What a fresh idea it would be, Kevin, to lose the MGM moniker at Disney-MGM Studios, and to re-dub it with Lucas. Disney-Lucasfilm Studios immediately comes to mind. Another alternative might be Disney-Industrial Light & Magic Studios. Or, how about Lucas-MGN Studios - Strike that! Just kidding.
Apparently, there is a real rumor that Disney might re-think Disney's California Adventure, and change it's name at some point in the future. How great it would be if Pixar decided to remain with Disney either before or right after the release of Cars. If this should occur, Disney-Pixar Studios would be a great name.
Regarding Star Wars Weekends, I'm glad the younglings got back at Darth Vader and Darth Maul there. Since Lucas has announced that he plans to replace Star Tours with a new attraction, one might think he would make changes in Star Wars Weekends events, and create better props and backdrops.
An Anhauser Busch waterpark in Orlando would be awesome. Though, it sounds like plans might be in the making for a regular themepark as well. Perhaps Busch Gardens, Orlando, if not something completely unique and extraordinary. The VMK Pirates game is fun. That's the only game I've played so far, and I am going to contact a cast member for pointers.
Last edited by Ride Warrior; 06-02-2005 at 07:05 AM.
Hi, Kevin. With regards to the ticketing issue, and who Disney is marketing to, you said:
Just who is Disney targeting? Do they want to target only the more wealthy? Or be populist and target everyone?
My theory is this - Disney doesn't care who comes to the parks, as long as the hotels and the restaurants are full. It's a simple matter of supply and demand economics. Back when Disney's prices were much lower, occupancy was incredibly high. So they raise their prices, and occupancy remains high. As long as we keep coming, and keep paying, they're going to keep raising the prices. Do I like it? Of course not. Do I expect this mega-corporation to price things more reasonably so Mom & Pop and their 18 kids from the great Midwest can afford a once in a lifetime visit? I don't see that happening.
It doesn't matter to Disney whether they have Mom & Pop and the kids or they have Thurston and Millie and their bazillion dollars a week spent. As long as the money is coming in, the prices will remain high.
Why don't they just rename it Lucasfilm Studios? That sounds much better to me. They could bring in an updated Indiana Jones ride. Get rid of Drew Carry and put in a Radioland Murders show. The Howard the Duck dark ride could be very scary on multiple levels. Willow's magical kingdom could replace the Shrunk the kids set. They could put in an autopia-type ride themed to American Graffitee. Finally, we need the THX-1138 great escape rollercoster ride where you get chased thru SF's BART subway system. The possibilities are endless!
Quote: "Just who is Disney targeting? Do they want to target only the more wealthy? Or be populist and target everyone?"
To a large extent, Kevin, the escapist ILLUSION Disney has managed to maintain for fifty years has remained contingent on its abillity to target the masses. The brilliance of Disney's marketing strategy lies in the fact that it targets the wealthy, and the upper middle and working class separately and together.
Quote: "...the rich can be said to receive better treatment. They stay in more luxurious and expensive hotel rooms, eat at higher-priced and tastier restaurants, purchase more souvenirs, and can afford experiences like the Fantasmic! dessert balcony. If we get right down to it, Disney has never really promised equality of outcome. But it did provide the ILLUSION of equality of outcome, at least most of the time."
We should never forget that Disney is a business, and must behave as one to a large extent if it is to survive and thrive in the long run. The dictates of supply and demand necessitate that the Company provide incintives to induce the wealthy and upwardly mobile to take advantage of all the luxuries that it has to offer, the more they spend the better. When it comes to expensive hotels, the Company appeals to the elite to stay in its top of the line rooms and suites. Should Enhanced FastPass come into being, it will be used as a marketing tool to encourage the elite to stay in expensive rooms and to spend more in order to receve shorter FastPass waiting times for attractions.
All of this is well and fine, as long as Disney continues to target middle class tourists and locals as well. They are already doing this by offering moderately priced lodging, regular FastPass, moderately priced restaurants, general gate tickets, non-hotel related Park Hopper passes, and AP's. Should Disney lose its middle class guests, the money that it accrues from the wealthy would't be enough to keep the Company afloat for long. Thus, the argument that supply and demand means "to cater to the elite and the rest be damned" doesn't hold it's weight in water.
Quote: There must be a line in the sand somewhere. If Disney hopes to maintain the illusion that you’ve left the outside world beyond the berm, then at some point the financial strata of society should be invisible, shouldn’t it? Picture an example of the extreme, where you bring your tax forms with you to the park, and net wealth decides how fast the lines move for you, what you get to eat for lunch, etc. That is clearly hyperbole, but it points out how hard it would be to enable the fundamental escapism for which Disney is famous. Somewhere, we would all agree, there really IS a line in the sand, over which Disney should not cross."
May the ILLUSION live on! As long as the line between escapism and the real world is not overtly crossed, all Disney parks will remain connected to the realm of imagination, a reverance toward history, a positive belief in the future, and a positive, kindred spirit among mankind. This is to a great extent why we are celebrating Disneyland's 50th birthday. Disneyland is "The Magic Kingdom" aka "The Happiest Place On Earth".
Last edited by Ride Warrior; 06-02-2005 at 11:33 AM.
Regarding the new Sea World park, I don't know what Sea World is trying to accomplish. The Sea World out here in San Diego is supposed to be an animal park, but in the last 5 years they have slowly been evolving it into an amusement park...with the admission price to match. Sea World here hasn't built a new animal exhibit (without a new ride attached anyway) for over 10 years and it's really starting to annoy me that they've neglected the one thing people go for. I have to pay $55 for 10-30 year old exhibits and 3 actual rides. I probably shouldn't judge the Orlando Sea World based on San Diego's, but in Orlando you already have Busch Gardens and Animal Kingdom. There's no way Sea World can compete with a 500-acre park with a new $100-million ride so I would think the best thing would be to fall back on superior animal exhibits and animal interaction. I guess I just come from the old school of thinking when it comes to Sea World.
My theory is this - Disney doesn't care who comes to the parks, as long as the hotels and the restaurants are full. It's a simple matter of supply and demand economics. Back when Disney's prices were much lower, occupancy was incredibly high. So they raise their prices, and occupancy remains high. As long as we keep coming, and keep paying, they're going to keep raising the prices.
I totally agree, Dan. About 15 years ago I was at a business lunch with two Disney Executives who had just returned from WDW. They were both based in Anaheim full time but they were remarking how expensive everything was in Florida and the fact that the ticket prices had just been increased, again.
They didn't know how an average family could afford a WDW vacation any longer
At meetings about price increases they said it was always coming up that it was too much but their bosses would always counter with, "You show us figures that prove that attendance and purchases drop after a raises in prices and we'll agree with you."
Of course, they couldn't since some research into the attendance figures prior to and following increases showed that the crowds kept coming and paying.
Kevin, interesting column. A few thoughts ... As far as the whole debate goes on the more you spend, the more perqs you get, I really find it difficult to fault Disney. This is how things should be, but only to an extent. You can't really have all sorts of tiers for things like FastPass and NOT have huge problems at some point. Of course, I do feel that when I stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, I should get a higher level of service there in everything from food offerings to beddings to decor etc ...I don't, however, think I should get [fill in the blank] number of freebie FastPasses while someone staying at Pop Century doesn't. But in any other aspect, I do expect MORE because I paid MORE. Just like my elite status with my airline has bought me the ability to go ahead in line at security, board whenever I like, always get an aisle seat, usually get upgraded to First Class etc ... It's why I believe also that thus far Disney has truly dropped the ball on taking special care of its most loyal guests -- and no, I don't mean those folks who have $99 APs at DL, either.
As to prices and catering to the elite, I have to chuckle. WDW now discounts ALL of the time. It sure didn't in 1975, 1985 or even 1995. Today it sure does. You can actually get into the parks for under $30 a day if you buy the MYW ticket for seven-plus days. Hotels are routinely discounted. In the late 90s, I'd always pay between $100-130 a night for a moderate resort, now I pay between $69-109. I can regularly book rooms at my fave resorts (DAK Lodge, WL) for not much more most of the year. They even have the new meal plan, as well as letting ALL APers buy the DDE Card for 20% most restaurants and bars on property.
Again, I can bitch and moan about Disney with the best of them, but I don't see them catering to the elite.
Heck, I'll offer you another theory. That by all the discounting, WDW has conditioned guests to expect them and offers a much weaker product overall because they can't get the prices they could command a decade ago. I certainly see (going to the closet for the flame suit) a whole lot more folks I'd describe as 'trash' at WDW, even staying at the deluxe resorts, than I did in the 80s and 90s. I know I'm not imagining it. And no one will convince me we're in a great economy and the average American bringing in say $25,000 a year can suddenly afford to spend half of that on a magical WDW vacation.
As far as your point about Star Wars Weekends feeling ordinary, I understand it 100 percent. All of WDW's annual special events are growing quite stale because they don't freshen them and offer anything truly new or unique. They are just marketing the heck out of them, and sadly that's enough to pull the folks in. With Episode 3 out, finally a truly wonderful SW movie, you'd think there couldn't be a better time for an event to end all events, but instead it's more of the usual.
You can add the Flower and Garden Festival, Holidays Around the World, Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Parties (Halloween as well, although I love the event), Super Soap Weekends, ESPN Weeekends and even my fave -- The Epcot Food and Wine Festival.
Disney thinks it has a built in audience of locals who will come no matter what, and the tourists likely will think they're getting something extra special. The problem is nothing really ever changes. If anything they cut things out and try and save $$$. Or they raise prices for the special events and dinners etc ... but it's like they just take a template out, add a new year, some new pins and it's a 'new' event. Regulars though, know it's really just more of the same.