7 Good Changes CEO Bob Iger Could Make at Disney World
Walt Disney World fans have sky-high expectations for the changes Bob Iger will make now that he’s back in the CEO seat. Already, he has plans for an upcoming town hall with Cast Members that lays out his vision for the future and given his restructuring plans in a way that “honors and respects creativity as the heart and soul” of Disney.
As we’ve cautioned, Walt Disney World fans should not overestimate what a change in the Walt Disney Company’s CEO is going to accomplish in the near-term. Bob Iger is not going to come in this holiday season and give the gift of Disney’s Magical Express, free FastPass, unlimited Park Hopping, Annual Pass sales, reservation-free visits, lower prices, or the Disney Dining Plan.
Nevertheless, fans have high hopes for big changes following the Firing of Bob Chapek and Rehiring Bob Iger as CEO. This alone is significant, but the leaks and announcements since have given even more cause for optimism. As explained in this post, Bob Iger was “alarmed” by price increases at Walt Disney World and concerned that Chapek was “killing the soul” of Disney.
We already know that Iger has some plans to undo Chapek’s changes, with a focus on building on the company’s rich history and legacy of “creativity, innovation, and inspiration.“ Suffice to say, there is reason to be optimistic about CEO Bob Iger undoing the damage wrought by Chapek. However, we’d caution against expecting too much, and too soon. With that in mind, let’s begin with a few caveats.
First, there’s the reality that every change that is on the horizon will be implemented more slowly than you expect or hope. As we’ve said before, Walt Disney World is like an ocean liner: you turn the wheel slowly, and the big ship pivots gradually. (There still is no meaningful Encanto presence in the parks, despite that smash success now being a full year old!) Suffice to say, everything takes time from evaluation to decision to implementation. Now take that up a level from Walt Disney World to the company as a whole. Change is going to happen even slower.
Disney is the epitome of a bloated bureaucracy–the opposite of lean and efficient. Even the most inconsequential decisions “require” dozens of meetings and just as many layers of approval. Even things that seem sloppy and half-baked, like Genie+ and Lightning Lanes, are obsessed over (if anything, Disney has a problem with too many cooks in the kitchen).
Unless Iger expedites initiatives and cuts through the red tape, it’s likely that the first fruits of his new regime will be felt in the parks around Spring 2023. Big changes might take until late in the year or 2024.
Second, there’s the reality that Bob Iger was not brought back to “fix” the theme parks division. While there were undoubtedly a number of reasons for his return, if the Walt Disney Company were solely composed of parks, Chapek would likely still be around. More than anything else, Chapek’s downfall directly stems from streaming.
In the most recent earnings results, the streaming segment posted $1.47 billion in fourth-quarter operating losses (you read that correctly—a loss of almost $1.5 BILLION in a single quarter), roughly 134% more than the $630 million it reported in the prior-year quarter. This was a big reason why Disney’s revenue of $20.1 billion missed on average analyst estimates by nearly $1 billion.
During that call, Chapek said Disney expects the losses to narrow going forward and for Disney+ to still become profitable in fiscal 2024. However, that was “assuming we do not see a meaningful shift in the economic climate,” which is a bold assumption given consensus forecasts for a recession.
These results from the streaming segment, Chapek’s “delusional” delivery of them, and Disney’s forward-looking forecast for fiscal 2023 segment earnings growth of high single-digits–which was far below Wall Street’s consensus of 25%–are the main reasons Iger was brought back. Not to mention Iger’s knack for dealmaking and Chapek’s bungling of past challenges.
In short, Iger is CEO for a number of reasons, but the big one is to put Disney+ on a path to profitability and figure out the future for the media side of the Walt Disney Company. None of Chapek’s unpopular (among fans) parks decisions would’ve resulted in this change.
To be sure, Iger will be tackling other problems. However, there’s a possibility that the highly-profitable Disney’s Parks, Experiences, and Products division–which now accounts for the overwhelming majority of the company’s operating income and has seen strong growth in the last two years–will be set to autopilot while more urgent issues are addressed.
The outlook from a financial perspective might be: don’t fix what isn’t broken. That’s doubly true when that segment is subsidizing massive losses from the streaming services. Of course, whether the theme parks are “broken” in non-financial terms is more subjective, and many readers would argue that they are. Given his leaked statements, Iger is undoubtedly aware of what has been happening, and dislikes at least some of it. (And he’ll become more fully aware of issues once he sees guest satisfaction metrics.)
To that point, there’s also the reality that it’s very difficult to put the genie back in the bottle–both literally and figuratively–once the company gets a taste of that sweet upcharge revenue. Many of the highly-touted 40% increases to per guest spending have been driven by ticket and resort price increases, and further fueled by monetizing FastPass.
Given that he was brought it to stem the bleeding and improve Disney’s financials, I have a difficult time believing that Iger is going to take the immediate hit on Genie+ and the other upcharges just to improve goodwill among Walt Disney World fans. It’s very difficult to envision a way that he does that in the near-term given the uphill battle that Disney+ and Hulu face.
Now that I’ve thoroughly done my debbie downer spiel (hey, I’m just trying to keep expectations reasonable and not have you get carried away with hopes and dreams that’ll be dashed!), let’s dig into the 7 things Bob Iger could do to extend an olive branch to Walt Disney World fans and help “fix” the parks. Fortunately, there are some fairly consequential changes on the table that Iger could fast-track as easy wins!
Bring Back the Disney Dining Plan
Walt Disney World has had plans to bring back the Dining Plan “soon” for well over a year. Its return keeps being delayed due to a combination of staffing shortages, pent-up demand, food inflation, and more. At the same time, per guest spending remains elevated even without the Disney Dining Plan to prop up numbers.
After the holiday season, it stands to reason that restaurant demand will drop off. Already, resort discounts for Winter and Spring 2023 are out early and are better than the last two years, and there’s every reason to believe dining spending will ‘suffer’ a similar fate. Of course, we thought the very same thing at this time last year, so perhaps we’re still not quite at the point of pent-up demand exhausting itself.
In other words, the restoration of the Disney Dining Plan has a card the company has been waiting to play (or a “lever to pull” in the wise words of Chapek) as soon as a slowdown occurred. It doesn’t really have anything to do with Iger, but he certainly could make a move here and take credit. It would be easy low hanging fruit, and Iger is a savvy marketer.
Eliminate Park Pass for Regular Tickets
Many Walt Disney World fans have the perception that reservations are being used to cap capacity, reduce staffing levels, or as an important source of data for resource allocation. None of those things are particularly true. You might be surprised at how little Walt Disney World uses data it collects (and this data is also available via other channels), staffing shortages are not on purpose, and capacity is no longer capped in a meaningful way.
At this point, the only parks that are regularly running out of reservations are Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. This has been occurring on many days regardless of wait times, with both parks unavailable on occasion with 5/10 or lower crowd levels. This means that Walt Disney World is now using reservations to redistribute attendance on those days.
They’re doing this by capping reservations at Magic Kingdom and pushing people towards Animal Kingdom and EPCOT to increase the utilization of those parks and normalize numbers across all four parks–this is an instance of the infamous “yield management” being discussed by executives on earnings calls and in interviews. To be fair, there actually are benefits to this approach, including making for a more pleasant guest experience and easing staffing shortages.
However, there are also downsides for Disney in this approach. If you’re taking a Florida trip and want your kids to experience Walt Disney World, you’re probably not going to be satisfied if only EPCOT or Animal Kingdom are available. Rather than make reservations to those two parks, some guests will choose not to buy tickets at all and simply not visit Disney if they cannot do Magic Kingdom. (Keep in mind that for many causal visitors, Magic Kingdom is synonymous with Disney; EPCOT and the rest are not a comparable substitute.)
This is precisely why Walt Disney World eliminated reservations for single-day tickets last holiday season. It’s also why there’s a good chance the same will happen for multi-day tickets sooner rather than later. At some point, the opportunity cost of trying to manipulate attendance will be too great to maintain the current approach–the people who simply opt against buying tickets due to reservations will outweigh the advantages of normalizing numbers across all parks.
As with the Disney Dining Plan above, this has less to do with Bob Iger’s return and more to do with underlying circumstances and demand v. available capacity, per guest spending, and other factors. Nevertheless, it would be savvy of Iger to come aboard and accelerate plans already in motion to take the easy win.
The important caveat here is that this applies to single and multi-day tickets and not Annual Passes. At least in the near-term, it’s difficult to envision a scenario where Walt Disney World sees it as advantageous to drop reservations on APs. Perhaps they’ll create a new highest tier without reservations when Annual Pass sales resume, but there will almost certainly be tiers with reservations for the foreseeable future. This was an inevitability even pre-closure, and something Disneyland actually tested with the Flex Pass.
Reduce or End Park Hopping Rules for Most Guests
As long as the Disney Park Pass system is in place, Park Hopping rules will remain in place for that ticket type. It’s a pretty simple logic exercise, as getting rid of all Park Hopping restrictions would make it easy to game the system.
For example, if Disney’s Hollywood Studios were out of Park Passes but EPCOT had availability (a common scenario), I could make a Park Pass for EPCOT, tap into the International Gateway entrance, immediately exit, and take the Skyliner to DHS. The whole process would take under 30 minutes and circumvent the reservations system.
However, as we’ve discussed above, Walt Disney World has already announced the end of reservations for single-day tickets and it’s likely that the same will happen for multi-day tickets sooner rather than later. Once that does happen, that could serve as the precursor for ending all Park Hopper rules for those ticket types.
In the meantime, switching over to the Disneyland system would make complete sense. There, Park Hopping is allowed starting at 1 pm, and there’s no need to enter your first park if arriving after the Park Hopping time. It wouldn’t surprise me if both coasts inch that forward further, moving the start time to noon.
As with the reservations system, this is another change that’s already being evaluated that Iger could fast-track in order to win over jaded Walt Disney World fans.
Bring Back FastPass (…And Fix Genie+)
This is not what you think it is. While I do have a sliver of hope that Iger will bring back free FastPass down the road, I doubt that’ll happen in 2023 unless there is a sharp and significant economic downturn and major steps are necessary to buoy resort occupancy and attendance.
Even if the United States enters a recession, it’s hard to imagine going from current levels of demand to those seen in 2008-10. That would be a long way to fall, and is unlikely. On top of that, Iger is going to be too hard-pressed to maintain current revenue streams in light of what’s happening with the streaming services.
With that said, I think it would be a savvy move for Iger to mandate an overhaul of the Genie+ system to a greater degree than the half-measures we’ve seen in recent months. Even while maintaining a paid FastPass system, there are a number of different directions that Walt Disney World could take.
Although the adoption rate has been high (for lack of better alternatives), Iger may see the hit that guest satisfaction has taken due to Genie or complaints about screen time (etc.) and want to take a less guest-unfriendly approach. Walt Disney World could switch to systems that are already in use at the international parks, or even an approach more like Universal’s Express Pass with higher prices but lower utilization (thereby impacting standby less). There are a lot of possibilities.
As noted above, Bob Iger is a savvy marketer and is exceptional at brand management. While the Genie “app” was in its infancy under Iger, what it would be was only loosely defined. I cannot imagine that it entailed eliminating the highly-recognizable FastPass name–a brand so iconic that “FastPass” was used in real world settings as shorthand for skipping a line–and replacing it with a clumsy set of names borrowed from Cars and Aladdin, two franchises that go together like peanut butter and grapefruit. One way or another, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of FastPass at Walt Disney World.
Invest in Cast Members
Anyone who has Cast Member friends can tell you that there has already been an improvement in morale just with Chapek’s firing. Nothing with Disney is as easy as flipping a switch…except this, apparently. A huge number of frontline Cast Members and other employees have expressed their elation that Chapek is gone and Iger is back. It has been significant and it has been sudden.
Part of this is likely a reflection of how bad things have been for Cast Members in the last two-plus years, and a belief that any change cannot conceivably make things worse for them. For long-tenured Cast Members, there’s likely nostalgia for a bygone time when things were better. That was before Iger left and the closure happened. Some of that damage is not unique to Disney–it’s societal–and Iger cannot undo it. Accordingly, this is likely a honeymoon phase to some degree.
However, Iger has already scheduled a town hall with Cast Members and employees, during which he will discuss his vision for the future of the Walt Disney Company and field questions. He’s expected to use the discussion as an opportunity to further boost Cast Member morale, and he’ll undoubtedly accomplish exactly that given that he’s a much more charismatic and inspiring speaker than Chapek.
One of the big ways Iger can keep this Cast Member morale train rolling is by prioritizing a pre-closure initiative to invest millions of dollars in Cast Member morale that was championed by Josh D’Amaro. More like that would have hugely positive consequences.
It would also have immensely positive cascading effects. One increasingly common complaint from readers we’ve heard in the last few months is that Cast Members are not as “magical” as they used to be. There are several reasons for this, from taking abuse by disgruntled guests to turnover to low morale.
Fixing low morale alone will help remedy this, but improved morale also reduces turnover. Less turnover means less pressure on other Cast Members, which further improves morale. It also reduces staffing shortages, as hiring initiatives are no longer about simply treading water. All of this indirectly results in a better guest experience, which improves attitudes of visitors. It’s a not-so-vicious cycle of improving morale for everyone.
Restore Disney’s Magical Express
Look, this is a longshot and I don’t want to give a false sense of hope. It’s unlikely that Disney’s Magical Express is coming back. However, I would’ve said there’s a 0% chance of this happening in the next couple of years if you asked me two weeks ago, and I’d say there’s a non-zero chance now. It might even be in the double-digits.
Since the decision to end Disney’s Magical Express was made, we’ve been saying it makes no sense even from a business perspective–that there must be more to the story. This is because, unlike other on-site guest perks, the “free” service was incredibly valuable to Walt Disney World. It made tourists a captive audience who were less likely to go and spend money elsewhere.
Long ago, Walt Disney World determined that the increase in average per guest spending with Disney’s Magical Express plus the perceived convenience and goodwill obtained from offering the service outweighs the average per guest cost of offering the service. It’s unlikely that calculus has changed, especially as on-site food prices have increased and Central Florida theme park competition has become more fierce.
In recent years, Universal has expanded its hotel footprint and is now offering a compelling product with great perks at competitive prices. Disney should already be worried about that. Universal has already grown market share in the Central Florida theme parks according to its parent company, which Disney should take seriously.
A few short years from now, Epic Universe will open. That has the potential to be a game changer for both park operators. Even if it only pulls away 10% of Walt Disney World’s on-site guests, that would be hugely consequential to Disney’s bottom line.
Bob Iger understands the importance of strategic partnerships really well. He is, above all else, an exceptional dealmaker. If there was a falling out between Mears and Disney, he could easily repair it. Equally as important, he could see why this is so important. Unlike so many high-level leaders at Walt Disney World and the company as a whole, Iger has been around the block.
Iger helped successfully navigate Walt Disney World through the last recession, and understands competition more than anyone else. By contrast, so many newer leaders have only experienced times of growth and success (minus the closure, but that’s not exactly the same as a real recession) at Walt Disney World. More than anyone else, Iger knows that it’s important not to become complacent or rest on laurels, and will want to maintain competitive advantages. He’s not satisfied with winning–he wants to run up the score.
That certainly does not mean he’ll snap his fingers and immediately restore Disney’s Magical Express, but it’s undoubtedly the type of perplexing past short-sighted decision made by the prior regime that Iger and his team will be revisiting.
Restore the Disney Magic
In Bob Chapek Did Not “Get” Disney, our core ‘thesis’ was this: “Chapek didn’t believe in the Magic of Disney, and that made it impossible for him to make others believe. To the contrary, his words actively eroded the Magic of Disney for many who once believed.”
By contrast, Iger gets it and truly does care. To be sure, he will make business decisions that are unpopular with fans. The first time that happens, some will claim it’s more of the same–that he’s no different from Chapek. In reality, it’s the nature of the beast. Not every decision will make everyone happy–especially so long as demand remains high and streaming continues to lose money.
At the end of the day, Iger has a passion for all things Disney. He cares about his legacy and the history of the company that Walt Disney founded. He is not a bean counter and he will not actively antagonize fans. This counts for a lot, and will immediately change the culture and calculus on certain decisions.
In other words, there will be a top-down tone change that will empower and emolden executives, division leaders, managers, and so forth to do things differently. People in the company who care will be allowed to do so again.
How this will manifest itself is less certain. It might mean less of a focus on squeezing every last dollar out of visitors, it could create more emphasis on improving guest satisfaction scores, offering more value for money, enhancing the in-park experience, improving maintenance, or being fixated less on yield management.
While “magic” is a nebulous term that means different things to different fans, the ultimate consequence of these changes should be undoing the at least some of the erosion of Disney’s goodwill we’ve seen in the last few years.
On a related note, it’s fair to point out that a lot of the aforementioned (and other) changes are below the CEO’s pay grade and not within their personal purview. When previously defending some of the poor decisions made under Chapek, we remarked that he wasn’t going around dictating that Premium Mickey Bars or Dole Whips cost 29 cents more. That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works!
However, how it does work is that decisions are debated internally and there are often competing ‘camps’ each pushing for their own projects or lobbying for certain initiatives. For example, it’s possible that there were multiple different versions of Genie in development, and one was chosen by the Chapek regime due to the influence of its backers and their allies. It’s also possible that those same people have lost influence under Iger, or that he would’ve decided differently when presented with the menu planning choices.
This is typical internal corporate politics, and Disney is not immune from it. In other words, this may not even be a matter of Iger v. Chapek, but their respective lieutenants and those who have curried favor with each. A lot of the coming changes won’t be specifically dictated by Iger, but will be pursuant to overarching mandates, priorities, and visions for the future. Decisions will be made that interpret Iger and his goals for taking Walt Disney World in a new direction. Based on his statements thus far and what we know from the past several years, that should mean a brighter future for Walt Disney World in the next few years.
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Do you expect Bob Iger’s return as CEO to result in improvements at Walt Disney World? Have high, low, or no expectations? Think Iger will bring back Disney’s Magical Express, free FastPass, unlimited Park Hopping, Annual Pass sales, reservation-free visits, lower prices, or the Disney Dining Plan? Think things will get better or worse throughout 2023? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
I know you’re a very busy man, and I’m hopefully optimistic that you might read this email… But not entirely sure that you will. I’m 71 years old and I’ve been going to Disney since forever. I was saddened when you took away all the perks from staying at a Walt Disney World resort. I always stay at Walt Disney World resort and now I can’t find a reason to. Being an older person who spends a lot of money as most older people do when they go to Disney, I felt that Disney was my vacation hero. Once I deplaned in Orlando, all I had to do was board a Disney bus and head to my favorite place. My luggage was taken care of and my vacation began. All the intricate details that already been taken care of by myself. Older people really like schedules and it was nice to be able to go onto fast pass 60 days before and plan out my whole week. That’s no longer the case. And being 71 and flying all the way from Montana, just the thought of trying to find my luggage and an Uber just to get to Disney is unbearable. There’s no dining plan and I used that religiously. So with no transportation, no dining plan and no way to really schedule all of my days, I really want to visit my favorite place But I can’t get up the enthusiasm to do it. One of my favorite things was knowing that my boarding pass was going to be on my bed before I even went to sleep the night before leaving. It made the vacation complete I didn’t have to worry that last day about getting to the airport on time, finding an Uber getting my luggage there. Please consider putting back if nothing else the fast pass (maybe just for seniors) We’re not as spontaneous as the young people are, and just knowing we’re being taken care of it’s a big big deal. I know you receive thousands of letters like this and you’re probably just rolling your eyes at this one but please please please consider how much Disney means to so many of us and how much has been taken away that we can’t replace… And we can’t even find anyone to talk to about this. I’m betting you’re the one I need to talk to.
I would like to see a return to the old system where when you bought a ticket you had a 14 day window to use your passes. That coupled with eliminating the reservation system would be ideal.
How about Disney just get back to family entertainment and not be a social justice warrior.
I trusted Disney with my children but I would never trust Disney with my grandchildren. Disney has hit the iceberg of social justice. Mr Iger has become captain Smith of the Titanic. The ship will continue to go down unless the company goes back to its roots and does not kick the social justice warriors off the ship.
Sorry, but that’s not really a thing. Chapek was far more conservative politically than Iger is. Nothing has changed at Disney – it’s no more a ‘woke’ company now than it was 20 years ago. Partisan polarization has, though… but this blog isn’t the place for that.
I don’t need to say more than this:
Social equality is a family value.
I would love to see the baggage handling and remote airline check in restored. I hate standing in a line at MCO to drop off my luggage and having to drag it around the airport.
You hit the nail on the head Tom. DDP, FREE fast pass, eliminate reservations, Magical express (make a deal with Uber and Lift?) extra magic hours for all not just the rich. The changes I love are the gondolas and the app check in .
I completely agree with the idea of investing in frontline cast members. Let’s call it “trickle up” economics. What guests experience on the ground will be the biggest influence in how they value Disney as a company. If you have well-trained, friendly, energetic park cast members, then guests will be much more amenable to increased Dole Whip prices, etc. Guests will pay for Disney Magic and it’s the park cast members (and Imagineering) who are most likely to deliver it.
I think 4 of the above changes will do loads of good in terms of making park goers happier. Two you mentioned were already being looked at before Iger came back – dining plans and the dropping of park reservations and park hopping rules . If you could bring back Magical Express – that would be a huge win! My family of 6 went in February and it cost us an additional $350 for transportation to and from the airport. It also was a hassle to price out different options, book, and then find and scan your driver both ways. If we could stay fully in the bubble from airport on, it would be great! Also, I’m not, and I would think most people, are not thinking that Free Fastpass would return. However, even something simple as allowing you to pre-buy genie, even only 30 days prior to trip, and then allow you to book your first ride would do a lot to make guests happier. Run it similar to the DAS system, but with a charge. Many people seem upset about the waking up early to buy and then book their first ride. If Disney could make it so you can buy genie + 30 days prior and then select your 1st ride at time of purchase – that would make many guests happy. You could still then keep the app and ride selection rules all the same for the actual park day. I feel this would be a fairly easy solution to some of the largest gripes against genie +.
Some comments —
“Fastpass” probably should be back in brand name, not substance. FP+ was ultimately a failure. Genie+ actually has some promise, but so far is poorly implemented. So yes, go back to scratch, whatever new system you find, call it Fastpass. I like Universal’s Express Pass — It can be “free” for Club-level guests and maybe DVC Grand Villa guests, upcharge of $100+ for on-site guests and $150+ for offsite…
DME isn’t coming back. It never should have left. But it’s a heck of a lot of infrastructure and investment to launch all over again from the ground up.
Dining plan — It has devolved into a far less than magical plan. Alcohol had become a must at every meal in order to get value, making it less family friendly, and a rip off for those too young to drink. It was basically a alcohol and sugar intensive plan. I don’t care if it ever comes back. But I wouldn’t mind seeing a new dining plan, built from scratch, that provides solid value without dependence on booze and sugar.
The “magic” that I’d like to see restored — Long park hours that help reduce overcrowding. Lots of atmospheric entertainment. More Muppets! I’m ok with upsell events, as long as they are truly special — Not $150 for a cocktail and stale cupcakes with a half-decent fireworks viewing location.
I agree the Dining Plan isn’t a good value for many (most?) people, but out of everything on the list I think it would be the biggest, easiest “win.” People love it and want it back, and precisely because it’s a bad value it would actually bring in money for the company, as opposed to costing money or being value neutral.
I’m with you in that I don’t see DME coming back; I think bridges were burned, it would be very resource intensive to start back up, and Disney moving it “in house” would be even *more* involved.
I honestly don’t know what happens with Genie+/FastPass. The core problem with both systems is that you have millions of people coming to some of the most popular theme parks in the world who don’t want to wait in line with those other people. There’s definitely room for improvement, but like Tom says at a certain point you are just rearranging the winners and losers under whatever system you use.
Just finish a week in Disney World and have to say the extra pay for less services was felt. We are a party of 5, Myself , my wife and three kids (10, 12, 15) We were there from Nov 20th to Nov. 26th at CB Aruba with no dining plan we did sit down lunch & dinner, we ate: Le creperie ($192), Chef de france($348), Mamma Melrose(182), Morimoto Asia ($390), Boathouse ($380), Skipper Canteen($210), Jaleo ($483), Beaches & Cream ($158), San Angel ($221), Be our Guest($373), Brown Derby ($276), Toppolino Breakfast ($255). Breakfast when the girls would get out of bed would be at center town market other wise my wife and I would do Primo Patio at Rivieria total was ($600) for the week. Housekeeping services consisted of every other day (take out garbage , fresh towels,) no other cleaning done. Genie Plus Went from $15/person per day on Sunday to $28/ppd by Wednesday. The in room internet did not work so I had to get up every morning at 6am to be in lobby at 7am to make genie + picks. With crowds every rides was 2-4 wait minimum so we did the LL purchase, as Follows Guardians($16/p), Rise ($25/p), Minetrain ($16/p), Avatar sold out in 10 seconds so no Idea. Magic has definitely left the building all in we are at about $15k for Trip, Air fare from Chicago was $700/p so we drove. We went to London/Germany this summer to see family for half the price, as the Disney one of the family having hard time convincing my wife that cost is worth it anytime soon especially as the girls get older and Princesses are not as important as roller coasters. On a highlight Guardians is one of the best coasters I have ever been on.
I feel as if I’m being ‘moderated’ out but if Disney Corp wants to stop hemorrhaging money they need to go back to being family friendly. Yes, I live in the South where so many moms and dads won’t bring their kids to Disney movies or the parks until Disney Corp tones down their ‘woke’ indoctrination. Let kids be kids. As a shareholder I’m very disappointed and hope Iger can restore Disney to its once great status.
“I feel as if I’m being ‘moderated’ out…”
You’re certainly entitled to your opinion, but the constant over-the-top politicized comments have gotten out of hand. Just like you’re asking of Disney, leave the indoctrinated politics at the door when you comment here.
This applies to everyone else, too. Regardless of viewpoint (meaning this applies to ‘both sides’), politically-charged comments will be moderated going forward.
Thank you, Tom! I’m glad to know something is being done about this; I can’t speak for anyone else but I can say I have felt less welcome in this community due to the increasing number of comments complaining about Disney doing something as simple as acknowledging people of different backgrounds exist.
I’m hopeful for a return to the Magic and appreciation of guests and the special place Walt’s parks have in our hearts, families and our history. Park hopping and park reservation limitations and complexity were never a guest favorite. It was falling to have prior admin say it was. Disney Dining was a treat and would be welcome.
It was heartbreaking seeing the gross blatant errors and disrespect that when on for these past months. Loyal WDW and Walt lovers like me hope for a return to Walt’s path and his magic and hope for the chance to return again to enjoy it.
Definitely, Bob Iger needs to seriously reconsider the Disney Magical Express. We are in our mid 70’s now and to not have to handle our suitcases once checked in at our local airport until they were delivered in our resort room was one of the perks that would have us vacationing in WDW sometimes 2-3 times a year. Our vacation would start as soon as we would board the DME bus. It was so exciting. We are looking at the difference between WDW and Universal at this time since it’s getting too complicated to enjoy the WDW parks. Seeing so many negative comments regarding all day on cell phones, having to make park reservations, etc. is just too much.
I am elated to see Iger return. I was a CM under Iger and always felt he had the best interest of the company at heart. The biggest change I would like to see – bring Entertainment back. So many people in the Entertainment division were cut – Citizens of Hollywood, the Sword in the Stone ceremony, not to mention live shows in Epcot being reduced. Disney needs to invest in the thing that makes Disney magical – Live Entertainment. Bring back what was eliminated, or else create new experiences. Let characters with less demand roam the parks again – don’t turn everything into a line with a reservation. I’d love to see that…
Megan, you are so right. We were in the parks in October, and really missed all of the entertainment previously enjoyed there. Those bits of creativity and spontaneity were always part of our happy memories. I hope they will return.
This is so hard to read!!! Disney has become a gross money mogul that leaves sight to long wait lines, missing cooling fans and umbrellas in lines and the emptiness of the park feeling that makes you wonder what you just paid for.
The new rumors of discontinued reservation system leaves one to wonder will we not get on a ride or be kicked out at the door? Fluctuating prices of fast pass is pathetic and looks like a money grab. The cancellation of characters in the park walking around leaves the place look empty even at the time of parades! Disney needs to come up with more answers and resolutions than cancellations!
Disney parks are in trouble now and the fact that changes are not going to be made asap is part of the problem!
The corporation has grown an attitude that needs to be alleviated so they can see the weighting on the wall!
These opinions are not of my own but the guests as they exit the park! Yes there are no more screaming and crying people coming out of the parks because they don’t want to leave! Wake up!!
My biggest two changes I’d like are park pass reservations (I used to go to WDW with about 30 disney friends from around the country & PPR makes it impossible to be spontaneous) and Disney’s Magical Express. I wouldn’t even have a problem PAYING for it if it was price comparable to the other options AND they take my luggage from my airport to my room. THAT was real disney magic. lol
For me a good place to start is make the Disney hotel reservations mean something again. DDP helps. Why not free fast pass too. Of course, let hopping start earlier. Create some magic for those going “all in” on their Disney trip. Heck! … why not learn from Universal and give an unlimited express pass (sorry lightening lane pass) to Deluxe stays. Make some Magic!!!
I personally have no problem with bringing Iger back. Hell I miss Eisner, he was the highest paid CEO on earth at the time, but brought us some new parks, Iger has as well. I’d love to see a new park, what would it look like? innovate not re-create.
The biggest let down to me was that not all hotels have evening extra magic hours anymore. It was like oh you’re not at a deluxe? You can go a half hour in the morning then. That is not how it used to be and I desperately want that to go back to the way it was.
One suggestion for “restoring the magic: at Disney World is to restore parking lot trams in all 4 parks. First and last impressions matter, and the tram ride to and from the parks used to be fun with wise-cracking attendants. Now, in Hollywood Studios and Epcot, a guest arriving faces a boring parking lot walk, sometimes long and hot on wide open pavement. Not very magical! The final impression leaving a park with a long walk through a parking lot is non-magical, especially with families bustling tired children or older guests who are limping across hot, non-shaded areas in a boring parking lot. First and last impressions matter! (Annual Pass Holder)
I totally agree. The trams should have been the first thing brought back. Nothing worse than having to walk to your car in Cuba after spending a long day walking the park.
Yes doing the early morning hours for all 4 parks, but one complete hour instead of 30 minutes. And then maybe consider daily late evening hours similarly at all 4 parks (except for when there may be after hours events or holiday parties). This would certainly encourage Disney resort stays. Easy to promote this big advantage for resort guests. Disney could easily justify even higher hotel prices this way.
Totally agree with this! My husband and son are *not* early risers, so the early half hour is completely worthless for us! I doubt I would stay on property again if we didn’t get late hours (we got them last year for Spring Break and stayed at MK until 11 pm both nights we went!).
“Long ago, Walt Disney World determined that the increase in average per guest spending with Disney’s Magical Express plus the perceived convenience and goodwill obtained from offering the service outweighs the average per guest cost of offering the service. It’s unlikely that calculus has changed, especially as on-site food prices have increased and Central Florida theme park competition has become more fierce.”
I always thought the rise of ridesharing changed the calculus of DME and that’s why it was cut. Essentially, it became too easy and common for guests to escape the bubble and spend money elsewhere.
Similarly, I thought the addition of the resort parking fee was an attempt to deter guests from renting a car to escape the bubble.