Why Walt Disney World Is Creating Hard Feelings Right Now

December 27, 2021, 5:59 PM · Does anyone else feel an enormous amount of anger and frustration within the Disney Parks fan community right now?

Negativity within fan communities has become a bigger and bigger issue ever since the Internet democratized the fan experience. Before the Internet, fan communities typically were cultivated by IP owners, with fleeting attention from limited major media sources. Fans who had problems with - or even just unique perspectives on - what was happening with the IP had very limited opportunities to share that point of view with other fans.

That kept the vibe around fan communities generally positive. If something went wrong with an IP, people just left the fan community and moved on to something else. Only the positive communities supporting working IP endured.

But no IP is perfect. The pre-Internet era allowed IP to get away with a certain level of laziness, bad value, or even ill will. Just so long as the transgressions did not push a critical mass of fans to abandon an IP, thus endangering its survival, its owner could get away with quite a bit without challenge.

The Internet changed that. Now, fans had a medium to amplify their voice. Fans who did not live near anyone who shared their interests now could connect with other fans all over the world. With those audiences now available, it became possible for writers to make a living covering beats that no newspaper, major magazine, or TV channel would have supported before.

At first, negativity in those emerging communities and platforms felt fresh and objective. Fans could discover more nuanced and insightful takes on their favorite IP. Creators now were getting honest feedback from fans not just in easily buried in-house customer surveys but through a global public forum. Unheralded excellence could find new advocates, while big names were held to higher standards.

All this helped fuel a new golden age in the creative arts, with some of the best TV, movies, media, and, yes, theme park attractions ever developed. Artists knew they needed to deliver better and better to win the support of fans online. That has given theme park fans new delights from Rocky Mountain Construction's rebuilds of declining wooden coasters to Universal's The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Disney's Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.

Yet even as many things were getting better, certain fans discovered that their sharp, negative posts attracted far more engagement than positive ones. When social media platforms discovered the same, they created an incentive for people to deliver that negative content by showing those posts more often to more followers.

Today, that leaves fans to navigate a seas of negativity, trying to figure out what is noise blasted to keep them angry and engaged online, and what might be genuine criticism that's worthy of their time, attention, and consideration. Unfortunately, the noise is making it harder and harder to find example of that unheralded excellence that drew so many of us online years ago, as social media algorithms reward the established and controversial, penalizing voices who try to lift up something truly creative and unique.

All this now brings us to Disney, but with the context I felt was necessary for me to write about what I believe is happening.

The Walt Disney World Resort remains the most popular theme park destination on the planet, drawing nearly 19 million visitors during a pandemic-marred 2020, according to the annual TEA/AECOM Theme Index attendance report. Its enduring popularity commands attention from its millions of visitors and fans from around the world. That makes the Walt Disney World a fat target for social media criticism.

But even if an unrealistic 99% of Walt Disney World's visitors left the resort completely satisfied, that would leave hundreds of thousands of guests a year with real criticisms to air. Not everything negative you might see about Disney World is clickbait. Yet among those real criticisms lie many that simply don't apply to other fans' unique situations and preferences.

Disney has promoted itself as a lifestyle brand and, at times, even as an upscale travel brand. But Disney usually left open back doors for budget-conscious fans. Today, Disney is closing more and more of those back doors. And that, I believe, is driving much of the negativity that I and other fans are seeing online at the moment.

Reservation requirements have limited the number of times that annual passholders can use their passes, effectively raising their cost per visit. Meanwhile, Disney has eliminated the free Fastpasses that some savvy fans used to experience dozens of attractions each day. In its place, Disney has introduced two new upcharge plans.

All this means fewer attractions experienced on fewer days - or higher costs - for Disney's most dedicated fans. Who wouldn't be upset with paying more or getting less?

Here's where things get contentious. One of the reasons why Disney's most dedicated fans have been so dedicated to the company was the fact that using these back doors - annual passes, Fastpass, and sometimes the Disney Vacation Club - could make visiting Florida's Walt Disney World (or Disneyland in California) a stupid good deal. There were some people visiting Disney and going on dozens of attractions per day for not much more than the cost of going to a movie.

Enough guests had figured out how to make the most of Disney's ticketing and reservation systems that they were crowding out other potential visitors. Disney was seeing its potential growth stalled by a lack of availability in part created by the stupid good deals it was providing to many of its fans.

Yes, Disney built us a bunch of new attractions and refurbished many areas to help create new capacity and manage its crowds. But at some point, any sane business manager is going to look at a situation such as this and decide that it's time to raise prices - not Disney's top-line prices, which already led the industry, but the effective bottom-line prices that the company's most active repeat customers were paying. That either generates more money to build more capacity or limits the demand on existing capacity. Either way, it's a win for the company.

That does not lessen the hurt for people who had grown used to getting such a good deal from Disney. In fact, that hurt only intensifies anytime some other fan (uh, like me now, I guess) points out that Disney is probably making the correct business move by closing the back doors that so many guests were swarming through. Universal, Six Flags, SeaWorld, and others for years have been charging more for their line-skipping passes than Disney is now charging for Disney Genie+. But many of the Disney fans who are complaining about the recent changes were not going to Universal, Six Flags, or SeaWorld. What those competitors are doing simply does not matter to those fans' situations and preferences. Bringing that up feels like a distraction, or even an attack, rather than the acknowledgement of loss that those fans sought by going online with their complaints.

Of course, a conflict like that is exactly the sort of thing that social media platforms love to elevate. So the anger and frustration get elevated, and any attempt to promote a more dispassionate analysis gets buried.

Frustrated Disney fans have other options. Like fans of broken IPs in the pre-Internet era, they can go elsewhere. One of the things I love so much about the Theme Park Insider community is that so many of you are not wedded to any single theme park brand. You understand that parks such as Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Legoland California, Efteling, Europa Park, Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi, Universal Studios Japan and more offer attractions every bit as good - and sometimes better - than Disney's. If social media weren't so fixated on trafficking anger, perhaps more Disney fans could hear more first-person endorsements of Disney's worthy rivals.

But fans do not have to ditch Disney to continue to find good deals from the company. They might not be the same deals that the company has offered in the past, but if you are willing to look at what is available with fresh eyes, you might see some nice value to be had. Especially if you look around to see them within the context of what Disney's competitors have to offer, too.

Getting angry won't get you those deals, however. Anger becomes its own product, crowding out your ability to think or feel anything else. No matter what you think about what Walt Disney World and Disneyland have been doing recently, I hope that you will continue to think and act like a savvy consumer. This is business. Yes, it's a creative business, where emotion is an important part of product. But as a smart, well-informed consumer, you have power to protect yourself when doing business - or not - with any company, including Disney.

And you have power to protect yourself when doing business with social media platforms online. Even if they're free, you still pay for them with your time. Unfollow sources that traffic in anger and share instead sources that promote understanding and appreciation. Anger might drive social media clicks, but it won't help you enjoy a great vacation.

Update: Here is my continuation of this - Why I Don't Want to Live in a Metaverse

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Replies (40)

December 27, 2021 at 7:17 PM

Perfect analysis!

December 27, 2021 at 7:32 PM

By the way, there’s a part two to this coming Tuesday or Wednesday. Much more to talk about here. Stay tuned!

December 27, 2021 at 7:41 PM

These are good points, but perhaps they are too friendly to Disney. Broadly speaking, Disney has two ways to increase revenue, given that they now face excess demand: (1) increase prices and reduce spending, or (2) build extra capacity so more paying visitors can come. You can't in general do both since price increases reduce the number of willing visitors. It's perfectly reasonable to complain if a company chooses more of (1) which benefits only the company (at least if we ignore crowding effects) rather than more of (2) which benefits both the company and also current and future guests. To me, this explains why Disney is viewed negatively but Universal is viewed more positively by fans these days.

December 27, 2021 at 7:54 PM

In terms of what Disney has done this year, it has been too much, too fast: Eliminating Fastpass and Magical Express, charging more for shorter after hours parties, paid Genie+ and individual Lightning Lane, reduced benefits of annual passes, not getting to use annual passes due to the reservation system, etc. Wait times during the busiest two weeks of the year have been down at Disneyworld. Omicron likely has something to do with that, but all of the reasons I have stated above has something to do with it, too (minus the elimination of Magical Express as it runs through the end of 2021).

News media and social media thrive on anger and conflict. News channels and websites cater to a side, and the more people watch a channel or click on a website means more ad revenue for the owners. I don’t care if you watch MSNBC or FoxNews, or read Huffington Post or Breitbart. They are all businesses and in the business of making money for their owners and/or shareholders.

Social media is no different. No matter what a person posts, there is an audience out there that will agree with them. That makes them feel their actions and beliefs are justified no matter how ridiculous they may be. Social media companies love conflict as well as more clicks equate to more ad revenue there, too.

December 27, 2021 at 8:02 PM

From the sounds of things, Disney isn't doing themselves any favours in this department. They seem to be at war with one fan news site, and are making a lot of questionable decisions. I think a lot of the critics have some valid points - the Posideon Entertainment YouTube channel has some pretty persuasive arguments about the quality of new attractions, especially when compared to what's happening down the road (which he admits isn't perfect either).

Until now Disney hasn't seen any serious repercussions from its cost cutting, I really hope the Starcruiser ends up being the kick up the backside they need... Whoever signed off on that video that guests booking. were shown should be fired (if anyone signed off on it at all). In an era where anyone with a computer and a camera can do CSO (Green Screen) effects in their bedroom the idea that they could get away with a backdrop that cheap looking tells me there is *zero* quality control going on. Babylon 5 did CSO sets right 15 years ago with the lost tales (as does many newscasts every night - even in small markets).

The next Orlando trip was supposed to be Disney-centric, potentially excluding Universal completely (as we spent more time there last time, as it was better value). Now, I'm wondering if a wait for Epic Universe is the smarter play, and not worrying about Disney so much. If the Starcruiser reaction isn't what puts Disney into high gear again, that will have to be. Both resorts do better when both resorts are playing against each other.

December 27, 2021 at 9:04 PM

I do want to point out the whole world is frustrated and angry right now. Just ask my kid’s 4th grade class. I do agree Disney has made some major changes to how their most loyal fans experience the parks, and made things so much more expensive for those of us who put in the effort to make our dollars stretch far. Balancing that as a business who was shut down (in CA) for more than a year and has some serious revenue to make up for is nearly impossible, and I do not envy Chapek. Although even I have reached a point of willing to pay more for less crowds and shorter waits.

December 28, 2021 at 12:01 AM

Excellent article, some of your best work, and bold to take on these issues in such a frank, direct way. Honestly, I think you could take a step back and make these arguments more broadly about America's problems in general, though that would be for a different site. ;)

I agree with you that the internet gives voice to complaints that were never heard before, and it amplifies critical voices. That said, I think if the internet had been what it is when DCA was first launched, it might not have taken so long to correct all the cheap, lame decisions that were initially made there. Put another way, the internet is only accelerating the fan response that would eventually be revealed.

As for what Disney is doing now to the parks, the fan backlash is fully justified. As you say, I don't care that Six Flags does its customers dirty by prioritizing rich people--I don't go to Six Flags, it's a gross place and is a poor return for my money.

We go to Disneyland, the premium park, and we spend almost as much as it would cost to go to Fiji for a half-week there. So the cheap, lame decisions they're making now--removing cashiers, charging for a fastpass, allowing rich people to skip the line, removing magic morning hours--are simply disrespectful. I have spent literally tens of thousands of dollars taking my family to Disneyland, and now they want me to pay a surcharge for a fastpass to Radiator Springs, something I previously enjoyed for no additional cost? Now they want me to pay more for a ticket AND work as the cashier at Pym's Kitchen? It's insulting. This isn't Safeway asking me to ring up my own Cheetos purchase, I'm at the most expensive theme park on the planet, and they want me to fill the role of a $16 hour food cashier.

To your article, the backlash is not overblown or misrepresented on the internet. If anything, the backlash is understated, because most people aren't rabid theme park fans like us and won't even understand the changes until they're in the park grappling with them. I can only hope that the online backlash will prompt faster change than we saw with DCA, because I don't see another Disney trip on the horizon until these insulting developments are sorted out.

What am I, some Stockholm Syndrome victim where Disney can abuse me and I keep coming back for more? I pay a thousand dollars day all-in to be there, I'm not going to be disrespected like this. Am I "angry" about it? No, I'm a grown man, my family leads a rich life, and unfortunately I'm increasingly used to Disney's disrespect. But I'm also not a punk. We love Disney, but we don't need it.

December 28, 2021 at 1:08 AM

I think the frustration with the declining value you get on a Disney World vacation has been brewing since Fastpass+. The original Fastpass allowed for a fair and relatively stress free system. After Fastpass+, it started feeling less like a vacation and more like you had to work hard for a decent experience. They really spent $1-2 billion to make me feel less satisfied? Why would I know every single thing I'm going to do and at what time 60 days in advance?
Also, many of the creative choices were not that appealing. They sat on amazing IP (Incredibles, Tangled, Mulan, Wreck-it Ralph, Brave, etc.), but they demolished Mickey's house so we could have mediocre Seven Dwarves and Little Mermaid attractions? They rethemed Maelstrom to Frozen instead of giving us an original dark ride? My kids were confused and disappointed. Having a decent queue to Dumbo didn't trick them into thinking that was an amazing ride. Having a facade to Tangled in front of the bathrooms only made them question why there wasn't a related ride.
My kids didn't even know what Avatar was. They were disappointed when I told them it didn't have anything to do with the Airbender cartoon.
By the time Galaxy's Edge opened, my kids were far more interested in Marvel. After Avengers Campus' underwhelming offerings, I'm not convinced a Disney World Marvel area would have met expectations.
Everything has now boiled over with Genie+ and Lightening Lane. Why can't we have an electronic version of the original fast pass where you tap in your reservation? Aside from Rise and Flight of Passage, do any of the attractions warrant the individual Lightening Lane? If all of this is to manage capacity, why don’t they spread out the crowds with new attractions? Why are 3 of the 4 parks still thin on offerings several decades after opening?
How does Starcruiser help either manage crowds or add value for the base vacation package?
When I go on a Disney Cruise, I feel the value relative to the price. I can no longer say the same for a Disney World vacation.

December 28, 2021 at 9:36 PM

I’m posting here for the first time because I’ve reached critical mass on what Disney, the parks in particular, has been doing to it’s fans over the last 20 years. The Walt Disney Company has been on a relentless campaign to squeeze every possible nickel and dime out of its customers while providing consistently lower and lower quality experiences in a wide variety of ways.

Let’s start with value. Disney World tickets used to be good forever and park hopping was included. But they took those perks away with the laughably named “Magic your way” program that made those thing up charges. Parking used to be included at Disney Hotels, but that’s now a thing of the past. Oh well you say, that’s fine because don’t need a car and will just use the Magical Express….Nope, that’s history too. But staying in those on property resorts will get me into the parks early, won’t they? Yeah, for a whole 30 minutes now. But at least I can maximize my time if I plan ahead and use fast passes…..Wrong….Gone. Hope you are willing to pay $15 per person per day, plus ANOTHER up charge for ROTR, if you don’t want to have to wait in line with the poors. I could go on and on, but you get the idea. If you want a premium Disney experience the already insane price of admission is no longer enough. You’d better be prepared to pay for fee on top of fee, up charge on top of up charge.

I’m tired of the whole “Well Universal, Cedar Fair, Sea World, and Six Flags all do it” line. First, people generally don’t spend a week or more at those parks. They go for a day or two tops and aren’t shelling out thousands of dollars on tickets and rooms alone. If I want to go to Cedar Point and shell out a few extra bucks on a line skipping pass, then I’m going to have that option because it’s not costing me an arm and a leg to go there in the first place. As for Universal’s line skipping passes, yeah they’re expensive, but at least they’re straightforward in their usage and can be a serious time saver. But even they restrict them on rides like Hagrid’s and the Velosaurcoaster to keep some semblance of fairness for their most popular attractions.

And while Universal has been steadily increasing the quality of their park going experience and hotels, Disney has distinctly been going in reverse for decades now. It started with the abomination that was the original DCA. Then you had fellow cheap parks like Paris Studios and HK Disney. You’ve had amazing rides like 20000 Leagues and almost all of EPCOT’s Future World closed and replaced with inferior ones often littered with ridiculous IP, or with nothing, to save a buck. SWGE was supposed to be this ultimate immersive experience that would rival or even SURPASS WWOHP, and it doesn’t even come close (And this is coming from someone who grew up a SW junkie and is pretty indifferent to Harry Potter as a series).

Other examples of Disney’s make a buck indifference to quality include: Main Street’s unique and charming individual stores were gutted into a monolith and filled with cheaply made, overpriced crap you can find online, park and hotel maintenance was vastly reduced, the beautiful fountain at the Poly torn out, the previously open and majestic Grand Canyon concourse at the Contemporary Resort jammed full of stores selling more junk, 30+ year old monorails that are poorly air conditioned, break down regularly and smell like BO, the incessant pimping of the DVC, and countless other things I could list.

If you want a real life example of how Disney has fallen in terms of cleanliness, go to Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana. That park, which is only seasonal and opened in 1946, is absolutely SPARKLING in a way that puts Disney, with its vastly superior resources, to shame. In fact it’s one of their points of pride as they brag about they’ve won the amusement park industry award for cleanliness for something like 20 years running. I went there for the first time a few years ago and was truly blown away. They also give free soft drinks and sun screen, something which must HORRIFY Disney execs at the thought of doing.

My first trip to WDW was in 1979 and I went every year up into the mid 90s and, without fail, my family and I ALWAYS felt like I was getting the absolute best guest experience for the money we were paying. After I went back in 2000, after a few year hiatus, I got the sense that the quality, while still extremely high, had definitely slipped a little. Since then WDW has been on a steady path of offering you far less for far more and it has absolutely hit full speed in the last 5 years. My last visit was in 2019 and I can say beyond any doubt that, unless things change in the further and Disney reverses its money at all costs philosophy, it will be my last for a long time. I can also say my kids were far more impressed with Universal and I’ve heard many other parents echo similar sentiments and I personally think Epic Universe is going to blow Disney out of the water.

And I’m sorry but the whole “Disney execs have to do this because they have an obligation to the stock holders” apologist line is utter nonsense. Disney used to hold themselves to a higher standard and, if that cost them a few bucks, so be it, being the best sometimes comes with a price. Smart execs, or least ones who value the customer experience and satisfaction, find a way to keep standards high and prices affordable.

Today Disney doesn’t hold themselves to any kind of higher standard and rely on customer loyalty and that tired mantra of “Magic” for them so fleece their customers for a product that is no longer the industry standard in so many ways. I do not understand why so many continue to accept it when there is so much else out there to see and do, but I do know a lot of people are tired of it and Disney is in for a huge shock if they believe they can do it indefinitely. The younger generations are not nearly as pixie dust struck by places like WDW and, when they become the paying customers in a few decades, many of them are not going to pay the prices simply on the basis of being part of the Magic.

Rant over.

December 28, 2021 at 2:09 AM

I think a reason why so many Disney fans are upset these days is because Disney chose to make some significant changes to the guest experience at exactly the wrong time. People are craving normalcy, not change.

December 28, 2021 at 2:36 AM

The internet has been around longer than Chapek has been CEO. And so have social media, the way social media work and how negativity is used to drive attention. As mentioned by other posters here, using triggers to sell has been common for other media as long as they exist.

So what has changed than? Disney is getting so much negativity. Why is that?
Did social media and other media outlets suddenly change?

No. The way the Walt Disney Company treats its customers has changed. Fundamentally.
We already knew they are a business. And we pay for their services. But those services 1: have gotten more expensive 2: than ever before, 3: in a very short time span and 4: were reduced in 5: quality and 6: quantity.

Now why are people complaining?

Other parks make you pay for services like front of the line etc. But their overall price tag is lower. But they are not a premium brand. But they include services with staying on property. But they have been offering state of the art attractions for the past decade. But they crank out new attractions regularly. But they make you feel they want you to visit AND come back.

Being more positive about Efteling and other parks is nice of course and should steer people there, but that is not the point here.

I understand Robert wants to maintain a good relationship with Disney PR and of course has a longstanding experience by working at the park. But I'd wish for a little more less biased posting when it comes to what Disney has been doing to not only its most loyal fans but also to people who do not belong to the upper 50% of income. And who have been able if barely to visit and are now just being priced out of the parks.

I can't and don't want to buy brands like Louis Vuitton or Hermes. Because those have always been exlusive brands for the rich. Disney is aiming to become a similar brand. This transition is very hard on people, especially if you have children who grow up with the movies and Disney+ and will not be able to visit anymore.

Add Pandemic-caused loss in income and a need for continuity and security and you understand why people are so upset.

Like I've said before: I'm #donewithdisney and I have the feeling, I am not alone.

December 28, 2021 at 10:39 AM

They should call it the magical price increase, that won't upset people to much.
Eventually Disney has become the butt of a joke. I remember vividly Roy Disney left the board of directors when he saw management ruining the Disney name. He was called back due to outcry of investors. Roy wasn't against change (just like Disney himself wasn't) but it needs to be in the spirit and quality of what went before. That slowly went down the drain once he took his pension. It's shocking how long it takes people to see that Disney is just in name only and lacks everything it once was.
Nothing to be mad about, just move on to better and brighter theme-parks.

December 28, 2021 at 4:49 AM

“On the 12th Day of Entitlement, TPI gave to me, an article that totally triggered me about how Disney is nickel and diming me by asking for more of my hard earned money and offering less and raising prices just because they want to make more money and stripping away my benefits without even compensating me properly or asking for my opinion on what would be best for me and my happiness or my satisfaction for what I believe is right for meeeeeeee…”

December 28, 2021 at 4:49 AM

Good historical time perspective, Robert. :-)

Apart from everything else : Interesting remark from Dutchduck.
"..... Because those have always been exlusive brands for the rich. Disney is aiming to become a similar brand. ....."

Aiming, is different from succeeding ! :-)
Let's dress in the skin of a real rich customer for a moment, checking what that kind of customer wishes to expect !
If any company likes to cater as an "exclusive brand", the service level itself must be without reproach. And they (Disney) are not (even interested in) doing so. How do you run a luxury service, worth the name ?
(a) Offer 'Space and Comfort' : At least 300sqf per guest in every single outdoors location, 50sqf indoors like bar, restaurant... <<< Typical luxury business related data !
(b) Provide 100% personal human service approach : NO self serve machines ever, a high rank staff member available for anything at any place and any time. (A die hard in 'luxury class service'.)
(c) Customisation (not standardisation) as the ruling principle. (Read dedicated article : https://hbr.org/2016/03/the-best-luxury-services-are-customized-not-standardized )
(d) Safeguarding emotional connection. A home-from-home feeling embedded in the business is a key factor in this respect, which depends just as much on the staff as on the material surroundings.
(e, f, ... lesser key factors do exist)
Now what ? Where is Disney going ? Premium, top premium and over the top premium, still does not touch the feet of these "luxury business fundamentals". Disney takes the money, to deliver a STILL 100% standard product. Just with more so called exclusive front doors.
So, is Disney winning the hearts of the "rich" ? Not at all. The over-the-top most expensive Genie options are not even offering what Disney offered everybody in the 1970-ies. (Space, comfort, personal service... etc etc...) So, NO, rich people who want something exclusive relaxing will go to a small resort on some tropical island, not to Orlando ... lol
There are other signs of "bastardisation" within Disney resorts, over that big timeline perspective (1970-2020 = 50 years), a slow creeping process of ever more lowering the sensual make-believe in the parks.

Example 1 : In the 1970-ies, the parks (2) were still offering the soundscapes of 'real world environments'. This means, near to no piped music all over the roads, instead little individual music and other sound spots everywhere, so that music always was exclusively "located", got a meaning of being in ONE specific spot, and not randomly piped all over, which acts as a SOUND-FOG (-SMOG...) destroying the make-believe storytelling all together. Like : a piano is naturally played from a specific window, not as a dirty smog all over the distance of a street. Shopping center sales rules, took over the whole park, and banned "total make believe". The only reality hammered in the heads of the visitors nowadays is not that they are on 'adventure' (hunting for experiences), but that they are in an endless shopping center. The technique is "muzak"....
After that bastardisation started, decennium after decennium, also the average sound volume level went gradually up. Nowadays it's not even background muzak anymore, it's incredible loud ! And, you cannot even escape it ! ....

Example 2 : the invasion of the food carts. The practise was virtually non existing in the 1970-ies. Same story : random food carts do not fit in with the rule of 'total make believe', as in the real far west, the real jungle, the real anything... you would not find them. The bastardisation went on in a creeping pace, always more, so that nowadays it's almost impossible to make any souvenir picture of any spot in the parks without some random food truck on it ! GONE the theming make believe. Visually destroyed, just as the original soundscape got destroyed.

I could go on with the list, but I just wish to show that the bastardisation is slowly creeping forward in time, and that it is the fatal mechanism of UN-Disneyfication in the parks.
It's illogical to presume one can attract "upper class" customers in such an environment, or is it ? .... (I must be carefull here, because having big money does not have a relation with being cultured anymore. ^_^ )

(Note: the driving forces of 'total make believe' in storyline based theming, is one of my main concerns within my consultant profession/accademic research. Disney (the company) de-routed and tumbled down on lower levels, regardless of the honest efforts coming from the individual imagineers.)

Food for thought.

December 28, 2021 at 6:09 AM

I agree with you completely. Before the reservation system was installed by Disney the complaint was the parks are too full and Disney charges too much. Now the complaint is they wont let me in but they let the resort guest in first. Keep in mind the vast majority of resort guests only go to WDW for 4 days or less. If you care about letting in more quests then those who only go on one trip every few years or less is the right way to go as it allows millions more people in rather than just the local annual pass holders. There is no way a company can win with the internet because when Universal builds their 3rd park and thousands of new hotel rooms they will do the same thing, raise annual pass prices and add more restrictions. After all, themeparks can only hold a certain amount of customers and those who pay are the ones any they want. I just hope those who hate what Disney does will realize Universal is actually the same.

December 28, 2021 at 6:46 AM

There are some who would call me “rich.” But let’s be clear, many of the “rich” I know are actually pretty smart with their money. They get irritated too by being nickeled and dimed for less. We were in Orlando a few weeks ago and went to Universal. We left Universal after two days, still longing for the “less intense” happy feeling of the old Disney, but still didn’t regret our decision to skip it.
I deal with budgets and personnel costs, so I’m sympathetic to some of the challenges Disney is facing. But the bottom line is they have taken away the enjoyment in too many areas. The complicated and expensive product they’re selling is no longer appealing to me. I don’t need the internet to tell me that.

December 28, 2021 at 8:31 AM

I’m a pass holder to all 3 Orlando parks, and over the past 12 months, due to retirement, I have been to them all dozens of times. The biggest changes I’ve seen, have certainly come from Disney.

Yes, I was one of those ‘back door’ Disney AP’s, and used it to my advantage every time I went. I saw it as a perk of being a pass holder, along with being able to go when I wanted, but that particular back door has been closed. Sure it irks me, but I’m slowly but surely learning the intricacies of Genie+, and although it’s now a pay-for system, similarities are beginning to emerge between it and FP+. Enough to give me the encouragement that one day I’ll use it to my advantage, although the no re-ride, is still a big obstacle for me in deciding to pay my $15.

As to going when I want, apart from busy holiday periods, that does not affect me at all. I can easily get reservations, and now I have 5, it’s easy just to use one, and then get another.

As a member of the local pass holder ‘family’, I can definitely say I’m disappointed with the changes that Disney has made since the start of the Covid-19 era. But as with all setbacks, I’ll find a way, and continue to enjoy Disney to the fullest. Sure the experience isn’t quite as full as it used to be, but being able to go to a Disney park any day, or any time of day I choose, is enough to continue staying as a pass holder.

If I have one gripe, then it would have to be losing my photopass perk. It was the reason I bought a gold pass, but now I have to pay an extra $99 on top of a pass that costs me more than my gold. Ah well, little things, but in the end I’ll no doubt add it on, as I use it almost every time I go.

The Disney pass holder community is a strange one, that’s for sure. But when you don’t get drawn in to all the negativity, it is a very informative platform, and one I have used many times to get opinions/advice from the core of local AP’s that, like me, don’t get involved in the slanging matches that occur more and more these days. Although I will admit, there are some comedians on those pages, and they do make me laugh with some of their comments.

December 28, 2021 at 10:27 AM

Meh I feel like this was just a way to air out your concerns about blogs with the "wrong" opinions regarding Disney rather than critique their recent changes...

While a trip to Disney world isnt a right and can be done for a reasonable price if you make cutbacks its weird to see you want to argue for the big guy instead of the average joe. Magical express, free fast passes, magic hours, after hours events that didnt require a second mortgage all added value and softened the blow of saving and splurging on Disney. With roughly 20 million plus guests attending MK alone you cant tell me they couldnt continue to eat those costs.

While you cover for disney and mention universal express passes and flash passes etc you gloss over the huge difference between em. One is the cost and while they do cost more than 15 bucks if disney is already going to charge you why not stop playing, charge the cost of another ticket and let you skip all lines all day and make it worth it. Not slap a charge on something that was free and then tax extra for one ride on their E ticket rides...

So while I can see you having concerns I think most people know outrage articles are just that and read em for fun...I know this is gonna be a shock BUT people are allowed to have different opinions. You arent the arbiter of whats right and wrong...youre really trying to frame their losses as them being haters...These people are hurt cause they love Disney and its obvious their cries are falling on deaf ears because of apologists that can afford it and dont wanna rock the boat.

Even if from your perspective it isnt a loss. You and other apologists are insiders and get to go and do theme park stuff we can only dream about. So yeah with your annual passes and press invites you might get to only do these rides 20 times instead of 22 and its no big deal...

I know this is going to be hard to believe but for someone making like 30-40k Disney prices hurt. Not everyone is blessed or money savvy so dont job shame and say do better here please....Covid and rising gas prices make things hurt...not throwing political shade or trying to turn it into that here js.. Its totally cool YOU can afford it and wanna side with Disney because you want this utopian community but no thats not real life.

I hope you dont dismiss and delete this because im being critical of your views. I think Disney deserves to be put under the microscope and be dressed down for bad decisions. Even if its their right to do as they please and even if you are cool with it. If im wrong id love a rebuttal or clarification not a delete.

December 28, 2021 at 10:48 AM

There are two simple reasons why this is my only daily theme park site 1) articles like this 2) excellent contributions from its community, as above.

I won't be an on-line assassin of Disney as they are still the best but with the recent price increases, Genie+, hotel parking fees, theme park parking fees, ticketed event value reductions etc, my affinity is dwindling rapidly as I get less for more and have little/no spontaneity to enjoy the experience. A theme park should be fun. Visiting WDW these days isn't.

I have thought for a while that Disney exudes hubris, but, whilst people may moan, they keep on paying whatever Disney charge and continue to visit, regardless of the planning/pre-planning, so this isn't hubris, this is Disney knowing the threshold of its fans. For every one who drops out, three are ready to replace them.

Until fans start voting with their feet and reducing their spend I'm afraid it's "Chapeau Chapek!"

Looking forward to Part II.

December 28, 2021 at 11:13 AM

I'll say first that the internet did not initiate the amplification of negative commentary. Negative commentary thriving and propagating is straight out of the journalism playbook (sorry Robert). Death, disasters, and negativity sells and social media and fan sites have only provided the GP a chance to play junior columnist. The proliferation of "hot take" shows (volume over facts) across cable news and sports programming gives people the model, along with the encouragement of devil's advocate POVs that are baseless yet accepted with the same legitimacy as well-defines and supported arguments. In other words, the internet didn't create the current environment, but it certainly has supercharged it.

As far as the direct criticisms of Disney, I think they're completely justified. Yes, Disney is a business and has the right to adjust their practices to maximize profit or to make changes in the way they do business to their benefit. However, the changes that have been made significantly decrease the value of their theme park products. Whether guests have taken advantage of "back doors" or values that Disney really didn't want to offer shouldn't matter, because the fact is that people were able to visit Disney parks on a reasonable budget, but Disney has slowly tightened the screws to the point where the costs have gotten borderline ridiculous. In the past, guests wanting to break the bank on a Disney vacation could easily do so with add ons, luxury accommodations, and other upgrades, but there were always ways for guests to find ways to extract value from their vacation through other methods. Disney has directly attacked those who have sought to save money on their trips...

Guests wanting to get more rides in a single day would optimize the use of FP/FP+, directly increasing the value of the admission cost (more rides means fewer days needed to fully experience the parks). With Genie+/LL, Disney has not only monetized the line avoidance system that used to be included in admission, but they've limited the service in a way the decreases its value (no-re-rides).

Guests wanting to save money by staying off-site could avoid crowds by avoid EMH parks since on-site guests would be drawn to those parks because of the benefit. Now that on-site guests are allowed into every park before off-site guests, there's no way strategy to beat the early morning crowds.

Park pass has been incredibly frustrating for everyone, and the limitations on park hopping significantly decrease the value of the add-on feature that used to be an excellent way to extract additional value out of the every-increasing admission cost.

In my eyes, this all comes down to Disney finding ways to charge guests more for less. In the past, Disney merely raised prices on it tickets and hotels to increase revenue. Occasionally they would make tweaks to their systems to prevent gross exploitation of loopholes. However, the recent changes that have been made not only increase the bottom line cost, but they decrease the value guests get from those costs. It's like a food company increasing the price of an item 10% while at the same time reducing the size of the item 10%, effectively making it a 20% increase. Disney is hitting guests from both ends, and by charging guests more for less, these latest round of changes seem more diabolical and disingenuous. If Disney wanted to increase revenue 20%, why not just raise prices 20%, instead of trying to hit the consumer on both ends? It belittles the consumer, and plays them for a fool. Yet the biggest issue for me is that it directly undercuts their biggest fans, who have made Disney parks the success that they are today.

December 28, 2021 at 11:20 AM

People have this perception that Disneyland/World are supposed to be for the middle class, or that Disney the quintissential American "middle class family" company.

Disney doesn't give a F about the middle class you would have to be a dolt to think this fantasy. They have a certain amount of supply in their theme parks and they are going to allow the highest possible bidder in. Period. Don't get why this is such a hard concept for people to grasp. I mean you could say the same about anything "NFL tickets are too expensive for their fans" yea but they still seem to have no problems selling out to people who may not be hardcore fans but have more $.

December 28, 2021 at 11:46 AM

Two contrasting points. Internet amplification is a two-way street. If a company acts in a positive manner, Internet implication could be a great thing. On the flip side, corporate Disney acting in a greedy disreputable manner gets negative amplification. It's the company that sets the tone (positive or negative) and the Disney CEO is tone-deaf. On the other hand, what's the impact of this Internet negativity to Disney? Seems to be little to none because while people might grouse and complain, the crowds are packing in the theme parks. Unless people stop coming and stop spending, Bob Paycheck can keep grinning like the Cheshire cat.

December 28, 2021 at 12:08 PM

Excellent piece and I agree with two great points in the comments: 1. Disney did way too much too fast in changes and 2. they did so at a time folks wanted to settle back into a routine with visits, etc. I think some problems amplified by people but Disney has made mistakes and hopefully learn from them a bit more but great work summarizing it all in a fair way to all sides.

December 28, 2021 at 1:02 PM

@the_man - There's certainly some validity to what you're saying, but even sports franchises understand the need to cater to the middle class. While they certainly divert much of their energy and marketing resources into corporate partners and upper-class spenders, they understand that the blue-collar fans are the foundation of the franchise. Most sports teams offer affordable tickets in some way or another (either through PSLs/season tickets, discount promotions, or day-of purchases with dynamic pricing), and this notion that even NFL tickets are "expensive" is pretty unfounded in most markets (granted the 2 richest markets - New York and LA have either underperforming teams or disenchanted fanbases leading to below market ticket prices). Also, many teams have started reacting to calls from fans regarding the expense of attending events and are actively promoting deals (including concessions and souvenirs) to shake the stigma that has lingered around sporting events, particularly the NFL.

As someone who typically attends @50 sporting events in a "normal" year, I will say that we rarely spent more than $3k per year on those outings for our family of 3. As the pandemic has affected the sports landscape, if you're willing to take on the risks (often no greater than visiting a theme park), you can easily find tickets to US professional events right now (NFL, NBA, and NHL) for less than $20. While seats at that price are not in prime locations, they get you in the door for 2-4 hours of entertainment. Disney on the other hand has increased prices while making it harder to find deals to reduce the "get in" price or extract any additional value to make that price more palatable. At a time when sports teams are making gestures to maintain the fanbase and keep them engaged, Disney is cutting their fanbase off at the knees. Ultimately it's their prerogative, but you have to wonder if there will be lasting effects. FWIW, sports franchises that have tried to ride the wave of success by continuously raising prices and reducing value eventually come to the realization that the core of their fanbase eventually reaches a breaking point and will stop showing up (or at least reduce their frequency of attendance), particularly if the product becomes stale. Disney went through this in the mid-oughts', but obviously did not learn their lesson from that experience, which they undoubtedly blamed on the Great Recession instead of their shrew business decisions.

December 28, 2021 at 1:50 PM

@the_man, you write: "Disney doesn't give a F about the middle class you would have to be a dolt to think this fantasy. They have a certain amount of supply in their theme parks and they are going to allow the highest possible bidder in. Period. Don't get why this is such a hard concept for people to grasp."

We all grasp how unchecked capitalism works, but we expect more from Disney. The "Disney magic" is inextricably linked to Walt's stated belief that Disneyland was place for everyone. Put another way, if Disneyland is only for rich people, it ain't magic.

So yes, if my favorite restaurant started charging double for half-sized portions it would be insulting and I'd stop eating there. But with Disney it's even worse, because that sort of greedy decision runs contrary to the (purported) ethos that sets Disney apart. In short, it's doubly offensive when the person trying to jack you is supposedly your friend.

Disney previously had the sense to be subtle about their profiteering, but now they seem to be thumbing their noses at us. Sure, it may not affect their crowds now, or even next year, but if they sand the veneer off their historical sheen, they'll ultimately spend more to get it back (as with DCA). The value of consumer goodwill cannot be underestimated--look how quickly Universal has come up because of it.

December 28, 2021 at 2:31 PM

I'm all for people voting with their wallet and not going that is literally the only way to get anything to change. Also I want to state i'm not a big fan of Chapek either, when he was in charge of the parks he had an obsession with adding upcharge services/events in order to inflate quarterly numbers at the expense of caring about things that were actually important. He also has scaled back entertainment offerings and maintenence in order to increase margins. And its very noticeable. Not a fan of any of this.

But i'm also realistic. Pricing is a separate thing on the spectrum of running the business than maintenence and operations (because they are going to charge what makes the most money regardless of what happens with maintenence and entertainment).
DCA bombed because it was bad not because it was expensive. Disney is clearly purposely trying to get its hardcore fans to go less because their parks are too crowded for people to enjoy. But they are business people that are not going to just arbitrarily add lots more attractions past a point of diminishing returns in order to make the guest experience better, they are only going to make investments that drive a return. So they have resorted to what is basically jacking the prices up and decreasing the capacity, making the park more enjoyable but making it unattractive for the hardcore fans to visit as often as they want.

It is what it is. I used to visit Disney Parks all the time but around 2015 or so I stopped going because it was so damn crowded all the time, so i'm all for reservation system and lower capacity. Personally there are other things i'm not a fan of (everything being IP, upcharge line skip but I hated all line skip programs to begin with inclulding Fastpass, charging for parking at hotels) but at the same time I vote with my wallet and I don't stay at hotels and I don't buy Genie+...and I rarely go to Disney's parks anymore even though I live right next to them. Heck i'm so cheap last time I went to Universal I parked in the employee parking lot and walked all the way to the main entrance rather than pay the $25 parking fee.

December 28, 2021 at 2:33 PM

I was a pass holder from 2013-2020 but decided not to renew when it was time and its because Disney has slowly decreased in quality for me.

I feel as if Disney has lost itself from what Walts true vision was. A place where everyone can have fun. Its hard to do when tickets are astronomically high.

Also theyve lost Walts creative vision and everything is all IPs now with no originals. All original rides are slowly disappearing.

For me i pinpoint 2016 as the time when its declined started. This was the summer that Frozen opened at Epcot. Since then they havent built one thing ive liked over the original: Frozen? Id much rather have Maelstrom. Galaxy's Edge? Id rather have Streets of America and Osbourne Lights. Toy Story Land? Id rather have Backlot Tour. Runaway Railway? Id much rather have the Great Movie Ride. If you notice a theme here its that Disney has gotten rid of alot of original ideas for IPs. Only thing i think has been an improvement is Pandora, which not shockingly makes AK my favorite park.

Another problem i pinpoint is when Disney reopened from the pandemic APs were completely an afterthought. If you didnt book a park pass a month out you would only get into Epcot as that was the only park readily available.

I used to like Disney but for me the magic is long gone and I think it would take a miracle to bring it back. Its no wonder Abigail Disney hates what her families company has become.

December 28, 2021 at 2:58 PM

@the_man - I'm not delusional...I've seen it in action. Sports franchises are not giving away tickets, but they certainly understand the value of the blue collar fan that will come back multiple times throughout the season (and purchase concessions and merch and spread their fandom to friends) unlike those corporate buyers that come once and could care less about the merch and team. We've seen a cycle in venues where stadiums continued to get bigger and bigger to try to fit as many people in as possible only to see venues shrink back down again. Over that cycle the percentage of "premium" seating still never exceeded 25-30% of stadium capacity, and with many venues specifically touting "affordable" seating. For example, the Washington Nationals sell 2 full sections in the upper deck for $5 on the day of the game and many other MLB teams have similar value-priced options (including the Reds who also sell $5 tickets). The new trend for sports teams is the monthly "fan pass" where customers pay a flat fee at the beginning of the month and are given a ticket to every home game (randomly assigned seat or in some cases standing room).

While I don't think Disney is currently in the same supply/demand situation that most sporting franchises have (more supply than demand, particularly with pandemic conditions), if they continue on this path of undercutting their biggest fans, they very well may be in the same boat. The Washington Football team through the 90's had the longest sell-out streak in the NFL and a season ticket "waiting list" that was reportedly hundreds of thousands of people long. The team built a new stadium and continued to increase capacity to the point where they had the largest venue in the NFL (over 90k). However, shrewd business decisions including continuous increases in ticket prices, egregious parking fees, horrible customer service, and declining performance on the field slowly whittled down the fanbase to the point where they are near the bottom of the NFL in attendance and often see games invaded by visiting fans. Because the team charges so much for season tickets, they cannot offer unsold inventory at a significant discount because they would undercut and burn any remaining bridges with the few loyal fans they have left. While team performance has a lot to do with the decline of the franchise, most of the tribulations have been because of greedy pricing and business decisions that left fans cold and disinterested. While I think executives at Disney have more business acumen than the WFT (owned by Dan Snyder, who once owned a majority stake in Six Flags), they have embarked on many of the same businesses decisions that ultimately doomed the WFT to their status as one of the worst franchises in the NFL.

Whether you're a sports team, a theme park company, or any other type of business, you cannot take customer loyalty for granted. While engaging and growing a loyal fanbase comes at the cost of potential revenue, it pays for itself in the long run.

December 28, 2021 at 6:13 PM

I'm impressed by the quality of the comments by the posters on this thread. Without being unfairly critical, many of you accurately depicted the undercurrent of dissatisfaction with Disney in the theme park community, and based on my recent visit to Disney World at a supposedly slow time in early November, I couldn't agree more. With all of the changes and restrictions and upcharges, I found that visiting Disney World was an underwhelming experience - even after no theme parks for over 2 years due to the pandemic.

For me, Disney isn't delivering a suitable experience anymore, and I suspect that they will have to make some course corrections in a year or two once the post-pandemic rush back to the parks is over, and patrons are left asking themselves if a visit to Disney is worth it.

And for what it is worth, this feels like the early 2000s when Michael Eisner was cheapskating the parks and lining his pockets with his exorbitant salary. The Back to the Future ride may not be present in any Universal Parks anymore, but it sure seems like Disney management is stuck on the DeLorean when it comes to management decisions.

December 28, 2021 at 6:19 PM

ultimately when there's dissonance between what people think something is (or should be) there's anger or frustration. that's true whether it's Disneyland or ... i dunno, the united states of America. that dissonance, to robert's larger point, has been stoked and harvested by social media companies to keep people on the page for hours at a time so they can be served more ads.

a lot of it ties into the macro-level cynicism that is, y'know, late-stage capitalism. it is very bad for (I assume) almost everyone reading this blog, but very good for the shareholders who demand incessant revenue growth ... which is why you'll continue to see disney make aggressive, cynical moves to close backdoors and isolate itself as a luxury product.

where i'd disagree with a lot of y'all is the idea that the quality has ultimately decreased over the last 10 years. it's still... really good! i have a great time at disney theme parks (and universal theme parks... and sea world theme parks... you get the idea) and don't mind forking over the money. i make micro-level decisions on how I spend my money, just like I do everywhere else. i don't have a relationship with this company. it's a business. mickey mouse is not my friend. walt disney never promised me anything. there is no magic.

if I'm offended by anything, it's that the company continues to create excess profits while paying its employees so poorly -- and frankly, it's hard for me to empathize to much with its well-heeled fans who only care about what they can obviously afford when they speak so derisively about the cast members who don't make a living wage.

December 28, 2021 at 6:30 PM

I'm actually at California right now and we are using the genie plus and paid to use the lighting lane for a 10 minute wait for radiator springs and the spider man ride and short wait for soaring, monster Inc, etc. And honesty I'm in favor of this new structure. I actually feel more relaxed and not having to look at my phone all the time.

I like how I can get in line and by pass a two hour plus wait and knocked that ride out. I even had time to go back to my hotel room to relax and book my time for the remaining rides.

While I can understand the hard core fans being upset, to me it was just a matter of time before Disney started to charge for short wait. I've paid for flash pass, etc for years as I've travel around the country to visit theme park. I have family members who are season pass holders and heard the complaints over the holidays as they feel it's unfair what's happening to them. But as Robert stated, that's all they know. They never been to other theme parks to know what others parks been doing. So while to them this genie plus is new, while we all know other parks been doing it for years

To Russell: I've been a season ticket holder for the Oakland A's for 4 years. Talk about a fan base being robbed by the cheapest owner in mlb and the worst stadium in the mlb. Each year my season prices went up. $5 seats at the National Game! Wow if only we had that here in Oakland. Tickets has always gone up each year. If you want a nice view of the game be ready to pony up $120 per seat and $140 when the Yankees come to town. Imagine what the Giants charge at thier nice stadium? Our toll will go up in 2022. Yeah it sucks but as everything else going up, I'm not surprised what Disney is doing since it seems everyone else is trying to squeeze as much as they can.

December 29, 2021 at 6:01 AM

Yuckity yuck ??- Disney doesn’t deliver what it costs in $, time and frustrations anymore and that’s been going on for some time now. Nothing lasts forever.

Find other parks or things to do and put a smile back on your face !

December 30, 2021 at 3:59 AM

This is an excellent analysis!
Spider Solitaire 2 Suit

December 30, 2021 at 9:58 AM

The thing I find most interesting about TPI and Robert in particular is the fact that not one issue of the Galactic Starcruiser experience or the problems associated with the marketing (and subsequent cancellations) have been mentioned once.

This is also why I do not a take a single thing on TPI seriously anymore. The walking on eggshells around Disney because of being "approved media" or whatever that is called, and risking your free perks being taken away is so blatantly obvious, it is hard to consider this site an actual source of news.

The Discussion Board has been removed, so the possibility of negative Disney mentions are essentially reduced to zero. Can't wait for the awesome shill review of the Star Wars experience from the influencers who were given free access.

My biggest problem with Disney making all these mistakes is people flocking to Universal. The little park down the road has become a powerhouse in Orlando, and I really liked the way it was 5 years ago.

December 30, 2021 at 2:29 PM

N B, writing a review on an experience that hasn’t opened yet is unrealistic. Marketing does not equal the final experience. Assuming it will suck is only an assumption. This is why I don’t take a single thing in the TPI message boards seriously ever.

December 30, 2021 at 2:58 PM

Keith, I am not asking for a negative or any review. The Galactic Starcruiser is in major trouble right now. Star Wars fans hate what they have seen, and Disney has done a terrible job of marketing. It's kind of a big thing in the Disney fandom right now.

Not a single word from "approved media" sources about the cancellations and what they are doing to fix this.

December 30, 2021 at 4:19 PM

…says the fan pages and YouTube channels to get clicks. Speculation is not worth a story. When it opens, then any and all praise or criticism is fair game. Otherwise, stick with the clickbait.

December 31, 2021 at 3:33 PM

It is a little bit ( or a lot ) sad that we end the year in such a sour note. Not so long ago ( in august ) I mentioned in a article about Disney maybe hurting his brand in the long run with all this changes. The general consensus was that no, disney is going to be just fine. And thats probably true in the present and the near future, the parks are full and eventually the rumble will cease. Some of the costumers that disney lost are going to be replaced with new eager ( and more economically sound ) visitors. . I also warned about the snowball effect. I hope there is a new balance between costumers and managment and Disney becomes once again the great family experience we love. Happy new year everybody¡¡¡

January 4, 2022 at 12:03 AM

Greetings formeryogi !!
(REF. : December 28, 2021 at 6:46 AM)
Very much appreciated your note !

I do not have any problem with a cultured basic income person, nor with a cultured very high income (rich) person. I look at the matter from a professional viewpoint.
Respect for all customers is a key factor in any business. With Disney we now see that they totally disrespect both the basic income customer, AND the rich customer. In fact, they 99% target various middle income class people, not based on their typical real buying strenght level, but bluntly manipulating them to spend more then they CAN, in good financial reasoning.
And then, it becomes very problematic.

I will add a note to two of your own accurate remarks.

(1) ... many of the “rich” I know are actually pretty smart with their money. ...
YES, that is a fact. Having superiour buying power, must be reflected in a product which is really worth the superiour price level. See my original comment higher up, where I'm pointing towards the nature of real luxury level services and products. When a company is charging you premium prices and the stuff you receive is STILL a standardised (industrial) product, we have the right to call it a scam, leading to your refusal to buy it.
... there is a good chance, formeryogi, that cultured 'rich' people are much faster to see the nature of this scam, then a typical middle income class person who seems to be running in the trap with the eyes wide open, believing he is getting the real premium experience... while just getting a "most expensive industry product", overcharged and blind to see it. After all, this customer perhaps even got a loan for the ridiculous vacation expense, driven by the "faked social bubble" of being rich for 5 days.... It is a most tragic psycho-social situation, almost similar to getting into gambling debts.

(2) ... The complicated and expensive product they’re selling is no longer appealing to me. ...
Prooving the (your) point of 'cultured' appoach. Because : (a) you CAN buy the product without harm to your financial situation, but (b) you see clearly that the product is NOT worth the price, and completely different vacation options are much more valuable.
... For many mid class people, "having been on a 4-5 day full resort vacation in WDW" is not just a wish in view of their experience memory, but rather a pushed on status symbol "to be acquired" (sic) in front of... family, friends, collegues.
Extremely psycho-social problematic.

Sociology departments of universities, should investigate this phenomenon much closer. The last word about it is not yet written !!

Food for thought.

(Afternote, for
REF. : TheOldCream - December 28, 2021 at 9:36 PM )
>> My award for the "Best condenced WDW decay review" over a 42 year period ! :-)
I actually visited WDW first in 1973.
Especially your conclusion (quote) : "....I do not understand why so many continue to accept it when there is so much else out there to see and do, ...." > Yes, there is unbelievable much out there in the "not something Disney" (nor Universal etc etc !!) of a level of uniqueness that you can only appeciate when really going there ! The world is a billion times bigger, then Disney is ! :-) :-)
(Rant-leads-to-positivity ... haha)

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