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  1. #1

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    Talking Tom Staggs comments on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

    I suggest you read the whole article because it is about more than that, but the part I found fascinating is...

    How do you view the success of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, introduced by your competitor Universal Studios Orlando? Is it the same as the used-car dealer who sees the competitor down the block as bringing more customers his way? Do you say, we'll take the punch for a year or two?

    If you just sort of analyze the effect, it's hard to see a dramatic step one way or the other, so far, in overall attendance.

    I think that at the end of the day, to the extent that if anyone builds something that brings more people to Central Florida, given the strength of our offering, we do well with that.

    So (Wizarding World) is a good thing from that standpoint. But they built a really nice attraction. I don't think I'm going to tell you that it is a boon (for Disney World), but I also don't think it is a dramatic negative in any sense.

    Have you toured it?

    I have.

    More than once?

    Nope, I just went once, and I think they did a nice job.
    Thomas O. Staggs: At the helm of the Disney brand - St. Petersburg Times

    To me personally it sounds a bit like denial.
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    Re: Tom Staggs comments on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

    I don't know. I think Disney is right in the short term. If it draws more people to Orlando, many of them are going to also go to Disney. That has been a fact for a while. If someone comes to see Universal specifically many of them also take in Disney while they're there. So I think he's correct that in the short term if more people are in Orlando then that means more visitors for Disney, or at least an equal trade-off for them.

    That said, its not good long term thinking. It means more people to see Universal and more people actually taking a day out of their Disney vacations to go over there. The more people who go there and see a quality attraction, the more they're going to notice how Disney doesn't have anything that good and maybe the less likely some of them are to come flocking back as soon as possible. I love Universal and want to see them successful, but Disney needs to remain the king pushing themselves past the competitors. That they're so willing to sit back and let Universal one up them in quality because they can coast by and still get guests bothers me.

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    Re: Tom Staggs comments on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

    Kcnole, agree with you...

    Hmm... A little denial maybe... I don't think it's a completely crazy assessment. WWoHP is beyond-my-wildest-expectations-wonderful in every way except one thing: it's size. It's small. I had heard that it was small. I heard right! In my judgement, WWOHP isn't enough by itself to really threaten Disney World. If I think of myself and my family as typical guests, I can tell you that Disney is losing my business right now, but that won't last. We've become disenchanted with declining value at WDW, and we're all die-hard Potter fans. So a couple of months ago, we let our Disney annual passes expire and we got Universal Power Passes instead. We've been twice now, and we absolutely love it, but there just ain't a whole heck of a lot to do there. We already did a lot of shopping (how many pygmie puffs does one house need?). Enjoying a frozen butter beer is great fun, but kills about ten minutes. The Olivander Wand show was a hoot, but I don't need to see it again. Forbidden Journey is... well, it's spectacular, quite frankly, but it's one attraction. There are some other things at Universal and Islands of adventure that are nice, but it really doesn't hold a candle to WDW. My girls and I just had a nice weekend at Universal/WWoHP, and I look forward to another one. But by three oclock on Sunday, we had done everything we like to do two or three times over. I think WWoHP is going to run out of "do it over and over" appeal pretty quickly for us. I don't think I'm going to make it a whole twelve months without getting either APs or lenghty Magic Your Way tickets to Disney, because they just have so so much more to offer. All the rides, the shows, the fireworks, the parades, Fantasmics, four theme parks, two water parks, monorails, steam trains etc etc etc. There's just so much more to do.

    I do think there's something to be said about WWoHP being good for all of Orlando in that it just gets more people there. Kind of like how you often see two gas stations at the same intersection.

    Now this isn't to say that WDW shouldn't step up it's game considerably, because they certainly should. They do look like they're standing still, even with the Fantasyland Expansion. They should be doing what Universal did, but a hundred times bigger, better, more original etc. And they're not. It will catch up to them at some point. I just don't think that point is now

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    Re: Tom Staggs comments on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

    Quote Originally Posted by kcnole View Post
    I love Universal and want to see them successful, but Disney needs to remain the king pushing themselves past the competitors. That they're so willing to sit back and let Universal one up them in quality because they can coast by and still get guests bothers me.
    I echo this sentiment.
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    Re: Tom Staggs comments on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

    I think he's only saying those words in a public sense. He's playing PR guy too. He can't stand there and lie that he has never seen it but he gives Universal kudos and that's about it. "Nice attraction" is downplaying it a bit. Aaand, if Disney does their job, he's right... this won't be a dramatic boon to WDW.


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    Re: Tom Staggs comments on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

    Quote Originally Posted by Coheteboy View Post
    "Nice attraction" is downplaying it a bit.
    Hmm... yes it is. That's like saying Frontierland is a "nice attraction". However, unless there are some big expansions coming, it doesn't sustain a vacation by itself. But it in the coming years, if they add Diagon Alley, maybe a Gringotts indoor rollercoaster type ride, maybe a restaurant like the Great Hall with floating candles and a bewitched sky... a ministry of magic attraction, more wizard-guest interactive attractions a la Olivanders, (I'm sure there's about a million ideas out there) , then it become a truly self-sustaining park. The critical part would be to execute expansions with the same level of quality, detail, and immersion that they put itno the part that's open now.

    But above poster is right, the guy has to play PR man

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    Re: Tom Staggs comments on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

    I think his private comments are worlds more important than his public ones. He is not in the position to publicly gush over anything Universal does, except a cheap buy out of the Marvel contract. I think he said as much as he can publicly. His position is only a problem if his nonchalance is carried into how he is heading Parks & Resorts.

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    Re: Tom Staggs comments on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

    Actually It's true. Disney did do research on this and a great deal of people who visit theme parks in the Orlando area, also do a day or two at Disney.
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    Re: Tom Staggs comments on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

    Quote Originally Posted by Disneytwins View Post
    Actually It's true. Disney did do research on this and a great deal of people who visit theme parks in the Orlando area, also do a day or two at Disney.
    That is the case now, but still fails as a long-term business plan. And this is totally ignoring that Disney's internal research department has long been notorious for presenting pre-desired results.

    It is also contingent on the myth that attendance is key. Disney has been able to prop up attendance and lodging with discounts, but they have not been able to tackle guest spending. The slump has long been attributed to the economy, with it being accepted that people cannot afford souvenirs and food. But here comes Universal and it has people opening up their pockets, spending money that Disney was saying just was not there, and during a recession no less. That is bad, because it means that people have chosen not to spend at Disney disposable income that is and was there.

    It also bring up issues of expectations. If people find better values off property, the "magic" will only sustain people for so long. Why stay on property when better amenities plus a rental car can be had off property for less money? A big reason to go off property is also a big opportunity for people to see that, in Orlando, Disney is not always the industry/area leader and that others are doing equally or better work.

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    Re: Tom Staggs comments on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

    Quote Originally Posted by lazyboy97O View Post
    ... But here comes Universal and it has people opening up their pockets, spending money that Disney was saying just was not there, and during a recession no less. That is bad, because it means that people have chosen not to spend at Disney disposable income that is and was there.....
    Wow! Didn't think about that. You're absolutely right. Just did that myself. In all the years we've been going, we rarely if ever buy souvenirs at WDW. I have always felt that doing so is a waste of money. But we just spent buckets of money on "stuff" at WWoHP. Shopping was an integral part of the experience. How can Disney compete with that, though? There is nothing like walking into Olivanders' and buying your favorite wizard's wand (or having your wand choose you, if you're lucky); getting a Chocolate Frog from Honeydukes, or a Pygmie Puff from Zonko's. Even if you could get any of that stuff locally, (I hope we never can) it wouldn't be nearly as much fun. The uniqueness of the merchandise combined with the "I bought it there" factor gets us into the park spending money all weekend. I never feel that way about spending on souvenirs at Disney, because if I want something Disney-ish, I can get it at the local Disney store, or at Target, for that matter.
    Last edited by lily23; 02-07-2011 at 08:11 PM.

  11. #11

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    Re: Tom Staggs comments on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

    Disney is definitely in denial. I agree with the OP. The upkeep at DL is horrindous. And new attractions have been few and far between. Universal is on a roll, and Disney will be rolled right over if it sits ille for too long.
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    Re: Tom Staggs comments on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

    Gotta say that Tom is keeping the answer as short as possible without sounding bitter about Universal's outstanding success with WWoHP. He's just not going publicly announce how they are going to address Universal's success. And when Disney does develop some plan, they sure the heck aren't going to admit that their plan is to win back some of those days that they are currently losing to Universal.

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    Re: Tom Staggs comments on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

    I certainly hope that WWOHP lights a fire under their a** and shakes Orlando management out of its notorious complacency. However, I'm willing to give Disney the benefit of the doubt, pending the opening of their upcoming new attractions. If Star Tours II, Mermaid, the Fantasyland expansion and Cars Land end up wowing us, then the company is making a good response to Potter -- even if they can't top Forbidden Journey. However, if those new attractions underwhelm, then it could mark the beginning of Disney's decline vis a vis its competitors.

    Overall, Disney's track record with E tickets has been impressive, so I am optimistic.

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    Re: Tom Staggs comments on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

    Quote Originally Posted by lily23 View Post
    Wow! Didn't think about that. You're absolutely right. Just did that myself. In all the years we've been going, we rarely if ever buy souvenirs at WDW. I have always felt that doing so is a waste of money. But we just spent buckets of money on "stuff" at WWoHP. Shopping was an integral part of the experience. How can Disney compete with that, though? There is nothing like walking into Olivanders' and buying your favorite wizard's wand (or having your wand choose you, if you're lucky); getting a Chocolate Frog from Honeydukes, or a Pygmie Puff from Zonko's. Even if you could get any of that stuff locally, (I hope we never can) it wouldn't be nearly as much fun. The uniqueness of the merchandise combined with the "I bought it there" factor gets us into the park spending money all weekend. I never feel that way about spending on souvenirs at Disney, because if I want something Disney-ish, I can get it at the local Disney store, or at Target, for that matter.
    Exactly. That's what all the Rasulo-ites just don't get. If the the shops are unique and reflect the theme of the land in which they are located, then shopping there becomes part of the experience of the theme park, and people like myself are more likely to spend a buck or two than they otherwise would.

    With regard to the OP, and as has been mentioned before, Staggs in just towing the party line. He can't publicly speak his own mind any more than, say, the President can on Egypt. Universal has long equalled or outdone Disney in terms of technology, but the level of thematic immersion we see at WWOHP just wasn't there. Hopefully the guys at Uni realize this and extend that level of sophistication to other lands as well.
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  15. #15

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    Re: Tom Staggs comments on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

    Quote Originally Posted by lily23 View Post
    Wow! Didn't think about that. You're absolutely right. Just did that myself. In all the years we've been going, we rarely if ever buy souvenirs at WDW. I have always felt that doing so is a waste of money. But we just spent buckets of money on "stuff" at WWoHP. Shopping was an integral part of the experience. How can Disney compete with that, though? There is nothing like walking into Olivanders' and buying your favorite wizard's wand (or having your wand choose you, if you're lucky); getting a Chocolate Frog from Honeydukes, or a Pygmie Puff from Zonko's. Even if you could get any of that stuff locally, (I hope we never can) it wouldn't be nearly as much fun. The uniqueness of the merchandise combined with the "I bought it there" factor gets us into the park spending money all weekend. I never feel that way about spending on souvenirs at Disney, because if I want something Disney-ish, I can get it at the local Disney store, or at Target, for that matter.

    Basically what Universal has is an all new type of experience that Disney is completely empty on. Disney has the parks, the atmosphere... but none of it is serving each other. The rides are rides, the shows are shows, and the merchandise... is pretty cheap stuff to put it bluntly. Sure, they have loads of candy but none of it is special. None of it is unique. They slapped the Disney name on it... doesn't mean I want it. I'd rather have Doritos than Mickey Chips!

    What Universal has with Harry Potter is a unified vision.... it's synergy firing on all cylinders. The ride and the shops are ONE massive experience. And the food and merchandise complete that world. You're not buying "I SURVIVED......." anything. It's authentic.

    Somehow Disney stopped being authentic and started being a corporate brand that prints their own money. Eventually, people realize how unspecial it is and stop buying.


    Harry Potter is a well-needed wake-up call.


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