Disney World's Top Rival Just Rattled the Theme Park Industry

Universal Orlando bumps its pay to $15 an hour. Disney World is on its way there, but SeaWorld Orlando is still fishing.

Rick Munarriz


May 28, 2021 at 11:05AM

Author Bio

It was the pay hike heard 'round the Disney World. Comcast's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) Universal Orlando announced on Thursday that it will pay all employees a minimum of $15 an hour come June 27. The new starting salary for all full-time and part-time hourly workers as well as entry-level salaried hires is a pretty big deal in Central Florida. 

Rival Disney (NYSE:DIS) is getting there. Three summers ago Disney World reached a deal with a half-dozen unions representing the lion's share of the resort's employees. Disney was starting new employees at just $10 an hour at the time, but the agreement has the House of Mouse scaling higher until the new hourly minimum rate for non-tipped "cast members" goes from $14 to $15 in October. With staffing becoming a problem across many consumer-facing businesses, victory in the "fight for $15" was inevitable.

This was supposed to be the summer that national theme parks and regional amusement parks have been anticipating for two years. Can theme park operators thrive in the new normal? Should investors start separating the winners from the losers as wage inflation crashes the turnstiles? Let's take a closer look at Comcast's significant move.

A Nintendo executive posing in front of the Universal logo at Universal Orlando.


Going for a ride

What if the country threw a post-pandemic reawakening party and too many people called in sick? A lot of industries are suffering through a staffing crisis right now. It's evident in the restaurant industry. Even the leading ridesharing companies are struggling as demand for transportation and takeout deliveries is outstripping the driver supply

We're already seeing ripples in the amusement park industry, and this is before the start of the peak summer travel season. Cedar Fair's (NYSE:FUN) iconic Cedar Point recently turned heads for updating its June availability. The park will be closed on Tuesday and Wednesday through the next four weeks, citing insufficient employees to operate every day. Last week it took the dramatic step of doubling its pay to $20 an hour and offering a $500 signing bonus for new or returning hires. Bumping up labor costs will weigh on the bottom line, but it's better than not being open at all.

Universal Orlando and eventually Disney paying $15 an hour will be easier to stomach at gated attractions where single-day tickets run in the triple digits, but one has to wonder about the competition. Central Florida's third-largest theme park operator by attendance -- SeaWorld Entertainment (NYSE:SEAS) -- raised its hourly rate to $11 an hour in late 2018. It won't be able to stay there when its two largest rivals are paying 36% more. SeaWorld Orlando employees may be passionate about the marine life cause, but will that still hold up if they are literally being discounted? 

Paying more is easier said than done, especially now when a theme park's profit potential is capped by limits on guest capacity and travel restrictions are gnawing away at Central Florida's most lucrative customers. SeaWorld stock may be hitting new highs, but keep an eye on its operating calendar and the ongoing delays in new rides that were supposed to debut in 2020. Investors are bidding up leisure stocksahead of what is supposed to be a blowout summer season, but don't forget to belabor the labor point.




Should you invest $1,000 in The Walt Disney Company right now?

Before you consider The Walt Disney Company, you'll want to hear this.

Our award-winning analyst team just revealed what they believe are the 10 best stocks for investors to buy right now... and The Walt Disney Company wasn't one of them.

The online investing service they've run for nearly two decades, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has beaten the stock market by over 4X.* And right now, they think there are 10 stocks that are better buys.


Is $15 justified wage? after

Is $15 justified wage? after doing 8-9 hours of duty. While keep standing whole month. I think people should focus on changing their field like UK content writers. As they are earning a lot through content writing.

A Quick Question

Is $15 justified wage? after doing 8-9 hours of duty. While keep standing whole month. I think people should focus on changing their field like UK content writers. As they are earning a lot through content writing.

National theme parks and

National theme parks and amusement parks have been looking ahead to this summer for the past two years.

Click here for Affordable Handyman Services in Sunrise FL

Thanks for your insight for

Thanks for your insight for your fantastic posting! traveler photos

yes, Disney World is the most

yes, Disney World is the most popular world for kids, and every kid wishes to visit this world.

We provide complete Affordable Bathtub Installation Services in Las Vegas NV under the expert and repair service.


Disney world is the dream of

Disney world is the dream of all kids, they have the desire to visit the world. In this post, they can read about disney more.

Professional Tile and Grout Cleaning Services in Freehold NJ

Disney World

We are a team of professional writers that provide write my law essay for me in UK but because of achieving our monthly target our organization decided to send us on tour and we have decided to visit Disney World. That's why I am looking for a tourism organization for ticket booking.

Come and enjoy the magic of

Come and enjoy the magic of Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. Plan your family holiday and create memories for a lifetime fnf mods

From my point of view,

From my point of view, National theme parks and local amusement parks have been looking forward to this summer for the past two years.
Royalty Tree Services Company Near Me in California

Can we invest in the Disney

Can we invest in the Disney World? I actually had no idea about it. Currently, working with personal statement editing service I have some savings that I would like to invest in it. How can I do that?

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
To help us prevent spam, please prove you're human by typing the words you see here.