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Disney World Bets on an "Endless" Turnaround

By Rick Munarriz – Oct 28, 2016 at 6:06AM

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Central Florida's leading theme park has a new marketing campaign. It's hoping it gets new results after sluggish attendance so far in 2016.

Image source: Disney.

Attendance has been slumping at Walt Disney's (DIS 1.09%) Florida resort this year, so the family entertainment giant is giving a new marketing campaign a try. "The Magic is Endless," is the ad's slogan, playing up the massive scale of Disney World's attractions.

Let's break down the 30-second spot's narration, digging into the subtext of what it means for potential visitors -- but also what it means for Disney stock investors.

There is a world like no other world, where happiness can be found around every corner.

Walt Disney's biggest lament in building out the original Disneyland in California was the lack of real estate. It built a gated attraction that would raise the bar in the realm of amusement parks, but themed experiences would be interrupted by surrounding businesses. Disneyland was landlocked, and that's why Disney World would go on to encompass more than 40 square miles of land. There's enough turf to house whatever the theme park operator dreams up. 

Between four theme parks, a pair of water parks, a recently reinvigorated shopping and entertainment complex, and several golf courses, sports centers, and more, Disney has set itself up as a one-stop shop for a Central Florida getaway. 

Disney World now has more than 30,000 hotel rooms on its property, according to travel planner It keeps guests close by offering hotel guests bus transportation from the airport and within the resort, nixing the need to rent a car and be tempted by rival diversions. It prices its multi-day park tickets aggressively, making it cheaper on a per-day basis to stay longer. Happiness may not be found around every corner, but profit centers are always there.  

Savory moments and moments to savor. Filled to the brim with memories and wonder.

Food has become a major component of Disney's pitch to folks where immersive rides and character interactions aren't enough. Disney's Epcot is nearing the seasonal end of its popular Food & Wine Festival, where for the past 21 autumns kiosks serving country-specific food and alcoholic beverage samplings have been entertaining foodies and oenophiles. 

Epcot's Food & Wine Festival is brilliant. It takes place just after the peak summertime crowds head back home. This used to be the sleepy season for Orlando, but anyone that has seen the long lines at Epcot's international kiosks during the festival knows that it's not just convention season in Central Florida. Between Halloween-themed nighttime events at Disney's Magic Kingdom and Epcot's festival, Disney's making a lot of money during what has historically been its offseason.  

Because here the laughter has no limits. Here the magic is endless. 

The television commercial's final tag line brings it all home. There are no guarantees on the happiness, laughter, and -- let's be frank -- wonder, but Disney can rightfully point out to the "endless" nature of its gargantuan resort. 

Whether you stay for a quick weekend, a full week, or even longer than a week there are probably a lot of things that you didn't get to do. Did you go horseback riding on a wilderness trail? Did you go parasailing for an eagle's eye view of the Magic Kingdom? Did you go on a monorail bar crawl, hitting up the hotel bars at the three deluxe resorts on the monorail line? 

Disney has been slow in breathing new life into its theme parks, and pair that up with recent price hikes and you have the likely explanation for the rare decline in Disney World attendance through at least the first half of the 2016 calendar year. The new ad campaign hopes to stir up interest in making a trek out to Disney World despite the lack of E-ticket ride additions, playing up the large sandbox that on-site guests can play in during their stays. It's letting folks know that what it already has is enough, and shareholders better hope that that's the case because outside of next year's Avatar-themed expansion at Disney's Animal Kingdom it will be a couple of years before meaningful new park attractions arrive. 

Rick Munarriz owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Walt Disney. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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