Disney Shares Future Concepts

Attendees of Walt Disney's Parks and Resorts' investor's conference in Orlando on Wednesday got a "rare glimpse behind the curtain," according to company Chairman Jay Rasulo. Rasulo shared ideas executives are considering in order to broaden Disney's business both financially and geographically. These concepts include creating additional theme parks as well as stand-alone Disney-themed businesses, such as hotels and retail spaces. Jay Rasulo

For now, these concepts remain on the drawing board. "These are businesses that we know how to build and we know how to manage. These ideas could be executed domestically or overseas. But they won't be executed at all if we don't believe they would generate the returns on invested capital we expect to achieve," Rasulo emphasized.

Rasulo said Asia, China specifically, might offer opportunities for theme parks in addition to Hong Kong Disneyland, but added that, "creating additional theme parks doesn't mean more of the same." Instead, Disney would consider operating such stand-alone businesses as resort hotels, water parks or retail, dining and entertainment centers. "Expanding our resorts beyond our theme park destinations could help us claim a greater share of the hotel industry," he said. "It would also allow families to make shorter, more convenient trips to a Disney immersive experience."

Rasulo then delved into theoretical specifics. "Imagine if we expanded our Grand Collection of Hotels," he posited. "We could develop regional resort properties located outside of metro areas. We could develop urban hotels in cities that are major tourist destinations for families. We could build destination resorts in exotic locations or boutique branded hotels at a variety of price points."

Not all new theme parks would be the size of the company's current parks, which tend to generate high volumes with lower spending per guest, Rasulo said.

Rasulo suggested a "niche" park that would serve a smaller, daily audience in what he deemed "a more intimate setting" that would allow "charg[ing] an all-inclusive admission price that could be several times what our guests pay today," he continued. "We could draw from our stories and our characters to develop our own form of high-end, immersive theme park entertainment. We could offer more interactive shows, one-on-one experiences and unique attractions to create even more of the emotional connection that is a hallmark of our brand."

Meanwhile, Disney's earnings announcement revealed increased revenues of 4 percent for the first quarter of 2007 to $2.5 billion. Operating income increased 8 percent to $405 million.