Disney spending $1 billion on technological services to improve guest experience

Posted Friday, February 18, 2011 11:36 AM | Contributed by Raven-Phile

Future visitors to Walt Disney World will be able to reserve ride times from their home computers and bypass hotel check-in desks once they arrive at the resort, the head of the Walt Disney Co.'s global theme-park division said during an investors conference Thursday. Those advances are among of a series of technological initiatives Disney is developing in hopes of making visits to its increasingly crowded theme parks easier to plan and less intimidating to navigate.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

Monday, February 21, 2011 2:01 AM

I get that. That's what my "on the other hand" was all about.

If the day was over-packed with stuff on the itinerary, I wouldn't enjoy it. There would be pressures of having to be at a certain place at a certain time, all day long. Some people (not me right now lol) get that kind of pressure every day. "Can we visit this cool gift shop that we are near? No, we need to be at Splash Mountain in 5 minutes. Can I get something to drink? No, we're almost late for our train ride to Fantasyland." That sounds stressful, not fun.

But, if the itinerary is kind of loose, and would allow for stops along the way, it might be kind of cool. The window to be able to visit each attraction would have to be wide enough to allow for impulses ($), like snacks, shopping, and bathroom breaks. Some people just can't be expected to plan bathroom breaks months in advance.

Is this a way to help with WDW's crowd problem? If WDW wants to make wait times shorter, they need to add another park already. After the newness wore off, it would dilute the crowds, make lines in the entire multi-park complex shorter, and get some people to stay an extra day.

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Monday, February 21, 2011 2:11 AM

What pressure? You know how many Fastpasses I end up throwing away unused?

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Monday, February 21, 2011 11:34 AM

Lord Gonchar said:


Brian Noble said:
You could always do the picnic deal.
http://www.disneyfoodblog.com/2010/06/02/world-of-color-picnic-option-announced/

And that's a perfect example of the creative, upcharge preferred access (mentioned here) that the parks can do.

Exactly. So now what was a "Free for everyone" experience (assuming you camped out for a seat or planned accordingly), migrated to a "can't do it if you're not there at opening" and now it's metastasized into a "you can buy the picnic for $XX."

The 2 problems with that are: 1) Of course the reserved seating for the picnics and dining packages remove potential fastpasses that would have been assigned to the General public. The more picnics, the less tix at the machines, and there are a buttload of picnics. 2) that the picnic sales (on busy days) sell out by lunch time, which makes sense, given that they hand you the "picnic" at the time you buy it. Of course, there's the option that my family and friends have resorted to, which is just paying for the $40 upscale dining package, that you can RESERVE weeks in advance.

Genius on the part of Disney. A free spectacle, with original limited upsell potential (like DL's Fantasmic), has now morphed into a "if you want to see it at all, and your day didn't plan on you being there at 10:00 am, you almost have to book a big dinner package". I'm not complaining, just pointing out how this has changed my approach to going to DCA, and has yielded maximum dollars for Disney. In fact, they've been able to drop the "dining with the princesses" character dinner in lieu of the WoC dinner packages (same venue, same meal, no extra operating costs for 5 princesses and costuming, etc). So increased Sales of dinner packages, less operating costs, = HUGE WIN for Disney

Don't think for one second that NexGen isn't being modeled on this. The Glendale teams have scrutinized every aspect of WoC's operations, including timing of guest arrival at DCA, and the speed at which WoC tix run out, number of picnics, dining packages, etc. They are going to radically change the way the parks are 'utilized", and all of it while being marketed as "improving the guest experience" will no doubt be done with a thought of "maximizing revenue" as well. They may/may not be able to balance it all, but it will be radically different from the way you grew up going to amusement parks.

Last edited by CreditWh0re, Monday, February 21, 2011 11:50 AM
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Monday, February 21, 2011 11:48 AM

LostKause said:
"Can we visit this cool gift shop that we are near? No, we need to be at Splash Mountain in 5 minutes. Can I get something to drink? No, we're almost late for our train ride to Fantasyland." That sounds stressful, not fun.

But isn't that kind of how Virtual Queueing works already? Or seeing shows at parks - or anything at the park that is already time-based to begin with?

I think you're making working around a some preset times seem harder than it really is.

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Monday, February 21, 2011 12:15 PM

The virtual queuing I have done works on one attraction at a time - not laying out the entire day. I can see LK's point as having the whole day scheduled takes away a lot of spontanaeity. I don't see this as being the same as a pretty casual fast pass.

However, I think I would like the idea of having the day planned out if it prevents me from wasting time in lines and it means I can go about things the most efficient way possible.

Two different philosophies on how to spend your vacation.

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Monday, February 21, 2011 12:28 PM

Definitely different philosphies.

I see something like pre-planned itinerary as nothing more than a series of Fastpasses, in practice.

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Monday, February 21, 2011 12:52 PM

Exactly, with times to ride being within an hour or so window.

The people that seem to not want it are really becoming the 'standby' people. Much like on an airplane, you'll still have a chance at riding...if you're willing to wait in the Standby line.

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Monday, February 21, 2011 2:55 PM

that the picnic sales (on busy days) sell out by lunch time,

I believe you can pre-order them, either online or on the phone. That requires you to decide what day you are going to go, but that's not entirely unreasonable.

But, in the broader picture:

So now what was a "Free for everyone" experience (assuming you camped out for a seat or planned accordingly), migrated to a "can't do it if you're not there at opening" and now it's metastasized into a "you can buy the picnic for $XX."

Newsflash: Disney is in it for the money.

Most "regular" guests, who are only in the park a day or three a year, really prefer this to losing X hours waiting around for a show, because they can use their limited time in a more interesting way. Those "day guests" are known to be more profitable than the passholders, for a whole host of reasons.

It doesn't take long to connect the dots. I get being unhappy about it, but these sorts of things are as inevitable as gravity.

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Monday, February 21, 2011 3:33 PM

They may/may not be able to balance it all, but it will be radically different from the way you grew up going to amusement parks.

Going to a Disney theme park is already radically different than the way I grew up going to amusement parks...

I've always thought of Disney as a luxury park as far as theme/amusement/regional parks with rides & coasters go. It's never been cheap, and they've never ever tried to cater to people that coudln't afford to be pampered to some extent.

When I hear people complaining it reminds me of the people that complain about the prices of BMWs, Benzs, or even really high end cars. There are plenty of other cars out there in your price range, but those aren't for you. Sorry. I wish I could afford an Aston Martin. I'm thankful I have a car to drive, and won't complain because I can't afford a luxury.

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Monday, February 21, 2011 3:50 PM

Now if only BMW could find a way to let you pre-schedule what time you drive to the grocery store and the bank and the gas station... :)

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Monday, February 21, 2011 4:00 PM

Eh. I'll stick with This (though I do want some semi-decent looking Chrome rims that look better than Ford's crappy stock hub caps).

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011 2:33 PM

Seems like the logical place to put this - Disney is now preparing for their first FPs for character meet-and-greets. Closing of Toontown Fair meant Mickey had to move anyway, and now he's heading to the front of the park...I know Gonch is smiling somehwere, LOL.

Linky: http://tinyurl.com/4u8mdov

Last edited by rollergator, Tuesday, February 22, 2011 2:37 PM
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Tuesday, February 22, 2011 2:37 PM

Awesome!

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011 2:44 PM

rollergator said:
I know Gonch is smiling somehwere, LOL.

Linky: http://tinyurl.com/4u8mdov

The physical queue is dead.

It's just a matter of how long it takes everyone outside of Orlando to get the news.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011 3:53 PM

Generalissimo Francisco Franco is STILL dead! :)

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011 5:04 PM

I don't think it will be long until you will walk up to Mickey Mouse with your kid and Mickey will say:

"Gosh..hi Max. I heard you were going to be flying here from Washington to come see me and my friends. I think that is a great way to celebrate your 3rd birthday. Minnie tells me that your favorite ride is It's a Small World. I hope you have fun when you ride it later today. I'll call you tonight when you get back to the Wilderness Lodge and read you a goodnight story."

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011 11:40 PM

While I love the talking Mickey character, that's just creepy, Wahoo. lol

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011 10:00 AM

I want the moose to personally tell me that dragging Aunt Edna's dog behind the station was very bad, that carrying poor dead Aunt Edna herself across state lines is also not very nice, and that I should never shoot security guards with a BB gun.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011 11:56 PM

Nice national lampoon's vacation reference :).

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Thursday, February 24, 2011 11:55 PM

wahoo skipper said:
I don't think it will be long until you will walk up to Mickey Mouse with your kid and Mickey will say:

"Gosh..hi Max. I heard you were going to be flying here from Washington to come see me and my friends. I think that is a great way to celebrate your 3rd birthday. Minnie tells me that your favorite ride is It's a Small World. I hope you have fun when you ride it later today. I'll call you tonight when you get back to the Wilderness Lodge and read you a goodnight story."

I haven't heard anything lately about the talking Mickey they were testing in California, but there were rumors of it making its way to the East coast in the near future.

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