Major Worldwide Parks Update: Disney News on Parade

Major Worldwide Parks Update: Disney News on Parade

Two events occurred this last week that gives us important insights as to how the Disney parks are doing world-wide. Last week Disney CEO shared insights and fielded questions around the previous quarterly report. Then, this week Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products provided a state-the-parks address at IAAPA in a virtual conference presentation. From new construction, hotels, restaurants, entertainment, one-of-a-kind ride vehicles to once-in-a-life-time anniversaries, every park has something going on. That plus other announcements provide us a very big Disney News on Parade edition for this week. We’ll cover it all, plus offer insights you can’t get anywhere else. So join us for this major worldwide Disney Parks update.

And at the end, we’ll share with you some take home souvenirs for how you might think differently about your circumstances as well as the future. You can find our podcast here on PodbeaniTunesSpotifyMyTuner, and ListenNotesAn outline is shown below, but you’ll find most of the detail as well as my commentary on the podcast.


Let’s get the bad news over with first. Financial results were significantly impacted. Parks experienced an operating loss 1.1 billion dollars. This was due to significant incapacity and closures to include Disneyland and the Disney Cruise Business. Both reports emphasized how debilitating it was that the Disneyland Resort could not open.

In this context, Josh D’Amaro noted: “Our industry is hurting. It’s hurting from the presence of COVID-19 in our communities. But unlike some industries impacted by the pandemic, our industry is here to stay and it’s here to grow.” 

The rest of this podcast is largely great news!

Walt Disney World, Shanghai Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland all achieved a net positive contribution for the quarter. This means Disney achieved a revenue that exceeded the variable cost associated with reopening.

Together, we will combine the findings of both events into the following key points.

Photo by J. Jeff Kober

Walt Disney World


Booking trends park reservations at are reduced capacity. That said, it was noted that park reservations are 77% booked for the first quarter with Thanksgiving week booked close to capacity.

There are two dynamics going on that support this:

  1. Park operators are becoming more efficient. For example, WDW was able to go to 35% increased capacity by more intelligently engineering solutions that would still accommodate for a 6 foot social distancing solution.
  2. Demand for the parks around the world shows the love guests have for the parks as well as for the IP. But it also shows a solid track record for managing the parks during this COVID period.

Projects & Offerings

Let’s see different projects that were highlighted:


Image or Photo by Disney.

Josh confirmed that the attraction is “on track” for opening in 2021. More about this attraction will come out later in the week in a special D23 presentation.

Guardians of the Galaxy

Image or Photo by Disney.
Image or Photo by Disney.

With this comes some footage of how these ride vehicles work:

The footage shows “omnicoaster” vehicles in action, rotating as they make their way along a track. Remember that an Omnimover is a ride vehicle that traditionally directs the attention of the viewer to where the Imagineers want you to focus your attention. Haunted Mansion and Buzz Lightyear are omnimovers. This has also been played out in Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for Sunken Treasure with a boat, using magnets. Now this is playing out in a roller coaster style attraction. Josh notes:

“At Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, also part of the transformation of Epcot, we’re creating a family-friendly storytelling coaster that will feature a groundbreaking ride system with vehicles that rotate 360 degrees and can even do a reverse launch.”

Space 220

This wasn’t referenced per se in the presentation, but images were shown of work being done on the displays looking back down on planet Earth.

Image or Photo by Disney.


Josh shared that in 2020, the new “HarmonioUS” will debut at Epcot as the largest nighttime spectacular ever created for a Disney park. It will celebrate how the music of Disney inspires people the world over, carrying them away harmoniously on a stream of familiar Disney tunes reinterpreted by a diverse group of artists from around the globe. “HarmonioUS” will feature massive floating set pieces, custom-built LED panels, choreographed moving fountains, lights, pyrotechnics, lasers and more.

Image or Photo by Disney.

Note the construction worker below. This gives you an idea of the size of this display element. I might guess 3-4 times the height of the ball in IllumiNations.

Image or Photo by Disney.

Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser

Josh shared the following:

“In a galaxy far, far away, progress continues at Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, where guests will live aboard a starship for a 2-day, 2-night experience. Unlike any typical cruise, though, you can become the heroes of your own Star Wars story in a new type of immersive experience that only Disney could create.

“Guests will cruise the galaxy in style aboard the Halcyon, known for its impeccable service and exotic destinations. Onboard, you’ll stay in well-appointed cabins, experience onboard dining, make a planet-side excursion to Black Spire Outpost on Batuu and much more.”

Image or Photo by Disney.

Images of cabins in the new Star Wars themed hotel were provided to guests. Size wise, these cabins look more like futuristic Disney Cruise cabins than they look like Contemporary Resort rooms. There are two sizes of cabins.

Image or Photo by Disney.

Two classes of rooms will be available: A regular sized cabin, and larger “Captain’s Quarters” cabin. Each floor is set to have 32 regular cabins and two first-class cabins. 

Image or Photo by Disney.

Princess and the Frog Makeover to Splash Mountain

This re-imagining was the focal point of Josh’s message that Disney would add “Inclusion” to its four legendary keys of Safety, Courtesy, Show and Efficiency. He noted that the forthcoming attraction would be expedited to ensure that all who visit the company’s parks do feel welcome.

“We want to make sure that we’re focusing on inclusivity for our guests as well, so we’ve chosen to speed up some of the work that we had been developing to make sure that our parks remain relevant and welcoming to all of our guests.”

Curiously, there was no conversation or apparent images shown for Tron. Josh did say that in a future presentation plans for Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary would occur.


Avenger’s Campus

Josh spoke of The Worldwide Engineering Brigade, also known as WEB, which will house the ride WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure in which guests will be able to board vehicles and help Spider-Man fight against an army of Spider-Bots taking over Avengers Campus. Images of the exterior as well as the ride vehicles were shown.

Image or Photo by Disney.
Image or Photo by Disney.

Also shown was a quinjet being lowered onto what will be the attractions building of Marvel’s effort to beat Rise of the Resistance in Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge.

Image or Photo by Disney.

It should be noted that Josh shared his presentation to IAAPA from the exterior balcony entrances to the Hyperion. That gave a glimpse of the work being done on Avenger’s Campus.

Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway

Images show us that the show building for this attraction at Disneyland is moving along quickly.

Image or Photo by Disney.

Disneyland Hotel DVC Tower

Image or Photo by Disney.

Disney California Adventure Reopening

Disney California Adventure will open Buena Vista Street on November 19, extending the Downtown Disney District at the Disneyland Resort. We will be doing a podcast that centers around the magic of that section of the park.

Disneyland Paris

Images were shown of construction changes being made to tie Cars into the Catastrophe Canyon portion of the backstage attraction tour at Walt Disney Studios Paris.

Image or Photo by Disney.

Images were also shown photos of construction underway on the Marvel Campus being built for the same park.

Image or Photo by Disney.

Guests at Disneyland Paris will also be able to experience The Art of Marvel, celebrating 80 years of Marvel storytelling in a typical New York setting with Disney’s Hotel New York.

Image or Photo by Disney.

Tokyo Disneyland

In addition to the new attractions based on Beauty and the Beast that were added to Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo Disney Sea is currently developing its largest expansion in its 37-year history, which will include “Fantasy Springs,” a new themed land inspired by Disney Animation films including Frozen, Tangled and Peter Pan that will include four new attractions, three restaurants and a Disney-themed hotel situated inside Tokyo DisneySea overlooking the park.

Image or Photo by Disney.

Hong Kong Disneyland

The opening of the Castle of Magical Dreams kicks off the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong Disneyland.

Image or Photo by Disney.

Shanghai Disneyland

This year Shanghai will be 5 years old and will celebrate its anniversary as well. The resort is currently working on “Zootopia,” the park’s eighth-themed land and the first of any Disney park to be based on the popular film.

Image or Photo by Disney.

Construction images suggest just how sizable this attraction will be compared to other attractions. It’s a little reminiscent of “it’s a small world” in terms of size.

Image or Photo by Disney.

Disney Cruise Line

New guidelines from CDC are very thorough and offer high hurdles. Those may delay getting the ships out the gate. We have an opportunity to create a bubble on each ship. The demand on the back half of 21 and 22 is very strong. That then suggests that the demand for the new ship Summer of 22 is when the first new ship comes followed by 24 and 25.

The Future

Josh ended his remarks at IAAPA by sharing the following:

“In the world that we find ourselves in today, optimism, innovation, and courage, they will ultimately win the day,” D’Amaro said. “With the emboldened spirit that comes from the challenges of the COVID crisis, with the hope and optimism that our brand captures even in the toughest of times, let’s ask ourselves why not take our guests to the moon or bring the moon to our guests? Why not dream as big as possible? And challenge the very meaning of the word impossible.”

Souvenirs For You To Take Home

As you’ve heard all of the announcements, and seen how Disney is moving through these very difficult times, ask yourself:

  • How have you persisted through these hard times?
  • How are you defying the impossible?
  • How are you staying positive and optimistic during this times?
  • How could innovation help you break away from your competitors?
  • Is now the time to dream in new ways you haven’t done before?

J. Jeff Kober