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Cars Land: New park hopes to boost Walt Disney Co.'s fortunes

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"We knew that this was going to be an important attraction," Kathy Mangum, executive producer of Walt Disney Imagineering, told The Los Angeles Times a few days before Cars Land opened to the public, "because it was going to have to make the park."

So far the reviews have been positive, both from park goers and financial experts.

David Joyce, an analyst with New York-based financial research firm Miller Tabak +Co., said in a report Friday that Cars Land and the other new Disney attractions "should continue to drive at least 4 percent attendance and per-capita spending growth at Disneyland in the fiscal third and fourth quarters, which may prove to be conservative."

Disney’s many theme parks and resorts are an important part of its business share. In the first quarter of this year, they combined for $2.9 billion in revenue –a 10 percent increase from 2011. Much of this revenue came from merchandise, and Cars Land will include plenty more opportunities for visitors to buy branded Disney toys, souvenirs, and clothing.

Indeed, Disney intends the Cars section to function as a true “second gate,” enticing visitors to increase the amount of time they spend both at California Adventure and that other, more classic park next door – Disneyland. More time spent in the ark often translates into more money spent, both on in restaurants and gift shops.

Such sales have a higher profit margin than ticket sales, though those have been increasing. Price increases that took effect in May included jumps of between $7 and $150, depending on the ticket deal. The biggest increases will effect premium annual pass packages, which will now cost $649, up from $499, a 30 percent jump.

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