What Frustrates Me About Disney Right Now
I have a well-earned reputation as an optimist, but I’m also a realist. For this reason, I know that Disney still has plenty of work to do.
Criticism of the company has seemingly reached a crescendo, at least during the social media era. Lately, fans lament some of Disney’s actions.
I’m not above this irritation, either. Here are the primary frustrations I have with Disney right now.
The Lack of Appreciation for Loyal Fans
Look, I’ve lost my Bitcoin wallet with all the coins I mined in 2013. So, I’m every bit as vulnerable to price increases as everyone else.
As a realist, I try not to dwell on the changes much, as I recognize that Disney runs a business.
The pandemic wrecked Disney’s balance sheet, and the company doesn’t get enough credit for striking several icebergs without sinking into the corporate ocean.
Better companies have collapsed for worse reasons than what happened to Disney in 2020 and 2021.
Still, some of the recent changes border on petty. For example, Disney has stopped selling annual passes to out-of-state guests.
The only reason management would do that is that it wants tourists to pay more per park visit.
Just three years ago, Disney warmly welcomed frequent customers as the core of the theme park business. Now, we get treated like second-class citizens.
I’m a member of the Disney Vacation Club, and the rage among some vocal members of that group would strip the paint off your walls.
At the moment, Disney doesn’t care about loyalty as much as who will pay the most on a given day. Unfortunately, that behavior doesn’t foster goodwill among customers.
I fully understand the why of it, but I also know that the economy will remain in flux for at least the next six months, if not a year or two.
When the global economy takes a turn, loyal customers are who will keep Disney afloat. The company honestly should have learned this during the pandemic.
So, when I hear that Disney is making Disney Genie+ purchases even harder, I roll my eyes and grit my teeth.
The Lack of Communication
From what I can tell, the worst jobs at Disney right now involve public relations.
I say this because park updates come sporadically, haphazardly, and perplexingly.
Toward the end of 2021, management randomly announced the return of the Disney Dining Plan. However, Disney provided no additional intel afterward.
Friends, that proclamation occurred 11 months ago! If someone says that something will happen, the specifics matter the most.
We don’t have those about the dining plan or any number of other projects.
This behavior drives me to distraction because it’s absolutely inexcusable. I’ll use a recent example to explain why.
Did you watch the TikTok about the impending return of Minnie Vans? Here’s the clip:
Friends, that’s delightful. Unfortunately, what it’s not is informational. We live in the social media era, and Disney claims millions of followers across its various channels.
Describing the when and where of something should be the easiest it’s ever been in the 99-year history of the company!
Instead, Disney’s erratic behavior causes the perception that park officials are making everything up as they go along.
They don’t know the specifics. So, they say, “Sure, we’ll do that again at some point.” And that’s the end of the conversation.
If you were in a relationship with this person, you’d have given them an ultimatum, dumped them, and then started revenge-dating all their friends.
When Disney says Star Wars Launch Bay will bring back characters, it should add a date. It’s not a challenging concept.
Park officials don’t want to do that because they’re shaky on deadlines right now. So, they’d rather avoid the conversations as much as possible.
I find such behavior beneath a company with the stature of Disney.
The Push Toward Early Morning Decisions
I heard a rumor last week that Disney would modify Disney Genie+. My overriding hope for the rest of that day was that management had recognized the problem.
Currently, guests must perform a crazy number of actions before 7 a.m. to ensure that they’ll have a smooth park visit.
Ordinarily, I’d dismiss this issue as my being a night owl and thinking anything before lunch should require minimal activity on my part.
However, some of my early bird friends are now the ones complaining to me about what Disney has done.
The Disney Genie+ change only magnified the problem, which is maddening to me.
I’d previously written about the frustrations stemming from the 7 a.m. Struggle.
Friends, I’m not joking when I say that the quietest, most polite member of my family inspired that piece.
She spent 90 minutes complaining about a recent 10-day Disney vacation.
As a longtime DVC member, she’d visited the parks hundreds of times. Yet, she’d never felt frustration like during a February trip.
That’s because the system requires people to book Lightning Lane and Disney Genie+ reservations at 7 a.m. on the dot.
The process was already stressful enough. Unfortunately, Disney, in its infinite wisdom, has now added to that aggravation.
Before you can do anything else, you must purchase Disney Genie+, presuming you want it. That’s another layer of aggravation.
What Disney should have done – and this statement is irrefutable – is make the purchase easier by allowing guests to book Disney Genie+ reservations ahead of time.
We had that system for years. It was called FastPass+. Now, Disney is offering something worse…and you have to pay for it. That’s inexcusable.
The Reliance on Smartphones
Look, I get it. Tech makes everything more manageable, and I love that. I’ve had an Apple iPad semi-permanently attached to my hand since 2010.
As an early adopter by nature, I am all about technological advances. When Disney added Mobile Ordering, I all but screamed with joy.
Similarly, I was thrilled when Disney announced its Genie service because a virtual assistant is the missing link at theme parks.
In short, I want to love Disney tech. However, I’m also aware of how much thought Imagineers put into ride design.
Take Expedition Everest as an example. Disney employees traveled thousands of miles to learn as much as possible about Nepalese culture.
Imagineers returned home with several thousand items they purchased overseas. Each of them serves a purpose in advancing the story of Expedition Everest.
Guests should spend their time in line admiring all these special touches. Instead, we’re too often on our phones, planning the next thing.
We need to know wait times for other attractions, Disney Genie+ availability, Mobile Ordering options, and even where the closest bathroom is.
In short, our reliance on smartphones is negating some of the greatness of Disney theme parks. That does bother me, even as I understand the why of it.
So, I try to take the approach that personal responsibility matters. I don’t have to overuse my phone while at the parks.
Most of the time, I can accept the truth of that. But then, Disney informs me that I have to buy Disney Genie+ on the date of my park visit.
Suddenly, I’m filling up the swear jar again. In all sincerity, I hate to be so negative about these issues.
However, I believe that Disney management should visit the parks more to understand how problematic these matters are.
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Feature Photo: Disney