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View Full Version : Why Shouldn't WDW close each Park One Day a Week?


Peter Pirate
09-30-2003, 03:09 PM
During Walt's time DLwas closed two days a week as I recall, yet today everyone bristles at the thought of this so I just thought I'd take a step back and look at the possibilities.

What if each Park could be closed one day per week during well stated slow periods (consistantly)? Say Epcot on Monday, MK on Tuesday, MGM on Wednesday and AK on Thursday. In return for this we could get "regular hours" restored at all Parks during open times with full staffing and operations of stores, concessions, entertainment, etc. The off day would certainly allow all essential cleanup, upkeep and minor rehabs from being done in front of the guest and the cutback in costs would probably result in a big net savings to the bottom line.

Now, I know you guys hate this idea, and mind you I'm not necessarily endorsing it, but IF (and that's a big if) we could get back some of the lost magic (speaking of hours, ambiance and better maintenance) might it not be a logical if not a good idea? If not why not?

Perhaps the Parks really do need a days rest in order to keep them vital and stop any downward maintenance trend as happened aat DL.

What do you think?

Captain Hook
09-30-2003, 03:14 PM
I really dont believe they would restore the hours, and if they did I believe in a few months they would reduce them again.

KNWVIKING
09-30-2003, 03:18 PM
I would be in favor of it happening only if all the cut-backs were fully restored,no compromising, 100% restored.

I can only be in one place at a time anyway and rarely have I hit all the parks on the same day.

Another Voice
09-30-2003, 03:33 PM
As just some more background - Disneyland was closed Mondays and Tuesday four or five months out of the year during the "slow season": parts of November & December, January and February. At the time over 70% of Disneyland's attendance lived within a two hour drive and L.A. area schools were mostly on the "traditional" Sept-June schedule. Tourist season was more pronounced with approximately 80% of out-of-town visitors showing up for Christmas and Easter weeks, and from Memorial Day to Labor Day. There was an "un-written" agreement between Disney and Knott's Berry Farm to make sure that at one of the two parks would be open every day (Knotts' taking Wed/Thu).

WDW, opened in 1971 when Disneyland would still have some 5-day weeks, was constructed as a resort and so from the beginning it was assumed that the Magic Kingdom (and later EPCOT Center) would be open every day.

JDH
09-30-2003, 05:30 PM
that if I'm paying for and Ultimate Park Hopper ticket, which lets me visit all parks on any given day, that I'm looking for the ticket to be priced accordingly if I'm not going to be able to do that based on the park closings. What do you think the chance of that happening?

As far as catching up on the maintenance during the day off I seem to remember that the parks were maintained during after hours quite well before all the cost cutting.

This seems to me a plan that would receive enthusiastic support from Ei$ner as, once again, the guest would get less and contribute the same or I bet more. I can't see trading what we as guests should get as the norm and have it become an enhancement.

Doing your job should not be an unexpected event.

The "corporate weasels", there's that phrase again, are not only impacting the Walt Disney Company but just about all of the others too! So I vote no.

raidermatt
09-30-2003, 08:40 PM
If everything was done as you lay it out in your hypothetical, then maybe I could roll with it. I would feel better about 3 parks being opened with great attention to the Show than 4 making a less than 100% effort.

Even so, I think it would just be a case of the lesser of two evils, instead of really making the best choices.

But in the real world, here's my issues with it, off the top of my head:
1- Not all hours and other cuts would be restored.
2- The other three parks would be more crowded.
3- The decision would still be a cost-based one instead of a product-based one.
4- Guests would have fewer options, making planning more difficult, especially for those on shorter trips.
5- Like the hours, I'm sure the closing days would not be published far in advance, again, making planning more difficult.
6- The savings realized would probably not be as great as we think, since there are still costs associated with the parks sitting idle. (All the more reason why I think the other hours and cuts would not all be restored... they would eat into the savings brought on by the closures)
7- A closed park is bad show. Besides just the idea of telling resort guests a park is closed, specifically AK being closed is bad Show for AKL guests, MGM being closed is bad Show for Epcot-area guests, Epcot being closed is bad Show for Epcot-area guests and monorail users, and MK being closed is bad Show for just about everyone.
8- Blah, blah, blah, yada, yada, yada, etc, etc, etc,...

Peter Pirate
09-30-2003, 09:03 PM
Certainly, as Matt pointed out this purly hypothetical, but it's different from a lot of what we talk about because it is doable.

It also appears that the biggest doubt in such a situation is whether Disney would actually 'pony up' (which would offset some of the savings) to return to the "days of yesteryear," in a manner of speaking. But if they did. If they actually went all out quality, guest service wise. If they truly put on the best show possible in all venues, I think the public would quickly forget that one Park per day would be closed. First of all, it wouldn't happen during the busy times, that would be lunacy and secondly, FP has really helped the wait time situation for those savvy enough to properly advantage themselves of it and thirdly, if it were well publicized there would be no surprises.

There would always be dillusionment, like was stated by JDH, but I think the cries of a few would be offset by a better Park experience...i.e. all rides open, longer hours, all entertainment functioning, etc. Plus the ability to maintain attractions better seems like a real positive especially in light of BTMRR.

I don't know. The loss of a Park, to me, would make planning harder, but if Disney were desiring to 'up the ante' on the competetion by reverting to the old ways, I think this possibly would be a way.

Planogirl
09-30-2003, 10:26 PM
I can almost see this happening at the Studios and AK. I can't see it happening at MK or Epcot.

MK is generally what most people think of when they think of WDW. I can't begin to count the number of times I've seen someone write that they check in and head over to MK right away. People expect MK to be there and to be available. Besides if MK is closed, where will all of those people that go there each day end up? Inundating the other three parks I guess!

I can't see it happening at Epcot either because of World Showcase. Disney clearly wants people to eat in the restaurants and shop in the stores in World Showcase. Besides during quieter times, only Epcot stays open late so you could end up with a lot of idle people if no parks were open later. I don't believe that Disney would see to it that another park remained open while Epcot was closed. I'm TRYING to but I can only imagine being urged to visit Downtown Disney.

crusader
10-01-2003, 07:35 AM
It's not going to work.

With the DVC in particular and the economic climate, vacations aren't as lengthy. You cannot limit your guest here.

I still have difficulty believing tomorrow's visitor is disillusioned by the changes we feel. Our children respond to our reactions more than anything else. Their needs are basic. They have a cavalier attitude with no financial woes and hopefully they have grown accustomed to certain restrictions by their parents. A child has a very simple perception of "show" and fun, which is why their experience at Disney is heavily dependent upon how the adult behaves.

Peter Pirate
10-01-2003, 08:03 AM
Planogirl, I agree that MK is the Park that would most likely shock folks if this were done, but I think they still could get away with it by making sure everything is right at MGM, Epcot & AK...On which days it would seem a 9:00 closing at Epcot & MGM would fit with MK being closed and AK closing at 5:00...Maybe it's just that logical part of me that says "hey, there are still three Parks to choose from," not to mention Water Parks. Plus we keep in mind that this would be only slow seasons (maybe 4 months per year, en totale?) and all Parks would be going down midweek.

Your Epcot point is a real fly in the ointment though. I agree that it may be tough to reconcile the closing of World Showcase due to the food & shopping aspects...Perhaps this is how the second/seperate gate could be introduced?

Crusader, I understand exactly what you're saying, but remember I'm talking about restablishing all Parks to full operating status while open...Meaning, nothing less than 8 or 9:00 closing at MK or MGM. Meaning fireworks and parades at MK everynight. Fantasmic everynight, twice if the crowd warrants. I think FW at Epcot would have to be restablished as open until 9:00 as well, with continued performances by the many entertainers...

I think if Disney could "wow" the guests again (in all of those little areas) and still reduce costs by the closures...I mean, I think folks would understand that certain times of the year the Parks will be on rotating schedules...I'm not saying there wouldn't be disappointment, maybe lots of disappointment, particularily in a MK closing, but I think a return to the core concepts lost just may make up for it...Plus isn't it the lack of uncertainty that bothers many? In this case I think the schedule would need to be an iron clad certainty...

Perhaps, I'm just being naieve, wouldn't be the first time and of course I'm talking about spending a good portion of the savings from the closure on "Show," which probably would never happen...But this is still a "what if" scenerio...

I think, aside from PG's point about Epcot, my biggest concern from an operational standpoint, is the one Matt brought up. Would enough money even be saved from the closures to fund the improvements and still cut some overhead?

airlarry!
10-01-2003, 08:07 AM
I have no problem with closing one park a day if hours from 9-7 were extended at all of the remaining parks. In fact, I can see a situation where Epcot Future World, MGM, and AK all go dark on a rotating basis (leaving the World Showcase open at night for dining only--a version of the twin park concept we talked about last summer).

Of course, saying that is the same thing as saying I have no problem with the thought of me winning the lottery Saturday night.

Current Disney management does not have the creative foresight to implement a three park closing two days a week, and the MK closing one day a week, and then boosting hours to insane levels (especially considering the fact that vacationers in Florida are just about year round now--we go during Mardi Gras every year to packed crowds, and our trip in the first week in December apparently will be crowded also). Then using this boost in a major marketing campaign that trumpets a return to the LandBaronesque days of strolling around the MK after midnight, of fireworks at 1:00 am, of Fantasmic showings twice nightly, of Illumniations 2004 blasting the lagoon at before midnight.

crusader
10-01-2003, 09:11 AM
I'm talking about restablishing all Parks to full operating status while open...

Yes, with the exception of one per day. Think carefully about how this would realistically play out. Guests are being deprived of a whole park which conceptually causes them to feel they are losing more than they are gaining. It's like being denied entry to something you've always been given complete access to.

What really happens when people are told they can no longer get into a place they are being charged for? Massive demands - overwhelming complaints - slew of backlash - outrage resonating within the vicinity of an innocent child's ear.

Do you honestly believe restoring hours and parades at the other parks will curb this level of emotional disarray?

Peter Pirate
10-01-2003, 09:17 AM
Do you honestly believe...
No, I don't. I only put this out here to hear informed opinions, like yours. There is a side of me that thinks yes, given time, PR, and great offerings elsewhere the negative could be overcome...But still the nagging "entitlement theory" that you bring up is always there, isn't it?

KNWVIKING
10-01-2003, 09:57 AM
I understand your point about paying full price for an UPH pass and not getting all four parks. But, if you're getting more hours at the other three parks with one park closed,that could be a worthwhile trade off valuewise. When you factor in all the restored perks- parades,shows,fireworks,SHOW, etc, IMO that makes my UPH pass more valueable with only three parks.

***"5- Like the hours, I'm sure the closing days would not be published far in advance, again, making planning more difficult." ***
Matt, why wouldn't the days be published well in advance ? Just say Oct-Nov, MK closed X day, MGM Y day, etc. That has to be a lot simplier then what they are doing now where the hours seem to flex with the crowds.

***"1- Not all hours and other cuts would be restored."***

Well, now you're changing the rules of the OP. The only way this could work would be full restoration. I understand your lack of trust that they would, but for the sake of this thread we have to assume they would.

morphi
10-01-2003, 11:40 AM
I don't think I like this plan either. One of the things that has frustrated me during my many WDW vacation over the past several years has been the nagging feeling like I am being herded where the corporate weasels want me to go. They herd me by limiting my choices, closing things, and offering things in strategic ways. Here are the various ways they already herd me where they want me to go:

WS opens late
FW closes early
Attractions shuttered
Attractions open late
Attraction close early
Entire lands open late
Entire lands close early
Spectromagic only showing 1 time per week
Fireworks only showing 1 time per week
All parks close early so everyone goes to DTD to spend $$$
Pools close early

Vacationing should not be so complicated. I'm an independent kind of person and I start to resent it when I feel like I am being herded like a sheep. This feeling was very pronounced a few weeks back during my last vacation when all the parks were closed early so I went to DTD. The stores were absolutely MOBBED. You could barely wedge yourself into the aisles. I felt like the corporate weasels got just what they wanted out of their sheep by closing the parks and having everyone go spend money at DTD. I HATE feeling like a sheep. But with stratgeic closures, limited hours, etc. you pretty much don't have a choice anymore.

By having a rotating schedule for entire parks being open, you just give them one more tool to use to hard you even more effectively.

Lewisc
10-01-2003, 11:47 AM
I read that Disney was considering closing AK 1 or 2 days a week. They found they wouldn't save much $. The staffing required for the animals negated a lot of the savings. They decided to try to improve the park instead.

KNWVIKING
10-01-2003, 01:00 PM
***"By having a rotating schedule for entire parks being open, you just give them one more tool to use to hard you even more effectively"***

But the point is that with one park closed the remainder would all be fully restored to their past glory.You wouldn't be herded to one Spectro because there wouldn't be just one. No closed land-all would be open when the park opens. Ride refurb would remain the same, but this is to be expected regardless.

raidermatt
10-01-2003, 01:02 PM
Matt, why wouldn't the days be published well in advance ? Just say Oct-Nov, MK closed X day, MGM Y day, etc. That has to be a lot simplier then what they are doing now where the hours seem to flex with the crowds. Because I don't see the reasons hours are not posted in advance changing, and the same reasoning applies to closing the parks. I'm not saying they COULDN'T post them well in advance, just that they consider it necessary to not set hours more than a month or so in advance. I don't see them giving up that flexibility, as clearly they feel it has value to them.

Well, now you're changing the rules of the OP. The only way this could work would be full restoration. I understand your lack of trust that they would, but for the sake of this thread we have to assume they would. I know, but that's why I mention why it wouldn't work in the real world.

Some of my other reasons, like the bad Show aspects, still apply even in the hypothetical.

Closing MK would just be ludicrous. The monorail would run by a closed park all day... All those MK area guests would have views of a closed park...

See, here's the problem I have with getting completely into the entire hypothetical here: If those making these decisions REALLY had maintaining the Show as their primary directive, and weren't being forced into diminishing the guest experience, then they wouldn't need to close parks in order to provide the best experience at the other parks in the first place.

Its not that I have a problem discussing it, its just that I can't help but qualify my answers...

Peter Pirate
10-01-2003, 01:15 PM
But things have changed...In order to "get back" to where Disney was once is nearly impossible. I started thinking of this after the BTMRR accident and then noting how much DL was allowed to deteriorate and why and a lot of the maintenance issues are the same I suppose EXCEPT the Parks are now open all of the time. When is maintenance to be done? Oh, I know Landbaron would have us go back to nightime work but the feasibility based on cost alone pretty much rules this out in todays world...Besides how many qualified laborers would be willing to work nights to do these things for 4 Parks and 2 Water Parks? If you could find the staff, again, at what cost?

Therefore, in order to do many of the unmagical duties, repairs and upgrades that need to be done to keep the Show Magical it appears a day off is one of the only answers.

Matt, I noticed you said closing MK is unthinkable, but why really? Do you think the obsticles couldn't be overcome?

Lastly, with your comment regarding the Companies quest for quality, my point here was perhaps those within the Company who really insist on the "old way" could possible be heard if they could find a way to do it and actually reduce costs at the same time. The question is could they do it AND cust costs at the same time?

Another Voice
10-01-2003, 01:31 PM
"The question is could they do it AND cust costs at the same time?"

Through the end of Disney's 3rd quarter (June 2003), the Parks unit has made more around a billion dollars. And that's not even counting the extremely profitable summer months of Q4.

So why should I - the ticket buying, hamburger purchasing, plush spending guest - give up yet even more of my vacation dollars' value so Mikey can add a few money pennies to his aleady overflowing parachute?

How much are the guests supposed to loose so that Disney executives need not feel any pain?

I think Dsiney would be far better off trying to figure out ways to make people WANT to go to WDW rather than figuring our more ways of squeezing more bucks from the decling number who go in spite of everything.

Peter Pirate
10-01-2003, 01:35 PM
I don't disagree with you Mr. Voice (believe it or not) but in the current era, with ME running the show I find it interesting to bandy about logical (sort of) "what ifs" to discuss. Sure Eisner will probably never care to do these things but in my mind I'd like to know could it be done. Could both masters be served?

crusader
10-01-2003, 01:51 PM
Peter -

All things aside, the only way it would stand any chance of acceptance is if they restructure the park hopper to incorporate a 3-park ticket. But, that defeats the purpose.

I agree with you regarding the maintenance issue. I would hope corporate scales back the overhead allocation to directly finance whatever improvements are necessary to keep the parks well manicured and safe.

morphi
10-01-2003, 02:07 PM
But the point is that with one park closed the remainder would all be fully restored to their past glory.You wouldn't be herded to one Spectro because there wouldn't be just one. No closed land-all would be open when the park opens. I suppose you are right Viking that those were the assumptions of the original post. If you could guarantee these rules, I may be interested in such a deal. I'd still feel like I was being herded, but probably not as much as I do now.

But I still wonder if the general public would value the "small" positives gained in this bargain (all lands open all the time, late hours, more Spectro, all rides open) less than the "large" negative of only having three parks to choose from on any given day.

And how did we get to the point where we need to choose between all parks being open vs. being nit-picked about what is open and for how long? Wasn't there a time when everything was open all the time? What has changed since then? Surely attendance is at about the same level and ticket prices have covered inflation. What changed?

morphi
10-01-2003, 02:10 PM
{duplicate post}

Peter Pirate
10-01-2003, 02:16 PM
And how did we get to this point where we need to choose between all parks being open vs. being nit-picked about what is open and for how long? Wasn't there a time when everything was open all the time?
Well, I don't think we've really gotten anywhere since this is all "pretend." But, my concern with everything being open all of the time are things like (first and foremost) the GTMRR accident and the painting/repairing in public view issues, etc. As Mr. Voice showed us, in Walt's DL, the Parks DID have off days and so I believe the work required every evening after the Park closed was probably not as extensive as after they and WDW were opening 7 days a week. Perhaps this change in policy at DL directly affected the future maintenance issues at DL. Mr. Voice, any thoughts?

Another Voice
10-01-2003, 02:52 PM
Disneyland went dark two days a week for attendance isssues, not for maintenance. In the "pack the kids in the station wagon for the annual two week summer vacation to visit Aunt Flo" days of the 1960's it made sense. Today it's the "jet off for a quick week stay and I'll answer my e-mail from the hotel" world. WDW is a year-round resort now. It has to act like one.

The fact that the Magic Kindgom has run more than three decades (and Disneyland closing in on two) without requiring down time for maintenance proves that running an "open all days" park is possible. The difference is in the quantity and the quality of maintenance being done - not the time of day. A lightbulb really doesn't care when it gets changed.

The "maintenance dark days" is just anther cover for "slash the costs and make the guests pay". None of the past cuts were offset by additions elsewhere, no scracfice now will be rewarded in the future. It's a pleasant PR spin to think that, but it ain't true. Entertainment is not a zero-sum game.

You either make something a lot of people are willing to pay for, or you don't. Disney is losing its appeal and, rather than fix that problem, is trying to hike the margins on what's left.

It won't work no matter how it's phrased.

Peter Pirate
10-01-2003, 03:01 PM
Thanks for DL history Voice.

Remember this thread didn't originate from anything I read from Disney, it was just my imagination and while I concede that if Disney (ME) does try something like this it will probably not be for the reasons I have outlined. But you saidIt won't work no matter how it's phrased.
Do you mean to say that (given good intentions) it couldn't work?

KNWVIKING
10-01-2003, 03:16 PM
***"But I still wonder if the general public would value the "small" positives gained in this bargain (all lands open all the time, late hours, more Spectro, all rides open) less than the "large" negative of only having three parks to choose from on any given day."***

This is OT and I'm just thinking out loud, or "out keyboard" so to speak, but I wonder if the general public even realizes many of the cut backs we discuss here ? Do they know Toontown opens later ? Do they know that the observation deck is now closed to the public ? Just curious.

morphi
10-01-2003, 03:35 PM
I wonder if the general public even realizes many of the cut backs we discuss here ? Do they know Toontown opens later ? Do they know that the observation deck is now closed to the public ? Just curious. I bet that a lot do not notice, but even those that do, probably do not think it's a big deal. They don't compare it to the good ol' Disney days, they compare it to Six Flags, or Knot's Berry Farm, or whatever. So when they see that Adventureland opens late, it doesn't impact them on a conscious level.

But I still think there is an impact. With short hours, sporadic fireworks and spectro, closed attractions, the satisfaction index may still be a 6 (on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the best). But if it takes an 8 to turn a first time guest into a return-time-and-time-again and I-can't-wait-to-bring-my-kids-and-grandkids enthusiast, Disney's prospects for future attendance and guest loyalty takes a hit.

But that's the problem. Disney is perceived as slightly or moderately leading the class of theme parks like Universal or Knot's instead of being in a completely different class altogether.

morphi
10-01-2003, 03:47 PM
Thinking about closing one park down per day made me question if there really is an over-supply of parks at WDW relative to the number of people that visit WDW. Does anyone have any numbers showing the number of guests-days (the number of guests in one year times the average number of days they were on property in that year) for WDW as a whole (not for each park on its own) over the last 5-10 years? Or, barring hard numbers or estimates, could anyone take an educated guess about if the numbers have been increasing or decreasing and to what extent?

Another Voice
10-01-2003, 04:04 PM
"Do you mean to say that (given good intentions) it couldn't work?"

I really think it wouldn't.

People go to WDW to see the parks. Sure all the rest of the stuff adds to the experience but the parks are the draw. It would be like a casino resort in Vegas closing its gaming floor, or Hawaii closing its beaches, or a movie theater opening up just the snack bar for lunch.

People focus on a destination's main attraction. If it's not working, people are going to be upset (or never show up in the first place).

Nemo87
10-01-2003, 08:00 PM
Guest throw a fit when an attraction is closed if they closed a park it would even be worse.

PKS44
10-01-2003, 09:58 PM
Originally posted by morphi:
But that's the problem. Disney is perceived as slightly or moderately leading the class of theme parks like Universal or Knot's instead of being in a completely different class altogether.

There was an excellent economic analysis of Disney on mouseplanet.com about 2 years ago that pointed out the slippery slope Disney was treading by trying to compete with the cheaper options...basically you can be a high cost but high priced place if people see the value in the higher prices (which they will if you spend and give them all you can) or you can be a lower cost place and still try to charge high prices but then you invite lots of other competition that wants to get in on that kind of deal-that competition then starts a process of price wars and cost cutting that drags you down from being a special place like a Saks Fifth Avenue or barney's to a Wal-Mart...and eventually just another commodity where price fluctuates with demand....a far cry from the lofty position that a Disney once enjoyed when it was willing to spend a lot to charge a lot...there are not many competitors willing to take those risks and Disney thrived as such an entity..it has not thrived trying to do what Pirate is suggesting -serving the cost control master and the quality master as the same time.

goofyguy1958
10-02-2003, 05:59 PM
I like the idea. In recent times, it seems that most reports, from friends and family returning from WDW, center around what cut back has effected ones perception of the DisneyWorld experience. I have gotten good reviews from first timers , but anyone who has been before does nothing but complain about how the hours are much shorter, it doesn't seem like the upkeep is as important, etc. etc. If Disney does not start to look at these types of complaints, I am affraid that the reduced attendence, that everyone is reporting, may be the norm rather than the exception. Where will they cut back then? Where will we be then?:(

doubletrouble_vb
10-02-2003, 06:31 PM
In a perfect world...

1. One park being closed off to me for two of my seven days of vacation? Since I only see two parks a day except on my last day I could see it if the dates were Tuesday and Wednesday. However I would not be a happy camper unless I got the full monty and even then its TWO DAYS being shortchanged.
2. A more acceptable option might be just Wednesdays in one park other than AK. Move 8 hours of coverage over to the remaining two parks (any two of MGM, EPCOT and MK) distributed in whatever way is most workable...a later closings at MK and MGM would be my vote but that would affect the dinner crowd in EPCOT.

In THIS world I don't see it working at all and would rather see ME add a new festival in EPCOT late January or early February.

lauzon13
10-02-2003, 06:37 PM
Never ever. I love being able to go anywhere at anytime. Just knowing that the park may be emptier is sometimes nicer. I like spending some time in an emptier park Yes, it's selfish but it feels like I have the parks to myself.

C.Ann
10-02-2003, 09:32 PM
Originally posted by Another Voice
"The question is could they do it AND cust costs at the same time?"

Through the end of Disney's 3rd quarter (June 2003), the Parks unit has made more around a billion dollars. And that's not even counting the extremely profitable summer months of Q4.

So why should I - the ticket buying, hamburger purchasing, plush spending guest - give up yet even more of my vacation dollars' value so Mikey can add a few money pennies to his aleady overflowing parachute?

How much are the guests supposed to loose so that Disney executives need not feel any pain?

I think Dsiney would be far better off trying to figure out ways to make people WANT to go to WDW rather than figuring our more ways of squeezing more bucks from the decling number who go in spite of everything.
------------------------------------------------------

My sentiments EXACTLY !!

exDS vet
10-03-2003, 01:21 AM
I'm just wondering if we have all become a bit spoiled where WDW is concerned. It seems like the majority of people out there want nothing to do with reduced hours, or parks being closed one day each week. I think we might be both spoiled and selfish.

Then I read the complaints about parades, fireworks, Spectromagic, etc not being offered every single day. I must remind you that prior to WDW's 25th Anniversary celebration, all of these extras were only offered seasonally and/or on weekends. It seems like the "s" word (seasonal) should not apply, when in fact, it must.

On one of my annual week-long trips to WDW, I only spent about two hours at AK. At the time, I felt like I short changed myself. But it only made me appreciate that park much more, the following year.

Here are my ideas which will not be popular.
1. Keep shortened park hours during all slow seasons.
2. Extend hours for holiday periods and summer.
3. Close MGM, Epcot and AK one day each week (seasonally)
4. Close BB in the fall and TL in the winter
5. FW goes back to pre 9/11 hours
6. Don't open MK "lands" at different times
7. Maintain reduced entertainment schedule on seasonal basis.
8. Maximize all entertainment schedules during peak seasons.

Let's be thankful that the Disney parks don't close down for entire seasons like the Six Flags and other parks do. Let's be happy with what we have. Things may not be perfect in the "world". But they are better than anywhere else.

Besides, it only has to be "practically perfect in every way.":wave2:

PKS44
10-03-2003, 07:12 AM
WDW is not Six Flags- it is a resort destination competing with Vegas, Hawaii, etc. No body travels across the ocean to visit Six Flags.

Seasonal would be fine except that Disney now tells us and charges us as if October is regular season but the hours and entertainment are more like off season.

As already pointed out-there is no real savings in closing AK- its operating costs are too high whether it is open or closed.

Nobody needs to "thankful" to Disney for anything...they are providing a service which we pay for- pay ALOT for- if they do not deliver what we pay for- we can take our business to one of those other resort destinations that may either give us more or charge us less.

Peter Pirate
10-03-2003, 07:58 AM
I've heard a lot of good thoughts. Certainly we are not beholding to Disney. We should NEVER feel grateful for what they give us.

I agree that the monetary effects of closing AK would probably be minimal, but I still choose to look at this from a "serving both masters" POV. I still wonder is it feasible.

Also, I only suggested closing each Park one day per week, closing any park for two days a week is a different subject. And as outlined, MK HAS to be included as the MK is in probably more need than any Park with regard to maintenance issues.

As far as plannning and availability to do what we want I don't see the relevence except for folks like myself (AP'ers who rarely stay more than 3 nights at a time). Otherwise, a fully staffed and operating AK, Epcot & MGM will certainly be able to carry the load during small times without overcrowding...Remember this is off peak times only.

Lastly, I again thank AV for the historical perspective of DL when it was closing, but I must say I find it hard to believe that Disneyland chose to perform all 'routines' during the night instead of during the black days...There would be no sense in that.

Again, I could be wrong and I respect all of the thought out opinions proffered, but it would seem that a MK offering all attractions, options, parades and fireworks for somewhat longer hours 6 days a week is better than the current 7 day schedule...

Another Voice
10-03-2003, 08:45 AM
"Also, I only suggested closing each Park one day per week, closing any park for two days a week is a different subject."


If I remember correctly, the biggest labor savings from closing the parks is the ability keep one "set" of staff. If a park is open five days a week the dark days become the "weekend" for the majority of in-park employees. For example everyone on the 'Jungel Cruise' works Wednesday through Sunday. But if the park is closed only one day, then you need people to staff the extra day. Causual or temporary employees still cost money, even if they work only on Tuesdays. With benefits, the extra costs of the support infrastructure and taxes, it may not be worth it just to have a single down day.


"but I must say I find it hard to believe that Disneyland chose to perform all 'routines' during the night instead of during the black day."

But Disneyland only had short weeks for just a part of the year - the place was already set up to do the rountine maintenance (painting, light bulbs, cleaning) during seven-day operations. It was never of a case of "We'll wait until February to fix that curb". Also, since the closures came in the middle of winter (it does get cold here too) it wasn't like a lot of gardening could go on. And without thousands of guests trampling through, there wasn't that much maintenance to happen anyway. And two days isn't enough time to do a rehab on a ride or such - attractions still went down for a couple weeks each year even with the two "free" days.

At best, the closures allowed some work to go on with having to distrub the guests, but it wasn't a magical period that allowed everything to be instantly fixed. Remember, WDW ran thirty years in pristing condition with a break. The maintenance condition at the parks these days has to do with the way the company is being run, not becuase us guests are greedily demanding the parks remain open the full seven days of our expensive vacation.

sters
10-05-2003, 08:53 PM
No. What would likely happen is that people would go to Universal if thier favorite park was closed that day.

And, really, can you see Epcot, with all it's good dining options, closing?

Planogirl
10-05-2003, 10:31 PM
I remember one time when we were staying at the Polynesian Resort back in the time before the cutbacks and we happened to be there when MK was reserved for senior night. We were herded out of MK early and we returned to our hotel. We could certainly see MK across the water and I heard more than my fair share of grumbling about not being able to go there. It was odd to have the park so close and not be able to go there at 6 in the evening!

If people can be resentful when this happens for one evening, how can Disney justify this on a regular basis? After all MK IS WDW to a lot of people.

As for people leaving to visit Universal, some have already started doing that.

tixx
10-06-2003, 03:57 PM
open the park till midnight

Testtrack321
10-08-2003, 08:37 PM
No. I use a Mac since it gives me controll of my computing experence. I want that same controll over my Disney vacation. Also, times were different back in Walt's day. DL wasn't a destination resort, it was a small local park.

I spend loads of money to go to WDW, so why should I be told that I can't go to Epcot because MGM, MK, and AK are all open?

Peter Pirate
10-08-2003, 08:45 PM
TT, my friend, I thought I'd told you the "why's" of the proposal...;) But since you (and others) don't want the change as I propose it, I guess that means you're happier with the way the hours, fireworks, attraction openings are currently being run?

I mean my supposition is for a return to expectation meeting or exceeding 6 days a week vs. the status quo for 7...

Another Voice
10-09-2003, 01:07 AM
Kinda of funny how they used to exceed everyone's expectations seven days a week...

...and now you're asking us just to have them met six days a week.

No wonder WDW has lost it's hold on the public's imagination. Somehow the motto "The Place Were The Magic Occasionally Shows Up When the Margins Are To Our Liking" doesn't really drive people into a wild frenzy to spend money.

crusader
10-09-2003, 06:52 AM
The cutbacks are not causing people to steer clear of WDW for their vacations. I've only met a handful here who unequivocally have stated that. Nowhere else am I hearing this complaint.

The only reason I see for not dropping thousands on Disney is that there is no longer free flowing cash available to many families. Remember, the nineties were booming but not simply because individuals were bringing in more disposable income. That was a facade. Households were freeing up money through other means - the most common of which were pension distributions, refinancing, home equity loans and capital gains.

Unfortunately, it was all spent on SUV's, large homes, vacations and consumer goods. Now, there isn't any savings, the job market has dried up and the debt is due. Families have very limited amounts of money left to spend.

But then Disney did something unprecedented with the FTP campaign. They made the vacation more affordable and the bookings increased. What this tells me is that consumers weren't passing up this vacation because of the "slippery slope" theory - it was a basic financial decision.

Peter Pirate
10-09-2003, 08:06 AM
...it was a basic financial decision.
Absolutely correct sir!

Mr. Voice, no need to steer the thread back to the same ole debate. I understand your view. I don't disagree with many things but this whole conversation is a big "what-if"... Sure, maybe we used to be able to expect "x, y & z" from Disney but now we're only getting "x" and sometimes "y", what's wrong with a simple discussion that includes the realities of today (i.e eisner is the boss, the company is a multinational-conglomerate and Walt is dead) and a scenerio that could get us "x, y & z" again on a six day basis vs. seven? It's just fodder for discussion...

It seems to me like three parks is still quite a choice from Disney and throw in SW & USF and the consumer still has a plethora of choices. Although dollars to donuts tells me that a succssful implementation of this program will have USF doing the same over there one day a week (midweek).

I'm simply saying if this were the ONLY way we were going to see a resumption of the hours and services that we used to expect vs. the status quo, isn't it worth consideration?

Another Voice
10-09-2003, 10:10 AM
"They made the vacation more affordable and the bookings increased."

That exactly proves the point - Disney has overpriced their offerings. People are still willing to spend: cruise ships are full, ariline fares are high, even Disneyland's attendance is up.

But there are two sides to the value equation - you either offer a lot for people's money or you ask for less of it.

Disney seems systematically incapable now of offering more. Cut hours, reduced meals sizes, shuttered shops and whole lands, mothballed hotels, "guess today's park hours" trip planning, and nickel-and-dime the experience at every change (ooh - ride photos, how "magical").

It's a valid option, but one more suited to Wal Mart than a professed "world wide brand leader". The Company has choosen cheaper themselves because they think it's the easier and quicker way to more money. And becaue they think there are enough people dumb enough to go along with it.

They're wrong. Check out the numbers for Califorina Adventure and you'll see EXACTLY how much people pay for The Brand without Value.

PKS44
10-09-2003, 10:22 AM
The economy excuse is just that-an excuse-good companies find a way to keep their customers coming.

How is it that in the midst of the WORST prolonged economy slump in several generations over in Japan that OLC has built and is enjoying amazing success with their them parks?

How in this country is Harley Davidson thriving in a time when people are supposedly unable to spend on luxury/leisure?

Try going to Vegas and telling the people there about the bad economy--if they can hear you over the crowds...

Sorry- the buck just is not stopping at WDW because WDW keeps passing the buck instead of looking at their own failures.

crusader
10-09-2003, 10:45 AM
AV

To say that disney "overcharged" and had to now discount because the public wised up and abandoned the parks is really off the mark.

What if there were no cutbacks everything was fully restored and the prices were adjusted for inflation.

Do you honestly believe the bookings would be higher right now? No way.

There are so many people scrounging for money who really can't afford the trip. It is not because of the hours or the refurbishments or the parade schedules or the food portions. It is because of the money. There is less available to spend and options are being weighed very carefully.

PKS44-

The economy is a great theoretical debate to dismiss. It symbolically refers to a litany of issues. What I am talking about is a person's livelihood. Their financial condition, so to speak. It is not thriving for many people and there has been a tremendous shift in spending. That doesn't mean leisure and entertainment has ceased - it means less is being put out.

Vegas is offering discounts. Retail is in a slump. You can't look around and dismiss the reality staring back at you. I see it everytime I step foot in my local shopping districts. I hear people tell me how bad it is for their families.
It is not a concept. People are living it.

Another Voice
10-09-2003, 11:03 AM
Wasn't it in yesterday's speech where Rausalo said WDW's target market was the $65,000-$70,000 annual income household?

Hardly the foodstamp crowd.

There is no such thing as an absolute price. Something is worth whatever someone else is willing to pay for it. A company has to find the balance between their costs and the public's perceived value for the product.

Right now for all indications, WDW's perceived value is very low. Even Disney understands that as shown by the incredable array of discounts they are offering. Another tact would have been to offer so much for the money that people's perception of value would have been increased. That was how WDW operated for thirty years. It has [U]never[/I] been a cheap vacation but pepole always figured it was worth it - and that was at times of 20% inflation, 10% unemployment and gas rationing that makes todays "sluggish recovery" seem like boom times to anyone not running for office.

A clearer example of Disney's value is here at California Adventure. A day park plopped right down in the middle of the long, largest, most loyal customer base the company has - and no one shows up. The place is an economic disaster.

It's not because people are unwilling to travel - it's an hour's drive. It's not because people don't have the disposable income - it's the same price as Disneyland. It's not that people hate Disney - Disneyland's attendance is up (and it's less than a hundred yards away).

DCA is a failure because people think it's not worth the money. WDW has the same problem, but on a much larger scale because of the cost involved.

Disney's "have pity for the times are bad" routinue is getting a little old. They have done nothing proactive to fix the problem, they've only done the cheapest, the easiet, the highest margin efforts possible. All they've done is to force their problems onto the guests. It is a tactic that is against Disney's past operating practices and runs counter to what has worked for them before.

People understand that. And they don't like it.

PKS44
10-09-2003, 11:34 AM
Originally posted by PKS44
How is it that in the midst of the WORST prolonged economy slump in several generations over in Japan that OLC has built and is enjoying amazing success with their them parks?

crusader
10-09-2003, 11:41 AM
Wasn't it in yesterday's speech where Rausalo said WDW's target market was the $65,000-$70,000 annual income household?

Sounds good but what does that really mean? Is this a two-income household or one? If both are working, someone isn't getting paid very much - and who's minding the kids?

Take at least 20-25% off the top for every tax known to man (school/state/local/federal/social security/sales tax/utilities/gasoline; etc) and that family is down to about $4200/month to spend on everything - best case.

So after the mortgage/rent;car payments;food;insurance;utilities; and incidentals -

There isn't very much available for tuition; home improvements; travel; leisure and entertainment.

For many people a "value" is perceived as a coupon rather than a perk. If I heard Rasulo correctly, Disney has indirectly acknowledged this "bargain" shopping philosophy by doubling the size of their value resorts.

Another tact would have been to offer so much for the money that people's perception of value would have been increased.

Which is the philosophy I hear over and over again on these boards. My main problem with it is that this requires a company to implement inflationary adjustments in order to sustain the operating results they are accustomed to. I don't believe Disney can raise their prices to meet this standard. It won't sell.

raidermatt
10-09-2003, 11:58 AM
I'm just wondering if we have all become a bit spoiled where WDW is concerned. It seems like the majority of people out there want nothing to do with reduced hours, or parks being closed one day each week. I think we might be both spoiled and selfish.
No, we are just consumers who expect a certain value for our dollar. "Spoiled" is a personal judgement, and when it comes to business, you can't simply tell your customers they are spoiled and that they need to suck it up.

A lot of people try to complicate matters, but the basic principles are really very simple. The larger the benefit you offer to your customers, the higher the price point they are willing to support. Regardless of what level that benefit was, if you lower it, demand for your product will decrease. The result must either be lower prices or a decreased sales quantity.

Unless all of your competitors decrease the benefit side of the value equation along with you (and remember, Disney's competitors are not just other amusement parks), you are going to be forced down the ladder perception-wise.

You can't explain those basic business laws away with a personal sampling of your acquaintances, or by making your own value judgement that consumers are just spoiled. You also can't circumvent them with marketing. All you can do is accept them, and attempt to succeed within them.

Disney is marketing themselves as the same old premium experience, however the reality is that they are lowering the level of that experience. A sterling reputation will carry you with consumers for awhile, especially when the average cycle between visits is measured in years, but eventually, they will catch on.

Another Voice
10-09-2003, 12:02 PM
Yet the Disney Cruise Lines charges a premium over other cruises of comparable class and the Mouse's ships are full.

Why? - Because people are willing to pay extra for something extra.

The "financial burden" at WDW are not the results of problems at the park. Look at the financials, they've already made a ton of money this year and that's factoring in losses from Disneyland and Euro Disney.

The parks - and since DCA it's been WDW alone - have had to continuly pump out cash so that Disney can show their promised "20% growth per year" to keep all those options afloat.

A normal business in rough times would accept a little less return so they a) won't turn off their existing customers and b) cheapen their product.

But that's exactly what Disney has done. More and more people are complaining about the conditions and operations of the parks. The constant and unimaginative discounting has lowered the perceived price point for Disney products (you think anyone is going to pay full admission to Califorina Adventure or the published room rates for a WDW resort again?).

I'm not saying that all you have to do is to restore the Magic Kingdom's midnight closing and everything will be fine. But Disney's solutions to the problems (which started long before 9-11) have always been the easiest, least guest-friendly possible. For a company that prides itself on imagination and customer service, such a tactic is a disaster.

There's only so long you can cut back before it dramatically hurts you. Disney has passed that point.

crusader
10-09-2003, 12:28 PM
Actually I agree.

There's a point where the cuts have an impact. We're not there. In fact, the recent announcements have indicated an attraction investment prioritization plan which is very favorable.

But comeon! This value and perception business model ideology hasn't actually caused a decline in attendance. It is a theory in print only - not in practice here.

A WDW vacation is still regarded as a big deal to afford mainly because of the added cost of the park tickets - which tack on over $1000.00.

You have to convince yourself: is it worth spending that extra grand upfront on a vacation?

People know what the theme parks offer and are deciding whether that level of fun is worth the money.

It isn't because the park hours have changed or other cutbacks have taken place.

It is because Disney requires the vacationer to come up with more money than the competition for a trip in order to experience attractions and exhibits.

That means choice. Do they really want that so much they are willing to make the financial commitment this year? Or
Are they going to put it off until they can better afford it.

What the FTP did was say: You need less than that $1000.00 so make the trip now. And many consumers did.

That's where the business model falls short. People don't have that extra grand so freely today, and aren't very willing to part with it. The most pristine vacation destinations in the country aren't going to get it out of their hands right now. By Disney inadvertantly offering a special package which allowed consumers to apply the money toward discretionary spending they were quickly able to grab the business away from the competition.

PKS44
10-09-2003, 03:50 PM
Most of the people I know either have no interest in going or if they have been in the past love going and want to go back soon...except those who have been there for the first time more recently...
Also still waiting for an answer to this question from any of those who cite the economy as an explanation for Disney's woes.

quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by PKS44
How is it that in the midst of the WORST prolonged economy slump in several generations over in Japan that OLC has built and is enjoying amazing success with their them parks?
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

scoop has a good point about saturation though...DCL, DL, DCA, WDW, DLP, TDL and TDS....they may have cannibalized their own market.

Also their key demographic has aged and they are not poised to hold onto them as they go from 8 to 10 now 15-17years old

Testtrack321
10-09-2003, 04:48 PM
I never said that I was happy, but do you think Mr. Pirate that the money will go back to late evenings, more fireworks, and more rides open? I doubt it. Closing rides isn't an answer to the cost problem. Most people go for 5 days. If they go to each of the parks for 4 days, but then want to go to MK, only to find it closed, will they head to Epcot? MGM? Mabey AK? Nope. They'll go to Sea World and Universal. Remeber, not a lot of people buy the hopper passes or even the lenth of stay. Many wing-it, day-by-day, buying their tickets as they get into the parks.

BUT what I think would be a fair trade-off would be to have one park have an early close & late open while the others have a late close & early open. I think that would be a good idea.

crusader
10-09-2003, 04:56 PM
How is it that in the midst of the WORST prolonged economy slump in several generations over in Japan that OLC has built and is enjoying amazing success with their them parks?

Here's their response. Interesting how many times they reference the economy as the reason for slowed growth and other factors. Also interesting is the schedule of event/attraction introductions. Who is it that complained about off the shelf copycat installments?

http://www.olc.co.jp/ir_2003a/ar2003.pdf

Keep in mind the Japanese do not have the same financial reporting requirements as the U.S. Whether these numbers are "clean" is relevant to any assessment.

Demographics are critical as well as scope and competition.

PKS44
10-10-2003, 12:01 AM
Crusader-thanks for the interesting link-not sure what your point is--I read that report and see a company that has a completely different strategy than Disney-they admit that tough economic times will impact their business- how could they not--but their response is to invest in making their product better not by trying to cut costs and risk making the product worse...And they tell folks that this could TEMPORARILY depress profits but in the long run it will make them stronger and more profitable....this has worked for them already- in investing huge amounts in TDSeas they were ridiculed by Disney which snickered as they confidently counted their far cheaper DCA chckens before they hatched....TDSeas greeted their 10 millionth visitor after 10 months....when did DCA greet theirs?

miko
10-10-2003, 06:10 AM
I think families with young children would find that MK being closed for a day an issue. Also I think Universal (substitute for Disney Studios) and Sea World (substitute for AK) would like to see this happen. Disney does not want visitors to stay offsite, they certainly don't want guests going to other parks because they don't have "equivalent" open!:jester:

crusader
10-10-2003, 08:49 AM
PKS44:

I posted the link to eliminate the guesswork and found it very informative as well.

While I did see various parallels in terms of business development with the US counterpart - ie (cloning/value resort expansion/expense reduction), I also found some very clear distinctions regarding financial commitment.

I interpret the OLC's structure and business philosophy in Tokyo to mimick the Disneyland of Walt's era. The Japanese parks compete locally and pull from the same demographic as noted by the recent collapse and bankruptcy of Huis Ten Bosch - a themepark in Nagasaki.

You'll get no argument from me regarding California Adventure as compared to TDS. Two entirely different approaches to success which clearly evidences a shift in philosophy on the part of Disney Corporate as more financially driven vs the guest enhancement/experience investment strategy which drives OLC in Tokyo.

This doesn't mean Disney as a whole in the U.S. is in serious trouble. From what I have come to understand this past year, there is a remedial effort underway which incorporates an expansive park/guest investment strategy. WDW will certainly continue as the industry leader in my view. DL and CA have a unique demographic issue which will require a substantial reassessment and probable overhaul to redirect.

raidermatt
10-10-2003, 12:26 PM
There's a point where the cuts have an impact. We're not there. There is no "magic" point (pun intended) at which damage to the guest experience starts having an impact. Its a continuum. At any point in time, there are some who are teetering on the edge of not taking a Disney vacation, or perhaps delaying it. This is true in both the best and worst of times. The slightest diminishment of value is not going to impact the decisions of those more committed to their choice, but it will impact the decisions of the fence sitters. At the same time, folks who were just leaning on the fence, become the new fence sitters...

Yes, its true that this is not the only thing that impacts their decision, and certainly the less than stellar job situation has an impact. But its not an either/or situation. Shortage of jobs or plenty of jobs, lowering the benefit side of the value equation will have an impact.

The other thing to consider is that, as has been pointed out many times here, those of us who keep current on the cuts are a small minority of WDW's visitors. The majority only base their opinion on the guest experience they find on their trips. Since many do not visit every year, its going to take awhile for cuts to be felt by these people. For example, if a family visits every 4 years, and last visited in 1999, they are only this year experiencing the cuts of the last 4 years. Should they decide to go elsewhere next time, it will be 4 more years before Disney feels the impact.

What's even more disconcerting about that is that even if Disney were to restore all of the cuts, the folks who don't pay attention won't know it, and the restorations won't impact their decisions.

crusader
10-10-2003, 01:34 PM
The slightest diminishment of value is not going to impact the decisions of those more committed to their choice, but it will impact the decisions of the fence sitters. At the same time, folks who were just leaning on the fence, become the new fence sitters...

I agree and disagree. I view a fence sitter as indecisive for a number of reasons, with cost and other vacation options being the two most significant deterrants.

It could be the perception of the term value which distinguishes judgement here.

The consumer has X to spend on a vacation and begins pricing things out. Disney costs more because it includes park entrance fees which forces a decision in terms of whether this experience is worth the added expense compared to the other choices out there.

For someone who has never visited destination Z and gone to Disney every year as a child - a new experience which they can better afford looks very appealing because it costs less and takes them somewhere they've never been. Or

Maybe a cruise which incorporates a land and sea package convienently gives the customer both Disney and another destination within one vacation.

I don't believe cutbacks are the facilitator. I believe appeal, cost and purpose are the main considerations.'

Take my little group for example - (I know this doesn't represent the population and therefore could be misconstrued and fail objectively but enlighten me anyway)

Most aren't on the Disney fence, heck- they're not even near the farm! They have very static vacation habits and don't venture far without visiting relatives. Disney was never considered an option until I happened to pitch it last year. The reason so many said yes had nothing to do with the parks or the "magic" or the amenities. It had to do with who was going and how much it would cost. That's it! We could have gone anywhere under this scenario. It just so happened that the DVC brought us to Disney.

So to them what is "value"? A cheap vacation - which proves the point that this term is a subjective intangible.