The Park Pass Reservation system is the ire of most guests. Most find it restrictive and think that it limits their ability to be spontaneous. You’d be hard pressed to find a guest who would be sad to see it go away. However, as the dust settles at the Walt Disney Company following the firing of CEO Bob Chapek, it’s becoming clear that the Park Pass Reservation requirement was Chapek’s baby… it was Josh D’Amaro’s. Recent comments from Disney’s Chairman of Parks, Experiences and Products point to the hated system not going away any time soon.
He assumed his position in 2020, just as Chapek ascended to the CEO spot. This makes it difficult to tell which changes are Chapek’s doing or D’Amaro’s. Now that Chapek is gone, however, it’s a bit easier to suss out. Just as Disney Genie+ isn’t going to go away, neither are Park Passes.
Mr. D’Amaro did recently say that changes are on the way Disney Genie+ isn’t going to go away the system, though he was vague on exactly what changes would be taking place. Some have already been announced, like Park Hopping at Disneyland and the end of reservations for Annual Passholders at Walt Disney World (after 2:00 pm). He hints, though, that even more changes are on the way (such as potentially dropping the requirements during traditionally less busy times but keeping them during busy seasons).
In a recent interview he sat down and really explained his thought process and why the reservations aren’t likely to end soon. He detailed the reasoning and said it boils down to Guest Experience and essentially what guests say they want vs what they really want.
“It’s a guest experience issue. This all starts with guest experience, and having been in this business for as long as we have been, we know what constitutes a great guest experience. We know that there are certain attendance thresholds that can potentially deteriorate the experience. So the reservation system change that we’ve made is completely premised on wanting to deliver [you] the best experience I possibly can. And to do that, I’m asking my guests to make reservations, which is change. Change isn’t easy, particularly for Disney, where everybody watches every single move that we make, and if you change something that’s tradition, or the way that it’s always been, it’s hard,” D’Amaro said, “So anytime we step into one of these areas, we know that there’s going to be input, and we’re going to take that input and listen, and we’re going to react and adjust. But we will never sacrifice guest experience. I have these conversations with guests all the time in the theme parks – “Why do I have to make a reservation?” And the moment I sit down and talk to them about guest experience, and how we’re continually trying to make that easier and more flexible, they completely get it and understand it. So we’re going to keep pushing on that. If we’re going to be pioneers, we’re going to keep being pioneers to make that experience as great as it possibly can be.”
Elsewhere he said that they were hard at work trying to ease some of the frustrations and help the process to be more flexible. He is listening to guests, recent comments show this is true, but he’s also going to stick to his guns about this whole Park Pass thing.