Disney CEO Bob Chapek shared the company’s plans to increase theme park capacity. Chapek didn’t disclose any exact numbers, but he said that capacities will increase by “low double-digit increases” in the next several months.
Chapek’s comments from the JP Morgan Global Technology, Media, and Communications Conference shed some light on Disney’s plans. While vague, we know that crowds will gradually increase at Disney’s theme parks. But, it won’t be a sudden flip from one extreme to the next.
Disney’s plans to expand capacity this summer shouldn’t come as a surprise. They’ve been scaling back physical distancing measures and they’re rapidly hiring more cast members. The return of the Disney College Program in June will allow for Walt Disney World to reopen more shops, restaurants and kiosks.
Chapek also noted that the park reservation system and virtual queue system will endure as things return to normal. Both systems allow for Disney to manage their staffing and crowds in ways they previously couldn’t. They claim guests enjoy a more convenient experience in the parks with both systems in place.
But, guests may not be too fond of the park reservation system as it stifles park flexibility and park hopping. Some Walt Disney World annual passholders aren’t able to enjoy the perks they purchased under the current system. The passes that promise no blackouts may be prevented from visiting parks that have no available reservations.
That’s an issue Disney hasn’t directly addressed besides preventing new annual pass purchases as they overhaul the annual pass system. No information has been released on what the future annual pass program will look like.
Summarized, the way guests visit Disney parks today may become permanent staples of the experience – for better or worse.