No this is not about my New Year's Resolutions...it's about some New Year's Resolutions I'm hoping that perhaps we may see happening in 2012 when we next visit Walt Disney World.
I've been thinking long and hard about what I would like to see and have been doing this for a long time so this time I'm even more focused on what would be a win-win situation.
We must never forget that The Walt Disney Company is a business and that business needs to survive in order for us to continue to get our share of magic whenever we can.
So having said that, please keep in mind that these ideas come with the important note that they would appear to be beneficial for both the Walt Disney World Resort and its guests.
The Disney Dining Plan
We are all creatures of habit and there can be a lot to be said for getting into good habits and being consistent in your everyday life, especially if these habits are positive.
I have always felt that it would behoove Walt Disney World to strive for consistency in several areas which in return would reward the resort in many ways.
Let's start off with the Disney Dining Plan. Over the last four or five years, every time the new year's plan has been announced I found myself noticing changes that I felt would turn guests off from using the DDP. By changes I mean not just the onboarding and offboarding of restaurants but the bigtime inconsistencies from restaurant to restaurant.
I recall visiting one of my favorite restaurants and, when my server found out I was using the DDP, quickly pointed out how the color coding of the menu would direct me to what is covered and not covered by the DDP.
You see, even those restaurants on the DDP are inconsistent with each other. My hope is that someday we return to a very simple Dining Plan that is not just straightforward but also consistent...that's how success is best bread...erh bred.
Now let's talk about the wonders of the Annual Pass. Annual Passholders are WDW's best customers and those customers get certain perks with the AP's. One perk is that AP holders receive discounts on merchandise...but only in DownTown Disney at places like the World of Disney store.
So that $40 shirt at Mouse Gear in EPCOT is $36 at the World of Disney. Is there any reason why the 10% discount offered at WoD and places in DTD could not be expanded across the board? Aren't there more people in the theme parks than any other place on the resort?
I think what really puzzles me is that one place that I would have thought would have realized a boost in revenue if this 10% discount was applied would be World Showcase. Don;t you think? So why not make a huge New Year's Resolution and open up that 10% across the board.
Note: Since posting this blog I have received several notes from friends saying that recently they have received AP discounts from some resort gift shops, Mouse Gear at EPCOT, and some kiosks in EPCOT. That is good news, and I am happy to stand corrected. I've also heard from some folks that, even though some gift shops and kiosks are giving AP , discounts, not all are giving discounts. This just reinforces the idea of asking wherever you go. Thanks to those of you who have contacted me to update this information. WDW policies are like New England weather...if you don't like it, wait a minute, it's likely to change.
And while we are at it, I think Tables of Wonderland, the discount dining card, should be honored at every sit-down restaurant on the property...it's that consistency thing. Tables of Wonderland discount cards are offered to Walt Disney World Annual Passholders for $75. Showing this card at selected restaurants results in a 20% discount on your check. Wouldn't it be nice to know that EVERY sit-down restaurant on WDW property and the Value and Moderate resorts food courts? My practice is to ask everywhere, because I know there is inconsistency...at least for now.
If it Ain't Broke...
If you have not visited Walt Disney World recently, especially the Magic Kingdom, more specifically, have not driven to the Magic Kingdom, then you are in for a surprise. The Ticket and Transportation Center parking lots have undergone a change...a name change. Some may feel I'm being a little too picky but after several decades of dealing with the names like Donald, Pluto, Goofy, Mickey, Minnie, etc. and becoming quite familiar with what area is associated with whatever name, I found it a bit interesting that the names were changed to this side being heroes and this side being villains.
Would someone explain to me the value in making this change? Anyone? Didn't think so. When I think of consistency of think of the phrase, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"
I think any WDW resort policies should change but once a year. It can be at any time of the year but all I'm asking is to limit policy changes once a year. It would reduce confusion for the guests, and guess what, also the cast members. I'm all for surprises, good ones that is.
Timing is Everything
Now let's turn to a word that makes grown guests wince: refurbishments. Now I am the first to recognize when an attraction needs a fresh coat of paint or needs to be updated and I congratulate the resort for trying their best to make sure their guests are entertained to the highest level.
My concern is when the scheduling of refurbishments results in a number of attractions being down at the same time. I recall a visit to Orlando a few summers ago in which Spaceship Earth, Haunted Mansion, and a few other popular attractions, were down for the entire summer. This results in longer queues for those attractions doing business as usual.
It was later on that year that guests continued to complain about the delay in reopening Spaceship Earth. This resulted in a premature "soft opening schedule" in late December/early january in which guests could ride through the attraction and observe some of the changes that were taken place. Unfortunately, the imagineers were not thrilled with this, as you can well understand. Imagine an artist not wanting you to see a piece of art that was only half finished, or a songwriter not wanting you to hear a song until all the kinks were worked out.
What is my point? Well, for a resolution that I think many people would agree to, how about limiting the number of attractions being refurbished at the same time so that guests are not impacted as much.
Keeping those attractions down to a small number may actually hasten the refurbishment along.
Another thought would be to limit refurbishments to only those less busy times of the year. During that summer visit I thought of those guests who may be making their ONLY trip to Walt Disney World and unfortunately did not get to see Haunted Mansion, Spaceship Earth, or other attractions that were offline due to refurbishments.
For the resort this could mean reducing the number of people needed every year to perform these refurbishments...instead of requiring x number of people to do everything in 2012, the need would be x-x. The drawback could, and I am not sure about this, could reduce the number of refurbishments per year. Would you prefer more attractions down longer each year and more refurbishments or more access to attractions and fewer refurbishments per year?
Okay those are me New Year's Resolutions for Walt Disney World for 2012. I'm sure more will surface as the year evolves but these sweeping ideas I feel truly help both the guests and the resort in terms of economics and keeping everyone happy.
Happy New Year!
The previous post in this blog was What Would Jim Think?.
The next post in this blog is Beauty and the Beast in 3D: A Review.