So we have reached California Adventure’s Sixth Anniversary, and currently it is still having problems, but there are strong rumors of Major Improvements and Changes in the future.
We will talk about the future at the end, but let’s look at the park as of February 8th, 2007.
Much of the park is still closed to general Park Guests.
In the Hollywood Pictures Backlot area, the Former Millionaire Building, now called Stage 17 is just used for Special events and Private Parties. The same holds true for the former Hollywood and Dine location. Two large facilities fairly close to each other. The Hyperion now sits unused two days a week.
Over at the Bountiful Valley Farm area, Caterpillar has pulled out of being a sponsor, and the Stage area has been removed, leaving a very dead space.
Next door, in the Pacific Wharf area, the largest eatery still sits empty and unused (Lucky Fortune Cookery), though it did get some use during the Food and Wine Festival.
And right next to that you have the Golden Vine Winery Wine Bars, the larger of the two (the west end) has sat unused (except for some special events a few days a year) for years, along with the Season of the Vine attraction, which is hardly ever open. Last Sunday, we had a group of 20 that asked for someone to come over and show us the movie, and were told that it was closed.
On the other side of the closed Wine Bar is the San Francisco area, with a empty building, last time it was used by Guests was during the X-Games promotion, as an arcade.
The Cove Bar is just open three days a week in the off-season.
The Entertainment Corridor only has a Parade go down it 3 days a week during the off-season and the Electrical Parade is only offered about 4 months out of the year.
DCA still has shorter park operating hours and much less entertainment and character interaction than Disneyland. The only new things that DCA got in the last 12 months were the High School Musical and the Lighting McQueen and Mater Meet and Greet, plus “PUSH” getting relocated from Tomorrowland.
Less than a year ago, Disney's chief executive officer, Robert Iger went on record during the company's annual stockholder meeting on March 10th, 2006, when someone asked about a potential third park being built in Anaheim. "We're still working to assure the second gate is successful", Iger said, referring to California Adventure. "In the spirit of candor, we have been challenged."
What is the challenge? Well, it has been reported that the Senior Execs now are looking into “The DCA Problem” and how to fix it.
But the main problem is currently attendance, or more precisely, paid admission revenue.
Currently we have major discounts and promotions to try and draw guests into DCA.
The current marketing program, “Rockin’ Both Parks” was rushed and changed multiple times the weeks before it took effect, including logos and now a revised Television commercial that features the “Dreams” music instead of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, with once again revised logos. The marketing program was designed to match up with the return of the 2fer ticket, which Disney still markets as “Enjoy Disneyland® Park on one day and Disney's California Adventure® Park on another day FREE!".
Then we have the severe discounting offered to guests that will buy a Three Day or longer ParkHopper (Currently a 3 day ParkHopper is just $7 more than a 2 day ParkHopper). This has Disney looking for guests to take a look at DCA while they are there, but not much additional admission revenue paying for the park operation.
Disney also does force some folks to go into DCA. First during certain times, if a Cast Member wants to sign in a guest, they need to use the DCA turnstiles, not Disneyland’s. Also there are less Cast Member Blockout days for themselves and guests at DCA than at Disneyland.
Add the Annual Passport program, in which Southern Californians can get an AP for $154 or less for an entire year.
Now, DCA did get a boost in its attendance count due to the expansion of the Mickey’s Halloween treat event, which had a larger daily attendance this year.
Also, Disney was very pro-active on days of high attendance at Disneyland, stopping one day ticket sales to Disneyland earlier, but offering a special DCA ticket for the same price, that allowed a guest to visit DCA, but then enter Disneyland after a certain set time printed on the ticket (they spread the time around to not have a large group at any one time try to enter Disneyland, but times like after 4 PM, 5 PM and 6 PM were common). This helped DCA attendance, as they count the first park visited in a day.
Disney doesn’t issue official attendance counts, but they do talk about percentage increases and decreases by the “resort” in investor information and phone calls. In the conference call on November 9th, 2006, they reported that the Disneyland Resort attendance was down 7% in the 4th Quarter (as compared to 4th quarter 2005). The Fourth Quarter covers the months of July, August and September. Of course, the 50th celebration was winding down, so it wasn’t a big surprise that attendance drop as compared to 2005. In the February 7th, 2007 conference call, it was reported that the Disneyland Resort attendance was down 5% for the October thru December 2006 period compared to the same timeframe in 2005.
So the vast majority of DCA’s attendance are folks who paid very little to enter DCA (The 2fer, Advance Purchase ParkHoppers, Annual Passes and Cast Member sign ins and comps). On the other hand, Disneyland sells a lot of single day tickets to its park, bringing in a lot more revenue on a “per guest” basis than DCA does.
We know of one major project in the works, “Toy Story Mania!” which is being built and opens in 2008. So far, everything that has been announced sounds like Disney is using new technology and including advanced AA’s, things that are sorely lacking currently at DCA. Also, part of the budget is to help plus the area around the entrance to “Toy Story Mania”.
This is all fine and good, but Disney did learn that just opening one new attraction will just help push more Annual Passholders thru the gates to check out the new ride when they opened Tower of Terror and Monsters, Inc. Currently both attractions have short waits the majority of the time. The park is still not seen as having a full days worth of “value”.
Disney has known they need to have a much stronger Extreme Makeover of the park, and rumors have the decision to spend over $650 million, about the same amount of money as what it costs to build the original DCA. And some of the current rumors are getting positive spin on the internet.
The Walt Disney Company Annual Stockholders Meeting will be held Thursday, March 8th and rumors have the Board coming up to a final decision on the proposed plans and that an announcement will be made to the major investment and needed changes to DCA around the same time, maybe even at the meeting itself.
So we should have some great things to discuss, upcoming new attractions and the possible re-branding of the park when the project is completed. Maybe then Disney can get more than a few folks a day to pay full price to visit the park just south of Disneyland
So Disney will let the day pass by without celebration at the Park, just another normal off-season weekday with limited hours and entertainment.
Here is hoping that we can spend more time a year from now (and 4 years from now) with all the work being done to help make DCA more deserving to be called “Disney’s” California Adventure.
And then, Disney can celebrate the changes when they can reduce and eliminate all the discounts and the CM’s selling tickets can truly ask, “You want a One Day ticket, which park would you like to visit?” and not get just one answer…..