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When Theme Parks Attack

It's getting pretty intense in Central Florida as theme park mishaps continue to pile up this summer. Let's go over some of the incidents that have taken place at parks owned by Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) and Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSK  ) (NASDAQ: CMCSA  ) . 

  • The rough run for theme parks began six days ago when a tourist from the U.K. lost the tips of his ring and pinkie fingers on the Pirates of the Caribbean boat ride at Disney's Magic Kingdom. 
  • On Sunday it was Disney's monorail system that malfunctioned. A monorail with 120 passengers stalled on the line that connects Epcot with the resort's central Ticket and Transportation Center. It took nearly two hours to evacuate all of those on board from the monorail that lacked power or air conditioning. 
  • The calamity headed a few exits north on I-4 Tuesday when Orlando fire officials performed a "technical rescue" at Comcast's Universal Studios Florida to get riders off the Transformers ride after it stalled for roughly an hour.

The cherry on top is that the area's newest ride -- Universal Studios Florida's Escape from Gringotts -- continues to be besieged by operational hiccups where it keeps breaking down. The setbacks have resulted in ridiculous wait times, and this morning the posted wait just minutes after the park had opened was up to five hours.

If there's any irony, it's that at the end of the otherwise amazing and bar-raising Escape from Gringotts, you are reminded that the bank is the safest place on earth. Given the storm-stalled monorail track, fingertips getting severed on an iconic Disney boat ride, and the mechanical breakdowns at two of Universal Studios Florida's newest dark rides, a lot of treks out to the popular theme parks have been interrupted by some pretty unfortunate events. 

This wouldn't be such a big deal if both theme park operators hadn't hiked ticket prices earlier this year in anticipation of a strong summer season. Now more than ever, time is in fact money to guests paying as much as $99 plus sales tax to enter into a theme park for the day.

Investors don't have to worry for now. Despite the unfortunate string of incidents in a matter of days -- and a pair of mishaps in Southern California earlier this summer -- the industry should turn in a strong summer. The economy's showing signs of life and the chains that invested in new attractions should prove magnetic this summer. However, if too many more of these incidents continue to happen, it could give potential visitors a reason to reconsider. That would be the kind of outage that nobody wants to see this season.

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On July 17, 2014, at 12:19 PM, downupsidefrown wrote:

    normally i do not respond to internet news articles but reading this really frustrated me. all these situations were routine, normal, daily operations. all this stuff takes place on a daily basis at any theme park. the guy losing his fingers was his own fault, but its not the first time for something like that to happen. ride evacs happen routinely and are not headline making news. the media tries to bash theme parks and give them a bad name and they just don't realize that crazy stuff takes place at a park regularly. if they only knew....

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Rick Munarriz

Rick has been writing for Motley Fool since 1995 where he's a Consumer and Tech Stocks Specialist. Yes, that's a long time. He's been an analyst for Motley Fool Rule Breakers and a portfolio lead analyst for Motley Fool Supernova since each newsletter service's inception. He earned his BBA and MBA from the University of Miami, and he now lives a block from his alma mater.

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