Disney Seeks To Soothe Fans’ Ruffled Feathers With New Theme Park Perks

Disney, newly under Bob Iger’s wing, is taking steps to mollify theme park-goers, some of whom have been at a low boil.

Theme parks saw big changes coming out of Covid under former CEO Bob Chapek with new technology, ticket pricing and advances aimed at making the business more lucrative and the experience smoother for customers. It didn’t all fly, leading to flurries of protest and even a few lawsuits. Parks chairman Josh D’Amaro has sent a memo to staff outlining a series of initiatives from parking to park hopping, annual passes, free photos and reservations.

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“I’m excited about all of these changes and offers and want you to know that we are committed to listening, adapting, and staying relentlessly focused on making the guest experience at our Disney parks even better,” he said.

Walt Disney World also set an April 4 opening date for the TRON Lightcycle/Run attraction at Magic Kingdom and said it is bringing back popular nighttime spectacular Happily Ever After on April 3.

At WDW, there are three main changes:

Complimentary self-parking at Disney Resort hotels starting Jan. 10 for overnight guests: “This is a Disney difference many of you have asked us to bring back, and we’re happy to reintroduce it to make your vacation a little easier and more affordable,” the company said in a blog post.

Relaxed reservation requirements for annual passholders: Starting in the next few months (date still TBA) passholders can visit the theme parks after 2 pm without a reservation — except on Sat. and Sun. at Magic Kingdom. Pass blockout dates will continue to apply. “While the theme park reservation system remains important to manage attendance in our parks, especially on busier days, we realize our Passholders enjoy more spontaneous visits – and this change will make that possible,” the blog said.

Photo downloads included with Disney Genie+ service: Also starting over the next few months, guests purchasing the park’s so-called Genie+ upgrade will also receive free digital downloads of their Disney PhotoPass attraction photos — a popular feature.

New changes at Disneyland:

Park hopping: Starting Feb. 4, guests with a Magic Key pass or a Park Hopper ticket can cross between Disneyland and Disney California Adventure starting at 11 am, two hours before the current 1 pm start.

More of the cheapest daytrip tickets: Disneyland’s reservation calendar will offer nearly two months-worth of $104 park ticket dates in 2023. That’s the lowest one-day ticket park price.

Free photos: Disney PhotoPass digital photo downloads on any attraction during a park visit will be complimentary for all ticketed guests on the Disneyland app starting Feb. 4, throughout the Disney100 celebration.

Said D’Amaro: “As we step into this bright future it is important that we continuously evolve to help deliver the best guest experience possible. Many of you know that I’m in the parks fairly often … and I listen to you and to our guests about the things that are working … as well as the things that might need some change. And, as we enter this new year, I want you to be the first to hear about a few enhancements that we are going to be making – specifically ones that our guests have asked for and you’ve shared with me. And while this doesn’t address everyone’s feedback, these changes will increase flexibility and add value to our guests’ experience.”

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