Disney parks and resorts revenue up despite lower attendance

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

Though attendance decreased at the Disney parks for the quarter, which ended Oct. 1, per-person spending increased 7 percent because of higher prices and spending on food and beverages. Overall Disney domestic park attendance decreased 10 percent, but mostly because of the timing shift. If it hadn't been for that, attendance would have been down 3 percent. Disney's theme parks and resort division reported a 1 percent increase in revenue to $4.4 billion. Operating income decreased 5 percent to $699 million.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

Jeff's avatar

I'm not sure why Rick seems surprised at the results, but at least he came clean on the "anecdotal evidence" part: http://www.fool.com/investing/2016/11/12/disney-worlds-big-attendan...prise.aspx

Seriously, even DHS has been crowded this summer (I've been going there a lot more because Simon finally will ride Tower of Terror). Epcot on weekends during Food & Wine has been somewhere between miserable to unvisitable. Seriously, they've closed the parking lot several times.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

Magic Kingdom was insane on Saturday. It was the craziest I have seen in years. 2 1/2 hour wait for Seven Dwarfs. 1 1/2 for Space Mountain. Even lesser attractions were an hour on average. They were filming the Christmas TV special which made traversing the park a challenge, particularly if you wanted to get anywhere near the hub. Heck, the Country Bears show we saw around 9:30pm was almost at capacity.

Friday night at Disney Springs was ridiculous as well. I think they only had parking available on the top floor of the garage and that was by 6:30pm. Thankfully, we only had to wait about 30 minutes for a seat at Wolfgang Puck...but just getting around the place took some effort. There was loads of live entertainment around the Springs which added a nice vibe to the place even with the crowds...but I don't think they are hurting for attendance as of yet.

If this is an indication of what it will be like over the Christmas holiday then I'm happy that my Annual Passes are blacked out for those couple of weeks.

Same here. I was down this past weekend for a pre-IAAPA visit to the parks and I couldn't believe how crowded it was. Even Epcot Monday (yesterday) during the day felt way more crowded than typical. Perhaps it was from a last day of F&W surge. Even the MK Monday morning was mobbed.

Just got back from our Disney hates poor people wedding trip.

Friday at MK was beyond crazy. It was a normal opening time, with early closure for the Christmas party, which is supposed to be a recipe for lighter crowds.

Space Mountain was using every bit of queue available, and the fast pass line was out to the TTA. Standby was up to 150 minutes around 1 or 1:30 when we rode. TTA was shutting down about every 5 minutes, making it a 20 minute wait. Buzz shut down a few times, including a lights on, scores reset 15 minute delay while some of our family was on the ride.

The Laugh Floor must have been down most of the day. We kept checking and never did catch it open. Just getting out of the park after the parade was a nightmare with the Christmas Party folks trying to get in at the same time.

It was like one of those Columbus day weekends at Cedar Point where you see cars parked on the causeway shoulder and say forget it, but with family that hasn't been to Disney in decades you can't turn around and leave because its their last day in town.

I had glanced at Touring Plans projections for the trip a while back, and this should have been a 6-7 out of 10 crowd day. Their updated actual was 10 out of 10 for MK, EPCOT and Studios, with a 9 for AK.

We had fast passes for MK on Monday too. Got off the bus around 10:30, and before we made it to the front gate got notified our first fast pass, for Pirates, was changed into a fast pass good for almost anything in the park because Pirates was down and would be so for some time.

With the app open and now noticing how backed up the security checks still were, we saw the wait times, and decided anywhere else would be better than there.

I don't know where the lower attendance was, because we didn't see it.

Interesting comments you made about attractions being down. I wonder if they were having some type of problem with their power grid? On Saturday we saw the same thing happening with the TTA (People Mover). In fact, I saw it go down several times during the day, once we were in line, and I don't believe I've ever seen it break down before.

We were on Carousel of Progress (my daughter's favorite ride) and it broke down while we were on it. After the first scene the theater started rotating and we heard a bang as it came to a stop. The first scene started back up again and we watched it all the way...while we were stuck part way between show scenes. When that scene started up a third time people started getting up and walking out without any cast member guidance. It was really weird.

At the same time, Pirates was having problems in the other side of the park.

The lines were crazy. The line for the Laugh Floor wrapped around the side of the front of the building and extended to Tomorrowland Terrace. The line for the TTA was actually reaching the front of Space Mountain. Heck, my family had to split up in order to get on to the train.

I mentioned the multiple ride issues for a couple of reasons. I couldn't help but wonder if the lines would have been a tad better if these rides were running reliably. This was the first time I've ever used a fast pass on Space Mountain where I didn't scan my band then walk straight to within 20 feet of the merge point without stopping.

Adding in your account from the Carousel of Progress, the only rides in Tomorrowland that might have run consistently well over the weekend are the Orbiters and Speedway. Neither of those are great for capacity.

Toss in Pirates, Jungle Cruise had a few issues in there as well, and Big Thunder Mountain closed for refurbishment, and the park can't handle that size of crowd very well.

Big Thunder Mountain will be open soon, but if this is how early November is going, what is late December going to look like? I would have liked to see more of the Christmas stuff this year, but not that bad.

On a positive note, on Sunday we rode the new add-on side of TSMM. Having that open for the holidays should help that line out a bit.

Jeff's avatar

I'm more convinced than ever that whatever attendance they missed on earlier this year, it is more than being made up for now. We dropped in this weekend and it was intolerably busy at Magic Kingdom. We've seen two weekends where the Epcot lot was closed and full. The gold pass blackout starts next Monday, but I can assure you, we wouldn't want to set foot in the place again until January anyway at this rate.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

I took a vacation day last Thursday to do the Universal holiday stuff, and I can assure you they are packing them in as well. I thought for sure on an early December weekday I would have had the run of the place. I did get a couple of walk on rides on Hulk 2.0 just before close though - that rebuild project was worth every penny.

Interesting I had the complete opposite experience this weekend in crowds at Disney. Saturday night we decided around 5:45 to head to the Studios for the 6:45 showing of Jingle Bell Jingle Bam. We were able to grab 50's reservations for 7:10 for dinner. After dinner, we headed back and rode Toy Story Mania with maybe a 10 minute wait. We needed a few gifts so we shopped around the stores and grabbed Starbucks. As we were heading out the wife wanted to ride Tower of Terror walked right into the lobby area and then almost on the ride itself after the pre-show.

Sunday, I needed my haircut and my barber is at the Magic Kingdom. We were able to grab Be Our Guest for breakfast around 7:00 AM or so for 8:30 that morning. Had breakfast, rode Space a few times with no wait, jumped on buzz and then walked over to have my hair cut. After the cut, we went to ride the mansion with maybe a 15 minute wait.

It was a great weekend for us at the parks.

Jeff's avatar

Studios hasn't been very busy in a long time, and that's probably because they've closed so much stuff. Evenings are especially easy there. Magic Kingdom parking was flirting with full on Saturday, as they were already fill-parking the heroes lot at 3pm. Epcot may have started parking people in Discovery before it was done, but I'm not sure.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

After looking at the calendar, I am not shocked by the crowds at the Magic Kingdom. It was Pop Warner weekend, plus Saturday was the only night this weekend without a Christmas Party. The scheduling at the studios was strange this weekend. 6:45 was Jingle Bell Jingle Bam and Fantasmic was at 7:00....these were the only two performances of these events on Saturday. With the amount of closed attractions there, you would think Fantasmic would have been scheduled for 7:30 or 8:00 to give guests time to experience both shows.

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