Iger touts theme park growth at conference

Posted Wednesday, September 25, 2013 9:30 AM | Contributed by Jason Hammond

Disney CEO Bob Iger used a conference appearance to discuss Disney's theme parks, which as a business segment posted operating income of $689 million during the company's fiscal third quarter. Iger set the bar high for the company's forthcoming project in Shanghai. He also said that Disney's MyMagic+ system would roll out "fully" in the coming months at the company's Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando.

Read more from The LA Times.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 9:42 AM

I heard the Save Disneyland Paris petition people got to their goal of 5,000 signatures, sent it to the company, and were hoping Mr. Iger would address some of their concerns at the conference. I don't see anything to indicate that he did- it looks like major emphasis will be placed on Shanghai.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013 9:50 AM

What exactly about it needs saving?

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013 11:01 AM

Walt Disney Company assumed control of most of the debt a year ago. But, Disneyland Paris is still cripped by the debt payments and royalties that need to be paid to the Walt Disney Company. This has lead to smaller investments in the parks and a lack of maintenance everywhere.

I mean, can you believe that most of the "state of the art in 1992" hotels have never gotten a renovation since then? I stayed at the Newport Bay Club in 2007 and wow! Was like staying in a grungy 1990's never redone mom and pop motel. Room was falling apart, TV was a 20 inches huge black box Philips and just dated things. Worst is: People pay over 300-400$ a night in value season to stay there.

Now, even through Bob Iger does not care about his wholly owned US theme parks, the french fans somehow believe he will come to the rescue and invest the Walt Disney Company money again to "save" it.

P.S: Disneyland Paris is owned by the Euro Disney SCA, a stand alone company. Walt Disney Company owns around 35-40% of it, Prince Al-Waleed from Saudia Arabia through his investment company own 10% and the rest are investment groups, banks and small investors.

Hong Kong Disneyland (who he talked a lot about) is owned by a partnership in which the Walt Disney Company own 43% of the company. The Hong Kong government own the rest and call the shots when it come to investments in order to make sure they are split according to that ratio.

Tokyo Disney Resort is fully owned and operated by the Oriental Land company, a leisure company from Japan. The main shareholders are a local railway company and Mitsui group, one of the world's largest company and owners of two amusement parks beside Tokyo Disney as well.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013 1:43 PM

Plus, Europeans everywhere are complaining the parks themselves have been neglected. They are run down, cold, lacking attractions, and just not very magical. They do have Ratatouille opening sometime soon, but that looks like it for projects coming up.
My good friend Jeff was just there in the spring and he reports that the parks are ok, but maybe not quite up to Disney standards. He echoed Absimilliard's sentiments about the hotel. A lot of money for not much, and it was damn near impossible for folks stateside to make a reservation.
I've met quite a few Brits on vacation to Orlando and they've all said they'd been to the Paris park once or twice but it basically sucked compared to what they find in Florida. Apples to oranges, maybe, but that's the complaint.

The Asian parks all look fabulous, don't they? Disney Sea is on my bucket list for sure. Isn't Tokyo the largest attended park in the world?

So these folks that started this petition may be stretching it a bit with the use of the word "save". It's not going anywhere, it's just not on the way up, and they're in for the cause. I was looking to see if there was a mention of it at the conference and I can't find any.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013 1:56 PM

For anyone curious (like me, since I don't really follow the Disney parks), here's the verbiage of the petition. Apparently they've gotten a response from the park president, but are awaiting a response from Iger.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013 2:38 PM

I've had two friends visit Paris in the last few weeks, both enjoyed it, and one was from Orlando. I understand the debt problem, but I can't believe the parks are all that bad.

There was an article in the Orlando Sentinel with the dude from MiceChat, who was complaining that the Orlando parks are slipping, and they need a big investment that isn't Next-gen. Reminds me of the spirit around here for business, where you don't make huge flashy cap ex purchases when you're printing money.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013 6:05 PM

Absimilliard said:

I mean, can you believe that most of the "state of the art in 1992" hotels have never gotten a renovation since then? ... Worst is: People pay over 300-400$ a night in value season to stay there.

If people in 2013 are paying $300-400 a night for 'state of the art in 1992' rooms, why renovate?

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013 10:50 PM

Because sometimes it's better to be proactive rather than wait for people to start leaving before you fix problems. I'm not saying that will happen, but I think that, within reason, it's okay to get a head start.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013 11:15 PM

Good point...but if people are paying thousands of dollars (I'm assuming most guests are staying for more than one night), why be proactive when being inactive gets you large profits?

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Thursday, September 26, 2013 12:01 AM

^^^

so you can charge them $400-$500 per room

^

perhaps being proactive will get you larger profits

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Thursday, September 26, 2013 12:06 AM

Perhaps. But, if the company is, as mentioned above, "crippled" by debt payments, it may be more prudent to continue with what is demonstrably profitable rather than what is probably profitable.

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Thursday, September 26, 2013 8:22 AM

Why dont we ask Cedar Point? I fully expect the Hotel Breakers to go from 300/night for crap to 400/night for not so crappy.

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Thursday, September 26, 2013 11:34 AM

Ugh. Don't even remind me about Breakers. I got a great discounted rate for the main section and still felt like they drastically overcharged for a room that wouldn't go for $70 a night anywhere else.

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Thursday, September 26, 2013 8:26 PM

Jeff said:

I've had two friends visit Paris in the last few weeks, both enjoyed it, and one was from Orlando. I understand the debt problem, but I can't believe the parks are all that bad.

When pieces of buildings are falling down, the fake ceiling of a soon to reopen shop collapse and you got rides held together by shoe strings... Things are that bad.

Space Mountain was closed a week last summer because part of the part collapsed in the waiting line. Some of the rock work on Big Thunder Mountain fell.

They refurbed a shop from a generic Disney movies shop to a Lego Store. Grand opening was this weekend? Not happening! This week, the fake ceiling collapsed in the shop.

The Intamin Indiana Jones coaster was never meant to last 20 years. They had to change the trains and track pieces after 6 years in 1999 just to keep it going.

Things are that bad over there and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Someone I know quoted this for a room at the Disneyland Hotel in Paris. 2 nights stay and park tickets for 2 adults, 2 children... 2700$ US.

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Thursday, September 26, 2013 11:04 PM

I wouldn't stay there.... but .... are they charging $2700 US because they think they can or because people are paying that price?

If people are continuing to go to the resort and spend money, I can't blame Euro Disney SCA for happily accepting the money.

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Thursday, September 26, 2013 11:13 PM

More than likely, they are quoting $2700 because our money is worthless elsewhere. It's currently around .75 euros to our dollar.

I remember the days when $1 was $1.50 Canadian. Those were fun times. Especially when you could stay at a two floor executive suite in Niagara falls for a mere $550 American for a weekend.

~Rob

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Friday, September 27, 2013 8:03 AM

slithernoggin said:

I wouldn't stay there.... but .... are they charging $2700 US because they think they can or because people are paying that price?

If people are continuing to go to the resort and spend money, I can't blame Euro Disney SCA for happily accepting the money.

Hotel occupancy was down nearly 5% in the third quarter of this year compared to the third quarter of 2012.

You've mentioned a few times about why renovate if what they're doing now is giving them large profits. They aren't getting large profits. They're losing money in Paris. They barely showed a profit last year before financing and after the financing charges they got crushed.

http://corporate.disneylandparis.com/investor-relations/financial-indicators/index.xhtml

I don't know any more than what I just looked up on that page, but I'd hardly say that the resort is making so much money that they can sit back and let things deteriorate and still count on making money. Considering that they've lost three quarters of the cash on hand in the last three years (a lot of capital expenditures, too, admittedly) I'd guess that's why local/vocal fans are hoping for the Disney company to step in and inject even more.

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Sunday, September 29, 2013 12:38 PM

What exactly about it needs saving?

We were just there this summer. I'm not sure anything does.

can you believe that most of the "state of the art in 1992" hotels have never gotten a renovation since then?

Not so. We had two rooms at the Sequoia Lodge; it was renovated in the past year or two. Apparently the rest are scheduled. http://disneyandmore.blogspot.com/2011/03/disneyland-paris-update-part-two.html

I did not notice an abundance of visible maintenance problems in attractions or other buildings, though I do not necessarily go looking for them. Thunder and Space each had a few downtime issues during the four days we were there, but not what I'd describe as terribly unusual for a theme park, or even a stateside Disney park. I would say that Studios is looking a little bit tired, but only in a general sense rather than any one particular thing. Disneyland Parc is still its stunning self, by and large.

The one thing I did notice was an almost complete lack of Live-E, other than the afternoon parade which is really quite good. There is also a band that plays in one of the restaurants, but you have to eat there to watch them.

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