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Disneyland Article
New Version Of Disneyland Debuts

Tianas Bayou Adventure
Orange County Register
Robert Niles
April 27, 2021
May 3, 2021
Welcome to Disneyland 2.0.

After a pretty much uninterrupted run of nearly 65 years, Disneyland is returning after a break of more than 13 months. It’s been a hard reset for the resort, which now will be forced to operate in ways different than it has before.

Some of these changes will be temporary. But some might endure, as Disneyland adapts to operate within a new reality. The pandemic has been just one of several factors shaping this new reality, creating challenges not just for Disneyland but every attraction in the travel business.

Physical distancing requirements will force the parks to operate at sharply reduced capacity, but managing crowds has been a challenge at Disneyland for years now. The resort has implemented an advance reservation system for its reopening. Will Disneyland keep this new tool to manage more comfortable crowd levels for its fans even after pandemic restrictions have passed?

Disneyland no longer needs to worry about annual passholders crowding its parks, as Disneyland ended its AP program this winter. Disneyland officials have talked about a replacement for its wildly popular pass program, but does the resort really need to offer a volume discount anymore? Initial ticket sales during this reopening period no doubt will influence that decision.

Disneyland and other theme parks have accelerated the development of mobile ordering, touchless payment and virtual queuing systems in response to the pandemic. With apps handling more and more customer service functions, will parks lose the human touch that enabled them to distinguish their customer service from competitors?

When guests do interact with cast members at Disneyland, those employees might look a bit different now. Disneyland has changed its “Disney Look” appearance requirements to remove gender-based distinctions and to allow cast members to display hairstyles, makeup and tattoos that had been banned previously.

Disney has promoted the change as part of its adoption of “inclusion” as the “Fifth Key” in Disney theme park operations, joining safety, courtesy, show and efficiency. But will Disneyland fans be as open to new expressions of cast member diversity as the company has been?

The need to be more inclusive in a diversifying society is driving changes in Disney’s theme park attractions as well as its rules for cast members. The company announced that it will re-theme Splash Mountain to “The Princess and the Frog” as it severs its final connection to the minstrelsy of “Song of the South.”

The Jungle Cruise also is getting a rewrite, as Disney exorcises the casual racism of its indigenous caricatures. But more remains to be done on this issue, including the removal of racist depictions of native people on Disneyland’s Peter Pan ride.

Reopening Disneyland is not about getting back to a pre-pandemic normal, because the pandemic exposed many of the ways that the old normal simply wasn’t working anymore. Disneyland, like any business, needs to evolve to survive and prosper in a changing world. The past 13 months have challenged Disneyland to do that faster than it ever had before. Now we will see how successful the company has been in doing that.
Attractions Referenced

Jungle Cruise

Peter Pan's Flight

Splash Mountain

Tianas Bayou Adventure

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