Disney CEO Bob Chapek took part in a Wall Street Journal live stream yesterday to answer questions about the direction of the Walt Disney Company. During the interview, Chapek was asked about how Disney deals with “diehard” crowds and fans.
WSJ-“You mentioned Disney’s passionate fanbase… they go online, they have forums, they debate your prices. Some love it. Some hate it. What is the course of action to continue to manage it as you have done, but without alienating these customers, these unconditional?”
Disney CEO Bob Chapek talks price/demand at his theme parks and avoiding alienating the company’s most avid fans. pic.twitter.com/IB0oNTMd8J
— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) October 26, 2022
To which Bob Chapek replied:
“We want to ensure a great customer experience no matter when people come. If they come on the second Tuesday of September, we want them to have a great customer experience. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so difficult in the past. But if they come the day after Thanksgiving, we also want to guarantee that they will have a great experience.
How? By raising prices and making planning so convoluted that you need a vacation while on vacation? Disney is raising prices but seems to be packing more and more people into the parks, which is a win-win for them, but not for the guest experience.
Also, how can he “guarantee” this? Disney set it up in such a way that people have to pay more money to potentially get a better experience. How is that a guarantee for those who can’t or won’t spend the extra money?
“The people who actually enter the park that day. We want them to have a great experience. That no matter what day you come, you are guaranteed to have this magical experience that creates magical memories that last a lifetime. ”
Again, it’s not as magical as it used to be. It’s much more stressful, crowded and expensive. I also found his comment interesting about the fan signs saying “People who actually come to the park that day” meaning those who are there and not those who talk about it online.
It explains how you should manage demand by controlling how many people you let in or turning them away. Instead of a family from Denver, this time it uses a family from Seattle.
However, one of the biggest complaints I’ve heard is overcrowding in the parks. Disney said they raise prices to control demand, then allow the same or more people at higher prices. What the reservation system does is limit the number of guests who can enter based on their passes. By limiting the number of annual pass holders, it frees up more room for customers who pay more per day. Make profits higher.
Maximizing shareholder value is what he really cares about. The way to do this is to increase profits. It’s not about customer experience, it’s about shareholder value.
Scott Gustin on Twitter posted some of the quotes from the interview.
…maximizing shareholder value, but more importantly, it protects the customer experience so that when you enter the park … you can be sure it won’t be overcrowded. — Chapak
— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) October 26, 2022
Here is Twitter’s reaction:
I’ve been a pass holder for over 20 years and can honestly say the parks are at the highest crowd level I’ve ever seen while being the highest priced. There were days when you could rely on emptiness. they had dedicated calendars for it because it was an established pattern.
— Jane Dough (@coffeeandglue) October 26, 2022
Yeah…the “we’re charging more so there are fewer people” excuse doesn’t hold water when the parks are busier than ever.
— Matt C (@TheMatthewPaul) October 26, 2022
Bob should have been at EPCOT last Saturday. We didn’t have a “great experience” and it felt “crowded” to me!
— Nick Sbroglia (@nicksbroglia) October 26, 2022
Value for shareholders! DRINK 🍺 🥃
— Sam W (@wiredforflight) October 26, 2022
It’s true. People will buy tickets and not have park reservations and be told too bad when they get there!
The problem with his BS is that he will happily sell more date specific tickets than the booking capacity allows and then say you should check the availability of the booking first. I don’t see any other industry doing this.
—Jason Jones (@likeOMGtotes4E) October 26, 2022
Looks like what they did is make the second week of September feel like the day after Thanksgiving and not the other way around.
Seattle family memes are coming!
—Scott Walker (@scottwalker88) October 26, 2022
Hollywood Studios on October 16 was so busy that there was no food available in the booths at 7 p.m. We left early and missed the closing show so my kids could eat. All the parks were packed, every day, from October 4 to 18.
—Ese (@Ese2085) October 27, 2022
“and avoiding alienating the company’s most passionate fans…”
Too late Bob…
— Bobby J (@Tomorrowland_98) October 26, 2022
I’m a DVC member and literally last week a DVC CM spat the line ‘family from Colorado’ at me when I was complaining about annual passes and I said ‘how can that bastard say he wants more people in the park when the pass system CAN LITERALLY KEEP THEM OUT”? Idiots.
—Rupert Pupkin (@RupertP46422908) October 26, 2022
It’s a family from Denver looking at this family from Seattle as pic.twitter.com/SbBFIUcxMn
— Original Orange Bird (@ogorangebird) October 26, 2022
Meanwhile, the Indianapolis family: pic.twitter.com/gIWwu2kjpM
— SCREAM Park Casual (@ThemeParkCasual) October 26, 2022
That’s what I’m talking about. It keeps saying it “guarantees the best experience” when it doesn’t.
Well, I went in September from Utah and the “best experience guaranteed” was not my experience. Is it a money back guarantee? Drives broken down and / or in poor condition every day. Lack of entertainment offers. Poor selection of products.
—Jason Gordon (@iNinjabot) October 26, 2022
What Chapek doesn’t say is that it provides a “great experience” only to wealthy customers who can afford to pay an extra $80 to take a popular ride.
The rest of us are just out of luck if we can’t pay.
– Bighead Tales – Save America, Stop the Republicans (@BigHeadTales) October 27, 2022
I also mentioned this before. Disney has had limited capacity in the past and checks different “groups” for availability of park pass reservations, then says demand is so high they can charge more. It always seemed a bit suspicious to me.
Truly a fascinating answer. On the one hand, I totally crave crowd control to maximize the experience. However, for DVC and AP members, this may leave them without benefits. Additionally, prices have increased due to increased demand based solely on THEM’s throttling capacity. Fascinating.
— Mike Albanese (@Malbanese1922) October 26, 2022
If they actually created a better experience, that would be great. They are not. The experience has been watered down. If you want to plan for understandable staffing, then staff appropriately. I don’t know how you can say we do this for the guest.
— Rebecca Anderson (@Rcandysue21) October 27, 2022
The comments follow.
Disney Parks fans are turning. Maybe that’s why Disney is desperately trying to fill rooms and is offering multiple discounts for both Christmas 2022 and four months of 2023! They even posted a post on the Disney Parks Blog titled 3 Ways to Save on Your Next Walt Disney World Stay persuade people to book.
What do you think of what Chapek said? Comment and let us know!
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