Despite the exit of Bob Chapek, Disney Parks head Josh D'Amaro continues to back theme park reservations in latest interview

Jan 11, 2023 in "The Walt Disney Company"

Posted: Wednesday January 11, 2023 1:!6pm ET by WDWMAGIC Staff

In a new interview with Theme Park Insider, Disney theme park boss Josh D'Amaro again reiterates his support of theme park reservations and the message that they improve the guest experience.


The driving force behind theme park reservations has been a hot topic among theme park fans since their introduction in 2020, with many believing that former CEO Bob Chapek was the principal architect and supporter of the system. With Chapek now gone from Disney, it may surprise some observers to see the head of Disney's theme park division continue with the same message as Chapek, and suggest that reservations exist to improve the guest experience.

The Disney Park Pass reservation system has been hugely unpopular with guests post-COVID due to the many additional layers of complexity involved in visiting a Disney park and no sign of any improvement to the guest experience. In fact, park pass reservations combined with Genie+ are, in many people's opinion, making the parks a far less favorable experience than they were in 2019 before the changes. It costs more to visit a park than ever, reservations can be hard to come by, standby lines are long, and securing Lightning Lane or Virtual Queue reservations is tedious and stressful.

On several days in the busy holiday week, there were multiple attractions with over a 3-hour wait, with Star Wars Rise of the Resistance reaching more than 5 hours of standby wait, and 30 attractions with wait times above 60 minutes.

When asked about the theme park reservations and guest pushback, D'Amaro said, "It's a guest experience issue. This all starts with guest experience, and having been in this business for as long as we have been, we know what constitutes a great guest experience. We know that there are certain attendance thresholds that can potentially deteriorate the experience. So the reservation system change that we've made is completely premised on wanting to deliver [you] the best experience I possibly can. And to do that, I'm asking my guests to make reservations, which is change. Change isn't easy, particularly for Disney, where everybody watches every single move that we make, and if you change something that's tradition, or the way that it's always been, it's hard."

Many Disney theme park fans suspect the primary driver for theme park reservations is to allow Disney to manage attendance spread across its theme parks, and to tightly control its operational costs, specifically labor.

New Disney CEO Bob Iger recently commented on park pass reservations at a company-wide Town Hall meeting. At that time, in late November 2022, Iger said that he had not used the system and would need to discuss it with D'Amaro before commenting further.

In a day full of more upbeat Disney news yesterday, Disney announced that Walt Disney World Annual Passholders will be able to visit the theme parks after 2 p.m. without needing a park reservation, except on Saturdays and Sundays at Magic Kingdom Park.

We have also previously reported that there are major changes planned for the park pass reservation system in 2023, including eliminating reservations for guests purchasing date-based tickets.

You can read the full interview with Josh D'Amaro at Theme Park Insider.

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DCBaker30 days ago

Walt Disney World has added 2 more Annual Passholder good-to-go days in May: May 23 and 29.

DCBakerMay 13, 2024

It appears some changes have been made to the park reservation selection process. There's an option now to refresh the calendar: It also appears that dates on the calendar are no longer showing as being blocked out if you have a reservation on that date. When you click on a previously reserved date, this screen and message now comes up:

DCBakerMay 13, 2024

Another round of Annual Passholder good-to-go days have been added: May 19, 20 and 22.

DCBakerApr 29, 2024

Walt Disney World has added 4 more good-to-go days for Annual Passholders: May 2, 7, 8, 9.

Royal Purple PigmentApr 25, 2024

It takes me just as much time and effort to log on and see it is good to go. This reservation system was one of the big differentiators in the AP tiers aside from blackout dates. We rarely even use our reservations and have 5 of 5 available. I understand everyone is different but this whole thing is lame. It is so annoying that they never could incorporate it into the app and you had to launch a different website and log in again. They need to dump this lame system or add something as a tier level replacement to the AP program (free Photopass, etc.)

wdisney9000Apr 25, 2024

People have simply said its annoying, exactly like you yourself just stated in your post. I don't see anybody making mountains. Individually, the requirements you need to be on your phone for are not that frustrating, but when combined, it just gets ridiculous.

bmr1591Apr 25, 2024

I mean, do you though? Unless you’re coming on a peak week, reservations are always available to make day of. Heck, my wife and I change ours the morning of often. I don’t disagree that making reservations is annoying, but some of y’all make mountains out of things that aren’t actually issues. It makes sense though, doesn’t it? CPs came from all over to work at Disney because they love Disney. Most don’t care to do anything on their off day except go enjoy the parks. With that said, man, what a scheme. “Come work for us! With the little you make, you’ll give us a portion back in rent. We also know you’ll spend a lot of what you make back with us in the parks.” It’s almost voluntary slave labor.

GhostHost1000Apr 25, 2024

interesting I would also suspect they spend on average way less than annual passholders

wdwmagicApr 25, 2024

It is way way more than that. CPers alone make up a good number on a daily basis.

Bullseye1967Apr 25, 2024

The fact that CMs have to make a reservation is absolutely insane!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How many CMs are in a park on any given day? 50 or 100?. This is nuts but at least they can go again.

Disstevefan1Apr 24, 2024

May the force NOT be with APers.

Rich BrownnApr 24, 2024

Star Wars day ("May the Fourth be with you") :D

hopemaxApr 24, 2024

So far the good to go days for CMs have matched the AP days. CMs can see them on the calendar when they go to make a reservation.