This may come as a shock to the Disney fan faithful, but they are not the most desired guests. Nor are the Annual Passholders. Be they Premium or Premiere. And not the members of D23 either. Denizens of Internet message boards don’t make the cut as well.
Not that Disney disdains the members of these groups. The cash they bring, folding money or plastic, makes the Accountanteers smile. These folks tend to be just the gravy on the main dish.
The real meat? The folks for who a Disney theme park visit is the “once-in-a-lifetime” experience. That mythical family of four, who has been planning this special vacation for some time. The people who will take in the Park(s) for the first time.
They see Disneyland with fresh eyes. They aren’t focused on peeling paint or burned out light bulbs. Instead, they see Mickey and will quietly wait in line for their moment of quality time with him, in Main Street’s Town Square. It’s a good bet that they also buy that PhotoPass picture of the family with him, too. And that is simply the start of their adventure in the Magic Kingdom.
Despite all the numbers of folks who make up the groups mentioned above, the most desired guests will always be those who are in the majority every day. I know, shocking, isn’t it? The rabid fans who have to be seen with every character or can share that last bit of trivia about the Park at the drop of a churro really don’t matter as much as they would like to believe. Misplaced sense of entitlement and all, sadly disdained by some cast members and they are what they are.
So, why are the common guests more sought after? To start with, the disposable income they have to part with is more per capita than that of the repeat guest. If they are only going to be visiting the Park for a short period, they are far more likely to spend than their counterparts. Stay in an on-property hotel, eat at a restaurant inside the parks and purchase that multi-day passport. Thrown in those PhotoPass pictures, souvenirs and snacks and it all adds up. Bringing revenue that the folks in those groups won’t match.
Another great point for this choice demographic is that they tend to take the most important souvenir of all with them when they leave. Word of mouth. And with social media expanding as it is, they share with family and friends how wonderful their visit was. And Disney doesn’t pay anything for this free publicity, either. Again, smiles from the Accountanteers…
So, why does Disney court the special groups as it does? In the big picture, the effort to keep the repeat business is worth the cost. It does offer returns. And when have we ever known the company in the Eisner and Iger era to ignore any revenue stream? That gravy helps keep the bottom line happy. Which keeps shareholders happy. Happy, happy, happy.
So, the next time you visit any Disney theme park, thank the folks making that “once-in-a-lifetime” vacation. Without them, we would never have things like Carsland or any other expansion. Because what they bring are the true treasures that the Disney company likes best.
Buck up and make that monthly payment on your Annual Pass.