Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Chapek has spoken out about how Disney is “enhancing the Guest experience” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
When asked what his expectation is for Disney’s six global theme parks — Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disney Resort, Shanghai Disneyland, and Hong Kong Disneyland — following the pandemic, Chapek shared:
“We are thrilled with the way that our Guests have responded to the precautionary measures we have put into our parks, at least in terms of those that we have been able to reopen [Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California has remained closed since March 14, 2020 and Disneyland Paris is currently closed for the second time] and I think that speaks to brand confidence.
I think that actually then kind of fuels the fire once COVID sort of breaks, and we can actually either increase the penetration in our theme parks or get to a position that we can open some of those that have not been.”
Currently, all of Disney’s open theme park properties have a number of health and safety measures in place. Guests over the age of 2 are required to wear face masks unless actively eating or drinking in a stationary position, social distancing is enforced, and certain Disney Parks experiences are unavailable.
Chapek, however, also shared that the coronavirus pandemic, while difficult, has not actually been all bad for Disney’s Parks, Experiences, and Products division. He noted:
“While we’re figuring all this out, we’re also importantly making sure that when we reenter into the marketplace in a bigger way that we’re gonna have a better Guest experience. You know, this gives us the opportunity to make some step function changes on things we’ve always wanted to do in the park, in terms of the Guest experience and then yielding those changes for the advantage of our shareholders. So, this is the perfect time to make operational changes.”
Many of the changes involve utilizing technological advancements in new ways — Chapek specifically discussed contactless entry into Disney Resort hotel rooms and mobile ordering at restaurants so Guests don’t have to stand in line.
He also spoke about how Disney’s next chapter will focus on using technology to create more “immersive storytelling” that is personal to Guests. Specifically, Chapek mentioned the impressive Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance ride, which is located in the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge lands at both Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort.
He said the attraction has a “million lines of code,” which is what makes it so incredibly immersive for all those who are lucky enough to get boarding passes in its virtual queue (yet another technological advancement).
Chapek shared that technological advancements combined with the forced theme park closures have given Disney the opportunity to develop:
“world class dynamic pricing and now we’ve got this test case where we’re artificially constraining the demand for our parks. Every one of these programs that we’re putting in place will improve the Guest experience, so in the end, it’s a win-win for everybody.”
The seventh Walt Disney Company CEO ended his portion of tonight’s call saying, “We are all about magical entertainment…we’re proud of our team and all the work that they’ve done to dig us out of the pandemic hole, but the best is yet to come.”
Have you returned to a Disney Park yet during the COVID-19 pandemic?