Investors are turning their attention to the stocks that will benefit from the reopening of the U.S. economy in the coming months. Some companies will fare better than others, and some will come back stronger than ever.

Walt Disney (DIS -0.12%) and Dave & Buster's Entertainment (PLAY) are two publicly traded companies that are making sure the future will be better than their pre-pandemic peaks. Let's see why the two players that made the most of the lull in their consumer-facing businesses are positioned to win. 

The seven dwarfs in front of their Magic Kingdom ride.

Image source: Walt Disney.

Walt Disney

The world's leading entertainment giant wasn't firing on all cylinders during the pandemic. Its theme parks were shuttered, and it wasn't until last week that it had all of its gated attractions worldwide open for the first time since late January of last year. Disney's cruise line has yet to return to the open seas. With movie fans staying away from the corner multiplex during the thick of the pandemic it's only recently that the company behind all six of 2019's highest-grossing films will benefit from fans returning to the local movie house. 

Disney stock has fared relatively well on the strength of Disney+, the premium streaming service that has topped 100 million subscribers in a little more than a year. Its media networks segment also held its ground during the shelter-in-place phase of the pandemic. 

Let's dive into why the laggards in its portfolio will lead the way now. Disney delaying theatrical releases is stocking the pond for the year ahead. On the cruising front, Disney's fleet will grow by 25% when its fifth ship is deployed next summer. The planet's leading theme park operator has had the perfect opportunity to test out new measures that will help monetize its day guests.  

Dave & Buster's  

The turnaround at Dave & Buster's is coming along a lot quicker than expected. Dave & Buster's knows that it's coming up against easy year-over-year comparisons, so it's emphasizing its two-year growth rate in its latest financial update.

Year-over-year revenue soared 66% in its fiscal first quarter ending in early May, but it's a more somber 27% decline from where it was during the same period two years ago. However, with two-year comps improving to a 4% decline in recent weeks Dave & Buster's feels that the current quarter's top-line performance will be roughly in line with where it was in the fiscal second quarter of 2019.

Dave & Buster's already surprised the market last time out with a quicker-than-expected return to profitability. It has made the most of the pandemic downtime to beef up its business. It has updated its menu, trimming it by a third but still adding nearly two dozen trendy items. It's upgrading its rewards program in the next few months, and that includes offering what it hopes will be collectible nonfungible token (NFT) prizes.

Disney and Dave & Buster's naturally weren't at their best when the economy and social distancing norms were at their worst. It won't always be that way for these consumer discretionary stocks, and we're already seeing them shake things up.