Inundated theme parks turn away visitors

It's good news for Disney, Comcast and Marriott, among others.

By Jonathan Berr Dec 30, 2011 12:52PM
Image: Orlando, Florida (© Purestock/age fotostock)How's this for a sign of consumer confidence: Theme parks in Orlando, Fla., got so crowded during the holidays that they turned away visitors.

As the AFP noted, "visitors to Legoland, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and three Disney destinations found parking lots and entryways shut for short periods Wednesday and Thursday as the Orlando area enjoys record numbers of tourists."

The question is how long the crowds will last for Walt Disney (DIS), the largest theme park operator; Comcast (CMCSA), whose Universal Orlando resort features The Wizarding World of Harry Potter; and Marriott (MAR) and other hotel chains.

According to official tourist site Visit Orlando, total visitation (domestic and international arrivals) is expected to increase 1.8% to 54.3 million people in 2012. That's down from the 3.7% increase forecast for 2011.  

But the cheap dollar is encouraging more international tourists. Visit Orlando forecasts that 4 million overseas visitors will come to the region next year, up 4.2% from 2011. That surpasses the 3.8% gain expected this year. Domestic visitation is expected to jump 3.7% to 49.6 million in 2011 and rise 1.6% in 2012 to an estimated 50.4 million visitors.

The outlook in other tourism meccas is similar. The U.S. Travel Association expects total travel expenditures to rise 3.2% in 2012 versus 7.5% in 2011. Officials in Hawaii expect visitor arrivals to increase 3.4% in 2012 from the 2.5% increase expected in 2011. Visitor expenditures are expected to jump 5.6% next year, down from 13.1% this year.  

Data from the University of Nevada Las Vegas forecasts that 38.7 million visitors will visit Sin City in 2011, up 3.8% from a year ago. That figure will hit 40.1 million in 2012, a similar increase over 2011.

Signs are emerging that after the worst economic decline since the Great Depression, Americans are looking to kick back and relax. But they are not willing to spend big bucks to do it until they see more evidence that the recovery is sustainable.

-- Jonathan Berr does not own any shares of the listed stocks.


Dec 30, 2011 4:18PM
Disney may be America's largest foreign trade positive company.  And, the most positive period.  Nothing tuggs at my heart to see the look on faces of the kids at Disney, and wish other countries could do as much for their population as America does for the World.
Dec 30, 2011 6:17PM
AAAHH, but what they don't mention in the article is how hard up these large theme parks and hotels are! They are offering cut rate deals to these places because they are hurting. The deals were so good I went to Disney World in February 2009 two months after I was laid off! Truly I couldn't believe the deals. Disney is an expensive place to go, so really this doesn't show me that the economy is getting better, It shows me how desperate these companies are to be offering such deals. Happy New Year everyone! SmileMartini glass
Dec 30, 2011 6:38PM
It did not say they are full of American Guests.
The price the parks charge  nowadays only people from across the pond, Europe and China can afford to go there.
Unless one lives in the State the park is in and gets a yearly pass.

ESPN is NOT entertainment.

Dec 30, 2011 10:30PM
Disney theme parks have been filled to capacity in the week following Christmas for many years.  This is not somethinng new.
Dec 30, 2011 4:58PM
Having been to Disney World at this time of the year for a couple of years, the article does not indicate the many activities that the Orlando area hosts during the holiday season.  As the weather is usually nice, there are many outdoor sporting events and tournaments which draw many families and players to the area.  We have been "victims" to being turned away due to the large influx of people who need a place to be entertained other than the hotel.  It would be interesting to note the number of minors going through the gates versus the adults.  I do think the attractions in the Orlando area are wonderful and should be experienced by many!
Dec 30, 2011 8:18PM

I think people are not going to let it get taken away from them..I booked a hotel in my own city...not cheap and and spent over $600 on Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner.. would never have thought of doing that before now but this Christmas was the best in my 68 years and didnt include any presents..My city would be proud of me not

spending all that money somewhere fact speaking to people...there were alot of locals doing the same thing..Disney is great and I know they are making alot of sad people happy this one knows

what tomorrow will bring...PartyHappy New Year..cos we need it

Dec 30, 2011 10:24PM

I thought Mickey Mouse was working in D.C..I could have sworn he would rather play all day than do any real work!Then again,Goofy,and friends aren't getting much done on Capitol Hill either.Oh well,America couldn't care less,as long as the gravy train keeps coming.

Dec 30, 2011 6:34PM
Still a great sign, this year I had to park on the grass to shop at a Florida mall when two years ago you could have shot a cannon through it the week before Christmas and not hit anyone. Of course we are way away from being out of the woods, but it does show people are sick and tired of being sick and tired.
Dec 31, 2011 1:31AM

Not sure, but I think 'We Americans' are going to vote for the person 'we' believe is best for this country. Thanks for the input though.

Disney was created for family fun, to bring families together, to make good memories with our families. That is not evil. Families that go to enjoy time together are not lemmings, they are people like you and I wanting to enjoy life. They choose to do so at a theme park, creating good times with their loved ones. Nothing wrong with that.

Dec 30, 2011 11:57PM
Consumer confidence and everything else is up because of the possibility of Obama being out in November.  He has done nothing to improve my thoughts of better days ahead. He has nearly spent us to oblivion and doomed our future economic future.  Sorry if you think otherwise.
Dec 31, 2011 1:21AM
oh, jimmy, so it looks like you believe everything the media spits out. if you are libertarian, it is IMPOSSIBLE to be racist. educate yourself. being 15 freaking trillion in debt PROVES we print out of thin air. 
Dec 31, 2011 1:35AM

Artiell, your disrespect for others, name calling, and obvious disdain for anyone that doesn't beleive the way you do says otherwise. I feel sorry for you.

Dec 31, 2011 12:36AM
First off, grow some onions and post with your real name.  Second, I am not a dunce.  Third, I dont remember endorsing anyone.  All that you have accomplished is proving your very wordy stupidity.  Didnt I see you occupying Wall Street?
Dec 31, 2011 1:19AM
artiell, why do you have so much hate in your heart?
Dec 31, 2011 1:14AM
sorry, artie, i refuse to waste my time reading your wacked out ideas. i read the first sentence and then realized that you cannot reason with CRAZY.
Dec 31, 2011 4:10AM


Look who's not smarter than a fith grader. LMFAO at you.

Dec 31, 2011 4:02AM


 see what we're dealing with here people. Did "YOU" bother to look at a map. Do you know any history at all? I will refrain from calling you anything but ignorant of history and geography. While you are studying take a look where socialism/communism lead by another socialist nutjob named Jim Jones landed 909 people in jonestown GUYANA, South America in 1978. My bubble seems to be intact ,thank you. it seems yours may have burst though. 

Dec 30, 2011 11:32PM
I prefer universal studios and Islands of adventure.  I'm not a fan of disney parks.
Dec 31, 2011 3:48AM

Please tell me where in Africa is Guyana...  Are you seriously stupid?  Guyana is not in Africa!!!  Friggan Idiot
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