Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Disney's Villainous Halloween Party Tactic

For those that lose site of the fact that Disney is a corporation with shareholders that needs to make as much money for their shareholders as possible, I hope this post will awaken you to that fact.

Disney today is not the Disney that Walt dreamed of and created and nurtured.  In fact...most of Walt's family is long gone and has little to do with anything going on within the Disney corporation.  I think we all thought that Walt's vision would forever be passed down from generation to generation regardless of being an employed blood relative or not.  That was our hope anyways.  But recent moves by Disney have constantly shown that Disney is a BIG business...a VERY BIG business and their first responsibility is to their shareholders, like any corporation.

Many of us have watched the "magic" seem to dwindle more and more each year that passes.  New cast members come onboard and it seems that the magic is slowly but surely seeping out of some of the corporate cracks.  You can now occasionally run into some cast members who just don't seem that happy which carries over into the guests, whether at one of the parks or at one of their resorts.  Some bus drivers smile less and on occasion get snarky in public.  Some problems are now being met with, "I am sorry there is nothing we can do," when there was plenty that could have been done.  If you are a first time visitor within the past 2 years or so, you may not notice as much, but for those who have been patrons for years, those are the ones that can attest to the slow and subtle changes that are zapping some of the "happy" away from what used to be hands down, "The Happiest Place on Earth."

But that is not what I am meaning to address in this post.  To me, the magical leakage is a result of a corporation slowly moving all of its focus to the dollar and away from the customer.  This week's announcement of Disney's new "ticket within a ticket" plan for an event within Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party" has made me somewhat disgusted at their attempt to earn more and more and take more and more away from the families that have to sometimes save for years before they can let their children experience Walt's vision.  For those that may not know what I am referring to...Disney has this special party every fall that runs for a few weeks and we refer to it as MNSSHP for short.  You pay for an extra ticket to attend this party.  On certain nights during the week, Disney closes the Magic Kingdom early for the MNSSHP event.  Those who have paid extra for the ticket get to stay for the event.  Those with just regular park tickets have to leave usually around 7pm.  Those tickets can cost a family of 4 an extra @$250.  That is in addition to the tickets they have already purchased to visit the 4 main parks that make up Walt Disney World.  The event has a special parade, an awesome fireworks show, some additional dancing and singing shows during the night and trick or treating opportunities for everyone.  It is a party I have attended and have recommended to my clients because it is a lot of fun.

Well Disney announced this week that they are going to offer another special ticket for those already attending the MNSSHP where guests can attend a special "villain event."  For those that want to be a part of this special event, you are going to have to fork over an additional $99 per person.  That's additional $99 per.  HELLO!!  Tap tap tap, is this thing on??  Did you get that?  So the party that already is not cheap to attend is going to try to milk another $400 out of a family of 4 so they can do the following:

"Set within the majestic halls of Cinderella’s Royal Table, this special ticketed event allows guests to meet a menagerie of malevolent special guests while they indulge in decadent desserts and specialty non-alcoholic beverages. Guests also will receive preferred viewing for the 8:15 p.m. performance of Mickey’s “Boo-to-You” Halloween Parade, as well as preferred viewing for the Happy HalloWishes Fireworks Spectacular."

So you are really paying $100 per person ($99 to be exact) extra to be inside of Cinderella's castle, snack on some goodies and meet some special villains.  You can see the fireworks and parade without any special seating needed.  So the goodies better have come straight from a 5-star restaurant for me to want to pay that much for characters and snacks.  For the love of Pete...a full meal inside the castle will cost you the same or less depending on the time of year.  So this party plus the event is going to end up costing a family of 4 @$650 by the time it is all said and done.  $650!!  A blogger I follow (Theme Park Insider) asked the question, "Does this sound like a good value to get a better experience at Disney, or does this sound like a plan that only a villain could love?"  My is simply villainous.

Disney...I hope you wake up soon before too much of the pixie dust escapes and you find yourselves on the list of "what used to be one of the happiest places on earth."  You keep raising prices.  You keep adding events that cost more money.  You keep increasing your more aggressive marketing and sales tactics.  You are a large corporation..we get that.  But I hope your "boardship" will stop and remember why these parks were created and the vision behind it all when the first piece of ground was broke.  When will you remember these simple words...

I only hope that we don't lose sight of one thing - that it was all started by a mouse.
-Walt Disney