Did Disney dump skaters for Heelys?
That's a question skaters will be asking when they hear about the latest endurance event planned for Disney World in Orlando, FL.
The new event, revealed yesterday, is the "Heelys Kids Race and Roll."
The event, said Heelys president and CEO Mike Staffaroni, will be part of Disney's Wide World of Sports endurance series.
For the last five years, an inline skate marathon has been part of the endurance series. But earlier this year, Disney officials decided to abandon the event, which was the third largest skate marathon in North America.
It gave no reason for its decision but was apparently dissatisfied with the number of skaters the event attracted. This year, it drew 904 skaters. (Planet story: Disney cancels inline marathon)
Heelys to Enter Skate Market?
While Disney rejected skaters, Heelys apparently plans to embrace them.
It also revealed plans yesterday for moving in the "direction of" the skate market.
The company's president and CEO, Mike Staffaroni, said in a conference call yesterday that the company has some "very exciting new projects in development ... (that) extend the Heelys brand more onto the direction of skates."
"Given the unique nature of our wheel footwear, we feel we have the license to extend the brand in a number of different ways," he said.
Ironically, Disney is partnering with Heelys just as the popularity of its wheeled shoes appears to be waning.
Heelys' officials recently reported sales of $49.9 million for the third quarter of 2007, compared with $72.5 million a year earlier.
In an effort to reinvigorate sales, Heelys is introducing several new models this spring, including the Rumble, its first hiking boot with a wheel, and the Ninja, a low-profile skate shoe featuring faster "mega wheel" technology.
Copyright © 2007 by Robert Burnson