Pandora May Not Save Disney World This Year


What if Disney World threw an Avatar party and nobody came? Disney’s Animal Kingdom is faring well since its Avatar-themed expansion, but that may be coming at the expense of its sister parks.

Disney (NYSE:DIS) made a big bet on James Cameron’s Avatar to drum up attendance at Disney World, and it may not be paying off. TouringPlans.com — a popular trip planner and queue watcher — just put out a report on the impact of the new Avatar-themed expansion of Disney’s Animal Kingdom on the resort’s attendance trends. Shareholders aren’t going to like what they see.

TouringPlans.com analyzes wait times across all four of Disney World’s theme parks to make a rough estimate of crowd sizes. There was naturally a spike in tourist activity around the time that Pandora — The World of Avatar opened during Memorial Day weekend. Attendance — or more specifically the hourly average number of guests at attractions, in this case — soared 18% between May 27 and June 7. However, since June 8, the hourly average number of guests at Disney World rides or attractions has risen by a mere 1,349 sun-baked park-goers, or 4%.

Fight of passage & Na’vi River JourneyThe two new Pandora attractions have an hourly capacity of 2,900 and the wait times for Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey are consistently above an hour. If the average number of guests across all of Disney World’s offerings has risen by 1,349 in recent weeks, it means that the wait times are shorter across the rest of Disney World since last summer. Park guests may be comforted by seeing shorter wait times, but it’s going to be disappointing if Disney’s massive investment in Cameron’s eco-friendly sci-fi franchise only produces a 4% uptick in turnstile clicks.

It gets worse. Folks gravitating to Disney’s Animal Kingdom are coming at the expense of the resort’s three other theme parks. Unlike rival Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), which saw dramatic surges in attendance through Universal Orlando when it added The Wizarding World of Harry Potter attractions at Islands of Adventure in 2010 and Universal Studios Florida in 2014, Disney is just robbing Goofy to pay Pluto.


Data source: TouringPlans.com


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