The Disneyland Indicator

SmartMoney writer Donald Luskin says the Disneyland indicator shows we’re not in a recession:

I’ve just spent two days with friends and family in Disneyland, “The happiest place on Earth.” Based on what I’ve seen, it ought to be called “the most crowded place on Earth.” It was mobbed. Packed beyond capacity.

There’s simply no way this country is in a recession with people spending money like mad amusing themselves at Disneyland. I’ve been coming here frequently for years, during good times and bad, having grown up in Southern California. I’ve never seen crowds like this. Not here, not anywhere — not even on the Tokyo subways.

I highly doubt that last comparison. We get the point that Disneyland was packed, but Tokyo subway packed?

No way.

When a Tokyo subway is packed, it’s a literal description. Station workers stand on the platforms and push people into the mob. I’ve seen businessmen toting briefcases stand back and take running jumps onto the heads of the crowd. The packing is so tight, people are unable to turn to see who’s groping them, hence the invention of the ladies-only car.

Disneyland was not that crowded. Perhaps Mr. Luskin missed rush hour in Tokyo.

Beyond that, reader Rich took his family to Disneyland last month and had a completely different take on the place:

My family and I visited Disneyland July 9-13 and would have to disagree with Mr. Luskin’s report of it being packed.

While the Magic Kingdom was crowded with young families with small children, the California Adventure Park was not nearly as full. The wait on the best rides was the shortest I’ve ever seen. The restaurants we visited nearby were also empty. While this is not great for my Disney stock, it was nice for our visit.

I would say that while young families are still able to afford this vacation, the teens and young adult crowd are being more disciplined with where they spend their money. (California Adventure is more geared for the teen and up crowd.)

While Disney’s crowds may offer mixed signals on the economy, I still say the stock has more upside; 33% more, in fact.

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