Reflections on overcrowding at Disneyland and Disney Corp's attitude towards the visitor experience
In response to comments by other Disneyland visitors or by Disney employees (from Robert's front page story on Disneyland shutting its gates on May 20th after hitting park capacity (http://www.themeparkinsider.com/flume/201705/5579/ ) who are essentially saying that people who visited on the weekend of May 19-21 should have done their homework researching when Grad Nights would take place or when the So Cal discount ticket promotion would expire, I have the following questions for theme park fans and/or readers of this site:
* At what point are casual visitors expected to have fairly sophisticated insider information (not readily available on the park's own website) in order not to have a terrible day because of overcrowding?
* Is the Disney corporation actively encouraging the park to be crowded throughout the former "slow periods" like winter and fall by use of variable ticket pricing that encourages cost-sensitive consumers to visit during traditionally less busy periods?
* Does the Disney corporation REALLY care about the visitor experience, or are they maximizing their profits while only paying lip service to the customer experience through advertising and marketing?
* When you are paying up to $150+ for a one-day park hopper (I concede most people will buy a multi-day ticket for a cheaper per day cost, but their total ticket price is also greater with a multiday ticket) as an out-of-town or once a year visitor, how much pressure do you feel to maximize your experience and DO as much as you can during your visit (E-ticket rides, headliner shows like parades and fireworks)? And how frustrated will you be if the park is packed to capacity and you can only manage 5 or 6 rides (not many E-tickets among them) during the entire day?
* If Disney offers a fabulous deal like 3 days for $150 (one park/day) or $190 (park hopper), how many local residents are going to jump at that chance to enjoy the fabled Disney magic at that low, low price?
* When the Disney park experience is so frenzied with pressure to maximize your fun because of the high cost of visiting AND the park is so crowded that you cannot possibly feel like your entertainment dollar was well spent, why do so many people feel compelled to keep visiting a Disney theme park? (My answer to this question is nostalgia from childhood or earlier generation's visits, the best advertising/marketing that a multibillion dollar entertainment conglomerate can buy, and a decreasingly unearned reputation as a premium brand of entertainment.)
My questions are partly based on a discussion item I submitted here in late 2015 called Matt Ouimet [Cedar Fair CEO and former Disneyland Resort president] On Having Fun in a (Disney) Theme Park: http://www.themeparkinsider.com/discussion/thread.cfm?page=867.
(BTW, I am not an employee of or financially connected to Knott's or Cedar Fair (or any other entertainment company in any way, except as a Knott's Season Pass holder and frequent visitor to Knott's since 2013.)
Thanks for allowing me this time on my soapbox. :)
I think it's simple economics. Good consumers will seek good deals and poor consumers will miss out. As a good consumer, you should thank the bad consumers out there, because without them, companies would not offer deals, so as much as we complain about increased prices, limitations on previously unlimited options, the deals that do exist would not if no one payed the "rack rate".
Disney's long-term plan here is to transition lower-tier annual passholders to discounted multi-day, "off season" tickets, marketed to locals.
I think that's true when specifically looking at Disneyland Robert, but when looking at their operations as a whole, Disney appears to have the desire to become a premium/luxury brand. They've already accomplished it with their Disney Cruise Line, with prices that are 30-50% higher than comparable carriers, and appear to be trying to do the same with their theme parks.
I wonder what would happen if Disney stopped selling season passes...?
I think in short,
If crowds are causing such inherent, terrible guest experiences ...um, why are there crowds? Wouldn't that horrible experience keep guests away?
No one goes to Disneyland anymore. It's too crowded.
@ Douglas That sounded like something Groucho Marx would say...
>>> I wonder what would happen if Disney stopped selling season passes...?
"Taking away SoCal APs and getting those people to buy multi-day tickets would accomplish that... if Disney can get the market to bite."
AJ, I found your comments insightful as always. I was especially interested in this comment you made:
As a person that was at Disneyworld ..opening +6..and a vendor guest at Epcot ..opening day..I would say that Disney is in my blood..I never had a day that was so congested that I could not find something to do or just take in the ambiance.I am good to go from around 9Am to the fireworks.. However, that being said, my last visit to the magic kingdom this April was horrific...no, not the crowds, but the friggin strollers...NOW there are triples. The first one that slammed my leg was being pushed by the toddler that it was designed to hold. That being said..my 40+ years of Disneyworld MK are going in my memory section. I can handle the crowds, I can handle the costs, but I cannot handle the inconsiderate parents and their suv strollers.. sorry off topic a bit ..
Spaceman, I don't think that is exactly right, but you are on the right track. From what I understand, 8-10 hours in a day is considered a full day. Therefore, if you are there for at least 10 hours and utilize Fastpass, you should be able to do at least 11 attractions. That doesn't mean you'll definitely do 11 (if you pick all E-tickets and arrive late, it might not be possible), but by using Fastpasses and the app effectively it shouldn't be difficult to accomplish this goal. Note that attractions include more than rides...shows and character encounters count as attractions too.
I have the perfect option for you, Spaceman! Get on a plane, fly to Hong Kong, and go to Disneyland. Having been a handful of times, I can guarantee you that unless you're there during Chinese New Year, you will wait no longer than 15 minutes for even the BEST rides - Iron Man, I can't vouch for.
Actually, Gabriel, my family and I had a chance to go to Tokyo Disney Sea and Tokyo Disneyland last year, and while our day at TDL was pretty crowded, it never felt frantic and crazy the way that Disneyland (Anaheim) does.
(cont.) We spent the whole day previous at Tokyo Disney Sea, and that was an amazing experience, and all the nicer because it was not especially crowded, except toward the late afternoon and evening.
Having said that, I really don't see why a park like Knott's Berry Farm doesn't get more love here. They don't have multimillion dollar new attractions, but what it does, it does so well.
The California theme park game is quite different than its Florida counterpart. None of the companies have a huge resort grounds. In other words, Universal, Disney, and Knotts are all much smaller parks. It is assumed that you are going to likely go to 2 of the 3.
The problem with DL (and this is by memory), it is around 80 acres where MK is 120 acres, but DL has more attractions. This makes the crowds much more pronounced. Even so, I can accomplish more at DL with a touring plan and FP than I ever could at MK. For starters, nobody in SoCal does anything early. MK is now packed sunup to sundown. Getting around DL can be a challenge, and you can be trapped at times, but even on busy days, I can avoid waiting in lines for more than 45 minutes. You cannot do that anymore at MK.
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