The Two Different Events That Turned Disney Around

Commentary: The Chapek-era wasn’t the best of times for the Disneyland Resort

In a few weeks, the opening dates and guest counts for Disneyland Park and its sister park, Tokyo Disneyland, will be revealed.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have been working on both parks for most of my career, and I’ve watched the industry’s change firsthand. While I’ve worked on both of the parks over the years, I’ve found a very different story in each park, yet surprisingly similar ones at the same time.

It’s hard to know exactly what was happening in the early-to-mid 2000s. In Disney’s case, the resort was under a lot of pressure from two distinct events.

The first is the acquisition of Disney’s Hollywood Studios by Walt Disney Studios. This was followed by the Disney’s acquisition of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, plus several other big-name and high-profile movies, as well as some other blockbuster studio films, in the years 2009 to 2016. In the process, many of the best talent associated with Hollywood and other big-name studios left the Disney lot and opted out on the other Disney parks for reasons both big and small, forcing Disney to make changes in the face of limited resources.

The second event was the opening of Disneyland in Anaheim. This was, to be fair, a massive event, and it was also a turning point for the Magic Kingdom.

I would like to say the opening turned Disney around, but that would be unfair, considering the park was opened under a large amount of pressure. In the end, the park was still in its early days under a lot of uncertainty, and the staff there wasn’t given the tools they needed to properly open the park.

Many expected the park to be opened by 2011. The first guest to step off the ride at Disneyland Park will be John Broome, who stepped off the ride at the park in June 2010. (Disney image

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