Walt Disney World boss says non-park investments will drive people to parks

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

Al Weiss, president of worldwide operations for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, told local government and civic leaders last week that the company expects new-to-Disney travelers who take a trip aboard the Disney Dream cruise ship, which launched in January, or book a room in Aulani, the Hawaiian hotel and time share that opens in August, will ultimately follow up with trips to Disney’s signature theme parks.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

Is it just me or does this make Al sound totally out of touch with reality?

"I've been born again my whole life." -SAVED
Jeff's avatar

No, I think he's right on. Everything Disney reinforces everything else Disney.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

Fun's avatar

It seems to me like it's the other way around: People that visit the parks are more likely to try these other services.

Lord Gonchar's avatar

I don't think it's a one-way street or even directional in any way. It's brand loyalty.

If you like the Disney experience (wherever - theme park, hotel, cruise, etc), you're likely to choose Disney again in the future when possible (wherever - theme park trip, cruise, Hawaiian vacation).

delan's avatar

On an unrelated but related note......nowadays when Disney Dream leaves Port Canaveral, its a big spectacle. The beach I frequent is right next to the channel and there is a deck to wave to the passengers as the ship departs. Royal Caribbean leaves the port, no one pays attention. Carnival leaves, eh. Disney Dream leaves, and everyone rushes to the deck. Plus its cool to see the Aqua-duck in action and hear the horns play to "When you wish upon a star".

I have never sailed from Port Canaveral,, but when the RCC ships leave Port Everglades or Miami, there are always folks waving along the channel. Disney only has 3 ships in service, with 1 on the way, but RCC has 22, so they are more frequently in and out of port.

Disney ships have more 'stuff' on the outside, like the slides, a snazzy paint job, but when I am on a RCC ship, I am just as excited when they head out of port. Those people waving, they didn't pay for my cruise, I did.

The difference isn't measured by the people waving. It's measured by cruise fares. Disney cruises run anywhere from a non-trivial premium up to an eye-popping one compared to other cruise lines with similar itineraries. We caught a break on our Alaska cruise this summer on the Wonder, and are paying "only" about 15-20% more than we would have on NCL for a similar cabin. My wife is paying nearly 50% more for a 7-day Caribbean next February on the Magic vs. a similar Carnival routing.

That could be due to limited supply. As you mention, there are only 3-4 ships in the line. But, with the Dream coming online this year, fares have gone *up*, not down, even on the two older ships.

Last edited by Brian Noble,
eightdotthree's avatar

Yeah, Disney has less ships so it's more special when one is leaving port.

Jeff's avatar

I don't think it's supply and demand, I think it's that their cruises are better. I'm not speaking from experience, but friends describe things cruises on Carnival and the like as floating 3-star hotels with mediocre buffets. Maybe that's not a fair assessment, I dunno, but everything Disney has shown to promote their line has been top notch.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

And really, it *has* to be because the cruises are better---or at least, people *think* they are. If they weren't better, people would not pay more to sail with them rather than NCL, etc.

Full disclosure: if it were up to me, we *would* have sailed NCL to Alaska rather than DCL. But, it was not up to me. :)

I have to believe you have a pretty significant percentage of "first time cruisers" traveling on a Disney ship because it is a Disney ship. And, Disney fanatics tend to be pretty loyal so it makes sense that they are winning people over. I'd love to know some of the demographics on repeat cruisers and so forth.

And, I'd also love to know what percentage of the Disney cruisers add on days at a WDW property. I sure see a lot of Disney busses heading out toward Canaveral every time I'm in the Orlando area.

Disney seems to be having a lot of success with their Disney Adventures travel program and they aren't doing anything other companies haven't done for years. But, the Disney brand is carrying a lot of weight.

Those could also be transfers from the airport---they use the same buses. But, I suspect it is non-trivial. They even have a land/sea package that combines 3/4 nights at WDW with 4/3 nights on the cruise.

I'm under a different impression about ABD. My sense has been that they have not been as successful as expected. But, I could be entirely wrong on that.

I would fall into that "first time cruiser" that chose a Disney cruise. But I did it for a simple reason, everything on board is geared to the kids. And as those with kids know, if they aren't having fun, I won't be either. I've booked my second cruise, and we really debated other cruise lines.

At the end of the day for my family, with smaller kids, it's about the activities being geared to them.

That being said, I think Disney's way of looking at it is simple. Let's give you many avenues to have your first Disney quality experience. No matter which you chose first, if you liked it you're more likely to choose the Disney option next time.

I think I'd rather let rabid hamsters claw my eyeballs out than go on a cruise -- Disney or otherwise.

My author website: mgrantroberts.com

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