During the Q&A of the Q1 2023 earnings call, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that in order to fuel growth in the Disney Parks sector, the company will be investing in new lands and attractions in order to increase capacity without overcrowding parks, a significant shift for the company after decades of neglect at some parks.
During the call, Iger noted that in order to drive growth for the parks, one of the best ways to allow for more guest attendance and thus revenue is to increase overall capacity of the parks through new lands and attractions.
“Lastly, we have learned that when we invest in increasing capacity —the Star Wars lands were a great example of that, Pandora was a great example of that — we can grow our business. In fact, if you look at the results when we put Pandora at Animal Kingdom, from year to year they were stunning at how many more people were visiting Animal Kingdom. I mentioned earlier in the call how we’re going to bring a version of Avatar to Disneyland. We have other opportunities as well. I’ve talked to Josh D’Amaro about this very recently, like this morning, to really look at all the great franchises in the company and see where we can invest in them into the parks to increase capacity while preserving guest satisfaction.”
A lot of capital investment in the parks in more recent years has been focused outside the castle parks, and capacity is often not added, but rather moved to a newer attraction in the same spot, such as Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway replacing The Great Movie Ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
A great example of such plans already in the works would be those announced as “blue sky concepts” back at D23 Expo 2022 for “what’s beyond Big Thunder Mountain” at the Magic Kingdom, which included lands based on “Coco,” “Encanto,” and the Disney Villains. What Iger spoke of today certainly seemed in line with these investments. These lands would replace noting existing, use some of Disney’s most popular franchises of all-time (not just recent memory), and would allow more guests into the Magic Kingdom every day.
Iger emphasized twice that “Avatar” experiences are set to come to Disneyland, although few other details were announced. He specifically mentioned “a version of Avatar” in passing when talking about Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom as an example, so it could be a similar version of the beloved land for the west coast.
The overarching goal is that by investing large amounts into the parks, they can also see large revenue growth as capacity is added, which allows more guests to stay in Disney hotels, purchase tickets, and spend in the parks through shopping and dining.
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