If you pay attention to Disney social media and blog websites (and obviously you do since you’re here, thanks) you’ve probably seen a great deal lately about Disney trying to open up more peoples pursestrings. Rumours and rumblings have rolled abound and while people are lighting their pitchforks and sharpening their torcches (that’s how it work right?) Disney is trying to cut costs and find new revenue streams.
Within the last couple months Disney has tried to deal with the building of the Shanghai Disneyland Park going over budget and time frame, and in order to help with this they’ve sprung into such actions that people would be calling for Walt’s head on a platter if anyone knew actually where it was. But as much as we all love Disney and the nostalgic feelings it conjures up we often look past the fact that Disney is indeed a business first.
It all started with Disney taking away many character meet and greets around the parks, and removing live entertainment. The people on the frontlines are often the first to come under fire when it comes to trying to cut budgets. While it’s sad to see it happen one can only hope that these measures are temporary as Disney heads into a period of incredible growth with the refurbishment and construction of new lands at multiple parks. Once these sections are open the demand for more Cast Members will indeed grow.
Disney also reduced the operating hours at many of the Future World attractions at Epcot as well. Reducing these hours requires fewer actual manpower hours and puts less stress on the attractions which ideally reduces their upkeep costs. These aare simple wasy fixes, and as upsetting as they are to think about are common at all businesses. Cut hours in hopes to save on payroll, simple. But what’s really made people upset are the hints of blatant cash grabs that are on the horizon.
Last month Disney extended out the Club Villain party at Disney’s Hollywood Studios while raising the ticket price. This special event with buffet a buffet of Southern style foods and live entertainment provided by Disney villains has been very well recieved and follows in the footsteps of other Disney hard ticket events like Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas, which just had their dates announced with more parties added to the schedule than in previous years. Same goes for events like Epcot’s Flower And Garden and Food And Wine Festival, with more days added Disney can get more people in sampling all of the edibles.
Then a couple weeks ago Disney began survey research on how Guests would feel about an imposed resort fee on top of their room rate to cover Disney’s Magical Express Transportation, wi-fi and other ammeneties the resorts already currently offer as free services. Feedback on this has been overly negative as many guests feel that the room prices are expensive enough but a little more palatable when taking into account the fact that they include these offerings.
Cut to this week when Disney announced a special after hours party that will give Guests access to the Parks for three hours after closing for $150. Some people are looking at this as a possible end to Extra Magic Hours, the ability for Disney Resort guests to have access to the Parks before or after their scheduled opening times to take advantage of smaller crowds. Also this week priority seating for parades and fireworks disappeared from FastPass+ availability, possibly signaling these as being available only as cash add on.
While the costs of going to the parks continue to grow, attendance still grows. I don’t think we’ll ever see a price freeze or a price drop, but what’s really important is taking a cost/benefit look at trips. Prior to moving to Orlando I had only been to Walt Disney World four times, and it took a lot of saving and planning. Was it worth the effort? Yes. Do I remember what I had to give up to make those trips? Not at all. Ultimately my vacations were indeed worth it, but if they were priced beyond my means I’d still find ways to get to the Kingdom. Whether that meant less frivolous spending, more saving, or staying off Disney property I’d find a way.
So while people might be painting the picture that things seem pretty dour, circling back to the original idea: Disney is a business. As long as there are Guests out there willing to pay for expanded accessibility, it will be a things. Even going back to the earliest days of Disney Parks ticket books were needed to visit attractions. Once you were out of tickets you couldn’t ride any more attractions unless you ponied up the cash for more. As long as Disney doesn’t resort back to any type of exclusionary policies like this I don’t think we have much to worry about.