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Disneyland President Says Toontown Will be More Interactive, Improvements Underway for Free Genie Service, Changes to Character Experiences Coming, and More in Interview

In a new interview with the Orange County Register, Disneyland President Ken Potrock discussed how things have changed and will continue to change at Disneyland Resort.

Ken Potrock

Potrock stepped into the position in May 2020, two months into the over year-long closure of Disneyland Resort due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to him, the pandemic “opened up a variety of really interesting opportunities for us to rethink our approach to business.” He pointed to the Park Pass reservation system and Genie+ as examples.

“Sometimes we get it just right,” he said. “Other times it needs some modification. And that’s OK because the Disneyland Resort is a continuously evolving place. Our objective always is to create a great experience. If we don’t get it perfect the first time, we’re going to keep trying until we do.”

When asked about guest reaction to Genie+ and Lightning Lane, Potrock said, “It’s been extraordinary.” According to CEO Bob Chapek, up to 50% of guests are using Genie+. Potrock said, “One of the things that we’re finding is that those that use it are feeling that their experience was better and that they had an opportunity to do everything that they wanted to do.”

He did also say that they are working to improve the free Genie service for guests who don’t want to pay for Genie+. “That’s going to be very valuable as well. Ultimately, all boats need to rise.”

Potrock reiterated that park reservations likely aren’t going away, because they “create a really important opportunity for us to be able to manage the demand more effectively than we ever could.”

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Several nighttime spectaculars are returning to Disneyland Resort in April. When asked why “Fantasmic!” was coming back later than the others (May 28), Potrock said, “It just took longer to do. We were literally installing towers as of earlier this week. It’s just a much more intricate, complex mechanical endeavor.”

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As nighttime spectaculars return, Mickey’s Toontown will close for a major reimagining, and will reopen in 2023 with a new attraction — Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. The Orange County Register asked Potrock, “What’s Toontown going to be like once the renovation is complete?”

“Looking at that land as an opportunity to really improve upon the experience for families with younger kids is a big objective of ours,” he said. “It’s going to become much more interactive. It’s going to have much more park space to picnic, sit in the grass and for kids to run around. That’s going to be a really special place for us here at the resort.”

In regards to Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, he said, “It’s in Florida already and it’s going to be even better here because it has some enhancements that Florida doesn’t have.”

The Orange County Register asked what major milestones lay ahead for Disneyland Resort and Potrock pointed to character experiences, which have remained absent or physically distanced since the parks reopened.

“We’re optimistic that the character experience is going to get back to a new normal,” he said. “Many of the things that we did with the characters standing behind you and social distancing — a lot of that worked. But that’s not the only way we want to have people interact with characters. That will be a big milestone change as we go forward.”

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  1. “It’s going to have much more park space to picnic, sit in the grass and for kids to run around.” Sadly, like with new Future World at EPCOT, Disney is getting away with marketing spin for just eliminating guest experiences in the name of green space. People can enjoy green space in a free public park, they are paying for more unique experiences when they come to a Disney park. Yet another copout and evisceration of guest offerings just because they can get away with it. Disheartening to think how little of the essence of the parks will remain as this regime continues.

  2. Big changes are coming. And most likely they will be for better. Also even this article says that it’s all trail and error. Even Genie Plus. Give it a chance.

  3. According to my Mom the character part means that they intend to slowly bring them back to normal. It takes one slow step at a time.

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