How Disney Goes Beyond Storytelling

By: Greg Gately

How Disney Goes Beyond Storytelling

How Disney Goes Beyond Storytelling.

From the very beginning, Walt Disney envisioned a company where his stories could grow, coming to life in different forms and in every aspect of people’s lives. In 1930, Walt inked his first licensing partnership to put Mickey Mouse on some pencil tablets thus kicking off the start of Disney merchandising. Then in 1955, he opened Disneyland, creating an entirely new kind of storytelling that could only be experienced. For more than 100 years, Disney’s unparalleled stories have been a core strategic advantage.

As the Licensing Expo kicks off in Las Vegas on Tuesday, our storytelling continues to be a differentiator. Disney’s franchises — beloved brands such as Marvel, Star Wars, Disney Animation, and Pixar, among others — connect with billions of fans through a broad array of unique products and experiences.

There are many facets of The Walt Disney Company, but the guiding light across its media kingdom and the heart that powers the magic is storytelling. However, Disney doesn’t just tell iconic stories, it goes beyond storytelling to make dreams a reality for people around the world each day, building enduring franchises that stand the test of time.

Disney CEO Bob Iger has said that “one of the things that truly sets Disney apart is our unique ability to turn top quality IP into top quality experiences, leading to significant growth,” and Disney is constantly creating new, innovative experiences that craft deep relationships with consumers.

This connective storytelling approach is on full display at Disney’s theme parks and onboard Disney Cruise Line, where everything — down to the tiniest detail — immerses guests in the boundless creativity of Disney stories.

And, as Walt once said, we’re just getting started.

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Disney announced last year that it’s planning to accelerate and expand investment in its Experiences segment to nearly double capital expenditures over the course of approximately 10 years to roughly $60 billion to build new attractions, ships, and lands.

“We’re making investment decisions that look decades ahead, with a view to create long-lasting appeal to generations of families,” said Josh D’Amaro, Chairman of Disney Experiences. “Just like our stories and characters, our new lands, ships, hotels and attractions will stand the test of time, generating excitement among our Guests and fans for years to come.”

Here are just a few examples of how Disney goes beyond storytelling:

How Disney Goes Beyond Storytelling
How Disney Goes Beyond Storytelling

With more than $2.7 billion earned at the global box office, a significant product line, and countless renditions of Let It Go, one of the most popular cultural franchises of the past decade is Disney Animation’s Frozen.

The adventures of Elsa and Anna have inspired Disney experiences around the globe such as World of Frozen, a new themed land at Hong Kong Disneyland, and a soon-to-be revealed Frozen area at Fantasy Springs at Tokyo DisneySea. These experiences are filled with enchanting landscapes, family-friendly attractions, and unforgettable characters from Arendelle.

Soon a Frozen-themed land will be coming to Disneyland Paris as part of a multi-year project that will bring attractions inspired by Frozen to Europe.

Toy Story

Since 1995, Toy Story has stood out as one of the most treasured stories in all of animation, as well as one of Disney’s premier franchises bringing in more than $3.2 billion at the box office.

This enduring love for Woody, Buzz and the rest of Andy’s toys has led to popular Toy Story attractions across the globe: guests can step into a Toy Story Land at Walt Disney World Resort, Shanghai Disney Resort, Hong Kong Disneyland and Disneyland Paris.

They can also stay at a Toy Story Resort Hotel, which integrates the brand into themed resorts at both Shanghai Disney Resort and Tokyo Disney Resort, as well as Pixar Place Hotel at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California.

The Avengers
How Disney Goes Beyond Storytelling

It’s impossible to talk about popular franchises without talking about Marvel, and you can’t talk about Marvel without mentioning Earth’s Mightiest Heroes: The Avengers.

The Avengers films have shattered box office records by notching $7.7 billion globally, and have captivated audiences with rich storytelling, compelling characters, and groundbreaking visual effects.

This makes them the perfect source of inspiration for gripping theme park experiences like Avengers Campus, an immersive land that invites guests to take part in living side-by-side with some of the world’s most powerful heroes.

Some of the Avengers can also be found on the high seas on Disney Cruise Line, which offers a variety of Super Hero-themed adventures, such as the Worlds of Marvel dinner experience and Marvel Super Hero Academy on-board the Disney Wish.

Guests can also join a Marvel Day at Sea cruise in 2025 where more than 30 Super Heroes and Villains come together for thrilling activities and one-of-a-kind entertainment on board the Disney Dream.

Star Wars
How Disney Goes Beyond Storytelling
How Disney Goes Beyond Storytelling

The galaxy far, far away has enchanted audiences since 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope by generating $10.2 billion at the worldwide box office, and Disney’s creative minds have pushed the boundaries of theme park design to transport guests into this treasured universe.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge — which is located at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Park — is an expansive themed area that transports guests to the planet Batuu, where they can take part in their own Star Wars story. This includes building custom droids and lightsabers and enjoying galactic cuisine, all within an authentic and highly-detailed Star Wars environment.

Not to mention, they can take part in thrilling attractions such as flying the Millennium Falcon in Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and fleeing Kylo Ren and the First Order in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.

The Star Wars saga continues on the Disney Wish at the Hyperspace Lounge, where guests can glimpse interstellar views of Coruscant, Tatooine and Batuu with signature Star Wars-inspired beverages.

Disney Experiences and Beyond

Though wondrous, these experiences offer just a taste of what Disney can do.

The expansive world of Disney Consumer Products ensures fans always have the chance to reconnect with their favorite stories. This is thanks to Disney’s global line of products spanning several key realms such as retail products as well as publishing and gaming.

Continuing the tradition of creating authentic, interactive experiences, Disney recently announced a new partnership with Epic Games that will give way to a brand-new games and entertainment universe, bolstering the reach of Disney’s time-tested stories to gamers worldwide. This new universe will not only give users the chance to play and interact with Disney content but will offer them the opportunity to create their own wholly unique Disney-themed gaming experiences, too.

From land to sea to the digital frontier, The Walt Disney Company not only can tell the best stories in the business but can connect those stories to those who love them most in a tangible and special way.

How Disney Goes Beyond Storytelling

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