Earlier this week, Disney announced its quarterly financial results, which were mostly focused on how streaming service Disney+ was doing (more subscribers, but not profitable yet) and the company's plans for the future. However, there was some interesting news for parks fans tucked away in the company's financial statements, and when asked for comments, some executives had some very interesting things to say, especially about Walt Disney World...
Disneyland and Disney's International Parks are doing great... but Walt Disney World is struggling
Disney’s experiences division, which includes theme parks, hotels, Disney Cruise Line and merchandise, saw an overall jump in revenue of 13% for the most recent quarter ending Sept. 30. Domestic parks earned a respectable $5.4 billion, up 7%, while earnings at international parks were up a whopping 55% to $1.7 billion. Parks, Experiences, and Products’ overall operating income was $1.75 billion, up 31.1% year over year.
While this all sounds very good, the report conceded that domestic growth was mainly driven by increased visitors at Disneyland, and that Walt Disney World suffered “lower results.” It wasn't specified whether these lower figures were revenue or attendance, but the answer is likely both. The only concrete things Disney did confirm were that guest spending was down overall because of a decrease in hotel room rates, there were unexpected costs due to the closure of the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, and inflation had a negative effect of some kind at the resort.
Interim Chief Financial Officer Kevin Lansberry addressed the situation at Walt Disney World specifically when discussing the financial results, and said that the slowdown at the park was expected given that the resort’s 50th-anniversary celebration ended April 1. However, this doesn't really explain why performance continues to be strong at Disneyland (which doesn't have any seasonal celebrations happening right now either), nor why the busy summer period at Walt Disney World in 2023 just... wasn't.
Bob Iger re-commits to "turbocharge" Disney parks, without adding any specifics
Despite the bad news from Walt Disney World, CEO Bob Iger took time to reiterate his $60 billion plan to “turbocharge” growth for the theme parks at multiple locations. We know from previous comments that at least $17 billion of this massive project has been set aside specifically for Walt Disney World, but no specifics have been given about what fans can expect in the future.
The comments about "turbocharging" are also very interesting as Iger stated previously that experiences would “ramp up" with “gradual increases” after about five years or so, culminating in some kind of big finish somewhere around 2033. Could Disney be changing tactics and accelerating their expansion and growth plans after the bad news from Walt Disney World? It's certainly possible, but without any concrete plans announced, there's not much we can do but speculate.
For now, all we know is it is going to take more than a Zootopia show at Disney's Animal Kingdom to turn things around for Walt Disney World, and hopefully we'll learn more about what exactly their plan is soon.