Share prices of Walt Disney (DIS 1.09%) are up 30% since hitting a 52-week low of $90.23 in early July. Disney did its part to justify that move by announcing solid operating results for the fiscal third quarter that ended July 2.

While Disney's performance looked strong across the board, a key highlight was the parks, experiences, and products segment, which nearly doubled its revenue year over year to $21 billion through the first nine months of fiscal 2022 (The fiscal year ends Oct. 1).

Investors should watch two catalysts with respect to the parks business that could unlock more gains for Disney stock buyers over the next five years.

Recovery of international tourism

With the stock still trading within the same range it's been in for the last five years, it's obvious the share price is not keeping up with the growth in Disney's business. This is clear when looking at parks revenue and operating income levels. In the same quarter in 2019, Disney reported revenue for the parks, experiences, and products segment of $6.6 billion, or an increase of 7% year over year. Disney eclipsed that total in the latest quarter, reporting segment revenue of $7.4 billion, for an increase of 70% year over year.

Most importantly, operating income for the segment came to nearly $2.2 billion, or an operating margin of 29.6%. This is a few points higher than 2019's figure.

Parks, Experiences, and Products Segment Fiscal Q3 2019 Fiscal Q3 2022
Revenue $6.58 billion $7.39 billion
Operating income $1.72 billion $2.19 billion
Segment operating margin 26.1% 29.6%

Data source: Walt Disney earnings reports.

And keep your eye on international tourism. International travel plunged during the pandemic but is expected to recover to between 55% and 70% of 2019 levels in 2022, according to Statista. The travel market was growing strongly before the pandemic and has yet to fully recover industrywide or at Disney's theme parks.

During Disney's fiscal Q3 earnings call, Chief Financial Officer Christine McCarthy said that when international travel is fully back to normal levels, it should be "additive to margins," since international tourists tend to stay longer and spend more money.

International travel plunged during the pandemic but is starting to recover.

New attractions and services

Another trend to watch is growth in per-capita spending at the parks, which is up 40% over the same quarter three years ago. This explains how Disney is generating more revenue at the parks despite traffic volume that's still lower than it was in 2019.

Management mentioned a few things contributing to the increase in spending per guest. First, the new reservation system is helping to better manage park traffic while also optimizing the economics on the business side. One piece of this strategy was the launch of the Genie+ service, which allows guests to better plan their day at the parks and skip long lines at select rides in exchange for a service fee. The Genie+ fees are likely very lucrative for Disney.

Management also credits new feature attractions. For example, at Disneyland Paris, guests are spending 30% more than 2019 following the opening of the Avengers Campus on July 20.

Disney even launched a new cruise ship recently that runs on liquefied natural gas, a clean-burning fuel that is cheaper than oil. This shows how far management is going to save money and improve margins.

Disney stock is a great buy

Disney is completely transforming the experience at the parks to improve guest enjoyment while positioning the business to drive shareholder returns. The stock market has yet to give the company credit for these improvements, but this entertainment powerhouse won't stay down forever.

The recovery in international tourism could be a key trigger that unleashes Disney's potential and gets the stock moving higher over the next decade. For that reason, Disney might be the best travel and tourism stock to buy right now.