It's gut-check time for Orlando theme parks
Published: December 1, 2008 at 11:32 AM
At the turnstiles, that is. In the planning and promotions departments, though, this is hardly a down time. The holiday season is when families start thinking about their summer vacations. (Heck, that's why we're running a series on theme park vacation planning.) Theme parks are taking a hard look at their advance bookings and ticket sales and making decisions about advertising, promotions and pricing.
According to Jim Hill, the outlook at Walt Disney World may be grim. Hill reports that just 35 percent of the resort's hotel room nights have been booked for January.
Theme park managers, from Disney, Universal and Busch, aren't taking the news lightly, it appears. Reps from all three have been talking to local officials, trying to squeeze some more money from regional marketing funds to pay for additional advertising.
It's gut-check time, not just for Orlando-area theme parks, but for businesses throughout the industry and the country as a whole. Massive changes are coming in the U.S. economy, as the government ponders new bailouts and markets shift. The companies that can hold on to and win new customers now will be the ones that dominate their industries for a generation. Those that cut back and lose market share might not even survive this downturn.
Are you in, or out? That's the question that theme parks will answer with their actions in the next few months.
Update: [Junk] rolls downhill: U.S. 192 hotels suffering, too. Just 30 percent of rooms were occupied in September. Thirty-buck rooms abound, but still go empty.