Why Aren’t Orlando Theme Parks Filling to Capacity During the 2019 Holiday Season?

The holidays in Orlando are in full swing. On any given day you can find Magic Kingdom’s Christmas fireworks, Epcot’s Candlelight Processional, Macy’s Holiday Parade and a lot more. However, if you’ve been following the press about Orlando theme parks during 2019, something is definitely missing.

As of the writing of this article, no Orlando theme parks have closed due to reaching capacity. To be fair, in 2018 the same can be said. With the exception of New Year’s Eve at the Magic Kingdom, no Orlando theme parks had to turn away guests by being too full last year. While this may not exactly be the attention grabbing headlines of guests being turned away, this is absolutely newsworthy.

More than likely, the Magic Kingdom will fill to capacity on New Years Eve of 2019. It is the most popular day for nearly all theme parks in Orlando and most families like seeing fireworks from Cinderella Castle.

Orlando parks were notorious for filling up during the week between Christmas Day and New Year’s prior to 2018. Hardly a good guest experience to turn people away during a holiday, yet there are only so many people you can allow in a park (which many would argue was too crowded even before they hit capacity).

Keep in mind, you can’t say the park’s aren’t busy during the 2019 holiday season. Wait times are getting over the three hour mark in some cases. Plus there’s extra staffing in certain bottleneck areas to help direct traffic and keep things moving smoothly when crowds get elbow to elbow.

Why is this happening? Most likely it has to do with price. Since the parks have implemented a dynamic pricing structure to try to drive attendance during lower visited times (and maximize profits), the strategy seems to have worked. Guests are either choosing a cheaper time of year to visit or skipping an Orlando vacation altogether in favor of something with less strain on their wallet.

It’s also fair to mention that the emphasis on visiting the Magic Kingdom isn’t quite as strong as it once was five years ago. With additions like Pandora at Animal Kingdom, Batuu at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and even Hagrid’s Magical Creature Motorbike Adventure at Islands of Adventure, crowds are spreading out more now than they ever were before during the holiday season.

Ultimately this is a win for everyone. Guests don’t have to deal with a 100% full theme park. Maybe a 90% to 95% full park. Most importantly, Disney and Universal don’t have to turn guests away and make them unhappy. It’s an interesting turning point for Orlando theme parks. Your thoughts?

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