Disney World celebrated its 50th anniversary in April 2022.
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disney is making changes to its theme parks this year, following feedback from customers who complained about higher prices and longer wait times.
In a letter Tuesday, Parks and Resorts President Josh D’Amaro informed employees of a number of changes to its reservation and ticketing system as well as its annual membership benefits.
“As we step into this bright future, it’s important that we continually evolve to help deliver the best customer experience possible,” D’Amaro wrote. “Many of you know that I’m at the parks quite often and I listen to you and our guests about things that are working as well as things that might need some changes.”
These park operations updates come less than two months after CEO Bob Iger returned to lead the company, promising a two-year stint that would spark new growth. However, the moves in the parks are said to be unrelated to Iger’s return.
Disney made sweeping changes to operations when the pandemic hit in 2020, just after Bob Chapek took over as CEO, and forced the long-term closure of its domestic and international parks. This included the integration of an online reservation system, which required customers to plan their visits before arriving at the parks, and a reduction in capacity.
Meanwhile, Disney has also been pushing customers towards contactless payment options, like its Magic Bands and mobile ordering and payment. Although contactless payments are no longer required, customers can once again pay in cash, many customers have made the transition to these new methods.
Additionally, Disney launched its Genie and Genie+ route programs alongside its line-skipping initiative called Lightning Lane. These digital offerings have been designed to optimize the customer experience at the parks, allowing them to plan their days more efficiently, with access to estimated wait times and restaurant reservations. They also gave customers the option to pay to have a shorter wait for major Disney attractions.
While many guests have embraced these new programs, others have complained about the rising cost of tickets to Disney’s national theme parks. It has also been reported that so many customers buy access to Lightning Lane, that the special line often still means waiting time for those looking to get on the rides quickly.
Tuesday’s announcement addresses some of those concerns, but not all of them, D’Amaro told park employees in his letter.
At Disneyland Resort in California, the company is increasing the number of days it will offer its cheapest one-day and one-park ticket, adding nearly two months of days in 2023. These tickets cost $104 and they allow Guests of enter Disneyland or California Adventure.
For those who purchase Park Hopper tickets, which allow entry to both California-based theme parks, the ability to hop between parks will open at 11 a.m. starting Feb. 4. Previously, guests had to wait until 1 p.m. to move to the second park.
To celebrate Disney’s 100th anniversary, the company is offering free Disney PhotoPass digital downloads of attraction photos for all park visitors starting Feb. 4.
The company will also open its Magic Key program more often throughout the year as inventory becomes available. This annual pass program has four levels, each with a different “key”. It also offers admission to parks, sometimes with blackout dates, and savings on food, drink, merchandise and groceries, depending on the key.
Walt Disney World Resort
At Florida-based Disney parks, annual passholders will be permitted to visit after 2 p.m. without a park reservation. The only exception is Saturday and Sunday for Magic Kingdom. Blackout dates will continue to apply based on the level of the program selected by guests.
Guests who book a stay at any of the Disney Resort Hotels beginning January 10 will receive free self-parking.
Additionally, Disney is set to add free digital photo downloads of attractions for customers who have purchased the Genie+ service.
“I am excited about all of these changes and offerings and want you to know that we are committed to listening, adapting and remaining relentlessly focused on improving the guest experience at our Disney Parks,” D wrote. ‘Amaro.