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Interview with Bob Iger about the Parks

eliza61nyc

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#1
Got this in the my in box. It's from Barron's. I don't think there is a firewall but let me know
https://www.barrons.com/articles/di...ark-plans-and-learning-from-kodak-51546599600

You’re putting a lot of money into the parks. How confident are you about the return there?

The acquisition of these brands and the creation of intellectual property behind them have had a tremendous impact on growing our returns at the parks. When you have Star Wars to market at the parks...Avatar is a good example, Cars Land, we’re building a Frozen land in [Hong Kong, Tokyo and Paris parks], the interest among the potential audience is higher. It’s not like “I’m going to ride some nondescript coaster somewhere, that maybe is [themed like] India or whatever.” No, you’re going to Arendelle and you’re going to experience Frozen with Anna and Elsa. Or you’re going to fly a banshee into Pandora. Go to Cars Land. We built Radiator Springs. You’re with the characters in that town.

The success of these has allowed us to raise our margins significantly. There’s just more demand for our product than there ever was, because people are coming not just to visit a theme park, they’re coming to experience the stories and the characters, the places, that were part of the movies they loved.

The investment cycle that we’re in is a reflection of that success. Our ROIC, it’s not quite triple where we were, but it’s certainly above our cost of capital. And it’s a good place to put our money.

Do you still feel like you can bring more people through the parks, or is it more about growing ticket prices?

In some, you get more repeat visitation and increased length of stay because there’s more to do. You get more capacity. When Star Wars opens in Anaheim in June and in Florida later in the year, that’s adding capacity. You’re adding 14 acres of land [each], more rides, and more things for people to do. It’s the biggest land we’ve ever built. We’re just getting higher demand on our product spread throughout the year. That gives you pricing leverage. But what we’re also trying to do is be much smarter about pricing strategy, to try to spread attendance and reduce attendance in the peak periods so we can improve guest satisfaction. Crowding is an issue.


I was surprised to hear him acknowledge the crowding issue.
 

RobbinsDad

Well-Known Member
#2
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It’s not like “I’m going to ride some nondescript coaster somewhere, that maybe is [themed like] India or whatever.”

Says all we need to know about Iger's parks strategy.
 

GlacierGlacier

Well-Known Member
#4
Got this in the my in box. It's from Barron's. I don't think there is a firewall but let me know
https://www.barrons.com/articles/di...ark-plans-and-learning-from-kodak-51546599600

You’re putting a lot of money into the parks. How confident are you about the return there?

The acquisition of these brands and the creation of intellectual property behind them have had a tremendous impact on growing our returns at the parks. When you have Star Wars to market at the parks...Avatar is a good example, Cars Land, we’re building a Frozen land in [Hong Kong, Tokyo and Paris parks], the interest among the potential audience is higher. It’s not like “I’m going to ride some nondescript coaster somewhere, that maybe is [themed like] India or whatever.” No, you’re going to Arendelle and you’re going to experience Frozen with Anna and Elsa. Or you’re going to fly a banshee into Pandora. Go to Cars Land. We built Radiator Springs. You’re with the characters in that town.

The success of these has allowed us to raise our margins significantly. There’s just more demand for our product than there ever was, because people are coming not just to visit a theme park, they’re coming to experience the stories and the characters, the places, that were part of the movies they loved.

The investment cycle that we’re in is a reflection of that success. Our ROIC, it’s not quite triple where we were, but it’s certainly above our cost of capital. And it’s a good place to put our money.

Do you still feel like you can bring more people through the parks, or is it more about growing ticket prices?

In some, you get more repeat visitation and increased length of stay because there’s more to do. You get more capacity. When Star Wars opens in Anaheim in June and in Florida later in the year, that’s adding capacity. You’re adding 14 acres of land [each], more rides, and more things for people to do. It’s the biggest land we’ve ever built. We’re just getting higher demand on our product spread throughout the year. That gives you pricing leverage. But what we’re also trying to do is be much smarter about pricing strategy, to try to spread attendance and reduce attendance in the peak periods so we can improve guest satisfaction. Crowding is an issue.


I was surprised to hear him acknowledge the crowding issue.
He really only seems to see parks as an extension of the film side of the buisness. No big surprise there.
 
Last edited:

tparris

Well-Known Member
#8
He really only sees parks as an extension of the film side of the buisness. No big surprise there.
Definitely. The thing is, yes, perhaps people are interested in Disney movie-based IP’s in the parks, but there’s so much more that could be done. Look at the success of original attractions like Space Mountain and Haunted Mansion, they are some of the most recognizable and beloved attractions in the world. The parks don’t need IP to be appealing and successful. Perhaps he just can’t process that.
 

eliza61nyc

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#11
Interesting last question.

What’s your favorite thing when you go to the parks—or do you just look at it as a businessman?

I look at it as a human being. I go there and I marvel at how many people are there having the time of their lives. You just get the sense that in a world that can at times feel dark and as sinister as it is, these are people that have escaped all of that. They have spent time and good money, I will say, to provide themselves and their friends, their family, their loved ones, an experience that not only is going to make them feel good, but that they’re going to remember forever. That is never lost on me. I appreciate it as an executive, as a human being, and as a parent. I have grandchildren I take there.


I wonder if he connects with the complaint department
 

Kman101

Well-Known Member
#12
It’s not like “I’m going to ride some nondescript coaster somewhere, that maybe is [themed like] India or whatever.”

Says all we need to know about Iger's parks strategy.
But the strategy works whether we like it or not. It's just not a long-term one. And he's naive to not believe both types of things can exist. Hello, Expedition Everest ....

He’s such a.... businessman.
That's one way to put it ... :)
 

yensidtlaw1969

Well-Known Member
#13
On the other hand, nothing he says is incorrect.
Maybe not, but for him to suggest that the model used to be “I’m going to ride some nondescript coaster somewhere, that maybe is [themed like] India or whatever" is pretty rich. He's totally missed the point. Unless he's comparing to parks outside Disney, but they were never really a problem for them anyway.

For every Pandora and Cars Land this guy got built there have been a hundred nondescript additions of varying scales that would never have passed muster in an older regime. The state of Placemaking outside of any new *IP Land* project has totally devolved under his watch. We should compile a list of the generic dreck he's let into the parks and see how it compares to, say "non-film-specific Runaway Train Ride".
 

Zootopia Dude

Well-Known Member
#14
Interesting last question.

What’s your favorite thing when you go to the parks—or do you just look at it as a businessman?

I look at it as a human being. I go there and I marvel at how many people are there having the time of their lives. You just get the sense that in a world that can at times feel dark and as sinister as it is, these are people that have escaped all of that. They have spent time and good money, I will say, to provide themselves and their friends, their family, their loved ones, an experience that not only is going to make them feel good, but that they’re going to remember forever. That is never lost on me. I appreciate it as an executive, as a human being, and as a parent. I have grandchildren I take there.


I wonder if he connects with the complaint department
The answer he gives is very accurate though. I feel the same way: I love going to Disney as it's a way to escape things going on in the real world, and it's a place where I can truly be myself. Also of course... Just seeing all the people having an amazing time.
 

Kman101

Well-Known Member
#15
On the other hand, nothing he says is incorrect.
It really feels like some just can't believe people want IP in the parks. We are a vast minority. But I also feel like Iger and others don't quite understand that non-IP can work too. It doesn't really even need to be one or the other. Both can equally and do exist. It's not hard. And when I say I "get" their strategy, I do (and it doesn't mean I endorse it). Look at Pixar Pier. I'm pretty sure it's at least a little bit more popular now than it was, as hard as that is to believe. I know it's hard, but you're right, he's not incorrect.
 

WondersOfLife

Blink, blink. Breathe, breathe. Day in, day out.
#19
They saw Universal do it with success on Harry Potter, and they decided to copy it. The financial success of a fully immersed land is not wrong on the business end of things. Do they have to do it? No. Can we get more attractions like Haunted Mansion and Everest? Sure. But like....... Which one is easier for the company to get done? And which one is actually going to make them more money? Yeti plushies, or slinky dog headbands?
 

Jenny72

Well-Known Member
#20
We talk about these issues like we really know whether most movie IP draws people in, but do we really know whether it does or not? And does Bob Iger, for that matter? It's not clear to me that Avatar is drawing people in because it's Avatar, or that people really want to be immersed in Remy's Ratatouille world or whatever. For my kids, with the exception of a few movies they like, they really don't care whether the ride is themed to a movie or not, and a lot of times they just say "who's that?" when some strange character appears (like the Michelin man guy from Big Hero 6, which they've never seen).

Now, I can certainly accept that the situation is different for other people who want to see Radiator Springs, etc. But I think there's very little way of directly measuring, for instance, whether Expedition Everest would be 24% more popular if it had Moana grabbing you at the top of the mountain or whatever. We can speculate based on our own preferences, but that's about it.

I'm skeptical that Iger really cares about that angle, anyway, despite his response here. I think it's more about promoting the films and selling merchandise rather than making the parks immersive.
 
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