Disney recently revealed that combined occupancy at its hotels at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland spiked to over 89% last year, which is an unprecedented number in the hospitality industry, and a new high for the company.
Though this is certainly good news for Disney’s bottom line, the fact is that high levels of occupancy at Disney’s hotels will likely spur some big changes in the next few years, as the resort looks to the future.
1. Flamingo Crossings development will be fast tracked
The Flamingo Crossings project has been in a bit of a holding pattern over the past few years, with construction quietly commencing last year (almost a decade after ground was supposed to be broken). Though this collection of third-party hotel properties may not be as profitable for Disney as their own branded hotels, the fact is that Disney's record-breaking occupancy in 2014 reveals that Disney has an inventory problem when it comes to rooms, and demand is now beginning to outstrip supply.
In addition to filling rooms at a record pace, Disney parks in the US broke all attendance records last quarter, and if their rate of growth stays on a positive trend, the demand for hotel rooms will do nothing but increase, especially as guest levels are projected to spike in 2016 thanks to the new Frozen ride at Epcot, and then again in 2017 when Pandora: The World of Avatar opens.
Fortunately, Flamingo Crossings is a great solution to this problem, as construction on this project is already underway, with the first two hotels are projected to open in 2016. However, these two initial hotels will only add 500 suites between the two of them, which is relatively small when talking about the overall volume of rooms on Walt Disney World property.
Because of this, expect the rest of Flamingo Crossings to fall into place very quickly. There is space in this new property for shops, restaurants and more hotels, and though the current projected completion date is 2024, the need for more rooms will likely spur faster development in this area.When it is finished, Flamingo Crossings will reportedly feature 5,000 rooms, suites and timeshare units, which would be more in line with what Walt Disney World needs right now.
2. Higher prices during peak seasons
Though the old adage goes that the only certainties in life are death and taxes, all theme park fans know that you can add Disney price hikes to that list. While annual ticket price changes are easy to track year over year, room rate price hikes are a little bit harder to keep tabs on, as room rates vary by day of the week, season and overall occupancy, making it hard to look at overall pricing trends for rooms.
However, even though we don't know by what percentage room rates are set to increase, don’t be surprised if the next time you book a room at a Disney resort, the price is much higher than you remember. Because of increased demand, prices will rise as availability becomes more and more scarce, especially during peak visitor times (like during the winter holidays).