Universal Crowd Calendar and Coronavirus

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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.

Steve Bloom

By helping TouringPlans.com continue to reach the most accurate crowd level predictions, Steve finally found a way to meld his training in statistical analysis with a lifelong passion for Disney. He first visited the Magic Kingdom in 1972, just a few months after it opened. Now he enjoys frequent trips with his two kids. At age four his son insisted on wearing cowboy boots to reach the height requirement for Test Track, and his daughter believes that a smoked turkey leg and Dole Whip make a perfectly balanced meal. Even though she doesn't quite get it, Steve's wife is supportive of his Disney activities.

4 thoughts on “Universal Crowd Calendar and Coronavirus

  • March 29, 2020 at 11:21 am
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    The trend looks much like the Disneyworld trends posted last week.

    Reply
  • March 29, 2020 at 12:11 pm
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    Why have the crowd predictions for my late-August Universal dates greatly increased as of this morning, e.g. overall crowd level across the parks on Aug 25th has been increased from 4 to 7? Is this based on a new projection that the parks are actually going to open at a particular point in early summer? The current track of the virus in Florida and the lack of statewide social distancing measures do not suggest the parks will reopen anytime soon.

    Reply
    • March 29, 2020 at 1:16 pm
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      Currently, Universal Orlando is scheduled to reopen on April 20. This is not our prediction, but what Universal published. I personally don’t think any of the theme parks will open until late May at the earliest.

      Assuming the parks do open this summer, the fall will see an increase in attendance as people re-book their canceled trips.

      Reply
  • March 29, 2020 at 1:28 pm
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    Thanks, Steve. I agree with you about the parks remaining closed until at least late May. it would be a public relations disaster for these family-friendly operations to put their patrons’ health at risk. I am thinking July is more likely, unless the Florida governor enacts blanket social distancing soon. At this point, it seems like our late-August vacation might fall into the window where the parks will be open before what the experts anticipate to be a second wave of COVID-19 in the fall.

    P.S. Love your site. Thanks for all you do.

    Reply

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