Disney Spends More on Theme Parks Than it Paid for Marvel, Star Wars

(photo credit: bioreconstruct on Twitter)

The NY Times recently published a fascinating article on Disney’s rapid theme park expansion plans. They interviewed Bob Chapek, and outlined some of the goals Parks and Resorts has in the coming years.

Here is a bit…

For the 2018 fiscal year, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts had an operating profit of $4.5 billion, an increase of more than 100 percent from five years earlier. For comparison, Disney Media Networks, home to ESPN and ABC, had a profit of $6.6 billion, a 3 percent decline.

Each of Disney’s six theme park resorts around the world is undergoing major expansion, along with Disney Cruise Line. Michael Nathanson, a longtime media analyst, estimates that Disney will spend $24 billion on new attractions, hotels and ships over the next five years. That’s more than Disney paid for Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm combined.

“It can’t just be special — it has to be spectacular,” Bob Chapek, Disney’s theme park chairman, said during a hard-hat tour of a 14-acre construction site at Disney World where “Star Wars”-themed rides, shops and restaurants were taking shape. Overhead, crews were sculpting spires designed to look like the petrified remnants of once-towering trees on a distant planet.

That spending seems to be paying off, with no slowdown in sight when it comes to Park attendance.

More Details on Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

The Times was also able to score some new information on the Millennium Falcon attraction — an impressive attraction that some are saying might be too ambitious.

Here is what Disney had to say regarding the highly anticipated new land…

In 2019, Disney World and Disneyland will open matching 14-acre “lands” called Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. On one lavish attraction, guests will board anImperial Star Destroyer, where roughly 50 animatronic stormtroopers await in formation. On another, guests will be able to pilot an interactive Millennium Falcon.

“It’s a personalized intergalactic ride — live your own ‘Star Wars’ story,” saidScott Trowbridge, the Disney creative executive overseeing the Galaxy’s Edge projects. “If you crash into a wall, that’s what you will see out the cockpit window.”

Will Spaceship Earth Get a Refurbishment?

One interesting — and slightly concerning — tidbit from this article concerns Disney’s attempt to stay relevant. The Times specifically mentions that Epcot’s Spaceship Earth doesn’t really mean much to kids today. Could that be further confirmation of the rumored upcoming refurbishment?

Change is not always welcomed at Disney parks. “HOW DARE YOU,” one Disneyland annual pass holder wrote in a letter to the company a few years ago in response to some simple tree pruning. “I GOT ENGAGED UNDER THAT TREE.”

Beloved as they may be, these properties are businesses, and Disney must be mindful of relevance. Parents may have a soft spot for Epcot’s creaky, 36-year-old Spaceship Earth ride, but their children — Disney customers of the future — most likely do not.

The entire article is worth a read, and gives some real insight into Disney’s thought processes concerning the future of the Parks.

[Source: NY Times]

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I've loved Disney as long as I can remember. As a former newspaper editor, web developer, and Disney comics freelancer, I'm able to combine that experience into writing about Disney online. I'm also the co-host of a Disney fan podcast called 'Pirates & Princesses.' Opinions mine.