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Disney World Had Quiet Fourth of July — Are Price Hikes Driving Visitors Away? The average wait times at the Magic Kingdom were down this summer.

By Madeline Garfinkle

Key Takeaways

  • Disney World experienced a significant decline in attendance during the Fourth of July weekend, with shorter wait times compared to previous years.
  • The company's "yield management" pricing strategy, focusing on maximizing spending per visitor, may have backfired.
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Traveling during the summer season and Fourth of July weekend can be a nightmare if you hate crowds. However, this year, one unlikely tourist spot was an exceptionally empty oasis: Disney World.

The Wall Street Journal reported that wait times at the park's Magic Kingdom on July 4 were 27 minutes on average, according to data from travel company Touring Plans. Average waits were 31 minutes on July 4, 2022, and 47 minutes in 2019.

The summer slowdown could be attributed to many factors, experts say, including the scouring Florida summer heat and Disney's recent price hikes, both of which may have deterred would-be visitors.

"People might be a little bit fatigued with price increases based on the economy at the moment," Stephanie Oprea, senior planner and director of marketing for Pixie Travel, told the WSJ. Opera added that many of her clients have recently opted for cruises or beach getaways as opposed to Disney, based on the price hikes.

Over the last two years, Disney has raised prices on nearly everything — including food, passes, and merchandise. The company referred to the approach as "yield management," wherein it focuses less on the number of guests who visit and more on how much each visitor spends during their trip, according to a report by the WSJ in September.

Needless to say, many long-time fans were irked by the price increases, at least two of which filed lawsuits against the company for deceptive business practices.

Related: 'I Can Go to Europe for Cheaper': A Trip to Disney Costs More Than Ever Before

Noticing that the yield management approach may have backfired, Disney CEO Bob Iger admitted in March that the company may have been "too aggressive" in its pricing strategy.

"In our zeal to grow profits, we may have been a little bit too aggressive about some of our pricing," Iger said at the time. "I think there's a way to continue to grow that business, but be smarter about how we price so that we maintain that brand value of accessibility."

Bob Iger, Disney CEO, acknowledged that the company's pricing was "too aggressive." Gisela Schober | Getty Images

Now, Disney is backpedaling on its pricing strategy.

The company has been rolling out discounts and promotions to attract more visitors, including savings of up to 40% for annual pass holders on rooms at certain Disney World hotels during historically busy times like Christmas, the WSJ noted. The company also announced it will bring back prepay dining plans, a program that was suspended in 2020.

Related: 'Please Don't Go': Beloved Disneyland Hot Spot Shutting Down After 22 Years As Sweeping Changes Are Set to Hit the Park

Some Disney experts are betting on the discounts lasting for some time, with the possibility of even bigger savings next year.

"If I were going to Disney World, I would probably hold off until 2024," A.J. Wolfe, who runs the Disney Food Blog, a website dedicated to the company's theme parks, told the outlet.

Madeline Garfinkle

News Writer

Madeline Garfinkle is a News Writer at Entrepreneur.com. She is a graduate from Syracuse University, and received an MFA from Columbia University. 

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