Hi Bob, it's me, Joe. I saw recently you had some thoughts on using pricing as a capacity restrictor. You are starting to realize a few things are very wrong at the parks, so let me walk you through your issues and my thoughts on what the issue is and how to fix it.
How We Got Here
After Walt Disney World stole all of Disneyland's presents in 2005 the war began. The Disney War was the ouster of Michael Eisner and your hiring for the first time, too. Congrats! After this development money at Walt Disney World started to dry up, with less and less capital going for permanent attractions and more spent on temporary entertainment or festivals. This of course helped through the 2008 Great Recession.
You know Potter changed everything, you green-lit the amazing Carsland and DCA 2.0 redo. But we got diminishing returns from the eventual re-dos of DAK, DHS, and Epcot - the constant meddling of marketing and cost-cutting has caught up. Remember this art, Bob? Do you think the Epcot redo was successful? I don't think it was successful. And I think there are other major projects that didn't land either - shall we discuss the Galatic Starcuriser?
What I really think messed y'all up is with FastPass+. Look, I think there is some really GREAT stuff with FP+ like moving all the dining to a central online system, modernizing all of WDW's data infrastructure, installing WiFi in the parks, and lots more. But FP+ was so costly and limiting that everything needed to be "on" the FP system. So instead of investing in new attractions y'all invested in ways to spread people through existing properties IMMEDIATELY. That's how we got those awkward benches in rooms, just to have a place for capacity reasons. And this whole issue gets exacerbated with Genie+.
Then you resigned before COVID-19 and Chapek took over. The maintenance in the parks have taken a hit, with numerous situations of rides failing, like TTA, Jungle Cruise, and Haunted Mansion. As I spent a week writing this article Pirates suffered a 7-hour downtime on a weekend. How can a theme park run reliably with such downtime? No wonder you can't lift reservations if daily guest capacity fluctuates by 14,000?
I feel pretty convinced that if Chapek's consultant-backed staff reductions would have decimated the parks division and WDI might not have survived. Chapek had one goal - make them pay, fuckos. The fact is, when you took over there was nothing left for Walt Disney World when you came back. You had a VP ready to quit, and your golden company ATM was finally about to break down.
It's The Capacity, Silly
- Tomorrowland Theater
- Stitch's Great Escape
- Wonders of Life
- Voyage of the Little Mermaid (DHS)
- Primeval Whirl
- Magic Kingdom nighttime parade
- DHS daytime parade and entertainment
- DHS nighttime fireworks
- DAK nighttime show
- DAK parade
- Stitch replacement attraction
- MK nighttime parade
- Play Pavilion
- Rivers of Light replacement
- DAK parade
- Primeval Whirl replacement
- Long-term Tomorrowland redo to address CoP and Buzz
- Update the 50+-year-old IASW and Peter Pan's flight
- Finally fix the Imagination Pavilion
- SSE ride system overhaul and refurbishment
- Replacing Voyage of the Little Mermaid and Star Wars Launch Bay
The parks don't just need a return to their old capacity but an EXPANSION of that capacity.
- Retail - Complete revamp of The Disney Stores with new a focus on three things - guarantee plush of new movie characters to build trust, Disney vacation travel advice and booking to branch the parks and stores, and finally tie shopDisney and Disney Stores together more with returns and shipping to the stores.
- Regional Kids Parks - Merlin built the formula and now Universal is jumping into the game, so Disney should toss its hat into the ring. Finally built the Mickey Mouse Park everyone joked Disneyland would be. Park would have some small flat rides, playgrounds, water features, pools, shows, and dining. Offer character breakfasts fireworks dessert parties, heck, and even build an on-site hotel with DVC.
- Touring Entertainment - Pixar Putt is a touring mini golf themed to Pixar. It's cute but expensive, and exactly what Disney should be doing. The demand is there and people want to get out and move in the post-lockdown world.