Disney to double investment in theme parks, cruises


Disney World celebrated its 50th anniversary in April 2022.

Aaronp | Bauer-Griffin | GC Images | Getty Images

Disney said in a securities filing Tuesday it will nearly double its planned investment to roughly $60 billion over the course of 10 years.

Shares fell more than 3% in early trading.

While the company is grappling with the changing media and entertainment landscape – and trying to make its streaming business profitable while considering sales of its traditional TV networks – the theme parks, experiences and products division has been a bright spot.

Still, the company’s domestic parks, particularly Walt Disney World in Florida, have seen a slowdown in attendance and hotel room purchases. Instead, the segment’s strength has come from its international parks. During the third quarter the division saw a 13% increase in revenue to $8.3 billion.

Disney will lean on its brands and intellectual property as it builds out its theme parks. The company planned to unveil more details about the investment at its investor day Tuesday.

“Today, as Disney considers future growth opportunities, there is a deep well of stories that have yet to be fully explored in its theme parks,” the company said in Tuesday’s presentation, noting “Frozen” and “Zootopia”-themed attractions at its parks outside of the U.S. in Hong Kong, Paris, Tokyo and Shanghai.

Shortly after Bob Iger returned as CEO, Disney announced changes to its parks prompted by complaints from guests regarding rising prices and longer wait times.

Disney highlighted the historical results of the parks and experiences business since 2017 on the back of heightened investment. Disney’s parks, like its peers, suffered during the lockdowns of the pandemic.

Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Dream is seen docked in Port Canaveral, Florida, on July 30, 2021. 

Joe Burbank | Orlando Sentinel | Getty Images

Rivals, including Comcast’s Universal parks in Florida, experienced a similar slowdown.

The heightened investment comes as Disney has been embroiled in lawsuits with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, which could affect its proposed expansion of the Orlando location over the coming years.

Earlier this year, Disney filed a lawsuit against DeSantis, accusing the governor and new board members of its special district of carrying out a campaign of political retribution against the entertainment company.

Soon after, Disney doubled down on its Florida park and said it would continue to invest and expand its Florida theme park over the next 10 years. In May, Disney said it was set to invest $17 billion in the Florida hub, which would include the potential creation of 13,000 jobs.

The Florida governor, who is now running for president, targeted Disney’s special district after the company publicly criticized a controversial Florida bill – dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” by critics – that limits the discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in classrooms.

Earlier this month, Disney dropped all but its free speech claims against DeSantis, focusing solely on the First Amendment claim that the governor politically retaliated against the company.

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal, which owns CNBC.