Disney pouring $60B into ambitious parks expansion. Here’s the spending plan

Parks segment to nearly double capital expenditures

Walt Disney World (Landon McReynolds, WKMG)

BAY LAKE, Fla. – The Walt Disney Company is planning to invest approximately $60 billion into its theme parks and cruise lines over the next decade, the company announced Tuesday.

The company said in a regulatory filing that the planned investment is nearly double what it spent in the prior 10-year period.

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The Disney Parks, Experiences and Products segment continues to do well for the company, with revenue rising 13% in its fiscal third quarter. That’s helped to offset the struggles in its Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution unit, which saw revenue dip 1% in the period.

Disney is confident in its plans, saying in a prepared statement that it's seen growth following previous periods of significant investment, which included the additions of Cars Land at Disney California Adventure, Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland and Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World, Avengers Campus at California Adventure and Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris.

“We’re incredibly mindful of the financial underpinning of the company, the need to continue to grow in terms of bottom line, the need to invest wisely so that we’re increasing the returns on invested capital, and the need to maintain a balance sheet, for a variety of reasons,” said Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger. “The company is able to absorb those costs and continue to grow the bottom line and look expansively at how we return value and capital to our shareholders.”

Avengers Campus at Disney's California Adventure (WKMG)

During a presentation at its Destination D23 event earlier this month, Disney leaders made several parks announcements, including plans to create a new Pirates of the Caribbean-themed lounge in Magic Kingdom, a reimagining of the Test Track ride at EPCOT and future lands being considered at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

“We have an ambitious growth story that is supported by a proven track record and a bold vision for the future of our Parks business,” said Josh D’Amaro, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Chairman.

At Destination D23 2023, it was announced that Walt Disney Imagineering is planning to reimagine Dinoland U.S.A. at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park (© 2023 Disney. All Rights Reserved )

Disney also shared first looks at new Frozen-themed lands at its Hong Kong, Paris and Tokyo theme parks, along with a Zootopia-themed land in Shanghai.

“We have a wealth of untapped stories to bring to life across our business,” said D’Amaro. “Frozen, one of the most successful and popular animated franchises of all time, could have a presence at the Disneyland Resort. Wakanda has yet to be brought to life. The world of Coco is just waiting to be explored. There’s a lot of storytelling opportunity.”

Disney’s theme parks have been a top priority for Bob Iger since he returned in November to take over the CEO post from Bob Chapek.

The Burbank, California-based company’s theme parks are widely viewed by industry experts as a critical component of its business.

Disney investments over the past 10 years (Disney)

Disney said it has seven of the top ten most attended theme parks in the world, including Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Park, which has been the number one attended theme park on earth for decades. Disney Parks welcome approximately 100 million guests each year.

Disney said that it has significant room to expand its theme parks further, with more than 1,000 acres of land for possible future development to expand theme park space across its existing sites. That's equal to about seven new Disneyland parks.

“We stand alone when it comes to scale,” said D’Amaro. “And while our scale is impressive, we have no shortage of space or regions of the world in which to tell new stories.”

The Disney Treasure, the newest ship in the Disney Cruise Line fleet expansion, will set sail in December 2024 (Disney Cruise LIne)

Some of the company’s cruise line plans are already in place, as it previously announced that it will be adding two ships, the Disney Treasure. in fiscal 2025 and another in 2026. Based on its latest earnings report, Disney Cruise Line reported that it’s seeing 98% booking occupancy.

“Throughout our history, we’ve created enormous growth by investing the right amount of capital into the right projects at the right moment,” said Iger. “We are planning to turbocharge our growth yet again with a robust amount of strategic investment in this business.”

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About the Authors:

Landon joined News 6 in 2017. He grew up in Southern Illinois and graduated from Southern Illinois University with a bachelors degree in TV and digital media. When he is not at work you can catch him at one of Orlando's theme parks or the beach. Before working at News 6 he worked for stations in Miami and Fort Myers.