Now, Disney is expanding the inventory again. On its Star Wars Day at Sea on the Disney Cruise Line's Disney Fantasy this spring, the company will offer make-overs into selected Star Wars characters in its on-board Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Kids ages 3-12 can be transformed into Rey, Kylo Ren, Princess Leia, or a Rebel X-wing pilot.
My kids are long past the target age for Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. As my daughter spent more Halloweens dressed as Buzz Lightyear than Disney princesses, we probably would have been a lot more open to splurging on that experience had it included other characters back then.
But it's not simply a matter of stocking more costumes and training cast members to apply different hairstyles. Part of what makes the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique so enticing to many families is that you're buying an experience in addition to the make-over. The brilliant title of the boutique references the song in 1950's Cinderella when the Fairy Godmother transforms Cinderella from a lowly chambermaid into a debutante worthy of becoming a princess. It is that moment that grandma is paying to recreate for her granddaughter at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.
Disney understands that the context of the make-over is important, which is why it created a separate Pirates League location for pirate and mermaid-themed transformations at the Walt Disney World Resort. On a cruise ship, with its limited space, Disney couldn't easily create a new space for its Star Wars transformations. So the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique gets its temporary meta make-over.
Who knows, though? Perhaps the success of these Star Wars make-overs might entice Disney to develop a permanent, Star Wars-themed character make-over experience in its theme parks. Or to create similar experiences based on other themes.
Imagine it: "Transform your Grandpa into Carl from "Up," in Disneyland's new Pixar Parlor!" Okay, maybe that's reaching too far.
But maybe not. Given how much people adore some of these characters, and how much parks are willing to invest to create more immersive, interactive experiences, it follows logically that parks ought to be developing Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique-style experiences for all of their associated franchises that offer a transformative moment in the canon that could be adapted as a make-over experience for fans. Heck, rival Universal is leaving a ton of money on the table by not offering a house-sorting, robe-fitting, wand-selecting tour of Diagon Alley at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. How much would you pay for that?
Look, if all you want is a princess dress and an up-do, you can get that at home. But a run to Party City and mom's hair-styling don't give you a moment in the castle with costumed attendants transforming you into a princess. That's the value of something like Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. And that's the future of theme park merchandise.
It's not just about selling you stuff. It's about selling you experiences — moments that you cannot purchase anywhere else — along with the stuff that reminds you, and others, about that moment. And adding an experience to the merchandise allows retailers to slap on quite an up-charge — extra money that fans are often very willing to pay. It's all about the psychology of splurging, and what parks can do to encourage you to be willing to spend.
What character transformation experience would you pay for a loved one to have in a theme park?Tweet
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