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Disney Plans to Invest $60 Billion in Resort Expansion

Disney has unveiled ambitious plans to invest approximately $60 billion in expanding its theme parks, cruise lines, and resorts over the next ten years, almost doubling its commitment to the division that serves as its primary profit driver, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

The announcement was made during an investor summit at Walt Disney World in Orlando by CEO Bob Iger and Josh D’Amaro, head of Disney’s Parks, Experiences, and Products division. Although specific details remain limited, Disney has stressed its intent to focus on high-return ventures, potentially including enhancements to its domestic and international parks and cruise offerings. Notable possibilities include the introduction of “Frozen” at Disneyland Resort and the creation of a “Black Panther” Wakanda experience.

With over 1,000 acres of undeveloped land available for park expansion, Disney aims to accommodate the millions of visitors who flock to its global theme parks each year. Additionally, the company plans to expand its cruise ship fleet and establish a new home port in Singapore.

This announcement underscores Disney’s ongoing transformation in response to shifting market dynamics. Historically reliant on revenue from its traditional cable television business, Disney is now pivoting toward its thriving theme parks as its primary financial engine. In recent quarters, the parks division has consistently outperformed the linear TV business by significant margins.

However, not all investors were convinced by Disney’s grand plans, as Disney’s stock saw a 3 percent drop in trading, possibly stemming from concerns about immediate cash flow issues.

In recent years, Disney has implemented various changes in its theme parks, such as price increases, premium add-ons, and higher concession prices, with the aim of maximizing revenue per guest. Nevertheless, these changes have drawn complaints from some visitors, especially annual pass holders.

While the initial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic affected Disney’s theme parks, there has been notable growth at international locations, such as Shanghai Disney Resort and Hong Kong Disneyland, according to the company. However, reports from July suggested that Disney parks experienced lower attendance during the summer, possibly due to recent ticket price hikes.

This announcement also comes amidst a feud between Disney and Florida Governor and presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis, stemming from the company’s stance on the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, which restricts discussions of gender identity and sexual orientation in schools. This conflict led the state legislature to strip Disney of its special tax district status, which granted the company authority to act essentially as a local government, issuing bonds and approving building plans for its 25,000-acre theme park complex.

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