I think regional parks are more of an accurate barometer of each area of the US. Disney is cool, but how many of them are foreigners? How is that "U.S. Consumer Health?"
Depending on who you ask, I've seen it said that anywhere from 25 to 40% of the tourist market in Orlando is from overseas. My Brazilian neighbor believes it too, given the number of people she meets on every visit (for reasons I don't understand, they seem to have more tour groups than most every other nation... the flags are easy to spot). You can't go by hearing Spanish... even the rides speak it. :)
I do like the analyst's comments about giving Disney some credit as well. I don't think any company sells across all product lines as well as Disney does, and I'm sure that has a significant effect on attendance.
But who cares... Six Flags and Cedar Fair had awesome years too, and they're definitely tied a lot closer to an average sample of people from coast to coast.
I don't know that it makes sense to gauge economic health on any one thing. I mean, economists complained that the growth for holiday spending wasn't what they hoped, but there are a lot of things that you could assume from that. Personally, even though I'm doing probably better than average, I'm a lot more paranoid than I was ten years ago and I save more aggressively than I ever have. I also adopted a philosophy of "experiences over stuff," which coincidentally connects well with theme park and cruise spending. So if any significant number of people are like-minded in that sense, does the suboptimal holiday spending indicate a negative thing? I wouldn't think so, but I do think it's reasonable to believe that consumer habits have changed a great deal.
But hey, I'm not an economist, I just play one on CoasterBuzz.
I work for Blue Man in Chicago, and Brazil is huge for us. Plenty of tourists from all over South America, but Brazil leads the way.
I just asked the Internet and according to a fool.com article from July of last year, the growing Brazilian middle class is one factor driving the growth in tourism. From 2006 to 2013, Brazilian tourism to the States increased by 292%.
Other interesting tidbits*: Almost 3/4 of Brazilian tourists are here for fun, not on business or visiting relatives; half of all Brazilian tourists to the States visit at least one amusement/theme park; of the 1.3 million Brazilians who visited Florida in 2013, 768,000 of them went to Orlando.
Sorry for the digression!
*To me, anyhow. Your mileage may vary.
Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
-- Groucho Marx
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