In an earnings call this afternoon, Disney CEO Bob Iger commented on a variety of theme park changes that were implemented after he previously stepped down as CEO. One of the things he talked about was the Disney Park Pass system. Keep reading because this is not a park pass article.
During the call, Iger was asked about demand at the theme parks and if pops in attendance and per-guest spending were still riding high from the COVID-19 rebound. Iger said that “I’m very, very bullish on the theme parks and not just because of the COVID recovery”. Iger said that demand on the theme parks is “extraordinary” right now. When thinking about how Disney can profit from that demand, Iger said that they could increase park capacity or even increase prices, but that “we don’t think either would be smart”. Instead, Iger talked about expanding the theme parks, which would expand capacity without reducing the guest experience from overcrowding.
Iger noted that expansions like Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Pandora – The World of Avatar are great ways to grow the theme parks business. Iger specifically called out the increase in attendance at Disney’s Animal Kingdom following the opening of Pandora – The World of Avatar. In the call, Iger noted that Disney would be bringing an Avatar experience to Disneyland, but said that he talked with Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro this morning about other opportunities to include the more IP in expanded areas of the theme parks to increase capacity while “preserving guest satisfaction”.
Of course, D’Amaro seemingly led the charge on expansions at the theme parks last September when former Disney CEO Bob Chapek was still around. At the 2022 D23 Expo, D’Amaro announced plans for Moana and Zootopia at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, while also announcing early concepts to bring Encanto, Coco, and a villains-themed area to Magic Kingdom in a space beyond Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. At the time of the announcements, many fans wondered how D’Amaro would bring these ideas to like with Chapek at the helm. We even questioned if D’Amaro could deliver on the theme park expansions that seemed out of reach for a Walt Disney Imagineering that was thrown into disarray by a move to Florida and penny-pinching from on high.
Now, as Iger looks to right the ship, it looks like D’Amaro is getting the support he needs to bring these ambitious ideas to life. Iger’s comments on creating new experiences to expand capacity are refreshing when we’ve mostly heard about managing capacity via restrictions for two years. That said, Disney is still planning on cutting $700 million from their domestic theme park investments this year, so it might be some time until we see these comments from Iger turn into construction projects.
As always, keep checking back with us here at BlogMickey.com as we continue to bring you the latest news, photos, and info from around the Disney Parks!