Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro spoke on the boundaries of two domestic parks expanding during the JP Morgan Global Technology, Media & Communications Conference. Disneyland in Anaheim and Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World were included in his discussion.
Domestic Park Capacity Investments
Josh D’Amaro, Disney Parks Chairman for the Walt Disney Company, commented on the current ability of Disneyland and Magic Kingdom to increase capacity, including expanding the borders of the parks themselves.
D’Amaro stated that the parks’ management teams and Imagineers were always hard at work to not only improve the guest experience at the resorts but to include additional capacity in several ways.
Josh explained that one of the primary ways Disney increases capacity at the parks is by adding attractions. Recently, Tron: Lightcycle / Run was added outside the “berm” or border boundary of Magic Kingdom, increasing the park’s actual space and adding capacity with an additional attraction.
Adding a ride or show to a theme park increases capacity because many visitors spend time waiting in line or experiencing the attraction itself, which in turn allows more people to navigate the park comfortably. In Disneyland, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway was added in January. The reimagining of Toontown also opened recently. These two additions increased the respective park’s current capacity as well.
Current Park Bounds and Berms
D’Amaro then stated that Disney believes there is plenty of opportunity within the parks’ footprints to increase capacity inside current bounds by way of additional attractions or reimagining spaces. In addition, he stated they have space both in and beyond the park berms, claiming they can utilize this space outside the current boundaries “pretty aggressively” at both Magic Kingdom and at Disneyland in Anaheim.
We have plenty of opportunity within these existing footprints to optimize. To find ways to increase capacity of existing attractions. And we have space within what we’ll call the “berm,” Tron is a good example of that, to build additional capacity in. That said, and this is sometimes a misconception, we have plenty of opportunity outside of the berms of those theme parks to continue to grow pretty aggressively at Walt Disney World, at the Magic Kingdom. At Disneyland.Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro
Disney parks have expanded this way in the past already. Both Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and the Mickey & Minnie Runaway Railway attraction at Disneyland were added beyond the park’s former boundaries. This also occurred internationally, at Hong Kong Disneyland. Over a decade ago, the Hong Kong Disneyland expansion added three new lands beyond the train tracks, expanding the park’s boundaries.
Disney has historically used parks’ berms to increase capacity, and D’Amaro states they will continue this trend.
Also for Disneyland, the community outreach group Disneyland Forward allows the company to look at their entitlements and significantly increase the Anaheim resort parks’ capacities, both inside the current park boundaries and within the parks’ berms. D’Amaro stated that most people do not realize how much potential they still have at their parks in California.
We have a project in place called Disneyland Forward which allows us to look at our entitlements and significantly increase the footprint from a capacity and attractions perspective. So that’s underway right now.
We have both internal opportunities to grow capacity and create new experiences and opportunities outside of the berm to essentially expand the size of these theme parks.Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro
In addition to specific notations on space and capacity, D’Amaro explained that with intellectual properties such as Marvel and Star Wars continually adding new content, Imagineers and executives are able to bring these to life in the parks just as easily and with as much excitement as their older content. He used Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway as an example of using a very old content property to spark guest delight, stating that all of the properties in their portfolio are “incredibly powerful.” He intends to continue utilizing a range of these properties in parks moving forward.
It’s possible this means Disney is moving forward with Beyond Big Thunder, the “Blue Sky” concept for several lands in Magic Kingdom announced at D23 last year.
Also during the JP Morgan Global Technology, Media & Communications Conference, Josh D’Amaro made other announcements, as well. He claimed that Disney World’s closure of the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser in September will enable them to claim a tax write-off of approximately $300 million. Check out the full article on this announcement here.
He also spoke on the overall financial success of the company, that park attendance at Walt Disney World would be “moderated,” this year with the end of the 50th Anniversary Celebration, and that international parks were performing admirably in both capacity volume and guest spend.
What are your thoughts on Disney potentially expanding park boundaries? We’d love to see your opinions in the comments below.