Thanks to Blue Sky Disney for pointing out this photo album of the newest Disney Hotel in the world. It’s the Toyko Disneyland Hotel and it opens on Tuesday. It’s an absolutely beautiful hotel full of the sort of amazing detail that will make your stay all the more magical.
Stateside Disney fans have long been jealous of the money that is lavished on the Disney theme parks and properties owned by the Oriental Land Company. Of late, we’ve also been made jealous by the enormous expenditure on architecture, urban planning, and theme parks in Dubai, a whole crafted city in the United Arab Emirates.
Why is there no such development like this in the Orlando area so we may compete just a bit with overseas competition for tourist dollars? TDL gets that amazing hotel and we get Sarasota Springs. There just is no comparison.
There are plenty of differences between the way Oriental Land Company runs their Disney parks and resorts. Some of them probably wouldn’t fly here in the US. For instance, cast members don’t get free admission to the theme parks. You probably wouldn’t be able to hire or keep any part-timers without those perks.
There are also, admittedly, a difference in the amount of money guests are willing to spend one their Disney vacation. It’s higher by a significant amount in Japan and the demand is nearly as high as ever. But the cost of oil is adding a new element to the tourism equation.
That makes me wonder again about Disney’s USA based parks. Disney fans and Annual Passholders don’t hang me for suggesting this, but perhaps the US based Disney Parks could do better by tremendously elevating the quality of service, resort destinations, and themepark attractions to match and even surpass what OLC has been planning (WDI created the attractions and resorts for OLC, so they have the plans handy). Then raise the prices for resorts and parks to match. Keep raising prices until attendance levels out at a pleasantly crowded level, but not so much you have to wait in super long lines for anything.
Disney World would have to demolish and start again with almost all of the hotels. The Grand Floridian and Animal Kingdom Lodge (perhaps Wilderness Lodge as well) could be kept, but the rest would have to receive serious upgrades. Don’t want to get rid of the moderate hotels? convert them into DVC. DVC would become even more valuable, but without cheap annual passes, admission costs would affect how often DVC members could attend.
Disneyland could keep the Grand Californian Hotel and they need to replace the other two shortly anyway. I would expand Downtown Disney into where the Disneyland Hotel is now and build a brand new Disneyland Hotel of the quality seen in Tokyo Disneyland on the other side of the Esplanade between Disneyland and California Adventure with private entrances to both parks. Paradise Pier hotel could be recreated in the Lion King parking lot with it’s own beach and water feature and a seaside look and feel.
If Disney wanted to throw a bone the locals, they could keep California Adventure and Disney’s Hollywood Studios as the ‘locals’ parks with lower costs annual passes available to residents in nearby zip codes. But trips to the Magic Kingdoms, EPCOT, and Animal Kingdom would become special with DAK having more and more elements of a boutique park where guests could pay more for animal and adventure experiences.
Here’s what I think caps this idea as the best plan for Disney. The price of oil will eventually, sooner rather than later most likely, surpass the $160 a barrel mark where supposedly Disney’s own studies show it makes sense to sell the parks (I’m not sure I follow or agree with that logic). If a company like OLC, perhaps even OLC, buys the parks & resort operations, they will very likely follow a plan just as I’ve outlined above.
Disney’s plan up to now appears to be to build a Disney property (either a theme park or location based resort (think Hawaii hotel) near every major population density in the world. If they continue that path, look for a new Disney theme park in Dubai. But there are other ways to compete in the world market other than spreading yourself thin.
OLC realizes that in order to compete in the new world market of tourism, where you can attract those who can afford to travel, you have to really dazzle them with Disney magic. Will Disney get that today? Disney could use this downturn in visitor volume to retool the parks and resorts and come out the other side with a product that is competitive on what is now a world market for tourism travel. Dubai is following the “if you build it they will come” model; Disney has used it in the past during economic slow times, but will they do so again with the new regime in charge?