Walt Disney World was built on the savings accounts of the middle class family willing to drop a couple G’s (or more) for that yearly week long trip. There’s a little bit for everyone and a place to stay that’s within the envelope of Disney magic. DVC is Disney’s play to catch the upper middle class and the retiring baby boomers who will be looking to spend their hard earned retirement dollars somewhere, if they still have them. And that’s the rub.
The gap between the haves and the havenots was already at its widest point ever before the recent econocalypse. The last three years have only exaggerated the difference. That means there are fewer of those middle class families who can afford to visit WDW for that week long experience. This has led to some recent softening of attendance at WDW.
The question in on the lips of Wall Street is if this will be a long term jobless recovery. If so, then WDW had better accept this new reality and find guests from elsewhere. I think they need to look to Disneyland for a working model. Draw the locals in.
What locals? You may ask. Well Florida is the 4th most populist state and Georgia the 9th. Together they still don’t match California, but I think it’s enough to bridge the gap. If I was in WDW Management, I would be lobbying DC to accelerate construction on that high speed train network that puts Orlando in the center of a hub that links Tampa, Miami, Jacksonville, and Atlanta. They’ve already convinced them to put a stop right at the doorstep to Disney World.
I would also focus on building the sort of in park experiences that you can refresh every year or so in order to draw your hard core fans back more frequently. This means more frequent updates to the parades and shows, new technology that hits one out of the park, and holiday experiences that change every year but are affordable enough the locals can attend at least one night.
What other changes do you think Walt Disney World needs to make to become more of a locals park? Or should they even try?