Disney: We'll ride parks, pass on new ones

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ORLANDO -- Disney has "no plans to open new theme parks. Instead we are focusing on building on our position as a market leader."

Those were the words of Jay Rasulo, president of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, who cited a "protracted downturn" in saying that Disney is adjusting its strategy from expansion to capitalizing on the advantages of its strong market position.

As Disney headed into a new fiscal year, it reported a "gradual improvement" that "appears to be continuing." Domestic operations are seeing some growth, Rasulo said, but the short booking window makes projections difficult.

In the last decade and a half, Disney has grown by expansion, Rasulo said, noting that during the last five years, the company has focused on creating a "multi-park resort" at each of its destinations.

But the period of rapid expansion has ended, Rasulo said.

In August, Disney said revenue for its parks and resorts unit fell to $1.7 billion in its fiscal- third quarter, from $1.8 billion a year earlier. The decline was tied to declining hotel occupancies and park attendance.

Rasulo said Wednesday that Disney will use "natural synergies" to "leverage one of the world's strongest brands."

The company will continue to market around "strong themes," he said. For example, Mission: Space ride is opening this week, and Disney will also push a new Magical Gatherings theme to tap into the rising trend of multi-household and multi-generational travel.

Disney, meanwhile is preparing a major promotion for Disneyland's 50th anniversary in 2005.

The exception to the no "new" theme parks stance is that Disney intends to proceed with the opening of the new theme park in Hong Kong. It broke ground in January.

To contact reporter David Cogswell, send e-mail to [email protected].

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