Dear Mr. Iger,
Let’s get right to the point. We polled our readers and writers to gather opinions on what we believe you can do to get things turned around for The Walt Disney Company. As it’s our main area of expertise, most of the issues concern the company’s theme parks, but a few speak to the company’s reputation.
We know you are busy, so we will endeavor to keep this short and sweet, in a bulleted list. These responses came from our staff and also from our readers.
- There is an overwhelming dislike for the current park pass reservation system. Our readers and staff agree that this is the biggest headache for current vacation planning. Park Pass Reservations are an easily-forgotten extra step, especially if guests are not frequent visitors.
- The park hopping limitation is the second-most-disliked theme park requirement leftover from the initial re-opening phase in 2020.
- Annual passholders on both coasts also need to feel the love the way they used to. Not only are most passes not being sold, but many who currently hold them consider there to be no extra benefit beyond a small merchandise or food discount. Previously, it felt special to be a passholder. Now, many passholders feel like an afterthought.
- Guests want to stay in the parks, and they want to spend their money there. Long lines and a complicated skip-the-line system have taken the joy out of touring the parks. The cost of entering the park and then adding on Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lane has overwhelmed even the casual fan, not to mention how confusing they are for regular guests. The rising cost of essentials is spilling over into everyone’s discretionary funds. It has become even more difficult for that “once-in-a-lifetime family from Colorado” to stomach the price of their vacation.
“Reclaim Disney’s reputation of being a standard-setter of the guest experience. Every friend I’ve talked to after their Disney vacation in the last three years has returned frustrated with its over-systematized planning processes and disappointing service,” shares staff writer Blake Taylor.
Another staff writer, Jill Robbins, agrees. “The magical, stellar, white-glove service is gone. That extra-special customer care is slipping. It’s still good, but it doesn’t feel like Disney.”
One way Disney can return to its gold standard is by returning to its entertainment roots.
- We’d love to see more characters in the parks. The reopening of “Fantasmic!” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios was a good start. Seeing the Dapper Dans singing and being able to hug Mickey again have also helped. However, more opportunities for crowds to spread out and lower wait times across the parks must happen. Bring back the Citizens of Hollywood. Face-to-face character interactions can be some of the most memorable parts of a theme park trip. Offer guests the chance for entertainment outside of your rides and attractions.
- Speaking of those rides, we must discuss how often they break down. Maintenance appears to be minimal at best. The constant, slow-moving construction is also a significant turn-off, especially to frequent visitors.
“It seems like Walt Disney World is taking much longer (years, in the case of Tron) than their competitors to complete attractions, pandemic delays notwithstanding,” said staff writers Simon and Susan Veness.
Those of us with frequent visits under our belt know something is off. These attractions and lands are desperately needed to help address stand-by and Lightning Lane’s increasingly long queues.
From a business perspective, we can understand the need to be financially successful. But what is the cost? Why should guests “buy in” to Disney across the board? The incentives used to be there. There were unique perks for being committed to Disney in all forms. For the last few years, that commitment and passion have felt unappreciated.
While not perfect, we already believe your track record gives us hope you can “right the ship.” The staff and readers of “Attractions Magazine” stand behind you, and we look forward to seeing what you can do in your short return to the magic.
Attractions Magazine staff and readers