With the release of its Q4 Earnings Report for the end of the 2022 fiscal year today, Disney held their annual Quarterly Earnings Call to examine revenue statistics and confront key issues handled in the report.
One key item on the minds of many Disney fans was the increase in Disney Parks’ prices observed following the nationwide shutdown due to Covid-19. Another was the possible removal of procedures and policies introduced during each Park’s phased re-opening between 2020 and 2021.
After nearly three years in a global pandemic, faced with high mortality rates and nationwide shutdowns, many people welcomed the lifting of travel and commerce restrictions everywhere, especially for the return of theme parks and themed entertainment experiences.
However, the Disney Parks many returned to saw changes from their pre-pandemic states, most notably a change in options for repeat admission, Genie+, and the infamous Park Reservation system. While some of Disney’s modifications were embraced by fans, either for streamlining processes or resolving previous issues, many were met with scorn or frustration.
Instead of lowering admission fees, or offering select admission, to make attendance more greatly accessible, Disney has chosen to offset cost inflation through preventative internal measures. What this means is that many of those Covid-19 spawned variations in Park Operations are likely here to stay, in order to reduce Disney’s own operating expenses.
During a Q&A portion of the call, Disney CFO Christine McCarthy and CEO Bob Chapek addressed concerns and responded to inquiries. Here’s what we know so far:
Park Reservation Systems
Disney will continue to operate the system dreaded by many Guests to their theme parks by requiring both a scheduled reservation and valid sam-day Park admission for entry. Allegedly, this will help limit higher admission rates on high-capacity days.
Annual Pass/Magic Key Programs (and limitations)
Costs for an Annual Pass or Magic Key at Disney Resorts will likely remain the same, or even increase with demand rather than become more affordable. Due to concerns of an “unfavorable attendance mix,” Disney may limit the number of passes released again.
Disney Parks will continue to utilize, or even require, virtual Guest Service systems, such as Mobile Ordering for dining and retail locations and contactless check-in, to streamline transactions and address the staff shortages seen following the Company’s layoffs at the start of the pandemic.
Because of measures like these, we know a significant amount of operating expenses were removed from the Parks in the last few years, positioning them for a profitable entry into the 2023 fiscal year. Bob Chapek closed his address, as recorded in the Company report:
And as we embark on Disney’s second century in 2023, I am filled with optimism that this iconic company’s best days still lie ahead.”
But “best days” for whom? Whether these changes will ultimately benefit Guests as well as the Walt Disney Company itself remains to be seen as fans react to today’s announcements. We will continue to update this article if and when new information becomes available.