We haven’t had a ton of news around the Disney Parks as of late, as everything seemed to calm down after Christmas. In the past few days there have been a few announcements that are worth covering though and that’s exactly what we’re going to do in this post. We’ll mainly stick around Disneyland Resort, talking about two items that are returning in the next month before moving on to some commentary about the current state of Disney Parks.
Soarin’ Over California Returning to Disney California Adventure
Let’s start with the best news of the bunch in that the original Soarin’ is coming back to its birthplace, California Adventure, on March 4th. That date is also the start of the park’s Food & Wine Festival which we’ll have menus for when they’re released later this month! Soarin’ Over California returning to California Adventure is becoming a yearly tradition at this point as it came back in 2020 for a brief spell before the park closed. It also returned in 2019 alongside the debut of Galaxy’s Edge.
The original iteration of the attraction is very popular, especially in California. That’s because, and not to be overly blunt but, it’s far superior. Even Michael Bay’s biggest defenders can admit that filming on location looks better than computer generated graphics. That’s the biggest difference in the two and it is noticeable. Along with that, Soarin’ Over California feels more thought out and intricately put together, where it’s sequel seems to follow only one formula. I’m sure there are some that prefer Soarin’ Over the World and I’m not trying to ruffle any feathers, but it’s easy to see why the original is so popular.
There’s some intrigue that comes with the announcement. While the announcement does say that this is a limited time engagement, there’s no end date apparent. Of course, it could end with the Food & Wine Festival at the end of April. But I’d like to see it stay permanently. It would make sense to have this iteration in California Adventure – it fits the park better – and have Soarin’ Over the World in Epcot at Walt Disney World. Hopefully, this becomes reality if not this time around then in the future.
There are still some big items on the table for Disneyland Resort when it comes to returning. Fantasmic! and World of Color loom large, as do the parades. We know that Main Street Electrical Parade is coming soon and I would be surprised if this ends up being the counter-programming to Soarin’ Over California. While this is nothing more than a guess, every other time the OG Soarin’ has returned there has been something else at Disneyland back with it. I’m hopeful that’s the case here.
Disneyland Trams Return!
Another piece of good news is that the trams that go to and from Mickey and Friends Parking Garage are finally returning on February 23rd. The trams have been noticeably absent since the resort reopened last year. In the meantime, guests have walked from the parking garage instead which takes about 15 minutes.
Obviously, this is good news and makes parking at Mickey and Friends slightly more worth it. That said, it should never have taken this long and the rollout of the announcement has left a bad taste in my mouth. This should be an obvious service to anyone who is paying $30 to park their car for a day. Treating their return as a big addition to the resort is a problem that is reflective of a bigger problem in the higher ups of the company, which I’ll touch on later in this post.
We’ll never know exactly why the trams took so long to come back or why they weren’t back as soon as they were ready. We don’t need an announced return date for trams, it should just happen. I do know that they were not working when the resort first opened as they sat neglected but that doesn’t explain a 10 month absence. There’s no use speculating at this point and we’ll be happy for their return!
Record Revenue & Bob Chapek
The most talked about topic in the Disney blogosphere this week (and most weeks?) has been CEO Bob Chapek and the high revenue Disney pulled in during the first quarter of the fiscal year. That revenue in the parks is attributed to higher crowd levels through the holidays, higher guest spending and the addition of Genie+. Along with the news came reports that shareholders were unhappy with Chapek and could be looking to vote him off the board, citing some frustrations with which the park was running.
I’ll start by saying that there are better places to read into this complex situation. Our little blog may have a few opinions but there are others out there who have more direct information and experiences than we do.
I also know that not everyone loves this topic and a common line of thought is that we should just enjoy the parks and everything else will turn out the way it’s supposed to. While I understand the sentiment, I don’t completely buy into it. Being a fan of something means that you enjoy it and also hope for it to keep improving. Blindly hoping and supporting isn’t usually the best recipe for improving. Instead, having respectful conversation and thought about where the resort can improve is important. Writing emails, asking why things are happening and answering surveys are very basic ways to get the conversation started and things we’d encourage everyone to do, regardless of if your opinion is positive or negative.
So, where do the current Disney Parks stand with the most loyal of fans? I think many of us feel that the current leadership continues to penny pinch on the experience while seeing revenue go up. Watching Cast Members not getting paid enough, seeing shows, attractions and basic things in the park not return all while more and more upcharge events are offered is concerning.
Revenue hitting a record high for the fiscal quarter is great for the company but concerning that it will lead to more and more of what led to that quarter. Seeing how part of the reason that Disney Parks made so much this quarter was because of those upcharge offerings that were once free, it’s natural to assume that more of that is on the way.
Of course, that’s not totally fair. Maybe some of that billion dollars over their projection will be invested back into the park and those that work inside of them. I’d even say that it’s likely that will happen. What I don’t think will change until there’s a change in leadership is the current attitude that revenue is above all while not fully understanding the theme parks.
I don’t despise Bob Chapek like some on the internet do. It is easy to see that he comes from a merchandising background though and that his interest in the parks is largely from a revenue perspective instead of a labor of love. Seeing him inside of the theme parks is very rare and all of the additions under his watch as CEO or head of the parks have been tied to IP instead of original ideas.
All of these qualms are just bits of evidence to many who feel that the park experience is being diminished while the cost keeps going up. I’m definitely not saying that Disneyland Resort or Walt Disney World are bad experiences as a whole. They remain some of my favorite places on Earth. The coming months and years will be interesting to watch though and I hope that there’s a renewed focus on the small details that matter to returning Disney Parks customers.
A mixed bag in this roundup, as I’m stoked (do people still say stoked?) for the return of Soarin’ Over California while the rest of the information can be a little frustrating. What do you think of all of the news? Let us know, along with any questions you might have, in the comments below!
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