Disney's been on a shopping spree the last few years. First they snatched up Marvel. Then they bought Lucasfilm and started planning Star Wars movies.
And don’t forget, this is the same company that owns Pixar, the Jim Henson Company, ABC, ESPN, and more, which they leverage across movies, TV shows, theme parks, Broadway musicals, cruise lines, and much more. Yes, Disney is taking over the world.
But why stop with Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm? If Disney wants to be the center of the entertainment universe, here are eight more companies I think Disney ought to snatch up.
Glove, meet hand. Could there be two companies more perfectly suited for each other? The LEGO brand is known all over the world, and it really means something in the minds of its über-loyal fans — namely, an attention to quality and detail — making it exactly the kind of brand Disney loves.
Plus, Disney already has a partnership with LEGO; Denmark’s pride and joy has released dozens of Disney-themed sets, from Pirates of the Caribbean to Prince of Persia and the upcoming Lone Ranger, as well as Duplo sets themed around Disney’s ever-popular princesses and Winnie the Pooh. Disney’s other brands have gotten in on the act as well, with Toy Story and Cars sets for Pixar, superhero sets for Marvel, and do I even need to mention the hundreds of sets avidly collected for the newest member of the Disney family?
But that barely scratches the surface. Think about the rich, diverse library of franchises and properties that Disney could bring to LEGO. Phineas & Ferb. The Incredibles. Tron. The Lion King. WALL-E. Once Upon a Time. The Muppets. The Nightmare Before Christmas. Countless others.
LEGO even has its own theme parks! Six Legoland parks across Europe, Asia, and the U.S. (with three more on the way). I could go on and on about all the ways that Disney and LEGO are ultra compatible, but I think you get the point.
Not that I think it would ever happen, mind you. The LEGO Group is fiercely protective of its brand (and rightly so), and I don’t believe their current leadership would even consider any offers. Why should they? They’ve got a great thing going.
To put it simply: Nintendo is the Disney of Japan.
Nintendo’s culture is remarkably like Disney’s. Nintendo has a core cast of characters — Mario, Link, Donkey Kong, etc. – that are virtually synonymous with its brand. Remind you of anyone? Is it possible to think of Disney without Mickey, Donald, or Goofy popping into your head?
Nintendo’s celebrated game maker Shigero Miyamoto has been named “the Walt Disney of video games” again and again — and not only by Japanese media . Many other prolific designers at Nintendo frequently cite Disney’s catalog of animated films as major influences.
In brainstorming ideas for this article, Nintendo was one of the first companies that came to mind, because like LEGO, it’s so easy to imagine it. Leveraging Nintendo’s characters and brands across its empire of television networks, film franchises, theme parks, and toy lines is exactly the kind of thing Disney is already doing with Pixar, Marvel, and now Lucasfilm. Mario, Link, Pikmin, and so many others… They’re Disney characters waiting to happen.
Unlike the previous two entries on this list, Apple is very different. It’s not a “family entertainment” brand; it’s a tech company. Apple has no corporate mascots or toys. And hey, given its market value of late, it might be more feasible for Apple to buy Disney.
Regardless, these two companies seem to belong together. They already enjoy a strong corporate synergy, having long been united by their common link: Steve Jobs. (Thanks to his ownership of Pixar, Jobs eventually became a board member and top shareholder at Disney.) Jobs frequently showed footage from Disney-owned properties like Toy Story and Lost in his famed keynote addresses. Even after Jobs’ passing, the link between the two companies remains strong.
The only roadblock is the question of what purpose Disney would have for owning a personal computer company. Well, the value of Apple can’t be understated. It was Forbes’ most valuable brand in the world in 2012. And Apple has never seen itself as a maker of devices, anyway. For them, it’s all about creating incredible user experiences, about making it possible for people to do things that they couldn’t do before. Disney’s in the business of creating unforgettable experiences for not just visitors to its theme parks, but anyone who comes in contact with their brand, in any way. Both companies want to be a positive part of people’s lives.
In buying Apple, Disney would unlock entirely new avenues for bringing its characters and brands into people’s lives.
You don’t really need me to explain this one, do you? It’s so obvious, it’s almost painful. McDonald’s is the Disney of fast food, plain and simple. Both companies appeal to the exact same demographics. Just think of all those Disney-branded Happy Meal toys… And ol’ Ronald would fit right in as a costumed character at Disney World.
If Mickey ever took a shine to buying his own fast food chain, he couldn’t find a more ideal home than the golden arches.
5. Comic-Con International
Comic-Con is the Mecca of the Geekverse. There are other conventions, but nothing that comes close to comparing to Comic-Con. San Diego’s annual gathering of 140,000+ fans is a required pilgrimage of all true geeks, at least once in our lives.
Disney has been a major player at Comic-Con for years, though lately they’ve been branching out with their own “D23″ convention/event, which is filled with the kinds of exclusives, panels, and vendors that geeks live for. Why not merge D23 with Comic-Con and hold the mother of all conventions?
Comic-Con International may currently be a nonprofit organization, but hey… Everything has its price.
Angry Birds is taking over the world. (For reasons I don’t fully understand.) You can’t walk ten feet in Walmart or Target without seeing Angry Birds-themed merchandise. Thanks to the incredible success of its charter game franchise, developer Rovio plans to create an animated feature film out of those blasted birds. Could they be any more blatantly taking pages out of Disney’s playbook? Disney’s lawyers probably smell blood as it is; why not just buy them and be done with it. I can already picture the Angry Birds rides and attractions at Disney World. Can’t you?
7. Sesame Workshop
Disney already owns the Jim Henson Company. Sesame Street was part of JHC before it was spun off into its own entity. I say bring all of Henson’s creations back under a single roof and make it one big happy family again. You can’t tell me Cookie Monster and Elmo wouldn’t fit right in alongside Mickey and Donald. Plus, think of all those crossovers on educational television.
Like most other companies on this list, Hershey’s enjoys an extremely strong brand identity. People see those blocky, brown letters and know exactly who Hershey’s is and what level of quality they’re going to get from a Hershey’s product. They’re a family-friendly company that brings smiles into people’s lives, and they even have their own theme park in the town of Hershey, Pennsylvania. They may not have well-known mascots, but Disney could fix that real quick.
Still not convinced? Let me put it this way. You’re out shopping with your kids, you turn down an aisle and the kids’ eyes land on a bag full of Mickey-shaped Reese’s peanut butter cups. Or Hershey’s Kisses that look like tower ramparts from Cinderella’s castle. There’s no way you’re leaving the store without some of those. Disney’s parks are already home to tons of sweet treats you can buy on site; that fertile ground and captive audience seems like a perfect home to the world’s greatest chocolate.