Disney plans to inject loads of cash into some of its tried and true business sectors, announcing plans to nearly double its investment into theme parks and cruises.
Over the next decade, Disney will be spending about $60 billion on, among other things, “investing in expanding and enhancing domestic and international parks and cruise line capacity.”
It’s unclear exactly what that means, but it can be fun to speculate.
Disney already plans to expand the current footprint of Disneyland in Anaheim into its existing company-owned property. And Disney has already announced plans for two new cruise ships that are expected to be delivered in the next two years and a third shortly after.
So what else is the entertainment giant cooking?
“Disney doubling its spending on theme parks and cruise ships over the next 10 years tells us that the company is, as Paul Simon might say, leaning on old familiar ways,” said David Lazarus, KTLA’s business and consumer news expert. “Its streaming services aren’t yet panning out, nor is an expansion of its Marvel and Star Wars properties. But the theme parks division saw revenue increase by 13% in the most recent quarter to $8.3 billion.”
Meanwhile, Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution saw a 1% dip in revenue over that same period.
Theme parks and experiences are proven winners for the company. Despite the coronavirus pandemic leading to a complete retooling of the park-going experience by way of a reservation system and charging for some perks that were previously free, Disney has not yet seen a decline in visitor interest.
In short, there may be more money to be made from theme parks. And despite rumblings about changes coming to the way Disney is organized, the latest announcement signals that the entertainment conglomerate is betting on itself.
“The theme park investment also should put to rest the ongoing rumors about Apple buying Disney. Yes, Apple covets Disney’s content. But there’s no way the tech giant wants to spend billions on theme park and cruise ships,” Lazarus said.
Tuesday’s announcement came only days after whispers began to emerge that Disney was mulling over a possible spinoff of ABC — possibly to KTLA parent company Nexstar.
But does this re-investment into company assets signal that that deal is dead in the water? Laz says no.
“Disney recognizes that the future isn’t bright for traditional TV. The $10 billion that’s been offered so far for ABC would help buy a lot of time to get the money-losing Disney+ streaming service in order, not to mention the pending launch of an ESPN streaming service (which won’t be cheap),” he said.
Disney apparently sees untapped potential in theme parks, but how it plans on reaching new customers is anyone’s guess. Long have there been rumors of plans for a third park in North America, and it wasn’t that long ago that the company abandoned plans for a port-themed park in Long Beach.
But it’s clear that Mickey and co. have no plans on resting their laurels.