% tax on resort 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 resort occupancy was additionally down in comparison with 2022, at 69.8%, a drop of over 10% year-over-year. The common day by day charge for lodges 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 stunning that there can be a decline in Orange County tourism. Like Walt Disney World, the county as an entire remains to be up significantly as in comparison with 2019 and earlier.

Furthermore, Go to Orlando has reported that resort 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%. Increased wait occasions and our anecdotal perceptions of ‘looks like’ crowds to this point in 2024 at Walt Disney World counsel 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 extra exhaustion of pent-up demand over the course of 2024. What if, as an alternative, 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. Form of just like the accordion impact in site visitors, however for pent-up demand. That coupled with diminishing fears of a recession and bettering client confidence, might end in a bounce-back 12 months for journey to the Orlando space.

For its half, Walt Disney World may very well be doing what’s essential to incentivize followers to return, pulling the proper “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 normal public promos in 2022 to having its full slate of 2019 provides accessible once more (e.g. Free Eating, bouncebacks, PIN codes), some with the most effective 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 widespread journey occasions–like Spring Break and Easter. In an effort to keep away from an extra drop in occupancy, it’s attainable Disney received too “beneficiant” with its particular provides, past what what was essential to hit reserving targets.

There’s additionally the fact that loads is going on 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 working with its return. There are a number of occasions on the ESPN Large 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 greater than final 12 months.

These occasions can have a significant affect on resort room availability, as there are tons of attendees and so they take up enormous blocks of particular lodges. That, in flip, reduces stock there and pushes different folks to completely different lodges. Actual world occasions just like the NFL Professional Bowl and WWE Monday Night time RAW have a equally oblique affect. Attendees e-book up lodges round Orlando and flights into town, however seldom go to the theme parks.

Suffice to say, there’s a ripple impact felt all through lodges within the area, together with WDW. That is true even with regards to occasions that aren’t occurring at Walt Disney World and may have minimal affect on crowd ranges.

To that time, on-site lodges promoting out fully may cause planners to freak out that the parks are going to be chaotic and crowded. Which may be true…generally. However there are a few issues to bear in mind.

The primary is that almost all of visitors within the parks at any given second come from off-site. This contains these staying in third occasion lodges round Orlando, nevertheless it additionally contains the rising inhabitants in Central Florida and past inside driving distance. Locals may merely come out for the day when the climate is sweet, 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 scorching tubs) however usually don’t attend the parks in the identical quantity as common ole vacationers. So the resort may very well be at ~95% occupancy as a result of a conference, and it might really feel that manner within the widespread areas…however not on the buses. Against this, the resort may very well be at ~65% occupancy with no conference, however really feel far worse on the buses. It’s all about demographics and the visitor combine.

It’s the same story with youth teams taking part in sporting occasions on the ESPN Large World of Sports activities. To make certain, a few of these youth occasions can enhance total crowd ranges within the parks. The larger ones particularly can have a cloth affect on the parks, particularly if you happen to go to the identical park as their complete (or massive parts of) their group attends.

Anecdotally, I’d say it’s way 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. Nevertheless it’s additionally true that the youth teams are primarily there for the sporting occasions, and the park days are non-compulsory icing on the cake.

To some extent, it’s even attainable that convention-goers and youth teams are occupying rooms and ‘blocking out’ visitors 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 resort availability (or lack thereof) shouldn’t be essentially a great predictor of crowd ranges. There are too many shifting components and added variables.

Finally, that ought to assist clarify what’s occurring with unavailable rooms at Walt Disney World…not less than to a point. Greater than the rest, I believe that is merely the “new regular.” There’s a better baseline stage of demand as in comparison with 2019 and earlier, Walt Disney World is pulling extra “levers” to maintain occupancy as shut as attainable to that record-setting 2022, and there’s in all probability nonetheless “localized” pent-up demand for sure kinds of journey–conventions, youth teams, worldwide visitors, and so forth.

Once more, I don’t assume that is something to be involved about. I do assume it’s an enchanting topic, and in addition suspect that it’ll be a pattern that lasts till the following recession or financial downturn. Even when it’s now not thought of revenge journey, it’s in all probability honest to say that individuals have reevaluated their priorities and can proceed to position extra of an emphasis on in-person experiences and journey for the foreseeable future. Meaning resort occupancy will stay excessive in Central Florida, whilst tons of recent lodges proceed being constructed. Whether or not that’s sustainable indefinitely is one other matter for one more day, however it’s for now.

For those who’re in search of key takeaways, the primary can be that–as mentioned above–lodges being offered out doesn’t essentially imply heavy crowds. It’s actually a sign that may very well 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 making an attempt 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 lodges within the final two years. That has not been as a result of these are my two favourite resorts at Walt Disney World. Study from my errors and provides your self a bit extra lead time.

Planning a Walt Disney World journey? Find out about lodges on our Walt Disney World Motels Opinions web page. For the place to eat, learn our Walt Disney World Restaurant Opinions. To save cash on tickets or decide which kind to purchase, learn our Ideas for Saving Cash on Walt Disney World Tickets put up. Our What to Pack for Disney Journeys put up takes a singular have a look at intelligent gadgets to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Trip Guides will assist. For complete recommendation, the most effective place to start out is our Walt Disney World Journey Planning Information for all the pieces you could know!

YOUR THOUGHTS

Have you ever encountered plenty of offered out resorts at Walt Disney World throughout a time you didn’t count on to be busy in 2024? Ideas on resort stock does or doesn’t affect crowd ranges within the parks? What do you assume is driving the provision difficulty at Walt Disney World? Do you assume pent-up demand is an ongoing difficulty, with folks (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 may also help you reply? Listening to your suggestions–even while you disagree with us–is each attention-grabbing to us and useful to different readers, so please share your ideas beneath within the feedback!