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Topic: Disney CEO blames new Star Wars attraction for fall in visitor numbers

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    Default Disney CEO blames new Star Wars attraction for fall in visitor numbers

    Here's another interesting slice from Travel Mole. Do people agree with this assessment by Mr Iger or is cost a bigger issue, especially to UK visitors now we are suffering terrible exchange rates?

    Disney CEO blames new Star Wars attraction for fall in visitor numbers

    Disney's pricing policy could be at a tipping point after a surprising dip in attendance at its US theme parks.

    It comes despite the most eagerly-awaited new attraction opening of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Disneyland.

    Domestic park attendance was down 3% in the third quarter of financial year 2019, with the company blaming lower annual passholder attendance.

    In fact, the Star Wars opening is likely to have contributed to the lower visitor numbers, said CEO Bob Iger.

    "Attendance was below what we hoped it would be. There was tremendous concern that there were going to be huge crowds so people stayed away.

    "All the local hotels in the region, expecting an influx of visitation, raised their prices. So it simply got more expensive to come stay in Anaheim," he said.

    For the first few weeks, Disney had restricted access to the Star Wars land to guests staying at resort hotels and those with confirmed reservations.

    Iger said a small decline in attendance at Walt Disney World was down to people holding off visits until the Star Wars attraction opens there in Orlando later this month.

    He also acknowledged recent day ticket and passholder price increases might have impacted attendance.

    "We feel great about the product we've created but it's going to take some time for things to work themselves out as the marketplace reacts," he said.

    Despite the attendance decline, spending was up 10%, in part due to the higher ticket prices.
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    So he’s saying that part of the issue is that Star Wars land opening resulted in less people but also not opening has resulted in less people.

    Well I feel safe with you in charge!

    Just admit your plan continues to be simple, raise prices, reduce guest numbers in the end (especially those that don’t have big spend) and then cut some staff costs etc. You’ve been operating this for about ten years so you should have been up to speed.

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    Disneyland is primarily domestic (mainly local) attendance. It's a different scenario to Walt Disney World, and as such, IMO the majority who will be visiting are probably waiting for BOTH attractions to be open. The real die-hards attended, but the more casual Star Wars fan could well have said, "Meh, we'll wait for the crowds to die down and go when RotR opens."

    Simon and I were just talking about this this morning, since Young Son and his girlfriend are going into GE today and tomorrow for CM previews. I've said from the day Disneyland's version opened that I think it was a BIG mistake to have scheduled appointments to get in. From the standpoint of not having to queue for hours, it's great. BUT...and this is (obviously) JUST my opinion, I think people who attend the opening day of an attraction, or more importantly, a new land, WANT to see those massive 9-hour waits. They WANT to feel they've "been through the war and come out the other side." They WANT the huge, exciting hype around it, and the fantastic bragging rights they get forever and ever afterwards. It's not that they love the wait itself; it's the thrill and excitement around being part of something completely new and unique. It's the Purple Heart of theme park ultra-fandom.

    WDW is something else entirely. I do agree AP attendance is probably down (I'm going to steer clear of saying why I think that's the case), but so is the huge build-up. The pulse-pounding excitement. The "OMG I have to be there come h3ll or high water" feeling.

    I do THINK Orlando's version is going to have a lot more interest straight out of the gate, but I don't know that for sure. I think it's a mistake not to be whipping the masses into a Star Wars frenzy, so that the very idea of missing opening day is unthinkable, even to locals, and even thought the headliner attraction won't be open. If anyone had asked me, I'd say (gasp!!) do what Universal did with the media event for Diagon Alley. Populate Galaxy's Edge with every Star Wars character that ever attended Star Wars Weekends, put every single GE CM in the land as walk-arounds, and don't worry about the 12-hour waits to get in. THAT'S how you make sure your opening day is unforgettable--in a GOOD way.

    Just my thoughts on the matter.











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    Yes, it really does seem Disney has been caught out here, both by people waiting until ALL the GE elements are open, and by people being put off at the (mistaken) thought of huge opening crowds. They have managed the opening extremely well from an organisational standpoint, but completely missed the "Wow!" factor of a packed debut. And, I think, pricing certainly DOES come into it. If Anaheim hotels all raised their prices in anticipation of a killing, well, the public was simply too smart (and too price-conscious) to fall for that. Disney's price policy has certainly been one of raising costs consistently above inflation in recent years, with a stated intent of trying to reduce crowds, and it seems to be paying off, both literally and figuratively. The key stat here is that revenue was UP by 10%. So, if Disney can get more money with fewer guests, it is a win-win as far as they are concerned.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Simon Veness View Post
    Disney's price policy has certainly been one of raising costs consistently above inflation in recent years, with a stated intent of trying to reduce crowds, and it seems to be paying off, both literally and figuratively. The key stat here is that revenue was UP by 10%. So, if Disney can get more money with fewer guests, it is a win-win as far as they are concerned.
    I think this is key. As we have discussed when we have met up I can see a time when you will need to stay in an onsite hotel to gain access to the theme parks. The increase revenue in the hotels will to a degree offset the loss in ticket sales, but crowds are more manageable.

    And as a bonus they don't need huge car parks so can reuse the land for another park???
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    I would be astonished if Disney ever moved to access only via an onsite hotel. For all their 30,000 rooms, the majority of guests in the parks at any stage are still staying off-site, and Disney needs that in-park spend (and parking money!). I can see onsite guests getting more perks (especially paid-for FPs) and other incentives, but the idea of Disney halving its attendance is hard to imagine, especially as they WILL open a 5th gate at some stage in future, and they're not going to fill it with onsite guests. It's going to be interesting to see how this current model develops, though.

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    Didn't nearly every AP for Disneyland have the opening blacked out? As Susan said Disneyland is a 'locals' park and with most of them blocked from getting in it is no wonder attendance was down.

    As others have said Disney WANT lower attendance, they just want those who can afford to get in to spend more. It would appear that plan is indeed working for them.
    5 Trips to Florida, Christmas in LA, Disneyland Paris twice and odd days here and there.

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