Le Bob Est Mort, Vive Le Bob
November 21, 2022 2:50 PM   Subscribe

In a major shakeup at the House of Mouse, Disney CEO Bob Chapek is out, with former CEO Bob Iger returning as a "caretaker" CEO to right the corporate ship.

Chapek's tenure at the helm of Disney had been filled with controversy, with a number of unpopular changes to park operations, questionable project axings, and the fight over the legal status of Reedy Creek, to name a few. As such, many fans had developed a loathing for Chapek, even as the board seemed okay with his tenure.

Previously.
posted by NoxAeternum (66 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Is Chapek the one who was talking recently about how since the parks are packed, they're just going to keep raising ticket prices until they don't sell out anymore? Might have been one of his lackies but it left a bad taste in my mouth.

I don't know what Disney needs to do to solve the park attendance problem, but stratospheric pricing feels like a late capitalism solution that is only going to earn continued ill will toward the company.

We're in a tumultuous time for big corporations right now. I'm interested to see how this plays out.
posted by hippybear at 2:56 PM on November 21 [11 favorites]


I'm just awestruck at these two lines, in close succession in the story:
(Disney) also, however, turbocharged streaming growth, with Chapek leaning into streaming by reorganizing the company to focus on digital. ...

And while Disney gains subscriptions at a rapid clip — some 235 million across Disney+, ESPN and Hulu — the company’s streaming losses have continued to grow, to nearly $1.5 billion in its most recent quarter, making it that much more challenging to hit its profitability target.

Ummm. Wow. So you reorg the company on streaming... to the point where you (rough comparison) have two subscriptions for every three U.S. residents... and you lose $1.5 billion in one quarter of the year? How? Did you just give away the subscriptions and pay for the movies by the byte?
posted by martin q blank at 3:16 PM on November 21 [19 favorites]


In his mansion, Eisner waits dreaming.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 3:17 PM on November 21 [28 favorites]


Sadly too late for shows like The Owl House and projects like Nimona. Quality productions were canceled under Chapek for literally no reason except that they were queer.
posted by explosion at 3:19 PM on November 21 [27 favorites]


Netflix CEO Reed Hastings:
Ugh. I had been hoping Iger would run for President. He is amazing.
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 3:22 PM on November 21 [1 favorite]


So you reorg the company on streaming... to the point where you (rough comparison) have two subscriptions for every three U.S. residents... and you lose $1.5 billion in one quarter of the year? How?

Feels like there has to be some Hollywood Math happening here, perhaps from existing algorithms that don't apply well to the new paradigm. But yeah, it feels impossible they lost that much money on streaming in 3 months with that subscriber base.
posted by hippybear at 3:22 PM on November 21 [2 favorites]


You lose $1.5 billion in one quarter of the year? How?

Did they buy crypto?
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 3:26 PM on November 21 [10 favorites]


> Did you just give away the subscriptions

Mine is free, yeah. Disney+ and their other stuff come free with phone plans and various other products and services.
posted by thoroughburro at 3:33 PM on November 21 [6 favorites]


$1.5 billion sounds like a lot, but it's really just a little less than three and a half centitwitters.
posted by USERNAME EXCEEDS MAXIMUM LENGT- at 3:33 PM on November 21 [25 favorites]


One article I read said that Bob Iger stepped out at the right time, which is why he has such a good rep.
posted by The River Ivel at 3:33 PM on November 21 [2 favorites]


There is so much pent-up demand that the parks are absolutely overrun. Raising prices through the roof, charging for things that used to be free, lowering values all-around (food, staffing, maintenance) is going to bite Disney in the ass in future years. Makes sense, I suppose, if you’re looking at this quarter’s earnings but there’s more to it than that right? All these folks are experiencing Disney as an expensive Six Flags, and not as a unique “magical” vacation they aspire to visit again and again.

We’re Orlando locals and had WDW annual passes prior to and “after” Covid. The parks are simply not the same product as they once were. I get that locals aren’t the moneymakers for Disney, but they are barometers for family and friends who do drop big money at resorts and restaurants. We’re telling people to stay away. We’ve moved on to Universal and their parks have gotten better since per-Covid. It’s not a unique problem that Disney is facing. They could also be doing better. They just aren’t.

Of course Disney is much more than parks. It’s also got other issues such as the potential of its ESPN cash cow turning into a money pit as terrestrial cable goes the way of dodos and print newspapers.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 3:35 PM on November 21 [17 favorites]


I was just saying to someone else earlier today, even if Iger doesn’t significantly change any of the recent unpopular policies, they’ve become so associated with Chapek and his name has become so tarnished, that there wasn’t much hope of restoring the confidence of either customers or workers while he was in charge.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:35 PM on November 21 [2 favorites]


We’ve moved on to Universal and their parks have gotten better since per-Covid.

I was curious to learn that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter basically forced Universal into a new model for park design - highly thematic, including getting rid of the standard co-branding, and having premium interactive features available for purchase instead (in Harry Potter, it's the wand; in Super Nintendo World, the second area built under this new paradigm, it's the Power-Up Band.) And it's working for them, evidently, both in guest experience and also revenue.

It's interesting to see Universal basically re-invent the same thing Walt Disney worked out in the 50s, but in a milieu where people are already used to the somewhat themed parks that Disney ushered in.
posted by Merus at 3:50 PM on November 21 [1 favorite]


I’m not a Disney fan, but I was just reading this recent article about the astronomical rise in the price of seemingly every aspect of the theme parks coupled with a noticeable decline in the quality of the experience, which, as hippybear said seems like some real late capitalism shit. My sister, who very much is a Disney fan and used to organize trips to the Florida park as often as her family could afford it, told me they’re pretty much priced out now. Doesn’t seem like a good long-term strategy, but I am not the rapacious CEO of one of the most rapacious organizations on Earth.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:52 PM on November 21 [4 favorites]


Ummm. Wow. So you reorg the company on streaming... to the point where you (rough comparison) have two subscriptions for every three U.S. residents... and you lose $1.5 billion in one quarter of the year? How? Did you just give away the subscriptions and pay for the movies by the byte?

Back in 2020 I subscribed to Disney+ because I wanted to watch the Hamilton movie. They had a month-to-month option, plus they gave you a grace period to cancel your subscription. So after I watched Hamilton two times I canceled Disney+. At the time it struck me as a bad way for them to do business but maybe they don't have a relatively big problem with churning.
posted by fuse theorem at 4:05 PM on November 21


The biggest thing here for me is that Chapek was the one who donated to the "Don't Say Gay" bill while Iger specifically spoke out against it. There has been so much apprehension and fear among queer animators lately as cartoons with queer characters get axed left and right. Things may be changing.
posted by brook horse at 4:12 PM on November 21 [20 favorites]


Everyone fly down to Orlando and show your ten best animation frames. Iger will be in the office until midnight.
posted by Servo5678 at 4:17 PM on November 21 [49 favorites]


If Iger doesn't work out, Musk may be available soon.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 4:18 PM on November 21 [1 favorite]


Meet the new Bob, same as the old Bob.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:31 PM on November 21 [1 favorite]


That's pronounced "Eye-Gore"
posted by hippybear at 4:31 PM on November 21 [5 favorites]


Not Bad Bob Iger?
Bothersome Bob Iger?
Bob ''The Butcher'' Iger?
posted by kirkaracha at 4:40 PM on November 21


The Iger Sanction

Après Bob, le bobluge.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:42 PM on November 21 [16 favorites]


All of this has happened before, and will happen again.

We visited the Magic Kingdom at WDW last January. Cold Monday morning (38F/3C), not MLK Day, school definitely in session just about everywhere, even college. It was body to body in the park. Walkways were impassable. The freakin' PeopleMover had a 30-minute line all day. Lightning Lane passes for the entire day were gone by lunchtime, except for the ones where you have to pay extra - and even those were running several hours later into the day. The food is Nursing Home Lite. Counter service has never been gourmet, but this time around it felt rougher than usual. Per the Kotaku article above, we also noticed some animatronic effects not working, especially on The Little Mermaid.

That one day cost our party of three about $850, or maybe $700 excluding souvenirs. We didn't eat at any table service restaurants. My two companions that day are both thrill seekers, and paid extra to go on Space Mountain a couple times. One of our party also ended up having a panic attack from the sensory overload of the crowds in mid-afternoon. Then we got to visit the cheapest and friendliest attraction in the park - the First Aid Center. Free sport drinks, an outlet to charge our phones, and blissful quiet.

If Disney claims they are not filling the parks to capacity... I dunno, man. We used to live in Florida and we had annual passes. I've been there a lot over the years. I'd never seen it like this, and certainly not at a time that is supposed to be off-peak. This all felt like a terrible deal for what we paid.
posted by sockshaveholes at 4:54 PM on November 21 [16 favorites]


This post delights me to no end: A Disney World Pervert’s Take On: The Shitcanning Of Disney CEO Bob Chapek
Perhaps your only real context for this news is the breathtaking horrors Chapek committed against Disney’s labor force during the pandemic: a stunning 32,000 layoffs over a six-month period starting in October 2020; the sudden halting of the company’s College Program; and the pausing of the company’s cultural representative program, the shuttering of which meant quite literally expelling some number of theme-park workers from the United States.

Here I shall go Commie Mode on the news of Chapek’s firing, in hopes that you will forgive everything that follows. Chapek oversaw one of the more appalling labor reductions in modern history; his only way of balancing a hell-or-high-water pursuit of streaming dominance was to slash and burn other established areas of Disney’s business, often at the expense of workers and consumers; and even if the next guy would’ve pursued and will pursue the exact same strategy, the guy who pulled the various levers that ended with literal tens of thousands of people losing their jobs deserves to be out on his ass, if not in prison. Yeah!

Unfortunately I must now proceed to the Disney World Pervert portion of this blog. For you see, I am a disgusting Disney World Pervert, and as such I feel that I cannot waste this opportunity to use the homepage of this otherwise respectable website to petition the company’s leadership regarding certain changes that I would like to see at Disney World when I return there in September 2023, for [gulp] at least the 15th time in 18 years.
Delightful obsessiveness ensues.
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 5:03 PM on November 21 [11 favorites]




Well now I'm going to have this person's next Disney trip date permanently stamped in my brain. September of 2023 I'm going to be googling Disney parks articles and not know why...
posted by brook horse at 5:32 PM on November 21


A strangely SubGenius statement to come from a notoriously not-hip organization.
posted by hippybear at 5:33 PM on November 21 [5 favorites]


If Disney claims they are not filling the parks to capacity... I dunno, man.

Yeah that just sounds horrible. My family went to MK a few times in the late 70s/early 80s (pre-EPCOT) during the holiday break and our "tradition" was to spend New Year's Eve at the park. The cast members would tell us the park held 95,000-100,000 people on those days and the I-4 entrance would be closed off at some point after lunch because that was it.

And even that didn't sound anything near what you're describing now. It was capital-C Crowded (omg so many horns), but you didn't feel like you were downing in a sea of humanity. What the fuck, Disney?

(It was also the pivot point where WDW went to the Passport system, I think we were some of the first to try it because we were at a LBV hotel (the only in-park hotels besides Contemporary and Polynesian) but obviously things really changed after those years)
posted by JoeZydeco at 5:37 PM on November 21 [1 favorite]


Any idea of when I can expect the link to the list ranking the best Disney CEOs?
posted by MorgansAmoebas at 6:07 PM on November 21 [3 favorites]


I'm wondering if the parks feel more crowded because A. a lot of "people-eater" attraions with a high guest per hour capacity have been replaced with lower-capacity ones, and B. Several headliner attractions a day seem to be unexpectedly down for repairs.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:24 PM on November 21 [2 favorites]


So are they still moving everyone to Florida?
posted by Artw at 6:33 PM on November 21


I'm convinced that the failure of Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser was the last fucking straw with this guy.
posted by mikelieman at 6:38 PM on November 21 [2 favorites]


"Disney against the metaphysicals"
posted by clavdivs at 6:52 PM on November 21 [1 favorite]


About the one good thing it sounds like Chapek did was picking the gays over the bigots.

We'll see if that lasts, given the repercussions of him doing that. Sigh.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:15 PM on November 21 [1 favorite]


Honestly, I don't think Chapek getting fired had anything to do with any of the unpopular policies people are listing. Especially when his contract was renewed in June this year, after the "Don't Say Gay" bill in March and long after all the layoffs in 2020.

He was fired because he missed revenue targets. That's it. And he couldn't make a convincing story about how he would turn it around next year.

You could make the easy case that he's just the scapegoat for the current economic difficulties. They made massive layoffs, but then everything was reopened and then demand went through the roof. Companies aren't going to turn away free money, but they can't hire and train fast enough (I don't think Disney pays that well - they rely on being "part of the magic"), all that know-how is gone, and so the customer experience drops. They made huge investments in Disney+ (including giving it away for free, a marketing expense) but the streaming video market is simply way too crowded and no one considers Disney+ essential. No one thought Netflix would stop gaining subscribers either, but they did in the first half of 2022.
posted by meowzilla at 7:16 PM on November 21 [9 favorites]


So are they still moving everyone to Florida?

This is an interesting question. As an Orlando guy, I would love a bunch of thoughtful, creative folks to move here as opposed to the Trump-loving people who have flooded the state from long island and New Jersey the last couple years. On the other hand I’d hate to have people forced to come to a state that has shown an official antipathy to anyone/anything not named Ron DeSantis.

It has become unconscionably expensive to live here, too. Just in the past 4-5 years housing prices have doubled. Granted there’s the parks but it’s not that great! Having the imagineer community here would make it better I’d bet. I’m conflicted!
posted by the christopher hundreds at 7:39 PM on November 21 [5 favorites]


I work at a university with strong culinary and hospitality degree programs, and I was dumb-founded when they axed the College Program. Those kids are ALL IN, and to just shut it down amazed and appalled me in equal measure.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:43 PM on November 21 [9 favorites]


$1.5 billion sounds like a lot, but it's really just a little less than three and a half centitwitters.

Right, but in one quarter? That's 3.7 millitwitters per scaramucci!
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 9:16 PM on November 21 [6 favorites]


It won't be safe for certain populations to move to Florida now, period.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:39 PM on November 21 [3 favorites]


We took our 13 year old back to DL last June for her third visit. A couple of grandparents came along for the experience. The crowds were overwhelmingly intense. So much so that my daughter asked to leave after two and a half hours and she’s a pretty resilient young lady. It was miserable and I will never go back. We could only laugh at the fact that we had just spent $700 for 150 minutes of walking through throngs of people.
posted by grumblemf at 9:46 PM on November 21 [4 favorites]


Is Chapek the one who was talking recently about how since the parks are packed, they're just going to keep raising ticket prices until they don't sell out anymore? Might have been one of his lackies but it left a bad taste in my mouth.

Disney Is Quickly Burning Through Consumer Trust, What's Next? - a deep dive, from Poseidon Entertainment on Disney's erosion of consumer trust and that that means. "The trust Thermocline".
posted by rongorongo at 9:46 PM on November 21 [2 favorites]


The park overcrowding, one has to assume, is due not to Chapek’s nonsense idea of “post-pandemic demand” but rather to the massive labor cuts over the past few years. When running at full capacity, the parks really can absorb an astonishing number of people and not feel overcrowded. But if you aren’t willing to staff fully, then rides can’t run all possible vehicles/tracks, reducing capacity; shows don’t run as often or at all, leaving amphitheaters empty; transportation doesn’t run as frequently, creating logjams everywhere; etc, etc, etc.

Disney doesn’t release attendance info, but TEA’s best estimates puts Disneyland’s current attendance at 2018/2019 levels. And yet by all accounts the park feels wildly more crowded, despite the fact that in 2019 the park added an entire new land. A fully-staffed Disneyland with current attendance levels should feel like a ghost town.

I don’t know what Iger plans to do to address the whirlpool of dissatisfaction surrounding the parks right now, but it feels like actually staffing the parks back up has got to be a part of it.
posted by CtrlAltDelete at 10:11 PM on November 21 [20 favorites]


Quotes from the article linked by The Card Cheat –
Current Disney CEO Bob Chapek has noted, numerous times, that the prices increase in response to customer demand – not inflation, as some defenders might claim.
“We always watch our demand,” said Chapek in an interview with CNBC. “When you’re playing a yield game like we are right now and you have the flexibility with our reservation system, we can move on a dime… It’s all up to the consumer. If consumer demand keeps up, we’ll act accordingly. If we see a softening, which we don’t think we’re going to see, then we can act accordingly as well.”

“We have much more demand than there is supply. What we will not bend on is giving somebody a less than stellar experience in the parks because we jammed too many people in there. If we’re going to have that foundational rule, you have to start balancing who you let in… Our ticket prices and constraints we put on how often people can come and when they come is a direct reflection of demand. When is it too much? Demand will tell us when it’s too much.”

At these prices shouldn’t we at least get a genetically-engineered brachiosaurus or triceratops? Or a couple of velociraptors, to chase the blood-sucking lawyers?
posted by TrishaU at 10:20 PM on November 21 [1 favorite]


Hmm. Why would you call the idea of "post-pandemic demand" nonsense? Lots and lots of people cancelled Disney vacations due to the pandemic (either because the parks were actually closed, because they were scared of getting sick, or because they fell ill around their travel dates and had to scrub the trip). I know I promised my kids we'd reschedule our May 2020 trip (and I did! Went in February) and I surely wasn't the only parent out there who did. A LOT of people did in fact go in 2022 who might not have made trips if they'd been able to go in 2020 or 2021 when they'd planned. Obviously I don't have access to the data but I don't doubt they're seeing a lot of people in the parks singing the same "we intended to come last year, but" song. It's the same basic root cause as the current RSV numbers haha, just a lot of kids' once-in-a-lifetime Disney trip got moved out a couple years and now those families are all hitting the parks at once.
posted by potrzebie at 10:55 PM on November 21 [1 favorite]


So you reorg the company on streaming... to the point where you (rough comparison) have two subscriptions for every three U.S. residents... and you lose $1.5 billion in one quarter of the year? How?

Well the service is available in quite a lot of the world now, including India and most of Europe, so two subscribers for every three US residents (or, equally relevant statistic, five subscriptions for every two residents of Germany) isn't actually that much. Their addressable market is much noget then the US.
posted by Dysk at 1:54 AM on November 22


Our ticket prices and constraints we put on how often people can come and when they come is a direct reflection of demand. When is it too much? Demand will tell us when it’s too much.”

Chapek is incapable of grasping the essential truth of one of the more famous Yogiisms: "No one goes there anymore. It’s too crowded!”

Ignoring it will lead to dire and irreversible collapse: “If people don't want to come to the themeballpark, how are you going to stop them?"
posted by jamjam at 2:36 AM on November 22 [2 favorites]


People keep saying if crowds are too heavy, nobody will want to visit the theme park. Yet as far as we can tell, people keep coming. As long as they do, in droves apparently, there's no incentive to lower prices. In fact, it's the opposite. Lowering prices would just make it worse. Supply and demand, folks. When Disney starts to hurt because of dwindling crowds, you can bet they'll sweeten the pot somehow, very possibly by lowering prices.

As for Iger, and Disney in general, I'm pretty agnostic.
posted by 2N2222 at 4:49 AM on November 22 [1 favorite]


Supply and demand is too reductionist and lazy of an argument and ignores the whole bait-and-switch that Disney's doing with their supply. As per the Defunctland episode on lines, they're encouraging people to spend enormous amounts of money in exchange for the promise of a truly magical, one-of-a-kind experience and in reality they're delivering slightly better viewing locations for fireworks.

Yeah people are still booking now because Disney has good marketing and there's a certain sunk cost fallacy on the part of park attendees, but how long can Disney keep burning through their reputational credit? Eventually everything's just going to collapse and spiral into a tailspin.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 5:34 AM on November 22 [1 favorite]


From my understanding of how they lost all that money, and PLEASE explain how I'm wrong if I am: they were spending movie budget money on streaming shows. Let's say a company spends $200 million on a piece of content. Every time you see that piece of content in a theater, you have to pay $15 to get access. If another person wants to come with you, they also have to pay $15. If you want to see another $200 million piece of content by the same company, you have to pay $15 again.

Let's say the same company puts these $200 million pieces of content directly on streaming. You and your household now only have to put down $15 total for access to everything. Maybe the company staggers out the releases so you have to keep paying $15 for another month, but it's still only $30 against that massive $200 million budget.

Streaming services are hiking fees and bringing in ads to raise revenue, but this has to be unsustainable. Every company is dealing with how to solve this, not just Disney, but Chapek decided to put a bunch of movies straight to streaming, including animation, which couldn't have helped put a shine on his already-tarnished reputation.
posted by kingdead at 6:08 AM on November 22 [3 favorites]


On a side note, as cameras get smaller and higher definition, there are some really good dark ride videos on YouTube these days.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:29 AM on November 22 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I think kingdead is doing a good job of getting at the math I wondered about. Maybe I should go to their SEC 10K and see if any more concrete numbers on cost of content show up. But there's also the flip side.

If you've got 235 million subscribers (and Dysk, sorry, my US analogy was clunky, I was just trying to give a sense of scale, not the global market), and say just half of them are paying the $80 a year (let alone that the free deal we get with cellphones must include some payment from the carrier to the Mouse), that's $9.4 billion a year. Or almost 50 productions at $200 million a pop. Are they really spending that much on content? Not everything is Andor and She-Hulk... and do they allocate all of the content production costs to the streaming business? (Wakanda Forever will end up streaming, but it's a Marvel production for theatrical release.)

My two meager and long-ago grad classes in accounting for non-profits are insufficient for Hollywood Mogulling.
posted by martin q blank at 6:58 AM on November 22 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the math on streaming and content. Loss also ties into the expectation for more than 1 new show a week, and 50 shows isn't even one a week.
posted by beaning at 8:04 AM on November 22


yeah, but... does it cost $200 million for every single show? Andor is supposedly $15-$25 million per episode, but that has to be an extreme, right?
Anyway, I'm starting to get the vibe of when you start to think about the number of stars in the galaxy and the number of galaxies in the observable universe -- it gets really big really fast, more so than you ever expected. all that money, just to entertain people. wow. time for me to contemplate something else for a while...
posted by martin q blank at 8:13 AM on November 22 [1 favorite]


Adding a note that I am not an accountant and would love to see my explanation challenged--please come tell me how I'm wrong!
posted by kingdead at 9:22 AM on November 22


Why would you call the idea of "post-pandemic demand" nonsense?

It's not that there hasn't been some set of visits in 2022 from guests who delayed trips that would have happened in 2020 or 2021. But what is nonsense is Chapek's explanation that it is this demand specifically making crowd levels feel as if it is perpetually Christmas week in the parks.

First, the best industry estimates are that crowd levels are actually equivalent or not much higher than they have been in the recent past, which means that theoretically you would expect crowding levels to be roughly the same.

Second, we also know that staffing levels at the parks are way down, which means the parks have decreased capacity in every single area of operations. Having fewer restaurant staff means shorter operating hours and partially closed dining rooms. Fewer ride operators means that rides process many fewer guests per hour. Fewer union performers mean that musical shows and streetmosphere performances don't draw people into theaters and together in nooks. Fewer maintenance staff means rides break down more frequently and they get back up slower. When all of these jobs (and more) are short-staffed, it makes the crowds on the walkways and in stores much more dense, even when the literal number of people at the park is the same. And with fewer retail staff and transportation operators, it also means long lines to buy things or to get on the bus/monorail/ferry to get out, which also adds to how crowded the park can feel even with the same amount of guests.

And finally, you can't blame crowds on park demand when park demand is currently capped by the company via the park reservation system. But given that they have capped reservations at a level estimated to be consistent with pre-pandemic attendance levels, the only other explanation for crowding has to be not increased demand, but decreased supply. It's disingenuous at best and grossly opportunistic at worst to claim crowding is bad because of the pandemic when Disney has created that crowding through its own cost-saving measures. If Disney would literally just find it in their miserly hearts to pay people enough to fully staff the parks, the parks would no longer be crushed.
posted by CtrlAltDelete at 12:47 PM on November 22 [13 favorites]


MeFi does not disappoint w/r/t rigor of the discussion here, thanks all.

I'm curious, though, about the extent to which the issues being described about "the parks" are applicable across the board or are much more applicable to/perceptible in Florida. Is anybody able to report from e.g. Paris, Anaheim—directly or secondhand? (It seems I have to diversify my sources of Disney park news, as they are quite silent on all this.)
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 1:36 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]


My trip this year was to Anaheim and the crowds were absurd during a regular school week in February, and the feeling that I was being nickel and dimed at every turn was much worse than previous visits. WDW's crowd situation is different as the visitor local vs out-of-town mixes are not similar between the parks, but both are bad in different ways. On a moms group I read someone said "people tell you you're going to be 'nickel and dimed' at Disneyland but they don't clarify that every single nickel is in fact $20" and that was basically my feelings too.

I used to be a rabid Disneyland person but I guess one of the things I liked about it was that it felt like the rich and the poor were all in line together waiting to get on the Matterhorn. It was a remarkably democratic experience. Sure celebrities might pay to get a tour guide but when you saw the plaid uniform you'd peer to see if the person they were guiding was someone you recognized; on most visits you wouldn't see one at all. Last trip I saw probably ten different families with a plaid-clad guide over my four days in the parks; the rich are all paying up to skip some lines and feel like they've got some semblance of control over their day and someone who knows the latest Disney ins and outs who can help them get the most out of their park admission, and Disney is very happily taking their money.
posted by potrzebie at 3:34 PM on November 22 [6 favorites]


Just the other day I got an email from Disney demanding to have my birthday and gender in order to continue streaming Disney+. I'm disproportionately huffy about this and just might cancel instead, but I assume it's one of those change's they're making to slice and dice me up for marketing yield. I'd rather pay more in actual money though I know that's not most people's preferred option so it doesn't make sense to cater for a minority curmudgeon.
posted by foxfirefey at 3:47 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]


Supply and demand is too reductionist and lazy of an argument and ignores the whole bait-and-switch that Disney's doing with their supply. As per the Defunctland episode on lines, they're encouraging people to spend enormous amounts of money in exchange for the promise of a truly magical, one-of-a-kind experience and in reality they're delivering slightly better viewing locations for fireworks.


You haven't argued against my supposedly reductionist supply and demand explanation. Sure, they encourage attendees to spend enormous amounts of money in exchange for the promise of a truly magical, one-of-a-kind experience and in reality they're delivering slightly better viewing locations for fireworks. Yet, by all accounts, the people keep coming. Suppose they cut prices by half. Do you think that would fix the crowds? Or the experience?


Yeah people are still booking now because Disney has good marketing


You could have stopped there. Sure, maybe everything's just going to collapse and spiral into a tailspin. I'll wager that won't happen. Whatever accounting is going on that says Disney is losing money, the company isn't going to die.
posted by 2N2222 at 4:47 PM on November 22


What continues to amaze me isn't so much the number of people willing to pay out for the nickel-and-diming as it is the number of people who actually possess those kinds of funds to begin with. Like, even if I wanted to pay for all the extras and thought they were good ideas, it simply wouldn't be an option, and everybody I know is in the same position. Where are all these rich people coming from?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:28 PM on November 22 [4 favorites]


I've had a many-years-standing plan with a friend that when I win the lottery (I don't play that often) we're going to do 2 weeks at WDW, no holds barred. I guess the people paying for those guides who let you skip the line are paying like $18K a day for that. And the best hotels, the best food... plenty of time to actually do everything...

Yeah, it's a pipe dream but it's the only way I could afford Disney these days.
posted by hippybear at 5:41 PM on November 22 [3 favorites]



First, the best industry estimates are that crowd levels are actually equivalent or not much higher than they have been in the recent past, which means that theoretically you would expect crowding levels to be roughly the same.


My trip to Disney in CA was before that and it was so crowded it was terrible. Going back to that would not be an improvement. I think we rode 2-3 rides in 10 hours.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:56 PM on November 22 [2 favorites]


All my Disney trips took place to Anaheim between about 1989 and 1995. That was a sweet spot for DL. Day admission was under $50, if I recall. It was worth a weekend round-trip drive to spend a day at DL at that time. I'd seriously not even want to approach Disney in any form without about $30K and at least 4 days these days.
posted by hippybear at 8:25 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]


So are they still moving everyone to Florida?

Update: Sounds like the answer is no. Just listened to a podcast with Len Testa and he’s reporting that the lake Nona deal with Disney is dead. Sucks for Orlando, but I’m glad those folks aren’t going to be shipped across the country against their will.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 10:05 PM on November 22 [3 favorites]


Any idea of when I can expect the link to the list ranking the best Disney CEOs?

Not sure it makes sense to use a positive word before CEO but in any case, the only good Disney CEO is a dead Disney CEO. Fuck Disney.
posted by GoblinHoney at 9:14 AM on November 23 [1 favorite]


According to Defuntland's FastPass documentary, FastPass also contributes to a more crowded feeling park. If you've got a FastPass ticket, then you're out in the park instead of waiting in line, so overall the system contributes to more crowding everywhere that isn't a line.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 1:50 AM on November 24


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