SeaWorld Entertainment Inc (SEAS), The Walt Disney Company (DIS): Theme Parks Are Good for Investments and Memories

School is out and summer is finally upon us. Let the fun in the sun begin!

A TripAdvisor survey reveals that this year will see the return of the summer vacation. Over 86% of respondents indicated that they intend to go on a leisure trip this summer.

As theme parks drain the savings accounts of willful and happy travelers, is there a theme park stock that might return a few of those dollars to your investment accounts?

The baby killer whale

SeaWorld Entertainment Inc (NYSE:SEAS)

Still just a baby killer whale on the New York Stock Exchange, SeaWorld Entertainment Inc (NYSE:SEAS) only went public in April 2013, and shortly thereafter reported its first quarter earnings.

The company reported a loss of $40.4 million during the first quarter, or $0.49 per share. This may not sound favorable at first, but it is actually an improvement over the $45.1 million loss during the same quarter in 2012. The company saw also revenue increase 12% to $238.6 million during the quarter.

Admission per capita (defined as admission revenue divided by total attendance) increased by 12% from $38.99 to $43.56 primarily as a result of pricing and yield management strategies. In-park per capita spending (defined as food, merchandise, and other revenue divided by total attendance) increased by 6% from $23.17 to $24.63 due to improved economic conditions, targeted price increases, and increased offerings. Attendance in the first quarter of 2013 was up 2% to 3.5 million, a benefit of the timing of Easter and New Year’s Eve both falling in the same fiscal quarter. SeaWorld Entertainment Inc (NYSE:SEAS) is also the parent company of Busch Gardens Tampa.

Two adults and two children under the age of nine can visit SeaWorld Entertainment Inc (NYSE:SEAS) for a single day for a total of $332.28 (with tickets purchased online in advance).*

The magic of the Magic Kingdom

The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) overall reported a 32% increase in net income from the previous year for the most recent fiscal quarter. The theme parks and resorts segment enjoyed the largest growth, with profits rising 73% to $383 million. The company attributed the increase to longer guest stays at resorts, and the new Disney Fantasy cruise ship. A hike in food and beverage prices, as well as theme park entrance tickets, added a 14% increase to the unit’s revenue of $3.3 billion.

The New Year’s Eve and Easter holiday anomaly helped the company as well–an anomaly that should not be overlooked, given how beneficial it was.

The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) tripled its investment in its resorts business over the past few years, spending $9.2 billion to update and refresh some of its parks in both Florida and California.  Attendance at the U.S. parks increased 8% in the second quarter.

The cost for two adults and two children (under the age of nine) to attend just the Magic Kingdom for one day? $391.94.*

Universal appeal

Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA) is the parent company of NBC Universal, which operates the Universal Studios theme parks.

The Universal theme parks also saw a nice bump up from the New Year’s and Easter calendar anomaly. For the first quarter of 2013, revenue from the Comcast/NBC Universal Theme Parks segment increased 12.2% to $462 million compared to $412 million in the first quarter of 2012. It’s a nice improvement, but barely a drop in the bucket compared to the 73% increase at The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) .

Attendance at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando increased 66% between 2009 and 2011, thanks to the opening of the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

$323.96 will get two adults and two individuals under 48 inches tall into Universal Studios for one day.* So far that’s the cheapest admission among the theme parks.