After widespread complaints about higher prices and seemingly reduced benefits at Disney parks and resorts, the company is making some concessions under its new leadership.
On Tuesday, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Chairman Josh D’Amaro wrote a memo to staff saying he is “at the parks quite often, and I also listen to you and our guests about the things that working. as the things that might need some change,” the Wall Street Journal reported.
Bee Orlando Disney Worldthis one changes include (again) free parking for people staying at Disney hotels, extended hours for people with annual passes to visit parks without a reservation, and added photo benefits for people who buy Genie+, a skip-the-line service.
CEO Robert Iger returned as CEO of Disney after the controversial Bob Chapek retired in November. As the outlet writes, this is essentially Iger’s “peace offering” to fans who were personally dissatisfied with Chapek over changes to the park, particularly price increases.
Last year, Disney raised prices on everything from merchandise to hotels to food at the park, per a WSJ research, outpacing inflation and massively increasing customer spending. In addition, previously free benefits began to cost money.
Related: Bob Iger returns as CEO of Disney and Bob Chapek steps down effective immediately
Bob Chapek: pic.twitter.com/DhsmeEBNxAk
— DisVision3D (@DisVision3D) October 11, 2022
Related: ‘I can get to Europe cheaper’: A trip to Disney costs more than ever before
These changes began to anger hardcore fans of the parks, including people who buy annual passes, which allowed them to enter the parks whenever they wanted throughout the years, with no blackout dates in two of the levels. (They are no longer for sale.)
The company added blackout dates and a reservation system after the pandemic, leading to a class action lawsuit from two annual pass holders.
Disney die-hards were so angry at some of the new rules that they started wearing shirts at Disney resorts that read “Chapek Killed The Magic,” the outlet noted.
Iger was CEO of the company for 15 years and worked there for about 40 years. He returned to his post barely a year after his retirement, which came as a surprise to many. It came amid tough reputational and financial times for the company, including an employee walk away on the company’s response to Florida’s “don’t say gay” law, losses on streamer Disney+ and possible layoffs.
Walt Disney World, Orlando Park Changes
The company does not completely focus on annual passes. At some point in the “coming months,” the company wrote in their blog, annual pass holders will be able to enter theme parks after 2 p.m. without a reservation, with the exception of Saturdays and Sundays at Orlando’s Magic Kingdom Park.
However, the blackout dates and reservations are here to stay, the latter of which “remains important to manage attendance at our parks,” the company wrote. “We realize that our Passholders enjoy more spontaneous visits – and this change will enable that.”
Disney is also giving annual pass holders a new perk: free Disney PhotoPass Lenses, which allow users to take augmented reality (AR) photos with special lenses in the park, and a free visit to a AR mural at Cinderella’s castle.
Free parking is also back for those staying at Disney hotels in Orlando’s parks.
Another major price-boosting change, as the WSJ noted, was the removal of Disney’s FastPass skip-the-line system. The new program is called Genie+. It allows access to the Lighting Lane at select attractions, which start at $25 per day per person.
You have to pay extra, at the rate of $10 to $17 per ride, to get on the track for certain rides. Some are included in the $25 and some must be purchased separately on rides like the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Flight of Passage, which you can do even without buying Genie+. The implementation has Reportedly been a disaster at times, with people completely skipping the regular line called Standby.
Starting in the next “few months,” people who buy Genie+ for a visit will also receive free photos from Disney PhotoPass taken at places like Space Mountain and Expedition Everest.
Changes at Disneyland Resort, California
The olive branches of the company inside California include an earlier time for people “park hopping” from Disneyland to Disney California Adventure if they have a Magic Key pass (which gives access to both parks) or a Park Hopper ticket from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Disneyland offers select dates where tickets cost $104, a relatively lower price compared to the usual daytime prices, which vary widely, but can cost $164-$239 for a day pass that allows park hopping for someone over the age of 10, for example.
In the blog post, the company said it has “almost” added two more months of dates in 2023, where people can take advantage of the $104 price.
The company said it also plans to sell more Magic Key passes in 2023.