Let’s call it what it is. Disney is getting desperate for money, and it is just getting awkward. After the cost of Shanghai Disneyland exceeded expectations, the domestic Disney parks are feeling the effect as Disney is pushing more and more “add-ons” for additional costs that feel desperate. Whether it is the new cabanas in the Magic Kingdom, or the nickel-and-diming charges Disney has added for guests sending packages to their room, it all feels incredibly cheap. I wrote about this early this year, but it is getting worse, and something needed to be said.
I understand we live in a capitalistic society. Disney is out to make as much money as possible, and if guests are willing to spend the money, then Disney will continue to offer these things. The problem comes when this money-grubbing by Disney starts to effect the experience for other guests.
Walt Disney once said, “I don’t want the public to see the world they live in while they’re in the Park (Disneyland). I want to feel they’re in another world.” In accordance with Walt’s vision, guests are supposed to be engulfed by the theming, but when Disney sells out, and plants giant white “VIP” tents next to Space Mountain, it takes away from that. Disney as a company is welcome to make as much money as possible, but they have to understand that what they are doing is not in line with what Walt Disney himself set out to accomplish. Increasingly Disney seems to push the limit on what they can do in their parks to make money, and until guests say something, nothing will be done. Guests need to make it clear that when Disney adds more and more “add-ons” it devalues the base experience. It says to them (the guest) that if you can’t afford the extras then you aren’t really getting the full experience.
Disney has struggled to get guests in the gates this year. There are a number of reasons why this is true, but one of them is certainly that guests are sick and tired of all these “add-ons.” So, as Disney fails to meet their quarterly expectations, they react by adding even more “add-ons.” Disney is becoming the snake eating its own tail. They are trying to solve the problem with the problem. I’ve talked to friends, family, and I’ve seen comments online about people who refuse to return to the Disney parks because they feel undervalued as the customer. If people are willing to pay thousands of dollars to come on a Disney vacation they shouldn’t have to feel like they aren’t valued. If it is about Disney needing more money, then they should make the park tickets, or resorts, a little more expensive. Once you enter the gates of Disneyland, the Magic Kingdom, or any of the Disney parks it shouldn’t feel like there are separate classes of people. Of course there will always be different priced options for dining, but the actual experiences in the parks should be the same. Once you paid your ticket to enter the gates it doesn’t matter if you spent your last $100 bucks to get in the park, or if you are a millionaire. You should be treated, and given the same opportunities as anyone else.
The problem for Disney is that their perception is changing. Guests don’t see a Disney vacation as a value anymore. When Walt Disney led this company he made comments like, “Disneyland is a work of love. We didn’t go into Disneyland just with the idea of making money.” Today it seems to be the exact opposite. The leadership of the company is now a whole lot of wolves in sheep’s clothing. These people don’t care for The Walt Disney Company the way Walt did himself, all they care about is making a profit, and the irony is that their actions are what are actually hurting this company.