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.



David Landon said...

When my wife and I were Annual Passholders in 2010, I noticed that the parks really didn't seem to have a slow season. Of course, I don't know how valuable that observation was, since most of our trips to WDW were day trips taken on a Saturday, which is always the busiest day of the week.

Nevertheless, I'm strongly against the idea of a fifth gate at WDW. Disney can barely maintain the parks that currently exist. Every single park has at least one "eyesore" attraction that's woefully outdated or ill-maintained. A lot of the capacity problems you mention could be fixed if Disney would just utilize some of the large, vacant expansion pads at Animal Kingdom, which, no matter what the Disney corporate apologists will tell you, is only a half-day park right now.

Animal Kingdom was built in hopes that it would induce people to extend their stay on Disney property. It hasn't really done that. A fifth park would only exacerbate the problem.

Scott said...

I agree that DAK is more or less a half day park that is turned into a 3/4 day park by the lines and crowds and lack of attractions. A problem with DAK that I see is that it seems to be hotter and more humid than any other park. When the temps are pushing 95, that park feels like it's in the hundreds. (Maybe it's not, but I've heard Disney employees say that it was 5 or more degrees hotter than the other parks, and it's definitely more humid.)

A week would seem to be the limit for stays, maybe 8 or 9 days at the most. So I can see where DAK doesn't really extend stays. Or DHS, which is also a half day park turned into a 3/4 or full day park by crowds and lines.

Adding lands and attractions to both of these would perhaps be the equivalent of adding a fifth gate.

My own comments weren't made taking into consideration their apparent inability to optimally maintain the parks they have in operation already. Just my own personal desire. It probably wouldn't get us to stay over 7 or 8 days, but it would probably get us to stay on property longer, and maybe visit an extra time or two in between the visits we already make.