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Disney Parks Blends Virtual and Physical Experiences to Elevate Storytelling

Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Product speaking at Skift Global Forum on September 20, 2022 in New York City.  Neil van Niekerk / Skift
Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Product speaking at Skift Global Forum on September 20, 2022 in New York City. Neil van Niekerk / Skift

Disney plans to develop more immersive storytelling attractions and theme parks that will seamlessly mix virtual and physical experiences as it approaches its 100th anniversary.

Disney Parks, Experiences and Products will continue to invest in “next generation storytelling,” said Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products on Tuesday at Skift Global Forum in New York. Under the concept, guests will travel through theme parks and attractions that connect the digital with physical world seamlessly.

Next generation storytelling will further what Walt Disney envisioned for the Walt Disney Corporation decades ago, D’Amaro said. Now, the company has technology, creative talent, infrastructure and other assets to bring his vision to life, D’Amaro said to Skift Senior Research Analyst Seth Borko. The Walt Disney Corporation turns 100 in 2023.

“The possibilities are without bound,” said D’Amaro. “A book doesn’t have to end on the last chapter. A painting can have a canvas that is infinite.”

One possibility may be some form of merging of Disney’s streaming platform with its theme parks, attractions and cruises. Earlier this year Disney announced Disney+Day, which gave subscribers a variety of benefits, which included special access to parks, cruises and hotels.

At the forum, D’Amaro talked about the success of Star Wars: Galactic: Starcruiser, which launched in March 2022. On the cruise, guests are immersed in the Star Wars universe and can construct their own journey through “space” for two days. While there were a “fair amount of skeptics,” the cruise has proven popular, D’Amaro, said. “It’s been selling out,” he said.

Disney has been making a strong recovery. Citing the company’s recent earnings report, D’Amaro said demand for theme parks has been strong. Staffing has also returned to pre pandemic levels.

Labor Shortage?

D’Amaro said he is not seeing a great impact of the ongoing labor crisis globally, noting that of the 170,000 “cast members” furloughed during the pandemic, the majority have returned to work full-time.

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