Disney to spend $24 bn to expand its theme park empire with new resorts, shops, attractions

FP Staff

Nov 29, 2018 16:46:21 IST

As crowds continue to swarm into theatres showing its numerous movies, Walt Disney Co has announced plans to expand its already massive theme park empire.

The New York Times reports that the entertainment giant is spending some big bucks — approximately $24 billion — on new resorts and attractions over the next five years. That's more than what it spent on acquiring Marvel, Lucasfilm and Pixar combined, which was around $15.4 billion.

Walt Disney Company Los Angeles. AP

Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, California. File image

“It can’t just be special — it has to be spectacular,” Disney’s theme park chairman Bob Chapek told NYT, calling the expansion plan "enhancement on steroids."

In 2019, it will be opening a 14-acre Star Wars-themed area called Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge "lands" — filled with rides, shops and restaurants — in Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California and Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. The two signature attractions of the "lands" now under construction will be "Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run," in which guests can take the controls in three different roles, and "Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance," offering an "epic battle" between the First Order and the Resistance. The attractions are to open at Disneyland Resort in summer 2019 and at Walt Disney World Resort in the fall.

Disney is also trying to transform itself into a broad-based digital entertainment company as audiences move to Netflix, Amazon Prime and other digital options. It is on the verge of gaining new film and television properties in a $71.3 billion purchase of assets from Twenty-First Century Fox Inc.

It has already revealed plans for a new Star Wars series for its forthcoming streaming service, that it has named Disney+ and plans to launch late next year.

Mickey Mouse, the brainchild of cartoonist Walt Disney that has eventually come to symbolise the company, celebrated his 90th birthday earlier this month. To mark his birthday, Disney opened a 16,000-square-foot art exhibition in Manhattan, called “Mickey: The True Original Exhibition,” featuring original art, larger-than-life photo ops and, of course, commemorative merchandise.

Disney owns ABC, ESPN, Pixar, Marvel Studios and Star Wars producer Lucasfilm, plus an array of theme parks.

(With inputs from agencies)

Updated Date: Nov 29, 2018 17:09:27 IST