By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2020, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

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Category — zz. Even Geekier than Usual

Length of Stay Pricing at the Disney World Resorts?

Earlier this year Disney World announced that parking at its hotels would no longer be free for reservations booked after March 20, 2018. Only slightly less controversial than that whole poenitentia vs. metanoia thing among Luther, Erasmus, and the Catholic Church, no explanation for it has been offered other than such a parking charge is common practice.

At the end of my post on the parking matter, I’d noted that “I can think of one way in which–at least in 2019–this money may make its way back into guest pockets. I’ll publish more on this thought, which has to do with length-of-stay pricing, later.”

So this is the post on that thought. What it boils down to is that if Disney institutes length of stay discounts, it would need to make a big one-time increase in room rates to keep its overall revenue whole. The increases from parking revenue could be used to offset some of that price increase.

Note that I’m not predicting that Disney World will institute length of stay pricing—rather, this is largely a thought experiment on the implications for price increases if it chooses to do so. But we do know it is interested in increasing length of stay…

“We’ve got … a number of other plans as it relates to our hotel business. So we think that we’ve got room on pricing there. It’s not just about taking pricing up, it’s just about being more strategic at how we price, particularly how we manage demand and we’ve taken a number of steps there. We think we can expand length of stay …We have some nice pricing leverage with our hotels. We actually are comping nicely in hotel rates, particularly in Orlando as a for instance, but we have an opportunity to expand [length of stay].”

Bob Iger, CEO The Walt Disney Company, in the Q2 17 earnings call (May 9 2017)

Bob Iger noted about a year ago opportunities he saw to expand length of stay at the Walt Disney World hotels. One way to expand length of stay is through pricing mechanisms that reward longer stays.

Such a pricing mechanism can be as simple as giving a discount off of what would otherwise be a hotel’s rates in return for booking a stay of a certain length.

This is in effect what Universal does—it has its set of prices per night, but then takes a certain amount off of what would otherwise be the total if you book certain stay targets.

See the image—for example, on its far right, you’ll note that a seven night stay can be as much as 35% off what would otherwise be the sum of the nightly prices. That’s a big discount, in effect almost two and a half free nights (35% of seven nights= 2.45 nights).

Length of stay pricing can be meant to build a hotel’s occupancy—that is, add room nights—or to shift the current set of room nights to a group that has on average a longer length of stay.

If a hotel has plenty of rooms available and not many “typical” bookings already at the stay lengths at which the discounts kick in, then the goal would be to add room nights. High discounts might be accepted to do so, as little revenue would be lost from the few guests who already would have booked longer than the “typical” stay, and the new revenue from the extra nights would largely drop to the bottom line, since the variable costs of an extra night in a room are pretty low.

Length of stay pricing in already well-occupied hotels—as the Disney hotels are, recently reporting yet another quarter of occupancy in the 90% range—has a very different and more complicated dynamic.

Here you have different goals than increasing occupancy (because you have so little room to do so) and much less flexibility in discounting longer stays (because you are discounting many room nights that you could have sold at their regular rates).

The goal instead might be to convert the same number of room nights from shorter to longer stays, as longer stays are typically more profitable (as they spread the one-time costs of a single booking/check-in/check-out over more nights).

Or, if there is a value difference between shorter and longer stays not already captured in pricing, the goal might also be to use length of stay pricing to price shorter stays higher to extract more of the value they create. For example, Disney might be expecting Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, expected to open in the last quarter of 2019, to increase the demand for shorter stays from those guests coming to experience only it.

So if Disney were to institute length of stay pricing (as a typical practice, like Universal–not as a one-time deal), given high occupancies and already longer lengths of stay than Universal, I’d expect a couple of features to their program

  • The deals to kick in after longer stays—for example, after five or six nights, not the three or four that Universal offers
  • A lower discount curve—one that still begins at 10%, perhaps, but that doesn’t get nearly as high as 35%, other than as a temporary promotion that replaces other typical Disney World hotel deals
  • A one-time price increase for the base set of undiscounted prices, so that revenue stays whole over most trip lengths.

This last point is the key one, so let me illustrate it with an example.

Let’s say Disney offers 10% off the total price of a room that would before the one-time price increase average $250 a night (in this example, thus a moderate), beginning with a six night stay.

To keep the same $1,500 revenue over the stay, average pre-discount prices would need to go up in a one-time price increase by 11% (the formula is 1/(1-discount percentage) – 1).* At a new price $278 a night, a 10% discount off the new total of $1,668 would yield the same initial $1,500 revenue.

In other words, when the hotels are essentially full and the goal is simply to lengthen average length of stay, you don’t want to give up revenue to do so—otherwise you simply lose money on the extensions.

Disney World usually announces its new hotel prices for the coming year in the summer, and while it varies across hotels, room types, and times of the year, prices commonly go up 4%+. If it used its summer 2018 pricing announcement to include for 2019 both typical price increases and also a one-time price increase meant to keep it whole after length of stay discounts, then in my example undiscounted prices would go up ~15%.

That’s a pretty big number—a headline grabbing number. How could Disney avoid some of those headlines? Well, one way to do it would be to institute a one-time price increase for something else related to the hotels, and use the revenue from it to offset the needed hotel room price increase. Like parking.

For median priced standard-view rooms, the new parking charge amounts to an average increase across 2018 (you get about the same results if you use just the last 7 or 8 months of 2018) of around 8% at the value resorts, 7% at the moderates, and 4.5% at the deluxes. So if half of guests pay for parking, then Disney World already has in hand price increases of 2.25 to 4%. It can use these already-existing one time increases to offset some of what it would otherwise want to do to 2019 prices, and perhaps (other than at the deluxes) even get the 2019 increase below 10%, which would help the headlines a bit…

Note that there are other ways to incent longer lengths of stay.

For example, since both shorter and longer Disney World stays tend to include weekends, Disney could make the price difference between weekends and weekdays even sharper than it already is.

For some time now, many, but not all, Disney World resorts have had higher prices on Friday and Saturday nights during many, but not all, price seasons.

And for the 2018 pricing year (released not long after Iger’s comments noted above) Disney also made Sunday and/or Thursday prices higher than the rest of its weekday prices at some resorts during some price seasons (gory details here).

Continuing this approach with even sharper differences between higher and lower priced nights would certainly either dis-incent and/or capture more value from shorter trips that include these higher priced nights. I’m not sure, though, that sharper differences would have much effect on lengthening stays, as—at least now—Disney does not inform you of the cost of adding a room night.

 

*The increase actually needs to be less than this, as those on shorter stays pay its full value. But for me to estimate how much less, I’d need data on the distribution of bookings by length of stay, which I don’t have, so I am ignoring this issue.

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April 9, 2018   4 Comments

Fun with Buses at All-Star Music

In my January stay at All-Star Music (updated review of All-Star Music begins here), I spent an hour and a half in the middle of the day timing the buses, and noting which were dedicated to Music and which were shared.

(You do that on your Disney World trips too, right?)

I did this because shared buses mean longer trips, because of the extra stops, and create some chance that those waiting at the last stop, All-Star Movies, won’t find a spot.

I timed a total of 32 buses, and here’s the results of my observations:

  • All buses to Epcot and ESPN Wide World of Sports were shared
  • All buses to Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Disney Springs were dedicated to All-Star Music
  • Buses to Disney’s Animal Kingdom were about half shared and half dedicated

I had 21 intervals for theme park buses. The average interval was 16 minutes—which means the average wait was 8 minutes.*

However, during my observation there was variation among the parks. The average wait (that is, half the average interval) in my dataset was for Animal Kingdom 4.5 minutes, for Epcot 7 minutes, and 11.5 minutes for each of Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom.

While the small sample size means you ought not to read too much into the exact numbers, shared buses had an average wait of 6 minutes and dedicated buses an average wait of 9 minutes.

That suggests pretty comparable experiences in terms of total transportation time, as the shared buses had one more stop to make (at All-Star Movies) than the dedicated buses.

Here’s the overall results, shown my usual way—these are intervals, not waits. Note that almost 80% of buses had an interval of 20 minutes or fewer.

*Because you have an equal chance of arriving anytime during the interval, the average wait is half the interval. The precise math is below:

Simpler Session Disney Data and Analytics Conference from yourfirstvisit.net

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March 11, 2018   No Comments

My Disney Christmas Wish: Half a Billion Dollars for Cast Members

You may not realize it, but tens of thousands of the folks who take care of the rides at Disney World, who drive the boats and buses, who check you in and prep your room, who cook your food and clean your sheets, make, on average, $11.28 an hour ($13.34 after overtime and shift differentials). That’s less than $24,000 a year.

This at a resort where twenty thousand rooms cost from $200 to over $1,000 a night, where four day tickets for a family of four will set you back more than $1,400, and where prices have been skyrocketing for years.

There are understandable reasons why cast member wages are this way, today, and understandable reasons why it’s been hard, until now, to make any material changes in this pay level.

But my back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest the new tax bill will save the Walt Disney Company around $1.5 billion to $2 billion a year, and that the company will in addition have the one time opportunity to repatriate perhaps another $3 billion to $4 billion in overseas earnings.*

So the opportunity is here for Disney to do the right thing, and bring everyone who earns a paycheck on its domestic properties (whether employed by Disney or by a firm to which Disney outsources work) to a minimum of $15 an hour before overtime or shift differentials.

Based on the numbers from here, it’s known that about 36,000 Disney World cast members average $11.28 an hour.  Getting them to $15 an hour would cost $3.72 an hour times 2080 hours times 36,000 people, or around $275 million a year.

Expanding this pay increase to all the other Disney World cast members, to the cast members at Disneyland, to all the folks in other domestic parts of the Walt Disney Company who make less than $15 an hour (for example, the folks behind ESPN sports rights negotiation strategy and Star Wars story continuity, it seems), fixing the resulting pay scale compression, taking care of pay-level linked benefits, and then factoring down to adjust for part-timers, I get to the nice round number of the cost to the company of $15 an hour being $500 million a year.

That’s a big number. But with the change in the tax environment, it’s time for a change in the pay environment.

Come on, Disney. It’s time.

 

*Analysts are still working on these numbers, and Disney may also have to write off certain no-longer-allowed deferred  tax assets.  But I don’t care, there’s enough.

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December 25, 2017   4 Comments

Thoughts on The Possibility of More Hotels Getting 60 Day Access to FastPass+

“And of course, we’ve got … a number of other plans as it relates to our hotel business.”
–Bob Iger on Disney’s Q2 earnings call

Note 12/18: this is real.

A couple of weeks ago, Tom Corless at WDW News Today reported that he expected the ability to book FastPass+ at 60 days to be extended to “every hotel in the Disney Springs Resort Area on Hotel Plaza Boulevard” and that “there should also be additional Good Neighbor Hotels on the list when announced by Disney.”

I’ve not written much before about this rumor, but if it is true, there’s a chance it will be announced before or as part of tomorrow’s Q4 and FY2017 earnings call, so I thought I’d put in a bit of context and speculation about impact in advance of that.

WHY DOES FASTPASS+ AT 60 DAYS MATTER

Disney’s FastPass+ system, fully implemented in 2014, allows you to avoid waits by pre-booking what are essentially appointments at up to three rides per day. So far, anyone with a ticket could begin booking their FastPass+ 30 days before use, and those staying in a Disney-owned hotel or the Swan or Dolphin could begin booking 60 days ahead.

While there’s actually been pretty good availability for most rides at 30 days ahead, those with 60 day rights have a much better chance of getting a FastPass+ for the hottest rides (currently Flight of Passage and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train) and generally have more flexibility in booking their FastPass+ on the days and times that best suit their other Disney World plans.

WHO CURRENTLY GETS FASTPASS+ AT 60 DAYS

There are on the order of 25,400 bookable Disney World owned rooms and another ~2,260 rooms at the Swan and Dolphin, so currently around 27,660 rooms are bookable with the opportunity to get FastPass+ at 60 days. (Shameless plug—for my reviews of all of these, see this.)

HOW MUCH MIGHT ACCESS TO 60 DAY FASTPASS+ EXPAND

There’s three groups of potential additional rooms worth noting:

  • Those in the Disney Springs Resort Area, which Tom says should “all” get 60 days FastPass+: seven hotels with around 3,700 rooms.
  • The WDW Good Neighbor hotels, which are scattered all over the place to the south and west of the Convention Center, but are largely concentrated in the Palm Parkway and US 192 areas (although you’ll also find them near the Convention Center, in Flamingo Crossing and on Chelonia Parkway, just to the east of Pop Century): 52 hotels with around 17,000* rooms.
  • Shades of Green and the Four Seasons, both nearer the core of Disney World than any Disney Springs or Good Neighbor hotel (except maybe for those on Chelonia Parkway), but not part of either of the above two groups. Two hotels with about a thousand rooms between them.

WHAT MIGHT THIS MEAN FOR THOSE BOOKING A HOTEL

If this happens, its impact is profoundly shaped by how many Good Neighbor rooms gain access to FastPass+ at 60 days—and where they are located.

If only the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels and one or the other of Shades and Four Seasons gets 60 day access, then I don’t expect much impact, as the number of eligible rooms would go up only 15% and lower occupancy at the Disney Springs hotels (compared to the Disney owned hotels) would reduce the impact even more.

If these hotels plus all the Good Neighbor hotels get access, then a total of around 21,000 rooms would be added to the FastPass+ at 60 days pool. Correcting this for lower occupancy, and also for the fact that many of the guests of these hotels are in them for reasons other than Disney World (conventions, Universal), the effective total increase is likely on the order of 10,000 rooms, or about a 36% increase. This would make the hottest rides even harder to book, even at 60 days, and would pull more capacity out of the FastPass+ system for those who can only book at thirty days.

But, if this happens, I don’t expect all the Good Neighbor hotels to be in it—as I would expect Disney to be charging them for it, and not all of them would find the extra cost to make business sense.

At least until Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens…

WHY ON EARTH MIGHT DISNEY WORLD DO THIS

I can think of two reasons why Disney might do this, and of course some reasons why it might not.

At the basic level, for the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels, helping them become more attractive would be good for the dining and shopping venues at Disney Springs, into which a lot of capital has been poured over the past few years

Expanding beyond the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels into some or all of the Good Neighbor Hotels (and/or Shades and Four Seasons), if done for a fee charged them by Disney, is a way for Disney to additionally monetize what Disney is likely to view as extremely high incremental hotel stays related to its 2018 Toy Story, 2019 Star Wars and other later Disney World expansions.

Disney World does not have enough capacity in its own hotels (which average nearly 90% occupancy) to serve these incremental guests, and while a couple of additions/expansions are planned/underway, these will also not be sufficient nor even all that timely.

Even more Disney hotels are possible—likely, even—but not in any reasonable timeframe. Moreover, new hotels absorb capital and impose operating risks, which are avoided by monetizing someone else’s capital and operations (this is essentially the logic of DVC, except that Disney fronts the capital which is then bought down by DVC owners).

So expanding access to FastPass+ at 60 days, but charging hotels offering it for the privilege of doing so, would add essentially costless and riskless revenue, which by my back-of-the envelope calculations could easily drop another $100 million a year to Disney World’s bottom line.

WHY IT MIGHT NOT DO THIS

But of course it would not really be costless or riskless, as it would be removing some of the value of the 60 day window at the hotels that currently offer it, diminishing the reason to stay at one of these hotels instead of one of the (typically much less expensive) other hotels newly added to the 60 day FastPass+ window. The fixed cost economics of hotels are such that Disney would lose much more income from a hotel guest who does not stay in one of its own hotels than it could possibly gain from a fee paid by the off-site hotel that that this guest actually stays in.

But recall that the distinctive 60 day window is a perk that’s less than five years old. There are many other good reasons to pay the premium (which can be very high, especially at the moderates and deluxes) to stay in a Disney World hotel besides the 60 day FastPass+ access—I recommended the Disney hotels to first-timers even in the old days when all guests were treated equally in the parks, except for Extra Magic Hours.

And speaking of Extra Magic Hours… The example of Animal Kingdom this summer, when Pandora was open an extra 14 hours a week to Disney World (and Shades of Green and Swan and Dolphin) hotel guests, can be replicated (and expanded, to e.g. 21 or 28 hours) at Hollywood Studios for Toy Story and Star Wars. Differential perks can be added and expanded, so that the Disney-owned hotels can continue to command their premium pricing, which we all complain about on the way to filling them.

 

*I could not find the size of three of these 52 hotels, so used the average of the other 49 for them; a point of moderate confusion is that these are two different groups—that is, the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels are not WDW Good Neighbor hotels…

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November 8, 2017   1 Comment

How the Disney World Week Rankings are Built

I rank the weeks of the year for first time visitors to Disney World who might not be able to ever return to Disney World on this site—the 2017 Disney World week rankings are here, 2018 Disney World week rankings here, and draft 2019 Disney World week rankings are here.

 

(These same rankings also inform the guidebook I co-author with Josh of easyWDW.com, The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit.)

Here’s an example, for 2018:

These rankings are meant to guide first timers who can never return towards better weeks, and away from bad weeks. They incorporate crowds and prices, as you might expect. But because they are meant for people who might be able to make only one visit, they also particularly downgrade the weeks of January and early February when rides are more commonly closed for refurb, and also view skeptically the weeks when the hurricane season is at its peak.

Both of these periods contain good weeks for returning visitors who might care less about these risks. So for this reason, I both include the crowd and price data in the chart, and also mark in green at the far right edge of the chart weeks that are good for returning visitors.

That way returning visitors can use the chart to pick their weeks, too—or they can simply focus on my crowd forecasts and price information. Disney World crowd forecasts for 2017 are here, 2018 here, and draft crowd forecasts for 2019 are here. Disney World resort pricing for 2017 is here, for 2018 is here, and draft price forecasts for 2019 are here.

Besides deprecating the ride closure and peak of the hurricane seasons, I also promote the lower-crowd part of the Christmas season, because it is such a magical time at Disney World.

So with that as the background, here’s the technical approach I take to ranking the weeks of the year for first time visitors.

HOW THE DISNEY WORLD WEEK RANKINGS ARE BUILT

First, I take the ride closure season weeks, and give them the lowest rankings of the year (because if you can only come once, why come at a time when some great rides predictably will be closed?)

In every grouping, including these weeks, higher crowd weeks get the worst ranking, and within equivalent crowd rankings, higher prices break the ties. This involves a bit of judgment, as the deluxes work to a different price seasons than the other resorts from July into the fall, and the moderates don’t show as much price variation over the year as the other price classes do. So if you are committed to a certain resort type, note also the price levels of your resort type among these weeks.

Next to be ranked are all the remaining higher crowd weeks, with the worst rankings going to the highest crowds, and ties sorted by prices.

Next to be ranked is the remaining weeks in the peak of the hurricane season. I have taken a lot of grief over the years for deprecating these weeks, as, like the January and early February weeks, they include a number of lower crowd and lower price dates:

After the past two years, however, I expect people to hold off a bit on the “hurricanes never affect Disney World” claim…

This leaves a group of moderate and lower crowd weeks of various prices that are in neither the ride closure season nor the peak of the hurricane season. The moderate crowd weeks get ranked by crowds the prices, in the usual fashion.

Then the remaining low crowd weeks get ranked the same way, with the expectation that the Christmas season low crowd weeks get privileged rankings. This set of weeks become my “Recommended Weeks”—usually 13 to 15 a year. (The number has narrowed over time as October has gotten more crowded; in any given year, an early Thanksgiving might add a fourth December week, and an early Easter might add an extra April week.)

The rankings are fundamentally based on crowd forecasts and actual or forecast prices.

The crowd forecasts are based on my actual experience—I’m in the parks 30-60 days a year over six to ten visits.

For example, in 2017:

This experience is supplemented by extensive analysis of school breaks—here’s an example from my analysis of spring breaks in 2018:

The prices are based on actuals for 2017 and 2018, and on forecasts based on recent Disney practice for 2019. I’ll be revising the 2019 rankings as necessary after the actual 2019 prices come out, likely in the summer of 2018, and based on a full analysis of 2018-2019 school year breaks, also in the summer of 2018 (too many districts don’t publish their calendars for the upcoming school year until May or June for me to do this earlier).

So that’s how the week rankings are built!

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October 9, 2017   3 Comments

Why The Hotels Aren’t Crowd Calendars

Every year around this time I get comments from people trying to book one of my recommended December weeks that say something like “all the Disney World hotels are booked, so how can these be lower-crowd weeks?”

The short answer I always give is that this happens every year.

Disney World hotel occupancy is not a crowd calendar. These hotels are almost full almost all of the time, in high crowd periods or low. For three years now, occupancy has been above 85 percent, and for the last seven quarters it’s averaged 89 percent. For an average room, that equates to about two nights free every three weeks.

Rooms have been even harder to find in 2017.

  • First, about 3 percent of capacity permanently disappeared in 2017, with demolition of rooms at Caribbean Beach and Coronado Springs, and conversion of formerly eight-person areas at the Wilderness Lodge to four-person areas in Copper Creek.
  • Second, the ongoing room refurbs at Pop Century and Coronado Springs have taken another 1.5% to 3% of rooms out of capacity, depending on how many buildings are closed at a time for refurb

This may not sound like a lot–but it’s about half of the previous excess capacity.  So a room that used to be unused two nights out of every three weeks now might now be unused two nights out of every six weeks…

You can tell from Disney’s pricing patterns that the most popular nights are Fridays and Saturdays, and the least popular Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  So vacations that include weekend nights–as almost all do–are even harder to book.

Moreover, I am told–I can’t independently confirm this–that Disney is booking “orphan” room nights differently.

Say a room is booked through a Saturday, then available the next five nights Sunday to Thursday, and then booked again beginning the Friday after. Before this purported change, a guest who wanted to book this room Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday would have no problem, even though it would leave “orphan,” hard-to-book single nights on Sunday and Thursday.

Word is that this no longer works so well, as Disney’s systems prefer in this case guests looking for a Sunday-Tuesday or Tuesday-Thursday stay, leaving a more bookable two-night block before or after.

So guests looking for longer stays will run into the problem of all the weekend nights being booked up, and guests looking for shorter stays will have easier or harder times depending on how many orphan nights their preferred dates will yield.  On shorter stays, shifting your check-in day just a day can help. On longer stays, dividing them into two or even three shorter stays can help.

The best approach, though, is to book well in advance. Historically, people have most commonly booked their Disney World vacations three months ahead.  The more ahead of this you can book your rooms, the better off you will be.  More than 180 days before is the magic number…but even if it’s closer than that, as soon as possible is better than later!

Another way to ease the burden is to use a travel agent, who likely will have both more patience and more ideas for finding you a room. This site has partnered for years with Kelly, who you can reach at KellyB@DestinationsInFlorida.com or 980-429-4499.

Quarter to quarter, Disney’s recent average occupancy* has been between 85 and 90% for a while (the red line is 85%):

On a four-quarter trailing moving average basis (which cleans out the effects of seasonality), it’s been around 90% for seven quarters in a row (red line is 90% occupancy):

The difference between 85% and 95% occupancy is about 2,540 more rooms filled per night—or, at an average of 3 people per room, about 8,000 more people.

Eight thousand more people divided among four theme parks, two water parks, Universal, Sea World, Disney Springs, days off, etc. just don’t much matter to a set of theme parks that have a base average of more than 147,000 visitors a day anyway.

(This is the same reason that the cheering competitions, runDisney events, etc., don’t much matter to park crowding. Fifteen thousand cheerleaders or runners and family members may seem like a lot to you…but translate into less than 10 percent more people on property.)

Here’s the longer answer.

WHY THE DISNEY HOTELS ARE NOT A CROWD CALENDAR

Crowds at Disney World don’t come from the Disney hotels, which are almost always close to full. They come from hotels outside the parks.

On an average day in 2016, there were 147,000 people in one of the four Disney World theme parks. (Math applied to this.) You can convert those into required hotel rooms by making assumptions about

  • People per room (e.g. 3) and
  • Rooms occupied by those not in a Disney theme park that day: people in a hotel room for a Disney World vacation but taking a day off from the four Disney theme parks and instead going to a water park, Disney Springs, Universal, taking a day at the pool, shopping, or skipping the parks on their arrival night)—I’ll use 25% as my assumption on this.

So divide the 147,000 people in the parks on an average day by three people per room and you get 49,000 required rooms; shift this by another 25% for the folk on a Disney-oriented vacation but not in a Disney park that day and you get 65,000 required rooms.

Disney World itself right now has “only” about 25,400 rooms available, and probably can’t hit much above 95% occupancy for any sustained period (at 95% occupancy rooms are booked 19 out of every 20 nights) except in the rarest of circumstances, because even with the new orphan night policy, there aren’t enough two and one-night stays to fill in the tiny gaps that exist between 95% and 100% occupancy.

At 90% occupancy Disney World can serve just 22,900 of the 65,000 needed rooms—just a little more than a third.

Occupancy at the Disney hotels doesn’t flex up and down much with crowds. Rather, Disney runs its price seasons and its deals to hit a fairly high level of average occupancy year round. Hotels fill up in the highest-crowd times, but they also fill up during the rest of the year too–including times when savvy Disney World visitors (the most likely to occupy a Disney space—especially DVC owners) know are great times to visit—like early December!!

In other words, the crowds don’t come from Disney World hotels. They just don’t flex enough. Rather, they come from off-property folk. So full Disney World hotels don’t necessarily mean high crowds. (They can mean that—it’s just that they don’t necessarily do so.)

Want a real crowd calendar?  See this.

 

*This is Disney’s domestic occupancy, so it does include the three Anaheim hotels, which make up about 10% of total rooms. Because it’s just 10%, I ignore them, except that I do substract them to get rooms available in Florida.

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October 8, 2017   9 Comments