Walt Disney World news

Disney's Magical Express sees a decline in ridership

Leah Zanolla | Posted: Jul 28, 2012 | Updated: Oct 19, 2014 - 9:25:27 AM
According to the Orlando International Airport, Walt Disney World's Magical Express service has had a decline in ridership during the first half of 2012. Riders were down 1 percent, or 11,000 guests, from the same time in 2011. From January to June 2012, 1.1 million passengers arriving at the airport used Magical Express to get to the Disney Resort. Disney began the complimentary service in 2005 as a way to ferry guests and their luggage to the on-site Disney hotels, thus effectively keeping most guests (and their spending dollars) on property for the duration of their trip.

May 2012 saw ridership drop a staggering 14.1 percent; in June it went up slightly, by 2.5 percent. The performance in May contributed to the poor numbers in the first half of the year. Disney spokeswoman Andrea Finger said, "Ridership alone is not an indicator of business performance. Disney's Magical Express is a popular service provided to our guests. While our guests appreciate the service, it also positively impacts the airport and our community in numerous ways."

Disney doesn't report individual attendance records for their U.S. theme parks, but bundles all the data together in one report. Because of this, Magical Express rider data becomes useful when tracking Walt Disney World attendance trends. According to the Orlando Sentinel, "Magical Express ridership rose 1.9 percent during the first three months of the year compared with the same period in 2011. Disney's U.S. hotel occupancy rose two percentage points during that quarter, to 82 percent." This would lead us to believe that the next quarterly earnings report released may show lower hotel occupancy for the U.S. Disney hotels; 90 percent of these are at Walt Disney World.

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