Published: February 4, 2009 at 11:03 PM
I dunno, Derek, I think Disney will be fine. Movies, theme parks, tv shows, music, toys, etc, etc...they are so diversified, they will surely survive. I mean, if Disney falls, our way of life will pretty much be over, so a theme park trip will be irrelevant anyway.
So then, what does all this bad news mean? Well, it means Disney will have to continue to toe the line, cut costs, stream-line operations, and focus on the things they do best: provide unmatched hospitality and exceptional customer service. In fact, the quality of a visitor's theme park experience may actually improve in a down economy. With unemployment on the rise, Disney has an over-abundance of quality cast members who are staying put because better opportunities are few and far between right now. So, for those who do make it to WDW in '09, I think they will have maybe their best visit in years.
And the discounts ARE good enough right now that people are more likely to go ahead and take a trip. I for one debated furiously over spending a week in Orlando later this year, before finally deciding next year will be better after the Space Mt refurb is complete. My point is that I was dead set against travel until the 4 for 7 deal was announced and extended (now through mid August, btw). I may yet change my mind if the 4 for 7 gets extended further into the fall. We'll have to see...
So I tend to agree with Josh, I think Disney (and Universal) are really taking the bull by the horns in this market, and doing everything they can to weather the storm (that's a lot of cliches for one sentence!). And as you wrote about the regional amusment parks: in the long run, WDW (and Universal) will offer an even better theme park experience because of the belt tightening lessons they are learning today.
And one last note: it is not all rosey for the regional theme parks right now either. While attendance is up at some regional parks, per visitor spending is down...so having more people is not really translating into increased revenues. In fact, my local park is selling their annual passes at their lowest prices in years, despite the fact that they are adding a new coaster. Regional parks may be used to operating within a tight budget, but they can't be happy about the way things are looking economically. No one is escaping unscathed in this devastating market (except Wal-mart and McDonald's, unfortunately).