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Happy times at the Mouse House

2007-02-08

By Robert Niles: As we gear up for the 2007 season in the theme and amusement park industry, there's an unusual feeling in the air. Or, more accurately, there's an absence of a feeling that's defined the industry over the past decade.

No one's tanking.

Six Flags has sold the parks it wanted to sell and is gearing up to make family-friendly additions to the parks it retained. Cedar Fair has bought out Paramount Parks. Busch is investing in new and upgraded attractions at its parks. Universal's finally found stable ownership, in NBC, and is rumored to be dropping a major new attraction into Islands of Adventure soon.

And Disney? Well, the market leader is still showing the rest of the field how to make some serious coin.

Disney announced yesterday that its first quarter profit more than doubled from a year ago. Of course,l Disney's got money following in from about a gajillion different industries, but theme parks remain strong for the Mouse.

Park earnings ose 8 percent to $405 million for the quarter. Per guest spending was up at Walt Disney World, though Disneyland (coming off its 50th Anniversary) saw a decline in attendance and spending. Disney's CFO told reporters that theme park bookings were up 3 percent in the first quarter of its fiscal year, when compared with the same period one year ago.

The only bleak spot was Hong Kong Disneyland, where attendance and spending remains in the tank for that underdeveloped Magic Kingdom park.

Of course, 2007 performance for all theme park companies depends upon... you. What are your plans for theme park visits in 2007? Are you planning to visit more, less or about the same as you did in 2006?

Readers' Opinions

From Iris Hernandez on February 8, 2007 at 10:14 AM
I'll be going a lot more this year, especially to Walt Disney World. I have never in my life paid for a day at Disney( i got a lot of family that work there that walk me in for free) But, i have decided this year that i'm better off buying the premium annual pass. I've had Universal's annual pass and sea world/busch gardens annual passes. This year my money goes to Disney, especially now that my girls are getting old enough to enjoy it.
From Deidre Dennis on February 8, 2007 at 11:10 AM
Me, my husband, our 10 year old son and his 10 year old cousin are taking a vacation this June. We are going to Disneyland again, as it's the cousin's first time leaving our area, and also plan to visit Sea World, Universal Studios Hollywood, San Diego Zoo, and catch some dinner shows. In addition, we'll spend the second half of that time there at Knotts Berry Farm, Soak City and Magic Mountain. There is pretty much NOTHING to do here in regards to theme parks in Washington State so every year while our son still wants to hang out with his parents, we try to take him some place. Later in the Summer, we're going to visit some friends in Texas and will visit Sea World there along with Six Flags. Last June we went to Disney World for 11 days, making "pit stops" at both Universal Parks and Sea World. I'm all about exposing our child to the "wonders of the world" and I encourage anyone who can afford it to do it. We come away with not only a fun and exciting time but memories that will last forever, not to mention the quality time we get together. For us, we can't put a price tag on that and thankfully we are able to afford to do these type of things on an annual basis.
From Greg Shilton on February 8, 2007 at 11:22 AM
I plan on going to a lot more places than last year. It's funny, last year theme parks looked as though they were slowly fading away, but so early in 07, and things are looking good!

I plan on visiting Six Flags often, Universal Studios often, Knott's Often, Disneyland I've already been to 4 times since 2007, and I'm going to go to Walt Disneyworld this summer.

This year looks great.

From Anthony Murphy on February 8, 2007 at 1:25 PM
This will be the first year that I do not go to Disney World since I was born!!!

Actually, My family and I are doing something new this year. We are going to the European Disney Cruise and going to Disneyland Paris! This will be my first Disney overseas experience!

So I guess that makes up for going to Disney World for the thosandth time!


Really on Hong Kong Disneyland? It a shame that they do not have more people going since Tokyo Disneyland seems to have alot of business. EPCOT's China had models from Hong King Disneyland and it looked quite intersting. It looked like half the park was Adventureland. From what I hear, its still under construction! Whats with Disney opening parks before they are ready? AK????

From Robert OGrosky on February 8, 2007 at 8:12 PM
I wish I was going to WDW this year, but sadly that is not going to happen till 2008.
But I do plan on making alot of trips to my local park, SFGAM and also have trips planned to Mt. Olympus and SF STL. And for the first time I will visit Silver Dollar City/Celebration City and Worlds of Fun, so I do have something to lkook forward to in the coming year!
From Anthony Murphy on February 8, 2007 at 10:17 PM
Yes, I forgot about SFGA


Honestly, if you want to see a Six Flags Park that is done well, come to Chicago (well Gurnee) and try it out!


Chances are, I will renew my season Pass to Six Flags. Its one of the best theme park deals out there in my opinion.

From Adrienne McDonald on February 8, 2007 at 10:50 PM
Well we'll be going to SFFTx, hopefully Sea World SA, BGE, PKD, SFOT, SFOG, SFMM, Knott's, plus some others in California. Would like to goto BGA, IoA, SFKK, Indiana Bch. We'll probably end up going just to our usual spots, SFFT & maybe SFOT & Sea World. I haven't been to Sea World & since we're close, no sense in not going. But that's my plan for this year so far.
From Mark Tilsher on February 8, 2007 at 11:20 PM
We are in the US Air Force over in germany and we are taking a three week Orlando vacation starting the first weekend of November. We made a trip to Paris disney last year... but we have not been back to the Mecca of theme parks in well over 4 years... My son will be about four then and he should be old enough to remember this trip for the rest of his life... we have been brainwashing him for about three years in preparation... in fact we just had his birthday party (Mickey mouse themed...) on Wednesday... complete with a Puppet show... with all voices done by yours truly...

We will be doing at least 7 days at the Disney parks (though with our Florida resident passes it could be more...) plus sea-world, and possibly Gatorland... (didn't that burn down recently?) Also if my wife and I can get a sitter we will be hitting IOA and Universal... one day for both parks... pretty much Men in black and The mummy at Universal and the rest of the day at IOA...

a 21 day theme park extravaganza should put a little money in the parks pocket... though we are notoriously good at finding the best deals... CANT WAIT!!!

From Matthew Baker on February 9, 2007 at 7:03 AM
Last year was one for theme parks for me: SFMM for the first time in over a decade, Disneyland for the first time since 1990 and Knotts for the first time since 1986(!). A persistent lack of anyone to go with was always putting me off until I stopped letting it be a factor. I want to do it again this year. Maybe in a couple months use 2fer and finally see DCA (meant to do this last year). I'd love to go back to WDW and get in a proper multi-day visit of all the parks (I went just to Magic Kingdom once a long time ago), but it's highly unlikely due to logistics.
From Paul Jeffs on February 9, 2007 at 8:24 AM
We'll be guests of the Mouse this Oct for 14 nights but will call in at USF & IOA, as well as SeaWorld and Busch.

Hopefully squeeze a long weekend at Disneyland Paris early next year.

From Joseph Boone on February 10, 2007 at 4:23 PM
I live in Southern California but took a trip to Orlando in 2006. I won't be going back for four or five years so Universal, Busch, and WDW will have to wait a while for more of my money.

On the other hand, I bought annual passes for the Disneyland Resort and I haven't spent much time there in years. So comparing my local visits, I will significantly increase what I did last year. For overall money spent, it should be pretty close to the same as 2006.

From Scottland Jacobson on February 11, 2007 at 12:26 PM
I have a six week paid sabbatical from work coming up in May/June. My parents and two of my nieces are planning to spend a week at WDW in May. Plus, I'll be hitting Cedar Point and King's Island. I always spend two days at SFGA for Fright Fest in October, and I'm often in So. Cal. and will at least hit Knott's Berry Farm. All in all, about the same as in previous years.

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