((Sorry for any typos... I was in a rush at lunch and will correct later.. ))
I was recently approached to participate in a paid focus group initially pertaining to "Disney Resorts" and subsequetnly participated in athe group discussion.
I was not asked to complete a non-disclosure agreement so I thought I'd share what was discussed and what I gleaned from the experience.
The screening process for the group appeared to focus on the following demographics.
-Families with 1 or more children under 10.
-Be an annual passholder (any type) for the Disneyland Resort.
-Planned a vacation or getaway through Disney Vacation Club within the last 2 years.
Group of 6 people for the discussion with a moderator, video and audio recorded with a one way glass wall with unseen ?mystery? people watching us the whole time. (I think I picked my nose only once. J/K)
The moderator asked the group to be completely honest and not hold back.
((Some memory excerpts of the discussion))
Discussion stared with:
When you think of Disneyland? What words come to mind?
Answers - Ranged from magic, memories, happiness, childhood, innocence, creativity.
Then moved onto:
When you think of DCA? What words come to mind?
Answers - Off the shelf, cheap, boring, waste of space, sparse.
Moderator then asked what were the problems with DCA?
Answers - Tried too hard to push "California" theme, rushed, no innovation, no creativity (sans Soarin'), sparse of attractions, not enough "Disney".
Moderator (pretending to be dumb) asked... "What do you mean by "not enough Disney"?"
Answers - More characters, Give the guest the tools to use their immagination (theming / innovation), solidify the "show" concept again that Disneyland has done so well.
Moderator then showed the group 3 "mock-up" video spots for the DCA of 2012-2013.
First one was primarly pitching the concept that DCA was a park to see Walt Disney in 1930 and the adventures that you could experience with him. Focusing on the new theming that would take place after the turnstiles. (RedCar, Carthay.. etc)
Moderator asked if we liked it.... most didn't because of all the other areas that are present and how could they be threaded with a 1930's Walt? Carsland? Grizzy River area?
Second Video focused on the the imagineers and what they were building for 2012 - 2013. A lot of video and clips of models and concept art with some mock up videos of World of Color, Little Mermaid and Carsland.
Moderator asked if it the "backstage" view of things appealed to the group. Most said no because the point of going to Disneyland is to leave reality... not to see construction, backstage. The magic of Disneyland was to NOT show how things were done.... but to keep children / guests suspension of disbelief intact.
Third Video more polished... showed Disneyland footage (only one of three vids) and made comparisons of Autopia (being classic) and how Carsland would be the more contemporary conterpart. Other comparisons as well. Showed more children clips with (oooo ahhh looks) to convey their excitement and imagination running wild.
The group liked this one more because it spoke to fix a majority of the criticisms discussed at the onset of the discussion.
In the end... I gathered that Disney Marketing is researching hard how to pull guests over to DCA and repair what was done wrong in the past. It looks like they are considering going with the fact that people are going to always compare Disneyland and DCA so they may go the route of saying "yes Disneyland is great...but here is a little more..." rather than "This isn't Disneyland....its California Adventure, see vineyards, a pier, tractors, a giant sun, a forced perspective Goldengate bridge"
They appear to be still struggling with finding the common THEMING THREAD of the entire park.
There was nothing more that was disclosed that is NOT already public knowledge and the DCA name was not allowed to be a discussion point. Yes, allowed to be criticized...but not something they wanted to talk about.