Theme parks shined as The Walt Disney Company reported its financial results for the first quarter of the 2018 fiscal year.
In the 3-month period ended December 30, 2017, Disney's theme park division saw revenues rise 13% over the same period a year ago to $5.15 billion. Profits lept by an impressive 21% to $1.34 billion. Domestic theme park attendance--which includes both Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World--rose 6%. Per-capita spending was up by 7% while hotel occupancy reached 91%.
Within the earnings release, Disney Vacation Club was identified as one of the business units which contributed to the impressive performance last quarter.
Operating income growth for the quarter was due to increases at our domestic parks and resorts, cruise line and vacation club businesses as well as at Disneyland Paris. Domestic results benefited from the comparison to the impact of Hurricane Matthew, which occurred in the prior-year quarter. Higher operating income at our domestic parks and resorts was driven by guest spending growth and an increase in attendance, partially offset by higher costs. Guest spending growth was due to higher average ticket prices, food, beverage and merchandise spending and average daily hotel room rates. The increase in costs was driven by labor and other cost inflation, expenses for new guest offerings and a 4 increase in depreciation associated with new attractions. At our cruise line, growth was primarily due to higher passenger cruise days, which reflected the impact of the Disney Wonder dry-dock in the prior-year quarter. The increase at Disney Vacation Club was driven by sales at Copper Creek Villas & Cabins in the current quarter. Growth at Disneyland Paris reflected higher attendance and increased average ticket prices, both of which benefited from the 25th anniversary celebration.
As stated, the year-over-year improvement for the theme park unit was buoyed by the impact of Hurricane Matthew in 1Q of fiscal year 2017. In October 2016, the storm prompted Disney's Florida theme parks to close for only the fourth time in their history, along with resort evacuations and route adjustments for Disney Cruise Line business. This loss of business in FY 2017 helped boost numbers for the same period in 2018.
The recent success of Disney Vacation Club's direct sales has been documented in our monthly sales reports. In calendar year 2017, DVC enjoyed its best results since 2011. Both Copper Creek Villas and Disney's Polynesian Villas & Bungalows experienced strong demand at per-point rates that reached all-time highs.
Elsewhere the company did not fare as well with its media networks showing no change in revenue year-over-year and a 12% decline in profits to $1.19 billion. The film studio and consumer products saw revenue drops of 1% and 2% respectively, with profits down 2% and 4%.
Due to the success of the theme park segment, company-wide revenues rose 4% to $15.35 billion while profits were up 1% to $3.98 billion.
I am surprised the Disney film studio had a decline in the year-over-year numbers. Buena Vista had four films in the top 10 in the domestic market (Star Wars: The Last Jed (#1); Beauty and the Beast (#2); Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 (#4); and Thor:Ragnarok (#, plus three more that made it into the top 20.
Those numbers aren't full year. It's October - December 2016 vs Oct - Dec 2017. I believe the primary players are Rogue One, Moana and Dr. Strange (2016) vs Jedi, Coco and Thor (2017).