In an interview this afternoon at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference, Disney CEO Bob Iger briefly talked about the theme parks side of the company. During the discussion, Iger talked about something that is top of mind for guests planning their Disney World vacations – price.
In the past few years, Disney has continued to raise prices on not only tickets but merchandise and food within the theme parks as well. With every price increase, there is a new contingent of guests who say that they have been priced out of the Disney theme park experience. While Iger certainly won’t be lowering prices anytime soon, he did reiterate that it is important to him and to the Company that the theme park experience remains financially accessible for families.
I always believed that Disney was a brand that needed to be accessible. I think that in our zeal to grow profits, we may have been a little bit too aggressive about some of our pricing. I think that there’s a way to continue to grow that business but be smarter about how we price, so that we maintain that brand value of accessibility. And we took certain steps when I came back to do just that, and they resonated extremely well with consumers, and we’re not only going to continue to listen to consumers, but we’re going to continue to adjust.
One of the things we had to do was we had to improve the guest experience by reducing crowding. You know, it’s tempting to let more and more people in, but if the guest satisfaction levels are going down because of crowding, that doesn’t work. We had to figure out how we reduce crowding, but maintain, obviously, our profitability. We did that well, but we have to be careful about that as well, because in doing that, you actually end up increasing the price, or putting features into your pricing that are viewed by some consumers as being too aggressive and that’s what we have to be careful about.
Iger reiterated that he believes that Disney was too aggressive with its pricing strategies under former Disney CEO Bob Chapek, and Iger said that he has already made changes to make the parks more affordable. One of the changes that has been previously announced is creating more “cheap” days to visit Disneyland at the lowest price tier on the variable-priced schedule.
Another thing that Iger hinted at was possibly leaning more on the Disney Park Pass system to control crowding rather than pricing guests out of a vacation. Another option that Iger has talked about before, and one that he mentioned again today was the idea of expanding the theme parks. He said that while the Company doesn’t have an unlimited amount of capital, they have a virtually unlimited number of opportunities to utilize Intellectual Property in theme park projects.
On the topic of theme park expansions, Iger once again mentioned an “Avatar experience” coming to Disneyland, noting that Avatar has done extremely well at Walt Disney World in Florida. Iger also noted that Disney has more opportunities for expansion in California than people think they do.
While the conversation didn’t delve into specifics on pricing strategy, Iger said that Disney will continue to listen to guests and make adjustments based on feedback.
As always, keep checking back with us here at BlogMickey.com as we continue to bring you the latest news, photos, and info from around the Disney Parks!