Disney’s parks in Florida from Space

Summary: SpaceKnow’s data can be used to track attendance in theme parks. Here we look at Disney’s parks in Florida to see if there has been any impact from the current conflicts between the company and the state government.

In more detail:

Walt Disney Co has announced impressive financial results for the quarter, showcasing a 13% increase in earnings to reach a substantial $21.8 billion. The company’s Parks, Experiences, and Products division played a significant role in driving this success, with profits soaring by 20% to $2.2 billion.

The international parks played a significant role in driving this success, with exceptional performance in Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Paris. During the earnings call, CEO Bob Iger highlighted ongoing expansions in international locations that will not only boost park capacity but also contribute to long-term growth. 

Spaceknow provides a range of daily indices based on satellite imagery tracking the Disney parks. We look at all the parking lots and distinguish between visitor, employee parking and hotel parking. Below,  we graph the  Spaceknow index against overall revenues in Disney parks.

Figure 1: 90 day moving average of Spaceknow’s Global Employee parking index for Disney and revenues from Disney Parks  (USD millions)

Amidst these positive developments in the theme parks business, Walt Disney Co finds itself in the middle of a dispute with Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis. This ongoing conflict has led to a legal battle between Disney and the state, with implications for the company’s self-governing authority in the region. The dispute unfolds at a time when Disney’s parks are bouncing back from the pandemic and displaying promising growth potential, both domestically and internationally. The figure below presents a comparison of the Spaceknow visitor’s parking index for three years at Disney’s Florida location. This index reflects the number of cars parked in visitor parking lots and serves as a reliable indicator of park attendance. Although the 2022 figures remain below those of the pre-COVID year in 2019, the first quarter of 2023 shows promising signs, with attendance levels reaching or surpassing those of 2019. This indicates that despite the dispute with DeSantis, Disney continues to thrive in terms of visitor numbers, highlighting positive performance in key metrics.

Figure 2: 30 days rolling-sum of Visitor parking index for Disney by year (numbers indicate days of the year)

Spaceknow has a diverse portfolio of entertainment companies, which includes industry giants like SeaWorld, Cedar Fair, and Six Flags. Below, we graph data for Seaworld (Ticker: SEAS). The following plots highlight two crucial aspects of theme park performance: pronounced seasonality and the notable influence of COVID-related restrictions. Our data accurately captures these patterns. While Spaceknow indices excel in measuring attendance, a fundamental indicator of activity, they can also effectively align with financial metrics such as net profits, even in the face of considerable inflation that may introduce divergence between these two measures.

Figure 3: Spaceknow 90 days moving average of Visitor and Employee parking indices against attendance and net profit of SeaWorld.

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