If you’ve been to Walt Disney World at all this summer, chances are good you’ve noticed a much smaller number of guests wandering around each of the resort's four theme parks than is normal at this time of year.
In the short term, this has been a great thing for vacationers, who have been able to experience shorter wait times and greater FastPass+ and Advance Dining Reservation availability pretty much everywhere. However, beyond the initial perks that come with an unexpectedly quiet summer season at Walt Disney World, there are some longer term changes that could come in the coming months (and potentially years) as a result of the slower summer crowds of 2016.
1. Limited-time deals return
One of the easiest ways Walt Disney World has been able to pump up guest levels in the past is by offering a number of special, limited time deals to draw in both locals as well as those considering a visit but uncommitted. Most of these limited time deals have come from Walt Disney World’s hotels, with select locations offering free Disney Dining Plans as well as one night free offers with stays of a defined length.
However, even though these offers have all been made available for some dates in the past, there are other, potentially more exciting discounts that could also be offered in the coming months as well. One particularly memorable promotion in 2008 and 2010 (which also saw somewhat depressed attendance thanks to a recessive US economy) allowed guests to get a free one-day, one-park ticket for Walt Disney World either on a guests’ birthday (in 2008) or after a day of confirmed volunteer service (in 2010). While free tickets probably won't be back yet (things aren't that bad yet), we wouldn't be surprised if more special ticket packages for Florida residents and hotel guests become more widely available in the coming months.
Although it's likely that Disney will implement some of these proven crowd-boosting tactics from its playbook, the company might also be considering some new deals as well. A recent survey hinted that Disney is thinking about adding extra perks for annual passholders in particular, which could include deeper discounts on things like special events, tickets, dining and more.
There are plenty of choices for Disney when it comes to offering discounts, but we’d imagine that the resort will begin offering some low key deals possibly as soon as this fall (if late summer attendance doesn’t pick up) and then if the holiday season ends up being disappointing as well, then you’ll see some more dramatic offers in 2017 and potentially beyond.
Though we don’t know what Disney has in store to try and get guests back into its parks, it is almost certain that discounts and deals will be a large part of their strategy in the coming months and years. But that’s not the only change guests can expect in response to this unexpected guest downturn...