Between Disney’s Magic Kingdom’s 50th anniversary celebration and Halloween, a season of fun activities at amusement parks was planned starting next month.
Unfortunately, Delta is putting a damper on the Fall fun.
Just as travel began to recover, families cancelled their plans again. How does that impact advertising trends?
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Will Delta spook away amusement park visitors this Halloween?
Disney fans were excited to return to the theme parks in California and Florida once they reopened and mask mandates were relaxed.
But with the rise of Delta, many customers, especially those with unvaccinated children, fear getting sick. Others have cited required face masks as a source of discomfort, especially for their children amid the Florida heat.
One Disney fan said, “We canceled our January trip. Florida’s lack of responsibility and the spread of Delta among children are the reasons.”
The outbreak in Florida ranks among the highest in the world. And Orlando (located in Orange County) is currently experiencing the highest number of reported cases seen throughout the entire pandemic.
Disney parks in California and Florida require reservations and are still not open at full capacity. CFO Christine McCarthy said they aimed to “be fully staffed up by the end of this calendar year,” while increasing capacity aggressively, yet responsibly.
Other theme parks in California like Knott’s Berry Farm, SeaWorld San Diego, Universal Studios Hollywood, Six Flags Magic Mountain and others have ended their reservation requirements. But Delta is expected to slow down their annual Halloween festivities.
Likewise, airlines have already begun to report less bookings and increased cancellations due to reports of the COVID variant. The summer boom of travel is slowing down, not because people don’t want to visit theme parks or Fall activities—but the threat of Delta is hurting the good vibes.
Despite the summer boom in airports, travel spending has remained fairly ho-hum. Together, travel advertisers spent $487 million between January and August in 2021. This is flat compared to the drop-off of 2020.
Of that spending, Disney, Universal Studios Resorts and various cruise lines are the main drivers in California and Florida.
Comparatively in 2019, companies spent $675 million in the same time period. Travel spending simply hasn’t recovered. But despite increasing concerns, ad placements haven’t taken a new hit due to Delta.
Another big change we’ve seen between 2019 and 2021 is where brands are buying. Just like many other industries, ad dollars are shifting from TV into digital.
In 2019, 51% ($345mm) of travel ad spend in California and Florida was invested into television. By 2021 that figure dropped to 42%($205mm). Digital absorbed some of that shift and increased from 10% in 2019 to 27% in 2021.
Digital still makes up less than a third of overall spending, but its portion of the pie is growing quickly.
Top travel advertisers in Florida and California this year include:
- Walt Disney World
- Regent Seven Seas Cruises
- Universal Orlando Resort
- Disney Cruises
- Viking Cruises
Unlike other cruise lines, Disney Cruise Line’s creative is not mentioning the pandemic. They’re playing the long game and focusing their messaging on Disney Wish which will launch in summer 2022.
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