Saturday, August 26, 2006
I've been on some business trips the last couple of weeks, and while I was in L.A. I discovered that Disney is spending who-knows-how-many hundreds of millions of dollars to build a new headquarters for its most poorly performing division, the Consumer Products group. It's to open in a few months near the DreamWorks studios, and will feature a built-in Panda Express ... for no reason other than the division president loves Panda Express.
And all the while, Disney claims it doesn't have enough money to remove the maligned wand, to renovate Wonders of Life without a sponsor, or to upgrade painfully old attractions at Epcot.
Yet, it does have enough money to placate the spoiled head of the only division that has shrunk in size over the years.
At the same time, the company just promoted one of its executives to a higher position within the Disney Vacation Club, with plans to expand that concept even further -- no doubt leading to even more aggressive, more unattractive DVC sales kiosks shoved obtrusively into theme parks. So, while Disney can't, for instance, overhaul Spaceship Earth and bring its storyline into the 21st century, it can spend mega-millions to devise new ways to get more money from you.
I just don't understand the priorities of The Walt Disney Company.
Or, perhaps, I don't want to, because Disney is increasingly doing nothing to hide the fact -- even from its guests -- that a bottom-line mentality devoted to "shareholder value" is all it cares about. (Which is kinda funny, since I sold most of my stock in 2001 at 40 bucks a pop, and five years later it's not even close to that price ... so I wonder where the value for shareholders is?)
Sorry to rant and rave about money today, but it just angers me so much that Disney can spend money when it wants to on projects that do nothing but placate its executives or crassly pull more cash from wallets, yet it claims it has no money to restore the glory to what was once its most unique and exciting theme park.