Theme park attendance estimates for 2014 have been released by TEA/AECOM. Below are the top 12 U.S. Parks.
Disney parks remained on top for this year, with modest growth at all of their U.S. parks. However, the big winner this year was Universal Studios in Orlando and Hollywood both with more than 10% attendance bumps over last year. Oddly, in this growth, Islands of Adventure saw little or no improvement over last year. The bad news this year is that Sea World took an even harder hit than the previous.
|7||Islands of Adventure||0%||8.14||8.14|
|8||Universal Studios Orlando||17%||8.26||7.06|
|9||Universal Studios Hollywood||11%||6.82||6.14|
|11||Seaworld San Diego||-12%||3.79||4.31|
|12||Busch Gardens Tampa||+1%||4.12||4.08|
As usual, I have updated my spreadsheets with even more data, if you’re interested. Click the links below:
The link to the full report from TEA/AECOM, can be found below:
An interesting bit of news that came out of Disney in the last week regarding two new “Ultimate” tours. The first, aimed at families with young kids, called “The Ultimate Day for Young Families – a VIP Tour Experience”. The second, designed to appeal to “thrill seekers” called, “The Ultimate Day of Thrills – a VIP Tour Experience”. Read more about it here:
The really interesting part of this for me is, these new tours offer an experience very similar to an idea I had in 2009, when rumors of something that was being developed, called “Disney’s Night Kingdom”. My idea was very similar in that it would give guests access to all 4 parks, but exclusive and after the normal hours. This new experience/tour they’re offering takes place during regular hours, and is limited to specific attractions at just 3 of the parks, oddly leaving Epcot out of the fun. I’m not suggesting that Disney stole my idea, but I do find it interesting that they’re offering something like this. Now, if I can just come up with the $299 they’re asking for this, I’ll be glad to give it a go.
Now, I don’t want to sound like That Guy who screams that he was ripped off by a big corporation, but after going back and reading my thoughts, maybe they did at least use some of my ideas, here’s a few excerpts…
Supposedly, Disney has been looking at new ways to generate more revenue, and reach the more affluent clientele who have a lot more disposable income and think nothing of dropping $10-50K for a lavish, and exclusive vacation. Obviously, the new Four Seasons and Waldorf Astoria hotels will help address some of this by giving these more affluent guests luxury accommodations. According to an article in the Orlando Sentinel, March 28th, written by Scott Powers, there may be another level of accommodations the affluent will be able to stay in if the plan to allow private homes on-property moves forward.
Rumours have been floating around that Disney wanted to create something on a similar caliber that would give guests with deeper pockets looking for an exclusive experience on Disney Property.
So then, the question comes up, with these more affluent guests coming to Walt Disney World, what then can Disney offer them that would meet their expectations and draw some of the cash out of their deeper pockets to give them the kind of experience they would expect and cherish?
So, how can Disney offer this kind of exclusive VIP experience to the affluent 1 percent visiting without upsetting the other 99 percent?
Why not offer something akin to an all access, to ALL PARKS hard ticket event? Let’s call it “The Ultra Keys to the Kingdom tour” or maybe, “Disney’s Night Kingdom”. Call it whatever, but make every park, or most every park open to only those guests willing to pay the extra bucks, allowing them to ride the most popular rides, and throwing in a few extras here and there like their own personal guide to take them wherever they wanted to go, and within limits, ride whatever they want, as many times as they want.
Coincidence? Probably, but click the link below to see my full concept from 2009, if you’re interested.
The 2013 attendance estimates were recently released by TEA/AECOM at: http://www.teaconnect.org/pdf/TEAAECOM2013.pdf
Below are the top 12 U.S. Parks:
|1||Magic Kingdom, Lake Buena Vista, FL||+6.0%||18,588,000|
|2||Disneyland, Anaheim, CA||+1.5%||16,202,000|
|3||EPCOT, Lake Buena Vista, FL||+1.5%||11,229,000|
|4||Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Lake Buena Vista, FL||+2.0%||10,198,000|
|5||Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Lake Buena Vista, FL||+2.0%||10,110,000|
|6||Disney’s California Adventure, Anaheim, CA||+9.5%||8,514,000|
|7||Islands of Adventure, Orlando, FL||+2.0%||8,141,000|
|8||Universal Studios Orlando, Orlando, FL||+14.0%||7,062,000|
|9||Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal City, CA||+4.0%||6,148,000|
|10||Seaworld Florida, Orlando, FL||-5.0%||5,090,000|
|11||Seaworld California, San Diego, CA||-3.0%||4,311,000|
|12||Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Tampa, FL||-6.0%||4,087,000|
Disney parks topped out the top 6 this year, with California Adventure edging Universal’s Islands of Adventures, followed by the other two Universal parks in Florida and California respectively. Overall, Universal and Disney both had a good year, with the most significant gains at parks where new attractions have opened in the last year. Meanwhile, it was a rough year for Seaworld and Busch parks, with attendance slipping for all of the bottom 3 in the list.
Taking a deeper look at the last 4 years since the downturn in 2009, Universal Orlando has averaged an attendance growth rate over 10%, while Disney parks in the same market and time frame have managed just 1.35% average growth. In this 4 year period, Disney has grown just over 2.6 million in attendance, while Universal has almost doubled that with over 5 million. Mind you, Universal isn’t even close to unseating the WDW parks in the top 5, but they are making some significant gains in attendance with the attractions they’ve added in the last few years, leaving no doubt that they are serious about those parks. And, they should be, the Orlando market has grown steadily over the last 4 years at an average of 2.5%.
I think it’s safe to say that the use of paper cups in the parks has to generate a LOT of waste! So, if they offered refills property-wide, this would cut down on the amount of paper cups used and thrown away daily. I’m sure some of these get recycled, or I hope they do, but still if you figure on average there are 130,000 guests in the parks, and of those let’s just say they are buying at least 100,000 cups per day (just to make the math easy) if not more. If 5% of the guests brought their mugs into the parks, that would cut down on 5,000 paper cups a day being thrown away. Over the course of a year, that’s more than 1.8 million cups being thrown out, collected and recycled. It’s not much, but it does add up in that fewer cups would be used (cost), the trash has to be emptied a little less frequently (labor), as well as hauling, recycling is carrying a bit less (overhead). Oh, and if they have standalone fountains like at the resorts, it further reduces labor costs and even order fulfillment. Soda consumption would go up slightly, but using the new machines, they could actually put limits on that as well while at the parks. As they like to point out on Disney Channel, “A little can make a big difference”. Who’s to say what the actual numbers would be, but when you’re talking about 47 million people a year, little bits add up quite quickly.
Based on a post (popular industry forum), the cost breaks down something like this :
Estimated costs for 16 oz cup of soda for Disney (Castmember fills cup):
- $0.12 for soda
- $0.03 water and CO2 to mix the soda + ice
- $0.07 for the cup
- $0.01 for the lid
- $0.015 for the straw
- $0.015 electricity estimate (fountain, ice, lighting)
- $0.07 for the labor*, CM to fill cup (est. hourly wage $8.47)
- $0.07 for labor*, CM to empty trash
Total: $.0.38 (estimated)
Estimated costs to refill cup/mug (self service)
- $0.12 for soda
- $0.03 water and CO2 to mix the soda + ice
- $0.07 for the cup
- $0.01 for the lid
- $0.015 for the straw
- $0.015 electricity estimate (fountain, ice, lighting)
- $0.07 for the labor, CM to fill cup (est. hourly wage $8.47)
- $0.07 for labor, CM to empty trash Total: $.18 (estimated)
Difference of $.20
So, if there is an estimated 130,000 (average) visitors at WDW daily, and 5% bring refillable mugs, that would equal 6,500 cups.
6,500 * 365 = 2,372,500 (paper cups saved)
2,372,500 * $0.20 = $474,500.00 (estimated savings by WDW on filling a cup of soda in a year). That’s almost half a million dollars!
* Labor source: http://www.glassdoor.com/Salary/Disney-Salaries-E717.htm
Disclaimer: As always, I should state that these numbers are hypothetical, and may even be inaccurate. If you find errors in my math or the numbers I’ve used here, please let me know and I’ll be glad to correct it and give you credit!
Disposable paper cups – just how many of these things do you think Disney uses each day? And, how many of those get thrown in the trash or maybe even recycling? Then you have the added cost and labor to have someone handle all those cups/trash. I’m guessing easily 50-75,000 per park per day, multiplied by 4 and you’re looking at 200 – 300,000 in a day! That’s over 73,000,000 PAPER cups tossed in the trash in a year.
Benefits/Ease & Convenience for guests
While it’s nice sometimes to be handed a tray from a Quick Service restaurant with your drinks already filled, some guests like to do it themselves. I think where this comes in handy the most, would be with refills. Overall, it’s more of a preference or convenience than anything else. But, if this is what guests want, then maybe it’s a win for Disney as well. They could really plus this by adding the Coca-Cola Freestyle machines where you can mix drinks and flavorings.
A few other options for consideration
- Lower the price. Have just one price for the mugs, then an option to add extra days at 99 cents each. Maybe sell them for $9.99, and make the first 24 hours free to use as many times as you like, but then sell additional days for 99 cents. If you were staying for 5 days, your price would be $13.95 (9.99 + (4 *.99)), 7 days would $15.93. Doing it this way, they could also sell them to guests who are not staying on property.
- Option to Re-charge/re-activate mug on next trip. Allowing this might save me some cabinet space, but it’s also kind of an environmental consideration as well.
- Along these lines, a frequent visitor option for DVC, Annual Pass holders or anybody who just wants to use it for a longer period of time. From what I understand, Seaworld has a similar program where you can purchase any mug or drinkware and get it refilled for just 99 cents.
Prior to publishing this wishlist, I sent Disney an email regarding my thoughts on the mugs, this is what I sent them.
I read recently in the Orlando Sentinel that Walt Disney World will be upgrading the soda fountains across the property to RFID-enabled systems with chips embedded in the cups.
As someone who has visited multiple times, and taken advantage of the refillable mugs both free with dining packages as well as paid for, I would like to make a couple of suggestions regarding them and the upcoming changes.
I don’t have a problem necessarily with the new system that is being installed, however, my issue with it and the mugs in general is the fact that I already have far too many mugs from past trips sitting on shelves or in boxes in my house collecting dust. In the past, I have donated some to charity, others I just threw away, but I would like to suggest that you come up with an exchange/recycling/re-use program for old mugs, if for nothing else to help the environment. Alternatively, it would be a nice reward for guests who return an old mug to receive a discount if they brought an old mug in for exchange on a new one.
Aside from the waste issue noted above, I’m curious if the new mugs will be usable in the parks now or in the future? Again, having this as an option would help the environment and reduce the amount of paper cups collected and recycled from the parks daily.
Thanks, and I look forward to hearing from you as well as seeing you (Mickey) soon,
And, this was their response:
This will acknowledge, with thanks, your email to us regarding your idea for our Resort, which you have indicated might be of interest to Disney. Your communication was forwarded to the Legal Department here at the WALT DISNEY WORLD® Resort as it is our responsibility to respond to such correspondence. We appreciate your interest in Disney and taking the time to write to us.
Unfortunately, our company’s long-established policy does not allow us to accept for review or consideration any ideas, suggestions, or creative materials not specifically solicited by us. Our intention is to avoid misunderstandings when projects or programs are created internally which might be similar to submissions made to us from outside the company.
We recognize that this policy is sometimes a difficult one as when someone like you, with all the best intentions, would simply like us to consider their own creative idea. Experience has taught us, though, that if we abandon our policy for one person, we will soon have no policy at all. Therefore, as required, we must delete your correspondence, without retaining any copies.
We hope that you understand. Please be assured of our sincere thanks and of our best wishes for success with your ventures.
Walt Disney World Resort
I’m not sure how to react. I guess I should be flattered though, because it means they at least read it and recognized it as an improvement idea, but then passed it around until it made its way to legal. Regardless, they still didn’t answer my question though as to whether they would be allowed in the parks.
After this nice formal rejection letter, I sent another note to Disney, this time just asking if RapidFill would be implemented in the parks to which I received an actual phone call that was a pleasant response telling me “No, at this time RapidFill is only planned for the resorts”.
So, what do you think? Should Disney expand the RapidFill program to to allow guests to refill their mugs in the parks? Or, do you have other ideas about how they could make this program even better than what I’ve suggested?
Just a little update I stumbled across while browsing thru some Disney patents.
US Patent 20100125362 seems to deal specifically with the design and implementation of RapidFill. Interestingly, they did at least think about the idea of rolling it out for use in more places than just the resorts. Just over mid-way thru the patent, I found the following:
Typically, the entitlements will also be tied or limited to a particular time period. For example, the user entitlement may be defined by a start date and time stored in field 226 and a start date and time stored in field 228, and the controller or reader/processor of the token access data 200 may operate to compare a time of an attempted access with the values of in the start/stop data and time fields 226, 228 to ensure the access time is within this access time period or time range. For example, a user may buy an entitlement for unlimited access to a beverage and/or snack dispenser(s) during their stay at a resort or during a particular meal period or some other time period. The entitlement 220 may also be defined as applying to a particular or limited location, facility, and/or geographic use area with a value or code stored in field 229. For example, the entitlement 220 may allow the user to access self-service beverage and/or snack dispensers only at particular restaurants, food courts, or kiosks or, in contrast, may allow the user to access such devices at a subset of parks/resorts within an entertainment complex. In this manner, differing entitlement packages or options may be designed and/or priced to support differing customer/user needs.
Sadly, however, this feature has not been made available for use by guests, so far. Perhaps one day it will.
Note: If you’re looking for more information, be sure to check out a great review with lots of photos by at MouseSteps.
Just a quick update to post the attendance estimates published by TEA/AECOM today at: 2013 TEA/AECOM Theme Park and Museum Index – Global Attractions Attendance Report
Below are the top 10 U.S. Parks:
|1||Magic Kingdom, Lake Buena Vista, FL||17,536,000||+2.3%|
|2||Disneyland, Anaheim, CA||15,963,000||-1.1%|
|3||EPCOT, Lake Buena Vista, FL||11,063,000||+2.2%|
|4||Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Lake Buena Vista, FL||9,998,000||+2.2%|
|5||Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Lake Buena Vista, FL||9,912,000||+2.2%|
|6||Islands of Adventure, Orlando, FL||7,981,000||+4.0%|
|7||Disney’s California Adventure, Anaheim, CA||7,775,000||+22.6%|
|8||Universal Studios Orlando, Orlando, FL||6,195,000||+2.5%|
|9||Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal City, CA||5,912,000||+15.0%|
|10||Seaworld Florida, Orlando, FL||5,358,000||+3.0%|
The combined total for the top 10 U.S. Parks rose by almost 4 million to 97 million giving them an average increase of 5.49%, compared to last years’ 93 million. All parks showed at least 2% growth, with the exception of one, Disneyland. However, Disney’s California Adventure showed an increase of 1.4 million visitors, giving them a percentage increase of more than 22%, which brought the entire Disneyland resort up more than 5%.
Universal parks on both coasts showed continued growth, however, the Hollywood park was their big winner this past year, adding 15% and moving them up in ranking over Seaworld Florida, from number 10 last year, to number 9. Their parks in Florida also continue to show good increases and will likely do the same in the coming year with new additions opening throughout the year.
Even though Seaworld Florida dropped to number 10 this year, percentage wise, they still grew more than any of the 4 Disney Orlando parks individually. Not that they have a bad park or didn’t make some worthy changes this past year themselves, but it would probably be safe to say that some of this growth credit could be indirectly related to Disney and Universal’s latest additions.
If you want to see more historical detail, be sure to check out a couple of spreadsheets I’ve been maintaining for a while that show more breakdowns for the U.S. parks.
The first is a view of the top 12 U.S. theme parks and their historical attendance estimates: U.S. Theme Park Attendance Estimates
The second is a specific breakdown of Walt Disney World historical attendance estimates.
Walt Disney Imagineering recently inserted two new “features” into Walt Disney World’s Pirates of the Caribbean attraction to “plus” this almost 40 year-old attraction a wee-bit more. This isn’t the first time WDI has “plussed” the attraction. With the popularity of the movie franchise, Pirates of the Caribbean and the sequels, Disney has played on this popularity by adding Captain Jack Sparrow (in multiple places), Captain Barbosa, and even the gruesome and creepy Davy Jones. Although, around the time of the fourth movie, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, came along, Jones was replaced by the fearsome Blackbeard in a mist-like fog image and voice projected at the beginning of the ride.
Avast! Thar’ be SPOILERS ahead!
Adding another movie tie-in to the fourth installment of this movie series featuring Jack Sparrow and friends, the latest addition includes the mermaids from the fourth film. If you saw the movie, you might remember, these aren’t exactly the same friendly kind of mermaids we’ve come to know and love from Disney’s, The Little Mermaid. No, these are soul-snatching, evil demon-fish, intent on dragging as many men to a watery grave as Davy Jones himself. Side-note: Any chance these mer-chants of death are under his employ, or curse?
The Disney parks blog hinted that this change was coming a few weeks ago, but didn’t go into any real detail and I’ve been watching and anticipating the changes ever since. The additions include a new projection of a mermaid swimming in the water, followed by a skeleton of a mermaid in a wrecked boat on the beach. Along with these new visual additions, they added the eerie music and song, My Jolly Sailor Bold also from the movie.
Update 11/01/12: Disney announced on their blog this new arrival.
I won’t spoil the magic here, by posting any pictures or video of the additions, as this is still pretty new. But, if you’re the curious type like me, you can Google it yourself and find what’s been added. I’ve seen some of the pictures and a low quality/low light video of the features and overall, I think they’re impressive and make for a good addition to the attraction.
I’m not criticizing this new addition, in fact I quite like it and think it adds to the creepy air of mystery in the caves. However, something struck me as out of place while reading about the changes, and the thought occurred to me that perhaps there’s room for further “plussing” and perhaps even a better tie-in with the most recent movie. In the beginning of the ride as you enter the caves, Blackbeard appears in the fog screen warning you of the journey you’re embarking upon. Since all of the other additions of Jack and Barbosa to the attraction, and now with the addition of the mermaids, I think it might be more fitting to replace Blackbeard (of the mist) with Jeffrey Rush’s, Captain Barbosa giving a shortened version of his speech from the fourth movie. In it he warns,
Aye. Mermaids. Sea ghouls, devilfish…dreadful in hunger for flesh of man. Mermaid waters, that be our path. Cling to your soul as mermaids be given to take the rest, to the bone. Gentlemen. I should not ask any more of a man than what that man can deliver, but I do ask this: are we not King’s men? On the King’s mission? I did not note any fear in the eyes of the Spanish as they passed us by. ARE WE NOT KING’S MEN? Hands aloft, and bear away! Stave on ahead to Whitecap Bay!
Obviously it would have to be shortened as the above is too lengthy in the time you have passing thru here. But, I think it would make for a better tie-in and help serve as a little pre-warning for guests. Nothing against Ian McShane and his foreboding warning as Blackbeard and Davy Jones’ creepy octopus tentacle face, but Barbosa with his scratchy voiced snarl and pirate lingo is near-perfect! Besides that, I think Barbosa is one of the more popular and memorable characters from the films. It just seems like it would make more sense.
Over the New Years weekend, Disney finally unveiled the big announcement that they have been teasing us with for a couple of weeks. As many in the Disney fan community had already guessed, they are opening the parks (Magic Kingdom at WDW, and Disneyland in California) for 24 hours on Leap day, February 29th, 2012.
Not too many details have emerged yet on what exactly is planned for this “extra” Disney day that they have given the promotion title, “One More Disney Day”. I’m hoping they have plenty of things lined up that they just haven’t announced for this day to truly make it something magical for all who choose to visit on February 29th. However, a press release I received stated the following:
Experience 24 hours of magic in celebration of Leap Day. Yes…for the first time in history, both Magic Kingdom® Park in Florida and Disneyland® Park in California will be open for 24 hours straight*, beginning at 6 a.m. on 2/29/12, to enjoy select attractions and entertainment! That’s an entire nonstop day (and night) of magic, characters and beyond.
Maybe they have more planned than what that little blurb mentions, but at the moment I’m left wondering and dreaming what they might could plan. In general, I like the idea and possibility of spending 24 hours in MK or Disneyland, but I also had a few thoughts about what they might consider doing to make it even better than just another 10 + 14 hours at the park.
UPDATE: WDW Magic has posted more details about the entertainment, dining and merchandise for the 24 hour period the park will be open. Click HERE to see the details.
Plussing One More Disney Day
- Free entry for anybody whose birthday is 2/29 – Similar to the “What will you celebrate” promotion in 2009, where they gave away free tickets/passes for your birthday, but this one would be specifically for those whose birthday is on this day, since I assume they missed out on the celebration a few years ago.
- Midnight Character buffet – this is an idea I have had for quite a while since I went on my first cruise (Carnival, not Disney). A (free or minimal cost) midnight character buffet, or even an early morning buffet for all who are in the park at 5am.
- Special Giveaways – pins, hats, cups, etc. marking the first ever 24 hours of MK/DL.
- Parties and Celebrations – bands? They could use already established, popular Disney stars and other “celebrity” appearances.
- T-shirts or other souvenirs (on exit) for all who survive the 24 hour event.
- Special Fireworks or Parade? – Of course, fireworks are done nightly at most every Disney park, so a “special” show, might be a stretch for them to put together. My point here is that if you do fireworks for everything you call “special”, then at some point they’re not special, they’re just normal. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy fireworks, but sometimes I just think they’re overdone. Perhaps during the 24 hours, the could do a launch of some sort on the hour, every hour counting down to the final hour.
- Contests/scavenger hunt – Host a special event a few times throughout the day where guests are challenge to go thru the park and find something special. Use the new Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game that is currently being installed at MK (if it’s ready), and come up with a special game just for this day.
- Park-wide dance party – This would take a little more to pull off, but train about 50 or so CM’s and place in them in key areas around the park at designated times and hold a park-wide dance party with them leading guests thru some simple, but fun(nny) dance moves. Make sure to have lots of video cameras about to tape and upload to Youtube!
- Random Merchandise, Food and prize giveaways – In the same vein as the “Year (s) of a Million Dreams” promotion, deploy castmembers throughout the park at random times to give away things.
These are just a few of the ideas off the top of my head. But, what I really think they need to do for this, is just make it an all out crazy, fun, all day party, where guests and even CMs get to 6am on March 1st and leave feeling tired and exhausted, but also soaring on cloud 9 like they just had the absolute best time of their lives at the park.
Concerns for 24 hour operation
I would be remiss if I didn’t voice some kind of concern for this “extra” day also. I’m sure, or I hope, Disney has already thought about these, and is taking the necessary steps to prepare accordingly, but here are a few of those concerns:
- Rides and attractions being open for 24 hours – I have experienced a few EMH and after hours events, and most of them were somewhat unimpressive. Many of the food stands, counter service restaurants and gift shops close up at the normal time, or soon thereafter leaving the park feeling almost deserted. Sure, it’s fun for a while when there’s not many people around, at first, but then it just gets kind of eerie feeling and not very fun. Then there is the other aspect, rides running for 24 hours. On several occasions at late night EMHs, I’ve seen attractions be closed due to supposed break-down. It would be embarrassing for Disney if this happened, but also pretty irritating for guests if it did.
- Security – Let’s face it, some guests just don’t know how to behave. Mix that with low crowds, and possible break-downs, with not enough CMs on duty to run everything, it could turn into something like what happens in Roller Coaster Tycoon when guests are unhappy.
- What will be open? – Will it be like an EMH? Food? Many restaurants and shops close for EMH sometimes making it feel almost desolate. Based on the quote above of “select attractions and entertainment”, it sounds like a typical EMH. Hopefully this will change.
- Over-night custodial? This is typically when the parks get a more thorough cleaning, restocking and some key maintenance issues are dealt with. Hopefully the parks are ready to sustain a full day’s worth of activity without much downtime.
I also have to wonder if this event goes well, and is highly attended, might they add the event for another day this year? Seems kind of weak to just do this for one day this year.
If I lived closer and had the opportunity to do this, and didn’t have to work for the 29th and 1st, I would definitely be there for this. Whether I could make it all the way is another story, but I would still take a shot at it.
That’s What I Would Do, What Would You Do?