Disney World confirms increased capacity, parks are 77% booked for holiday season

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Disney World confirms increased capacity, parks are 77% booked for holiday season

Summer Hull / The Points Guy - November 13, 2020

Disney’s CEO Bob Chapek confirmed what many had been suspecting: Disney World’s has quietly increased guest capacity.

And while some of what Disney announced in its Nov. 12 fourth-quarter earnings call is not particularly surprising (revenue is still way down, though less so than in the previous quarter), there were some interesting facts shared that shed light both on current park operations and future planning.

Here are three things we learned today about Disney Parks and operations.

Disney World is indeed busier

During the earnings call, Chapek stated that the previous “… 25% capacity constraint which was our industrial engineering estimates to keep six-foot social distancing, now has been able to increase to 35% of capacity.”

Having visited Disney World on reopening day in July and then again in October, there’s no question that the October visit was significantly more crowded with many rides posting wait times of an hour or more.

While a jump from 25% to 35% capacity may sound relatively minimal, that actually represents up to a 40% increase in guests. And note that Disney World very rarely reached 100% capacity pre-COVID, so this is not 35% of a normal pre-COVID crowd.

It does feel busy now on many days, but it is not typically wall-to-wall people as it was on some pre-pandemic days. Disney did not state when the jump upward from 25% to 35% capacity was made.

Disney World is 77% booked for the holidays

For the company’s first-quarter (which we are currently in and will run through the holiday season), the park is already 77% booked in terms of park pass reservations. Thanksgiving week, in particular, is said to already be booked “close to capacity.”

If you are trying to get a park pass reservation for an upcoming Disney World visit, note that availability is somewhat dynamic. Recently, more availability opened up for many December dates, so keep an eye on availability if you aren’t currently able to get the park days or parks that you want.

Disneyland not expected to reopen in 2020

While there was good news in terms of demand for Disney World, the news isn’t nearly as rosy for Disneyland.

The original Disney theme park, Disneyland in Anaheim, California, is the only one of the company’s parks that has yet to reopen at all. Some of the international Disney parks have opened and closed again at times over the last eight months, but the gates of Disneyland have remained consistently locked since mid-March.

On the earnings call, Chapek stated, “We are extremely disappointed that the state of California continues to keep Disneyland closed despite our proven track record.” Disney does not expect Disneyland to reopen in its current fiscal quarter, which takes us through the end of 2020.

However, Disney California Aventure Park will soon partially reopen its Buena Vista area for dining and shopping.

Bottom Line

Disney World in Florida has been successfully reopened for four months and demand seems to only be growing. Time will tell if that trend holds as the country, unfortunately, seems to be experiencing a resurgence in COVID-19 cases.

At this point, I’m not sure that the parks can support more visitors without making operational changes to potentially bring back FastPass+ or lean into more virtual queue opportunities. However, at least for now, Disney World seems to have found a way to thread the needle of making money, while maintaining adjusted operations and capping capacity at a lower number of guests than usual.

Featured image by Summer Hull/The Points Guy

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