"Disney World Is Empty": Park Guest Describes Eerily Vacant Park
The visitor's post echoes ongoing reports of smaller crowds at Florida parks.
This summer, reports have circulated about falling attendance at Disney parks, primarily at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. These parks are typically inundated with visitors at this time of year—when the weather is warmer and kids are off from school. But now, another guest says this simply isn't the case and "Disney World is empty." Read on to find out why some believe attendance is plummeting.
There have been multiple reports about empty Disney parks this summer.
Earlier this month, visitors were quick to point out that Disney World wait times were surprisingly low. This was particularly notable over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, when guests said that Hollywood Studios was "a ghost town," and Epcot was "empty."
According to Thrill Data, as shared on a Reddit thread, wait times at the Magic Kingdom were 30 percent lower when compared with the same time in 2022 and 2019.
"Normally we avoid 4th of July weekend like the plague, so I was surprised to see how low the wait times were at [Magic Kingdom] today," the Redditor wrote. "Especially considering it's historically one of the busiest times of the year at [Walt Disney World]."
Offering a different opinion, travel news writer Tarah Chieffi wrote in a recent article for The Points Guy that the parks were "far from a ghost town this summer." In the article, she noted that while some parks weren't as packed, Magic Kingdom wait times surpassed 60 minutes for popular rides.
However, accounts of smaller crowds continued this weekend, giving more weight to the idea that there may be bigger issues at hand at Disney World.
Last weekend was a similar situation.
In a tweet posted on Friday, July 21, user @innoventioneast shared four photos taken at Epcot and Magic Kingdom, where crowds were particularly sparse.
"Despite what [Disney CEO] Bob Iger wants us to believe, Walt Disney World is empty," the tweet reads.
In a subsequent tweet, the user noted that while rides did have wait times, the pathways throughout the park weren't "dense at all." The user followed up the next day, posting four more photos from Epcot on Saturday, July 22, again dubbing the park "empty."
Some questioned whether the lack of crowds had anything to do with the time of day (@innoventioneast notes photos on July 21 were taken between 11 a.m. and noon), while others replied and suggested the ongoing extreme heat and pressures from inflation are likely playing a significant role.
Meanwhile, other guests maintain they had a different experience, and that parks were "packed" over the weekend. One Twitter user chimed in to say they've been to the parks recently and found Magic Kingdom "busy beyond belief," but "not as lively as it once was."
Disney's CEO dismissed claims about plummeting attendance earlier this month.
The photos of apparently empty parks were posted after Iger's July 13 appearance on CNBC's Squawk Box. Speaking with David Faber, Iger said smaller numbers were likely due to the heat and humidity in Florida right now, and claimed that measuring numbers in 2023 against those from previous years isn't a fair comparison.
"Florida opened up early during COVID and created huge demand, and didn't have competition because there were a number of other places, states, that were not open yet," the CEO said. "If you look at the numbers in Florida in 2023 … versus 2022, where not as much was open and Florida was the only game in town, there is a lot more competition today."
Iger further refuted claims that the decline has anything to do with ticket pricing or Disney's ongoing feud with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. In fact, the CEO said that he's not worried about the parks at all.
Disney World "is where the Disney brand lives in its most sublime form," and "it's very successful," Iger said. He later added, "We don't have any long-term concerns about that business."
There's no one answer as to why the parks are less crowded.
As Disney travel blog Inside the Magic reports, there's no solid explanation for the emptiness at Disney World. However, the popular park isn't the only one to see a drop in attendance—Universal Orlando also recorded some of its lowest numbers over the July 4th holiday, according to Thrill Data.
Offering his perspective, Orlando resident and frequent parkgoer Matt Roseboom told The Points Guy that while parks aren't necessarily "uncrowded," fewer visitors could be attributed to fewer new attractions.
Echoing Iger's statements, Roseboom also said that there's an apparent shift in demand, and travelers looking to scratch their post-COVID "Disney itch" have probably already done so.
"I do think that the surge of people waiting for their Orlando vacation has passed and they are going elsewhere," Roseboom, who is also an editor and publisher at Attractions Magazine, told the outlet. "Many people will always make Orlando their go-to vacation, but during and just after the pandemic, Orlando was an easy visit for most Americans."