Theme parks offer deals to boost attendance

It wasn’t that long ago that theme parks were packed with guests before COVID-19 shut them down.

Now that they’re back open with limited capacity, it’s a whole new world.

“Usually this time of year it’s pretty rough at the parks,” said Michele Atwood, owner of The Main Street Mouse theme park blog. “Very long wait times. Elbow-to-elbow people. Even Universal, when you go in the summertime, normally it’s very high wait times and right now that’s just not the case.”

Atwood said there are deals to be had.

“If you are staying at a Disney resort, it’s very easy to get a reservation. Like we could go book a resort this weekend and pretty much have our choice of what we wanted to visit,” she said. “But as an annual passholder, you look at the app under that category and we couldn’t get in again until the 13th and it’s Epcot. So, your choices are very much limited unless you’re staying at the resort.”

While passholders may be limited, the capacity limits do not appear to be maxed out.

Disney’s website shows there are tickets available every day this month.

“I think there’s still a significant amount of residual fear that are making people hesitant to go into those environments,” UCF economist Sean Snaith said.

Over at Universal, the park just announced a way to get the most for your money.

“Universal came out with an excellent promotion for Florida residents this week, which I think is a great deal,” Atwood said. “You buy one day, but you can go unlimited times from now until Dec. 24. So, I think they’re just trying to get people interested and save a little money for coming back to the parks.”

At SeaWorld, single ticket prices are being slashed.

Economists said that if the bottom line for theme parks don’t improve soon, there could be more layoffs, fewer attractions and surrounding small businesses could shutter.

“If we do see the vaccine breakthrough in the fall, I suspect you’ll start to see bookings both for leisure and business travel begin to improve for 2021 very quickly,” Snaith said.

In the meantime, more theme park deals could be coming to get attendance up.