Right now the future of Disney Parks is in a state of flux. Though travel experts are predicting a big surge in 2022, Disney has been playing things very close to the vest, suspending and cancelling projects on a massive scale, and limiting their expenditures when it comes to reopening hotels and bringing back Cast Members. And though this could change in the future, a recent presentation by CEO Bob Chapek at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecommunications Conference can give us a few hints about what to expect from the future of Disney Parks.
1. Some changes we are seeing now have been in the works for awhile
While we've already seen that Disney used the reopening of Walt Disney World to test its Disney Parks Pass, which has now been confirmed to be sticking around long term (at least until 2022), Chapek hinted that the pause in operations allowed Disney to make other changes that they had been considering for awhile, including wider rollout of features like keyless check-in, mobile ordering of food and contactless screening.
Chapek also specifically mentioned the reimagining of the Disneyland Annual Pass program, saying “In a non-COVID environment, it would have been a pretty tough [decision] to make, because they just keep renewing and renewing, but when you start lapping a year without anybody going for an annual pass program, that gives you the chance,” Chapek continued: “We’re going to use that, though, in order to have an even better guest experience at Disneyland and manage the crowd so that no matter what day you go to Disneyland, you can have an extraordinary experience.”
Though capacity caps and mandatory masks probably won't stick around long term, some are wondering if the reduction in amenities (Disney's Magical Express, Extra Magic Hours, etc.) as well as entertainment could be something that becomes the "new normal" at Disney parks as part of these permanent changes as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic .
2. Immersion will be key to development of future attractions
Right now we know that Disney's construction priorities include Tron Lightcycle/ Run and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, Remy's Ratatouille Adventure and Harmonious at Walt Disney World, and Avengers Campus and Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway at Disneyland Resort.
However, moving beyond the big projects that are already under construction, Chapek said that future attractions projects will use increasingly immersive storytelling, similar to what is used at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, specifically in the Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance attraction. And speaking of future attractions...