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.
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.