Thinking about Disney strategy...

Discussion in 'Disney Rumors and News' started by tentaguasu, May 16, 2013.

  1. tentaguasu

    tentaguasu Mouseketeer

    Aug 19, 2002
    I had an epiphany about Disney today and thought I'd run it by you all and see what you think.

    US and Disney are clearly locked in competition with each other (good for all of us).

    And I've sensed something like fear from the Disney lovers out there (of which I am one.) Lately, US's attractions seem bigger, faster, louder, more impressive.

    All of us Disneyphiles keep wondering "why isn't Disney responding?" Is Disney losing its touch?

    Then they do Fantasyland and I keep hearing, "yes, it's beautiful but where is the awesome ride? Where's something spectacular?...."

    Then today I was listening to a podcast about what FP+ and RFID will permit (e.g. personalized experiences *during* rides, etc.) and the immense amount of $$ Disney put into the FP+ system.

    Then it occurred to me - maybe Disney is pursuing an entirely different strategy.

    Let me preface this by saying that I'm 100% a Disney guy. I haven't been to US in probably 4 years and haven't seen HP, so my view might be dated, but IMHO Disney is just better (of course your mileage may vary, that's just my opinion).

    But when I think about *why* I like Disney more, frankly it has little to do with the spectacularness of the rides. I *love* a great ride, don't get me wrong, but for instance POC is a big favorite for me mostly because of its ambiance. I sort of don't care about the animatronics. I just like the atmosphere of the place. As I've returned to Disney more often, I find that I enjoy being in line as much as being on the ride!

    And most of Disney is kind of like that, for me at least. It's just being there.

    And then I thought - maybe *that* is precisely what they are focusing on. Fantasyland, personalized attractions with RFID, Avatarland (potentially very atmosphere oriented), etc. Disney focusing on the *experience of being at Disney* which might be another way of saying "create a place that feels special and unique" which might be another way of saying "magical" (as corny as that may sound).

    US, on the other hand, seems more focused on the latest and greatest ride technology. Nothing at all wrong with that (I thought Spiderman was awesome), but maybe a different strategy.

    Of course, I want both, but in a real world of limited resources, I think it's interesting to think about Disney putting something like $2 billion into Fantasyland and FP+ with no e-ticket ride to show for it as compared to HP at US with (what I'm told) is the best single ride in all of themeparkland.

    Disney, presumably, could make a ride rivaling or exceeding HP with $2b. But maybe that's not what they're trying to do. "The feeling of being in a unique place" is what makes Disney great to me and keeping and enhancing that feel must be crazy expensive, even when it doesn't produce a big ride.

    In short, does it make sense to view Disney's strategy as focusing on *experience* vs. US focusing on *entertainment*?

    This, of course, is vastly oversimplifying, but I was trying to figure out what seems to be the driving philosophical concept behind how and why certain things get done at US vs. Disney.

    Just some meandering thoughts....
  2. ChrisnKim913

    ChrisnKim913 DIS Veteran

    Jul 16, 2006
    Pretty interesting thoughts and I think you might be on to something. I agree with you... One of the main reasons I love Disney is b/c I love being there. I specifically remember last week walking between Germany and Italy in World Showcase (in between beers of course lol) and I turned to everyone we were with and just said "This is just beautiful!"... Everyone was joking all week b/c 'beautiful' was the word of the trip every where we went and I think there is something to that. If you really 'stop and smell the roses' and take in the enviroment, you cant beat it! Listen I am in my late 20's and most of my friends would choose to go to Universal b/c they think Disney is for little kids.Once a lot of them saw my pics and facebook posts, 2 different groups of friends went the next week lol. Locally Disney has ramped up advertising 'whats new' at Disney World with more modern 'hip' music and I think is trying to extend an olive branch to this age group I am in, especially since a lot of us are begining to have families ourselves. Once this whole MyMagic+ thing kicks off and Disney starts getting the point across of what it is, I think it will blow some peoples minds. What Universal is doing is now forcing the hand of people who are traveling out of state. Instead of coming down to FL to do a week at Disney, Universal is basically making it so families will spend a few days at their parks due to the high level of appeal to their new attractions. They really have done a lot there and are continuing to do more. That company has really put an emphasis on their parks and I think in the next few years you might see Islands of Adventure really compete with Hollywood Studios in regards to park attendance. In 2010 and 2011 Hollywood Studios has 9.6 and 9.7 million visitors. Islands of Adventure had 5.9 million in 2010 and jumped to 7.6 million in 2011 due to Harry Potter. Do I think Universal or Islands of Adventure will over take a Disney theme park in attendance? No... But they are going to keep climbing the ladder and really make people feel forced to visit their parks instead of just going to Disney.
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  4. Tonka's Skipper

    Tonka's Skipper DIS Veteran

    Jul 14, 2010
    Excellent post, my take is simple.......Uni goes for the thrill Market room. Those folks see only Thrill rides as good, as spectacular! That is great for them!

    Disney is marketing for everyone, from small children to teens, adults and older folks.

    The bottom line is Disney attendance figures have even now increased at higher rates then other companies, because of the long standing wide marketing plan. The thrill market will always be limited.

    Fantasyland is wonderful, themed as good if not better then potter. However its looking to impress the child, not the older kids and adult like potter does. It apples and oranges.

    I think they made a big mistake in not finishing it all at the same time and had the mine attraction done. However that mine train is not going to be a major, lose your tummy thrill ride, it is going to be a moderate thrill ride and themed to wow the younger to tween kids!

    I think Iger didn't understand parks he was looking at bottom line...........luckily for all of us and Disney Inc., he will be leaving soon. He dragged building out slowly, reduced maintenance and refits. However the last 2 years things are changing, maintenance has been upgraded, major refits being done, the redo of DTD and big plans coming down the track.

    In the west Car land and other attractions at CA is bring in crowds over the top, showing Disney has woken up.


  5. Tinkerdreams

    Tinkerdreams Disney Princess

    Sep 8, 2007
    I totally agree!! I am not a big thrill ride person and even though I've enjoyed US, Disney is my pick of ANY theme park in the country. When explaining it to many people that lump Disney into the same category as US, Six flags and local amusement parks, I explain that it is much, much more than just rides.

    Disney is actually telling a story in every attraction that they have - and I emphasize attraction.. These are NOT just rides. The parks themselves are beautiful in their landscaping and design. I can actually sit at a bench and relax and take in the scenary. Nothing else compares!!
  6. GoofyCdn

    GoofyCdn Mouseketeer

    Jan 4, 2009
    I saw a blog post about this topic on another site yesterday. The way that guy put it was that because WDW is so big already you don't see or even realize what all the changes are. He mentioned new Fantasyland and how much they actually added or changed in the area but it doesn't seem as big as what Universal is doing because Magic Kingdom and WDW are already so BIG.
    I agree with one of the previous posters that Universal gears their park towards the thrill seekers. In my family of 6 there are only 2 of us that would ride most of the rides at Universal, so Disney has been perfect for us and none of us are Harry Potter fans so we have no interest to see the new "large" attraction at Universal.
    One of the other things Disney has over Universal is the plethora of resorts. WDW is so much more than just the parks. People can go to WDW visit a resort by itself and experience a ton of Disney Magic without even going to a park. WDW is so big and there's so much more than just a park to go to for the day!
  7. Pirate princess 2

    Pirate princess 2 Mouseketeer

    Mar 28, 2013
    Like the OP I am not a big US fan. I love Disney. It makes me happy to be there. The last time I was at US was Oct 2010. We went because DD is a huge HP fan. What a waste of our time. Luckily, she didn't feel that way. We waited in line for over an hour for a 5 minute wand show. Don't get me wrong. Everything looked great. However when you're not a thrill ride seeker there isn't much to do other than shop. I can buy their stuff online I don't have to spend hundreds of dollars to get into their park. Most of my family couldn't wait to leave US that day. However, when we are at WDW before we've even left everyone says, "when are we coming back?" We've been back to WDW since that trip and have another one planned. Even my HP lover hasn't asked to go back to US.

    I completely agree that it is about the atmosphere that Disney creates. They include you in their storytelling. Every time is a different experience.
  8. Mouse14

    Mouse14 Wish I was at the Lodge

    Dec 29, 2010
    I agree with you 100%. For me it's about being there seeing everything and taking it all in. My friends and family actually make fun of me, because once I'm on WDW property for vacation I don't like to leave for any reason until the vacation is over lol..... Even tho they spent 2B on fantasyland and fast pass + and don't have any big rides to show, that's ok because it's new stuff to explore... New hidden mickeys to find. And I can't wait for the fast pass+.... Thank for posting this
  9. rteetz

    rteetz Rumors and News Moderator Moderator

    Feb 20, 2013
    I like this thread a lot and agree with you almost 100%. Fantasyland is not completely finished first of all the mine train is going to open next year. I think the mine train when its said and done will be an amazing ride whether its just a story telling ride or a faster ride. The mine train is supposed to have some new ride technology it self so well have to wait and see on that. I myself have never been a huge universal parks fan the movies ill watch and like but there parks I'm not a huge fan of. Disney parks enlighten me every time I go something is new and exciting every time. Disney parks tell an amazing story of there movies and make there lands flow. Universal doesn't flow as well as disney does. The new fast pass system is worth a ton of money and I think once its fully implemented and all the problems are worked out it will make disney 10x better that universal. Universal is spending more on rides but disney wants to enhance guest experience which is probably the most important part of a resort. I also think once Avatarland is done in 5 years or so that will include some amazing new ride technology and a new guest experience. I believe in the next few years DHS will get a major expansion as well so disney is still working on adding rides and what not but they are at the moment looking to enhance guest experience to make these future lands and park overhauls look and feel 100x better than anything universal has ever done.

    disney lover at heart
  10. Spacedog1975

    Spacedog1975 DIS Veteran

    Dec 9, 2012
    Disney always offers a wonderful experience that I'm always enthusiastic to return to. They do try very hard to keep things fresh year after year even for frequent visitors.

    I do wish that things like Mine Train and Avatarland would open more quickly. I do wish that DHS expansion would happen sooner than later, but I'm confident that when these expansions do become available, they'll be excellent.

    Magic Kingdom operates on a 40 or 50 year plan. They are looking for attractions that can stand for generations. I can't speak the same about DAK or DHS, but I'm sure they are intending for any new builds to stand the test of time.
  11. DCTooTall

    DCTooTall <MARQUEE BEHAVIOR=ALTERNATE><img src=http://www.em

    Apr 24, 2008
    First off..... I'm not sure I agree with your initial assumption. Disney and Universal are not really in a true Competition with each other. A Competition indicates an attempt to constantly one-up each other and knock the other one down.... but I just don't see it. Disney is so much larger and has so much clout in the Orlando market, that Universal would be stupid to think it could 'Out-do' Disney. Disney could even be considered kinda stupid if it based it's plans simply on the goal of outdoing the little guy down the street.

    That being said.... It's clear both company's are following their own plans on how to best increase their bottom line. The thing is, As the 2 biggest players in the Orlando market, improving their bottom line does not automatically equal taking that money out of the other's pocket. There is a much more symbiotic relationship between those two resorts than most die-hard Disney people.... or Die hard Universal people... may realize. All you have to do though is look at the boost the WDW resort got in it's attendence numbers after the WWoHP opened. Sure, The IOA park had their attendance numbers increase by a HUGE percentage, but they also had a much smaller starting number so of course they'll see a bigger percentage increase. Disney however also saw a decent size increase that cannot easily be attributed to anything they did around that time frame. It's literally a case of massive numbers of people coming to the Orlando area for Harry Potter... many of whome may not have come to the Orlando area otherwise, be it europeans who wanted to see Harry but could much easier experience Disney in Paris... or people from the states who thought of Disney as not their thing. Either way... they came to Florida for Harry Potter, and decided to go down the street and see the Disney parks while in town since it'd almost be stupid to not go while in the area.

    At Universal I see a couple major things going on with their current strategy. First off.... we Finally, once again.... See the Universal Orlando Resort under the control of a single Owner who sees the value in investing in the parks. As a result, They are pouring more money and resources into expanding the Universal Orlando Resort and providing new experiences there than we have seen since the property was expanded from a single park to the full Resort it is today. They are also once again increasing the Advertising about the resort ("Vacation Like You Mean It!") in order to capitilize on that investment and to remind people that the parks are there and worth visiting. The end result is a MUCH better resort than we had just 5 years ago, and one that is still improving. One that is also setting itself up to continue to be a bigger player.

    Disney.... It's much harder to see their priorities. In General, I'd say their strategy isn't so much to expand awareness, or bring new people to the resort... But to try and get more money out of those already visiting the park. From a build standpoint, You see Disney building more Restaurants and Gift Shops (or things to tie into gift shop sales). You also see them building more DVC which is easy, locked in, money. From an investment standpoint, You see them investing not in new attractions or physical structures... but in the MagicBand system which is part of an overall attempt to further lock people into the Disney Resort. This is part of the same strategy that started with the massive restaurant and resort buildout over 20 years ago (to get more of people's lodging and food $$'s).... and expanded to include Magic Express (To remove the need to rent a car... thereby further locking people into the Disney Resort)..... followed by the DDP (People less likely to venture off-property to eat if they've already paid for their meal on-property).... and now Magicbands the the Fastpass+ system (Designed to make casual guests even more invested in researching, planning, and spending their time onsite, and thereby reducing the temptation to go to other places in the Orlando area they may see advertising for in the airport/on the way to Disney/ TV/ etc).

    So Ultimately, Universal's Goal is to attract more people to their resort. Disney's is to squeeze more money out of those already visiting theirs.

    That being said.... For those who haven't visiting Universal recently.... I'd honestly say you should try and find the time to check it out within the next couple years. There has been a huge shift at the resort since Comcast completed their purchase, and Universal has truly upped their game.

    Demographics wise... I'd saw that there is a LARGE overlap between the target audience between Universal and Disney at this time. I will however give Disney the advantage for the smallest/youngest kids, as well as the older crowd and those who's conditions may limit them...physically or just mentally.... to the traditional, sedate, omnimover type of attractions. Universal get's it's traditional advantage for those who prefer the high-thrill type attractions..... But those those "mid-level" type experiences that most people can experience and enjoy, Both resorts offer plenty to experience.

    BTW... FWIW.... that was actually part of this site. That blog posting was on the WDWINFO site, which is the raw information site which the DIS is affiliated with.

    DISUNPLUGGED = Podcast
    WDWINFO = General Information
    DISBOARDS = The Forums/Community
    DreamsUnlimited = The Travel Agency that hosts and pays for it all.

    DRDISNEYMD *+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* *+*~The Snow Queen~*+* ~A gi

    Apr 1, 2007
    ~Great post, there is a lot here that I agree with! I've had an epiphany of sorts, as well! It is in my opinion, that Disney's strategy is to place emphasis on profits by utilizing FOOD!!! I have seen numerous comments from posters who only care about "free dining" discounts -- instead of "entertainment" or new innovative experiences. Disney filled the parks and broke records in profits and annual theme park attendance during one of the worst recessions this country has ever seen -- and the driving force behind this success was the free dining promotion. Why spend billions to build when you can just cook something??? It's a strong trend that I don't see changing anytime soon. Disney will be watching the Universal expansion very closely, just to see if they "need" to answer in order to save face. We'll see. :goodvibes
  13. Carbonfiber07

    Carbonfiber07 Mouseketeer

    Aug 2, 2011
    Agreed. Disney also follows this philosophy by reducing the pricing on park admission when multiple days are purchased. Why pay full price admission at Universal for a day, when the remaining days on your Disney tickets are reduced in price. Keeps people in their parks rather than spending a day or two at Universal, for which they can now spend money on food and merchandise.

    Living here in Orlando, Disney was VERY concerned when HP opened and the line to get into the HP area was so long it stretched out the park and into the City Walk area. Now Universal is expanding HP into the studios park and will connect the two via Hogwarts express. Universal will likely offer a ticket package that includes both parks so people can traverse the two HP lands, keeping them at the Universal parks longer.

    This MIGHT be the reason we have seen Disney open up the purse strings a bit more lately with all the IP acquisitions (Avatar, Marvel, Star Wars...).

    Of course, attendance at the Disney parks has been up (at least MK, not sure about the others), so they are doing something right. We enjoy going to Disney a lot, but as the kids are getting a bit older, they have now expressed interest in the Universal parks for the thrill rides offered.
  14. Carbonfiber07

    Carbonfiber07 Mouseketeer

    Aug 2, 2011
    Yup. And the prices just keep going up and up. We pack our food most of the time.
  15. DisneyMagic4all

    DisneyMagic4all Earning My Ears

    May 19, 2013
    I agree with the "atmosphere" vs "thrill" therory! We have not been to US in about 10 years. We always say this year we are going to go but when it comes down to it we as a family are not willing to give up a day at Disney! We travel from Michigan to vacation in Orlando. We have stayed for three weeks before and spent every day at Disney. We have never run out of things to see or do. When my oldest daughter was 18 she was afraid Disney would not be the same for her. She said when we walked in the park she felt the "Magic" right away. It was amazing:) She said it still gave her chills. The atmosphere of "Pure Disney" is felt when you walk onto the property! We could just sit on a bench all day at HS and watch the street shows. The little things they do.... really do put them over the top. That is our family opinion. Those little details are the things that have us coming back two or three times a year! Every time we go the last thing we do is see the light parade and the fireworks show at MK. Then we say good bye until the next trip. (We always have the next trip planned ) With that being said I am glad that there are choices in the area for everyone. Everyone has a different view on what they want out of their vacation. I would say whatever your choice Disney or Universal your are going to have a great time!
  16. Bob NC

    Bob NC DIS Veteran<br><font color="red">I am a trained pr

    Mar 3, 2000
    All true.

    For me though, the fact remains that I like US, on an 8 day vacation I'll probably spend a day and a half there.

    When I go to US, I ride the rides. I go from one ride to the next and nothing outside those attractions really has any draw for me.

    I can spend all day walking around a DW park without even getting ON an attraction.

    As I say, I agree with your assertion that "US and Disney are clearly locked in competition with each other."

    But I believe that competition is only for a day and a half of my vacation.

    For Disney Parks lovers, the other 5, 6 or 7 days aren't up for debate.
  17. bcrook

    bcrook DIS Veteran

    Jun 26, 2008
    I wonder if this holds true going forward. As a Disney only kind of guy I have been surprised by all the kids, parents, and teachers at my building talking about Orlando in general and Disney as an add on. By far universal and IoA are talked about in more glowing terms. My colleagues rave about the resorts at universal. Also SeaWorld and discovery cove, and all the attractions connected. They are cobbling together experiences that don't focus on Disney.

    And with Disney's obscene ticket prices, if you start planning 3 days at universal/IoA and two days at SeaWorld+, the week starts to fill up. I even saw there is complimentary transportation to Busch Gardens from SeaWorld. That is convenient.

    I bought a 14 day pass for SeaWorld and Busch Gardens for an upcoming trip for $125.00. Last summer I finally visited IoA, and was blown away by the theming, food, and the look.

    The city walk with the gorgeous lake and ferries going back and forth to the resorts. And next summer the hogwarts express connecting the two parks together.

    I don't know, for 30 years I would have agreed with you, but now I am not sure.

    By the way, the Port of Entry is one of the most amazingly themed areas I have ever seen.

    I'll be this excited too about Disney in 2020 or whenever they get around to spending some of those record breaking profits on some new lands.
  18. bayla89

    bayla89 Huge Geek

    Mar 13, 2013
    I think that Disney will always stand out rather than Universal. When we went last summer to WDW, we stopped at US. we had all the family on my dads side with us, so we had to rent one of those huge vans. I'm not really a thrill ride person, so I didn't go on any of the rides. I also waited 90 mins for the Olivanders thing. HP world was a fun experience, just walking down The street and seeing all these things I recognize. But the other places weren't as crowded as HP world. I think the only reason people go is HP world. We were ready to go by 2 o clock. I think that whole Olivanders waiting thing was horrific. We waited 90 minutes in 90 degree weather. I think if Disney was faced. With that situation, they would have handled it differently. Disney probably would have made 2, like the Dumbo ride. I think Disney is more fun for me because there is things for all ages and a wide spectrum of rides to choose from.
  19. TuneTownMagic

    TuneTownMagic DIS Veteran

    Jun 6, 2010
    On my last trip to Orlando, I visited IoA for one whole day (though I wish I had gone into Universal Studios as well, so my view is not based on the entirety of Universal as I haven't been to US in several years)...and I spent the rest of my time in Disney, and here are a few thoughts:

    Wizarding World really does live up to all the hype, and I for one though it was spectacular. The attention to detail and the immersive feeling were great and the Forbidden Journey ride alone made the whole thing worth it. I will join others who claim it is the best ride ever, because I truly feel like it is the best ride I have ever been on in my life (and I am HUGE HUGE Disney World fan).
    What I thought was really interesting was the fact that now the "magical" edge that Disney has always had may not be as completely totally unique to Disney anymore with the magical aspects of HP (I mean obviously the true Disney magic is completely one of a kind and could never ever be replaced, I will always attest to that). I just feel that after having seen Wizarding World, and with the future of Hogwarts Express,etc. on the way, Disney does need to step up their game. And think, people ADORE Harry Potter, it is beloved, so there is that character attachment thing that Disney has, as well. Honestly, the rest of Islands Of Adventure to me was really not a huge draw. Yes, I love Jurassic Park, yes I like the whimsy of Dr. Seuss and the humor of all the classic cartoon characters, and I'm assuming US does a good job with resorts, shopping, walkways as some people have been mentioning....BUT I don't get any special feeling walking around and there never seems to be a sentiment or feeling that binds everything together like with Disney.

    So in sum, Disney wins in terms of making people feel attached, but Universal is completely on par with Disney in terms of technology and now with HP, detail.

    With how innovative, creative, and thoughtful Disney's cast members and imagineers are, it just surprises me that something big hasn't been done yet in the last several years. I know I don't understand the finances behind it, so maybe I'm wrong, but besides the different additions over the years to the 4 parks, there hasn't been a real linchpin for Disney to speak of in terms of progress and keeping the competitive edge. Obviously I know Disney doesn't have to worry, they are raking in the dough, but I feel one day in the future, they will really be behind.
  20. DCTooTall

    DCTooTall <MARQUEE BEHAVIOR=ALTERNATE><img src=http://www.em

    Apr 24, 2008
    For what it's worth, 2 of those aquisitions had absolutely nothing to do with the Theme Park Potential. Marvel and Star Wars were aquired simply due to the existing (and future) Studio and Merchandising components. The Theme Park side is/was a distant afterthought in those decisions. Disney can't even do anything with the Marvel aquisition in the Florida parks because of the pre-existing Universal License agreement, so it's pretty obvious it wasn't a deciding factor in the aquisition decision.

    Avatar however was purely a Theme Park right's aquisition, and likely the closest we'll get to a response to the Harry Potter license at Universal. Even still, I believe Avatar's whole conservation message which was present in the story was an extremely good fit with the existing Animal Kingdom conservation message and therefor I could've seen it happening with or without Harry Potter across town.

    If you haven't been to the Universal resort in 10 years, You REALLY should give it another shot. With the new ownership Universal has dramatically upped their game from where they were in the late 90's/early 00's. If you go in with even a somewhat opened mind I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at what you can discover there.

    The problem is that a large part of the reason Universal ended up getting the license was that they agreed to follow JK's vision of the area a lot more than what Disney was going to agree too. JK had a pretty good idea of what she wanted in her head.....which included the details such as the small "intimate" stores....such as Olivanders. Disney came straight out and was telling her "We can't do it because we need to provide space for more people to Buy stuff", so she went across town to Universal.

    And I'll agree with your feeling that for first time (or first time in a long time) visitors, HP is a primary reason people go to IOA. I do believe though that many of those people are happy with what they discover the rest of the park contains after their arrival and can easily spend a full day there if they wanted.

    Universal does have a large variety of attractions for all types of attraction riders. You have the high end coasters like the Dragons and Hulk, the simulator/ride type attractions like Forbidden journey and Spiderman. Water rides like Popeye, Jurrasic Park, and Dudley Doright, kiddie Coasters like Hypogryph, and "kid friendly" attractions like the Storm Force Acceltron [teacups], and pretty much everything in the Suess Area. the way I see it, Universal has a pretty good distribution across the entire spectrum of attractions for the different types of guests. Disney however tends to not have as many attractions at the top end of the spectrum, but has more in the lower end [omnimovers and boat rides like Small World and Pirates].
  21. disneyworld1977

    disneyworld1977 Mouseketeer

    Oct 20, 2009
    I am on your boat too. When I go to Six Flags to get my coaster fix, I talk about doing this ride and that ride. When I go to Disney, I say "attractions". In fact, what I have been doing with my sister in law as I explain things at DL since we are going there in Sept., I tell her about the "attractions", I try not to use the word "ride" LOL

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