Could Disney’s Discounted Theme Park Pass Deal with Costco Signal Weak Attendance?

walt-disney-dis-logoEntertainment giant Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS) rarely offers discounts to its namesake theme parks, and when it does, people stand up and take notice.

According to Andrew Sorkin on CNBC’s Squawk Box TV show this morning, Disney has teamed up with membership warehouse operator Costco (NYSE:COST) to offer a discounted annual pass to the California Adventure theme park for $330. The annual pass is available at Costco locations in Southern California until December 1.

Along with theme park admission, the deal also includes at 10% discount on food and theme park store goods, which is typical for all of Disney’s annual passes. Buyers of the Coscto-exclusive deal will receive a free Disney collector’s pin as well.

How big of a discount the deal represents is difficult to say. One-day passes to California Adventure range from $97 to $119 per person, depending on the date, but multi-day passes are much cheaper on a per-day basis. A full-year pass to both California parks costs $599, but the Costco deal is only for the California Adventure park, and does not include Disneyland admission.

The rare theme park discount suggests that Disney could be having trouble attracting revelers to its parks. Theme park revenue accounts for approximately 27% of the company’s total annual sales, so if numbers in the parks division slip, they could have a big impact on overall earnings.

For now, Disney management is keeping mum about its theme park numbers. Investors will have to wait until the company’s next earnings report to gain insight there, which likely will fall during the first week of November.


Disney shares were unchanged in premarket trading this morning at $93.80. DIS has fallen 10.73% year-to-date, versus a 7% gain in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.

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