The BLOGFlume--2005 Lookin' Good
Disney and Universal both in good position for next year
Written by Russell Meyer
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Orlando Sentinel 12/29/04
In an interesting move to try to increase on-site hotel bookings, Disney has announced a new baggage delivery service called Disney’s Magical Express, which will begin in May 2005. Guests booking rooms in on-site Disney World hotels and flying certain airlines (Delta, American, Continental, Song, United, and Ted) will be able to go from Orlando International Airport straight to the parks, and not have to worry about bags or transportation to their hotel. Upon booking on-site rooms, guests will be given special tags to place on their bags, and when they arrive in Orlando, there’s no need to wait for the bags at the carousel, as they will be picked out by special baggage handlers and delivered straight to the guests’ rooms. That’s not all. Disney will also be offering free motor coach transportation to and from the airport through Mears, so guests will no longer have the hassle of hailing a cab or paying for a bus service to Disney World, which can be quite costly, especially for larger families.
While these new services are costly to Disney (as much as $40 per guest), the concept is pure genius. Guests are freed up from airport and transportation hassles, so they can spend more time, and more importantly money, in the parks. Not only that, but by providing free transportation, on-site guests are less likely to rent a vehicle and visit other parks (sneaky). With the likelihood of guests spending at least one extra day at the parks (encouraged by the new pass pricing schedule), Disney will easily make back their expense. The service is also quite a luxury, especially for those guests staying at the lower end Disney properties, and is the type of service that will encourage repeat visits, as long as the system works correctly and bags are delivered to the correct room.
2004, The Disney Roller Coaster
The Motley Fool has assembled a timeline of Disney’s economic year. It was a real roller coaster ride for the entertainment giant, but the year appears to be ending on a nice upward trend. The Disney/Pixar war and the attempted takeover by Comcast defined the early part of 2004. Spring brought the no confidence vote among shareholders and the pitiful performance of Home on the Range. The summer showed a moderate improvement within the Walt Disney Company, and aside from the astounding performance of competitor DreamWorks’ Shrek 2, which went on to become the #1 grossing film of 2004, things were looking up. The fall and end of the year showed more improvement as Eisner made his future with Disney known, the sale of the under-performing Disney Stores was completed, and a bold park admission increase was witnessed. While Disney will likely lose the overall box office title to Time/Warner, considering the number of bad movies Disney released this year, the year has to be seen as a moderate success. Throw in the dramatic improvement in ABC, thanks to Lost and Desperate Housewives, and the further expansion of the ESPN family of networks coming in 2005 (The U—I can’t wait!), Disney is looking pretty strong for 2005. $27.95 per share may seem like quite a bargain!
Let the Tie-Ins Begin
There have only been a few instances of Universal and NBC working together up to now. However, things are changing, as one of NBC’s hottest shows, Fear Factor, will be taping at Universal Orlando in January. For those who are unfamiliar with Fear Factor, the reality show assembles “normal” people in a competition consisting of 3 fear-inducing stunts. One of the stunts usually consists of eating or touching an unusual or sickening animal, while the other 2 stunts are usually physically instensive in nature. Each stunt eliminates contestants until after the third and final stunt where a winner is declared and cash prize is awarded. There have been many different spins on the show including casting Playboy Playmates, dating couples, twins, and singles.
The show taping at Universal Orlando will pit newlyweds against each other. January 7th will feature a stunt at Islands of Adventure, January 8th will feature the “gross food” stunt at Universal CityWalk, and the final stunt will tape January 9th at Universal Studios. The episode will air sometime during the May sweeps period. While the NBC/Universal merger was big news earlier this year, very little has been done aside from an inundation of Universal Orlando ads during NBC primetime. I’m not a huge fan of Fear Factor, but its popularity cannot be denied. This Universal Orlando tie-in airing during May sweeps should give the resort some good publicity leading into the summer.
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