Disney breaks even on open parks, but misses $2.6 billion in operating income for quarter

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

Chief Financial Officer Christine McCarthy said that for the parks that were open, the company was able to make a profit from guests. The revenue gained from park visitors outweighed the costs of being open. The company said the outbreak cost this division around $2.6 billion in lost operating income during the December quarter.

Read more from CNBC.

I think the silver lining here is that it's at least worth it to have the parks that are able to open opened.

Jeff's avatar

Does anyone know what the current staffing percentage is at WDW? At 100% of staff and guests, the resort has a pretty high composite margin, and they don't speak of it in terms of "breaking even." With entire resorts not open, I'm sure it's nowhere near normal.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

My park is a seasonal park and last summer we were only open from July to September.

Having said that, August and September were incredibly strong months with pent up demand and we experienced the same thing.

Like Disney, we did raise pricing fairly significantly and had some drastic expense reductions, but this is the new world we live in.

In the end, if 2020 taught the attractions industry anything, it's the "low volume, high margin" model might be the direction many parks migrate to in the coming years.

Discovery Cove nailed this years ago and I think there will be more of a trend in this direction industry wide starting as soon as this summer.

Hanging n' Banging said:

In the end, if 2020 taught the attractions industry anything, it's the "low volume, high margin" model might be the direction many parks migrate to in the coming years.

Pretty sure there are years of Gonchback links for this one.

I tried to help Disney this weekend. I spent a small fortune on food and beer in the mini Food and Wine that is the Fine Arts festival.

I think of Epcot as having five seasons:

Food & Wine (early fall)
Holidays & Food & Wine (late fall)
Art & Food & Wine (Winter)
Plants & Food & Wine (Spring)
It's too dang hot (Summer)

I'll add these from my three years of working as an Epcot Main Entrance Coordinator:

They turned the tree lawns by the bus stops into parking spaces (New Year's)

The Guest Relations line is snaking all the way back to the Pin Station tip board (Brad Garrett used profanity during the Candlelight Processional)

We had a drunk soccer mom swimming in the World Showcase lagoon (Food and Wine Saturday)

Orange County Sheriff writes numerous citations for misuse of disabled parking placards (first weekend of Flower & Garden Festival)

Man panics, shoves a Cast Member out of the way, and runs when we catch him trying to get his girlfriend in on his wife's Annual Pass and tell him we have to confiscate it (this one was just a personal favorite story from my Epcot days)

What is the guy supposed to do? Wife probably has access to credit card statement so how does he explain a daily ticket to Epcot when both he and his wife have annual passes? Same issue if he gets cash to pay for a daily ticket (expensive) and wife sees cash withdrawal on bank statement. Trying to impress the girlfriend so you can't look cheap and make her buy her own ticket. Using wife's pass seems like the right approach there. Fault was with the park in getting in the way. And once access was denied, stealing wife's pass from him. Didn't want to tell his wife so how was that helping? :)

kpjb's avatar

It's $100 to get in. I can't imagine questioning my spouse for withdrawing $100 from a bank account.


ApolloAndy's avatar

You're also not (presumably) cheating on her.

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

I know more than a few couples who would definitely see a red flag with $100 withdrawn from a bank account. But again keep in mind, he is trying to impress the girlfriend. Its the milk he is trying to get not the cow he already bought. He already took cash out of the bank for spending cash during the visit. Now you want him to take out cash to cover the ticket as well. Even big spenders here will see a red flag at some dollar amount. He could take the money out in chunks but that can raise red flags as well. And take time away from spending time with the new girlfriend. Are people really taking the park's side here? All of this could have been avoided had the park get let the girlfriend in on the wife's annual pass. Or at least given him his wife's AP back so they could go on their way to some place else. Maybe another Disney park to use the wife's AP. Or Universal (assuming they had passes there too and Universal has a more reasonable pass use policy). :)

GoBucks89 said:
Are people really taking the park's side here?

Yes. She was trying to use an AP that wasn't hers. Why shouldn't the park confiscate it?

GoBucks89 said:
What is the guy supposed to do?

I think his mistake was a few moves back, well before pulling into the Epcot parking lot.

OhioStater's avatar

I thought GoBucks89 was...well...

Promoter of fog.

I'm just always glad when I have a chance to tell this story to a new audience. After 10 years, it's still easily in my Top 5 greatest guest situations from my Disney years.

I've parked in the trees at Epcot before. Great place to park because it is close to the gate and it is well shaded.

I can't top the girlfriend on the wife's AP (I'm guessing the fingerprint scan gave it away) but I had a good one at Cedar Point. I ran into a young, teen couple being inappropriately amorous in a hotel stairwell. The young guy was hysterical, pleading with me to not tell her father...because he had allowed him to join the family on their vacation...reluctantly. He should have gone with his instinct.

I let the kid freak out for a little bit but ultimately told them to go back to their room without the extra drama.

wahoo skipper said:

(I'm guessing the fingerprint scan gave it away)

Yep. This was back when the Disney parks had actual turnstiles so when the ticket didn't work and other members of the group were already in there was a physical barrier. The policy back then was if the biometric finger scan wasn't a match we would ask for photo ID. Two things would then happen. The guest would show ID, we'd push a button, and they were in. Or there was a long, drawn out story about why they didn't have their ID, they never carry their ID, they didn't bring their ID on vacation, etc. We then would ask for their address, phone #, date of birth, etc., to see if they could identify themselves at all. The number of times I heard "I can't remember" or "I don't celebrate birthdays so I don't know" (delivered with a 100% straight face) when we would ask for date of birth was still astounds me. Sometimes they'd admit they were trying to get in on someone else's pass, but usually not. We would then confiscate the pass and mail it back to the passholder with a form letter that didn't accuse them of giving it to someone else, but was simply a general memo about proper passholder procedures. We would usually sell it as "we are protecting you, the passholder, against theft" when we would get pushback on this, all while reminding them all they needed to do to get in and retain the pass was photo ID.

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