Anecdotal evidence I'd heard last weekend about crowds being down at Disneyland in the wake of the measles outbreak aren't being supported by the most powerful Mouseketeer of all: Walt Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger.
What I had been told by a season pass holder and (second hand) from a cast member was that the number of guests visiting the Anaheim theme parks in recent weeks has been lower than usual for this time of year.
Iger says his number crunchers aren't seeing that, however.
"We really have not been able to discern any impact at all from that," he said Tuesday in an interview on CNBC. "In fact, if you were to look at Disneyland, the quarter that we're currently in, we're up from where we were last year in both attendance and in bookings or in reservations."
In the previous quarter, the first fiscal quarter that ended Dec. 27, the Walt Disney Co. broke records for its theme parks in the United States, but the mid-December measles outbreak at the Anaheim properties were not reported by health officials until early January.
Disney said operating profits at its parks and resorts, which include cruise lines, grew 20 percent year-over-year to $805 million in the fiscal first quarter. Revenues in the theme park unit rose 9 percent to $3.9 billion, while attendance in Anaheim and Orlando were up 7 percent–an all-time quarterly attendance record, according to the Mouse.
The fast-moving spread of measles and ever-changing reaction to it have already produced some updates to this Weekly story that just went up:
California as of Wednesday had 99 confirmed cases of measles, with 31 of those in Orange County.
Two state senators say they will introduce legislation in Sacramento to restrict the ability of parents to receive a "personal belief" exemption from immunizations, and they have received early support from California's U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer (both D-Calif.), who sent a letter to state Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley asking for a reconsideration of the policy on exemptions.
State Sen. Patricia Bates (R-San Juan Capistrano), favors vaccinations but wants to study the proposed legislation further before adding her support, according to her spokesman Ron Ongtoaboc.
"The senator does support vaccinations," Ongtoaboc told City News Service. "In fact, in the supervisorial district that she represented (in South Orange County) had one of the highest rates in the state [of unvaccinated children]. So she partnered with health officials to boost vaccinations."
Which reminds me: I brain farted in "Of Mice and Measles," failing to note that South County is among the wealthy areas where the anti-vaxx movement has established a stronghold. An editor had asked me to include such places, and I totally forgot, having suddenly become fixated on the red rash across my tum-tum.