Disney's theme park segment today reported an 8% increase in operating income on a 7% increase in revenue for the three months ending December 30, 2023, setting records for the company.
The company's Experiences segment reported $9.132 billion in revenue for the first quarter of its 2024 fiscal year, up from $8.545 billion for the same period one year ago. The increase was driven by a 35% jump in revenue at Disney's international theme parks.
The international parks also drove the Experiences segment's operating income growth for the quarter. Disney reported $328 million in operating income from those parks for the quarter, up from $79 million for the same period one year ago. That offset a $36 million decline in operating income from Disney's domestic parks.
Disney attributed that decline to Walt Disney World in Florida, which saw lower park attendance and fewer occupied room nights. The Disneyland Resort in California did see higher attendance and guest spending, though that benefit was largely offset by increases in costs. The Disney Cruise Line also saw an increase in passenger cruise days, partially offset by higher costs.
As for the international parks, attendance was up in Hong Kong and Shanghai, where World of Frozen and Zootopia opened during the quarter, respectively. Shanghai also benefitted from not suffering from any Covid-related closures, as it did during the same period in 2022. However, attendance was down at Disneyland Paris for the quarter.
"Our strong performance this past quarter demonstrates we have turned the corner and entered a new era for our company, focused on fortifying ESPN for the future, building streaming into a profitable growth business, reinvigorating our film studios, and turbocharging growth in our parks and experiences," Disney CEO Bob Iger said. "As we build for the future, the steps we are taking today lend themselves to solidifying Disney's place as the preeminent creator of global content. Looking at the renewed strength of all of our businesses this quarter – from Sports, to Entertainment, to Experiences – we believe the stage is now set for significant growth and success, including ample opportunity to increase shareholder returns as our earnings and free cash flow continue to grow."
In an investors call following the earnings release, Disney's new CFO, Hugh Johnston, provided new detail on Disney's planned investment push for its theme parks.
"We plan to invest approximately $60 billion into the business over the next 10 years, of which approximately 70% is earmarked for incremental capacity-expanding investment around the globe, which we expect to generate attractive returns," Johnston said.
When asked to clarify, Iger responded, "We're already hard at work determining where we're going to place our new investments and what they will be. You can pretty much conclude that there'll be all over - meaning every single one of our locations will be the beneficiary of increased investment and thus increased capacity - including on the high seas, where we're currently building three more ships."
"I'm not going to give you much more of a sense of timing, except that we're hard at work at getting these things conceived and built. We've got a menu of things that will basically start opening in 2025, and there will be a cadence every year of additional investment and increased capacity."
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