I didn’t mean to make history.
i was in Walt Disneyof (DIS 0.81%) As I was walking through Frontierland, I saw a locomotive coming into the station.
The circuitous Walt Disney World Railroad was nothing new. The attraction, which has been closed since 2019, has started commissioning in recent weeks. The day before, Disney employees—what media giants call cast members—were invited for a ride. Did the iconic vintage steam train actually start carrying guests through the park as passengers?
When we tapped in an hour earlier, the train was empty and empty at the park entrance at Main Street Station. The entrance to the attraction was roped off. It didn’t seem to run that day. But lo and behold, her members of the Frontierland Station cast no longer block access to the rides. A locomotive arrived, fairly full of passengers who had left the Main Street station only minutes before, and I was about to board a train carrying guests of Magic, his Kingdom, for the first time in over three years.
It was nostalgic. It was a revival of a classic attraction. This is a partial but significant solution to the capacity problem that has been holding back theme park operators since reopening after his COVID-19-related four-month shutdown in 2020. was.
The return of one of the original Magic Kingdom attractions may not seem like much outside of theme park enthusiastic circles, but it’s also great for shareholders on the other side of the turnstile. am. Park reservations were introduced when Disney World reopened in the summer of 2020. Having a ticket or annual pass is no longer enough. Potential visitors should also secure a park reservation.
This was required early in the reopening process. Due to social distancing safeguards, Florida’s Disney World and rival park operators initially limited attendance to about 30% of gated attraction capacity. These statewide restrictions have long been gone, but due to staffing, expansion, and economic challenges, House of Mouse keeps them.
Disney is the only major theme park operator that clings to its reservation system. You might argue it’s about not disappointing families traveling to Orlando for the vacation of a lifetime, but it’s little more than a thin, caramelized crust on creme brulee. Park reservations are probably gatekeepers, and annual pass holders paying $2 to $5 a day for him take away spots that could be filled by guests paying as much as $189 a day for admission. The main purpose is to avoid being caught. And that’s not the only difference being checked. Guests who are paying to stay at a Disney Resort naturally have an advantage over local residents and visitors who choose to stay off-site.
Mathematics is cruel but undeniable. Since the introduction of the park reservation system, her per capita revenue for Disney World has increased by 40%.
The return of the long-awaited Walt Disney World Railroad over the weekend marks the return of one of the park’s busiest services. Reportedly, an hour he can receive more than 3,000 visitors. The timing couldn’t have been better, and not just because the Steam team arrived during the peak holiday travel season. Disney World plans to close its Splash Mountain log flume rides next month. Before reopening as Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, princess and frog Updated in late 2024. So to speak, park-goers who might be logged on can take the train instead.
Thankfully, Magic Kingdom is also just a few months out from its debut. TronA theme roller coaster announced five years ago. The Tron Lightcycle Run is scheduled to open in the spring. But it’s been in testing for months, and I’d be surprised if it didn’t open by the end of March, the resort’s 18-month-long 50th birthday celebration.
Annual pass holders hoping the return of Bob Iger as CEO will put an end to the reservation system will have to be patient. Enhance (if not eliminate it entirely), raise prices, or increase capacity. A global recession could also ease availability, but let’s not go there just yet.
Increasing park capacity is the best way to keep all parties happy when it comes to being a leader in travel and tourism stocks. is drawn to the station on
Rick Munarriz holds a position at Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends Walt Disney’s January 2024 $145 long call and Walt Disney’s January 2024 $155 short call. The Motley Fool’s U.S. headquarters has a disclosure policy.