Monday, July 25, 2011

What does Market Research Say about WDW?

I'm asking. I really don't know. Over the years there have been plenty of blog entries discussing the status of WDW. We all know what's there: Four theme parks, two mini-golf courses, a couple of regular golf courses, two good water parks, their Wide World of Sports, the Richard Petty Driving Experience, and a retail center called Downtown Disney. Oh, yeah. And a WHOLE bunch of resort hotels of varying quality (Deluxe to Value Resorts).

I don't know what the occupancy numbers show, but from what I recall, it's pretty high for all the resorts. There are always plenty of people who want to visit the parks or the water parks. Their resorts probably can't house them all. Plenty of them stay nearby in hotels just off the Disney acreage.

Anymore, it seems like there really isn't much of a "slow" season. The parks are always jammed with people. Today, July 25th at 2 pm EDT, Space Mountain has a 55 minute wait, according to my iPhone app. Splash Mountain has a 65 minute wait, and Pirates and Haunted Mansion have only a 30 minute wait. Peter Pan's flight has a 65 minute wait, and BTMR has a 45 minute wait.

Over at Epcot, Soarin' has a 65 minute wait and Test Track has a 45 minute wait. At DHS, Toy Story Mania! has a 75 minute wait, and Star Tours has a 55 minute wait. Rock'n'Roller Coaster has a 65 minute wait, and ToT has a 35 minute wait. At Animal Kingdom, Everest has a 65 minute wait, kali River Rapids has a 70 minute wait. For som reason, the Safari has only a 15 minute wait, but Dinosaur has a 40 minute wait. (So I suppose it's possible that these times aren't totally accurate...)

So could they support a fifth gate? More to the point, would it increase revenues? Well, they CERTAINLY could support a fifth gate with attendance. The question is where do the people come from? Would a fifth park simply remove people from the walkways of the other four parks? Or does it bring in more business and maybe keep people away from the other Orlando attractions?

On our last visit to WDW, we stayed on Disney property for 7 nights. Usually we'd buy a 7 day pass to Disney and spend all of our time at their parks. But last time we bought the five day pass and spent two days over at Universal. We've talked about perhaps visiting Universal again, along with maybe Busch Gardens and/or Sea World. My younger son expressed an interest in going to the Legoland that opened in the vicinity.

Why this apparent willingness to go elsewhere than Disney? Because of a couple things. They've been to Disney a handful of times in the last several years. Not as much as some, but a lot more than most of their friends and classmates. They have ridden everything. They have their favorites, but they've done them enough that they aren't crying to do them again.

The other thing that none of us like is the fact that we always have to fight crowds and stand in long lines to get anywhere, seemingly. The parks are just TOO crowded. Doesn't anyone else feel this way?

So to sum up: Nothing much new at Disney, and too crowded and too much time spent in long lines.

A fifth gate would perhaps help on both of these counts.

Writing only from my own experience, I can assure you (and Disney) that we're likely to visit MORE if there is a fifth gate. And if the crowds are lighter, we'll have a much better time and that will also likely lead to increased time spent at Disney when we're in Orlando. We're DVC members, and so we are sort of roped into staying at DVC properties at least once a year or so. But we don't have to stay on Disney property - there's plenty within a short drive of the area.

I know it's not in the cards; the possibility of Disney spending the money to build a fifth gate is virtually nil at this time, but I for one would be thrilled if they would apply that Disney Imagineering to another really fun attraction at WDW - another full sized theme park.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Disney Film: CARS 2

We made it to the theater to see Cars 2 in 2D over the weekend, and as usual, Pixar produces a winner. Lots of laughs, good plot, and great animation. The scenes from Europe (Paris and Rome) made us want to book our flights to that destination right now!

All of the familiar voices returned, as far as I could tell, to voice their characters again, except, of course, the departed Paul Newman, who voiced Doc Hudson. I was happy to see the way they handled the character - with respect and reverence, almost, and I knew it was an homage to the incredible actor who voiced Doc. Michael Caine was perfect as the British super-spy car Finn McMissile.

I can't say I loved it as much as I loved the original Cars movie, which almost took me by surprise with how good it was. That was back when I was still capable of doubting Pixar, and now I just say "it'll be a good one," when I hear they have a new release coming down the pipe.

It's perhaps a bit of a departure for Pixar as they tackle the classic spy story in their own way, and perhaps this story is a bit more of a Dreamworks-style "ensemble" movie and less a buddy movie than some of their previous outings. Mater takes the lead in this one, with Lightning McQueen being a bit of a supporting character, as so many characters play important parts in the story. Lightning, Finn, Holly and the rest of the gang all are important to Mater's adventure. It's sort of like one of the shorts rather than a typical Pixar movie.

Still, a very enjoyable box office experience.