I do love Disney, but it still doesn't mean I'll join the club. Why? Because, for starters, there are more "clubs" online than I can shake a stick at -- where I get news, rumors, un-filtered opinion, and can actually participate in the community. D23 could lead the way in building a global community of Disney fans, with a website that only they can access, which offers them information, content (photos and videos), and opportunities they can get ONLY there and nowhere else. But Disney hasn't done that, despite allegedly being so sophisticated with technology.
There could be easy benefits to being a D23 Online Member -- having all of my annual passholder information in one place, tracking my visits to Disneyland and Walt Disney World (even if I had to enter it manually), allowing me to create my own Disney-related photo albums, working with Apple to allow me to upload my ipad created art into a gallery. It could go further; with a single log-in, I could get preferential seating to restaurants, I could get my room requests heard by those who might do something about it; and for good or bad, I might even have a way to vent my complaints (and share my compliments) in a forum that matters.
I could learn about upcoming events (Disney-sanctioned AND non-Disney-sanctioned) that promote the history and legacy of Walt Disney.
In one place, I could track all of the Disney events happening in my area. (Where my local Disney stores are, when Beauty and the Beast's touring company is playing near me, etc.)
But none of this happens. In short, Disney could have one of the most amazing loyalty programs online, and to require $79 a year to buy into it would hardly seem a steep fee. Everything, from Disney visa points to my annual visits, could be tracked ... and I'd give Disney access to this information FOR FREE. So, Disney gets something out of it, too.
The alleged "remote Fastpass" program could be rolled out specifically to D23 members, who would also get notification of other events happening. In other words, it could be a coordinated marketing program for all of Disney.
But we all know Disney's management works in rigid silos and don't like ANYONE treading on their turf, so these things CAN'T happen.
Instead, we have some cheesy member events held a few times a year. There are only so many times I need to go to the Disney Studio theater or do a "meet and greet" with D23 in Chicago, or whatnot. Those events hold ABSOLUTELY no interest to me, and probably not to the majority of D23 members. But D23 continues to do them for reasons that make absolutely no sense.
Anyway, all Disney needs to do, really, is launch a BETTER WEBSITE that clearly communicates the values to D23 membership, ESPECIALLY in an Expo year. A $79 membership gets you:
* A quarterly magazine, each of which comes with a beautiful Disney gift ($80 value including the gift)
* Discounts to tickets for the D23 Expo, the most magical gathering of all things Disney you could possibly imagine, including all panels, presentations and special events (up to $200 in savings)
* A private, D23 members-only website where you can meet other Disney fans and build communities while learning more than you ever imagined about Disney's past, present and future (no dollar value, but it would be ONLY for D23 members)
* 10% off select retail locations in the U.S. and in Downtown Disney Anaheim ($40-$80 value, depending on spending)
So, for a $79 membership fee (less than the cost of one day at a park), you'll save more than $400 a year ... and you'll get the flagship D23 magazine.
Why can't D23 make it this easy to communicate a marketing message?
But for now, I have a website that updates a couple of times a week with watered-down versions of stories I've read elsewhere; no actual feedback/community section; and events that cost an additional $150-$300 to attend that I don't have any interest in.
If they want ONLY to get the 10,000 or however many members they have, then that's great. They're doing the right thing. If they want to GROW this ... why aren't they actually engaging in marketing? I haven't seen ads on Disney Channel or on ABC Family, or seen an ad run in FamilyFun, or even seen anything at Disneyland except for a window hidden away in the Californian hotel. They market this thing like they really don't care. So, I really don't care.
I think the magazine is getting better and better with each issue. (Still too fluffy, but what can you expect? It is a Disney shillpiece, after all.) Looks beautiful, has interesting articles, looks good on my coffee table. For that and that alone, I will renew my membership.
That said, D23 still isn't for me ... it's not good enough. Of course, they have my $79 now, so what difference does it make to them, I guess?
It is just a shame to think about what D23 COULD BE.