But what if you could get something like that in a theme park? Now, you can.
Walt Disney World is now renting cabanas in the Magic Kingdom. (Now sit down while we tell you the price.) For $691 a day, after tax, you get a cabana located near Space Mountain in Tomorrowland, with lockable storage, charging stations, free sunscreen, drinks and food. For a family looking to take a rest break from the parks, but who don't want to spend the time to head all the way back to a hotel room, a cabana could provide a welcome solution — offering that private getaway space and a place to dump your stuff, without having to leave the park.
Of course, for $691 a day you could book yourself a darned nice hotel room in the Disney resort area. But let's face it. The market for these cabanas is people who already have booked one of those darned nice hotel rooms and who have the extra cash to drop on the added convenience of an in-park cabana, too. And cabanas are just the next step in Disney's emerging plan to make more money by selling visitors lounge access in its theme parks.
Disney and other theme parks long have provided pay-for-stay break rooms, so adding cabanas into that mix is more an extension of a well-established practice than any radical new way to squeeze extra money from park visitors. The Walt Disney World theme parks, Epcot especially, are littered with lounges built for the company's corporate partners and sponsors. Employees or guests of the sponsor were welcomed to use the lounges as people will use the cabanas — as a place to sit down, rest, enjoy a drink or snack, and maybe check a bag to pick up later in the day.
The big difference is that the people visiting the lounges weren't paying to use them — the sponsors were picking up the bill as part of their sponsorship package with the company.
Many of Disney's old corporate lounges have been converted to storage or cast break areas, as Disney books fewer direct sponsors for individual attractions as it once did. But now and then you can find some active lounges in the parks, such as the Chase lounge at Epcot, which Cecilia Bacca described for us last year.
At Universal Studios Florida, American Express card members can enjoy use of a private lounge near the Shrek theater. It's a simpler facility, but Universal offers a literal VIP experience to paying visitors on the west coast. Universal Studios Hollywood's VIP Experience includes the use of a well-appointed room above the Guest Service office near the park entrance, where participants will find a free supply of food and drinks.
Walt Disney World is taking the next step in that business model by offering spaces for the exclusive use of one family or party, rather than allowing them access to a larger, shared facility. But will people find it a good value?
Universal Studios Hollywood's VIP Experience costs between $359-399 per person, but also includes valet parking, park admission, front of line access to attractions and a private guided tour of the park's backlot, as well as lunch in the VIP lounge. Disney's in-park cabanas will accommodate up to eight people, making the per-person cost a little over $86 a day, if you put all eight people into the cabana. Will access to a glorified private tent (presumably without air conditioning) be enough for that price, without any of that special in-park access?
At this stage, Disney's looking as much for information here as it is seeking more money. If Disney find a demand for these cabanas, perhaps it decides to upgrade the experience by building permanent "cabana" facilities, with themed exterior decor, better appointments inside... and air conditioning. If Disney sees demand at lower price points, too, perhaps it will refurbish some of its old corporate lounges for pay-per-day use, allowing visitors access to these semi-private facilities for, say, $50-60 per person per day.
It's a badly kept secret among Disney World cast members that the company is looking to create a "Club 33"-style experience for free-spending theme park fans in Florida. But instead of building a single restaurant, like the original Club 33 at Disneyland in California, the Disney World Club 33 (or whatever it ends up being called), will be housed across a collection of smaller, in-park lounges at the resort. An announcement of the WDW Club 33 is expected by the end of the year, as people inside the company already are discussing pricing and the potential of financing plans.
So whether it's with a cabana, a club lounge, or a pay-per-use lounges in the park, Disney is looking for new ways to earn money from people who want to take a break for its crowds. Given the company's track record, here's betting that Disney will find more than enough visitors who are willing to pay for that.Tweet
Anon: you can't get quiet for a Nap and a premium view at the same time. Unless they are build to have AC and go from the ground to 100 ft in the Air.. That would be something...
A cabana for the day at the MK is basically the price of an extra 60-90 minutes with a VIP Tour host. That's the market Disney's targeting.— Theme Park Insider (@ThemePark) November 21, 2016
As for $691, that's after tax. With that said, why not figure out how to price it before tax, so that after taxes, it's a nice even number like $700? Or $695? I never can understand that, but then again, I don't need to worry about that anymore because there is no sales tax here in Oregon. Something is listed at $5. It's $5. Meh.
I can understand VIP tours, and expensive suites. Not all that different from something like first class airfare. But for my money, I'd simply book a room at the Contemporary, where I can walk to the park in 15 minutes. For that kind of money in Tomorrowland, I'd rather just live in one of the Carousel of Progress rooms.
Maybe I'd feel different if I was a "single-digit millionaire". Lol.
In all seriousness, Disney should be ashamed of themselves. They have increased prices much more than their operating costs have gone up. While it may be true Disney has enough customers willing to pay whatever they will charge, they're pricing out people that used to be loyal customers. At my local theater, the manager mentioned WB charged the theater less to show Fantastic Beasts on opening weekend then what Disney is charging them for Dr Strange, which they haven't had yet.
I'm not saying Disney shouldn't be profitable, I'm saying the people at Disney have decided making a profit is such a big priority they don't care how it affects anybody else. Disney keeps making it harder for middle class families to afford a theme park they once could easily afford. They demand such a high rate from movie theaters to show their movies, independent theaters have to wait over a month so they don't lose money by showing a movie made by Disney or one of its subsidies. Disney no longer cares about their biggest and most loyal customers, middle class Americans. They think nearly $700 to rent a tent a a theme park you also have to pay admission in order to get into is a good idea. I wish more people would say enough is enough, and let Disney know they're not going to remain loyal to Disney when they raise prices only to increase profit margins. Disney usually doesn't sell a bad product, they just want too much. And no Universal isn't much better.
Save a few bucks if we get 5 other groups to do the Cabanas..
Anon Mouse: Other websites are reporting that these cabanas come with reserved viewing for parades and fireworks.
I don't mind as long as
A. It doesn't intrude on the experience of the average guest, and
B. It's not like the refurbished Club 33 in Disneyland which installed large windows that destroyed the scale of New Orleans Square, where the one percenters can look down on the peons.
What's next? Exclusive "bed and breakfast" rooms in the Haunted Mansion? Or should that be "dead and breakfast"?
P.S.: My response to Randy's post: hear, hear!
Moooooooooo - that's my impression of a cash cow.
I don't understand the price or location of these WDW cabanas at all. For $700, I could post something on Craigslist paying someone to hold my umbrella, spritz water on my face, and do food and locker runs for me. But $700 for a tent on the backside of Space Mountain?
But the name of the game is definitely greed. They will pull out the most preposterous ideas, slap on a price straight out of science fiction, and put it up as a trial baloon, to see just how gullible the paying public can possibly be. Who knows, maybe these "cabanas" will actually sell out!
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To me this is another way of separating the Have’s and the Have not’s… Yes, we can afford a yearly vacation in Orlando for 8 days but there is no way I am adding $691.00 more dollars per day.
I understand this would give folks a nice break from the sun\heat\crowds\lines. But that is a lot of monies. Why not make it $300 and first come first serve reservations.