Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Fixing Disney's Worst Park Will Take Some Time

By Rick Munarriz – Aug 16, 2015 at 2:00PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

The family-entertainment giant announces long overdue upgrades to its least popular theme park in Florida.

Source: Disney.  

Walt Disney (DIS -3.20%) has been gutting Disney World's least-visited park, and on Saturday we got the first official glimpse into the replacements that will fill the void during the D23 expo. Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land will be added to Disney's Hollywood Studios in the coming years, probably with a name change for the park itself along the way.

The upgrades are long overdue, and the theme-park leader has been closing attractions at Disney's Hollywood Studios at an alarming pace. Star Wars Land will be a game changer. Toy Story Land isn't as inspiring, but it will make the park more entertaining for young families. However, with Disney failing to provide a timeline for the actual debut of either expansion project, it's a safe bet that we won't be seeing Toy Story Land for another year or two, and it may take several more years before we get to pilot the Millennium Falcon.   

Disney moves slow. It announced the Avatar expansion at Disney World's Animal Kingdom four years ago, teaming up with James Cameron to bring his blockbuster franchise to life. We're still waiting. Disney offered a sneak peak of Pandora: The World of Avatar over the weekend, and even though it's been under construction for a couple of years in plain sight it won't be until 2017 when guests can enjoy the richly themed expansion. Disney closed one of the only two rides in EPCOT's World Showcase last year, and it will take nearly two years just to transform it into a Frozen-themed boat ride. Regional amusement parks announce rides at the end of the summer, setting them up during the offseason. Disney doesn't move at that speed, even when the end result is a simple attraction. 

Toy Story Land shouldn't take long to flesh out. It's basically a carnival-style flying saucer spinning ride themed to the little green aliens from Pixar's original movie and a Slinky Dog-fashioned kiddie coaster. It's also expanding capacity at the existing Toy Story Mania 3-D shooting gallery ride, but that's been in the works for months. There's no new "E-ticket" attraction here. It will merely satisfy the need for incremental attractions at a park with voids to fill.

The same can't be said for Star Wars Land. It will be amazing. It will be a tourist draw. It will encourage guests to travel down to Florida, drumming up attendance at the park that has been Disney World's least visited park for the past few years. It gives Disney the opportunity to offer the same kind of high-tech and immersive experiences that its biggest rival has been adding lately.  

By the time Star Wars Land opens -- and with no official timeline for when it actually does we're probably talking 2018 or later -- investors will have an entirely different slate of challenges and opportunities to consider. Disney moves slow, and that only works out if you're a patient investor.

Rick Munarriz owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Walt Disney. 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.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

The Walt Disney Company Stock Quote
The Walt Disney Company
DIS
$94.33 (-3.20%) $-3.12

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
326%
 
S&P 500 Returns
102%

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 10/01/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.