CFB: You've moved from business development and strategic planning to an operations role. What's the biggest adjustment?
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CFB: Animals are a lot more unpredictable than animatronics. How does that affect your job?
It's fun. But it does keep you on your toes. What's great about the animals is they really don't take direction from us. They're wild. So, for guests, they have different experiences when they go. The gorillas were going crazy today, and they'll do different things today than they did yesterday. At the same time, the cast members we have have to be able to adjust to the animals, as opposed to the other way around. So we put a lot more training in place to allow our cast to go to where the animals are and help connect our guests to whatever's happening in the moment.
CFB: Wild Africa Trek opened last month. How's the response been so far?
Where I think it really kicks in, … it's at that moment that the guests on the trek kind of realize this is really real. It's real dirt, real roots, real tree branches. I think it surprises them at how real we've made it. … The look and the views and, interestingly, the food has been getting fabulous reviews.
CFB: How do you balance such limited-access, extra-cost attractions with additions all guests can enjoy?
Of course, we're in the theme-park business, and the core is to deal with large volumes of guests. And so you'll see the majority of our expansions in big things like Everest, where we can create a definite thrill piece for lots of people. But you always hear from us, 'We listen to our guests,' and we really do. And there is just that group that wants to have a deeper, immersive experience with animals, and that's done in smaller groups… That was the case with Wild Africa Trek. I think you'll see a balance that is clearly focusing on the masses. But at every turn, the more we bring personalization to what's typically thought of as a mass experience, the more Disney that makes it.
CFB: There are always rumors about new lands at Animal Kingdom. Will the park be expanded significantly in the near future?
Well, the great thing about Animal Kingdom is, because it's grounded in nature as the underlying kind of intellectual property, there are tons of opportunities that come from having such a wide underlying concept. And so, as you can bet, we're constantly thinking of lots and lots of opportunities there. It wouldn't be surprising that we've got ideas under way there. But when those come out, when they all gel, is a lot based upon the needs of our guests and the needs of the business.
CFB: You don't care to make a major capital announcement in Talking With, huh?
I thought it'd be best to probably let others do that, when appropriate. But it's worthy of you to ask.