Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro Says Newly Announced Changes Are a Result of Listening to Guests

Katie Francis

Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro Says Newly Announced Changes Are a Result of Listening to Guests

After a slew of changes was announced for Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort this afternoon, Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro gave an interview with the New York Times. The changes, which included bringing back free parking and easing reservation requirements, have been well received by fans.

Some applauded the changes as a result of the return of CEO Bob Iger, who took over when Bob Chapek was fired last November. D’Amaro was quick to disagree — and take a little credit for the decisions.

“This is not necessarily about a change in leadership,” Mr. D’Amaro said. “I have a lot of face-to-face conversations with guests when I’m walking the parks, and I read a lot of their comments online.

“If you move a tree, if you change a procedure, if you start asking for reservations — that’s a big deal to our guests,” he added. “They care. They really, really care. And if people care that much, then I have an obligation to listen and, when appropriate, to make some changes and modifications.”

Frequent WDWNT readers may notice those sentiments echo soundbites from Chapek last year. The former CEO made comments about needing to “listen to the audience,” and observed how fans notice if they “move a churro cart.” D’Amaro reportedly almost quit during Chapek’s stint as CEO.

One of the changes at Walt Disney World will bring complimentary on-ride PhotoPass digital downloads as a new perk for Disney Genie+. The FastPass+ replacement is often a complaint of fans, who resent having to pay for a previously free program.

“We believe in the Genie product, which has been incredibly popular, but we’re going to continue to look at ways to add more value,” Mr. D’Amaro said. Past earnings calls have revealed that approximately 50% of Walt Disney World guests purchase Genie+.

See the full list of today’s announcements below.

D’Amaro started his tenure at the Walt Disney Company in 1998. He eventually served as President of Disneyland Resort before moving to President of Walt Disney World Resort in 2019. He was named Chairman of Disney Parks, Products and Experiences in 2020 amidst the COVID-19 closure of Disney Parks worldwide.

Disney Parks, Experiences and Products consists of Disney’s travel and leisure businesses, which include six theme park-resort destinations in the United States, Europe, and Asia; the Disney Cruise Line; the Disney Vacation Club; Adventures by Disney; and Disney’s global consumer products operations, which includes toys, apparel, home goods, digital games and apps; the world’s largest children’s print publisher; Disney store locations; and shopDisney.

Some rumors indicate that D’Amaro may be trained as a replacement for Iger at the end of his two-year contract.

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  • Katie Francis

    Katie is a lover of all theme parks and an avid reader. Her favorite rides are Spaceship Earth and The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. You can find her daydreaming of the Florida sun, and you can reach her at katie@wdwnt.com.

25 thoughts on “Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro Says Newly Announced Changes Are a Result of Listening to Guests”

  1. Progress, but still need to fully scrap genie+ and park reservations to make a notable difference. These changes seem to be a step in the right direction but it looks more closely to be them doubling down on keeping genie+ and reservations while trying to sugarcoat it. Both things haven’t gone away just got more “justified” as if photopass ever cost them a dime and park hop time changes doesn’t change the fact you still have to get a reservation. I say if you’re fully listening to the fans it means getting rid of these, not trying to justify them. D’amaro has yet to stand out with anything I’m remaining a skeptic.

    • I agree I’ll be impressed when park reservations are gone and Genie+ modified to fast pass+ structure where you can book in advance and get at least 3 at once.

  2. To be honest I want to meet the guy someday as I have some things I would one to talk to him about. I hope I can keep up with his schedule someday. The closest was the 50th but a Cavalcade foiled it. At least I met Disney Worlds president.

  3. Get rid of reservations period.
    At least for pass holders we may not spend alot in a single visit but we do come more so in the end we do spend quite a bit like for food and new merchandise to name a few. We bring out of town guests and guess what happens if the host doesn’t go to Disney, noone goes on that trip.
    For the folks that stay on grounds or visiting: reservations ok, but be flexible….reasons and plans do change and let’s face it you already have the money for the tickets.

  4. If he’s listening to everyone then please please 🙏🏼 bring back the dinner package for the u.k tourist who dearly love our trips to Disney, but with prices increasing each year and promotions being taken away it’s becoming harder to justify. This year were going to universal instead as it’s just better value for money.

  5. Fast Pass Plus worked just fine. Only reason Genie Plus was instituted was greed and no – it’s NOT hugely popular. Get rid of the paid Genie + service and get daily/annual ticket prices down to where they’re affordable again and then you’ll get a thumbs up from me.

    • I agree. I fee Genie+ just allows those who already feel previledged even more because it comes with a pricetag. A pricetag some families can’t afford. These familes save for a long time to come, just to get here and only be able to ride 4 rides🙄 doesn’t seem right. I like the ideas of the old fast pass and then pay for extra above that, max 2. Also, while waiting in line for 50+mins for Hunted Mansion(ridiculous!) I see the lighting lane be cleared 6 times while the regular line barelymoved. It makes the regular lines 10x longer, i saw it. With the Fast Pass it was a little more spaced out and fair for eveyone , and kept lines down. It was for every 10 reg. Line guest 5 fast passes but now because its a fee Pass, CM need to have all those guest go first …not a good idea. Now, I do Disney often, since I was a kid, and I love it, but this has taken some of the magic out of it for me😢

  6. They should just make it so the first three Disney Genie FastPasses are free for quests and then if they want extra FastPasses folks could pay for them. At least it would be a compromise. Just my thoughts.

  7. Can you do a piece on the difference with this free photo pass opposed to what was purchased with the annual pass photo pass package Thanks.

  8. This is the start of the magic coming back! ❤️❤️ Thank you Disney for hearing and caring. Please bring back FP for free! Please!!! Let us spend money on things we can take home and remember the magic.

  9. Seriously Josh? People have been on the blogs and giving Disney Marketing neg feedback for 2 years. All of a sudden, now positive changes are taking effect. I’m glad “The Mouse” is finally listening. Bring the Magic Back!

  10. I don’t have a problem with the Genie pass. If you want to pay the extra you should get the opportunity to skip some lines. I think Disney allowed way too many passes per time period and then didn’t manage the balance between the standby line and the genie pass line. It seemed like the standby only moved when there weren’t anyone on the Genie line. In my previous visits it seemed like both lines were blended better.

  11. Hi
    How about giving the pass holders that use to have a platinum plus’s pass and now is a incredi pass and pays more now and get less give back the free entry to the water park and the photo pass back I come quite often to the parks and also stay at the resorts
    Thank you
    Fran Exizian

  12. Seems as though your “STARTING” to listen. But still not hearing.
    So much has changed and not for the better of the guest or their experience.

  13. I sure agree with you. OK I get it people pay to not have to stand in line but some of us spent everything we had to get tickets to take our children. The lines for us that didn’t have the fast past took way to long bc they let them just walk in and get on. So our kids were mesirable not getting to ride much. Ticket prices are way to high when it takes 3 days to ride and never got to ride all the rides at Magic Kingdom. So we didn’t spend money on food in the park and bought only one souvenir. Was very disappointed. So I guess DW is for the rich and the middle lower class stay home or go in debt beyond what you can afford. I just wonder if Walt could speak today to those of you making the decisions would he be happy. He struggled in life but kept going for the love of kids and family.

  14. Having to get up early and trying to get into a queue to ride a ride is ridiculous! People pay big bucks to bring their families to Disney. If they can’t get into a ride it ruins their vacations. Let people reserve a ride at a park before they arrive just like making a dining reservation. Then they know which park to be able to visit so they can do all they have dreamed of. OR level price your tickets so if you want to include queue access to premium rides, your ticket is higher. If you want to take your chances standing in line, your ticket is less. Even at that, reserving your ride experience in advance would be beneficial.

  15. still boycotting Disney until Genie+ is gone. we are way too old to keep up the all this new tech. bring back the fast pass and also add the photopass back to the annual pass. I didn’t mind paying the upcharge for the pass but i drew the line when they took away the photopass. so pay more and get less is Disney new motto. here’s hoping that changes also.

  16. IF Disney were ever really listening to guests none of the highly unwanted changes would have been made in the first place? Even now changing/ altering the SPLASH MOUNTAIN attraction to a virtually unknown film theme for the sake of political activism IS NOT a welcome nor WANTED CHANGE? IS DISNEY LISTENING to the vast opposition of that change? NO !

  17. Get rid of reservations and Genie +. I am more than willing to pay for an all park express pass as long as the price is reasonable. I live in Florida and sometimes I just get up and go just to get out. Right now at WDW I can’t do that but at Universal I can!!!!

  18. They need to also bring back the Magical Express (they don’t even need to take care of baggage, just shuttle to/from airport). The Dining Plan and Fast Passes should also be brought back. The ability to prepay dining with the plan and get fast passes for some rides really made it magical by alleviating those burdens. It made it more inclusive and gave families the ability to not have to worry/stress over as much as they do now. Vacations at Disney need to be less stressful allowing for more fun!

  19. Prices, have gotten so high people are having to save for years to allow their kids to have a family vacation. This paying to get in front of the line is another smack in the face to people who have to save for long periods of time to be able to afford to even go. All this teaches kids is if you have enough money you can buy your way to the front of the line.

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