Disney Parks have huge quarter, attendance up 10%, per-capita spending up 7%

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

For the first fiscal quarter, Disney reported a 10% increase in attendance at the company's domestic parks and a 7% rise in per-capita spending. Per-room spending at theme park hotels rose 9% for the period, while occupancy rose by 3%, to 92%.

Read more from The LA Times.

Jeff's avatar

Yeah, that's my thing too, I'm making the judgment call that a nice vacation should be a higher priority than cars and houses. I'm projecting my world view on the issue. Which is the right view, of course. ;)


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

CoasterDiscern's avatar

I totally agree with you guys. I can't help but think how many people are out there who are uneducated about financial planning (personal financial planning). Also the amount of people who have also become followers. They do it because the heard is doing it, and its the "cool" thing to do. They are affected by the media in which celebrity success, mansion houses, money and cars, spell out what it means to be successful and happy and then its the only thing that matters. ugh!!

Im constantly wondering to myself, "where are these people learning these behaviours from?." There seems to be some obvious answers to that question and some not so obvious ones too. With the current state of the U.S. debt load and personal debt load, Im impressed with what Disney can do for numbers.

Last edited by CoasterDiscern,
Ask not what you can do for a coaster, but what a coaster can do for you.
OhioStater's avatar

No one causal factor will explain the rise, but I'll add this. As a relative newcomer to Disney, it's fairly easy to get your trip initially set up all by yourself online. When we were kids (in the 80's), one would need a travel agent or that cool Atari program the Griswold's had to accomplish the rite-of-passage that is the Disney trip with your kids. Today it takes very little time to nail down every little detail by yourself; there is literally no need to pick up a phone even once. Added to this, they make it really simple to spend money at the parks via the Magic Band.

With the different tiers of resorts they now offer Disney has created an image of more inclusiveness and affordability, while simultaneously corralling the Sneeches with stars and those without stars on their bellies into very different resort neighborhoods.

Disney has done an excellent job of making a vacation accessible, and that means a lot in a point and click world.

Not to mention the customer service when you are planning the trip. I don't say this lightly, but I have never interacted with the staff of such a large corporation that to a person is more courteous and patient. I'm sure there are exceptions to this out there, but from my own experience Disney has invested some well-spent dollars in training the front-line staff who actually speak to the guests and potential guests to cement that all-important first impression.

And I also just noticed that I wrote in the beginning of this post that I see a Disney trip with the kids as a rite-of-passage. Perhaps that perspective has been burnt into my psyche.

Last edited by OhioStater,
rollergator's avatar

When you can incorporate business and Sneeches into the discussion - you've McBeaned a vote up!


You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)

slithernoggin's avatar

OhioStater said:

... it's fairly easy to get your trip initially set up all by yourself online. When we were kids (in the 80's), one would need a travel agent ....

And it doesn't hurt the bottom line, either. A travel agent can make informed suggestions. Whereas booking a vacation online it's so easy to succumb to suggestion. Why, yes, I'll add the water parks, it's not much more. Dining plan sounds good, won't have to worry about food.

I fairly often talk to customers at the theater who, I think, should not be allowed to buy things on the Internet without a 12-year old at the keyboard, so that there's one person in the transaction who knows what they're doing.


Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

Jeff said:

I refuse to believe that Disney is pricing huge portions of the population out of the market.

Perhaps I am just being stubborn, perhaps I’m out of touch with my upper middle class income, but I totally agree with this. A WDW vacation is within reach, across a wider socio-economic spectrum than most are leading to believe.

Take the cheapest route for example. So you drive the family down to Florida in the metallic pea green family truckster. You stay at one of the hotels off of 192. You buy some food/snacks/bottled water at the Wal-Mart in Kissimmee and pack your food/water. You get a 4 or 5 day pass which as Jeff described, is deeply discounted per day vs a one day pass. Or, you only do the parks 1-2 days and hang out by the pool the others. I just don’t believe that many people can’t pull this off.

And on the other end of the spectrum, you have the Grand Floridian for the 2%’ers who can afford a $500+/night room.

Sure, at one point down on the economic scale, one simply cannot afford a WDW trip without taking food off of their table. But the range of people who can afford “some” kind of WDW vacation is wider than most are giving credit to (at least this is my opinion).

At the risk of being judgmental, when I’m at the Magic Kingdom, I certainly don’t see a bunch of 1%’ers walking around. This is why I think Disney continues to post record attendance and spending results; the place appeals across many different income groups (ok, maybe not the bottom, I get that, but these folks aren’t taking any vacation, anywhere).

You can do Disney on the cheap, and you can do it on the lavish, and anywhere in-between.

What does a 1%'er look like?

Jeff's avatar

Yeah, I know he invited that question, but it's a subjective observation that I have as well. And you can say that it's awful and makes people a bad person to consider it, but there is a difference. A crowd at Six Flags is not like a crowd at Magic Kingdom. But for better or worse, some of the people you associate with the former can be found in the latter. A lot of people, even. You can spot the high maintenance, fancy people, but it isn't hard to find the people who are packing their own lunches and driving a six-year-old minivans with Ohio plates.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

rollergator's avatar

GoBucks89 said:

What does a 1%'er look like?


You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)

Lord Gonchar's avatar

Hanging n' Banging said:

Take the cheapest route for example. So you drive the family down to Florida in the metallic pea green family truckster. You stay at one of the hotels off of 192. You buy some food/snacks/bottled water at the Wal-Mart in Kissimmee and pack your food/water. You get a 4 or 5 day pass which as Jeff described, is deeply discounted per day vs a one day pass. Or, you only do the parks 1-2 days and hang out by the pool the others. I just don’t believe that many people can’t pull this off.

Can people pull this off? Sure.

Do people want to pull this off? Doubtful. Quite frankly, that version of the Disney vacation sounds perfectly awful. The time and money can be better spent in countless ways.

Hell, anyone can afford a Lamborghini...if it's old and broken enough.

Jeff said:

...it isn't hard to find the people who are packing their own lunches and driving a six-year-old minivans with Ohio plates.

And we have no idea of knowing what kind of sacrifices were made to pull that off or how long it took to gather funds for what may very well be the only couple of days that family ever spends in Orlando. Just because they're there doesn't mean it was easy. It was likely a challenge to achieve what will, quite literally, be a once in a lifetime endeavor.

A crowd at Six Flags is not like a crowd at Magic Kingdom.

Exactly.


Hanging n' Banging said:
A WDW vacation is within reach, across a wider socio-economic spectrum than most are leading to believe.

^This.^ And that is reflected in the fact that attendance stays steady or increases as the price increases.

the place appeals across many different income groups (ok, maybe not the bottom, I get that, but these folks aren’t taking any vacation, anywhere).

This goes directly along with my point that all vacations are pricey, not just Disney.


Maybe I have a different perspective on "spotting 1%'ers" because I have driven 8+ year old minivans with Ohio plates on vacation--down to Florida, New Orleans, out to Yellowstone and just about everywhere in between (and am almost half way towards having another such minivan) and pack my own lunches. But it seems to me determining wealth/income by appearances really only works if the people have the same priorities as you do. If not, your determination may well be off -- by a lot -- in either direction.

In the end, why do people care if articles are written that Disney is pricing large numbers of people out?

Lord Gonchar's avatar

Disney doesn't release any kind of general demographic info about their visitors, huh?


Lord Gonchar's avatar

bigboy said:

And that is reflected in the fact that attendance stays steady or increases as the price increases.

That analysis ignores any level of sacrifice and frequency of visit.

That is to suggest that attendence stays high and consistent mostly on the backs of the wealthy, frequent visitor. (pick a majority pecentage - it doesn't matter, we can speculate until the end of time)

The rest is made up of a volatile group of constantly changing and churning folks that sacrifice and save to make the once in a lifetime trip.

Sure, you'll see plenty of lower end people at Disney...once. It doesn't mean they're not being priced out. It means they're giving up more to visit less.

...and all of still that ignores a potentially (and also at least somewhat likely responsible) effect. As customers drop off on the bottom end, they're picked up on the top end.


GoBucks89 said:

In the end, why do people care if articles are written that Disney is pricing large numbers of people out?

I would say that the average reader on this site doesn't care, but it often generates so much intense discussion because the articles push it as a morality issue, or at the very least, people interpret it as a morality issue. "Stuff' is expensive. Some people can't afford it. That's life. Disney has an obligation to their stockholders to make as much money as they can.


Jeff's avatar

GoBucks89 said:

But it seems to me determining wealth/income by appearances really only works if the people have the same priorities as you do.

So the people standing in an Amtrak station appear the same as those in an airport? I get your point, but the existence of exceptions does not outright invalidate generalizations.

In the end, why do people care if articles are written that Disney is pricing large numbers of people out?

Why do people care about anything? To argue about it on the Internet.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

kpjb's avatar

After spending some time in the Miami Cruiseport over the last couple weeks, I can say that I can pick out people going on Carnival with about a 92% accuracy.


Hi

Lord Gonchar said:

Disney doesn't release any kind of general demographic info about their visitors, huh?

That information is gold; there's no chance I want my competitors to know it. You might get an approximation by looking at Orlando visitor data, but you won't get it from the Mouse.

Lord Gonchar said:

It doesn't mean they're not being priced out. It means they're giving up more to visit less.

In many ways, "a trip to Disney" is an American rite of passage. The guy cutting my hair yesterday has young kids, and somehow we got to talking about Cedar Point. Shortly after, he asks: "You ever go to Disney?" He's trying to figure out when to take the kids so that they'll be at just the right age---because he's probably only going to go once. He's thinking about going three years from now, give or take. Three years! But it's on his mind.

That, friends, is some powerful marketing.


slithernoggin's avatar

Lord Gonchar said:

That is to suggest that attendence stays high and consistent mostly on the backs of the wealthy, frequent visitor. (pick a majority pecentage - it doesn't matter, we can speculate until the end of time)

The rest is made up of a volatile group of constantly changing and churning folks that sacrifice and save to make the once in a lifetime trip.

Yes. This.

Hanging n' Banging said:

Take the cheapest route for example.

I just don't believe that many people can't pull this off.

People can, and people do, but I just don't think there are enough of them to make much of an impact on Disney's attendance numbers.

Pretty much by definition, if you have can afford a Disney vacation -- whether you're dropping $500 a night on a room without a second thought, or someone having to prioritize and save to afford the vacation -- you have sufficient discretionary income to afford the trip.


Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

Jeff said:
You can spot the high maintenance, fancy people, but it isn't hard to find the people who are packing their own lunches and driving a six-year-old minivans with Ohio plates.

This. Exactly.
After my week in Orlando, and any other time I've ever been there, I've noticed it. I tried to put my recent thoughts on this subject into words yesterday and failed, but Jeff got it out of my head.
So this time I was at USF and one evening at Disney Springs. And who goes there? Turns out, as usual, everybody. From the theme parks to the local restaurants, to the families you see at the airport schlepping bags and bags of Disney stuff, the Stufflebeans stand right along side the McRich's. Everyone has a good time and their spending might be relative, but they all managed to get there somehow.

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