The happiest place on earth isn’t quite the busiest in the age of the coronavirus.
Fewer parkgoers are visiting Walt Disney World, while rival theme park Universal Orlando is rebounding, a new report suggests.
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An analyst note from Deutsche Bank found Universal Orlando, home of attractions like Jaws the Ride, Hogwarts Express and the Incredible Hulk Coaster, saw an uptick in admissions, particularly on Saturdays, according to estimates sourced from geo-location data.
Saturday visitor attendance is still down by 64% for Universal compared to 2019, however, it’s still higher than Disney since it reopened in June. Analysts reported Disney is operating at 80% less than 2019, with its parks like the Animal Kingdom and Epcot surpassing Hollywood Studios and the Magic Kingdom in attendance, the report showed.
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New guidelines and restrictions as a result of the coronavirus pandemic are what’s causing the setbacks, theme park insiders suggest, noting that Disney now requiring reservations and not allowing guests to park hop could also be slowing attendance. Disney World’s park attendance could soon rebound, however, as Florida’s COVID-19 cases decrease, according to Deutsche Bank analyst Brian Kraft.
DISNEY WILL CONTINUE TO HAVE REDUCED HOURS IN NOVEMBER
Disney said on its Q3 earnings call earlier this month that guest attendance was lower than expected. Still, it doesn’t look like the theme park will return to its normal operations anytime soon.
Disney World is also scaling back its operating hours in September after experiencing more cancellations than anticipated. It’s unclear if annual holiday events at the park will go on or be canceled.
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