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Volume 24 No. 156
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     The Walt Disney Co. is close to approving the investment of
as much as $2B to expand its Orlando theme park by a fourth
component to join Epcot Center, MGM Studios and Disney World
itself -- tentatively called Animal Kingdom.  In considering the
expansion, Disney is trying to address two problems: "a general
slide in attendance in the last few years and increasing
competition" from Universal Studios/Florida, owned by MCA.  MCA
is planning to add 4,000 hotel rooms at Universal Studios.
Disney execs have been trying to decide whether one or more
additional attractions at Disney World would draw new visitors or
steal customers from other Disney parks in FL.  If the board goes
ahead, Animal Kingdom, featuring animals from Asia and Africa as
well as rides, would be built on 500 acres and open in '98 or
'99.  The failure of the plan to build Disney's America in VA
"might have given Disney's board some incentive to proceed in
Orlando, but the contemplated expansion has been under discussion
for many months" (Geraldine Fabrikant, N.Y. TIMES, 11/14).  In
other news, Disney is preparing a nationwide marketing blitz with
an eye beyond the  "traditional" family in hopes of attracting
young couples without children and seniors (AP, 11/13).