The recent illnesses linked to people who visited Disneyland have inspired a nationwide debate over the value of vaccinations — but not a drop in theme park attendance. CEO Bob Iger told Bloomberg Television’s Trish Regan that “we have not discerned any real impact from [the measles outbreak] to date.” And when you also look at upticks in advanced bookings, “we conclude that there’s really no impact from this.”
Domestic park visits were up 7% in the year-end quarter, with Orlando’s Walt Disney World and Anaheim’s Disneyland Resort each setting all-time attendance records, CFO Jay Rasulo told analysts in the company’s quarterly earnings conference call.
That’s encouraging news for the company, which has a lot riding on its parks. Shanghai Disney will be finished by year’s end and open in spring 2016, Iger says. He and Rasulo also talked up opportunities to boost park attendance with attractions involving Frozen and Star Wars. It’s part of the company’s larger strategy to find multiple venues to harvest revenues from its entertainment properties.
The effort includes consumer products, another bright spot recently with the hot sales of merchandise related to Frozen. That’s one of 11 franchises that Iger says that account for “more than $1 billion each in annual retail sales.” The last three months of 2014 were “one of the most successful quarters ever for Disney consumer products.”
The same can’t be said for ad sales which were weak at ABC and Disney’s cable networks at the end of 2014, as they were for the vast majority of TV networks. Rasulo says that ESPN could benefit from an “uptick in the sports marketplace” this quarter. But at ABC “we’re not seeing any radical change in the market from what we talked about in past quarters.”