Why Are Disney Guests Happier at the Parks Now?
The Walt Disney Company CEO, Bob Chapek, recently broke the internet with his revelation about customer satisfaction.
According to Chapek, surveyed guests have indicated that they’re happier at the parks now than before the pandemic.
Critics immediately attacked Chapek, questioning how this was possible.
Well, I believe him, and I’d like to offer a few explanations as to why guests are happier during the age of Coronavirus than they were before then.
Benefits of Shorter Park Hours
Do you push yourself too hard at the parks? If so, you’re not alone.
Many of us view a park visit as punching the clock, even though we’re on vacation.
We know how much money we’re spending on vacation, and we want to get the most out of it.
So, we don’t take enough breaks and tire ourselves out.
By the end of the day, we’re physically exhausted and pass out the moment our faces hit the pillows.
During the pandemic, Disney saves us from ourselves. The reduced park hours prevent us from overdoing it during a visit.
I can say with complete sincerity that my body can tell a massive difference between a nine-hour park day and a twelve-hour one.
That extra 33 percent in park time is apparently the difference between having the best possible time and feeling like you simply cannot walk another step.
Deeper Appreciation for the Visit
I cannot generalize here, as international readers face substantially different rules from Americans.
Even in the United States, the rules about pandemic safety vary widely from state to state.
I live in one of the more open parts of the country. As an asthmatic with older family members, I’ve mostly stayed inside, though.
When I’m at Walt Disney World, I’m much more appreciative of the opportunity, though.
Even in my open region, movie theaters remain closed, nobody’s hosting concerts, and college sports events come with stringent requirements.
So, I cannot do much in terms of entertainment here. When I reach the Disney Bubble, most of the stuff I enjoy is readily available.
I can shop at Disney Springs, swim at the pools or Disney’s Blizzard Beach, or eat indoors.
Those options are either impossible or unsafe where I live. And that makes me thankful that I can visit Walt Disney World, a haven from the realities of the pandemic.
Experiencing More Attractions
Disney doesn’t offer FastPasses right now. The only kind of digital queue you’ll find is at Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
However, due to capacity limits, you won’t face any problems in riding lots of stuff.
Well, that may change in the coming days as vaccinations grow more prevalent in society.
I can say with complete sincerity that it’s been our experience during the pandemic.
My wife and I have spent double-digit days at the parks, and we’ve felt like we had the run of the place.
For the most part, we’ve done more in a few hours than we’d historically managed in a full day.
In fact, I compared one recent visit at EPCOT with a pre-pandemic VIP Tour. We walked right on Frozen Ever After and Soarin’, riding both multiple times.
Now, one park has turned into an exception. Disney’s Hollywood Studios is busy no matter what and has been since Labor Day 2020.
Still, you can experience more at three of the parks than you ever could have before during a regular park visit.
Even a ticketed event like Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party couldn’t necessarily match a regular park day during the pandemic.
That’s reason enough for guests to feel happier at the parks during the pandemic.
Feel Safer at Disney
I’ve said this here on multiple occasions, and I really mean it.
I felt safer at Walt Disney World than I do at the grocery store across the street.
At Disney, if someone stands around without covering their face with a mask, a cast member reminds them of their responsibility.
Where I live, some people don’t even wear their masks to walk their dogs near me. Mask enforcement here isn’t much different from jaywalking enforcement.
I know in speaking with family members and friends that they’ve felt the same about their Disney visits.
Frankly, if the entire country had handled the pandemic the way Disney has, tens of thousands of lives would have been saved.
People don’t just visit Disney for the feelings of liberation and escape from the drudgery of their current lives.
We go because we know that Disney has limited the risk of spreading the droplets that cause COVID-19.
Right now, Disney isn’t just the Happiest Place on Earth; it’s also the safest.
Lack of Crowds
I referenced capacity limits earlier. When Walt Disney World reopened, it allowed a maximum capacity of 15 percent.
Disneyland will follow the same pattern at the end of April when it returns.
Gradually, Walt Disney World bumped up its attendance threshold to 25 and then 35 percent, the current upper limit.
Have you ever visited a Disney theme park when it’s only one-third full?
Sites that rank crowd attendance just assume that the parks will be at least half-full.
So, for six straight months, every day graded out as a 1 out of 10. In reality, it was even lower.
What does that mean for park guests? They face the smallest crowds they’ve ever witnessed at Disney parks.
Even on the recent Spring Break days where the parks reached maximum capacity, they still qualified as light days compared to 15 months ago.
Who wouldn’t love to go to Disney on a day when the parks feel empty?
Problems Seem Smaller
The final explanation might seem meta, but it’s true.
As a society, we just experienced arguably the worst year since the 1940s.
Realistically, a pandemic represents a once-a-century nightmare scenario, and we just lived through it.
While what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, nobody’s in the mood to think about the matter in those terms.
We’d all gladly exchange some weakness for undoing the pandemic. Sadly, that’s not possible, but it does put life into perspective.
As people, we appreciate the little things more now that they’ve been taken away for a while.
You’ll realize this the next time you go to a movie theater or concert or Broadway show.
For the lucky few who have already returned to Disney parks, they’ve already experienced this phenomenon.
For us, our problems seemed smaller because we still got to spend some time at Disney, and that’s all we really want in life, right?
Simply stated, Disney guests are happier at the parks now because they lived through those months when they couldn’t go. And it was horrible.
Thankfully, those days are over, and the best is yet to come at Walt Disney World and Disneyland.
Feature Image Rights: Disney