What I learned at Disneyworld on Spring Break (April 2022.)

(a business lesson from last week – and it’s not what you think.)

I have been a fan of Disney since I was a kid. I have read so many of the Disney business books about service, and “delighting your customers” – and I do my best in my own way to emulate that with my clients as a new business owner.

Unfortunately Walt Disney World let us down on this trip on a number of fronts.

Having been to Disneyworld many times, the parks and experiences have almost always lived up to most of the hype.

Unfortunately, this trip wasn’t quite the dream vacation that we had carefully planned for over a year as our first big family vacation since COVID hit in March of 2020.

They’ve removed so many formerly included very important perks including transportation from the airport to your Disney Hotel (that cost us $300 round trip on our own); their new horribly broken “Genii+” that was formerly known as “FastPass” and is now an extra fee (on top of your ticket fee). Additionally – there are some rides that have another fee – on top of your ticket fee, and Genii + fee known as a “Lightening Lane Fee” – that cost us on average an additional $60 PER RIDE, to use that “feature” – on average I would say that added an extra $1000 + to our trip costs this past week.

They still don’t have housekeeping as well but the price for our stay went up regardless. They offer “light cleaning” – which turned out to be emptying the garbage once during the week.

This all on top of multiple price hike for park entry (2 in the last year); 20 to 30% price increases on food and merchandise right before Spring Break in April; reduced portions on all foods – all of which are documented here (https://lnkd.in/exGy6946)

There were such clear shortages of staff and cutbacks, in many instances garbage cans were overflowing (mainly at the hotels), and other similar deferred maintenance were obvious. I even witnessed a lone bar tender at our hotel say he was having a panic attack and left the bar as he had no one to help him.

I chatted with a number of cast members, who carefully held their tongue so as not to get the attention of their supervisors (that’s a problem in my opinion onto itself) – but it was obvious they’re all working with fewer internal resources themselves and they’re doing their best under some challenging circumstance.

The new CEO – Robert Chapek – has to do better.

He’s eroding the deep trust I have in the Disney Brand to ensure 20% margins regardless of the impact to guests and the brand.

I fully understand the need to run a profitable company. But if you chip away at that rabid fanbase, erode the overall experience – and create a microtransaction based environment that’s overly complicated via apps – where will you end up in a year from now?

What do you think about Disney’s current state? Have you visited recently?