Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Wakanda & Frozen Lands Teased for Disney World & Disneyland

Earlier at present, the Walt Disney Firm launched plans to “turbocharge” funding in Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, and the worldwide parks to just about double capital expenditures over the course of roughly 10 years to roughly $60 billion. Due to an investor convention, we now know that the growth may embody Wakanda from Black Panther and the World of Frozen.

Senior Disney executives, together with CEO Bob Iger and Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro, gathered with Wall Road analysts and traders at Walt Disney World on September 19, 2023 for an investor summit. This occasion is targeted on Disney’s Parks & Resorts enterprise, its observe report, and future ambitions of investing aggressively and intelligently in experiences that leverage the highly effective and ever-growing library of Disney tales.

This put up particulars a few of what the Walt Disney Firm has launched from the investor summit, together with statements by Bob Iger and Josh D’Amaro. Following that, we’ll have commentary concerning the chance of those plans coming to fruition, plus how and the place they might occur. Let’s begin with feedback from the CEO…

“We’re extremely aware of the monetary underpinning of the corporate, the necessity to proceed to develop when it comes to backside line, the necessity to make investments properly in order that we’re growing the returns on invested capital, and the necessity to keep a steadiness sheet, for quite a lot of causes,” stated Bob Iger. “The corporate is ready to take up these prices and proceed to develop the underside line and look expansively at how we return worth and capital to our shareholders.”

“We’ve got an bold development story that’s supported by a confirmed observe report and a daring imaginative and prescient for the way forward for our Parks enterprise,” stated D’Amaro. Central to the enterprise’s development technique might be a give attention to tales, scale, and followers.

The Parks enterprise serves as a robust platform the place Disney’s beloved tales come to life in progressive methods, and the place followers throughout generations and geographies can join with and discover the Disney manufacturers and franchises they love, from Avatar to Zootopia, and all the things in between.

Disney constantly reimagines its theme park choices to enchantment to extra friends by incorporating new tales from its common movies and collection. Disney Parks has seen development following earlier durations of serious funding, which included the additions of Vehicles Land at Disney California Journey, Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland Resort and Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World, Avengers Campus at Disney California Journey and Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris, and extra.

Right now, as Disney considers future development alternatives, there’s a deep nicely of tales which have but to be totally explored in its theme parks. Already, new Frozen-themed lands are coming to Hong Kong Disneyland, Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris, and Tokyo DisneySea. Within the close to time period, World of Frozen will open in November 2023 at Hong Kong Disneyland.

Past the acquainted favorites, Disney will discover much more characters and franchises, together with some that haven’t been leveraged extensively so far, because it embarks on a brand new interval of serious development domestically and internationally in its parks and resorts.

“We’ve got a wealth of untapped tales to convey to life throughout our enterprise,” stated D’Amaro. “Frozen, probably the most profitable and common animated franchises of all time, may have a presence on the Disneyland Resort. Wakanda has but to be delivered to life. The world of Coco is simply ready to be explored. There’s a whole lot of storytelling alternative.”

Right now, Disney has the most important bodily footprint of any world theme park journey enterprise, with 12 parks throughout six websites world wide. Its latest resort, Shanghai Disney Resort, opened in 2016. This park will increase as soon as once more with a brand new Zootopia Land, together with the ‘Sizzling Pursuit’ trackless darkish trip in Late 2023.

Disney’s Parks enterprise is a key driver of worth creation for the corporate, and constructive phase ends in current previous quarters by FY23Q3 have come partially from sturdy efficiency at Disney’s worldwide parks, notably these in Asia. Shanghai Disney Resort and Hong Kong Disneyland, which have each proven significant development popping out of the pandemic by Q3 FY23, have even additional development alternatives with the expansions set to open later this yr.

Along with improvement plans already underway, there’s important room for additional growth on land and at sea.

“We stand alone on the subject of scale,” stated D’Amaro. “And whereas our scale is spectacular, we’ve got no scarcity of house or areas of the world through which to inform new tales.”

In truth, Disney Parks has over 1,000 acres of land for doable future improvement to increase theme park house throughout its current websites – the equal of about seven new Disneyland Parks.

In the meantime, Disney Cruise Line serves as a robust ambassador for the model in ports and markets across the globe past its theme parks, together with Australia and New Zealand for the primary time later this yr, extending the attain of Disney’s high-quality experiences.

As beforehand introduced, over the following two years, Disney will practically double the worldwide capability of its cruise line, including two ships in fiscal yr 2025 and one other in 2026, delivering even additional development potential and introducing new markets to Disney experiences, together with a brand new homeport in Singapore starting in 2025 to increase its attain additional into the Asia-Pacific area.

Disney has seven of the highest ten most attended theme parks on this planet, together with Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, which has been the #1 attended theme park on earth for many years. Disney Parks welcome roughly 100 million friends annually.

But there’s nonetheless monumental untapped potential for reaching extra customers. In response to Disney’s inner analysis, there’s an addressable market of greater than 700 million individuals with excessive Disney affinity it has but to succeed in with its Parks. In truth, for each one visitor who visits a Disney Park, there are greater than ten individuals with Disney affinity who don’t go to the Parks.

“Finally what’s most essential to us is the connection that we’ve got with each visitor,” stated D’Amaro. “Friends can spend a day with us at our Parks, per week with us on a Cruise, or the remainder of their lives with us by Disney Trip Membership membership.”

As Disney expands its footprint and choices, not solely will the corporate have the ability to attain extra of its current followers, however it should create new followers and constant customers.

As the corporate develops plans to speed up and increase funding in its Parks enterprise, it seems ahead to introducing followers to extra of essentially the most highly effective characters and tales, increasing its world footprint, advancing its state-of-the-art industrial capabilities, and leveraging its unmatched world expertise to forge relationships with new generations of followers world wide.

“All through our historical past, we’ve created monumental development by investing the correct amount of capital into the precise initiatives on the proper second,” stated Iger. “We’re planning to turbocharge our development but once more with a sturdy quantity of strategic funding on this enterprise.”

Turning to commentary, there isn’t that a lot new floor lined right here that wasn’t already weaved into the commentary of our put up concerning the $60 billion in new funding. D’Amaro had talked about Wakanda to the New York Instances and I’ve lengthy suspected that World of Frozen can be an upcoming addition to Disneyland, so these had been each talked about in passing.

Nonetheless, they’re in all probability each worthy of additional elaboration and there are a few different subjects that I forgot to handle in that $60 billion put up. So right here goes…

Let’s begin with Wakanda from Black Panther, which has been topic to a whole lot of rumors and wishful pondering from Walt Disney World followers for the reason that first movie was launched and proved to be a smash success. There was hypothesis that Black Panther would find yourself at just about each park besides Magic Kingdom, and I nonetheless suppose there are a number of choices right here.

The primary and probably candidate would a Black Panther redo of Rock ‘n’ Curler Coaster. As a reminder, the New York Instances did a chunk again in November 2018 that included a tidbit about Rock ‘n’ Curler Coaster being rethemed to a Marvel trip. That article wasn’t simply speculative–it concerned Disney’s cooperation. It was rapidly “corrected,” and my wager has all the time been that was as a result of any individual jumped the gun and shared that prematurely.

Clearly, it’s been 5 years and quite a bit has modified since then. One factor that hasn’t modified is the recognition of Aerosmith and the pointless legal responsibility {that a} traditional rock band presents (with minimal advertising and marketing upside). A retheme of Rock ‘n’ Curler Coaster is extremely low-hanging fruit, and it’s solely a matter of time earlier than it occurs. With nothing slated to open in 2025, perhaps this might be that yr’s “large” addition.

One other risk for Wakanda is it taking on the deserted plans for the Play Pavilion at EPCOT. If I recall accurately, this was a competing idea that was a rumored alternative for Wonders of Life again in 2018. Clearly, it didn’t win out. Because the Play Pavilion was completely shelved, there have been rumblings about ongoing points with the constructing itself, so who is aware of how these come into play with its future prospects.

Repurposing the Wonders of Life pavilion into Wakanda would create a de facto Marvel miniland in World Discovery, and it might be the second ‘Different World Showcase’ pavilion. From Walt Disney World’s perspective, and as a matter of marketability, that in all probability makes a whole lot of sense. Personally, I don’t love the concept of extra Marvel in EPCOT, however I think that Wakandan expertise might be the leaping off level for this to be shoehorned into EPCOT. It wouldn’t make any much less sense than the Wonders of Xandar, which works decently nicely as a framing gadget.

What I do not count on is a fully-fledged World of Wakanda. Each the Wonders of Life Pavilion and Rock ‘n’ Curler Coaster are engaging choices as a result of they might be themed to Black Panther with out costing a billion-plus {dollars} to create a lavish and immersive Wakanda land. An attraction based mostly on Black Panther would have large drawing energy, however I simply can’t see Disney invested the money and time wanted to create an elaborate, outside Wakanda space.

For what it’s price, this has nothing to do with what Wakanda does or doesn’t “deserve.” Personally, I believe Black Panther might be the most effective bets for theme park funding (and quite a bit is solely off-limits for Walt Disney World, regardless). I’m simply skeptical that there’s a lot of an urge for food to spend large on Marvel (or Star Wars), and suppose Wakanda might be a straightforward addition on a brief timeline. With a lot of the large initiatives at Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom unlikely to open earlier than 2026-2029, one thing is required on a tighter timeline. Wakanda might be that gap-filler for 2025.

Lastly, it’s doable that Wakanda isn’t within the playing cards for Walt Disney World in any respect, and this was a reference to Avengers Campus at Disneyland or Disneyland Paris. At Vacation spot D23, extra particulars had been revealed for the Marvel Multiverse E-Ticket for Avengers Campus at Disney California Journey. Whereas this was beforehand touted as a King Thanos attraction, I may see it returning to the unique setting, which was Wakanda. (Once more, this is able to be Wakanda with out having to create a dimensional land round it.)

D’Amaro’s second large tease was Frozen for Disneyland Resort. For years, there have been rumors of Fantasyland growth at Disneyland. Most variations of this contain changing Fantasyland Theatre and taking over a few of the house between Toontown and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge or some portion of the lagoons and Autopia space on the other aspect.

Round 5 years in the past, there was a reputable rumor that revolved round Arendelle. We’ve suspected for some time that Disney has been ready for World of Frozen to open at Hong Kong Disneyland, and see visitor reception to that. That land has been getting a ton of selling in the US by Disney, which is basically odd for an addition at HKDL. It is smart that there’s an ulterior motive for that–to see how People reply to it.

If it’s well-received at Hong Kong Disneyland, shifting ahead on World of Frozen at Disneyland is smart. Fantasyland is cramped, and opening up extra walkways would ease the pressure of crowds and assist with capability. Toontown has reopened and is extra common than ever, and likewise helps with the drawing energy for this space of the park. Lastly, World of Frozen can be cost-effective since they simply constructed it in HKDL and have one other model underneath development in France.

Subsequent, it’s price protecting Disney Cruise Line as a result of we didn’t actually point out that in our earlier put up past stating that a whole lot of the near-term CapEx goes to the expanded fleet. And that’s true, the fleet growth continues to be underway, and a big expense within the subsequent couple of years.

Nevertheless, we’ve heard a whole lot of disillusioned Walt Disney World followers lament that most of the $60 billion might be for DCL. Until you suppose Disney Cruise Line is including one other half-dozen ships past what’s already introduced, that merely isn’t the case. A lot of the CapEx for the present fleet growth has already been spent. The Disney Treasure and Disney Journey are each within the residence stretch; the latter would be the first Disney ship to sail from Singapore and all through Southeast Asia, increasing DCL’s footprint to that aspect of the globe.

Then there’s Disney Lookout Cay at Lighthouse Level, Disney Cruise Line’s model new island vacation spot. Once more, this undertaking is within the residence stretch. That solely leaves the eighth ship within the Disney Cruise Line fleet growth as being a big expense–and it will likely be, however even that’s in all probability “solely” round $2 to $3 billion. In any other case, the cash has just about already been spent on Disney Cruise Line. My guess can be that that recognized DCL initiatives quantity to round $5 billion of the $60 billion.

With 4 pretty new ships that double the dimensions of the fleet, I’d be shocked if a big sum is earmarked for Disney Cruise Line past the recognized additions. Maybe that’s wishful pondering on my half as somebody who would slightly see growth at Walt Disney World and Disneyland, however Disney Cruise Line already has a ton within the pipeline, and a whole lot of the prices related to these initiatives are already accounted for. Additional additions within the subsequent decade are possible, however in all probability not till the mud settles on the at the moment deliberate ships and Disney is ready to consider demand, and so on.

Lastly, there’s the way forward for Duffy and Buddies. I included the slide on this from Disney’s 8-Ok submitting with the SEC within the prior put up, however didn’t really deal with it. Truthfully, I’ve no clue what, if something, this Duffy illustration means.

This might simply be trumpeting the success of Duffy and Buddies, which has change into the best promoting franchise on the theme parks. However I actually don’t suppose you spotlight that $500 million gross sales (!!!) with out having a plan for his or her future. In any other case, that simply invitations a bunch of investor questions that don’t have good solutions.

As for what that plan might be, once more, no clue. Disney actually must tread frivolously right here, or danger milking its money cow dry. They must do one thing so this isn’t only a merchandise machine, however no matter it’s must be well-received among the many Duffy disciples. I may see a stage present at Hong Kong Disneyland (I believe they’re executed with new rides for some time) and/or a darkish trip at Shanghai Disneyland. And it’s past time for the characters to return to Walt Disney World–they’d be a lot, far more common this go-round.

Planning a Walt Disney World journey? Study accommodations on our Walt Disney World Resorts Evaluations web page. For the place to eat, learn our Walt Disney World Restaurant Evaluations. To save cash on tickets or decide which kind to purchase, learn our Suggestions for Saving Cash on Walt Disney World Tickets put up. Our What to Pack for Disney Journeys put up takes a singular take a look at intelligent gadgets to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Trip Guides will assist. For complete recommendation, the very best place to begin is our Walt Disney World Journey Planning Information for all the things that you must know!


What are your ideas on Wakanda from Black Panther or World of Frozen being added to Walt Disney World or Disneyland? What’s your response to the Walt Disney Firm’s purported plans to “turbocharge” funding and double CapEx to $60 billion on Park & Resorts within the subsequent decade? Which potential plans or initiatives have you ever most and least excited? Something you’re hoping does not find yourself coming to fruition? Do you agree or disagree with our assessments? Any questions we will help you reply? Listening to your suggestions–even whenever you disagree with us–is each fascinating to us and useful to different readers, so please share your ideas under within the feedback!

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