When people ask me where I want to be late in my career, I tell them I want to be the CEO of Disney (shocker, right?). The big kahuna. Nothing would be more satisfying than to lead a company I love into the future even if it was a short tenure. I’m not quite Disney CEO material yet, and Bob Iger is doing a great job, but that doesn’t mean I can’t ruminate on what I’d do today if I was. And, if Mr. Iger happens to stumble on this and likes any of my ideas he can certainly give me a buzz and start grooming me now. Without further ado, here are three (non-obvious) things I’d do if I was the CEO of Disney right now.
1. Accept (and embrace) that Tomorrowland will now always be ‘Yesterdayland’.
Yes, I know, Tomorrowland was one of Walt’s favorites. And, in his day, it would have been amazing to create an entire land dedicated to tomorrow. The problem now, though, is that back in Walt’s day technology was moving at a much slower pace. Today, when you build “Tomorrowland” it’s pretty much out of date within a few years. Did you know that the smart phone in your pocket is over 1,000 times more powerful than the computer on the Apollo spaceship that took our astronauts to the moon? That was only 45 years ago, people. Think about that.
Given this dilemma, if I was the CEO of Disney, I’d embrace this fact and re-brand Tomorrowland as something that celebrates yesterday’s best technological advancements. Instead of trying to fight the uphill battle of technological advancement, it would instead be nostalgic and glorious. Tomorrowland, the name, would become more of an ode to Walt and an era, while the land itself became a fun trip down a technological memory lane.
2. Leverage MyMagic+ (and new incentives) for better crowd control
Disney parks are a popular place that make Disney a ton of money. I know they don’t want to throttle crowds at their parks too much, but they clearly recognize that when crowds are too big, it’s counter-productive. Staff are over-stressed, people get annoyed and leave with bad impressions (and may not come back), and in general makes every’s day a little less enjoyable. The recent price increases to me are probably a way they’re trying to combat super crowds but that only treats the symptom, not the issue.
The issue is that, even with higher prices, some times of year have more demand than they have space in their parks for everyone to enjoy themselves with ease. On those super busy days, I’d leverage MyMagic+ (MagicBands, FastPass+, Disney app, etc.) to implement an in-park rewards system that helped distribute line load better. For example, let’s take three rides in Tomorrowland and say that Space Mountain’s wait time is 120 minutes, Buzz is 75 minutes, but Autopia is only 15 minutes. That’s a poor distribution of people waiting in line so you don’t want more people getting in the Space or Buzz lines, but some people don’t enjoy Autopia enough to divert themselves there.
To solve that, when you enter the Disney app, short lines would have incentives attached to them. For example, you earn a new FastPass+ selection for another ride that currently has a long line if you go ride something that has a short wait now. The same could apply to dining, where anyone who makes a reservation during off-peak eating times gets an additional FastPass+ selection that day. Things like this would help distribute load a bit more evenly across the day because people would have incentive to deviate from what they’d usually do otherwise.
3. Invigorate EPCOT
The reason I picked EPCOT instead of Hollywood Studios is because everything indicates they’re already in the process of trying to invigorate it. So, I’ll focus on EPCOT which is in the same position. The ride situation at EPCOT has gotten a little bit out of hand. To the point where Test Track and Soarin’ are almost the only two rides worth visiting.In addition to that, World Showcase has not gotten a new country in forever.
With that in mind, I’d tell the Imagineers that Journey into Imagination with Figment, Ellen’s Energy Adventure, and Mission: SPACE were all to be completely removed, and that the Nemo ride was going to be (somehow) transplanted out of EPCOT and into Fantasyland (where it belongs). With that, I’d give the imagineers the opportunity to brainstrom anything they wanted to put in those attraction’s places. I want it to be new, exciting, innovative, and at least one new E-ticket, too.
I’d also open up the bidding for two new countries at World Pavilion. First, I’d have a web poll that let the internet vote on what countries they’d most like to see added to World Showcase, and then based on those results, I’d approach those governments and see what kind of synergies and sponsorship they’d be willing to share with us.
What do you think, readers, would you enjoy these new initiatives if I was the CEO of Disney?
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March 3, 2015 at 6:56 pm
WDW’s New Tomorrowland of 1994 largely is a “Yesterdayland,” drawing on Sci-fi imagery from decades past. http://progresslandblog.com/2013/03/04/the-future-that-never-was/
March 3, 2015 at 7:13 pm
Thanks for reading and for the comment, Dean. I’d agree that some aspects of the various Tomorrowland’s may have adopted it a bit, but I think they should dive in head first and truly embrace it. Right now it seems more accidental (in most cases) than on purpose, especially Disneyland in CA.