Ashleigh Johnston, Account Executive
Are you Disney-ed out yet from my blogs? I didn’t think so and that’s great because yesterday just so happened to be Disneyland’s 58th birthday. While I have never visited the Happiest Place on Earth (the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World is the Most Magical, get it right!), I am a fan because it was Walt’s original vision. He wanted a place where children and adults could play together, and clearly he hit the mark.
Recently, CEO Bob Iger agreed to stay on through 2016. Under his tenure, Disney secured some strategic and important purchases including Pixar and the Star Wars franchise. Despite the nation facing economic instability, park attendance also increased last year. While some visitors claim the Florida branch has been severely neglected, work is well underway to launch MyMagic+, what Disney execs call a revolutionary technology to personalize and streamline the guest experience. So what is it? An electronic wristband that would serve as your all-in-one access to the parks including tickets, hotel room key, credit card and reservations for dining, attractions, even parade viewing spots.
Disney fanatics, and I may or may not be one of them, are leery of the update. Disney Parks division Chairman Tom Staggs said recent tests of the wristband technology show an increase in guests’ spending. The public began decrying the remark as not very magical but others saw the comment as the voice behind the curtain telling it like it is.
Disney is the ultimate example of how to overcome bad press. The company’s team has perfected the art of keeping the inner mechanisms of magic a secret so as not to disrupt our illusion of it. They’ve done such a good job that we often forget it is, in reality, a business. It always has been, even Uncle Walt knew in order to keep entertaining children and their parents he would need revenue to support his plans. But, is this latest statement a sign of the Disney façade cracking? Hard to say.
Maybe it’s all part of a bigger issue people are having with Disney, in particular Walt Disney World. While other Disney parks and its competitors are getting updates in experiences and technologies, the Florida resort seems to be growing stagnant and generic. The MyMagic+ announcement came on the heels of a recent addition of Starbucks in two parks. People lambasted the decision as a corporate sell out. They must have forgot that Disney has always prominently displayed corporate sponsors including Coca-Cola, Edy’s Ice Cream, Smuckers, NesCafe, Chevrolet, GM and Siemens, just to name a few.
Perhaps it is un-Disney-like to admit the technology is really a means to and end of increasing profit. But people would have figured that out anyway, and will eventually adapt to the technology and in all likelihood embrace it. As long as Disney continues doing what it’s good at, we’ll drink the Kool-Aid, don Mickey ears at least once in our lifetime and make the trip if only to see what all the fuss is about.