The New Normal, Disney Parks Edition

As changes to the Disney Parks happen and many Disney fans take to the Internet to announce that “Walt is rolling in his grave”, I draw on my mantra: I trust Disney. Let’s be real for a second- I don’t trust them as a multi billion dollar corporation, I trust them as purveyors of magical experiences, because magical experiences have made them a multi billion dollar corporation. And they have a LOT to lose if those experiences go wrong.

I watched an interview this morning from The Dow Report with Josh D’Amaro, Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products. It is short, you should watch it and then come back to have a conversation.

Noodle Bowl from Satu’li Canteen.

One of the points he covers is that some of the technologies developed to reopen the parks are here to stay. Pre-pandemic recent visitors to the parks likely noticed the availability of Mobile Ordering, and many were using it, I was never alone waiting at the mobile order windows. D’Amaro suggests that the expansion of mobile ordering is going to continue and I’m all for that! Once the world opens up to more international travel, however, a credit only payment required could be a problem for guests from out of the country who don’t want to pay exchange fees with every transaction.

Another new post-Corona innovation introduced is the Park Reservation System. D’Amaro indicates that in some form that is here to stay.

<record scratch, cue momentary panic> 

Screen Shot 2020-08-28 at 6.20.42 PM
Passholder Park Reservation Calendar for September 2020 as of 8/28/2020

What will this mean for Annual Passholders? My brain and my heart momentarily switch places. What will be the point of living near The Magic if I can’t have dinner at Epcot on a random Wednesday after work? Is this the end of Park Hopping? Why did I watch this dumb video before I even got out of bed this morning? <deep breath> The limited information that can be gleaned from the Disney World website eases my concerns about Park Hopping disappearing. Tickets purchased for next year can have the Park Hopper option added. So that’s at least something.

Screen Shot 2020-08-28 at 7.00.51 PM

No information has been released about Disney’s long term plans for Annual Passholders, and as yet it is not possible to purchase new Annual Passes, but it IS possible to renew existing passes. (I let mine expire in February and might be panicking a little bit, not knowing when I’ll be able to buy a new one.)

I have noticed that when booking a Park Pass Reservation I’m presented with a single clickable option that reads:

Select Arrival Window — show up any time during this timeframe to enter the park.

this makes me think that eventually THIS is how we will Park Hop. Pick Magic Kingdom for the AM, pick Epcot for the PM. This may also expend somehow to accommodate more spontaneous park visits for Annual Passholders. (fingers crossed!)
Guardians of the Galaxy- Mission: Breakout
A third technology adoption mentioned in this brief interview was the Ride Queue Reservation System. Having been to Disneyland a couple of times I’ve been hoping that they’ll implement in Florida the MAX Pass system that they use in California. It is easy, and makes it possible to do so many more things than can be done on the WDW FastPass system. Fingers crossed for something like that with a different pricing structure, the additional cost would be prohibitive for many visitors, the $20 per day might not work as well in a park where people tend to go for 5-7 days or more per vacation.
This could also just mean expanding the Rise of the Resistance style reservation-making to more attractions, especially as they open new ones like Guardians of the Galaxy or Ratatouille in Epcot.
Construction in France, Epcot, as of 2/7/2020 (my last park day before the Corona hit the fan)
Now with all of this Disney talk I need everyone to calm down, stay home, and wear masks for the next 30 days so that we can all go back on vacation!

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