Orlando parks cut hours and jobs to reduce expense

Posted Friday, August 28, 2009 11:51 AM | Contributed by Jeff

As the economy continues to struggle into the fall — a lean travel period even in good years — Disney, Universal and SeaWorld could find it difficult to continue the cutting without risking a backlash from guests. Some critics say they've already crossed a line.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

Friday, August 28, 2009 2:06 PM

Interesting yet sad thing with BEC parks is they have been expense cut 2 fold.

1) due to the slumping economy and the lack of in park spending and lower visitation but also..

2) IB-AB has been cutting the parks (as well as other areas of IB-AB) in general to shave off some of the debt incurred by the purchase of AB and BEC.

Kind of the worst double whammy to have really.

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Friday, August 28, 2009 2:41 PM

I think most people are used to lower staff levels in the fall anyway. I think many consumers also realize that although visiting in the off season means fewer crows, decreased service goes along with it. Kind of like visiting a restaurant at 4PM. You might get slower service than during peak hours.

That being said, I'm sure it is worse this year than most years. But I just don't see guests holding the company responsible.

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Friday, August 28, 2009 3:46 PM

The quoted "critics" amount to Kevin Yee: a fanboi who gets upset at every burned-out light bulb. The refrain is common. Every time something is closed or cut back, or every time a price is raised by a few bucks, *that* will finally be the reason everyone suddenly gives up on Mickey.

Somehow, it never happens.

I'm not going to say that none of these cuts have made a difference. For example, cutting Fantasmic down to three nights a week, even in peak summer, is enough to get even the casual fans to complain. But, they still go, and they still come back talking about how much great fun they had.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009 12:36 PM

I have been in this industry for like 18 years or so, and never ever heard a comparison about boiling a frog in water.

The vacation-goer will not notice any changes.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009 2:02 PM

Nonsense. I've noticed the hour cuts at Universal, to the extent that I stopped going in the winter at all. Animal Kingdom closing at 5 on some days is a huge turn-off.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009 2:23 PM

Especially for those who actually enjoy sleeping in while on vacation. I'll show up at 9am if I have to, but I'd much rather get there at noon.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009 4:16 PM

AK's 5pm close in the off season has been going on for several years. Its quite the norm. Which makes it a tough park to visit.

I haven't done my last TR from WDW Resort, but my first day there, Magic Kingdom was open from 9am to 3am. Go figure.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009 4:50 PM

The attendance numbers at WDW speak for themselves---no change from prior years, despite cutbacks in service and slumping consumer spending.

Universal's attendance tanked, but their profit was up---be interesting to see if that hit was due to drops in general travel demand without the same aggressive marketing/discounting that Disney's been running, or due to service cuts. I'm guessing the former, but who knows?

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Sunday, August 30, 2009 7:09 PM

We went Universal Studios Hollywood a couple of years ago and were shocked at the early close. We still went, but I know if we get to go again and something has to go, it's move up the list of things to drop with a similar closing time (not that I expect to be going again unfortunately).

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Sunday, August 30, 2009 9:10 PM

I would condsider myself to be the general public when I visit any park. I was able to go to WDW once in Feburary. I understood that the hours would be cut becuase of the season and becuase kids were in school, I thought I was prepared for that. I ended up going stir crazy because I didnt want to be stuck back in my hotel room and I am not the Bar type person, and basically once the parks closed at I belive it was 7pm the only things that were open were Pleasure Island and the Arcades. As much as I liked how empty the parks were, I felt as though when I was raring to go since I am a night owl, my fun was cut short. I even went to the guest service desk and suggested with the cut hours maybe they should reduce the Price of admission.

Last edited by Talonstruck, Sunday, August 30, 2009 9:12 PM
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Sunday, August 30, 2009 9:18 PM

With evening EMH, if you are on the resort you should be able to be at one park until at least 9:00 every night, and there is no reason you shouldnt be. Epcot is always open until 9, the MK will not (unless there is an after hours Halloween or Christmas party) close before 8, and DHS will close no earlier then 7. That said, in starting to plan my first week of May trip, it appears that this year at least, certain parks were open later (not counting EMH) on certain days, when Fantasmic is running DHS the earliest the park will close is 8, and it stays open until 10 and when Spectro runs at the MK it stays open until 10.

You just have to plan your days, personally Im not that big of a fan of AK. All that I need is a half day there, Ive been to world class zoos much closer to home that with the exception of Killimanjaro Safaris the animal attractions do not really attract me, also (sorry) I did not dig the Finding Nemo show, it was ok but nothing I need to see again (the same can not be said for Festival of the Lion King that show is great.) So either I go to DHS to catch Fantasmic on that day, or squeeze in a afternoon at Typhoon Lagoon before going to the evening EMH park on my AK day.

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Sunday, August 30, 2009 9:35 PM

Touchdown said:
With evening EMH, if you are on the resort you should be able to be at one park until at least 9:00 every night, and there is no reason you shouldnt be.

Thats partially true TD. But not due to EMH all the time.

In the "low" seasons (like September or Jan/Feb), if there is Morning EMH there typically isnt an evening EMH so you are subject to the normal closing times of the park, which is as late as 9pm for usually at least 1 park (which is usually guaranteed to be Epcot)..


So you can typically nail at least one 9pm closing it isnt always limited to resort guests and EMH.

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Monday, August 31, 2009 7:01 AM

The Disney parks do close earlier in the offseason, but that's nothing new---certainly not in reaction to the economy. We've been going down in late February for the past five years, and the hours have been pretty much the same year to year, with just small differences.

If you want those late night hours, you have to go during a time when schools are out---but that includes times like President's Week in mid-February. There's also a week in November when New Jersey schools have a five-day weekend, and the parks are open pretty late then too. They're also more crowded, but thems the breaks.

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Monday, August 31, 2009 3:49 PM

From what I gathered, the article isn't talking about shorter hours between peak and non-peak times of the year, but rather comparing closing times August 2008 vs. August 2009.

Sure it makes sense to have reduced hours when you know fewer people are going to be in the parks, like January. The article was questioning the thinking behind closing earlier in what are considered busier times of the year, simply as a means to cut costs and not because of a huge dropoff in the number of guests.

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Monday, August 31, 2009 5:20 PM

No, I get that---just pointing out that the folks bringing up the short hours in the offseason aren't talking about anything new.

The cutbacks this summer were mostly in the two smaller parks. MK seems to have had pretty similar hours in 2009 and 2008, and Epcot was open 9-9, like it always is. Animal Kingdom shaved an hour or two off each day. Studios really saw the brunt of it---several 7PM closes, and Fantasmic went to part-time status.

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Monday, August 31, 2009 10:28 PM

I think all of us understand the concept of shorter hours during the off season Brian. Reading back there is no debate in that (least with most of the posts).

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009 2:57 PM

Looks like with all those cuts they managed to save themselves about 4 billion dollars. ;)

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