By the Numbers: Attraction Satisfaction Pre-Pandemic vs. Post-Reopening

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For the past two weeks we’ve been exploring post-visit survey data. Our goal is to see whether the numbers support Bob Chapek’s claim that “guests are even more satisfied than they were prior to the pandemic.” Our first two posts explored dining and resort satisfaction scores. If you’re just catching up, dining satisfaction scores have definitely gone down. But resort scores were more of a mixed bag. This week we’re going to look at our final type of satisfaction scores – attractions!

Comparing Attraction Scores Pre-Pandemic and Post-Reopening

Similar to resorts, guests can rate each attraction they experience with a score from 1 to 5. But with attractions we get one more layer of detail with our scores because each age group rates the attraction individually. So for each attraction, we can look at Preschool, Grade School, Teen, Young Adult, Over 30, and Senior scores. Since each person visiting WDW experiences many attractions, and because each age group rates individually, we have a lot of attraction scores. In fact, just since reopening we have 78,000 of them. There are so many ways to slice and dice this large set data. It’s a data nerd’s dream!

At the very highest un-sliced level, we can compare overall attraction scores. Pre-pandemic, the average satisfaction across all attractions and age groups at WDW was 4.11. Post-reopening, that average satisfaction comes out at 4.12. That’s … slightly better. But not significantly different if we look at the statistics, even with the huge sample size we have.

Keep in mind when we look at that overall number there is a lot going on behind the scenes. Many attractions haven’t reopened, and those that have typically have significantly altered experiences or waits. We don’t collect attraction scores for attractions that aren’t open, so we have no way to capture the dissatisfaction that occurs by something being closed. We’re only measuring how the attractions that guests do experience impact them, positively or negatively.

Satisfaction by Age Group

Let’s do our first slicing by looking at overall satisfaction by those various age groups that I mentioned before.

Preschoolers

One ride that was a 5 for me and my preschool daughter!

Attraction satisfaction averaged 4.11 pre-pandemic. Since reopening, that has decreased to 3.99. That’s the biggest drop of any age group! And I am more than 99.99% certain that it’s a significant drop. I have personal experience visiting with kids in this age group both pre-pandemic and post-reopening. There are fewer things that are toddler-friendly open right now. As a result, to fill our days I took them on/to attractions that I probably otherwise wouldn’t have if they could’ve spent time watching parades or meeting characters. So it’s not a big shock that some of the things that I brought them on weren’t generally meant for them. And therefore I perceived their satisfaction to be lower. That could be indicative of a trend among most of the youngest WDW visitors.

Grade Schoolers

Satisfaction scores averaged 4.18 pre-pandemic, and post-reopening have dropped to 4.16. Not a huge shift, but due to the large number of scores and a pretty tight distribution (not much variation), I’m over 97% confident that it’s a significant drop. This is another group that may be suffering due to a lack of options suited to their age.

Teens

Pre-pandemic, the average satisfaction score for this group was 4.01. Post-pandemic the average is just 4.00. There’s no significant difference here. Playing into stereotypes, teens are just the least satisfied age group, no matter the circumstances!

Young Adults

Moving on to adults, this crowd averaged 4.09 for satisfaction pre-pandemic. That average has increased to 4.14 post-reopening. I’m over 99.99% confident that that’s a significant increase. Maybe we’re seeing the inverse of what was happening with younger kids. Less opportunities to stumble into an attraction that doesn’t appeal to adults, or maybe greater appreciation for the extra space available on rides, or the shorter waits post-reopening. Lots of possibilities.

Over Thirty

This group closely tracks with the Young Adults. As a group, their satisfaction increased from 4.10 pre-pandemic to 4.13 post-reopening. Not as big of an increase, but still very significant.

Seniors

This group had the second-highest pre-pandemic satisfaction score, at 4.15. Post-reopening, their satisfaction was also 4.15. Ha! Seniors may be taking all of the changes in stride and enjoying their WDW experience just the same.

Satisfaction by Park

Here’s where things get interesting! Regardless of age group, are the attractions at certain parks more or less satisfying post-reopening? Let’s dig in.

  • Good ol’ reliable EPCOT – steadily maintaining the lowest attraction scores of any park

    We’ll start with the most boring “change” first. Attractions at EPCOT averaged satisfaction scores of 3.99 pre-pandemic, and haven’t changed on little bit since reopening. Still that same 3.99.

  • Animal Kingdom is a different story. Pre-pandemic, attractions at Animal Kingdom averaged 4.19. Post-reopening, the satisfaction scores have decreased to 4.15. I’m 99.99% confident that’s a significant change. Why might satisfaction have dropped? I have my own theories, but we’ll drill down further later in the post to explore.
  • Similarly to Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom has decreased in satisfaction, from 4.09 pre-pandemic to 4.04 post-reopening. This is another change that I’m 99.99% sure is significant.
  • Finally, we have our attraction stand-out. Hollywood Studios averaged satisfaction scores of 4.26 pre-pandemic. Since reopening, the scores have increased to 4.36. Impressive and very significant. In this case, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway had just debuted prior to the park closing and is now regularly delighting guests. At the same time, more and more guests are getting to experience Rise of the Resistance. Since both of those rides are very popular, they pull up the overall score for the park.

I also explored only comparing scores of attractions that had re-opened instead of overall park averages, just to make sure that differences weren’t due to attractions staying closed. But the results didn’t change any of the overall results for any park. EPCOT was still statistically the same, Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom both decreased, and Hollywood Studios increased.

Satisfaction by Individual Attraction

There are so many attractions that this could easily be a series of 20 blogs. But I’ll narrow things down to just the most significant changes at each park. I won’t list individual confidence intervals here, but in order to appear, a difference had to be statistically significant.

EPCOT

  • Mariachi Cobre – better than ever?

    Mariachi Cobre improved from 4.19 to 4.43, perhaps as a result of their change in location to include seating, or an overall hunger for more live entertainment. Gran Fiesta Tour also improved from 3.60 to 3.75. This may be due to guests appreciated spaced seating, but is interesting given the drama and eventual removal of the animatronics.

  • The American Adventure Pavilion was the “attraction” with the largest drop in satisfaction, from 3.72 to a very low 2.48. There is definitely less going on in the pavilion now compared to pre-pandemic. The second-largest decrease was at Mission: SPACE Green, which went from 3.90 pre-pandemic to 3.73.

Magic Kingdom

  • The Barnstormer was worth the wait for this kid, but it might not be for you.

    Pirates of the Caribbean wins for most-improved satisfaction scores, from 4.25 pre-pandemic to 4.39 post-reopening. This one surprised me thanks to the extended queue, but maybe having spaced seating and being indoors in general is better when you’re masked. The second-most improved seems to support the indoor theory, because Carousel of Progress hasn’t seen any significant changes but increased from 3.81 to 3.95.

  • On the other hand, the attractions that saw the biggest drops in satisfaction also share similar traits with each other. The Barnstormer decreased from 3.54 pre-pandemic to 3.26 post-reopening, and Tomorrowland Speedway dropped from 3.51 pre-pandemic to 3.29 post-reopening. Both rides are typically visited by young children dragging their parents along, have long waits in the sun, are short-duration experiences, and are adjacent to ongoing construction.

Animal Kingdom

  • Lessons Learned During A Pandemic #537: Birds are the best.

    The most improved experiences are Feathered Friends in Flight (previously UP! A Great Bird Adventure), which has seen satisfaction increase from 3.51 to 4.09, and Winged Encounters, which has increased from 4.33 to 4.59. These two attractions are some of the live entertainment available in the park right now. And maybe during the pandemic everyone has gained a bigger appreciation for birds! But in all seriousness, the removal of the characters from the Feathered Friends show has obviously been a hit.

  • The two attractions with the biggest decreases in satisfaction are Kali River Rapids, which went from 4.23 satisfaction pre-pandemic to 3.94 post-reopening, and It’s Tough to Be a Bug!, which dropped from 3.87 to 3.65. Kali is typically a milder experience during cooler months, so maybe that score will rebound as weather gets warmer. And “the bug show” used to be a reliable walk-on that now sports significant waits due to decreased capacity. It’s reasonable to guess that people don’t think it’s worth the wait.

Hollywood Studios

  • Walt Disney Presents wins most improved here, from 3.95 pre-pandemic to 4.13 post-reopening. This is one of the very rare attractions at the Studios that doesn’t require a long wait in an extended queue, and maybe people appreciate it more thanks to that. The second-most improved is Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. It was only open for a few days in the pre-pandemic era, when it averaged 4.40 satisfaction. Since reopening, many many more guests get to experience it each day, and satisfaction has gone up to 4.53.
  • Star Tours: Still cool. Just not as cool as the new stuff.

    There are attractions that disappoint at Hollywood Studios compared to pre-pandemic. The biggest drop has been at Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy, from 3.50 to 3.22. Like It’s Tough to Be a Bug, this used to be a reliable walk-on and may not be worth the waits that it now generates due to reduced capacity. Star Tours has also decreased from 4.42 to 4.18. It’s certainly feasible that now guests compare this ride to Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. Both are simulators, but Smugglers Run is much more interactive, so Star Tours pales in comparison.

What Does This Mean For You?

There are definitely some trends we can learn from here. If you’re taking your kids on attractions you wouldn’t have in previous trips, temper your expectations. If you previously enjoyed a walk-on attraction, before you hop in line think about whether you’d still enjoy it as much even if you had a significant wait. Probably you should go see all of the shows with birds because they make people happy.

And if you missed it earlier this week, we took a look at the difference in posted and actual wait times at attractions over the past month. So take a look at that before you decide whether to invest your time in a line.

Have you experienced attractions that you enjoyed more or less post-reopening than you did before the parks closed? Are there other things you’d like to learn from post-visit survey data? Let us know in the comments!

 

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Becky Gandillon

Becky Gandillon was trained in biomedical engineering, but is now a full-time data and analytics nerd. She loves problem solving and travelling. She and her husband, Jeff, live in St. Louis with their two daughters and they have Disney family movie night every Saturday. You can follow her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/becky-gandillon/

2 thoughts on “By the Numbers: Attraction Satisfaction Pre-Pandemic vs. Post-Reopening

  • April 18, 2021 at 1:53 pm
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    Our last 2 visits were in winter, one pre-Covid and the other post-Covid. Both were about a week, not around a holiday, with slightly less than average crowds.

    The pandemic trip was not nearly as great as previous. We knew this going in, that we would need to compromise. We focused on what we could experience and didn’t dwell on what was missing. It was enjoyable under the circumstances. It was not a ‘happier’ experience as Mr Chapek wants to believe. We definitely would not rate the post Covid trip as more satisfied overall. I really can’t understand what point he is trying to make? Or for what purpose?

    Reply
    • April 20, 2021 at 4:22 pm
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      Great insight, Heather! I agree with you. My family has visited twice during the pandemic. And while we were grateful for the chance to get away from home and see our kids experience something that brought them so much joy and happiness in this tough season, it certainly didn’t compare to our pre-closing visits. We very much enjoyed the low crowds, but a lot was missing too.

      Reply

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