Bob Iger says Disney shouldn’t be stressed out by Universal’s Epic Universe

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Disney's CEO Bob Iger spoke Wednesday at an investor conference.

Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger isn’t losing sleep at night with its biggest competitor building a multibillion-dollar resort down the road in Orlando.

Iger was asked about Universal Orlando’s Epic Universe and what it means for Disney during an investor conference.

“We’ve had competition from them for a long time. I’m mindful of what they’re doing, but I’m confident. I like our hand. I’m confident in what we built and I’m confident we will continue to build,” Iger said. “It’s not something that should be distracting to us or anxiety-provoking.”

Iger spoke about Universal, Disney+, the company’s reorganization and other topics during a candid discussion at MoffettNathanson Media and Communications Summit.

On Tuesday, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts was interviewed at the same conference and vowed Epic Universe will “redefine the park experience” when it opens in 2025.

In Disney’s answer to Epic Universe, Iger pointed to attractions Disney World has opened in recent years, like its Star Wars-themed land and Guardians of the Galaxy coaster. More rides are coming, as Iger previously pledged to spend $60 billion over the next 10 years.

“We haven’t announced specifics yet, but we’re looking at a few of those parks to place some pretty big bets on,” Iger said Wednesday.

Iger said the company had record-breaking attendance at all of its theme parks, except Disney World which he added “was still strong.”

Iger also talked about the company’s challenges when he was asked if Disney’s famous storytelling was as strong today because of the changing culture or technology. The company, which turned 100 years old, has dealt with several Hollywood failures and huge losses for its Disney+ streaming service.

“I think as we got into the streaming business in a very, very aggressive way, we tried to tell too many stories. Basically, we invested too much, way ahead of possible returns. It’s what led to streaming ending up as a $4 billion loss,” Iger said. “Spending more that resulted in volume and not quality turned out to be a mistake.”

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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