On Thursday we got the latest earnings from The Walt Disney Company which showed a downturn in guests to their theme parks, although in positive news those that are attending are spending more. CEO Bob Iger thinks people are waiting until the second ride at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Rise of the Resistance, opens.
The Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger says Disney’s domestic theme parks experienced lower visitation because guests are deferring visits to California’s Disneyland Resort and Florida’s Walt Disney World Resort until Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is fully open. Both the west and east coast parks have yet to open their second E-ticket attraction, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, set to premiere in Orlando Dec. 5 before launching Jan. 17 in Anaheim. Despite lower than expected turnout to its theme parks in 2019, Disney’s Parks, Experiences and Products division saw an 8% increase in revenue this quarter to $6.7 billion, according to the company’s fourth quarter earnings report revealed Nov. 7.
“We believe there was some delayed visitation to Galaxy’s Edge at both Disneyland and Disney World, people waiting for the second E-ticket attraction to open,” Iger said on the call Thursday. “We sense that there are people just waiting for the whole thing to be open.”
Disney spent $2 billion constructing its pair of Star Wars-themed expansion lands at both parks, the largest single-themed expansion in Disney Parks history. Growth was propelled by guests spending more on tickets, merchandise and food, and Disney Chief Financial Officer Christine McCarthy reported booking rates at Disney’s domestic hotels were up 5% compared to 2018.
Iger also reported both Galaxy’s Edge parks drove increases in per-capita spending, merchandise and food-beverage sales, adding the two lands have been “far more successful than been reported.”
“We still feel very good about the demand for our domestic park product,” McCarthy said on the call, adding Walt Disney World saw an increase in visitor spending this quarter despite a detrimental impact from Hurricane Dorian. Florida opened its Galaxy’s Edge Aug. 29, following the May 31 debut of its identical Anaheim counterpart.
“The guest experience, guest satisfaction, are very, very high and ride availability or attraction availability in the high 90s,” Iger said on the call, noting the “very, very complex technological attraction is running really well.”
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, is set to premiere at Walt Disney World in Florida on December 5th before launching on January 17th at Disneyland in Anaheim.