Disney World celebrated its 50th anniversary in April 2022.
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disney is making some changes to its theme parks this year, prompted by feedback from guests who have complained about rising prices and longer wait times.
In a letter Tuesday, Parks and Resorts President Josh D’Amaro told employees about a number of changes to the reservation and ticketing system and the benefits of annual pass membership.
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“As we enter this bright future, it is important that we continue to evolve to provide the best guest experience possible,” D’Amaro wrote. “A lot of you know I’m in the parks quite often and I listen to you and our guests about the things that are working and the things that might need to change.”
These park operations updates come less than two months after CEO Bob Iger returned to the helm of the company, promising a two-year period that would spur renewed growth. However, the moves in the parks would have nothing to do with Iger’s return.
Disney made sweeping changes to its business operations when the pandemic hit in 2020, just after Bob Chapek took over as CEO, forcing the long-term closure of its national and international parks. This included the integration of an online reservation system, requiring guests to plan their visits before arriving at the parks, and a reduction in capacity.
During this time, Disney also pushed guests towards non-touch payment options, such as the Magic Bonds and mobile ordering and payment. While contactless payment is no longer necessary, guests can pay cash again, many guests have made the switch to these new methods.
In addition, Disney launched its Genie and Genie+ travel programs alongside its line-skipping initiative called Lightning Lane. This digital offering is designed to optimize guest experiences at the parks, helping them plan their days more effectively, with access to estimated wait times and restaurant reservations. They also gave guests the option to pay for a shorter wait at Disney’s top attractions.
While many guests have embraced these new programs, others have complained about the rising cost of tickets to Disney’s domestic theme parks. It’s also been reported that so many guests buy Lightning Lane access that the dedicated line often still means wait times for those looking to drive fast.
Tuesday’s announcement addresses some, but not all, of those concerns, D’Amaro told park officials in his letter.
At Disneyland Resort in California, the company is increasing the number of days it offers its lowest-priced single-day, single-park ticket, adding nearly two months’ worth of days in 2023. These tickets cost $104 and they allow guests to go to Disneyland or California Adventure.
For those who purchase park hopper tickets, which give access to both California theme parks, the option to switch from one park to the other opens February 4 at 11 a.m. Previously, guests had to wait until 1pm to move into the second park.
In honor of Disney’s 100th anniversary, starting February 4, the company is offering free Disney PhotoPass digital downloads of attraction photos to all ticketed park guests.
The company will also open its Magic Key program more frequently throughout the year as supplies become available. This annual pass program has four levels, each with a different ‘key’. It also offers access to the parks, sometimes with blackout dates, and savings on food, drink, merchandise and food, depending on the key.
Walt Disney World Resort
Disney’s Florida-based parks allow annual pass holders to visit after 2 p.m. without a park reservation. The only exception is on Saturdays and Sundays for Magic Kingdom. Blackout dates will continue to apply based on the level of program guests have selected.
Guests who book a stay at any of Disney’s resort hotels beginning January 10 will receive free self-parking.
In addition, Disney will add free digital downloads of attraction photos for guests who have purchased the Genie+ service.
“I’m excited about all of these changes and offerings and want you to know that we are committed to listening, adapting and staying relentlessly focused to make the guest experience at our Disney parks even better,” D’Amaro wrote. .