It won’t open until next year, but Star Wars Land is already having a profound effect on everything that’s happening in every corner of the Disneyland Resort.
This week’s announcements of the repurposing of restaurants in Adventureland at Disneyland and at Pixar Pier in DCA? Yup. Last week’s price hike? Definitely. The recent elimination of the lowest level of Southern California annual passes? For sure.
I’m convinced every move Disney Anaheim makes from here on out is calculated, more than anything else, on how to manipulate the throngs that will spike with the arrival of Star Wars Land. For the foreseeable future, it’s changed the nature of the business.
Disneyland was originally conceived as a “Content First” business. Walt assumed that if he created a truly unique, utterly amazing product, expertly serviced and continually improved, the media would trip over itself helping him promote it, and customers would flock to it.
In the 1980s, the strategy morphed into EisnerLand, a “Marketing First” business, stressing ads and promotions. Capital expenditures were determined by how marketable they were or how much synergy they provided.
We have now entered a new era, LogisticsLand, a “Capacity Utilization First” business. Disney knows that come next summer it’ll get all the media attention and guests it desires. The trick now is controlling where those guests spend their time.
Fifteen months from now, I expect the two most crowded areas in Disneyland to be (1) Star Wars Land, followed closely by (2) the hordes lining up outside the three entrances to Star Wars Land, waiting to be allowed in.
But the new Land will basically be the same size as Fantasyland. Imagine the park at capacity with three-quarters of all guests clambering to squeeze inside Fantasyland.
So Disney now apparently is reevaluating all its admission policies: Just how much can we charge to get in? How much is enough of a discount to persuade guests to visit on, say, a Wednesday in late January instead of a Saturday in July? When should off-duty cast members and their families be blocked out?
And its operational policies: When should each facility open? Close? At what capacity? What under-utilized space is there at Disneyland (such as Aladdin’s Oasis) and how can it be remade to provide overflow space for the Star Wars crowds? And how do we turn the other corners of Disneyland (and DCA for that matter) into powerful enough magnets to draw their share of the attendance?
Now, all three of these phases of Disneyland are inter-related, since the disciplines (content, marketing and capacity) rely upon and feed each other. Plus, all three have the same ultimate goal of maximizing profit, either in the long- or short-term.
And, potentially each can benefit the guest, because with all three strategies Disney is incentivized to be continuously adding something new. However, each philosophy has drastically different priorities in determining what should be changed.
In a content-focused strategy, there’s a place for rides that are lower capacity, modest in scope, or limited in appeal, because they provide a fuller experience with entertainment that is varied, unique and nostalgic. No one else has a submarine, an antique fire wagon, and Mr. Lincoln come to life.
Those rides become a little less valuable in a marketing-focused strategy (although they presumably would be averse to bad publicity that would come from pulling the plug on a sentimental favorite).
In a strategy focused on increasing and maximizing capacity, however, all bets are off. The goal is to lure the masses to wide open spaces with new shiny objects. Squirrel!
I expect the rate of changes at the Disneyland Resort to only increase over the next year, and will be viewing them all through the prism of how do they help alleviate the inevitable people crunch scheduled for Summer 2019.What underutilized spots in the Disneyland Resort can you imagine Disney expanding or opening up to guests in the coming year? Click To Tweet