Walt Disney Co. may see a decline in visitors at its Florida theme parks this year due to surging fuel costs and airline cutbacks, according to investment firm Pali Capital Research.
Analyst Rich Greenfield said in a research report that carriers will provide 8.4 percent fewer seats to Orlando starting in October.
Domestic flights deliver 35 percent of Disney’s Florida visitors. However, American Airlines, Continental Airlines Inc., Delta Air Lines Inc. and Northwest Airlines Corp. are all cutting flights to Orlando. Greenfield said that will certainly take a toll on the Burbank-based entertainment giant’s head count at its popular theme parks.
Theme parks have been a boon for Disney recently, contributing 22 percent of 2007’s profit and 30 percent of sales. Ticket sales at Disney theme parks increased 11 percent in the most recent quarter.
Disney said last month that its theme parks weathered the sluggish economy as more families visited U.S. resorts, and international travelers took advantage of a drop in the dollar to come to the states.