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
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.
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.