Earnings update: Revenge of the 'little guys'
Here's the short version of how U.S. theme park companies are doing:
Disney, Universal, Busch: down
Six Flags, Cedar Fair: up
The details? We looked at Disney last week. Here are how other companies did over the past three months:
Six FlagsAttendance up 200,000. (No base figure released.)
5% overall revenue increase over last year's Q3
2% increase in per capita guest spending for the quarter
60% increase in net income over last year.
Universal OrlandoAttendance down 2% for the quarter
Revenue down 1%
Net income down 18%
Cedar FairAttendance for season at all parks up almost 3%, or 607,000 people.
In-park spending down about 1% in Q3 over same period last year.
Q3 net income up 70% over same period last year.
This was to be expected, given high gas prices and the consumer slowdown in the last quarter. U.S. visitors stayed close to home, favoring the "local" amusement parks run by Six Flags and Cedar Point, over the destination theme parks and resorts, run by Disney, Universal and Busch.
A weak dollar helped offset that loss by bringing in foreign tourists to Orlando over the summer, but with the dollar strengthening, that bump is going away, leading to sharply reduced advance bookings in Orlando.
Perhaps we need to take this with a grain of salt with the success of Six Flags. While its good they are doing better, the price to get into a Six Flags without the specials of buying online, a the supermarket, or bringing a coke can is only $34. That kinda annoyed me as a season pass holder because it made the value of a season pass go down a bit, but I made up for it by going there more often due to my little cousins. Don't get me wrong, I will still get it in the future. Heck, even fright fest was at most $50, much lower than the big FL parks
I still dont think the big parks in Florida will lower there prices at all? What do you think?
Cedar Point ran ran heavy discounts and promotions throughout the season to increase guest flow into the park. The best package included tickets and a meal, for only slightly more than the price of a normal ticket.
Six Flags and Cedar Fair, and to an extent...Busch, have a chance to avoid much of the economic impact that is hitting the country. The staycation trend will be around for a while, especially next year, and I can see a lot of people substituting a relatively inexpensive regional theme park trip for that $3000 Orlando trip.
When you are sitting at the bottom of the barrel, as is the case with Six Flags, then there is almost no where to go but up. However, as Derek wrote, this economic situation gives SF a great opportunity to strut their stuff and grow their business.
My touring plans didn't change this year, and probably won't next year. Hit 14 parks last year, this year, and next year appears to be the same. As long as I have a job even $5 gas isn't going to keep me away from the parks.
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