What will 2012 bring?
Let's take a look at a few of the things Disney will have to get right if it wants to revisit the multi-year highs it hit earlier in 2011.
1. Disney needs to bounce back in theatrical animation
Mars Needs Moms was a charge-breeding disaster. Cars 2 fared reasonably well at the box office, but it became the first Pixar flick that film critics generally panned.
These two developments will find the industry watching Disney's ticket sales closely to make sure that 2011's letdowns in animation were flukes.
Brave hits theaters in June, and the new original Pixar property will have the entire summer to prove that it's "brave" enough to follow up the critically dissed Cars 2. On the non-Pixar front, Wreck-It Ralph hits a multiplex near you come November.
Disney can't afford to be asleep at the animator's wheel. DreamWorks Animation
2. New theme park expansions will have to pan out
Disney World in Florida has had some competition spring up lately. Legoland Florida just opened less than an hour away. Comcast's
After years of phoning it in, Disney is making major additions to parks on both coasts. Disney's California Adventure in Anaheim will get the Pixar-themed Cars Land area. In Florida, the first phase of its ambitious Fantasyland expansion opens. Disney better hope that kids want to spend time with princesses instead of sipping butterbeer at Hogwarts or playing with Lego bricks next summer.
3. Apple's new TV better not be too disruptive
Disney and Apple
However, a rumored component of Apple's 2012 entry into making actual TVs will be a Web-based service where customers can choose which cable stations they want. Disney has carved a cozy living with ESPN included in most cable packages, even if subscribers don't care for sports. It has also been able to wedge a bundle of lightly watched kid channels with its namesake Disney Channel. If consumers can actually cherry-pick the channels they want, cable networks won't be happy.
Consumers will love it, of course.
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz calls them as he sees them. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story, except for Disney. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.
The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of DreamWorks Animation SKG, Apple, and Walt Disney. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. 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.