Disney’s Price Increase: A Customer Service Move?

“Sleeping Beauty's Castle,” © 2013 Anna Fox, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.

“Sleeping Beauty’s Castle,” © 2013 Anna Fox, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.

Disneyland’s increase to its prices and its reduction of the availability of passes for locals got a lot of attention last week.

While most of the attention was of the “greedy bastards!” variety, I was thinking about the move from my own, strange perspective. First, since I think quite a lot about pricing tickets to things, I looked at it from that perspective, and second, since I really despise the crowds at theme parks, I looked at it from that perspective too.

Theoretically, they maximize their “revenue per seat” by selling up to the legal capacity limit every single day, but unlike in live entertainment (theater, music, sports, etc.), the quality of the experience plummets when more people are there. Hey, I’ve been to Disneyland on a day where they top 100,000 visitors, and I, in all sincerity, would rather pick strawberries in a hot field with Tom Arnold for an 8 hour shift than stand in line for Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride for a half hour because the good rides were 2 hours.

But maybe that’s just me.

The basic problem they face is that attendance is up, despite price increases, and so more and more of the time, the park is packed, created a less-than-magical experience of the product.

In a sense, it’s the same reason a theater would improve the seats or remove a row. You slightly reduce revenue potential in the short term, but you improve the experience enough to compensate in the medium and long term.

I don’t know the inner-workings of Disney, but I do know they think about customers and their experience, and I do know they understand how to manage park capacities.

Don’t dismiss the possibility of this as a customer service move.

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