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Disneyland's Attendance Numbers Could Be Back To Normal Sooner Than We Thought

Mickey and Friends at Disneyland

Disneyland closed in March 2019 and, despite repeated pleas to the state from The Walt Disney Company, that has remained the case for nearly a year. There is still no plan as to when the park might finally open, but the expectation has always been that it would be a long road back to the way things were. However, one analyst firm is actually predicting that Disneyland will be back to something resembling business as usual quite quickly, as it is suggesting Disneyland attendance will be back at approximately normal levels as soon as next year.

Financial analyst John Hodulik at firm UBS is is forecasting that attendance at all of Disney's domestic parks, including Disneyland Resort, will rebound significantly starting in the latter half of 2021 and will be at what the Orange County Register calls "historical attendance levels" in 2022. This is a significantly faster turn around than was originally anticipated as it was believed that, due to the economic damage done by the pandemic, combined with crowd avoidance from potential guests, recovery in the parks would take longer.

However, with a vaccine now beginning to roll out, and what is seen as significantly pent-up demand for leisure travel in general, it's believed that Disney's theme park business will be back on track in barely more than a year or so. This is certainly some positive thinking considering that Disneyland isn't expected to reopen the theme parks until this spring or summer at the earliest. When it finally does happen, capacity will certainly be capped to start, so even if there were enough people wanting to show up to fill the park, that won't be possible. However, if this prediction comes true it would indicate a pretty fast increase in capacity over the ensuing months.

By comparison, Walt Disney World reopened in July at about 25% of capacity, and has since increased to 35%, but is still sitting at that number. UBS apparently expects the number to increase to 70% by this fall.

However, there are a few x-factors when it comes to Disneyland. The park recently announced that it was ending its annual pass program, and that means that many of the people who we might have expected to help fill the park when it reopened won't be there. Some might be willing to buy standard tickets to visit Disneyland, but certainly not to the degree that they did so previously. It's unclear if there will be enough "standard" guests to fill that void.

On the plus side, when the Annual Passport program was ended, Disneyland said that a replacement program would not be announced until the park had returned to something close to full capacity. So if this prediction comes to pass, that new program could be unveiled sooner than anticipated as well.

For now, a recent lifting of restrictions in California has allowed some stores and restaurants at Downtown Disney to reopen. Part of Disney California Adventure was reopened for shopping and dining in November,

Dirk Libbey

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.