Drone footage of Disneyland's Star Wars: Galaxy Edge in construction

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/04/17/drone-footage-of-disneylands.html


Man, they’re really going all out for this.

No surprise, though - Disney has been quietly struggling to maintain their parks’ profitability for years now (it’s pretty evident on their annual financial statements) and the ESPN millstone around their neck has been really exacerbating things.

Looks like SW is the Hail Mary they’re putting up to try and reinvigorate the park scene, but that really ignores the fact that middle-income Americans just don’t have the spare cash to hemorrhage at Disney like they used to. Might work for a couple years, but I suspect that it will at most just prolong the inevitable bleeding out.


You certainly wouldn’t get that impression from a trip to Disneyland. The place is consistently packed.


Is this the drone they used?


Maybe @NovaeDeArx is of the “nobody goes there anymore- it’s too crowded” school of thought? Seriously though, according to quarterly shareholder statements revenue from the parks division is carrying the rest of the company, and attendance is higher than ever.

“Disney’s Parks & Resorts business experienced strong growth during fiscal 2017. The segment’s revenue grew 8% y-o-y and operating income increased 14% y-o-y, driven by growth in its domestic and international businesses. The segment’s growth in domestic operations was primarily driven by higher average guest spending and a 2% y-o-y increase in attendance, partially offset by higher expenses to support higher volume and new attractions.”


Yes, very cool, but when will it be fully operational?


If they don’t turn the big Epcot sphere into the Death Star, they just aren’t taking it seriously.


[insert Death Star trench run joke here]


Different park, but yeah they actually did that.


This is absolutely true. The parks division makes massive amounts of money and the new Pandora (Avatar) area has increased attendance hugely. (Seriously: I went during the “off season” and there were 4-hour waits for the Flight of Passage ride)

What I think they’re getting confused about is that Disney’s been investing gigantic sums into the parks over the last few years: Shanghai Disney cost over $4 billion, the new Star Wars areas in Disneyland and WDW will cost over $1 billion apiece, they’re still overhauling California Adventure and are about to overhaul Downtown Disney in CA, and just announced a huge, multi-billion dollar expansion of Disneyland Paris as well as an overhaul of Future World at EPCOT. Plus they’re adding an entirely new transportation system at WDW and are rumored to have just ordered an all-new monorail fleet.

So yes, when you take that into account, their profits are down, because they’ve gigantically ramped up investments into park construction.


That’s not the drone you’re looking for.

1 Like

In Soviet New Order, drone looks for you!


I’ve been to Disney World twice, when I was 18, and mid-thirties. I loved it. I’d love to share it with my kids. The trip in my 30’s cost $1000 split between a friend and I, plus airfare. It included all meals. I have NEVER seen a deal like it again, and it’s possible I may never take the girls to the place because it is priced out of my range now and for the foreseeable future. As one who grew up on Walt Disney Presents, and loved all things Disney growing up it makes me very sad. They ask about it periodically, as it comes up in some of their Disney shows on Netflix and Amazon.

1 Like

Packed, yes - it seems that there’s been a focus on increasing volume to make up for a decrease in spending.

Note the weasel-word suspicious difference there between average spending and median spending.

Disney is catering to the ultra high end to shore up slouching median family spending on one hand, and making up it on the low end by pushing painfully high volumes of people into its parks with lots of deals for locals, huge return visitor discounts, and so forth.

So, why are they being so sneaky in their wording? Well, probably because “We plan to cater to the very high end, especially foreign money” rings a lot of alarm bells for investors and regulators. In the first case, it’s well-known that relying on a relatively small group of people to provide a large share of revenue is… Risky, to say the least. If you can’t keep attracting them back on a constant basis, you’re in trouble - which also speaks to Disney massively investing in a whole new section of park, something I don’t think they’ve done on this scale in ages.

As for regulators… Well, where’s the last place you heard about “tons of foreign money flowing into American pockets” from? Oh, right. Trump and his real estate money laundering.

I think if they start drawing too much attention to the very, very wealthy clients they’re pulling in, there might be a few too many questions asked by anti-money-laundering people that might not be so easily answered by Disney. And even if that’s not the case, Disney has already recently floated a few ideas that cater to the rich that are unpopular with the non-rich, like paying a fair bit to get extra Fast Passes.

And turning a tidy profit while doing so. I thought the premise of your earlier comment was that their parks were suffering financially? Nobody’s gonna try to make the case that Disneyland is a cheap way for an average middle-class family to spend the weekend.

I thought I laid out the argument that this while this is a good way to shore up short-term revenues, it’s a very risky mid- to long-term move.

America’s middle class isn’t getting any better off financially, and Disney parks just can’t survive without their “base load” of money. Relying on a much smaller client pool also puts Disney in a much riskier place financially, and also forces them to up the refresh rate on their attractions, meaning that they’re looking at having to spend a lot more of every revenue dollar in the long run to maintain that flow of customers.

So in summary, we’re seeing Disney forced into a position that looks less profitable, as well as opens them up to the constant temptation of serious money laundering profiteering such as observed in the case of Trump’s “real estate ventures”. All of that looks bad on paper, and can and will scare institutional investors away if it starts looking too shaky.

So that’s the “quietly struggling” I was talking about in my initial post; guess I should have been more explicit.

I think your tinfoil Mickey ears need adjustment.

1 Like

I doubt I’ll convince you of this, but I think that in the context of a shareholder report which is discussing total revenues (which is, after all, what shareholders are typically interested in) using the term “median spending” rather than “average” would be very suspicious. After all, it’s possible for median spending to go up while having a substantial drop in total revenue.


It can be done on a budget. It all depends on where you stay and where you eat. Paying full price for their resorts and getting the meal plan for a family is indeed crazy expensive. But I have plenty of friends who go there fairly regularly and are most definitely not well off, and they save lot of money by staying offsite and keeping their meals in the park to a minimum.

Disney used to run lots of specials – stay for a week, get free meals, etc – to pull guests in during the slow off-season. But these days the parks are so busy (partially due to all the massive discounts they give to European and Asian travelers) that there’s virtually no slow season.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.