The “Happiest Place on Earth” may also be one of the priciest: last year Walt Disney increased the cost of a one-day pass for its Magic Kingdom theme park to $99. The $4 uptick came just eight months after Disney’s previous price hike, but customers don’t appear to mind. In 2013 theme park income rose by 17 percent to $2.2 billion as crowds continued to pack the company’s $14.1 billion entertainment empire.
It’s possible that the lofty costs required for a Walt Disney World vacation could drive customers to competing parks like Universal Studios, Legoland or SeaWorld. However, Disney reached this level of dominance by operating like no other company, which is why they’ve invested $1 billion in a radical new innovation. Called MyMagic+, this high-tech wristband is the key to a visitor’s new Disney experience. The wearable gadget acts as a park admission ticket, hotel key, and even a credit card. Visitors just need to tap their MyMagic+ bracelet against a sensor to instantly purchase food or merchandise.
The wristbands also figure into an overhaul of the parks’ FastPass system. Since 1999 visitors have been able to skip long lines by receiving passes that allow them to join a quicker queue. Now the company has introduced FastPass+, an upgrade that has garnered complaints from some of the Disney faithful. Whereas visitors originally picked up their FastPasses from kiosks in the park, guests staying at Disney-owned resorts will be able to reserve passes months in advance through the MyMagic+ website or app. Plus, the company has reduced the number of FastPasses visitors can use in one day from six to three. Some Disney fans fear the new system will make the theme park experience too rigid instead of spontaneous and fun. What’s more, the location-tracking MyMagic+ wristband may be waterproof and stylish but it can also be seen as intrusive and creepy. So as long as the device doesn’t turn off too many customers, Disney could very well have another game-changer on their hands.
- What could threaten the success of MyMagic+ for Disney?
- What’s the primary purpose of the theme parks that Disney must keep in mind?
Source: Christopher Palmeri, “Big Mickey Is Watching,” Bloomberg BusinessWeek, March 7, 2014. Justin Bachman, “Disney’s Magic Kingdom Nears $100 Tickets, and the Crowds Keeping Coming,” Bloomberg BusinessWeek, February 25, 2014.