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Attendance at Walt Disney World Gets a Big Bump. But Why?

Yesterday, The Walt Disney Company released its quarterly earnings report and, as expected, the company touted its stellar results at the box office during the most recent quarter, with the recent Beauty and the Beast remake driving big profits for the company. 

However, while we already knew that things were going great at the multiplex, we were surprised to learn that the report for the Parks and Resorts division was actually surprisingly pretty great as well, with Disney confirming that they actually saw some pretty good results during this most recent quarter, which ran from January through March.  

1. Attendance is finally on the rise in 2017 after a disastrous 2016

After several straight quarters of attendance losses in 2016, it looks like 2017 has finally brought guests back to Walt Disney World in a meaningful way, as this week's financial revealed that attendance at domestic theme parks (which also includes the Disneyland Resort) attendance rose 4 percent in Disney’s second quarter. And even though SeaWorld blames its own attendance woes on the timing of the Easter holiday this year, Disney was able to offset this calendar issue as a week of the busy holiday season (including New Year's Day) was included in this report, which may be one of the reasons why we saw some actual growth in this generally stable period. 

In addition to the attendance bump during the second quarter, Disney also reported that its parks and resorts division saw 9 percent increase to $4.3 billion compared with the same quarter last year. Operating income also increased 20 percent to $750 million during this period. 

Though this is the first time in several quarters that attendance has been up, Disney said during a call discussing these results that this was the sixth consecutive year of revenue, earnings and margin growth for the Walt Disney Parks & Resorts division, and this quarter actually saw record results for both revenues and operating income at domestic parks.

2. Hotel occupancy is down despite higher attendance

Image: Disney

Although the financial report from Disney Parks overall was pretty positive, there was a little bit of bad news for the company to share as well, as hotel reservations at domestic resorts were down 4 percent during this time falling to 88 percent. Disney attributed this shift to the timing of promotions as well as reduced room inventories because of the refurbishments happening at both the Caribbean Beach Resort as well as the Coronado Springs Resort. However, even though these sound pretty negative, the lower number of discounts and inventory combined to make the actual booked rates up 11 percent, which is at least a silver lining here. 

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