The Happiest Place on Earth is seemingly not immune to the challenges of extreme weather.
According to InsideTheMagic.com, “Disney’s attendance has dropped substantially,” with some attendees reporting impacts at Disneyland and other parks, with Disney World appearing more like a “ghost town” than a thriving tourist destination.
And while it could be down to several factors, weather conditions appear to be one of the more common threads linking the trend.
What’s happening at Disney parks?
Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, has been snapped repeatedly by visitors as looking much emptier than usual.
EPCOT on a Saturday. Empty. pic.twitter.com/LL9zvxNtkO— Michael (@innoventioneast) July 22, 2023
Meanwhile, waiting times for rides during the typically hectic Fourth of July weekend were much shorter than usual.
One Reddit user even described the parks as “barren” in May.
Among the reasons cited for the drop in attendance, unpredictable weather conditions are a common explanation.
Why are weather conditions affecting guest numbers?
If you’ve ever been on a Disney vacation, you know it doesn’t come cheap. The cost of accommodation, tickets, food, drink, and gifts adds up in a hurry, and if you’ve paid in advance for any of the trip, it might be difficult to get that money back should the parks be forced to shut down — and that’s not to mention the disappointment of not being able to go.
In other parts of the world, a typhoon warning in Hong Kong in July forced the Disneyland park there to close.
Due to the Typhoon TALIM, Hong Kong Disneyland is closed today. Inspiration Lake Recreation Centre will also remain closed.#HongKongDisneyland #hkdisneyland #HKDL #disneyparks #disney #香港ディズニーランド #ディズニー pic.twitter.com/OMPkN3VZWY— HKDL Fantasy (@hkdlfantasy) July 17, 2023
Then consider the impact of heat waves, which are exacerbated by excessive carbon emissions resulting from everyday human activity, not to mention those emitted in the parks.
Limited shade areas, long lines, crowded parks, and the cost of beverages may put some off from visiting the park in the summer months when hotter temperatures can be unsafe and problematic for visitors — especially those with children.
In 2017, ash clouds and orange skies greeted visitors at Disneyland in California following wildfires in the surrounding countryside. While the park wasn’t closed, nearby communities were evacuated, signaling that it would have caused problems for those staying in the area.
My sister is in Disneyland and just sent me these pictures from the fire. Is the world ending or something? Cause this is wack pic.twitter.com/uRut0up3Yr— David (@iheartnate) October 9, 2017
Extreme weather events like these are likely to become more common because of the effects of Earth’s rising temperatures, and spending money on what could be a wasted trip won’t appeal to many, which could lead to even sharper declines in visitor numbers.
What is Disney doing to deal with weather problems at its parks?
While there isn’t a lot Disney can do when it comes to the weather, it is making changes to tackle rising temperatures.
In 2022, it was announced that Disney World would be installing two 75-megawatt solar facilities that in addition to existing solar generation would power around 40% of the resort’s annual electricity needs.
Jeff Vahle, president of Walt Disney World Resort, told ABC News (via “Good Morning America“): “Our commitment to the environment goes beyond imagining a brighter, more sustainable future by putting possibility into practice to ensure a happier, healthier planet for all.”
Disney has said its aim is “to achieve net-zero emissions for direct operations by 2030.”
Join our free newsletter for cool news and actionable info that makes it easy to help yourself while helping the planet.