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If you build a theme park world based on an eight-year-old movie, will people come?
The Walt Disney Company’s latest financial results don’t answer that question definitively, but they suggest the recently opened Pandora — The World of Avatar has not moved the needle in a huge way. Executives did not discuss the impact during a call with analysts late Tuesday afternoon.
It’s early still: The expansion officially opened at the end of May, and the third fiscal quarter stretched through July 1. Another publicity-generating addition, the Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: Breakout ride at Disney California Adventure Park, opened in late May as well.
Attendance at domestic parks was up 8 percent, but chief financial officer Christine McCarthy said 3 percentage points of that increase could be attributed to the benefit of Easter falling during the third quarter this year as opposed to second quarter last year.
For the third fiscal quarter, revenues for the parks and resorts segment grew 12 percent to $4.9 billion. Operating income for the unit jumped 18 percent to more than $1.1 billion.
The theme park giant attributed that growth to gains at Shanghai Disney Resort and Disneyland Paris.
“Results at our domestic operations were comparable to the prior-year quarter,” the company said.
Costs domestically were higher due in part to new additions, labor, higher operations support costs, and maintenance for one of the Disney Cruise Line ships, but those costs were “essentially offset” by higher guest spending and volumes, the company said.
“Costs for new guest offerings were driven by the launch of the expansion of Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort, including the related marketing costs,” the company said in its earnings release.
In a move that struck some observers as odd, the release did not mention Pandora by name.