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Tom Staggs Offers Update on Walt Disney Parks & Resorts

Thomas Smith

by , Editorial Content Director, Disney Experiences

The New Fantasyland

We know many Disney Parks Blog readers like to keep up with what’s happening in and around the parks. And today, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs gave an update on the growth at Parks & Resorts, how we’re leveraging technology and what’s happening to continue to transform the guest experience at Disney California Adventure, Disney Cruise Line, Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom Park, Hong Kong and other areas. Take a look (PDF) at what was said.



  • I am a planner at heart. I love my spreadsheets with park times and dining reservations. However, the dining is already a headache. Planning which park you will be at, trying to get the time you want. I don’t know how many times we booked a dining experience but we weren’t in the mood to eat at the time we had booked. Oh well, gotta go or else you aren’t eating because all the restaurants are booked.

    I would hate to have to plan every minute of my trip and keep track of the iterineray. You can say “Well, you don’t have to if you don’t want to”. But then you will get to Disney and find out everyone else did book and now you can’t see any shows or ride the rides you want to. What if I really like a ride and want to do it twice?

    Just leave it alone. People realize that at peak times, you are going to have to wait in lines. Sometimes magical things can happen when you are waiting.

  • I think it is a terrible idea, I am a planner, but this goes too far for me. I do not want to plan every moment of our day, this would steal away the magic for me. I do not want to be a drill seargant for my family on our vacation.

  • Do you people realize that everything Disney says is smoke and mirrors?? Nothing Disney does is geared toward making the guest experience better. For instance, how is $14 for parking making anyone’s experience better? Reserving rides only makes sense for Disney since they are trying to figure out ways to get you to spend more money with all of your supposed freed up time. Do you think the Disney Dining plan was introduced to benefit the guest? Of course not. It was an excuse to raise the prices at the restaurants to make them seem like a bargain on the DDP. The guests who visit Disney often will tell you the DDP is the WORST thing that ever happened to Disney. I would not be surprised if this reservation system adds to this misery. I’m sure we’ll find out in the near future.

  • One thing that I noticed is that you mention all the great interaction with the cast members that the guests love but you seem to be doing a lot to to decrease the interactions… Checking in at home and getting the key to the world so the guest can go straight to the room — I always enjoy talking to the CM at the front desk and getting extra info about the “good stuff”. And I definitely don’t like the idea of reservations for attractions or character experiences. Since I am local, I would be one of the ones that would be left out and would end up waiting hours to see the character or ride the ride!!! Fast Pass is good enough. Add it to more attractions and experiences but don’t single out any one group to get access to it or to RESERVATIONS!!!

  • I love the whole planning process–which parks to go to on what days, making ADR’s, etc, but to be honest the new fastpass possibility makes me stressed out just thinking about it. I spend months leading up to my trips planning out each day for what parks to be in for morning and night, and which restaurants to make my ADR’s for. But trying to coordinate all that plus the shows, character greets, and rides etc with the times of each day we’re there? That is a lot. What if we want to ride something twice? What if your lunches and dinners run long? What if it rains? What if a park is more crowded than planned for and you want to hop to a different park that day? How about also having to also plan in your time on waiting for parades too? It makes my head hurt. It would make the planning process that is normally fun and what gets me through the months leading up to a trip, into a stress-filled nightmare that will tie most people into knots. I already get pretty tightly wound on planning out the trips trying to make sure we get to do everything, multiple times even depending on the attraction/ride. To me it seems like it will make it so that you really will have to stick with what you’ve planned in advance because if you want to stray from the plan and do something else, the “stand-by” line will take forever. We make plans in advance, and then strategize once we get there to hit all of our favorites and must-do’s, but strategies can change and adapt based on what unforseen events can happen in a day. Once you move from a pre-planned strategy to a full-blown planned “itinerary”, a passing rain shower becomes not just a glitch in the day, but could ruin your whole day’s worth of activities. A meal that runs an hour over schedule will not just be an inconvenience that causes you to juggle a few plans for the day, but could throw off everything causing the rest of the day’s activities to be ruined. I love to plan, but in my opinion, it sounds like it’s going too far.

  • This has me nervous. And I’m a planner! I plan what park I’ll be in each day so I can make my ADRs 180 days ahead. But I really don’t want to have to pre book what day, and what time I’m going to ride Space Mtn, Big Thunder, Everest, etc. It sounds like the death of spontaneity to me. There is a limit to planning.

    I like the FP system as it is. You get to the park and you get your passes.

    I have to say, on a positive note- I liked the central bank of FPs at AK for the major attractions. I felt this worked well.

    Would it be like going to the parks now, and trying to walk up to a restaurant with no reservation, and try to get in? Little to no chance, or a long wait. There by forcing people to pre book attractions or run the risk of a long wait, getting terrible return times (cause all the good times will have been pre booked) or shut out.

    Also not sure I like getting my KTTW card at home, and no resort check in. What if you arrive in the morning, and your room is ready? It’s happened to me many times, and I’ve been able to get my room in the morning.

    It all sounds to robotic and automated, lacking in the human touch. And making the WDW quite stressful. It’s all well and good to say- Well you don’t have to book ahead- but we all know- yes, you would have to- like dining. You don’t book, you don’t get in, or you do, but you have to have dinner at 3:30 or 9:30.

    I admit, this has me scared.

  • I like the queues that have something to see and do while waiting in line. I can’t wait for the expansions to be complete. I live at Disneyland and try to make it out to Disney World at least every couple years. I plan on heading out to see all the Disney parks around the world and am taking my first Disney cruise this Sunday. It’s an addiction for sure.

  • I am a frequent DisneyWorld visitor, and a “planner” type of person, so you would think that I would be excited about opportunities to further plan/reserve a DisneyWorld vacation. But I have mixed feelings about this. While I think it’s a good idea to be able to reserve some things, e.g. FastPass for meeting Mickey, I think that without proper limits, the DisneyWorld experience could be ruined for many.

    The experience of the Dining Plan, for example has made dining reservations difficult to obtain even with advance planning, and impossible to obtain spontaneously while at DisneyWorld. I would hate to think that my entire Disney vacation would now have to be scripted in advance such that I couldn’t just enjoy each day as it came.

    Please don’t turn what should be a relaxing, enjoyable vacation into a rigid, pre-planned experience. Make sure you allow enough open opportunities for those that want to enjoy each day as it comes.

  • can you tell me if you are going to continue the tomorrow land desert party?

  • So, any word on when exactly in 2013 the new resort is opening? I’m planning a trip in April of 2013.

  • The advanced reservation for lines is a horrible idea. I have accepted fast pass even though the lines would be shorter with out it that’s ok. I hate the advance reservations for restaurants because unless you book 6 months in advance you will not get them. However I have found you can just walk up to most restaurants and walk in (with the exception of Le Celler which is impossible to get a seat in.)

    As a Florida resident I never make reservations more then a month in advance because there is no need. However if this new reservation system ends up making it harder for me to go onto the rides and shows I want, then I will end up canceling my season pass.

    Instead of adding this new system how about you guys actually finish building Animal Kingdom

  • I have been reading about these “new, innovative” fastpass ideas for a few days now, and I have to say I am not too happy with the idea when it comes to the rides. Character interactions, shows… that might work out well… but rides?? Already, I have to try to figure out where I want to eat 6 months before I arrive… spontanaeity is very hard to come by when wanting a Table Svc meal at Disney anymore, and that’s too bad. Take away a spur of the moment ride decision… over & over… and you end up with a bunch of cranky, over-planned, stressed out people that really only wanted a magical getaway… not an over-scheduled trip that works more like a spreadsheet. I’d hate to see Disney turn into something you can no longer just “go and do” based on what your heart feels like at the moment… talk about taking away the magic!! Please be careful with this, Imagineers… you’ve always done such an excellent job. Keeping my fingers crossed….

  • The ride reservation system is a BAD idea. If Disney wants to spend $1 Billion on WDW then they should fix and update the rides and parks already there. We still have the broken Yeti and other assorted broken and poor/bad upkeep problems around the resort. If Disney implements this program I will be a former life long visitor to WDW.

    PS: I travel to WDW every year and book a Disney Hotel and Dining Plan.

  • I do not like the idea that you will have to reserve ride/attraction times months in advance. We like to decide what park and what rides/attractions to enjoy when we are there at WDW.

  • Not sure how I feel about the advanced ‘reservations’ thing, sounds like it might cause more problems than it solves, but I guess we’ll see… but did I read that you’re now charging a $10 ‘premium’ to park hop from Disneyland to DCA now?

  • I am very excited about the WDW expansion and the next gen ideas! I love the idea of already having your Key to the World card when you arrive on the property and also love the idea of having advance reservations for shows, I immediately thought of Fantasmic that would be wonderful instead of having to wait in line up to two hours before show time sounds great

  • I’m a big fan of queues that have a pre-show; a “scene one” like Tom Staggs mentioned.

  • Really nervous about the idea of reserving ride times in advance. It just feels like it will take away from the experience – from the magic. Part of enjoying the park is living in the moment and shouldn’t be about keeping a schedule.

  • Thank you for including us blog readers and/or future cast members with this report.

  • I have high hopes for Tom Staggs, but I am not a huge fan of this idea. I really don’t want to make reservations for everything that I want to do in the park. I want to be able to just show up at the park and do whatever ride I feel like at the moment and not find myself out of luck because 5,000 families reserved their spot at the time I wanted to ride. They should use the technology that they are working on to expand their ability to create amazing rides that can tell a great story.

  • Love to hear about great new things happening at Disney. Very, very nervous about the idea of prebooking attractions and other experiences!! Will wait to hear more, but….doesn’t sound as if it would the best thing for Disney guests. I love to plan my Disney vacations ahead of time and have a plan, but some things should be left for the experience you create when you are there!

  • Tom, every year many Australians endure significant long haul flights to experence the Disney Magic. Like Ralph, this year my family will visit Disney World for the 5th time,and experence our first cruise (on the Dream)

    In Australia we don’t even have the Disney shops to visit like we once did. Even though we would love a small traditional park would Disney consider a water park themed facility.

  • Will this void FastPass?

    I hope this a small addition to rides, with limitations. If everyone is reserving ride times in advance, how will people who were not knowledgeable about this information get on any of the rides? Or how will people who don’t have access to the technology?

    This sounds like a nice addition – but i hope thats what it is, an ADDITION.

  • This is a horrible idea. Please do not incorporate advanced reservations into the rides. Fast Pass works fine the way it is and removing the spontaneity of my vacation removes the true fun and memories that are made.

    If I’m forced to decide what day and time I’m going to go onto Space Mountain months in advance, like I’m already required to do for dining reservations, I will be FAR less inclined to visit the parks in the future. I’m not a sheep. Don’t treat me like one.

  • I really enjoy getting the “inside scoop” on what’s happening with the Parks. It seems with Disney there are always wild rumors and fan speculation on what’s going to happen at the Parks, getting the news right from Tom is helpful.
    I can’t wait to see all the new things that are coming to Disney Parks! Thanks again for posting!

  • I had thought “parts” of the Art of Animation studio would open in 2012? But maybe its being delayed a bit now?

  • It’s interesting to read this pdf as it details the close future of the disney parks.

    But as a french disney fan, I would have also been interested in the development of our own park in Paris, which many of us think isn’t growing up that fast (especially when we look at DCA and WDW incredible expansions.)
    I know that the European park has it’s own way of dealing with its (economic) expansion but does the USA part of Disney Parks has a word to say ? If so, whats the plan ?! – that’s an interesting question ! (which could also be asked for the Tokyo park by the way…)

    Don’t left us behind Disney ! We love and adore you so make us dream ! 🙂


  • So the Art of Animation is being pushed back to 2013? That’s kind of a big let down.

  • Hi. A birds-eye view of the Shanghai project was shown during Tom Staggs’ talk at the Conference. Could you post that here on the site?

  • I just read the article. Thanks for posting. I hope it does not resort to reservation times for attractions and rides. I like the freedom of being spur of the moment and riding when I want. Too many reservations would be hard to keep up with. The Disney Queue Lines for most attractions are interesting to look at so I do not mind waiting a small amount of time to ride something. I also love the Fast Pass option.

  • I am so glad we are being kept up-to-date on the progress! It looks like it will turn out great–thanks for the updates!

  • I hope demolishing Toontown was the right decision (how about a contribute to Toontown with pictures and sharing memories of what has pasted?) I would love to see some real pictures of current construction as well!!! When will Snow White be closing?

  • I have to admit, I’m a big tech nerd, but these advancements make me a bit leery. Already, with the dining plan, a great deal of spontaneity has been removed from my Disney vacation (I’m still on the fence about it, because I’m about to try DDP for the first time). I like the “What are we going to do next?” moments of my vacations…that’s what makes them fun! The idea of micromanaging to a greater degree does not appeal to me at all.

    Personalization with characters and in attractions is intriguing, though. I’m reserving final judgment until I hear more specifics. As a whole, I’ve been very impressed with Mr. Staggs (especially with his decisions on the Fantasyland Expansion), so I’m cautiously optimistic about this new technology.

  • I just read the article. Very informing. Thanks.
    In the article it said that Bob Weis was going to talk more about what is going on in California Adventure and I was wondering if you had that article. Thanks.

  • I hope you are keeping locals in mind. It’s already very hard to get dining reservations without planning months ahead of time. How are casual/local visitors be affected by this? I’d hate to decide to visit a park only to find out that the ride has already “sold out” weeks ahead of time.

  • Tom, don’t forget Down Under Australia! We Aussies visit Florida and California in droves ( My family and I 5 times do date) rather than travelling north to Hong Kong so maybe a smaller regional park for Australia may be worthwhile…we certainly can do with some of that wonderful Disney magic here.

  • I am so excited for the exp. at WDW! This is very exiting!

  • Such a dynamic organization – its wonderful how you respond to customer needs and demands. Can’t wait to enjoy the experiences the imagineers and construction teams have designed.

  • I am really looking forward to the rest of the expansion at California Adventure!

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