With widespread economic downturn and several European countries officially in recession, Disneyland Resort Paris has been facing a tough time these past three months, its’ parade of scoring a modest profit for the first time since 2001 being, in true Marne-la-Vallée fashion, well and truly rained upon.

• Theme parks attendance up 8%, driven by more guests visiting from France

Though today’s report states that theme park attendance increased by 8% due to more visitors in France, it also goes on to add that this was partially offset by fewer visitors from Spain and the United Kingdom, two of the countries from which attendance had been growing strongly in the past 18 months.

From France itself, some of this attendance gain will no doubt be from the resort’s promotions for a “€1 Ticket” for children visiting with adults.

• Resort revenues increased 3% to €324 million

With this continued attendance surge, the Theme Parks managed to increase their takings by €11 million (6.3%), from €175.1 million in 2007 to €186.1 million for the three months up to 31st December 2008.

A strong increase, certainly, but the skies become less blue when you note that Hotels and Disney Village revenues actually fell €2.1 million to €124.6 million, due to a decrease in room occupation of 2.3 percentage points compared to the 2007/08 period.

This is clearly linked to the decrease in visitors from Spain and the UK, who would naturally require a room near the magic, unlike those visiting with reduced price tickets from within France. It meant, overall, 12,000 fewer “room nights” than in October, November and December 2007.

• Total revenues decreased 4% to €328 million, due to lower real estate development activity

But, ultimately, whilst the operations of the Disneyland Resort Paris assets could have pulled through with a modest growth, real estate sales in Val d’Europe and the wider resort area were lower in this period to the extent that any gain was completely swallowed up.

The report states: “Prior year quarter real estate revenues included €12.5 million of revenue related to the sale of a property in Val d’Europe which had been subject to a long term ground lease. The remaining decrease resulted from a reduction in the number of transactions closed in the period to one, compared to four transactions closed in the prior-year quarter period.”

From revenues of €24.4 million last year, only €3.4 million was taken this year. This segment of the group’s income often does vary wildly quarter-to-quarter, rarely remaining consistent.

In this period, however, it didn’t help a tough First Quarter one bit.

Philippe Gas, Chief Executive Officer of Euro Disney S.A.S. commented:

“We delivered increased resort revenues during this first quarter despite the challenging economic environment, by adapting our offers to drive guest visitation while addressing current consumer purchasing power constraints. The popularity of our Resort remained strong with Europeans as a short-break destination offering high quality Disney entertainment.

In 2009, there are even more reasons to visit Disneyland Resort Paris. We will launch a new, year-long celebration, and will bring more Disney stories to life at the Walt Disney Studios Park by unveiling the Playhouse Disney Live on Stage attraction and a Disney Stars and Cars show.

We recognize we are not immune to the impact of a sustained economic downturn and remain committed to managing costs while continuing to deliver the quality Disney experience our guests expect from us.”

With the overwhelmingly successful 15th Anniversary now almost at its end and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror over one year old, Euro Disney SCA had better hope that enough visitors want the resort — and Mickey’s Magical Party — to put a smile on their down-turned faces that the remainder of this financial year sees those steady, overall, increases return.

— You can download the full First Quarter 2009 report here (PDF).

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