These changes can help Walt Disney World bring back the magic and shore up slumping park attendance
Walt Disney World is dubbed the “Most Magical Place on Earth”. For decades, this iconic destination has captured the imaginations of millions. From gleaming parades to state-of-the-art rides, the park has continually grown and evolved just as Walt intended. Some of the more recent changes, however, haven’t been universally embraced by Disney’s devout fanbase, and seem to be aimed at times to increase profits at the expense of the guest experience.
One of the more concerning recent trends for the House of Mouse is the noticeable drop in park attendance. While there are numerous factors contributing to this decline, it’s clear that the introduction of less-than-popular changes has played a huge part. Simply introducing discounts and promotions, though appreciated, hasn’t sufficiently turned the tide. To their credit, Disney is implementing some great changes next year, such as the return of all-day park hopping and the retirement of park reservations for date-based tickets, but this is just a start at tackling the growing list of guest grievances. Let’s dig into some of the recommendations Disney can implement to restore the magic and shore up attendance.
Retire or Revamp The Controversial Genie+ System
The introduction of the Genie+ service to replace the beloved FastPass+ system has been met with mixed reviews. The initial promise of an improved and dynamic line-skipping service has, for many, fallen short. With disclaimers suggesting guests might only secure reservations for two rides a day, it’s a far cry from the previous system’s guarantees of three pre-booked attractions with the ability to add more throughout the day. Many fans are pushing for a return to FastPass+ or an all-inclusive adaptation that looks similar to Universal’s Express Pass. One easy upgrade would be to pre-load selections onto the Genie+ with purchase, ensuring guests are able to utilize the system for the more popular attractions.
Disney’s announcement of “pre-selection for Genie+” next year seems to be a step in the right direction, but we do not yet know what this will actually look like. Will it resemble the previous FastPass+ system or take a different form? The uncertainty is a point of contention among fans.
Bring Back Some Variations of Disney’s Magical Express
This complimentary bus service whisked guests from Orlando International Airport directly to their Disney Resort hotel. Not only did it offer a seamless transition into the Disney experience, but it also marked the start of many vacations with its unique Disney-themed interiors and videos. The Magical Express also increased the likelihood of guests staying on the property, as the transportation option allowed for a seamless transition from airport to resort.
Bringing back the Magical Express would likely result in an increase in on-property bookings and demonstrate to guests that Disney takes the guest experience seriously. Rather than taking the lead in the service again, Disney could continue to allow Mears to operate the service (who operated it previously under a contract with Disney), and simply add a voucher system to allow the cost to be covered when booking a vacation package.
Bring Back The Citizens of Hollywood at Hollywood Studios and the Citizens of Main Street at Magic Kingdom
These improvisational actors would stroll down the streets, bringing the Golden Age of Hollywood to life with their spontaneous skits, engaging visitors in playful banter and light-hearted humor. Their presence added a dynamic, unpredictable element to Hollywood Studios. Their absence is noticed by all Hollywood Studios fans, and a petition has even been recently started to bring them back.
The same can be said for the Citizens of Main Street at Magic Kingdom. While the Citizens of Hollywood provided a campy, golden age of Hollywood vibe to Hollywood Studios, the Citizens of Main Street helped immerse guests in the turn-of-the-century time period Main Street USA takes place in, including Mayor Weaver, Fire Department Chief Smokey Miller, and Miss Harding who is advocating for Women’s Sufferage.
Bring Back The Jedi Training Academy at Hollywood Studios
Many young padawans honed their Jedi skills here, combating the Dark Side in a fun, immersive experience. Its removal left a disturbance in the Force for many Star Wars enthusiasts. This experience was VERY popular, often booking up shortly after the park opened! These included experiences added a touch of magic (and perceived value) to the cost of a theme park ticket, and their return would be welcomed by all guests.
Expand the Availability of Refillable Mugs and Stations
One popular feature at Disney’s water parks and resort hotels is the option to purchase refillable mugs with convenient refill stations. Considering the size of the main theme parks and Florida’s heat, extending this eco-friendly and customer-centric initiative to all four main parks would be a welcome change. Not only would it encourage hydration, but it would also provide a sustainable solution and additional value for guests.
Bring Back The Original Journey into Imagination with Figment
Though still present, the character of Figment has undergone significant changes over the years. The original ride was a testament to the power of imagination and creativity, with Figment and Dreamfinder guiding guests. Figment has only increased in popularity in recent years, with merchandise selling out and the new Meet and Greet proving to be very popular. Many yearn for the return of this classic version and now is the time for Disney to bring back the classic attraction with updated technology.
Bring Back Nighttime Parades, like the Main Street Electrical Parade
This parade was a nighttime spectacle, with floats adorned with thousands of sparkling lights, creating an experience that left guests in awe. Its iconic music and mesmerizing visuals were a staple of many childhoods. The lack of a nighttime parade at Magic Kingdom is simply puzzling and would be a simple fix for Disney to implement.
Bring Back Mickey’s Toontown
A whole section dedicated to the homes of Mickey, Minnie, and other beloved characters, Toontown was a place where visitors could immerse themselves in the cartoon world. Mickey’s Toontown was introduced at Magic Kingdom in 1988 and was retired during the Fantasyland expansion in 2011. As Disney makes plans to expand Magic Kingdom, some variation of Toontown should make a return perhaps modeled after the recent Disneyland overhaul. After all, no visit to Fantasyland is complete without a visit with Mickey and friends!
Are there any other changes you would recommend Disney make to bring back the magic? Leave us a comment to let us know!
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