What Do You Think about Disney Right Now?
Last month, a relatively obscure casino website performed a survey among Disney lovers. At the time, I didn’t give the report much credence.
Later, KLTA and WFLA ran with the story, and the poll results weren’t that flattering to Disney. Now, Disney has increased park prices again.
If loyal customers were already unhappy with the parks, you can imagine how they feel today. And this leads to an essential question.
What do you think about Disney right now?
Let’s Talk about the Poll
I’ve done a few (hundred) polls in my life, and I’m also intimately familiar with statistics and data collation.
For this reason, I’m always skeptical about polls. They often reflect the opinions of the people asking the questions.
Specific wording can guide respondents to answer wrong. We witness this often with political polling, which often leads to November surprises.
The website, FiveThirtyEight, exists as a way to demonstrate how much more reliable some poll companies are than their peers.
I say this because I’d never heard of the company that performed the survey. That doesn’t make them bad (or good). It just shows that they lack polling stature.
Then again, everyone does at first. The lack of awareness simply caused me to evaluate the data with more scrutiny.
According to the poll data, “1,927 self-reported Disney World enthusiasts from the Facebook travel group ‘IT’S ORLANDO TIME’” participated.
For the sake of transparency, the surveyor adds, “At the time of the survey, the group had over 234,700 members.”
Folks, you know how social media works. The people most likely to say something are the disgruntled ones. They want to speak their peace.
So, I appreciate the attention to detail with the polling. Still, I can already tell it will be of questionable value.
Still, the results should keep Disney executives up at night.
A whopping 92 percent of the respondents indicated that they think Disney vacations are “out of reach for average households.”
Similarly, 68 percent feel that “(Walt) Disney World has lost its magic.” Nearly half (48 percent) have postponed a Disney trip due to price increases.
Again, the people most likely to reply to this poll are the ones who wanted to express their outrage, though. Honestly, it’s clickbait-y of KTLA to pick up this story.
Let’s Talk about Disney Leadership
Here’s the thing, though. We all understand why some people are “scream at the top of their lungs” upset.
Not long ago, a CNBC announcer accidentally referred to Disney’s CEO as “Bob Paycheck” rather than his name Bob Chapek.
This snafu hints that people in the business world are calling Chapek by this name in private. This announcer didn’t intend to say it on the air, but that’s what happened.
The link I used is for Barrett Media, and I selected it intentionally because someone I know works there. We had met because he wanted me on his Disney podcast.
That podcast no longer exists because this individual turned against Disney after their frequent price increases.
I’m someone who accepts that Disney is running a business, one dramatically damaged by the pandemic. So, I can take some distance from price increases.
Many, possibly even most, Disney fans don’t feel the same. Instead, they use every price increase as justification to rant that the company has lost its direction.
In fact, I would wager that somebody in the comments for one of our price increase posts mentions that Walt Disney would hate to see his company now.
People are incredibly protective of the parks and the company’s legacy. Meanwhile, its CEO is as well, but he takes a vastly different approach.
Chapek only cares about the bottom line because he’s the custodian for the Disney franchise right now. He doesn’t want to be the guy who runs it into the ground.
Let’s Talk about the Price Increases
As a numbers guy, Chapek cares that Disney can finance itself. Right now, the company owes $46.022 billion in outstanding debts.
Disney will update that number in a matter of weeks. Still, it’s a massive amount for a company that netted just $3 billion in 2021.
Yes, the pandemic was a factor, but creditors don’t care about that. They want their money.
Currently, Chapek possesses one primary weapon to increase revenue, and he’s using it. But, frustratingly, that weapon is the price increase.
While Disney may have earned an operating income of only $3 billion for an entire fiscal year, its most recent quarter included $2.39 billion.
What changed during fiscal 2022 that allowed Disney to earn that much money? We all know the chorus to this song. Yes, Disney raised prices.
Now, guess what Disney has done again! It’s a cyclical behavior at this point. Disney squeezes a few more bucks out of park guests every few months.
Some of the ways they do it are vile, too. For example, here’s a recent salad shrinkage scandal. That one irks me on general principle.
If you’re gonna charge tourist prices on food, at least have the decency to provide acceptable portions.
Still, yesterday’s price increase takes the cake due to how comprehensive it is.
A year ago at this time, Disney Genie+ didn’t even exist. Now, it’s already so popular that executives feel comfortable raising the prices by up to 47 percent.
Meanwhile, guests are paying more for bottled water, Coke products, popcorn, and other snacks. It’s like somebody pulled up a spreadsheet and added 75 cents to every price.
What Do You Think about Disney Right Now?
Throughout this behavior, one thing hasn’t changed. Tourists have demonstrated an insatiable lust for Disney theme parks.
While we won’t have official attendance numbers for another year, we know that crowds have remained strong throughout 2022.
Disney kept its customers safe during the pandemic. Then, the people who said they’d return after everything returned to normal kept their word.
So, Disney has done its own kind of polling via guest surveys. That data drives much of management’s park strategies.
The ones visiting Disney don’t mind the prices, unintentionally reinforcing the decisions happening in the boardroom. However, there’s a data flaw here.
When you’re asking questions to the people who are already in the parks, you know what they’ll say about attendance. If they minded price increases, they wouldn’t be there.
What Disney isn’t considering enough is whether its policies are A) preventing many people from going or B) creating harm to the brand.
As long as the parks remain crowded, Disney isn’t concerned with the first matter. However, the second one comes with more significant challenges.
How many people actually keep up with Disney enough to know about the frequent price increases?
I’ve had several non-Disney friends visit the parks recently. To a person, they indicated that the trip cost about what they expected.
For this reason, what you and I think about Disney may be irrelevant at the moment.
Disney will only return to its diehard fans if/when the economy turns, which could happen soon or not for another ten years.
That’s the frustration we’re all feeling. We’ve been loyal Disney customers for a long time, but we know the company doesn’t need us to excel.
What do you and I think about Disney right now? It doesn’t matter, and that’s the worst part.
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Feature Photo: Disney
I will be the first to admit I do not like the increase in cost, but what is not going up in price (gas, groceries, hotels, etc), but that is not reason for my comment.
As long as people are still willing to pay the admission cost, plus paying for Genie+, and the parks are still crowded, why wouldn’t the cost go up.