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Disney Keeps One Major Pandemic Change (You May Not Like It)

You can still visit the parks, but some pandemic shifts might be permanent.

Escaping to a theme park is one of the ways that we, as adults, toss our responsibilities to the wind and connect with our childlike joys. 

Sometimes you just need to enjoy the charms of the day, get yourself an ice cream cone, and pretend for a day or three that the world is not as complicated and terrible as it sometimes seems.

Some enjoy those adventures so much that they identify fully with them, in fact. And one could hardly deny those folks the happiness of "Annual Passholder" status.

Ater all, they help to line Disney's pockets and improve the overall park experience for the rest of us. 

But one can't help but wonder how they will react to the news that Walt Disney World has decided to stick with one of its biggest pandemic shifts, which might just leave them unable to make that yearly sanity-restoring vacation.

Walt Disney World.

Walt Disney World's Capacity Updates

Disney Chief Financial Officer Christine McCarthy spoke at the Morgan Stanley 2022 Technology, Media & Telecom Conference Monday, addressing several questions about the Orlando theme parks.

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One inquiry about Walt Disney World's return to full capacity revealed an interesting tidbit: McCarthy said one thing Disney has learned due to the reduced capacities forced by the pandemic is that it doesn't want its parks bursting at the seams in the future.

"When you're a guest in a park and you can't do things, your guest experience and intent to return will go down," she said. "If you're having a good time, you're probably inclined to spend more money."

Of course, she's right. Spending as much as we do to travel to a park, stay on site, and get in the door, many of us feel entitled to at least experience all the things the park offers. And considering that Disney World was still stuffed during February despite the capacity restrictions means the company has a new kind of problem.

But that's where Disney is leaning on its Parks Reservation System to manage the crowds, which McCarthy calls a "key lynchpin" to the new approach. Still considering that one can easily log in to use it and find the days or parks they want sold out, it's up to Disney to figure out how to manage that disappointment.

Why This Change is a Double-Edged Sword for Disney Visitors

For those of us who feel downright exhausted being in large crowds during theme parks visits, Disney's reduced capacity guidelines sound pretty good. After all, the idea of actually getting to go on a ride and wait less than three hours to do so would appeal to just about anyone.

That said, the Parks Reservation System makes managing the crowds easier for Disney, but more complex for the user that is accustomed to simply showing up at the park and getting in line for the experiences they want to have.

And of course, as McCarthy mentioned herself at the conference, profit is at the heart of it all. Despite admitting less guests into the parks on a daily basis, Disney's strategy with Genie+ encourages them to spend more on activities that were once free. 

Disney is leaning on that repackaging, as well the loyalty of Annual Passholders and other hardcore fans, to keep its business flourishing. As it stands now, there's no all-park weekend availability until March 19, which isn't too long of a wait. So here's hoping Walt Disney World will be a bit easier to get into and enjoy in the very near future.