Disney Parks and Resorts
Tom Staggs, chairman of Disney Parks
and Resorts, is responsible not only for
theme parks and their related hotels but
also Disney Cruise Line, the Adventures by
Disney tour operation, the Disney Vacation Club timeshare division and Aulani
Resort in Hawaii, the first Disney resort
not connected to a theme park. Editor in
Chief Arnie Weissmann recently sat down
with Staggs to discuss developments across
Disney’s leisure travel portfolio.
and will be converting it to one developed around Phineas and Ferb. It’s possible that we could see other attractions
that are hard assets, but we do think
about what their life cycle will be.
Q: You have a park in Hong Kong and
one announced for Shanghai. What are
your plans for other BRIC countries? Or
other new locations?
A: Shanghai is exciting in terms of pros-
pects for Disney Parks but also to help
us grow Disney as a whole in China. As
for other markets, I do think that could
be a real possibility, but we don’t have
anything we’re focused on other than
China at this moment.
C couldn’t get any advance information from
Virgin Chairman Richard Branson about the
soon-to-be-announced “Dream Suite” enhancement to Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class service,
but we did pick up some news on development
for his Virgin Hotels enterprise.
Q: The Aulani has now been open for
seven months. How’s it doing? Is its
performance inspiring you to plan additional stand-alone themed resorts?
A: I’m very encouraged by the success
of Aulani so far. But it’s too early to say
what our next move will be.
We’re focusing on learning
all we can about the guest
experience and still tweaking
things. We’ll take our time
about the next move.
on tap for 2012.
But one new, upscale hotel has managed to carve itself a unique niche.
While milling about the palatial
new St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort
here, TC heard that a local animal-lover had just opened Pet Paradise, the
emirate’s first-ever pet hotel.
The twist? This being Abu Dhabi,
it bills itself as a “five-star property.” r t
Q: Construction of the Avatar
park attraction doesn’t be-
gin until next year, and Cars
Land is scheduled to open
this summer. Are you doing anything in
existing parks while waiting for these to
A: We’re in the biggest phase of theme
park expansion in our history. In Or-
lando, we’re redoing Fantasyland in the
Magic Kingdom. The Magic Kingdom
is the most popular park, and Fantasy-
land is the most
popular land, so
that’s a big deal.
The second piece
is Hong Kong,
where we recent-
ly opened Toy
Story Land. And
this June we’re
opening the biggest “reimagination” in
California Adventure, with a new entry
corridor, Buena Vista Street, and Cars
Land, based on the Cars movies. You
have the opportunity to be one of the
first bipeds in Radiator Springs.
Q: Adventures by Disney appears to have some challenges regarding growth. Are you
satisfied with its scale?
A: On the one hand, it’s a
striking success. Along with
the cruise line, it’s the highest-rated product from a guest
standpoint. Tours is a very
fragmented market. We didn’t
start out to make it big. It’s
not big from a financial standpoint. But
I’m pleased by how it’s progressing. It’s
hosting a family Disney experience without the infrastructure we normally have
to build. It has served us well and has
informed how we approach our cruise
business, how we approached Aulani.
They’re doing a terrific job.
party for the new
Pressed for more details, he re-
plied, “I’ve said far too much.”
But TC did find out from
a reliable source that the
property in question is
“close to midtown.”
The source said the
company is also looking for
hotels in Miami, Los Ange-
les, San Francisco and London.
Virgin Hotels’ first announced property, in downtown Chicago, is the old
Dearborn Bank Building. The 250-room
property is scheduled to open in the fall
e y th t
It’s hard to stand out in a crowd —
especially if you’re a hotelier opening a
high-end property in Abu Dhabi. The
booming emirate welcomed six new
major properties, for a total of 57, in the
fourth quarter of 2011, and two more are
Looks like Caribbean Airlines is planning a return
to London, but not to
Heathrow. The prized slots,
which BWIA (the airline
that shut down in late 2006
and was replaced by Caribbean Airlines) had used for
decades, were sold when BWIA
So Caribbean Airlines plans to land at
Gatwick when nonstop daily service is
launched from Trinidad, TC hears.
Start date appears to be in mid-June.
The current issue of the carrier’s in-flight
magazine carries a full-page ad headlined
“London … just got closer,” although the
official announcement has yet to hit the
Two 767s leased from Lan Chile will
service the route, according to the buzz.
Q: When will the
next ship be ordered for Disney
A: Our focus today is on [the]
launching. It’s a
possibility, to be evaluated another day.
‘Adventures by Disney has
informed how we approach
our cruise business, how we
Q: A number of the park rides are based
on movies. How about the Disney
A: We have an interactive experience
based around Kim Possible in Epcot
Q: Do you anticipate any changes in
your relationship with travel agents?
A: The short answer is, travel agents
are very important to our business and
will continue to be. Consumers have in-
creasing access to information. They’re
looking for value, and travel agents
still do a good job of sifting through
all the choices and helping their clients
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Friends & Colleagues
Kerzner International, a
hospitality developer and
operator whose properties include Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas,
promoted Jennifer Glaisek
Ferguson to senior vice
president of global communication and public
relations. Ferguson had
previously served as vice
president of global communications.
vice president of sales for
Stella Travel Services.
W. Reed Atkins Jr. was appointed president and CEO
of Norfolk, Va.-based CI
Travel. He previously was
executive vice president of
the company and will remain a member of its board
of directors. Kevin McEl-roy, who previously served
as president and CEO, will
serve as an adviser to Atkins.
Canadian rail tour operator Rocky Mountaineer appointed Karen Wiseman to
the position of director of
Prior to joining Rocky
Mountaineer, she was the
Grand Lucayan resort on
Grand Bahama Island
named Thomas Anderson
chief marketing officer, De-
nise Harmon director of
sales and Rogerio Guerreiro
food and beverage director.
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