I’ve never been so baffled in my life. I’ve tried for months to figure it out and finally today I had a brainstorm (no Mrs. Mom, not a brain cloud, it was a total storm) and right out of the blue it hit me. The reason my Amazing Crowd Calendars were so wrong last year. It was Free Dining’s fault.
A lot of us that have Disney World Crowd Calendars were really surprised by the crowds last year during historical slow times. Some weeks that have never had any crowds at all had huge crowds. It was pretty annoying for lots of guests who saw big crowds when they were expecting small crowds.
Yep, Free Dining did it. Now before you go and say “there he goes again” (I’ve been proclaiming Free Dining dead for a couple of years), let me explain. Crowd patterns don’t normally change overnight unless there is something that influences that change. Over the last couple of years, crowd patterns at Disney World have changed dramatically. There had to be something that made a difference. It’s my opinion that the changing factor was Free Dining.
Disney World discounts, like Free Dining, are designed to bring bigger crowds and they usually work. Most times the discounts are applied like the current Summer Discount (get yours today). The discounts are for a specific period of time. The Summer Discount is for every day between June 13 and August 14. With NO blackout dates. None.
What happened during the last 2 years was something entirely different. When Free Dining was first released it was applied for every week except for the very busiest weeks. Over the last couple of years, the number of eligible weeks has been whittled away until last fall only a handful of weeks were available.
Guess what? People flocked to WDW during the Free Dining weeks. (Imagine that.) It was Disney Marketing Departments dream come true. For the rest of us it was pretty much a nightmare.
I do think that has influenced the discounts for 2013. I know I’ve heard lots of grumbling about the huge crowds during the “SLOW” times, Disney must have really gotten it. If you notice the discounts this year, there aren’t any blackout dates. You can get a discount at any time (even on the 4th of July). That’s totally different from last years promotions.
Yes, we’ll all rejoice if Free Dining shows up again this year. I’ll be happy to be wrong again, but know that Free Dining at Disney World has consequences. Free Dining means bigger crowds.
What do you think?