There's going to be a lot of buzz around Disney (NYSE:DIS) in the coming days. If everything goes as planned, the media giant will have officially opened a new theme park in Shanghai, introduced an updated attraction across three of its parks, and rolled out a sequel to one of its most successful animated features at a multiplex near you by the end of the week.
Disney is a big enough conglomerate that a single event won't typically move the needle, but there are too many things going on this week. They will matter, in concert.
The festivities kick off on Thursday, with the grand opening of Shanghai Disney. The resort has been greeting guests in recent days as part of a soft opening, generating favorable reviews for its richly themed lands. There's also a one-of-a-kind Tron-themed coaster.
The interest in Shanghai Disney is understandable given the sizable population and rapidly expanding middle class in the region. Park admissions, on-site hotel reservations, and tickets for its Broadway-like Lion King show have been selling briskly since going on sale three months ago.
This is the first Disney theme park to open in more than a decade, and it should go a lot smoother than the 2005 debut of Hong Kong Disneyland.
Getting ready to take off
One of the rides that will make its debut on Thursday at Shanghai Disneyland is Soarin' Around the World, a global update to the original California-themed Soarin' that has entertained guests at Disney's California Adventure in California and Epcot in Disney World for more than a decade. Riders board simulated hang gliders, coasting along as iconic worldwide vistas are projected on a mammoth screen.
Thursday's debut at Shanghai Disneyland will follow at Disney's California Adventure and Epcot on Friday, a day -- or technically a day and a half -- later. It should provide a spark at the two parks which are the slowest growing parks in California and Florida, respectively.
Another fish story
Friday will also see Finding Dory -- Pixar's spin-off of Finding Nemo -- hitting theaters. Finding Nemo became Pixar's highest-grossing at the time of its 2003 theatrical release. This has already been a big year for Disney. It's the studio behind three for this year's four highest grossing flicks, and this one will probably be another summer blockbuster.
Disney paid $7.4 billion to acquire Pixar a couple of years after Finding Nemo's release, locking in full ownership of Pixar's growing arsenal of characters. Finding Dory should fare well because viewers are already familiar with many of the main characters.
New theme parks, updated rides, and a theatrical spin-off will be big this week because Disney has proved that they work in the past. Investors won't mind Disney leaning on the past to cash in on the present, planting seeds for future gains.