Bob Iger says Disney is ready for Epic Universe, calls settlement with Governing Board a ‘win-win’

The Walt Disney Co.'s annual shareholder meeting is a time to ask Bob Iger anything.

Reaching a settlement with Disney World’s state-controlled Governing Board is a “win-win” for Disney and sets the company up to invest in new attractions in Florida, Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger said.

Iger answered questions during an annual shareholders meeting about a variety of topics, such as Disney’s political involvement, future expansions and Disney’s biggest Orlando competitor. The Q&A session from shareholders came after Iger and his current Board won re-election, beating investor activists.

Off the cuff, Iger brought up last week’s agreement with the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.

The agreement which ends the lawsuits between the state controlled-Disney Governing Board and Disney “will actually enable us to pursue the kinds of significant investment in our Florida parks,” Iger said, calling it a “win-win result” that will create thousands of indirect and direct jobs.

One shareholder asked Iger a pointed question: “With Epic Universe opening up in Orlando in 2025, why hasn’t Disney prepared anything or placed more than just a handful of attractions in the pipeline to be ready for this in 2025 at Walt Disney World?”

Iger scoffed at the question about Universal Orlando’s third theme park and Disney not being ready for it.

“That just couldn’t be further from the truth. We’ve been aware of Universal’s plans for a new park for more than a decade,” Iger said.

Universal publicly announced the park at a press conference in 2019.

Iger then listed Disney’s past projects like its Star Wars and Avatar lands and Guardians of Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind coaster, which opened several years ago. Star Wars: Galaxy’s End, for instance, debuted in Orlando in 2019.

“By staggering these major launches, we’ve been able to commercially and operationally optimize our new offerings over time, rather than having to do it all at once,” Iger said.

Iger had previously said Disney plans to invest $60 billion over the next decade at its theme parks and cruise line, but has been repeatedly silent when asked what rides will be coming and where.

On Wednesday, Iger kept the same tone when one shareholder asked what’s next, pointing out that Disney has only brought up “blue sky concepts,” or projects in very early development, at its D23 Expo.

“We have a lot of projects in development,” Iger said. “We disclose at a cadence, and when we really feel we’re ready and we have something more tangible to show people.”

Gabrielle Russon

Gabrielle Russon is an award-winning journalist based in Orlando. She covered the business of theme parks for the Orlando Sentinel. Her previous newspaper stops include the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Toledo Blade, Kalamazoo Gazette and Elkhart Truth as well as an internship covering the nation’s capital for the Chicago Tribune. For fun, she runs marathons. She gets her training from chasing a toddler around. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @GabrielleRusson .


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