Ever since Bob Iger took back over as Disney CEO, we’ve heard quite a few interesting comments about the future of the company.
We’ve seen changes in leadership and organization, we’ve had announcements for updates in the parks, and Iger has even revealed plans for new films in the works. Things are definitely being modified to help the company push forward! So how is Disney’s theme parks division REALLY doing nowadays? Iger had some thoughts during a recent interview.
Bob Iger was recently a guest speaker at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media, and Telecom Conference. During his interview, we got some very interesting quotes about how things are really going for the parks.
Based on recent financial reports, Disney’s Parks, Experiences, and Products division is performing very well post-pandemic. When asked about this, Iger said “it bounced back really well post-pandemic” referencing Disney parks’ success not just in the U.S., but also on a global scale.
However, Iger quickly took a turn and discussed price increases. He said “I’ve always believed that Disney was a brand that needed to be accessible.” Iger mentioned that in their zeal to grow profits, they may have been too aggressive about price increases. They want to grow the business more in the future, but they’ll need to be smart about how they price things going forward — so as not to alienate their fanbase.
Iger also noted that Disney had to “improve the guest experience by reducing crowding.” While it may be tempting for them to let more people in the parks in order to make more money, the strategy won’t work if guest satisfaction levels are low.
Disney’s Park Pass system plays a key role in controlling the guest experience. With the system in place, Disney can decide how many visitors to let in the parks — if they keep the crowd levels managed, the people in the parks are more likely to have a satisfactory visit.
One of the main takeaways is that Bob Iger said his goal is to “listen to consumers and adjust.” If Disney wants to maintain its popularity, the company has to find a balance between making money and appealing to the fanbase. This could be the reasoning behind some recent changes, like removing the requirement of Park Passes after 2PM for Annual Passholders or including ride photos with the purchase of Genie+ at Disney World.
No matter what comes next for the parks, we’ll be here to bring you all the news and updates. Stay tuned to DFB for the latest!
Laurel Lane says
IMO, he needs to do away with the reservation system, at least for WDW guests that stay on property. They should be able to get into any park at any time whenever they feel like it – they pay enough to stay at the hotels. And no matter how crowded, they should have access to all the parks. Those staying off-property are the ones that should require a reservation. And when they hit a certain number in capacity, they just can’t get in, period.
Lucretia Kleinman says
How can you say that the Park Pass system keeps crowds down? Many of the stories that I see here on DFB show us how crowed the Parks are at certain times and the waiting times for rides are outrageous. They don’t look like a great experience for the fan base.
Peg Sapinski says
Disney continues to build DVC properties and Hotels but wants to keep crowds in the park at a manageable level. So you can build hotels but people may not be able to access the parks. I love Disney and my family are DVC members but it is no longer a pleasurable vacation. The changes Iger has made are minimal. Our family use to be able to buy an annual pass at a some what decent price but no longer available. Residents of Florida are the only one’s who can now access the pass and the price is expensive. So much has been taken away that the Disney experience will never be the same and has become to expensive for our family to make a yearly visit so we will come every 2 to 3 years. We have banked points we need to use before August and my husband and I will be coming down in May but only staying on site and not visiting the parks. Until Disney brings back some of the perks they have taken away like Annual passes, fast pass, Disney express we are considering selling are DVC in the next couple of years. One more family vacation in the next 2 to 2 1/2 years when my granddaughter reaches 3, total of 16 people and then that is probably the end. So sad this was not what we signed up for when we joined.
Iger must think we the visitors are stupid! He uses words like CONTROLLING. Well the only thing Iger and his band of thieves control is their pockets. Why don’t they reduce their pay? Huh!
Crowd control was never a problem before Covid. Park reservations still are a big negative. Address that by getting rid of it. I think it’s a crime Iger is committing by selling tickets to the parks and then denying access at the gates because they feel a park is too full. That right there is a dream shattering experience. He talks about the experience and making it better. The changes he has made so far are a joke, a slap in the face. Like I said, he must think we’re stupid!
Once upon a time there was a man named Walt who had a dream of creating a Magical experience for families, rich or POOR. But the Magic is now gone.
The Magic used to start at the airport with the Magic express where you would see excited faces of children and parents knowing that they have begun a Magical World Of a hassle free vacation. All the work to get to that place and time was done before they left their homes. Once they arrived there were no worries and hassle about having to make more reservations and time schedules to meet. Like the demon child, called Genie +. And all the worries of scheduling which park, dining reservations, rides each day.
No one wants to spend time being attached to there phones getting frustrated trying to make there day be a happy one.
The pricing has got out of hand and out of the pockets of families who can now only dream of going.
Iger, you want to bring back that Magical experience, then start with bringing back Magic Express, Disney Dining plans, Fast Pass and getting rid of the park reservations, without gouging the families who want to make dreams come true for the children.
Linda Walker says
Christine, I couldn’t have said it better. What’s the point of opening new hotels when you can’t go in the parks because they are full. And Disney said they could make more money by letting more people in -Ha! They make more money by charginging Genie+! You pay about about $50 more per person per day for Genie+ and one main ride. It’s crazy the main ride like Rise of the Resistance isn’t already included in the $29 Genie+, you have to pay another $25. I will. not go back to WDW or any Disney attraction until they get rid of Genie+. I wish people would boycott it and then maybe they would get rid of it. My vacation will be at Universal this year. I recommend others do the same until Disney listens.
I can’t help but believe that the “improving the guest experience” spin is just another way to justify price increases. Prove me wrong Bob and make the parks more affordable for the average middle class family.
Park passes don’t work. The crowds are worse than before Covid when we didn’t have to deal with park passes. Prices are out of control. I’m an out of state passholder and my annual pass (including photopass which used to be included) is about $1300. That is almost double what it was just a few years ago. Add to that the attitude that passholders aren’t as valuable as non-passholders and all the extra costs we have to pay to do anything (transportation from the airport, genie+, LL) and it’s just not a good value. I’ve had my pass for several years but with the lack of flexibility during my trip and vastly increased costs it’s hard to justify. Walt Disney world used to be a carefree vacation. Now you have to wake up early every day if you want to ride anything, spend your whole trip on the phone and schedule everything. That’s more like work than vacation. My husband keeps saying “what’s it going to take for you to stop going?” I think I have the answer now.
The park pass is nothing more than a gauge on how much to charge for Genie + and Lightning Lanes. The parks are more crowded than ever before. Since they know these numbers anyway from the tickets being sold, the park pass being a control method is a load of BS.
If Iger wants to make the park experience better, then pay the cast what they are worth, and hire more of them. Adding more heads to the monster, doesn’t make it better for those attending the parks. The cast are the ones that make the magic.
June W says
They need to ‘be smart about how they price things going forward – so as not to alienate their fanbase’. Too late!
I feel the same! I’ve been an annual passholder for Disneyland for nearly 20 years and the ‘experience’ since the end of Covid has not been magical. I also don’t see Iger can claim that the crowds are being managed. I could be wrong, but I truly believe the brunt of the ‘controlling’ is keeping the AP folks out. I’ve been back to DL and CA over 30 times since they reopened in August of 2021 and I’ve only seen tremendous crowds. I get that a lot of that was relief to be able to go to the parks after Covid, but I’m not really seeing crowd management. Also, I’ve noticed a LOT more special events taking place such as the Lunar New Year, Wine & Food festivals, Grad Nites, Princess
Days, Disney After Dark, Sweetheart Nites, etc. And now we have the Walt Disney Co. 100th Anniversary celebration. While some of these events are fun, all it really does is crowd more people into the park. It used to be that I could count on the winter months to have less visitors – I could go on a Friday or Saturday in January or February and the crowds were light – what a pleasant experience. Not any more! Even Super Bowl Sunday was jam-packed.
I also strongly agree about this stupid Lightning Lane – bring back Fast Pass!!! I paid a lot of money for my annual pass; why do I have to pay even more to get in a faster line? I come to the parks for the fun and the experience, even thought I could probably find my way blindfolded (LOL). Why should I spend half my time staring at my phone to see where I should be at any given time? That’s NOT fun and it’s certainly NOT magical.
I love Disneyland and will be a passholder for as long as I can afford it. But when I compare the ticket prices to say, Knott’s Berry Farm, Sea World, San Diego Zoo or Magic Mountain, Disney is WAY over priced.
I get that Disney is a for-profit company – they need to make money in order to stay in business. But why alienate the very people who supply them with a great deal of that income?
Bravo everybody. Disney… instead of controlling people, who, then have to pay the price to comply with your controlling, go back to pre-Covid… TOTALLY. Everybody goes where they wanna go, and when the park is full, they go somewhere else. My family has been going to Disney for over two decades, 4-6 times a year from Pennsylvania, and I can count on one hand the times that we couldn’t get into a park because it was closed due to reaching capacity. What did we do? We either went to another park, made it into a pool day, or came back later, when the park was no longer at capacity. And we were happy. It was a magical place. It’s no longer magical. So NOT MAGICAL that we are now more happy that we just had the closing on the sale of our DVC membership one week ago, than we were the last time we went to Disney, paid an exorbitant amount for park tickets, because we can no longer be annual pass holders, no longer get hotel discounts, paid for Mears transport, paid for Genie+, paid full price for educational backstage tours, etc, etc, etc. It’s perfectly clear… Disney only cares about MONEY. Pre-Covid, 50% of the time we didn’t even go to the park that we thought we were going to go to that day, instead, all of us excited to go explore something that somebody found the night before, or the morning of. We were 100% spontaneous. I recently called my family, who absolutely loves Disney, who also did not have a good time the last time we went to Disney, that if things get better again, we can re-buy into DVC. but for now… We will vacation elsewhere. Sorry Disney, the tens of thousands of dollars that we spent at Disney every year, for over 20 years will now go elsewhere. Good job destroying Walt’s magic. Oh… And one more thing, the last time we were down in May, I brought my girlfriend who hadn’t been to Disney in over 20 years, and was excited to go on rides, see shows, and relive the magic that she experienced while bringing her now adult children there, said, “Why would you continue to come here?”. Sadly I had the same sentiment.
I don’t believe him…period.
Dan R says
I just wish that both the Bob’s would give up on the illusion that the park pass system still exists to control crowds as we all know that at peak times it is no different that it was pre-pandemic. The reservation system has been left there to control staffing levels.
Dan R…. EXACTLY!!!
I have an idea… Have Bob Iger (not his staff) plan a five day trip to Disney World for a family of four. Starting with making airline reservations from upstate Pennsylvania, two hours from Philadelphia airport. Arrange the cheapest Mears transportation (not a limo) from Orlando airport to the Disneyworld hotel. Purchase 4 five-day park tickets, make park reservations, dining reservations, schedule a Wild Africa Trek tour for four in Animal Kingdom, etc. Now have Disney corporation relieve him of ALL duties for five days, give him a disguise, and drop him off at a location in upstate Pennsylvania that is 2 hours from Philly Airport.. Now have him leave that location 4 hours before his flight from Philadelphia airport (2 hours drive time to arrive at the airport, two hours before flight departure) and live this vacation as an “Undercover Boss”. Let him drag all the luggage for him and 2 small children, from the baggage carousel, thru the airport, onto the Mears bus, from the bus to the hotel room, and then head to the parks. Spend 5 days in the parks, all in disguise. He does this alone, but let him buy all meals, gifts, and merchandise that a family of four would ordinarily buy. Wait for Disney buses. Wait in lines. Get a real feeling for what people go through. How much they pay. The frustrations. The rules. THEN. MAYBE HE WILL UNDERSTAND. But I doubt it.
Return everything to the way it was before COVID. Free Fastpass like it used to be would be a good start. Genie is horrible. It took Disney years to develop a loyal fan base. That has been destroyed thanks to bald Bob. Hope the new Bob has a better plan.
Everyone who has commented so far is spot on. The fanbase has spoken LOUD and CLEAR! Park reservations do not enhance the experience in any way, shape or form. Genie+ and Lightening Lanes are straight-up money grabs, and destroy the magic (and visitor’s budgets) by making people pay extra, get up at 7am on vacation, and stare at phones all day long. Onsite hotel perks like early morning magic hours and evening magic hours need to return (and not 30 minutes! That’s useless!) for ALL onsite hotel guests, not just a few. (BTW, we stay at Animal Kingdom most of the time, so we’re still getting them…but everyone onsite should!) And please bring back the dining plans! It saved so much stress and the need to order by menu item prices instead of what we want to eat. Stop with the cheap IP projections and screens and bring in new Imagineering creations with animatronics and geez-whiz magic. And above all, bring back park maintenance!! Things are broken, dirty, lightbulbs are burnt out everywhere in rides, and queue lines are damaged. Stop talking about the fan experience, and listen to the what the fans have clearly said. It’s time, Mr. Iger. Way past time!
@Matt, I LOVE your idea! Let these C-Suite people experience the “great” fanbase experience they think they’re creating. Things might actually change if that happened.
The park reservation system was created not to eliminate crowding but to be used with the my Disney experience Fay planning system.It sends people to less popular attractions and rides to disperse the large number of guests they allow in the parks .Without going to attractions most are not interested in, seeing shows that can accommodate large amount of people ,eating and shopping you have the insane crowds and wait times . This results in everyone trying to get their bucks worth within a reasonable amount of time. I believe the overcrowding ,excessive wait times and lines that Disney has created in every venue has caused a dog eat dog culture in the parks. With the additional hotel rooms that Disney is building comes more people so things can not get better. I like Bob Iger but what he proclaims just does not compute.
Disney says that it’s listening to its customers. What a joke. No one likes the park reservations except for the Disney executives.
My husband thanks Disney for all it’s changes because his wife (me) no longer wants to visit Disney Parks. My husband was never a fan of Disney but would appease the rest of the family, who loved Disney Parks. Now with all the changes we are no longer interested in visiting Disney. Our last visit in December 2021 was hectic in the parks, too much needing to use the app to schedule rides, meals, shows – starting at 7 am in the morning – not the time I want to wake up every morning while on vacation. Now that Disney no longer offers the Fast Pass system, the main thing it offered that set it apart from Universal Parks – I now vacation at Universal. I still visit Disney Springs and occasionally stay a night or two at a Disney Resort when I cruise Disney – but I am not at all interested in the Disney Parks anymore. The parks are too expensive, the hassle to ride is too stressful (virtual ques, Genie+, Individual Attraction Ticket surcharge, etc.), mobile ordering, heavy reliance on the Disney Park App, etc. – all makes for less fun and more work. Universal Parks offer a less complicated and hassle free experience, at an affordable price – with lots of fun. So long for now Disney Parks, maybe we will see each other again in the distant future.
The key is for the decision makers to go through the parks as a normal person, not a Disney Executive to get the true experience. I use to spend the majority of my vacation dollars at DISNEY WORLD. Now, I have found several other places so Disney is loosing me and my family.
Before more hotels and rooms, they need to build a new park to take the crowds. MGM, MK, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and something else. Maybe a villains park set up for older kids with Universal class roller coasters and thrill rides.