Fifteen months after taking control of Walt Disney Productions, a new management team installed by the powerful Bass family of Texas detailed a number of upcoming changes in documents filed at a federal agency this week, including a change in the company's name.
In a letter to Disney shareholders to be mailed later this week, Chairman and Chief Executive Michael D. Eisner and President Frank G. Wells recommended renaming the 48-year-old company to reflect Disney's holdings in real estate and theme parks in addition to its original business of filmed entertainment.
"The Walt Disney Co." is the proposed name, which will be voted on by shareholders at an annual meeting scheduled for Feb. 6 in Boca Raton, Fla.
Eisner, formerly a Paramount Pictures and ABC network executive, and Wells, an entertainment lawyer and former Warner Bros. studio president, have overhauled the Burbank, Calif.-based company since September 1984 when they were endorsed for the job by a Bass-led investor group that effectively controls Disney with nearly 25 percent of its stock.
The Eisner-Wells letter to Disney shareholders was made public Tuesday at the Securities and Exchange Commission as part of the company's annual report to shareholders.
Total theme-park attendance for the year ending Sept. 30 was up 8 percent, and Disney reported "higher per-capita guest spending," but operating costs for the theme-park division increased nearly 10 percent from the previous year, according to the documents filed at the SEC.
According to the annual report, Disney will:
*Open in March its previously announced "Captain EO" space fantasy attraction, with a short 3-D film featuring rock star Michael Jackson, at Disneyland and Epcot Center in Florida.
*Open in November a previously announced "Star Wars" ride at Disneyland, inspired by George Lucas' film and utilizing aircraft simulator technology.
*Begin construction on a Norway pavilion at Epcot and also on a 900-room hotel on the Disney World property to be called the Grand Floridian.
*Reissue the 25 Disney animated classics, such as "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," on a five-year cycle instead of every seven years, as the previous Disney management did.