One of the more unexpected market surprises of 2020 is seeing Walt Disney (DIS 2.46%) wrap up the year hitting all-time highs in December. Despite its shuttered theme parks and cruises and a lack of box office revenue, investors have bid up the media giant.
Disney's strong success is raising expectations for the year ahead. There will be a lot going at Disney in 2021, but let's take it one month at a time. Let's go over a few dates for Disney investors to watch in January.
The peak holiday travel season is over at Disney World. Operating hours are now getting shorter, and on Tuesday Disney will roll out a new promo where guests booking travel packages for at least a four-night stay get two extra days of tickets.
The next big event at the world's most visited theme park resort start on Friday when the Taste of Epcot International Festival of the Arts kicks off. Guests will get to try artisan-themed food, take in works of art, and enjoy unique festival programming and photo ops. Epcot's festival will run through Feb. 22. You'll know the festival is a success if Disney expands its operating hours for the park or increases capacity.
The Mandalorian put Disney+ on the map, but having another hit series tied to one of its biggest franchises couldn't hurt. WandaVision premieres on the fast-growing streaming service. Taking a pair of popular Marvel characters from the Avengers playing field, WandaVision offers a trippy series with original Marvel Cinematic Universe stars Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff and Paul Bettany as Vision.
Giving a superhero series a throwback bent to the days of classic television is a gamble. This show is either going to be a smash hit or a dud. There is no way it lands anywhere in the middle. Disney+ will roll this out in weekly installments the way it did with The Mandalorian, but it won't take long before social media either makes the series a cult fave or blasts it to cultural smithereens. As a media company, Disney knows the drill.
Until a few weeks ago, Disney had suspended its cruise sailings through the end of January. In early December, it bumped its disruption through the end of February. By the end of this month it wouldn't be a surprise if it extends its cancelations through March, making it more than a year since Disney's last passenger sailing.
Disney is in better shape than the country's three largest cruise lines. It runs a diversified media and leisure empire. But that doesn't mean it isn't feeling the pinch. Back in November, Disney said demand for its four cruise ships was strong in the latter half of this fiscal year, and that means starting in April. The timetable will change if Disney has to keep nixing its cruises.