Bob Chapek on Superfans vs. Newer Fans
In an interview with Hollywood Reporter at D23 Expo, we heard from Bob Chapek on superfans vs. newer fans and how that influences how Disney controls the infamous Disney crowds.
Some call him Bob Pay-Check and he might be perceived as the price-raising, magic-cutting bad guy, but Chapek says it’s because they have a real high-class problem: too much demand, not enough supply.
I never took an economy class, but I’m pretty sure too much demand and not enough supply means prices will go up. We’ve seen that with gas prices, bacon, and Disney.
Too many people, not enough Disney.
Superfans have created a big problem for Disney parks and recently given a lot of backlash for the annual pass holder program at Disneyland. Essentially, prices went up and Park Passes are still required and limited even if you have an annual pass.
Loving New Fans & Superfans Equally
Bob emphasized that The Walt Disney Company loves all its fans equally, but they won’t sit by and let out-of-town families have a less than magical experience because the parks are overcrowded with locals.
He gave the example of a family traveling from afar once every few years. Many of us have been that family, or know someone in a family like that. They scrimp and save so they can go to Disney for a week and don’t get to go again for a long time, if at all.
When it comes to superfans vs. newer fans, everyone needs to experience the magic of Disney if they’re paying to come to the parks.
All the Cast Members associated with Disney Parks and Resorts work together to do one thing: Create Happiness.
When someone visits a Disney park for one week and has a terrible time… that’s not creating happiness with a desire to return.
If guests can’t ride half the rides they were looking forward to, can’t hug their favorite character, they’re trying to wade through shoulder-to-shoulder traffic to get to a meal or a bathroom, and they realize they missed out on so many things because it was so crowded, that doesn’t create happiness.
Chapek said it best with this quote:
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.
I’ve heard the grumblings, I’ve heard the boos, I’ve read the scathing reviews. But when it comes down to it, Bob is totally right. If you’re going to scrimp and save to go to Disney during Christmas week because you want to have a MAGICAL Holiday, I don’t want you to be disappointed no, devastated, because you can’t get into the maxed-out park.
Park Passes and Prices
Park Passes might be annoying (well they are annoying), but they bring balance to the force of nature that is the Disney Theme Park Crowd-Beast. Millions of fans from around the world visit Disney theme parks every year, and superfans/annual passholdes visit more often.
What if those superfans are pushing aside those families that can only visit once a year, once every few years, or just once in a lifetime? Is that fair?
Annual Passholders might go to the parks a hundred times a year, other fans might go only once. After getting in the gate, Disney wants every fan to have a magical time, but you gotta get in the gate first!
That means controlling, harnessing, and soothing the crowd-beast, so Park Passes seem to be an inevitable reality moving forward to Disney Theme Parks. That’s the balancing act between superfans vs. newer fans at the Disney Parks.
Superfans that want to treat the Disney Parks as their own personal playground will have to step aside sometimes and pay a higher price overall to keep playing. What will make prices stop going up? Less demand.
Demand will tell us when it’s too much. -Bob Chapek
That’s what we get in a free market economy. If someone isn’t willing to pay the higher price for the annual pass, that frees up space for more families from around the world to come in and pay those higher prices. I expect Chepak will keep moving forward with plans to raise prices until the revenue starts to dip.