Disney says park attendance often exceeds 2019 levels

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Disney said park spending is up partly because of paid options enabling guests to skip long lines.
Disney said park spending is up partly because of paid options enabling guests to skip long lines. Photo Credit: David Roark/Disney

Disney says there were many days during its fiscal third quarter that attendance at its domestic theme parks regularly exceeded 2019 levels.

During the company's Q3 earnings call on Wednesday, CFO Christine McCarthy said attendance at domestic parks "continues to exceed expectations." 

Disney's park reservation system is improving the guest experience, too, she said, by managing park capacity versus simply increasing volume.

While the average daily attendance at domestic parks across its first three fiscal quarters was slightly below 2019, McCarthy said Disney has delivered "significantly higher" operating income and revenue.

Guest spending at the parks is up 10% compared to the same period last year and 40% over the same period in 2019. Disney attributed that increase in part to Genie+ and Lightning Lane, its paid options to access shorter attraction lines.

McCarthy said hotel occupancy was 90%, "another sign of robust demand."

International visitation of Disney's domestic parks, primarily the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, is still below its traditional level of 17% to 22% of total attendance, "but it's made significant progress," McCarthy said.

Disney Parks, Experiences and Products' fiscal Q3 revenue was up 70% to $7.39 billion. The division recorded operating income of $2.18 billion, an increase of more than 100%.

Demand for the domestic parks remains strong going into the fourth fiscal quarter of 2022, according to McCarthy.

Universal parks set record for earnings

When Universal Parks parent Comcast reported Q2 earnings in late July, CEO Brian Roberts said its theme parks recorded $632 million in earnings before income, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), which was a company record even with its Beijing park closed for nearly two months. 

Comcast said theme park attendance and spending were higher than before the pandemic.

NBCUniversal's theme park revenue was up 65%, to $1.8 billion.

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