Buoyed by surging attendance and other growth markers for its Central Florida theme parks, executives of Walt Disney World Co. outlined several new projects and initiatives Wednesday tailored to sustain momentum during tough economic times.
Not that everything’s sunshine and buttercups – Disney’s Pleasure Island nightclub venue, part of its Downtown Disney entertainment complex, is shutting down after Saturday night’s performances.
Disney officials remain mum on what will replace the six nightclubs that debuted in 1989, but they insist the closing is more about a fresh change than the economic downturn.
“Guests tell us they’re looking for a different experience,” said Michael Griffin, vice president of communications for Walt Disney World Resort.
Disney World’s attendance figures shot up 7 percent and per-guest spending was up a more modest 3 percent during its fiscal second quarter, which ended March 29, the Orlando Sentinel reported in May. The attendance figure was a year-over-year comparison.
Wednesday’s mood was decidedly upbeat as officials enumerated plans for opening a new Magic Kingdom attraction to coincide with the Oct. 28 DVD release of “Tinker Bell.” The attraction, set to open Oct. 24, will target young girls.
Coming sometime in 2010 is a 100-lane bowling alley to attract professional-level tournaments at the popular Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex – soon to be rebranded ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
A recent addition to the complex, the 80,000-square-foot Jostens Center, features six full-size basketball courts.
Already the spring training home of the Atlanta Braves, the complex attracts 250,000 athletes a year, mostly youths, along with 1.2 million spectators, mostly relatives, said Ken Potrock, senior vice president of Disney Sports Enterprises.
Beefing up its sports venues makes sense, Potrock said, given considerable growth in youth sports, “Eighty-five percent of the people that compete would not have come to Disney or Central Florida without this business,” he said.
Information courtesy of Orlando Sentinel