“It’s going to be fresh, it’s going to be tech-dependent. It’s going to be incredibly relevant to customers around the world,” the Disney Parks president told CNN Business on Wednesday of the future of Disney parks and resorts. “Every day these parks change.”
D’Amaro – who became president last May as Disney resorts were closed by the pandemic – spoke about what the parks will look like after Covid, if they partner with Disney + and how “The Happiest Place on Earth “will enter the” metaverse. “
This interview has been edited and condensed.
First of all, I would say we have a long heritage here. Again, at Disneyland, Walt walked these streets. I want to make sure that we protect that legacy, that we make sure that we continue to be that magic that people expect from us.
At the same time, we have the opportunity to rotate and invite new guests into our world, and to breathe new character and intellectual property into our parks. Look at the new technologies that will make the experience even better than it was before we entered the pandemic.
Over the past year, streaming has become Disney’s primary focus. In many ways, Disney is now a tech company. How do the parks fit into this new objective?
I think they fit in perfectly. Obviously, Disney + has enjoyed phenomenal success within the Disney company. We have the benefit of having these incredibly powerful assets in the ground and the combination of a company that has such a strong and growing digital footprint, along with the physical footprint, I think gives us the opportunity to merge these two. things like no other company can. .
I’m sure you’ve heard that word: “metaverse” before. An opportunity to essentially bring these assets into a digital framework. It offers us endless opportunities in these theme parks. It can bring Main Street to life in a way you’ve never seen it before, never seen it before. You can ask the entire theme park to participate in a game that ends with a celebration at the hub at the top of Main Street. The possibilities are endless and I think this is where we are incredibly unique within the Disney company. This combination of a very forward-looking digital footprint with our legacy assets that we have in place, and that makes them incredibly relevant today.
Do you think we’re going to see more synergy between Disney + and the parks in terms of content, both when you walk into the parks or when I activate Disney +?
Absolutely. I think the Disney company continues to see such success with Disney + and that new intellectual properties are starting to materialize – whether it’s in the world of Marvel or the Imagineers creating something incredibly new and interesting – that’s the Disney. difference. We will bring these things together to present them to the world in a different way.
[Marvel’s] Avengers Campus will be a campus that will never be finished. As [Marvel President] Kevin Feige continues to create new stories, new characters, these stories and these characters will show up at the park.
Can you give some examples of new technologies that we will see in parks after the pandemic?
We have a new reservation system in place and it works phenomenally in this Covid situation. We have mobile ordering, [which means] it is much easier for people to find places to eat and to have experiences that allow them to spend more time in parks and with their families.
You’ll see, ultimately, when we open Avengers Campus, how we’ve layered technology on attractions, merchandise, and food spots.
How does this technology contribute to the enjoyment of your guests?
It expands the current footprint of our parks so that there is no limit. It allows us to tell stories that are incredibly relevant to the person we want to talk to.
You can think of a digital overlay on any lot, any attraction, any merchandiser or food facility that we have that can constantly change in a way that makes it completely new and different for a guest. who only visited during the day. before. If you think about our physical footprint and are able to do something new every day, the possibilities here are endless.
We’re bringing 10,000+ cast members back to the Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World continues to bring back the cast members … These cast members, they’re the heart and soul of everything we do here. I care deeply about them. And again, walking here at the Disneyland Resort today, it’s such a moving experience to see the cast members back home doing what they do so well. I’m quite happy with what we’ve seen in this regard.
It was one of the hardest years on the books for Disney parks. With the increase in vaccinations, are parks finally out of the woods or are you preparing for tougher times ahead?
I think every day the world is changing around us. Every day we have shown that we are able to adapt and change and continue to create this great Disney guest experience that we are known for.
As I said before, I’m incredibly proud of what this team has done and what we have been able to do during these relatively difficult times. As this world changes and guidelines change, we will change our operations and continue to accelerate into the future.