06 June 2013

World News Roundtable - 6 June 2013

Roundtable Contributors: Estelle Hallick (This Happy Place Blog), Alan Mize, Blake Taylor (BlakeOnline.com), Andrew (Disney Hipsters Blog), and yours truly.

One of the longest running, most theme appropriate, not all that annoying shows at Walt Disney World is the Main Street Trolley Show. This iconic song and dance number takes place several times a day, starting and stopping along the trolley track. Lately the "Limited Time Magic" have been producing variations on the classic show. These variations are season appropriate. This past fall we got an autumn edition, we also recently enjoyed the Spring edition. (actually, we didn't really enjoy either of those...) The best and most lively of all the iterations is the brand new Summer edition! Yay! With super fun choreography, a silly song, and picnic baskets, this is by far the most entertaining of the special limited time shows. Don't worry, it still starts and stops with The Trolley Song...

Estelle Hallick (This Happy Place Blog)

For awhile, I didn't even believe that the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train would actually happen and here we are at a huge milestone -- the final piece of track has been put down. Sure, there's still a long way to go before the attraction opens up sometime in 2014 but this is an absolute huge deal -- the New Fantasyland project is almost complete.

Does it feel like talking about it is getting old? I think people are mostly over it because so much of it is open but I am counting down the months until I can see the whole land in operation. I'm also crossing my fingers that the Mine Train is what New Fantasyland really needs to make it feel complete and accessible to everyone. (So many of the new attractions felt young to me).

Blake Taylor (BlakeOnline.com)

As summer settles in, crowds will begin to pick up on a more regular basis in the parks, and with larger attendance comes more guests to manage. It becomes more difficult as crowds thicken for Cast Members to keep traffic flowing around congested areas, particularly during (and after) the busier times of the day like parades and fireworks.

I hope Disney has a plan of action for how they will staff and direct these always-hectic times of the day. I mean, I'm certain that they do have a plan of action, I just hope what I experienced two weeks ago was not it... because it was a nightmare. I have been visiting Walt Disney World for my entire life, and I have never seen things as bazerk as they were after Wishes on the 24-hour day. Insanity ensued as guests tried to move every which way, with barely any room to breathe. Things got to the point where (I do not exaggerate) I stood outside the Crystal Palace for a good 15 minutes, unable to move, trying to get to Adventureland. Someone in my party got separated from the group at that same spot, and (remember he's going to Adventureland) was routed backstage behind Main Street to Town Square, back up Main Street, and into Tomorrowland, then had to walk around the park. It felt as if we were all the fish in the net at the end of Finding Nemo, trying to break free from everything.

Patience was the name of the game. Kids were screaming, parents were yelling at each other, and some adults even got angry with Cast Members as if it was somehow their fault that the park was so busy. CMs did their best, I will give them that. But whatever system was in place simply did not work. I don't know what was the source of the problem, as it could have been many things: not enough Cast Members present, people trying move around guests in the Hub who were staying still waiting for the next castle projection show to start, or just the abnormality of a rush of people heading out of the park after Wishes at the same time as a rush of people headed into the park for the remainder of the All-Nighter. Show schedules, staff rosters, traffic systems, or something needs to be fixed or many guests will end their magical day with a sour taste in their mouth, certainly something Disney doesn't want to happen.

Alan Mize

Fresh on the heels of another ticket price increase at Walt Disney World, the Themed Entertainment Association released their 2012 attendance numbers.  Now, it’s worth saying up front that Disney does not disclose information about their attendance numbers for any of its theme parks, so these numbers are speculative.  However, this annual report is considered by most to be the best indicator of theme park attendance in the world.  Yet again, Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is the most visited theme park in the world with just north of 17 million visitors in 2012.  Perhaps that is why the Magic Kingdom is now $5 more for a one day ticket than the other three Walt Disney World parks.  Placing in the six, seven, and eight slots overall are Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios respectively.

 I did find it interesting that all four parks grew in attendance by about 2.2% over their 2011 numbers.  The easy comparison to search for here is that Islands of Adventure drew a 4% increase over their previous attendance number.  One could argue that these numbers show that people are spending more time at Universal than they are at Disney.  On the other hand though, both Universal parks rank significantly lower than Disney parks in total attendance numbers, so I don’t think that Disney is suffering too much here.  I think people are still going to Disney as much as ever, but maybe they’re spending an extra day on vacation and heading over to Universal too.  The way I see it, Disney is still the big attraction in central Florida that the other parks are striving to be.  Universal is definitely doing what they can to gain some ground, but I don’t think they’re quite there yet.  I think the numbers support that the Disney World product is still considered to be the best thing offered to tourists in Florida and around the world.

HYPERLINK "http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2013/01/a-pirates-adventure-treasures-of-the-seven-seas-to-debut-at-magic-kingdom-park-this-spring/"

Ryan P. Wilson (Main Street Gazette)

The 2013 ticket increases went into effect this week at Walt Disney World. It is always a tricky position to argue against or for the increases. On the one hand Walt Disney World, particularly the Magic Kingdom and Epcot, offers the best value for a theme park in central Florida. Then again, when looking at ticket prices and looking at either the cost of inflation or cost of living, the cost of a ticket doesn't seem to hold up.

I've seen several news reports on local news, that's right Walt Disney World ticket increases even make the news in North and South Carolina, and they've been a bit heavy handed on the side of this is an unreasonable increase. The news reports looked at a family of four with only a One-Day One-Park ticket. As always, the more days you play at Walt Disney World, the better the ticket value.

I think Walt Disney World has gotten itself into a vicious cycle and doesn't know how to get itself out. The Vacation Kingdom sees itself as king of the hill over local competitors Universal, Sea World, and Busch Gardens, and rightly so. Whenever the competition sees fit to raise its prices to a higher rate than Walt Disney World, Disney responds in kind.

When I can't make up my own mind about an issue at Walt Disney World, I often relate back to Walt Disney himself. In the case of Disneyland, and Walt Disney World by extension, he wished to create a place where children and families could go together that was clean and filled with well appointed stories. Part of that means it should be affordable for all families, not just the families who are doing well above average.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

The traffic congestion on Main Street is crazy even when the park as a whole isn't busy or crowded. I'm not sure what the answer is, but it can get pretty frustrating.