What can or should Disney do about the crowds?

Discussion in 'The DIS Unplugged Podcast' started by disneysteve, Oct 21, 2018.

  1. MasonDuo

    MasonDuo Mouseketeer

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    I could have written this myself. DH and I used to go multiple times a year and at one point owned 2 DVC contracts. Fast-forward a few years and 2 sold contracts, and we will be finally visiting in January after a 4 year hiatus. The main reason to go to the parks in January is due to the Disney Cruise we have planned and to finally clear out our Owners Lockers. I miss our "happy place" but prices, crowds and MY DISNEY EXPERIENCE have driven us away. I miss the days of going for a last-minute long weekend or getting away to enjoy the warm weather in Florida. But the reduced offerings (ie Osborne Lights, live entertainment) plus added people and the kicker of ridiculous planning through MDE have left a bad taste in our mouths. What's sad is we now have a 2 year old who will never experience these things with us because how much has changed.

    We've even side-lined Disneyland due to crowds and prices. We were even some of the crazy people at the last 24 hour event there with multiple show openings.

    We've since developed a love of traveling the ACTUAL world so we will put our money to that use. When I start pricing Disney vacations and think to myself "I could go to Europe for this amount" - I save for that instead.

    I think there will always be other people to replace the old Disney fans. All I see now are people who are planning once in a lifetime trips, Disney bloodsucks them for every dime they can get (Dessert parties, after hour events, dining plans, before park events, and so on and so on). At some point another recession will hit and Disney will have to find a way to get us Disney lovers back because we kept the lights on for many years.
     
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  2. TheMaxRebo

    TheMaxRebo DIS Veteran

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    If they had built the Main St. Theater that would have had the side benefit of creating that 2nd avenue parallel to Main St. - hopefully that comes back as it also would eat a lot of capacity
     
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  4. SeanWM48

    SeanWM48 Mouseketeer

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    Disney is already doing plenty about the crowds by gradually raising prices every year. that is the answer IMO. if i ran the place you'd have to prove to me that the crowds were a problem business-wise.

    right now the crowds are a problem for certain customers - i haven't been in 4 years mostly due to what i hear about the crowds and the pricing - but i seem to be in the minority.

    it's been fascinating to watch over the last few years. customers aren't even blinking at the prices and they're more than willing to pay for things they don't end up using in full, like the dining plan (separate topic just an example). this will peak next year with star wars. only after that - and probably at least a year or more after that - will we MAYBE see a downturn as a result of customers dissatisfied with their experience due to price/crowd level.

    at that point you just bump up discounts a bit and it would solve itself. they're in an amazing position right now i don't know how else to put it.
     
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  5. GAN

    GAN DIS Veteran

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    I have no solution, but it’s a great discussion and the overcrowding bothers me for sure -like some, I go back 30+ years. My kids are older, but young enough to not let the crowds bother them too much -being at a semi-advanced age ;) my patience has worn off a little! I can still enjoy going with them and hang by the pool or do other things. The last 5-years I’ve cut back on my visits -and with DVC rental rates going up and up(I own DVC) it’s hard to resist just renting the points out, take the cash and go to Europe for a couple weeks. So the crowds(demand) are good from that perspective.
     
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  6. disneysteve

    disneysteve DIS meet junkie

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    Of course, part of the problem is that there are simply more people. The US and world populations keep growing and growing. It isn't just Disney that is more crowded than ever. It is those European destinations and the Caribbean resorts and the National Parks and the cruise ships too. When we took our first cruise 20 years ago, the big ships held about 3,000 people. Today, the biggest ships hold double that, there are a lot more ships in service, and they still fill them all regularly. Disney's got 3 more in the works themselves. The world is more crowded so it's harder and harder to find low crowds at any major tourist destination.
     
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  7. TheMaxRebo

    TheMaxRebo DIS Veteran

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    more people and, specifically related to Disney, more people that remember going as kids and now want to bring their kids - and also will still bring their parents (part of Disney's doing as they have marketed to multi-generational groups) - so even if same number of "families" it is more absolute people

    And with it being easier/cheaper (relatively) to fly people can come from further, including Internationally. I am sure the % of international guests is a lot higher than it was for Disneyland in 1960 or whatever - so more people in the world and pulling from a wider geographic spread too (plus you had the rise of the middle class in some of those countries and just more wealth spreadout - at least enough wealth to afford a trip ... not getting into the 1% vs 90% or anything)
     
  8. TheMaxRebo

    TheMaxRebo DIS Veteran

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    I think the challenge is that, from a business standpoint, it isn't an issue at all now and won't be (baring some crazy economic disaster) for the next, say, 5 years with Galaxy's Edge and then the 50th

    To me, if I was Disney, it would be more the long term play ... are people now less likely to be return visitors and bring their kids and their kids-kids, etc.? And also just the brand - Is Disney still seen as this "all-American" company that everyone can participate in, etc? If it gets viewed as more elitist does that impact opinions on Disney movies and merchandise, etc.?

    Again, probably not something you would see in the near term - but I sometimes wish Disney though less quarter to quarter and more decade to decade
     
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  9. darnheather

    darnheather DIS Veteran

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    My family's decision to switch to cruising was confirmed when we had one day at the parks last year as part of the cruise. We were very uncomfortable with the crowds and overwhelmed with the bad behavior all around us. A completely different feel from when we last went in 2013. If we do go again it will be for around 10 days and only spend 5 or 6 hours a day in a park. Of course Disney gets way more of my money this way and that's what they want.
     
  10. OhDannyBoy

    OhDannyBoy DISdad #850

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    Why would they change anything if the issue is the parks are always full?

    From a business perspective, that is your objective. To have parks at the highest capacity as often as possible.

    Well, they achieved it.

    I'd imagine they have more meetings about how to get even MORE people jammed in there than how to thin the crowds. If there is a park expansion, it certainly will not be to thin crowds. No, it'll be to get bigger and bigger ones.
     
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  11. MasonDuo

    MasonDuo Mouseketeer

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    You hit the nail on the head with this one....the proof is Disney shoe-horning Galaxy's Edge into Disneyland Park. This park is smaller in terms of not only size but also limited walkways and space to spread-out. It is cheaper for them to add onto that park and grow an park that is always busy as it is and get an even higher capacity. They clearly could have put SWGE into California Adventure or added a 3rd park but figured they could just keep Disneyland Park at a constant max capacity state. Their "fix" for this is to remove benches - nowhere for people to sit equals people moving in and out of the park or spending money on food so they can sit or just shop.

    Like you said - they clearly want to maximize the capacity each and every day....they don't care about guest experience in terms of comfort either in crowds or just a simple place to sit.
     
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  12. disneysteve

    disneysteve DIS meet junkie

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    From a business standpoint, you also want customer satisfaction.

    I'm a physician in urgent care. Every patient gets a survey after their visit. The #1 complaint is about the wait time to be seen. So yes, it's great that we're super crowded, but not if that means customers/patients aren't happy with the experience and won't come back the next time they need care.

    You need to strike a good balance between volume and experience. If you only focus on volume, it will catch up with you eventually.
     
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  13. kniquy

    kniquy DIS Veteran

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    I think their date associated pricing is a step in the direction to persuade some people to travel at different times. Many people are limited when they can travel. With that i think the date adjusted pricing will have minimal impact on the crowds as I don't see a significant enough price difference for me to have my kids miss school to save $200. They really did not create enough of a price swing to sway people to go at lower priced times.

    The difference for my family of 5 (4 Disney adults, 1 child) between Christmas week and the week after thanksgiving is only $221.60. We could save that money by just limiting our dining out a couple times.

    So what can they do, well maybe bundle the better ticket pricing with a discount on the dining plan or other shopping incentives. Maybe not free dining, but a slight discount.

    Increased incentives for the on-site guest to visit the parks on different days- not those staying in the good neighbor hotels. If they allowed extra hours (not just one hour in the AM) to onsite guests they would likely take advantage of this lower crowd time and would possibly leave the parks when the day/off site guests arrive or would choose to arrive when it was just resort guest park time.
     
  14. jimmymc

    jimmymc Professional Adventurer!

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    From a guest experience standpoint, empty parks are obviously more fun. Disney is at a point where it's so popular, that it would take massive price increases to make a dent in the crowds. People obviously think it's worth the money. And for Disney, they're okay with having insane prices. The profit model for most theme parks works like this: tickets pay for the cost of the park, while food and merch generate most or all of the profit. Since crowded parks mean more of those sales, Disney wants to get as many people as they can in the door. This is also the reason why park tickets cost less the more days you're there. When you can extend your ticket an extra day for a relatively small price, you'll be more likely to spend more in the parks or spend an extra night in an on-site hotel.
     
  15. OhDannyBoy

    OhDannyBoy DISdad #850

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    I see you point (my wife is an RN at a busy hospital) but this is kind of apples to oranges.

    An Urgent care needs to keep people happy as there is likely another urgent right around the corner.

    Disney's only competition is Universal, who certainly have come a long way, but still don't hold a candle to the numbers Disney puts up.

    What Disney has only they can provide and they know this. Case and point, people are complaining about TOO MANY PEOPLE in the parks. That's means people are satisfied enough to keep going and are not complaining enough for them to care much.

    Remember, not everyone visiting Disney is a member of DIS and are not as outspoken about what they see as issues as this community is. You ever wonder why Disney will just up and retheme an awesome classic ride? Because it appeals to a larger crowd. It'll draw more people in and the cost will be minimal.

    At some point, that will likely start to change. But until it does and profits start to go the other way, Disney doesn't need to change a thing. Just keep advertising, keep the image up, and they'll flock to us. Throw a new land in there and retheme something to appeal to more people.

    Yup. It's also why they don't charge extra for Fast Pass like other parks.

    They don't want you standing there not spending money. No sir. They want you in a gift shop buying stuff. You go get yourself some Mickey ears and come back at this time. We'll have a spot for you.

    It's genius.
     
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  16. TheMaxRebo

    TheMaxRebo DIS Veteran

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    well, I think Disney also competes against other pricey vacation options ... already a few comments in this thread of people choosing to go elsewhere for vacation and that they can go to Europe for the price a Disney trip might cost them, etc.

    So in Orlando, yeah, Universal is the competition, but it is the larger "Vacation $" they are fighting for ...

    ... not to mention the impact it has on the brand in general. If people are sour on vacation at Disney would that also turn them off (or at least lessen their desire/pull to) Disney movies, merchandise, etc.?
     
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  17. MasonDuo

    MasonDuo Mouseketeer

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    Good point. A former Disney merchandise fanatic here - I used to watch the Disney Store website every week for new park offerings and snap those up. Then break the bank when I was actually in the parks. We got into the pins and vinylmation crazes - used to buy art and Dooney purses etc etc etc. With our 4 year drought to WDW - its rare to buy anything at this point. When we went to Disneyland Paris a couple years ago I probably picked up a t-shirt and picture frame. I find it hard to part with my money if my experience has been soured. Why walk around with Disney merchandise if I can't sing it's praises anymore?
     
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  18. disneysteve

    disneysteve DIS meet junkie

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    I was going to say the same. Disney is competing against every other destination out there. Cruises are a big competitor for them, which is probably part of why they started their own cruise line that they are in the process of further expanding. The great thing about a cruise is that the ship holds a set number of people. Whether it is February or May or September or Christmas, there is a set maximum number of people that can be on that ship. So if you are turned off by the crowds at Disney World, you may find a cruise is more to your liking. There are also many wonderful family-friendly all-inclusive resorts like Beaches and others. Families have a lot more great choices than they did years ago. Disney is not the only game in town.
     
  19. disneysteve

    disneysteve DIS meet junkie

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    There's also the whole word of mouth issue. If enough people start coming back from their Disney World trips with nothing good to say about the experience, others may start rethinking their plans to vacation there.
     
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  20. GreatLakes

    GreatLakes DIS Veteran

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    This isn't true. As a completely optional expenditure Disney's actual competition is the opportunity cost of doing anything else with your discretionary income. It could be another theme park vacation (Universal), any other vacation (road trip out west), any leisure activity (season tickets to a local sports team), or an investment (put vacation money towards a home addition for this year).
     
  21. OhDannyBoy

    OhDannyBoy DISdad #850

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    They do, but nothing really compares to the "Disney" vacation does it? Yeah you can do other things, but none of them are Disney and have that magic. It's why we are all members here isn't it?

    True, but the comments in this thread are the minority. The fact that tickets sales are still so high that the park is constantly busy proves this. That being said, I myself am having a hard time justifying the Disney trip I'm taking this December. I get what you are saying and you are not wrong.

    And I do understand that at some point the bubble is going to burst. But it doesn't look like it's going to be anytime soon.

    And it appears they are getting it.

    But that doesn't seem to be the case yet. Disney movies still do great for the most part, their merchandise still sells, and the parks are always packed. What do they need to change?

    I understand that every business needs to have a certain amount of customer satisfaction to be successful. I just don't think the dissatisfaction with the size of the crowds has really reached the point for Disney to do much if anything. People are still going to flock in gigantic numbers and spend ridiculous money regardless of the crowd size. That's how crowds are formed in the first place isn't it?
     

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