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Right now at Walt Disney World, executives and decision-makers are bracing for the forthcoming financial results (due in just over a week), which are not only set to confirm slower than usual attendance at the resort's theme parks, but also lower hotel occupancy as well.

In an effort to offset the forthcoming confirmation of these negative developments, Walt Disney World is making some interesting changes around the resort, including changing up its entertainment schedule and incentivizing guests to come back later this year. However, it looks like there will be a pretty noticeable cut made as well…

1. Slower attendance will bring dining reductions across the resort

Sunshine Seasons

Image: Disney

Though it was only a few weeks ago that popular Epcot eatery Sunshine Seasons debuted a refreshed breakfast menu to the delight of fans, it looks like this new menu was destined to be short-lived as Disney confirmed this past week that this dining location would no longer open before 11:00AM, effective this Monday. No reason was immediately given for the abrupt halt of breakfast service at Sunshine Seasons, but we’d wager that this discontinuation has everything to do with this summer's attendance slowdown at Walt Disney World.  

While this is only one instance of reduced hours at a single park, expect more dining locations to reduce their hours (or close entirely) over the next few weeks as Walt Disney World grapples with the fallout of the attendance dip of 2016. Dining is unfortunately one of the easiest places for Disney to make quick cuts to deal with bad news (in fact it did so just a few months ago for a multitude of reasons), and guests shouldn't be surprised if they see fewer options available the next time they visit Walt Disney World. However, though this is the bad news, there's some good news for guests as well... 

2. Live entertainment is set to get a boost

In case you hadn’t noticed, there has been a mystery stage up in Epcot's Germany pavilion for several months now. And while this stage sat vacant for quite a long time puzzling guests (us included) we finally learned this week that Disney will be using this stage for a new live entertainment act. Beginning this week Margret Almer & The Bavarian Band will be performing at this small stage for small sets five days a week.

Though Disney looks like it will be taking away dining options in the near future thanks to attendance slowdowns, live entertainment seems like it is actually on an upswing. Outside of Epcot, the Magic Kingdom announced earlier this week that a new Muppets-related show will be coming to Liberty Square in a few months, and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that Rivers of Light will debut before the end of the year as well.

Image: Disney 

While it might not seem logical for Disney to close food and beverage locations to save money while expanding live entertainment around the various theme parks, if you think about this strategy for a moment, these moves do make some sense. If the idea is to draw in locals (who are less likely to eat three full meals inside the parks), Disney can easily boost up attendance from these "day trippers" as they come in to see all of these new shows, even if these guests aren't typically staying at the park for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This type of behavior allows Disney to both save money on food costs as well as get their numbers up before the end of the year.  

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Comments

Had to reduce to silver annual passes so we are blocked out a good portion of the time that we would generally go for dinner and walk around.
In addition the hotel deals for passholders were so poor we got a better deal at port Orleans on Priceline. Give us back our open date passes and hotel deals and you will see more of our $$$$. BTW photo pass is worthless for passholders. Bad bad marketing decisions to your faithful groupies.

We've been going to WDW for years during the off season. Staying on-site. Haven't noticed any dipping crowd numbers. If anything it's even more crowded. Unable to get reservations for dinner or fast pass online MONTHS in advance. We also have a handicapped child and they've changed the disability pass to more of a fast pass system. So the time and money -- $5000-7000 plus for a week --- we spend waiting in line with a disabled child isn't worth it. Get more bang for our buck at Universal and are thinking about staying there next time instead.

Went with the whole family last year (sixth trip and always stayed on property) and will not be going back any time soon. Had issues with our resort and when I talked to the manager I felt like I was wasting his time. Crowds were ridiculous and attractions were going down left and right. Waiting in line for an hour only to have the ride go down with no excuse. I loved Disney and was happy I got to show it to my grandson, but will not be making that investment again.

I have been waiting for 5 years to take my kids to Disney World over Halloween and take them to the Halloween Party only to be slapped in the face when the ticket prices came out with their new tiered system. I had already made our flight reservations early to help with the cost, then the announcement of the party ticket prices came out. Needless to say we aren't going to make it this year either because of the cost. I'm so upset at how this was handled that I'm very close to pulling the plug on any visits to Disney parks and just go to Universal Studios or Sea World. Sure they aren't cheap either but I feel so betrayed by Disney and would rather spend my money elsewhere than line the pockets of the dream crushers! So much for the happiest place on earth!

I think it's interesting that there's this attendance downturn the same summer as all the cutbacks were instituted to accommodate the new park in China. The reduced staffing reduction in food service couldn't have come at a better time, honestly. Lower crowds will mean better guest/CM ratios.

I'm not saying the cutbacks are directly linked to the attendance drop, just that it's a pretty cool overlap.

I'm thinking Avatarland is going to start bringing people back. When Star Wars and Toy Story hit, Disney attendance will skyrocket once more. This is hopefully just the calm before the storm.

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