That makes me wonder just how much analysis Wall Street analysts actually do.
First, the Disneyland Resort in California traditionally does better when the economy tanks, keeping millions of Southern Californians closer to home for their vacations. When a tight family budget puts Hawaii or Mexican resorts out of the question, it's "I'm going to Disneyland!" time for those of us who live in Southern California.
Second, I've noticed that changes in the economy tend to do more to change the make-up of visitors to the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida than it does to reduce the number of those visitors, as opposed to the regional amusement parks, which can get killed in a bad economy. Disney's made huge moves in recent years to add upscale services and accommodations at Disney World, making the resort more attractive to wealthy visitors who are immune to economic downturns. Walt Disney World is no longer exclusively a middle-class destination, and anyone who believes that hasn't been paying attention for the past 15 years. Sure, a flush economy will bring more middle-class visitors as the wealthy tourists jet off to Europe. But a poor economy brings the wealthy and upper middle class back to Disney even as many working-class visitors stay home. Either way, tens of millions of visitors keep coming to Walt Disney World each year.
I don't want to deny that a bad economy could cause Disney World attendance and revenue to dip in 2012. But Disney theme parks have proven themselves quite resilient during the latest downturn - outperforming the rest of the industry up until Harry Potter's debut powered Universal Orlando to even higher percentage growth. (If there's an ongoing threat to Disney in Florida, it's not the economy - it's Potter stealing visitors off Disney property and over to Universal Orlando.)
Ultimately, though, it's you who will decide Disney's financial fate. Not me. And not Wall Street analysts. So tell us what you're planning in 2012. Are you planning to visit Disney's theme parks more often, or less, than you did this year?
Do you or have you owned Disney stock? If so, what's your attitude toward Disney shares these days? As always, thank you for reading Theme Park Insider and sharing your experiences with this community.
I'm sure, as Robert points out, a deeper analysis into the way in which Disney are developing their revenue streams will show the company is pushing the premium-price services in its parks, with a focus on luxury to attract a more cash-rich visitor.
That's not to say they'll neglect their core crowd, though, I'd imagine Disney will continue to offer considerable discounts on vacations, particularly on value and moderate hotels, whilst I'd take a punt on them continuing with free ticket offers similar to 'give a day, get a day'.
The result would hopefully be that Disney see's an increase in revenue from upper class visitors to offset any potential decreases in spending from lower/middle class guests, whilst at the same time bolstering attendance using the attractive discounts.
Whilst I agree with Robert that Southern Californian's will flock to Disneyland Resort instead of booking vacations in destinations further afield, the key issue Disney has to solve is how to keep on resort guest spending up in the face of a bad economic climate.
There, that's better :)
Aaron writes: "Disney World was meant for everybody not just the wealthy. Walt Disney would be ashamed.
I Respond: The assertion that Walt Dinsey would be "ashamed' of the state of the company named after him, may well be (in my opinion) the most ridiculous contention I've read on TPI.
David, stop the whining. Most castmember jobs are service jobs, and most service jobs are lousy. If somebody chooses to make it a career then they should be willing to accept the downside. Nobody makes them stay.
Disney recently release 3rd quarter attendance figures which showed an increase in attendance. Take that Wall Street! Furthermore, with the recent sellout of Disney's timeshares - the Vacation Club - Disney no longer requires attendance to make its payroll. I'm sure that the money imagineers have been busy cooking up other residual income for the company over the years.
Lastly, to my griping CM brother... Yes, the pay is lousy, but the benefits are better than average, which should be included in your review of your pay package. Furthermore, the topped-out CM can earn more than the $13.50 you noted, depending on their position. Call it Disney Magic, but I don't know of too many other companies that retain as many employees for 30 plus years as Disney Parks and Resorts.
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