Castle 50th Anniversary, Disney

In the Q&A session which was held yesterday at Morgan Stanley’s 2022 Technology, Media & Telecom Conference, Disney Chief Financial Officer, Christine McCarthy answered some important questions.

Everyone knows how crowded the Walt Disney World parks have been in recent weeks, starting with the Presidents' Day Weekend back in February. We saw two weeks of Disney's Magic Kingdom at capacity with limited availability at the other parks. It has led Disney fans to ask the question, "have the parks returned to full capacity?". 

Walt Disney World 50th, Disney
Image: Disney

Yesterday, Christine McCarthy addressed this issue and said that Disney has no intention of increasing the capacity of the Walt Disney World parks back to pre-pandemic levels. She continued to say that Disney is trying to manage things differently with the help of the Parks Reservation System.

The Parks Reservation System which although is a negative for many guests, is very helpful for Disney as it allows the company to manage crowds more effectively as they know how many people will be in each park each day which should make for a better experience for guests.

You could think, "oh great, Disney are actually just thinking of their guests" but the thinking behind it is that happier guests are ultimately more likely to spend larger amounts of money which is great for Disney's bank balance.

Chef Mickey, Disney
Image: Disney

Some may question whether the parks are actually currently fairly close to pre-pandemic capacity levels as the parks appear to be crammed right now with many wait times for attracitons being recorded as 100+ minutes.

With the current high demand and the news that capacity will not return to pre-pandemic levels, it leaves us wondering whether guests will struggle as we head into the Spring and Summer months to actually secure reservations for the Walt Disney World parks? Annual Passes for new passholders are still paused and it seems unlikely we will see these reinstated in the near future based on the recent crowding.

EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival, Disney
Image: Disney

We are already seeing the Park Reservation System filling up for March with all Walt Disney World parks currently full for March 14 - 17. If you are hoping to visit Walt Disney World in the coming weeks it will pay to get your tickets and reservation booked quickly to avoid disappointment.



I'm glad they're keeping the reservation system. I'm also glad that restaurant reservations disappear quickly and that the former FP+ and what's essentially virtual queues for some popular attractions are behind a paywall which still doesn't guarantee you get what you want starting milliseconds after it's 7am. I'm glad the parks are miserably crowded, lines are longer than ever even for food and you sometimes have to virtual order hours in advance. I'm glad they got rid of the magical express, the Chip and Dale campfire, the Luau, the Harmony Barbershop, charge $700+ a night for 'deluxe' rooms where your only real deluxe perk is being next to Magic Kingdom or Epcot, and charge $300 a night on average for a tacky themed motor lodge on the edge of their property and only a couple minutes away from decent condos that cost half that price. I'm glad their prices have risen well above the rate of inflation and cost as much or more for one day one park than a Cedar Fair or Six Flags or even Dollywood season pass.

As a lifetime fan who was lucky to go there annually for most of my life, sometimes twice, worked there on the college program, married another fan and had our honeymoon there, and couldn't wait for my kids to experience it, I'm glad that all of the above (and more) has finally sobered us up to the fact that there are so many great vacation spots in the US that have magic of their own and cost far less. My kids liked Disney World but they also liked Dollywood and at the end of the day they're happy so long as they're having fun with their family and friends. And so are we. I don't see Disney ever going back or ever making enough improvements to get us to come back. They might have been the best at what they do, but many others have emulated them over the years. There are better Food and Wine festivals everywhere than the Epcot one. Every other amusement and theme park have better virtual queue systems (and none that I know have return times). The hospitality and friendliness was never exclusive to Disney like I used to think, it can be found all over and often seeming more genuine.

Disney World was our happy place and we were under the spell for so long, but we're out of it now. Covid is not the problem, it was miserable in 2019. It seems like it's been increasingly more miserable and more expensive every year since the 24 hour event ten years ago. Their attractions aren't even that good. Sure they have classics like HM, but M&MRR was only OK at best (I didn't ride RotR). With VR everywhere, they're going to have to put a lot of work into traditional dark rides. Even the classics need another update. I never liked cheap garbage like Soarin. I liked Epcot for reasons that shouldn't require the same paid admission price as the other parks and even that coaster isn't going to improve the fact that there is less there to do than there was in the 80s. Galaxy's Edge not being from the movies and having it's own story in the SW canon is typical Disney but it doesn't work for me, it's too generic. Universal has stuff right out of the HP movies and fans seem to prefer that. Then you have Disney Springs. I actually like the makeover even though I dislike the mall part. Finally made that space lively. But everything is expensive and has too long of a line. It's miserable. The entire experience is miserable. They don't care about loyal lifelong fans and they prey on the unsuspecting family spending $15k for a 'once in a lifetime experience' that is anything but.

I see a lot of people saying similar things. That's a problem. I also see apologist fanatics who make all these excuses. "You went on (insert busy period even though it's almost always busy now). You didn't research and plan. I didn't have a problem with G+/LL. The magic is still there for me." This is called Stockholm Syndrome, blindly loyal fans. I was one of them until recently. I know. They might have no problem filling these parks now but the souring experiences and poor word of mouth is eventually going to blowback. And none of this has anything to do with the current political stuff either. Vacations should be relaxing. When I was a pass holder we would sometimes go to a park just for a couple hours. But a lot of people do a park a day open to close with no time to relax. Now you have to make reservations months in advance without knowing what the weather will be like. Some guests show up (and didn't do their research, not that anybody should despite what fanatics say) and find out that they can't even get into a park. And if they do they can't find restaurant to eat at. This is an added level of stress and requires a PHD in planning a vacation around Disney's unique systems. And can cost thousands of dollars. No thanks, you guys can have our places in line.

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