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Disney keeps raking it in: $2.2 billion in theme park profits for the year

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Published: November 7, 2013 at 8:18 PM

Disney's theme parks again are making billions of dollars in profits, thanks to charging visitors more than ever for tickets, food, hotel rooms, and merchandise. Disney reported its fourth-quarter and year-end financial results this afternoon, and the company's theme park division contributed $2.2 billion to the company's $6.1 billion in profits for the year ending September 28, 2013.

Disney reported that theme park revenue increased 9% during the year, to $14.1 billion. The company reported that both Walt Disney World and the Disneyland Resort hit record attendance numbers for the year, though attendance was down at the Disneyland Resort during the last three months of the company's fiscal year, when compared with the same period last year. Remember, July-September of 2012 were the first three full months that Cars Land and the new California Adventure were open to the public, and Disney didn't offer any major new openings for visitors this year.

Attendance also was down at Disneyland Paris, but for the entire year there — off 6.9 percent, from 16 million to 14.9 million visitors. But revenue at the Paris theme parks and hotels was down just 1.1 percent, thanks to higher spending per guest.

The story was the same across all of Disney's theme park resorts. Higher prices for tickets, hotel rooms, food, souvenirs led guests to spend more on their Disney visits. But the increased prices haven't hurt attendance at Walt Disney World, which is up for the year and for the latest three months. Recent declines at Disneyland haven't been enough to drag down overall revenue there, either. So long as people keep showing to pay higher prices, one should expect that Disney will keep raising them.

Here's the company's official statement on its theme park division:

"For the year, operating income growth reflected increases at our domestic parks and resorts, Disney Vacation Club and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, partially offset by a decrease at Disneyland Paris and higher pre-opening costs at Shanghai Disney Resort.

"Operating income growth at our domestic parks and resorts was due to increased guest spending, attendance and occupied room nights, partially offset by higher costs. Increased guest spending was due to higher average ticket prices, food, beverage and merchandise spending and average daily hotel room rates. Cost increases were driven by spending on new guest offerings and labor and other cost inflation. Significant new guest offerings included MyMagic+, the expansions of Disney California Adventure and the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort and Disney's Art of Animation Resort. The increase at Disney Vacation Club was primarily driven by sales of The Villas at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, which is a higher margin property.

"Operating income growth at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort was due to higher guest spending and attendance, partially offset by higher costs driven by resort expansion and labor and other cost inflation. At Disneyland Paris, increased guest spending was more than offset by lower attendance, fewer occupied room nights and labor and other cost inflation. Increased guest spending at our international resorts was due to higher average ticket prices, the opening of the World of Disney store in July 2012 at Disneyland Paris and increased average daily hotel room rates."

In other company news, Disney announced that Episode VII of Star Wars will debut December 18, 2015. That freed the May slot on Disney's 2015 release calendar, which now will go to the theme park-themed Tomorrowland movie, written and directed by Brad Bird and starring George Clooney, which is soon to be filming in Orlando.

Readers' Opinions

From Jack Hammond on November 7, 2013 at 8:28 PM
Hoping that as the buzz around the new Star Wars movies increases, Disney will announce more about how Star Wars will become more apart of the parks.
We all know DHS is in need of something big.
From 98.228.182.112 on November 7, 2013 at 9:16 PM
It's because of this, WDW will never build anything quickly. Why fix something if it's not broken. It's as simple as that
From Gabriel Schroll on November 7, 2013 at 9:19 PM
I wonder why Tomorrowland is being filmed in Orlando rather than Anaheim?

And I will be very curious to see the first trailers for Star Wars: Episode 7. I'm looking forward to it a lot, especially considering George Lucas won't be as meddling. It's long been time for him to step aside.

Too bad Brad Bird isn't directing this episode. He did a fantastic job with The Incredibles, and I quite enjoyed Mission: Impossible 4.

From James Rao on November 7, 2013 at 9:36 PM
Add to that $6.1 billion all the money Disney will rake in from Thor 2, Frozen, and Saving Mr. Banks in the next two months, and Christmas will be "berry berry good" to Walt's company.

Time to put a huge chunk of that profit back into the parks....

From TH Creative on November 8, 2013 at 2:58 AM
"The company reported that both Walt Disney World and the Disneyland Resort hit record attendance numbers for the year ..."

Yeah, the gang at Disney sure must be worried about how to "respond" to all of that competition coming from the Harry Potter attraction down the road.

(Chuckle)

From 173.72.101.89 on November 8, 2013 at 8:31 AM
I'm curious how much of that revenue is from DVC. I had heard that DVC is lumped together with theme parks, so that number might be inflated by the sales of Grand Floridian. I wonder what will happen to the numbers after Poly sells out. Will they build the much rumored Fort Wilderness DVC to keep the gravy flowing, or will they take out this prop that has been holding up the numbers.

On a personal note, I own and love DVC, but by all accounts it should not be included in theme park revenue for anyone who is looking at serious long term trend.

From Dan Heaton on November 8, 2013 at 8:40 AM
This shows the impact of higher ticket prices and raising charges for food and other services. Sadly, it also means that Disney isn't going to rush to add new attractions. They're rolling with what they have, and they won't act until the bottom line is impacted.

On the other hand, I could play devil's advocate and say they'll be more willing to spend money if they're making profits, but this leadership team hasn't been investing in the parks with that approach.

From Robert Niles on November 8, 2013 at 10:04 AM
FWIW, Disney's theme park division includes DVC as well as DCL (Disney Cruise Line).
From Brandon Townsend on November 8, 2013 at 11:03 AM
About $4500 of that $2.2B is from my pocket. I'm glad to do my part in "feeding the mouse" and will continue to do so until my frozen head is placed next to Walt's in the cryo chamber.
From 64.12.116.206 on November 8, 2013 at 1:29 PM
Good, now they have no excuse when it comes to reinvesting in the parks. They have the theme park profits to justify massive investment in Avatar Land, the upcoming Star Wars attractions, and any other future additions to the parks. And they proved, once again, that the investments they made in the past were justified. As always, if you build it (and do a good job), they will come!
From O T on November 8, 2013 at 3:36 PM
That is great news, can't wait what they do next. I loved the new screens in It's a small world (booked a week vacation to see that) and I love all those lovely colourful handcuffs showing up in the park. Lets hope paying for parking at the hotels is their next brilliant idea before they up the prices for the park entrances again and when we are lucky they maybe put another miniature castle in MK or another Captain Jack experience in DHS. Thank you Disney.
From Jack Hammond on November 8, 2013 at 6:39 PM
OT, I like the mini-castles in Fantasyland. Way better for children and far more magical than just plain old fantasyland, but yes, the Pirates thing was awful.
From Phil B. on November 8, 2013 at 6:48 PM
WOOOHOOOO!!!!! This is fantastic news! Meet and greets for everybody!!!!
From TH Creative on November 10, 2013 at 4:42 PM
Anonymous: I'm curious how much of that revenue is from DVC. I had heard that DVC is lumped together with theme parks, so that number might be inflated by the sales of Grand Floridian.

I Respond: And when they buy the time at the Grand Floridian and they stay at the Grand Floridian ... don't they go to ... um ... The Walt Disney World theme parks?

From 173.66.184.216 on November 13, 2013 at 5:23 AM
"Good, now they have no excuse when it comes to reinvesting in the parks."

And Disney's response to this goes something like this: "hahahahahhahahaha! Unless by parks you mean DVC resorts. If so, then yes, we are reinvesting a good bit."

It will probably be some time before enough people refuse to go to Disney b/c of cost and/or lack of attractions. Until that happens, Disney will still lag in new attractions and keep building DVC like crazy. Maybe when this awful FP+ system kicks in fully (doing away with KTTK keys soon) it will set off enough people and hasten this. But I doubt it.

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