Everyone’s number one priority right now is to help slow the spread of COVID-19 by practicing social distancing. Universal did their part by closing the parks. Currently, Universal Orlando is scheduled to reopen on April 20. It is likely that the date will be extended until the pandemic is under control. We on the stats team are looking ahead at some possible scenarios and how they might impact crowds.
At TouringPlans.com, we use historic data to derive our Crowd Calendars. A pandemic closing the parks is unprecedented. We have data from hurricanes closing the parks for a few days, and causing people to cancel trips. The September 11 attacks closed the parks and disrupted travel. During the 2008 recession, people reduced spending on vacations. The data for all these disruptions in operations shows an initial reduction in attendance, and then a bounce back.
Once Universal opens, we expect that it will take 8-10 weeks for attendance to reach normal levels, and then attendance will be above normal as people reschedule their canceled vacations. This means it would take a year for attendance to get back normal levels.
The length of the pandemic and a potential subsequent recession will affect crowds returning to the parks. We will update our Crowd Calendar on a regular basis, but without knowing when the parks will open our adjustment curve will be reapplied to our models. The shape of the adjustment curve will stay the same, but the length and magnitude of the curve will likely change.
Below is a chart showing the adjustment curve applied to the average weekly crowd for Universal Orlando if the Re-Opening Date is April 20, June 1, or August 1, 2020.
We’ll keep you updated here on the blog as we get updates about park reopening schedules and the impacts those changes will have on the crowd calendar. Thank you for your support during this challenging time.