Friday, November 11, 2011

Disney Vacation: How Long?

A while back I read a post discussing the number of parks, or perhaps the call for a fifth gate, at WDW. It may have been at FutureProbe, or somewhere else. (But I think it was at FutureProbe.) The point was that Disney expanded with the idea of getting visitors to extend their stays from one week to maybe 10 days or two weeks, spending money at the resorts, at the parks, at Disney stores and at Disney restaurants.

If it had worked it would have put a lot of extra money in the Disney coffers. But it didn't. People didn't extend their stays. They just spent less days at a particular park in favor of another park.

But I wonder.

Does this "length of stay" statistic (which I've personally never seen but which I believe is out there somewhere) tell the whole story? I mean, the truth of it is that Americans don't vacation that way. Ten days is probably the longest we go for. Two weeks, maybe, if it's somewhere extraordinary. Perhaps Hawaii or Europe, or an African safari or whatever. But not for a domestic vacation. Probably not to Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean either. Ten days is probably the max. More likely most are going to be 7 or 8 nights.

I don't know what the average is for weeks of paid vacation in the United States. I'd guess it's probably around 2 weeks. Maybe 3 weeks. Not too many of us get 5 or 6 weeks off paid each year. So, figure one of those weeks gets spent at Disney for your average Disney-phile. The question becomes then, where are they going to spend the other week? Maybe a resort on a lake. Maybe at a relative's home in Phoenix, or in the Ozarks Mountains in Missouri.

Any way to get them to spend their second week at Disney?

Well, maybe not, if there isn't much "new" to see. You've already gone on Space Mountain, Pirates, Test Track, Everest, Rock'n'Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, Haunted Mansion, it's a small world, and Splash Mountain. Multiple times. You even got on Soarin' twice and Toy Story Mania once. So what's to go back for? If it's thrill rides you like, you can go a lot closer to home and not have to pay for lodging and air fare or travel expenses.

Maybe you suggest that people should come back just to "experience the magic". Sit in the parks, take in the ambiance. To this I say, wishful thinking. When you've only got a week or two weeks, many families will choose to do as much as they can during that time frame. Sit on a bench? Fight crowds again? There's no "magic" in the mosh pits that are also known as Disney's park concourses.

To me, the way to make people spend more of their yearly allotment of vacation time at a Disney park would be to make it a better experience. Don't keep raising fees in order to raise revenue. Don't make that steak dinner at Le Cellier two dollars more and/or give the diner less food for the price. Don't give me less services at a hotel but charge me more. Don't give me a less comfortable experience at a park, whether it be more crowds or longer wait times, and charge me more for it. Those are not the ways to win the hearts of potential Disney-philes.

Give me more for my money. Give me a dinner that rivals the best restaurants in the country. Give me more and better attractions. Make my stay at your resorts even more comfortable, more enjoyable. That's how you are going to get me to spend even more time at Disney in a given year.

To me, worrying about whether a guest stays at a resort for 7 or 8 nights, or ten or twelve nights per stay is worrying about the wrong question. The right question is "how can we get our customers to spend even more time on our property in the course of a year?" There is plenty to do in Orlando. Right now, we don't even have to patronize Disney parks or restaurants even if we stay on Disney property. Give us a reason to stay on property. Give us new experiences and enhanced old experiences.


1 comment:

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