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Attendance Surges at Walt Disney World as Prices Rise and Cutbacks Continue

Yesterday, The Walt Disney Company released its quarterly earnings report and while revenue from films like Thor: Ragnarok and Star Wars: The Last Jedi are performing well for the company at the box office, continuing concerns about the broadcasting division of the company, including networks ABC and ESPN are causing some concern for investors. 

However, while things might be sputtering a little bit for the company as a whole, the news is very good for the Parks and Resorts division, which has seen a number of very exciting developments during the first quarter of 2018, including the following...

1. Domestic attendance is up and Pandora - The World of Avatar is breaking records 

The biggest bombshell in Disney's report was that that domestic attendance across both Disneyland and Walt Disney World was up by 6 percent overall, with much of this growth due to Pandora — The World of Avatar. And though we don't know yet how much attendance at Disney's Animal Kingdom or Walt Disney World as a whole have gone up, CEO Bob Iger did say in a conference call that Pandora - The World of Avatar has led to record attendance at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Of course, we won't know a precise per-park breakdown of attendance until next year's TEA/AECOM report comes out, but reading between the lines here it looks like, Disney is still riding high on the sucess of Avatar, which could help them through 2018 and keep things moving in a positive direction until 2019's opening of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge blasts attendance into a new galaxy. 

2. Per-guest spending is up again as price hikes and upcharges continue to pay off

In even more good news for Disney parks, per-person spending is up once again thanks to increases in ticket prices, more spending opportunities in the form of upcharge events, increased merchandise purchases, price hikes on food, and higher daily hotel room rates. This is certainly interesting, as it seems like Disney's current strategy of continuously raising prices is still continuing to pay off for them, and they haven't found an upper ceiling for these price hikes yet, which means guests will likely continue to see the cost of their vacations increase steadily. In fact, we're expecting the next round of ticket price increases to hit this weekend. 

In addition to the boost in per-guest spending, Parks and Resorts revenues for the quarter increased 13% to $5.2 billion and segment operating income increased 21% to $1.3 billion. 

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