It's a Small World, Disney

If you think the news on the Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) front is trickling in slowly these days, you need to get out more.

Bring your passport.

Disney is making waves in key international markets. This week alone the company announced plans for an animation studio in Japan that will tailor releases to the local market. News out of China is that a new Disney theme park in Shanghai is coming closer to reality.

Let's head to Japan first, where Disney's first project is to remake its popular "Lilo & Stitch" animated feature. The original was set in Hawaii; the remake will be about an orphan girl in Okinawa.

Disney has done this before. When "High School Musical" was a hit two years ago, the family entertainment giant moved quickly to recast a new version to film in India. Disney has also originated programming and retail concepts in foreign markets that may one day wash up on our shores as imports.

On the theme park side, this morning's China Daily is quoting Shanghai's mayor as saying that his city is simply waiting for central government approval before going ahead with a Disneyland park in the booming Shanghai market.

Even though Hong Kong Disneyland failed to meet its attendance targets, with the second year producing even fewer turnstile clicks than the disappointing first, China is crucial to Disney's growth.

Other stateside entertainment companies -- Six Flags (NYSE: SIX  ) , Anheuser-Busch (NYSE: BUD  ) , Marvel (NYSE: MVL  ) , and DreamWorks Animation (NYSE: DWA  ) -- have followed the money through licensing deals in Dubai. Disney is following the people.

With China's 1.3 billion people and a fast-growing economy, Disney knows it's important to be there early in the prosperity cycle. Other kid-friendly brands such as Viacom's (NYSE: VIA  ) Nickelodeon tread carefully abroad -- Viacom was scoring more than 70% of its revenue domestically last year -- but Disney knows the global market is the market.

So don't go thinking Disney -- a Stock Advisor recommendation -- is asleep at the wheel because it hasn't been making headlines close to home these days. Abroad, Disney is busy putting out more twists and frenetic turns than last night's episode of Lost


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