A rough summer for Disney (DIS 0.85%) is only getting more challenging. A tourist was fatally shot in an Orlando hotel's parking lot on Thursday. It was not on Disney property, and that's clearly important. However, there's no denying that the June nightclub shooting at Pulse and this summer's Zika outbreak in Florida probably weighed on travel considerations to the world's largest theme-park resort, even though those two events also happened well off Disney's realm.
Anything that could cause folks to cancel their getaways to Central Florida is problematic, and here's where this incident can sting, even though it's far removed from Disney World physically. This has been a summer in which Disney already had a fatal alligator attack at its own Grand Floridian resort. The negative headlines now happening offsite are no comfort.
Disney World was already coming off of back-to-back quarters of declining attendance to start the calendar year. The current period -- Disney's fiscal fourth quarter that ends later this month -- was already going to be tricky even before this story broke. Bouncing back may not be easy.
Fear is a factor
The shooting took place early on Thursday, as a Turkish couple on their honeymoon were returning to the Wyndham Orlando International Drive hotel in the city's tourism corridor. They were confronted by an armed robber in the parking lot, demanding the woman's purse. A struggle ensued, and the robber fatally shot the husband.
The story won't make waves the way the horrific Pulse nightclub shooting and Grand Floridian gator attack did in June. In this case, it may help that Disney has security checkpoints at its hotels and the resort's separation from high-traffic metropolitan areas probably deters on-site attacks.
If visitors make that connection, they may decide to move an off-site vacation onto Disney property. Disney offers resort guests complimentary bus transportation from the airport as well as its various theme parks and water parks. There's no need to rent a car or even wait in a parking lot.
Disney has no shortage of lodging options, with more than 30,000 rooms available across all of its resort hotels. But it also has to fill them up, and controversial price increases over the past year for its tickets and annual passes may be eating into potential bookings. With that in mind, this week's local crime news comes at a lousy time for Disney. Not that there's never a good time to rain on a parade.