The Walt Disney Company held its quarterly earnings call on Wednesday evening of November 8, 2023. Company CEO Bob Iger and interim CFO Kevin Lansberry led the call, sharing the updates and numbers from the beginning of Q4.
The earnings call contained updates about all avenues of the company’s investments but focused heavily on updates surrounding Disney’s streaming platforms and park operations. With Disney’s recent acquisition of Hulu, the company future shared plans of a Disney+ and Hulu bundle. A strong emphasis was also put on the growth and development of ESPN, as Disney executives see great potential for the future of the network under its ownership.
Iger and Lansberry also shared about upcoming investments the company will be making toward its parks and experiences. Lansberry shared that the company “feels good” about bookings across the theme parks both domestically and internationally.
The company plans to invest another $60 billion into its parks over the next ten years. These investments are due to strong returns seen across the parks and experiences. International parks and Disney Cruise Line showed especially strong return. Iger shared that one of the four key building opportunities will be “turbo-charging growth in our experiences business.”
However, though investments across parks and experiences are looking up, Iger did share some disappointment toward the results of the Walt Disney World operations in Florida. Though the overall parks and experiences division rose 8%, he spoke of critical components that decreased these overall results. One failed experience in particular being the closure of Disney’s Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser.
The Galactic Starcruiser at Walt Disney World opened in March 2022, with high hopes from the company. The company invested close to $1 billion in the project for it to close in just over a year. The closure was blamed largely on the cost of a stay at the Galactic Starcruiser. As many families couldn’t get behind a price tag upwards of $5,000. The hotel closed this past fall, with its last voyage on September 28, 2023.
In an interview earlier this afternoon with CNBC, just before the earnings call, Iger referred to the disappointing growth in Florida operations as a “blip,” saying “blips come and go.” He then made a further comparison to the drop in tourism following the terrorist events of 9/11.
Disney also attributed a piece of the blame towards the 50th anniversary, celebrated at the Florida parks from October 1, 2021, through April 1, 2022. They shared that following the end of the anniversary, some drop in attendance was expected.
The future of the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser location is unknown. However, it’s likely that due to this failed venture, much of the large investment planned for the next ten years of parks and experiences will be invested toward Disney Cruise Line and Disney’s international theme parks. This does mean we will likely see exciting updates across the Disneyland Resort, Disneyland Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, Shanghai Disney Resort, and Tokyo Disney Resort.