December 1, 2023

Views of the Disneyland theme park still closed due to COVID-19 on July 11, 2020 in Anaheim, California.

AaronP / Bauer-Griffin | GC Images | Getty Images

It’s been more than a year since Disney’s two California theme parks were forced to close due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the company’s theme parks department has not been idly waiting for the reopening.

From renovating the iconic carousel to the last brushstroke on Avengers Campus, which opens June 4th, Josh D’Amaro and Disney have been busy parks, consumer staples and experiences.

As Disneyland and California Adventure reopened on April 30, the company shared a series of updates with the media and stakeholders during a webcast on Thursday.

Initially, the parks will be about 15% full and only open to California residents. Mask wear and social distancing are required for guests visiting the park.

10,000 workers were recalled

Last year’s shutdown resulted in Disney laying off tens of thousands of workers and limiting an important source of income for the media company. The Parks, Experiences, and Consumer Staples segment accounted for 37% of the company’s total revenue of $ 69.6 billion, or approximately $ 26.2 billion, in 2019.

A year later, revenue shrank to $ 16.5 billion, or roughly 25% of the company’s total revenue of $ 65.4 billion.

“That was probably one of the toughest things I personally had to do in my career,” D’Amaro said in an interview with CNBC prior to the webcast about the layoffs. “I’m very passionate about the performers here. I think they’re the real reason people come to these parks. Those little interactions they have with guests in a row are big, and I think that’s why we are different from the others. ” Rest of the world.”

D’Amaro said the company will have recalled more than 10,000 cast members when the Disneyland resort opened in late April.

“We’ve changed a lot of our processes in how people access and experience the parks at Walt Disney World, and we’re doing the same here at Disneyland,” he said.

Cashless payment and other technical options

Guests are encouraged to make cashless payments, either through the park’s magic bands or their phones, and use the park’s mobile ordering system to purchase groceries.

“The idea for these things already existed and in some cases even existed in our theme parks,” said D’Amaro. “This Covid era that we have been through has put hyperspeed into full swing in terms of adoption and how we use it in the parks.”

Before the coronavirus, Disney rolled out its single-digit mobile ordering system. Around nine out of ten guests now decide to use it.

“Cashless transactions are faster. Avoiding queues is better,” said D’Amaro. “So we know this has resulted in a better guest experience.”

Other technical innovations include queues for virtual journeys, which help maintain social distance, and an online reservation system, which helps control the crowd. The parks will continue to offer these different technologies even after the pandemic as this has helped improve the guest experience in the parks.

Disney is also nearing the launch of Genie, a new digital offering that will allow guests to plan their entire trip through the parks. Guests tell the app exactly what they want to do and eat during their stay, and the program creates an optimized itinerary. It is designed to be customizable and flexible. So if guests decide they don’t want to ride or try another restaurant in the park, Genie will reorganize the schedule.

And Disney’s focus on technology is behind monetary consumer transactions. The imagineers working behind the scenes were busy giving guests new ways to experience the company’s iconic stories and characters.

CNBC took a behind-the-scenes look at the research and development lab and saw firsthand how Disney invents new technology to transform the parking experience into something no other company can easily replicate. Disney is expected to report more on these innovations in the future.

“Innovation, inventing new technologies and trying new things are just the core of our park DNA,” D’Amaro said during the webcast.

The park will continue to host pop-up cavalcades and impromptu character meet-and-greets that have replaced large-scale parades and fireworks shows. Even if the parks can again produce massive pyrotechnic shows and processions, those smaller surprise events will persist.

“In the last year in particular, the park group has become much more agile in terms of our ability to react to what is hot and relevant,” said D’Amaro.