Mousesteps was invited, with a small group of other website representatives, to meet with Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products Chairman Josh D’Amaro this past week. We were able to ask questions, although we were told to bring notebooks as recording wasn’t allowed. This article is based on those notes, and I had the chance to ask a couple of questions. This experience was different than when we met with former CEO Bob Chapek a few months back, as that discussion was completely off the record.
Photo by Denise Preskitt (from 2019)
D’Amaro has been with the Walt Disney Company for 25 years, starting at Disneyland. He talked a little about that and said that we could ask him anything about either him personally or about the parks, etc. Everyone chose to ask about the parks.
Matt Roseboom asked D’Amaro about Disney Genie+, which has not been a very popular add-on with Disney fans. D’Amaro started talking first about Disney Genie, which he says is “continuing to optimize” and then D’Amaro says that he has used Disney Genie+ with family in the parks and that it has worked well for him. Essentially D’Amaro said it’s an option for those who go, if they choose to use it.
Entertainment is probably my favorite part of the Disney parks experience, and I asked in particular about the Citizens of Main Street in the Magic Kingdom and also the Red Car Trolley News Boys at Disney California Adventure. Both of these entertainment options have been extremely popular with guests and neither one has returned. I didn’t write down the answer as there was a story involved about watching the Disneyland Band, but the gist of it was…D’Amaro expects entertainment to come back as much or more than ever, but that doesn’t mean each specific act will return. As D’Amaro was answering this, the news about Enchanted Tales with Belle and Ariel’s Grotto returning to the Magic Kingdom was relayed to us. There has been a lot of entertainment coming back already this year, including Pete’s Silly Sideshow a week ago. But the Citizens of Main Street and Red Car Trolley News Boys have been such an essential part of the parks that they are in, I hope both do come back.
Photo by Denise Preskitt
D’Amaro did say he takes feedback as he walks around the parks, which he does often. “If I’m not in a meeting, I’m in a theme park”. He also said “I will talk to anyone and everyone”. That is something I do appreciate about him, that he is visible and taking time with Cast Members and guests.
The other question I asked was a follow-up to his talking about the reservation system and park hopping. Both have been a sticking point for many. Being a Walt Disney World local, I haven’t had much of an issue getting into a park when I want except for park hopping time. I can’t make a quick trip to the Magic Kingdom at opening and then head to EPCOT for lunch a couple hours later. I asked D’Amaro why Disneyland Paris was able to have no rules on park hopping (it hasn’t since they reopened). He said that the various resorts are different. We go to Disneyland Paris often and I do appreciate being able to move between the parks freely for attractions, dining and such.
D’Amaro talked about investment and said that “some of the biggest things are on the horizon”. He doesn’t consider himself a “corporate guy”, but a “Cast Member and a fan”. He says that “Our capital spending is higher than it’s ever been before”. And he says “We’re listening” and that not all changes will be popular, “but with guest experience in front”.
One of the last things he talked about was that he was the first Walt Disney Company executive to have an Instagram account. He was told it wasn’t done at first, but he wanted to communicate with Cast and also guests (he also wrote a newsletter for Cast Members).
D’Amaro then said, “The moment that I’m scripted and told what to say, I’ll do something else”.
I appreciated being included with the group, and that Josh D’Amaro made the time to speak with us. It was a relatively short meeting, but we were able to ask something each. He does value feedback and is very visible in the parks, I’ve seen him many times and have said hello a time or two. As someone who has visited the Walt Disney World parks for almost 46 years, I am interested in what goes on with our parks (and others we visit).
I am a much better transcriber from audio then I am a note taker, so I didn’t get everything down that I wanted to but I tried to be as accurate as possible.