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Disneyland Article
Attendance Drops Despite Launch Of Star Wars Galaxys Edge

Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run
Orange County Register
Brady Macdonald
August 06, 2019
August 09, 2019
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Attendance fell 3 percent at Disney’s domestic theme parks despite the launch of the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland during the most recent quarter, according to the company’s latest earnings report.

Walt Disney Co. reported an increase in theme park revenue in its fiscal third-quarter 2019 results on Tuesday.

Disney’s Parks, Experiences and Products revenue increased 7 percent to $6.6 billion in the latest quarter. Increased spending on food and merchandise, higher hotel occupancy and a hike in ticket prices at domestic theme parks helped boost revenue.

Concerns about crowding at Galaxy’s Edge caused visitors to stay away from Disneyland, Disney CEO Bob Iger said.

“There was tremendous concern in the marketplace that there was going to be huge crowding when we opened Galaxy’s Edge.” Iger said. “Some people stayed away just because they expected that it would not be a great guest experience.”

An increase in local hotel prices and a hike in Disneyland ticket prices also contributed to the lower attendance at the Anaheim theme park, Iger said. Opening Galaxy’s Edge with only one of two planned attractions also impacted Disneyland attendance, he said.

“All of those factors contributed to attendance that was below what we would have hoped it would be,” Iger said.

The Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run flight simulator opened at Disneyland on May 31. The Rise of the Resistance dark ride will open at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida on Dec. 5 and at Disneyland on Jan. 17.

“Interest in the attractions and the land is extremely high. We have no concerns whatsoever about them,” Iger said. “We feel great about the product we created. It’s just going to take some time for things to work themselves out in terms of how the marketplace is reacting.”

Disneyland raised ticket prices in January, with higher prices during peak times and lower prices on less crowded days.

“We do not feel that we have a pricing issue at our domestic parks,” Iger said.

While overall attendance at Disneyland fell 3 percent during the quarter, paid attendance and average spending was up. The overall decline in attendance at Disneyland was due to lower annual passholder visitation.

“The decline in attendance at Disneyland Resort was primarily driven by lower annual passholder visitation as we managed demand the first few weeks after opening Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in order to maintain a higher level of guest satisfaction,” Disney CFO Christine McCarthy said.

Visitors have indicated they are deferring trips to Disney World until after the Florida version of Galaxy’s Edge opens later this summer, contributing to a decline in attendance for the quarter, McCarthy said.

Average spending at domestic theme parks increased 10 percent on higher admissions, merchandise and food and beverage spending. Domestic hotel occupancy rose 2 percent to 88 percent.

“Despite domestic parks achieving record revenues in the third quarter, operating income was down slightly due to the decline in attendance and higher costs,” McCarthy said.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge debuted on May 31 at Disneyland with a 24-day reservation-only “soft opening” period. On June 24, the Anaheim theme park deployed a virtual queue “boarding pass” system for Galaxy’s Edge that has been used sparingly if at all ever since.

A nearly-identical version of Galaxy’s Edge is scheduled to open Aug. 29 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida.

Disney’s domestic parks benefited from a calendar-related twist with both weeks of the Easter holiday falling in the third quarter this year compared to just one week a year ago.
Attractions Referenced

Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run

Star Wars Rise Of The Resistance

Lands Referenced

Star Wars Galaxys Edge

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