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  1. #1

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    Armchair Imagineering: The GF ultrasuite

    Everybody run, MickeyMania has an idea!
    *screams of panic*

    Sometimes I get accused of accepting Disney as the way it is, and not making it better. Well, one place I can tell you where Disney has fallen behind is hospitality. This came to mind when I was thinking about the GF and how I feel it's the most disappointing resort in WDW. I was also thinking about the number of rooms in there, including entire wings and classifications of rooms that seem to repeatedly unimpress visitors according to reading TRs, and I started thinking about what they could do with them to help the GF reach it's function as the top of the World. And then the idea hit me.

    If Disney really wanted to impress the socks off people, they should grab a section of the GF and make a Disneyized version of Skylofts, the expensive ultrasuites at MGM Grand here in Vegas. They are the fanciest, and most expensive rooms you can buy here. Although there's even fancier suites on the strip like maybe the Cypress Suites and certainly Villa One at Bellagio, they are not open to the public without being a high roller so Skylofts is for the rich person who wants to feel that lifestyle without having to gamble to get it.

    To give you an idea on Skyloft's price, you can find one of the smaller lofts, at 1400 sq ft, at $600 a night on dry periods. Prices are often into the over $1000 category for the monsters. That price sounds high by Vegas standards, and it is, but remember that your basic room at the GF is $360 in Value season! I imagine such a thing at GF would have to cost quite a crazy amount, which is probably my biggest complaint with the GF and why I don't stay there, because of how poorly it compares with other world class hotels.

    Now then, there's some things that MGM does I could not expect Mickey to adopt. For instance, I could never imagine being picked up and dropped off at the airport in a Maybach. However, what makes people really remember the Skylofts are all details and services not shown on that video gushing about the rooms. These are things you'd have to read trip reports from guests who bought them to understand. A lot of these details are the kind of thing Disney can realistically do so long as they're only for a limited number of VIP guests. Most importantly, WDW's massive variety of entertainment options can come into play with my imaginary ultrasuite at GF.

    In addition to a nice suite with all the modern touches and luxuries they can provide, privileges and experiences would include:

    * Complimentary Admission to all parks, water parks, and Pleasure Island for registered guests on each day of your stay, including up to a number of days (limit to be determined) spent as a guest on other properties during the same visit (so if you reserve for one night of a week in an ultrasuite and spend the other 5 nights at a Value as part of your reservation, your tickets for all 7 days are provided.)

    * Obviously, the staff would be the best hospitality hosts that WDW can offer, and with Disney careers and morale as low as it often is perhaps they should offer some lucrative careers to lure some service workers from the ritzy off-property names.

    * Instead of the hospitality term 'concierge', we'll use the Disneyspeak 'Guest Services' because your suite rightly should feel like a hidden park unto it's own.

    * Guest Services have the power to make purchases will be charged to your room unless you specify another form of payment at the time of request. However, they still will let you know the price and confirm with you each time that they're about to make a charge. However, many items are complimentary to the person who simply asks.

    * A small number of unmarked Disney transportation cars will take you from the GF to a stop at any park or resort or to DTD. To arrange time/location for a pickup to go around the resort or back to the GF, please call the provided number or ask the operator at any WDW pay phone (I assume the operators at WDW payphones are employed by the resort, correct?) to connect you. Of course, if you don't like giving 5-10 minutes notice on your intent to leave and are willing to go through the qualification process of renting a car, that can be arranged for you complimentary, too.

    * A new take on the term character breakfast, as your favorite character(s, maximum of two daily and sometimes three depending on availability) will personally visit your room in the morning, provided you choose to use the luxury, with your order from a breakfast menu at the time you desire. They'll be accompanied by a waiter who will serve you and double as the characters' safety escort.

    * The TV entertainment system is loaded up with Disney (and affiliated studios) feature films, all of which can be watched free of charge (see footnote 1)

    * Guest Services will be willing to make reservations for just about anything, from tee times to dining to entertainment. If they are unable to make your reservation, they will find openings at similar places if available and make recommendations.

    * Even if you can't reserve a table, room service is (almost) everything! Guest Services for these rooms maintains a few current copies of every menu at every restaurant in all four parks, all hotel resorts and DTD. I imagine that Swan/Dolphin and Shades of Green restaurants will be excluded from this program due to their owners likely being uncooperative. Guests will be provided with menus to order meals from any location currently open at their time of request. So if you wanted a bite from Earl of Sandwich, or maybe the Cobb Salad from Brown Derby, or wanted to experience California Grill without having to leave your room, you can. (see footnote 2)

    * Guest Services at the suites will inform other locations across the property of what they need to know to make your stay more special using available inventory or services. For instance, if you're seen to be spending a night or two at Animal Kingdom Lodge before your big night at the Ultrasuite, they will call AKL before your arrival and find out if there's anything available inventory for your stay that would kick your visit up a notch. So let's say you check in for a normal room and are 'magically' upgraded to a Savannah view.

    * Likewise, when checking in the CM will know to check for certain things like if it's known that any guests are staying there on a birthday or anniversary or a wedding, a gift will be delivered to the room and any reservations placed through Guest Services will be notified on the big day as well.

    * Did you want a souvenir, no matter how obscure? Call Guest Services and they will try and help you identify your object and have it delivered. Anything from a simple Mickey t-shirt to an animation cel can be delivered this way. They've already got this transportation option going for meals so why use it for gifts, too? Likewise, anything you buy in the parks and have sent to your room will arrive through this network as well.

    Footnotes:
    1: Why WDW hasn't done On Demand Disney PPV in it's hotels yet is beyond me, really. They can be secured from children with PIN numbers and it would be a good use of the widescreen flat panels in the remodeled Deluxe hotels. There's also a good amount of profit to be made in the deal because the technology will pay for itself quickly.
    2: This kind of service would be expensive to implement, as you would basically have to create a transportation infrastructure to get food, souvenirs, etc to the GF from anywhere in the property within timely limits. However, Disney has so many administrative powers granted to them through RCID that I can't see them being unable to work something out.

    ------------

    I'm trying to think of more ideas to add to these creme de la creme rooms. The real question, I suppose, is if there is anyone out there who would be willing to spend a night or maybe even two in one of these rooms. Is there demand for a top-flight swankfest at WDW?

    Realistically, setting up some of these things would cost money, but other things are just naturally doable and simply connect things across the property that's already there (ie: calling your suite host from a pay phone through a resort operator.) Anything that needs to be added to help collaborate or move things efficiently should be doable between the amount of infrastructure in place already and WDW's RCID powers.

    Feel free to make your own suggestions, ask about the idea (like I said, a lot of it is based off MGM's Skylofts and WDW is like one gigantic unified megaresort) or tell me what you think about it. I mean, if you feel that this sounds totally nuts and they should spend this money on an E-Ticket at MK instead of fancy rooms and why the heck would they cannibalize a bunch of rooms at the GF anyway, then say so.

    I'm all ears.
    Last edited by MickeyMania; 12-11-2006 at 01:00 AM.

  2. #2

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    Re: Armchair Imagineering: The GF ultrasuite

    *reads his own post*

    Wow. Someone drank last night, it appears.

    Nah, really, perhaps carrying hot meals across the property isn't the smartest idea now that I think about it, but the rest would be pretty awesome if I was interested in throwing away enough money to cover a whole trip on a single night's room.

  3. #3

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    Re: Armchair Imagineering: The GF ultrasuite

    Quote Originally Posted by MickeyMania View Post
    Everybody run, MickeyMania has an idea!
    *screams of panic*

    Sometimes I get accused of accepting Disney as the way it is, and not making it better. Well, one place I can tell you where Disney has fallen behind is hospitality. This came to mind when I was thinking about the GF and how I feel it's the most disappointing resort in WDW. I was also thinking about the number of rooms in there, including entire wings and classifications of rooms that seem to repeatedly unimpress visitors according to reading TRs, and I started thinking about what they could do with them to help the GF reach it's function as the top of the World. And then the idea hit me.

    If Disney really wanted to impress the socks off people, they should grab a section of the GF and make a Disneyized version of Skylofts, the expensive ultrasuites at MGM Grand here in Vegas. They are the fanciest, and most expensive rooms you can buy here. Although there's even fancier suites on the strip like maybe the Cypress Suites and certainly Villa One at Bellagio, they are not open to the public without being a high roller so Skylofts is for the rich person who wants to feel that lifestyle without having to gamble to get it.

    To give you an idea on Skyloft's price, you can find one of the smaller lofts, at 1400 sq ft, at $600 a night on dry periods. Prices are often into the over $1000 category for the monsters. That price sounds high by Vegas standards, and it is, but remember that your basic room at the GF is $360 in Value season! I imagine such a thing at GF would have to cost quite a crazy amount, which is probably my biggest complaint with the GF and why I don't stay there, because of how poorly it compares with other world class hotels.

    Now then, there's some things that MGM does I could not expect Mickey to adopt. For instance, I could never imagine being picked up and dropped off at the airport in a Maybach. However, what makes people really remember the Skylofts are all details and services not shown on that video gushing about the rooms. These are things you'd have to read trip reports from guests who bought them to understand. A lot of these details are the kind of thing Disney can realistically do so long as they're only for a limited number of VIP guests. Most importantly, WDW's massive variety of entertainment options can come into play with my imaginary ultrasuite at GF.

    In addition to a nice suite with all the modern touches and luxuries they can provide, privileges and experiences would include:

    * Complimentary Admission to all parks, water parks, and Pleasure Island for registered guests on each day of your stay, including up to a number of days (limit to be determined) spent as a guest on other properties during the same visit (so if you reserve for one night of a week in an ultrasuite and spend the other 5 nights at a Value as part of your reservation, your tickets for all 7 days are provided.)

    * Obviously, the staff would be the best hospitality hosts that WDW can offer, and with Disney careers and morale as low as it often is perhaps they should offer some lucrative careers to lure some service workers from the ritzy off-property names.

    * Instead of the hospitality term 'concierge', we'll use the Disneyspeak 'Guest Services' because your suite rightly should feel like a hidden park unto it's own.

    * Guest Services have the power to make purchases will be charged to your room unless you specify another form of payment at the time of request. However, they still will let you know the price and confirm with you each time that they're about to make a charge. However, many items are complimentary to the person who simply asks.

    * A small number of unmarked Disney transportation cars will take you from the GF to a stop at any park or resort or to DTD. To arrange time/location for a pickup to go around the resort or back to the GF, please call the provided number or ask the operator at any WDW pay phone (I assume the operators at WDW payphones are employed by the resort, correct?) to connect you. Of course, if you don't like giving 5-10 minutes notice on your intent to leave and are willing to go through the qualification process of renting a car, that can be arranged for you complimentary, too.

    * A new take on the term character breakfast, as your favorite character(s, maximum of two daily and sometimes three depending on availability) will personally visit your room in the morning, provided you choose to use the luxury, with your order from a breakfast menu at the time you desire. They'll be accompanied by a waiter who will serve you and double as the characters' safety escort.

    * The TV entertainment system is loaded up with Disney (and affiliated studios) feature films, all of which can be watched free of charge (see footnote 1)

    * Guest Services will be willing to make reservations for just about anything, from tee times to dining to entertainment. If they are unable to make your reservation, they will find openings at similar places if available and make recommendations.

    * Even if you can't reserve a table, room service is (almost) everything! Guest Services for these rooms maintains a few current copies of every menu at every restaurant in all four parks, all hotel resorts and DTD. I imagine that Swan/Dolphin and Shades of Green restaurants will be excluded from this program due to their owners likely being uncooperative. Guests will be provided with menus to order meals from any location currently open at their time of request. So if you wanted a bite from Earl of Sandwich, or maybe the Cobb Salad from Brown Derby, or wanted to experience California Grill without having to leave your room, you can. (see footnote 2)

    * Guest Services at the suites will inform other locations across the property of what they need to know to make your stay more special using available inventory or services. For instance, if you're seen to be spending a night or two at Animal Kingdom Lodge before your big night at the Ultrasuite, they will call AKL before your arrival and find out if there's anything available inventory for your stay that would kick your visit up a notch. So let's say you check in for a normal room and are 'magically' upgraded to a Savannah view.

    * Likewise, when checking in the CM will know to check for certain things like if it's known that any guests are staying there on a birthday or anniversary or a wedding, a gift will be delivered to the room and any reservations placed through Guest Services will be notified on the big day as well.

    * Did you want a souvenir, no matter how obscure? Call Guest Services and they will try and help you identify your object and have it delivered. Anything from a simple Mickey t-shirt to an animation cel can be delivered this way. They've already got this transportation option going for meals so why use it for gifts, too? Likewise, anything you buy in the parks and have sent to your room will arrive through this network as well.

    Footnotes:
    1: Why WDW hasn't done On Demand Disney PPV in it's hotels yet is beyond me, really. They can be secured from children with PIN numbers and it would be a good use of the widescreen flat panels in the remodeled Deluxe hotels. There's also a good amount of profit to be made in the deal because the technology will pay for itself quickly.
    2: This kind of service would be expensive to implement, as you would basically have to create a transportation infrastructure to get food, souvenirs, etc to the GF from anywhere in the property within timely limits. However, Disney has so many administrative powers granted to them through RCID that I can't see them being unable to work something out.

    ------------

    I'm trying to think of more ideas to add to these creme de la creme rooms. The real question, I suppose, is if there is anyone out there who would be willing to spend a night or maybe even two in one of these rooms. Is there demand for a top-flight swankfest at WDW?

    Realistically, setting up some of these things would cost money, but other things are just naturally doable and simply connect things across the property that's already there (ie: calling your suite host from a pay phone through a resort operator.) Anything that needs to be added to help collaborate or move things efficiently should be doable between the amount of infrastructure in place already and WDW's RCID powers.

    Feel free to make your own suggestions, ask about the idea (like I said, a lot of it is based off MGM's Skylofts and WDW is like one gigantic unified megaresort) or tell me what you think about it. I mean, if you feel that this sounds totally nuts and they should spend this money on an E-Ticket at MK instead of fancy rooms and why the heck would they cannibalize a bunch of rooms at the GF anyway, then say so.

    I'm all ears.

    Well it is obvious that you have no clue about the Grand Floridian. Much of what you listed is already being done at the Grand Floridian. I was a cast member at the Grand Floridian for over 3 years and enjoyed it very much.

    First off the staff there is the best and more often that not those are the cast members that are lured away from Disney by those other off-site luxury properties. Several former Grand Floridian Cast Members from housekeeping to managemet are now working at those other properties such as JW Marriott, Gaylord Palms, Ritz Carlton, and many others. In order to get to work at The Grand Floridian these days requires not only the usual casting interviews, but also an interview or two with the department managers for which you are being cast.

    Disney does use the term "Concierge" and the concierge staff is there both in the concierge sections (Royal Palm Club and Sugarloaf Club) of the hotel as well as the "Guest Services" desk in the main lobby.

    IN regards to a personal driver, that is unrealistic. Disney provides free transportation to all guests to all areas of the Walt Disney World Resort. If a guest wishes to rent a vehicle, then they have a hot line at the front desk that links the guests directly to the onsite Alamo and National Car Rental office by the car care center. National and Alamo will then come and pick the guest up.

    The concierge staff does do some shopping for guests. On more than one occasion I have gone out and bought for guests everything from souveniers in the theme parks to certain brands of milk and disposable diapers. I've even bought cell phone chargers and one time had to go to the local Nordstroms Department Store to pick up for a guest a brand new suit. Come on people, if you have a baby, bring your own damn diapers. If you do run out, the shops at the hotel carry Huggies brand diapers and when the shops close, even the front desk has a small supply to sell during the wee hours of the night. But in some cases their baby's poop is too good to be dropped in a huggies and they wanted pampers or in one case that I have dealt with the Target store brand.

    In regards to your character breakfasts, a private character breakfast can be arranged, although it will most likely not happen in your room. It will most likely happen in a private room at the convention center next to the resort. This does happen with frequency for those that are willing to pay the price. If you are staying in a concierge level room, this can be arrangd prior to arrival with the resorts trip planning department.

    In regards to the trip planning department, they start calling guests 90-120 days prior to arrival in order to make those dinner reservations and set up any special things the guests want, howver more often than not their calls go ignored and then when the guests arrive they expect everything to be at their beck and call. Sorry folks, it don't work that way. The folks in Pre-Planning are calling you and sending you letters for a reason, yet many times thay are ignored.

    The Guest Service desk in the lobby does have copies of all the menus from restaurants on Disney Property as well as many off-site restaurants. If a guest wants to see the menus all they have to do is ask. In regards to room service, the Grand Floridian does have 24 hour room service. In regards to getting food delivered to your room from other areas, well that sometimes does happen for cold products. If a guest does want a meal deliered to the hotel from another resort or area restaurant, it can be done, however the restaurant will have to deliver the items and the guest will have to come to the front desk bell stand and retrieve those items. The hotel will not send a delivery person to a guests room for security reasons, and the bellman are not allowed to deliver prepared meals to a guests room.

    Guests Services does make reservations for guests for just about anything, whether on property or off. They do make tee time reservations as well as dinner reservations for guests.

    In regards to the "unmarked cars" they are there as well, for guests willing to pay for the service there are guest service cast members that will take guests wherever they want to go on property as well as a few places off property. I have driven guests to the airport, Universal Studios and Sea World, and the Orange County Convention Center.

    I agree with the idea you had for the television. But when guests come to Disney World, the idea is that they are to be in the parks, not in the rooms. I'm not coming to Disney World to watch television. What they do have on the television is adequate, it's not as though the entire outside world is lost once you enter the property.

    If a guest wishes to transfer to another hotel, those arrangements can be made if the room inventory is there and in most cases we will take the guest and their luggage right to the hotel.

    The majority of your "ideas" are already in place at The Grand Floridian and practically all Disney Resorts all the way down to the value resorts.
    Last edited by ti2gr; 12-11-2006 at 06:48 AM.

  4. #4

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    Re: Armchair Imagineering: The GF ultrasuite

    Quote Originally Posted by MickeyMania View Post
    Everybody run, MickeyMania has an idea!
    *screams of panic*


    * Obviously, the staff would be the best hospitality hosts that WDW can offer
    You mean.. like the staff found in that other Disney place in Japan?

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    Re: Armchair Imagineering: The GF ultrasuite

    I don't think the typical 'whale' mentality of vegas is the same type of person who goes to WDW.

    I think if anything WDW should just market and make known their conceirge type accomodations and then up the ante in the rooms. All the other hand-holding I don't think is necessary. Just give some people the ultra-high-end room with the conceirge stuff along with personal airport transportation and you might hit the sweet spot.

    It is a market that 'money is no object' Disney could cash in on

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    Re: Armchair Imagineering: The GF ultrasuite

    Quote Originally Posted by flynnibus View Post
    I don't think the typical 'whale' mentality of vegas is the same type of person who goes to WDW.
    Have you seen the type of guests at WDW and Vegas tourist on the strip as of late??? YIKES!!!

  7. #7

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    Re: Armchair Imagineering: The GF ultrasuite

    Quote Originally Posted by TDLFAN View Post
    Have you seen the type of guests at WDW and Vegas tourist on the strip as of late??? YIKES!!!
    They are a scary bunch!

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    Re: Armchair Imagineering: The GF ultrasuite

    Quote Originally Posted by TDLFAN View Post
    Have you seen the type of guests at WDW and Vegas tourist on the strip as of late??? YIKES!!!
    Well the guy MM wants.. is not the trailer-trash strollin the strip

    Besides.. at least we don't have all the pr0n-trading cards 'dealers' all around the TTC

  9. #9

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    Re: Armchair Imagineering: The GF ultrasuite

    ahaha, I know a guy who has stayed at Skylofts a few times, and I wouldn't say he's trailer trash but he probably bites off more than he can chew a lot. Last time he was there they were taking an Xbox (360? Don't know) to somebody's room by request. He always splits the room with other people to afford it though, because they enjoy that whole 'well certainly sir!' level of service.

    Again, I didn't know if anybody wanted to pay the absurd rate for a room where basically anything can happen like that. I was just looking at how the nice rooms as MiraCosta seem better than the nice rooms at GF and then it started coming to me that GF should take advantage of the whole resort.

    ti2gr says a lot of this stuff is happening at the Grand already. Well, okay, maybe it is then. I've just read so much disappointed feedback about the GF (it seems Sugar Loaf concierge level in particular is pretty bad at meeting expectations) and the pictures I've seen of their nicest rooms are all... Eh... that I thought about making a few suites that were simply superlative above all others. I know they must be capable of doing a number of these things already, they must already be doing so for Iger, celebrities, etc. That's the reason I thought it wouldn't be difficult to do.

    As for the whole "people don't come to Disney World to stay in their rooms" thing, that's the idea here, that you DO want to spend time in the room. Or at least for that one night (which is all most people can afford) the whole property is more or less comes to your room so you don't have to go out and go to it. Or at least enough of it that you can drop the whole Park Commando thing for a day and watch everything come to you while you enjoy a nice room furnished with anything reasonable that you want.

    I suppose the difference that will long exist between LV and WDW is how you basically can't make same-night reservations for anything at the World. I thought though that there's basically enough openings and cancellations that someone who can probe the reservation system and find openings could get some results.

    I'll mention again that this is something I wrote up while not totally clear-headed (praise be to FireFox's spell checker, for it makes drunk posting look like any other's) but it's still better than the last time that happened, and I held a poll on what the ugliest theme park was. :P

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