22 March 2009

The Next Five Years

Perhaps one of my favorite quotes from any attraction, past or present, comes to us from Horizons, “It’s always fun looking back at tomorrow.” In the case of today’s Back Issues, we’re looking at the five year future of The Walt Disney Company in 1987. Coming to us from the Fall 1987 issue of Disney News, this article briefly touches upon all of the park properties, films and television, products, and everything in between, as told by Michael Eisner in conversation with Bob Thomas. And, as they say in Horizons, Eisner “may not have had all the answers, but he had the right idea.”

Here is Eisner’s view of the next five years of Disney history:

Euro Disneyland – “That will be the major happening in the parks area. At least one of the gated attractions – the Magic Kingdom – will be opening in 1992. Possibly a second in 1993 or 1994; it might be a French studio and studio tour or a water theme of some kind. Resort hotels and other hotel rooms, golf courses, a festival market place will all be on our 5,000 acres at Marne-la-Vallee.”

Walt Disney World – “Our continuing expansion there will be just as important. The mega attraction will be the Disney-MGM Studios and Studio Tour. That will be opening next year, along with Pleasure Island, the Norway Pavilion, the Grand Floridian, Typhoon Lagoon – all that plus substantial hotel and convention expansion”

Disneyland – “We have unrealized plans as we try to work with the city of Anaheim in figuring out the parking phenomenon, what to do about a second gated attraction, how to fit it into our adjacent, undeveloped 40 acres, how it relates to the Disneyland Hotel, etc.”

The Burbank Project – “We have committed to a year of development. This would be the home of the Disney animation department, The Disney Channel, the Archives, plus the Disney-MGM Studio Backlot, which would be outdoor sets for movies. Mainly it will be an entertainment center with movie theaters, dining facilities, a studio tour plus tremendous retail shopping.”

Regional Centers – “The Burbank Project would be the prototype; others could be in Dallas or Chicago or Philadelphia. These would be festival market places with entertainment.”

Tokyo Disneyland – “We’re working with the Japanese on the possibility of some other entertainment around the Magic Kingdom, and how they deal with the peripheral situation. The train station will be completed, possibly next year, bringing visitors from downtown Tokyo in 15 minutes. ‘Big Thunder Mountain’ and ‘Captain EO’ just opened, and ‘Star Tours’ will be going there.”

Summing up the outdoor entertainment sector, Eisner observed: “You could say at the end of five years that sector of our company will be twice the size it is now. We will increase our gated attractions from four to seven, plus the festival shopping areas.”

Another Magic Kingdom abroad?

“Not in the next five years. We have enough on our plate now. If we get all of this done and do it well, I’ll have no hair left.”

Eisner continued with the five-year plan in other areas:

Motion Pictures – “We’re getting on track. In that whole division we will have some growth. We’ll surely be up to speed with our touchstone films and our Disney animated films, producing one every year or 18 months. We will increase the number of Disney live-action films.”

Television – “Hopefully we’ll expand substantially in network presence. Right now we have ‘The Disney Sunday Movie’ and ‘Golden Girls,’ plus a new show on CBS, ‘The Oldest Rookie.’ I hope if we are talking five years from now, it would take me a few more minutes to describe our other shows. Our television syndication has developed strongly, and we expect it to grow.”

The Disney Channel – “I guess we have three and a half million subscribers now. I don’t know what will happen in five years. There’s no way of telling where it will level off. Right now we’re growing strong and working very hard on making the programming good.”

Real Estate – “Obviously we have major areas to develop, in Florida and in France. There will be theme parks, hotels, office buildings, residential areas, farm land and green belt. All those things need to be balanced.”

Acquisitions – “We have to look for opportunities outside our existing businesses but in allied fields. Broadcasting is an area we are attracted to. We acquired KHJ-TV in Los Angeles for many reasons. The broadcast business in its own right has the kind of growth and potential that we need to achieve our projected company growth. KHJ-TV is in our home market where we can watch it, and it’s in the Disneyland market. Also it’s in the second largest market in the country and the first market in advertising dollars spent.”

Retail – “We’re looking very strongly into the retail area. We opened The Disney Store in the Glendale Galleria, and it has been a monumental hit. We’ve opened another one at Pier 39 in San Francisco, and we’re looking for other places to expand.”

Consumer Products – “Always a vital part of our business. We are looking into all areas for creative things we can do with the Disney franchise., whether it’s children’s furniture or whatever.”

1 comment:

Princess Fee said...

Definitely interesting to look back at what the future was going to look like... Thank you for sharing, Ryan!