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Scaling the Disney way Part 1

I took some notes when I was in Walt Disney World last weekend.  I had originally planned to write an article about how well WDW was in scaling. Over the past few years the Disney company has introduced something called the MagicBand and the FastPass. These devices were meant to improved our experience and to some degree they do.  But there is a dark side too.

  • If you are staying at a Disney property you will receive a MagicBand that you can use to enter your room, pay your tab, buy swag, enter the park, stay late, enter early, and so on.
  • If you're staying on property you can register for your FastPasses 90 days in advance.
  • If you are NOT staying on property you can still buy a band but you have to buy it at the will call, ticket booth or downtown disney. You can only select your FastPasses 30 days in advance.
One thing that disney learns from the fastpass is the public interest in the rides so they know when they might be able to maintain the rides that are of least interest. They might also be able to correctly staff everything from the food and merchandise vendors, characters, ride operators, custodial.

One thing that I have noticed is that the lines are getting longer and longer. Became very clear to me, during my last trip, that [a] Disney is developing more hotel rooms [b] is NOT producing attraction at the same rate. And so the lines are getting longer.

On the Monday before we were set to return home it rained from 2pm until the following morning. As people started to leave the park, during the rain, we decided to stick it out because it was out last day. When the park closed and we returned to our Pop Century hotel cafeteria we were astonished by the sheer numbers of people. It then became clear to me that the ratio of people to dining was skewed. Having stayed in each of the three property types I cannot remember ever seeing this many people waiting to place an order.

I noticed a similar thing in the Pop Century restaurant and the Starlite Cafe in WDW. They have each partitioned the dining by food group. In the Starlite Cafe there is one line for chicken, one for beef and another for sandwiches. In Pop Century there are 4 lines. [1] pizza, [2] pasta, [3] sloppy joes, bean burgers, [4] pot pie, salad, open faced shredded beef or pork. So if you were one parent trying to get a meal for the family you had to choose one line that would satisfy the entire family.

This is not the way to scale this side of the business.


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