Disney Takes Added Security Measures in ‘World of Uncertainty’

Orlando Shooting Puts FBI in Terror Spotlight
  • Shooting suspect scouted company’s properties, People reports
  • Restaurant sales could be hurt by drop in tourism: Maxim

Walt Disney Co. has been boosting security measures, such as its police presence and metal detectors, for some time to keep crowds safe at its parks and other properties, the company said in the wake of the Orlando, Florida, nightclub attack.

The suspect in Sunday morning’s shooting, Omar Mateen, had scouted Walt Disney World and Disney Springs, the entertainment giant’s retail shopping area in the Orlando area, for a possible attack, People magazine reported Monday, citing an unidentified person. The Federal Bureau of Investigation declined to comment on the report.

“Unfortunately we’ve all been living in a world of uncertainty,” Disney said. “During this time we have increased our security measures across our properties, adding such visible safeguards as magnetometers, additional canine units, and law enforcement officers on site, as well as less visible systems that employ state-of-the-art security technologies.”

Sunday’s killing spree at a night club left 49 people and the gunman dead. It was the worst mass shooting in U.S. history and has prompted a full anti-terrorism response from the U.S. government.

Orlando, which has been a mecca for theme-park goers since Walt Disney World opened in 1971, could see its local economy threatened if tourists grow reluctant to travel there in the wake of the attack. But shares of theme-park operators showed little sign Monday that investors were worried business would be affected.

Little Effect

Disney gained less than 1 percent to $97.57 at the close, and Comcast Corp., owner of Universal Studios Florida, fell less than 1 percent to $62.39. Orlando-based SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. fell 2.2 percent to $15.85, and Merlin Entertainments Plc, which owns Legoland Florida Resort, fell 1.4 percent to 414.80 pence in London.

“The safety of our ambassadors, guests and animals has always been our top priority,” SeaWorld said in a statement. “Our security teams work closely with law enforcement, and we have enhanced security measures at all our parks.”

A slump in Florida travel would affect sales of restaurant chains such as IHOP and Cracker Barrel, Maxim Group LLC analyst Stephen Anderson said in a note Monday.

“This weekend’s tragic terror attack at an Orlando nightclub will likely reduce tourism statewide, and by extension restaurant traffic, for at least the next several months,” Anderson said.

Sales Pullback?

Chains including Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc., Bloomin’ Brands Inc., DineEquity Inc.’s IHOP and Darden Restaurants Inc.’s Olive Garden may see a sales pullback as consumers spend less on travel in Florida, he said. Other terrorist attacks have curbed sales at restaurant chains across the globe recently. Starbucks Corp. and McDonald’s Corp. both have cited the terrorist attacks in Paris in November for hurting sales.

Cracker Barrel stock fell 1.6 percent to $166.94, while shares of Outback Steakhouse owner Bloomin’ Brands slid 2.4 percent to $18.79. Orlando-based Darden declined less than 1 percent, while DineEquity dropped 1.3 percent.

Still, the shooting’s impact on sales or consumer spending in Florida may not last, said Bob Goldin, vice chairman at researcher Technomic Inc. in Chicago.

“It will be a very short-term effect,” he said. “I don’t think it will have any real effect on tourism or really people’s willingness to get out.”

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