Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS) will open a new Toy Story themed land at Disney World in Orlando, Florida this year, but most people’s eyes are on 2019, when a massive new Star Wars area will be unveiled.
The multi billion dollar investments in its theme parks were no spurred by greater competition from its rivals. The Orlando Sentinel notes that Universal really brought the heat to Disney at the turn of the current decade:
Theme parks’ biggest competitive push in recent years was the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in 2010, said Duncan Dickson, a former Disney executive who now teaches at the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management.
“Ever since Harry Potter, it woke everybody up. The game is changing, and we have to keep up,” Dickson said. “You want your guests to keep coming back — you’ve got to create a reason.”
In response, Disney has upped its game considerably. It’s been adding new attractions every year since then — new rides, parades, experiences, and more, all in an effort to not lose market share to Universal’s own expanding lineup.
Toy Story Land will no doubt help those efforts when it opens this year, as will the big Star Wars land opening in 2019. It’ll be interesting to see just how much more Disney has in store in later years as well, because the theme parks arms race down in Florida is clearly still in the early innings.
Walt Disney Co shares closed at $112.19 on Friday, up $1.64 (+1.48%). Year-to-date, DIS has gained 4.35%, versus a 7.39% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.