Let’s imagine The Walt Disney Company in 2025. What would it look like?
Most fans would arguably list off some of the more obviously assumed aspects. The Disneyland Resort would be celebrating its 70th Anniversary, Hong Kong Disneyland would be turning 20, more quality Star Wars content would be on Disney+ and Black Widow will finally have appeared in theaters.
But what would it really look like on a deeper level? 2020 with its pandemic and government crackdowns on normal life has not been kind to theme park and entertainment giants like Disney, but it has certainly brought priorities into the spotlight. And those priorities which will continue to hold the company’s focus appear to be direct-to-consumer streaming and Parks, Experiences, and Products.
Disney+, Direct-to-Consumer Streaming in 2025
CEO Bob Chapek and other Disney officials have already stated that direct-to-consumer streaming has become the top priority of the company. The transition is already well underway with new appointments and layoffs of executives from across the corporate reach.
But over the next five years, it looks like streaming will threaten traditional linear TV more so than the movie theater industry.
Disney has continued to hold out faith that movie theaters will get back on their feet, delaying releases and only opting for Disney+ releases when necessary. Mulan and its premier access release was an experiment. Onward got its initial theatrical release but was forced to be moved to Disney+. Hamilton was added to appease a rapidly growing subscriber audience suffering from a lack of original content.
Other blockbusters like the continuations of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Disney’s live-action remakes like The Little Mermaid will still be aimed at a theatrical release.
Linear TV, on the other hand, will most likely not be so lucky. As Disney+ spreads around the world, Disney Channels are going extinct. Television executives at ABC and 20th Century are being cut as the roles are consolidated, and it appears that more power over content distribution is being taken away from the networks and given to the studios. ESPN+ also continues to gather more subscribers, and that plus live sports availability on Hulu could continue to alter how live sports are broadcasted.
Parks, Experiences, and Products in 2025
Those assets under Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products, specifically the theme parks, Disney Cruise Line, and Adventures by Disney, will most likely continue to rebound. So long as draconian government regulations don’t force them to close.
It could be argued that fear of this current pandemic is the only thing keeping people from returning to normal life. The next five years will continue to reveal more about this pandemic–if not produce a vaccine–which will continue to allow us to go about life safely despite it. As that educated confidence continues to rise, so too will the demand for Disney Parks, and Experiences. Attendance rates and safety record at the Walt Disney World Resort is proof enough of this possible outcome.
It is only a matter of time before the Disneyland Resort, Disneyland Paris, and Hong Kong Disneyland Reopen. It is only a matter of time before Disney Cruise Line and Adventures by Disney can set off once again. And it is only a matter of time that refurbishments and expansion projects currently underway–from the massive expansion of Walt Disney Studios Park and Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure to the Disney Wish and Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser hotel–are completed and open to the public.
Over the next five years, The Walt Disney Company will hopefully continue to move forward.