Search traffic for Walt Disney World is historically low, but what does it mean for the future?

At a time when Walt Disney World would normally be gearing up for huge holiday crowds, the theme park destination is currently operating at a fraction of its normal capacity. Limited attendance, safety regulations, travel restrictions and general health concerns have resulted in lighter crowds, cancelled projects and widespread layoffs.

While we know how things are looking in the theme parks and resorts, what kind of interest is Walt Disney World generating online? Are people still searching for Walt Disney World vacations?

Measuring and analyzing online interest in Walt Disney World is tricky without access to Disney’s internal metrics. However, Google Trends offers a bit of a peak into overall Google search activity and how it relates to specific topics and places. Reviewing how the ‘Walt Disney World’ search term is trending may offer some key insights for the future.

Google Trends aims to give a ballpark idea of how popular a search term is at a given time. Google uses a 0-100 scale to convey relative popularity, zero being the lowest and 100 indicating extreme interest. It’s a fun tool to see when interest in a subject spikes, such as when a song or person goes viral.

First, let’s take a look at how the search term ‘Walt Disney World’ has performed between January 2020 and early November 2020.

January 2020 – Early November 2020

In 2020, searches for ‘Walt Disney World’ were at their highest – so far – in March. That’s not very surprising considering all of the theme parks and resorts closed for an unprecedented amount of time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There have been some minor peaks and valleys since that time, but nothing too significant.

How does 2020 compare to previous years? Can we make any educated guesses about what the future holds for Disney based on search traffic?

We need to look to the past before making predictions about the future. Let’s go all the way back to 2004.

January 2004 – Early November 2020

The tall peaks along the line are almost all the months of January or February in a given year. It appears people search for ‘Walt Disney World’ the most at the beginning of the calendar year, perhaps while planning summer vacations.

Traditionally, search traffic for ‘Walt Disney World’ begins to drop after the summer months. Despite huge crowds packing the parks around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve, the overall search interest lags behind. Even with those trends in mind, 2020’s statistics paint a grim picture. The last few months are well below the historic trend.

What does this mean for the future?

We believe Google Trends is pointing to a significant issue Disney will have to overcome in 2021. Not as many people are researching Walt Disney World vacations for health and financial reasons. In fact, people may be approaching vacations entirely differently during this pandemic. Many may not be planning any at all.

Walt Disney World will still attract its passionate annual passholders and devoted fans. However, we believe many families are postponing those “once in a lifetime” vacations until restrictions ease and perks return. Our 5 reasons why we’re not planning a trip to Walt Disney World post has been echoed by potential visitors. It’s difficult to justify spending large sums of money with the experience looking so different.

The good news for Disney is all of this is subject to change. Walt Disney World’s search trends could change in a hurry if the virus is controlled, if a vaccine is successful and if entertainment returns. Guests who have been able to avoid financial fallout will be clamoring for some good family entertainment.

We’ll keep an eye on Walt Disney World’s search trends to see how they evolve in the future.

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David is a Disney travel expert who created Notes from Neverland in 2018 after visiting Disney theme parks countless times. Previously, David spent way too much time writing about sports, and was featured in Sports Illustrated, MSN, Yahoo!, and in many other publications. Learn more or contact us.

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