Disney to nearly double theme park capital expenditures

September 19, 2023, 8:08 AM · It's a new Disney Decade.

Disney Parks will nearly double its capital expenditures over the next 10 years versus the prior 10, to approximately $60 billion, the company announced in an SEC filing.

"The Company is developing plans to accelerate and expand investment in its [Disney Parks, Experiences and Products] segment, to nearly double, as compared to the previous approximately 10-year period, consolidated capital expenditures for the segment over the course of an approximately 10-year period to approximately $60 billion in aggregate, including by investing in expanding and enhancing domestic and international parks and cruise line capacity, prioritizing projects anticipated to generate strong returns, consistent with the Company’s continuing approach to allocate capital in a disciplined and balanced manner," the company said in an SEC filing this morning.

"We believe that the Company’s financial condition is strong and that its cash balances, other liquid assets, operating cash flows, access to capital markets and borrowing capacity under current bank facilities, taken together, provide adequate resources to fund ongoing operating requirements, contractual obligations, upcoming debt maturities as well as future capital expenditures related to the expansion of existing businesses and development of new projects."

Projects already announced for the Disney theme parks and Disney Cruise Line during the next 10 years include three new ships for the Cruise Line, the Zootopia land at Shanghai Disney, and World of Frozen at Hong Kong Disneyland and Disneyland Paris. In addition, Disney has teased a newly themed tropical Americas land at Disney's Animal Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort and has proposed a DisneylandForward plan to expand attractions at its original theme park home in Anaheim, California.

In addition, Disney is expanding its Disney Vacation Club time-share properties in Anaheim and Orlando.

In supporting exhibits to the SEC filing, Disney said that it has over 1,000 acres of land for possible future development at its theme park resorts around the world, which the company called "the equivalent of about seven new Disneyland Parks." It also said that for every Disney Parks visitor today, there are more than 10 consumers with Disney affinity who do not visit the parks.

Disney Parks slide
Image via The Walt Disney Company's 8K report

The original "Disney Decade" was former Disney CEO Michael Eisner's plan to expand the Disney Parks in the 1990s, which led to the opening of multiple new parks, including Disney's Animal Kingdom and Disney California Adventure.

Disney also said this morning that DECO Bob Iger and Disney Parks Chairman Josh D'Amaro are at the Walt Disney Resort today for an investor summit focusing on the Disney Parks business and its plans for expansion.

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Replies (18)

September 19, 2023 at 8:58 AM

I think this is a strange announcement at an odd time in the calendar. Obviously some industry watchers are trying to label this as a massive expansion of the Disney theme parks around the world, and trying to indicate this announcement confirms new US theme parks being built over the next 5-10 years to compete with Epic Universe.

I tend to take the more pragmatic assessment of this announcement. The first thing that analysts are ignoring is that it is costing significantly more to operate, maintain, and improve theme parks than ever before. Not only have labor costs skyrocketed, but material costs continue to put strains on budgets. If it cost $250 million to build an e-ticket attraction during the previous decade, it's likely to cost $300-350 million to build the same attraction in the next decade.
While Disney can tout that they are doubling their investment into P&E, much of that reported increase is likely to cover anticipated increases in labor and materials, and the extra $30 billion of capital investment might only really represent $10-15 billion in true investment beyond what had been spent in the previous decade. That amount might represent one new small-scale park or a couple of new lands in existing parks, not the massive expansion that many are suggesting.

I think a lot of this investment will go to paying off existing debt, continue to make minor improvements to the parks, and giving each of the parks around the world a major e-ticket level attraction and a couple of smaller attractions over the next decade. I think when 2035 rolls around, we will look back and not see that much of a change in the scale of investment over the previous 10 year period (2025-2035) than was made during 2015-2025.

September 19, 2023 at 9:17 AM

A few takeaways

Investors are not happy with this news that the parks need so much investment with Disney+ also losing money, the writers/actors strike, and the death of linear TV. Disney is getting hit on the market today.

Second point: make no mistake about it this is because of Epic Universe and Comcast in general.

My last thought is I think Disney and Universal, at least in Orlando, are making big money commitments right as the world goes into a slower cycle economically. These companies were basically printing money from 2013-2019 then again in 2021-2022...now that interest rates are so much higher (and I don't see them going down significantly any time soon) and inflation corporate profits are going to be squeezed as the world pays for all that QE and free money since the recession. I think its going to be a tougher decade for profits which is really bad news for Disney as they face so many issues with their other businesses. TBH I wouldn't be surprised to see stuff get cut.

10 years is a long time though things could change multiple times.

September 19, 2023 at 9:16 AM

Also I agree with Russell it's hard to see a new theme park with this money considering inflation the cost to construct things is way higher now than it was a few years ago. Disney can't even build a restroom without taking like two years to construct it and $10 million so while i'm sure they have a lot of new stuff planned I also take this with a grain of salt lol.

September 19, 2023 at 9:28 AM

the_man 3: "Investors are not happy with this news ..."

Me: So less than one hour after this story was posted you feel confident enough to make a definitive statement about how investors feel about "this news"?

Um ... okay.


September 19, 2023 at 9:50 AM

Did Disney happen to mention their plan if the US goes to war with China?

September 19, 2023 at 9:57 AM

Has Comcast mentioned their plan if the US goes to war with China?

Has Walmart mentioned their plan if the US goes to war with China?

Has General Motors mentioned their plan if the US goes to war with China?

Has Apple mentioned their plan if the US goes to war with China?

September 19, 2023 at 10:31 AM

Here’s a question nobody is asking:

What happens if Disney AND Universal join forces to square off against China and the Axis of Evil in a winner-take-all, loser-does-the-dishes steel cage match? Somebody please explain to me that sh*t, because the fallout would be enormous.

September 19, 2023 at 10:38 AM

TH- “I can’t defend Disney’s relationship with China, so I’m just going to play the what about game instead.”

Yep, a lot of US companies are going to be trouble if we go to war with China. But, last I checked, things like factories can always be relocated if necessary. It’s not quite so easy to move two entire theme parks.

Also some of the companies you mention have actually taken steps to divest themselves from China in last few years. Try reading a business journal sometime.

Did Walt Disney personally save your life or something? Because lengths you go to excuse any rebuke of Disney really does border on the fanatical.

September 19, 2023 at 10:57 AM

Where have I ever claimed that I can defend Disney's relationship with China?

How about I respond to you this way: TOC has a point! Disney along with companies like Comcast, General Motors, Apple and many, many others will face significant challenges if the U.S. goes to war with China.

Does that work for you?

Also Comcast won't be able to move their theme park either, will they?

September 19, 2023 at 10:55 AM

Hahah, is right-wing media telling people we're going to war with China? Because that's absurd, I mean, grow up.

Meanwhile: I read the announcement as less about Disney building new stuff (@Russell, you have it right, this is really a clever way to disclose that costs are going up), and more about signaling to the market that Disney is going to focus on its core business, its cash cow. Streaming and TV are a sinkhole, and so Disney is turning its focus to what matters most, the parks. Smart move.

September 19, 2023 at 11:07 AM

TH, The thing you seen to be missing here is that the article isn’t about Comcast, or Apple, or GM, or Wal-Mart, or any other companies with ties to China……It’s about Disney and their future plans, including specific ones associated with their China parks.

The fact that, instead of simply acknowledging that Disney has put some pretty big eggs in a basket that could go up in flames in the near future, you resort to this childish “Oh yeah what about so and so” game, just reinforces the idea that you become irrational what any criticism, regardless of how justified it may be, is leveled at Disney.

September 19, 2023 at 11:13 AM

Actually thecolonel, China’s own government and the fact they have embarked upon a huge military spending campaign, especially in the area of i creasing the size of their navy which would be a key element in any invasion of Taiwan, tells us that there’s a possibility of war in the not too distant future.

I hate the RW media l, but if you think this is just some RW media fantasy that won’t happen, you have a very misguided view of geopolitical reality.

Roughly 2 years ago very few people thought Russia would have launched an all our invasion of Ukraine…….Yet, here we are.

September 19, 2023 at 11:25 AM

Everything's a possibility, acting or talking like it's a probability is just silly. But then people who pay attention to right-wing disinformation think transgender people and history are dangerous, those people believe whatever nonsense they're told. Has exactly nothing to do with today's article, I truly wish there were some moderation on this comments section, nearly every post is ruined by that brainwashed blabber.

September 19, 2023 at 11:45 AM

@TOC: I'll begin by noting that your claim that I implied that I could "defend Disney's relationship with China" was false. I never said that I could. Not once. The fact that you chose not to pursue that assertion seems tantamount to an admission that you will post claims that have no basis in truth.

Moving on, what I find difficult to understand is your failure to recognize that I am agreeing with you. I state flat out that "TOC has a point!" And you still have to argue with me?

And no matter how much you squirm you have to agree that I did acknowledge that "Disney ... will face significant challenges if the U.S. goes to war with China." I also choose to note that other companies will have similar challenges -- including one that operates a theme park in China (which I am told are not "quite so easy to move").

Again, I agree with you. Like many other companies, if the U.S. goes to war with China, Disney will be faced with a significant problem.

September 19, 2023 at 12:22 PM

Two crumbs are crumbs.

Four crumbs is still crumbs.

September 19, 2023 at 12:35 PM

folks if the United States goes to war with China we're all gonna have much bigger problems, for a very short period of time, than what to do with theme parks

September 19, 2023 at 12:45 PM

How in the hell did we go from talking on what's coming for Disney parks to World War III and personal insults?

I can see Disney wanting to invest more in theme parks to make up shortfalls caused by Hollywood strikes hitting studio content and some spots need it. This indicates they're serious about Disneyland expansion and the new DAK plans, which is better than the usual Blue Sky stuff of the past.

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