My miceage article for this week provides the breaking news that Disney may close DAK and DHS one day per week in early 2009, if attendance levels drop enough.
I'll post some of the email I receive here, to give these folks writing to me a wider platform to be heard. Here's one now:
Enjoyed your article today, as always. But I just have to write and say that if WDW is even considering closing parks because of lower attendance...well, it would be a lie. What I mean is, Disney would simply be finding an excuse to close a park and save some money.
Anyone who regularly makes trips to WDW in the fall knows that the parks used to be a ghost town during those months—almost every ride was a walk-on. The parks are much busier in the off-season now. My family is looking at going this November, for example, and I was floored to discover that most of autumn is now “regular season” at the resorts! So why would a slump in attendance trigger something this drastic in response?
Hey, let’s just look at some numbers. According to estimates, in 2003, the MK had 14 million visitors and at the other end, AK had 7.3 million. The travel industry was still getting over 9/11 but the point is, those numbers didn’t create any speculation that WDW would close parks one day a week. Now in 2007, the MK pulls in 17 million and the AK 9.5 million. So if 2008 attendance was even down 10%, it would still be substantially higher than just a few years ago.
I also reject any notion that the parks would get better upkeep with a day of rest, either. Disney has never had a problem keeping the parks up with an every-day schedule when it has the desire to do so—I’m sure you agree with me on this.
So if they did this, it would be a cost-cutting measure, plain and simple, no different than the decision to stagger the opening/closing times of World Showcase and Future World in Epcot. Let’s not let Disney off the hook by saying they would “need” to do this because of fuel costs or whatever (and I say this as a Disney shareholder who definitely wants the company to remain highly profitable).