What are you thinking? An open letter to Bob Iger
I've been watching the news out of Disney over the last couple of weeks. Today was the last straw. What's going on? This is getting out of hand.
Uncle Walt is probably rolling over in his grave. In fact, he's probably turned into a tornado down there (but Uncle Roy has a big smile on his face).Hey Dad, whatchoutalkinbout?
Warning, Dad's about to go on a Rant and it might get a little messy!
In fact, I think I'll just send a message directly to Bob Iger. I've got some things I think he needs to hear.
What are you thinking?
This morning, you all leaked information about the new Disney Early Morning Magic - Fantasyland. You know the new program where you'll let guest pay $69 to ride THREE rides in Fantasyland and get some pastries and juice. How nice of you.
This is just a couple of days after you announced Magic Kingdom After Hours. That one is even more outrageous. $149 PER PERSON for just 3 hours in the Magic Kingdom. Shoot, the highest price for a whole day ticket on Christmas Day is only $124.
So what's going on? Why the sudden need to create outrageously priced "special events" that will only be available to a "select" few?
I can just imagine the corporate drivel you'd probably spout about how people want more hours in the Magic Kingdom with smaller crowds. That's totally true. (By the way, I can tell you how to make this happen, call me.) You're probably saying this is the best way we've found to accommodate that.
Let's talk about that.
I'm sure you and your bean counters are saying, "we have plenty of people that would pay a lot of money for some extra time in the parks".
My answer would be yes, yes, you sure do. Plenty of people like those New York Housewife's that have totally destroyed YOUR great relationship with Special Needs guests! Those people? People like the 1% that everyone hates? Those people? People that will shell out $150 PER PERSON to spend 3 hours in the Magic Kingdom so they don't have to rub elbows with the "commoners". Those People?
Let me give you a big warning Bob. You are starting to get the reputation that you would rather have "Those People" than the rest of us working stiffs.
Oh, let's not forget, all of these new money grabbing programs come on top of the 5th year in a row you've raised prices 6% or so when the economy had a growth rate of 1% or less. So the average Disney guest is now paying around 20% more in real dollars for their Disney vacations than they were just 5 years ago. That's just crazy.
And there are rumors that this is just the beginning of the price increases. You have one planned for the resorts this summer and probably another big one first thing in 2017.
OK, Bob, I truly want to help so let's have a discussion about what is so special about Disney to a lot of us.
Let's talk a little bit about the Disney brand. One of the things that "Disney the company" has always been known for is being a company that made dreams come true for everyone. We all loved it because we could relate to the heroes who were common people. Snow White and the Dwarfs, Cinderella, Aladdin, and even Mickey himself were characters of the people.
When royalty was portrayed only the humble royals were celebrated. Those that were haughty and money grabbing usually came to a very inglorious end.
Lately, I think Disney has lost its way. It pains me to say it. It looks to a lot of us out here in Realsville is that "Disney, the brand", has become haughty and money grabbing. Some of us are getting fearful that an inglorious end is in sight.
Don't believe me? Let's just look at what you've built over the last few years. Let's start with the Bungalows at the Polynesian Village Resort. I can tell you I salivated over those while they were being built. I've told my wife for years that when the DVC came to the Polynesian we were buying DVC points.
Then I heard about the point requirements for the Bungalows. CRAZY TALK! To buy enough points for just one week a year in a Bungalow during the lowest priced part of the year, would cost more than I made in a year as an AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER. That's not a low paying job.
There is no way on this earth that I will ever be able to afford even a night in a Bungalow. Even if I rented points it would be stupid for me to spend that much money for just one night in a HOTEL ROOM, I don't care what the view is.
Oh, and let's not forget about that shrine you've built to Those People! between the Wilderness Lodge and the Port Orleans. You know what I'm talking about. The Four Seasons Hotel and Golden Oaks. What does one of those houses cost? At least $1 Million Dollars.
Even the most recent "Value" Resort is a complete joke. There is no "Value" in something that starts at over $300 per night. Shoot, a Family Suite at the Art of Animation is more expensive than any of the Moderates. That's not "Value."
This really isn't helping Disney's image, Bob. If you just look at all the articles that are coming out about Disney including one from Frommers, of all people about how Disney is now considered a company of the 1%.
A lot of us "normal" people are starting to grumble. I hear it all the time on my website and social media. More and more people are talking about abandoning Disney and moving on to other more reasonably priced vacation options.
Yes, I know that you are having record attendance. I know that revenues are through the roof. I know that every price increase is met with howls, but the bottom line keeps moving up, but at what cost?
Is having a high stock price more important than being the company of the little guy (like Walt)? Is setting income records more important than making Dreams Come True for those not in the 1%?
Remember, Bob. Like a lot of the characters in your movies, pride goeth before a fall.
The bottom line is this wasn't Walt's way. Walt was all about creating magic for us "common" folks. When Walt died it cost less than $4 to get into the Magic Kingdom. I don't think he would be very proud of the way the company is headed today.
One of your biggest fans,
Carl (Dad) Trent