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

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Last week we started looking at the 2,500 post-visit surveys that TouringPlans subscribers have submitted since the WDW parks re-opened in July 2020. Our goal is to see whether the data supports Bob Chapek’s claim that “guests are even more satisfied than they were prior to the pandemic.” Our first post examined dining satisfaction scores. And – spoiler alert – on the whole guests are not more satisfied with their dining experiences post-reopening. This week we’re shifting our focus to resort satisfaction to see what we can find.

Comparing Resort Scores Pre-Pandemic and Post-Reopening

In post-visit surveys, respondents can give the resort they stayed at an overall satisfaction score, from 1 to 5. If we average the results across all surveys, we can easily compare averages across resorts as well as pre-pandemic and post-reopening. We had 33,000 dining reviews to analyze last week, but hotel reviews are much fewer. Still, out of 2,500 post-reopening surveys, there are 1,790 hotel reviews.

At a high level, the results are more muted than they were with dining surveys. Pre-pandemic, the average satisfaction across all resorts at WDW was 4.70. Pretty awesome! Post-pandemic, the average satisfaction across all resorts comes out to … 4.71. Some fancy statistics tell us that there’s a 46% chance the minimal difference there is just due to chance. So really we can’t say that they’re significantly different at all. Guests overall probably aren’t more satisfied with their resorts post-reopening. But at least they aren’t less satisfied either!

If you’ve been following the phased reopening of WDW resorts, you know that there are some circumstances that could be throwing off our overall numbers. In general, you might guess that guests at value resorts would be less satisfied than deluxe resorts guests. And even now, most of those less-satisfying value resorts are still closed. So maybe it would make sense for resort satisfaction to go up anyway overall just by closing some value resorts. Let’s explore those satisfaction scores by category to see if you’re on to something.

Does the continued closure of fan favorites like Port Orleans impact guest satisfaction?

Satisfaction by Resort Category

  • Value resorts actually increased slightly in satisfaction from 4.61 pre-pandemic to 4.63 post-reopening. The results aren’t significantly different if we look at the statistics. But only Art of Animation and Pop Century have been open for long enough to gather some results via survey, and they were always the two most highly rated value resorts anyway. The average satisfaction at those two resorts pre-pandemic was actually 4.64. But again, no significant difference.
  • Moderate resorts were similarly “meh”. The average satisfaction was 4.68 pre-pandemic, and decreased slightly to 4.66 post-reopening. Once more, no statistically significant difference here. This time, the resorts that have reopened are a bit different though. Two of the more popular moderate resorts, Port Orleans – French Quarter and Port Orleans – Riverside, are both still closed. If we narrow it to just the resorts that are opened, their overall average pre-pandemic was just 4.59. This is actually a significant improvement! I can be about 97% confident that people are happier at the moderate resorts that have re-opened than they were pre-pandemic.
  • Pre-pandemic, the average satisfaction score at deluxe resorts was 4.75, and post-reopening that has dropped to 4.68. I can be over 97% confident that this difference is significant. Guests at deluxe resorts are certainly less satisfied at deluxe resorts than they were pre-pandemic.
  • Finally, deluxe villas increased from 4.78 average satisfaction pre-pandemic to 4.80 average satisfaction post-reopening. But, this increase isn’t statistically significant.

Resort Satisfaction by Location

We already saw that by narrowing our scope to just resorts that have already opened, the satisfaction results changed quite a bit. So what if we narrow to individual results? Are there any locations that have seen big swings post-reopening?

  • The Riviera Resort has the most improved guest satisfaction

    The resort with the largest increase in satisfaction is the Riviera Resort. It averaged 4.78 pre-pandemic, which was already not too shabby. Post-reopening, the average bolted up to 4.96! Pretty incredible. And there are enough reviews to make me 99% confident in the increase.

 

  • One other resort experienced significant improvement following re-opening. Caribbean Beach had the lowest satisfaction of any moderate resort pre-pandemic, at 4.52. Post-reopening, it’s still the lowest of any moderate – but now at an average of 4.65. I’m again 99% confident that satisfaction has increased at Caribbean Beach.

 

  • Art of Animation had the largest drop in satisfaction of any resort after reopening

    On the other side of the spectrum, the resort with the most significant decline post-reopening was Art of Animation Resort, which dropped from 4.69 pre-pandemic down to 4.58. Based on statistics, I can be at least 90% confident that guests are less satisfied at this particular resort.

 

  • In second-worst place is the BoardWalk Villas, which decreased from 4.80 satisfaction pre-pandemic to 4.70 post-reopening. I’d still gladly stay there, but I am 90% confident that guests are less satisfied there now.

Wrapping It Up

Resort satisfaction is definitely more of a mixed bag than dining satisfaction post-reopening. But there isn’t a real way to say that guests are more satisfied with their resorts now, unless you only poll guests that stayed at Riviera Resort or Caribbean Beach Resort or if you totally ignore guests that stayed at deluxe resorts. Next week we’ll finish our investigation by looking at attraction satisfactions scores.

If information about WDW resorts interest you, you should also catch up on our April Absurdity WDW Resort Tournament. Things will pick back up on Monday when we announce the Final Four and open up voting to get to our Championship match.

Did any of these results surprise you? Do you have any predictions about attraction satisfaction? 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/ or instagram @raisingminniemes

6 thoughts on “By the Numbers: Resort Satisfaction Pre-Pandemic vs. Post-Reopening

  • April 10, 2021 at 4:08 pm
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    I think these results might still be somewhat skewed. For example, I have stayed at Wilderness Lodge and love it—it’s our favorite resort. When everything was shut down and I had to reschedule or cancel twice last spring, I ended up booking Animal Kingdom Lodge for July last year just trying to guess when they might reopen. When they did reopen but not at our hotel, Disney offered to upgrade us to Copper Creek at Wilderness Lodge in a one bedroom villa. Yea, we went for that and were very happy with it. We ended up at our favorite resort and were upgraded to something we would not have normally been able to afford. So sure we were highly satisfied. Does that mean we were more satisfied with Wilderness Lodge than before…no. Not everything was open for dining, the main pool didn’t open until mid morning. We decided to not take the bus on that trip for our own peace of mind. However, we were very glad to get out and go somewhere after months of staying home. So on that trip, we were highly satisfied, but satisfied for that situation.
    Just a little perspective.
    Also I have to add that Port Orleans French Quarter is our favorite moderate. Until it opens back up, we feel our choices are too limited. Does that count as being not satisfied…being closed still?

    Reply
    • April 10, 2021 at 4:30 pm
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      Tammra, you couldn’t have left a better comment if I had picked you as an “audience plant” and told you what to say. Ha! There were so many “if”s, “and”s and “but”s that I wanted to include because SO much is different with resorts right now (and certainly even moreso in the summer/fall of last year). But if I included it all, my blog would’ve turned into a novel. I 100% agree – it’s such a nebulous thing to measure with so many things to consider going into one little number. I very much appreciate your perspective.

      Reply
  • April 11, 2021 at 2:31 pm
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    As someone that has been back 10 times now since reopening (with stays everywhere from The Contemporary to Pop), I would say our only issue is that Disney is tending to put you in rooms that seem to be the most remote from the Lobby. Examples, our past two trips to Boardwalk had us within a few doors of the exit near the handicap parking lot, The Contemporary in the Garden Wing facing Discovery Island (not going to lie, I loved this room), Grand Floridian during the NBA bubble, fourth floor at Pop in 70’s building when we passed dozens of rooms clean and open, Casitas 5 at Coronado (hey, but it was right by the bridge to 3 Bridges!), and I could go on and on. As a family that drives (AP’s from Alabama) these rooms don’t actually bother us since we don’t use Disney Transportation for the most part, but I can see how it would if you were a captive audience. Also the monorail not operating from the TTC to Epcot is a HUGE downer for us at MK resorts that are still paying almost rack rate at times for sub-par transportation options. Oh, and open Outer arum back up, please, I need my long day at the parks wind down spot again.

    Reply
  • April 11, 2021 at 5:04 pm
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    Good article. One surprise – the decrease in satisfaction in the Deluxe resorts must have been fairly uniform.
    Deluxe resorts as a whole went down 0.07, but none of them were as bad as the second-worst decrease of 0.10.
    So I’m guessing that they all went down by (around) 0.05-0.09. I would have thought Grand Floridian would have been most affected, with the lack of the band, Victoria and Albert’s etc. Apparently not!
    But then, are they all open? Is the Poly still closed? Did that make a different to the pre- average?

    Reply
    • April 11, 2021 at 9:25 pm
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      Very astute analysis, Phillip! You’re right, several deluxe resorts are still closed including BoardWalk Inn and Polynesian. The Polynesian had an average of 4.75 and BoardWalk was at 4.78, so that certainly could have an impact. And most deluxe resorts that are open have decreased by a very similar amount.

      Reply

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