Disney plans to enhance attractions, boost efficiency once theme parks reopen, CEO says

Company plans to focus on strengthening digital storytelling, improving personal experience

Walt Disney Company CEO and Chairman Bob Chapek said that the media conglomerate would enhance efficiency and update attractions at its theme parks amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

While Florida's Disney World reopened for business last summer, it has operated under altered hours, at limited capacity and with safety measures in place.


In February, WDW News Today reported each of the company's theme parks would open for an extra hour, as more Americans are vaccinated and cases trend downward.

However, the economic future of the parks -- as well as the futures of movie theaters, concert venues and professional sports arenas -- is still mired with uncertainty as America attempts to finally round a corner.

In this Saturday, July 11, 2020, file photo, guests wear masks as required to attend the official reopening day of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP, File)

Chapek said during a conference call with Morgan Stanley Technology that he felt optimistic and that the company had cautiously seized on a "unique opportunity" to advance aspects of the parks in order to help both improve the guest experience and yield benefits for shareholders since the pandemic struck a year ago.

Included in that effort, is an even more robust commitment to in-depth storytelling using complicated tech as well as personalization.


But, Chapek noted the plan also includes a renewed focus on the guest experience including the implementation of keyless check-ins, mobile food orders, contactless screening and "itinerary planning and fully leveraging" information. He said the company's planning also incorporates the consideration of reopening costs and rehiring.

"There is a fundamental shift, where we can be more efficient practice these yield management strategies in a more profound and unlimited way," Chapek said.

For example, Chapek cited recent changes to the annual pass program.

He said Disney was "thrilled" with the way guests have responded to precautionary measures at reopened parks and consumer sentiment, but that a real recovery would be a function of the speed of the COVID-19 vaccine and travel readiness.

"And we think that demand's going to rebound quite handsomely, when -- if and when we can either increase the number of folks that we're putting into our parks or open them up for the first time," Chapek noted.

A notice of closure stands at the entrance to Walt Disney Co.'s Disneyland Resort, temporarily closed due to the coronavirus, in Hong Kong, China, on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. Lam Yik/Bloomberg via Getty Images

With The Walt Disney Company's centennial anniversary approaching, he predicted the Disney magic would continue.


"Well, we're about to hit our 100th anniversary. And I think success in the future is going to be to have the second 100 years be as innovative, as creative, as full of growth as the first century was," Chapek said. "I think we'll have a successful second 100 years as we did our first 100 years. And we're proud of the team and all the work that they've done to sort of dig us out of the pandemic hole. But the best is yet to come."

FOX Business' Michael Hollan contributed to this report.