Will Hotel Discounts Make the Difference at WDW?
Updated: Sep 9, 2020
For those of you with little time to read through....that answer is a NO.
Unlike other Disney parks Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney World depend on visitors from out of town for their crowds. There is a reason why there are so many hotel rooms at both resorts, and it isn't for locals to use. Walt Disney World in Orlando has over 30,000 rooms spread among its hotel resorts.
These discounted hotel offers are designed for those who can drive to Walt Disney World easily or are for Annual Passholders. The reason this is the case is because there are very few guests willing to board an airplane (return flights from Toronto to Orlando start at $200 currently), borders are closed, and there is the issue of income-related issues due to the shutdown earlier this year and the fact that Disney is a very expensive vacation that doesn't necessarily make sense with reduced hours and attractions.
In short, Youtubers will love this because they can do room and resort reviews, along with get into the parks they want. Local residents may treat themselves to a staycation, and those within driving distance may (and that's a big MAY) consider booking a room. Most of the rest of us either can't (due to border closure or 14 days of self-isolation afterwards) or won't (disposable income and other concerns with getting there).
What can Disney do? Simple. Bring the parks to those who can't make it.
This is a company revenue issue. Disney needs revenue to pay for it's operations and ensure cash flow.
For that to happen, they need to invest in their IT infrastructure and logistical support systems. Bring some popular parks merchandise to retail outlets and make it widely available in sufficient quantities you avoid the issue of resellers. Retail operations, if the ShopDisney website is fixed and logistical issues with getting items to local Disney stores gets resolved, will help the company generate revenue. After all, isn't that why Galaxy's Edge merchandise is coming to Target in the US and Toys R Us in Canada?
Next, Disney needs to focus on Disney+ (which they realize is the big revenue engine during a pandemic). Use Disney+ to bring us close to the parks. The Imagineering Story, One Day at Disney, and those types of programming are loved by subscribers. Put more of that content on to bring the parks closer to those who can't or won't go right now.
Focusing on a premium platform for new releases is probably not the way to go. Mulan releases in Canada on Disney+ this week (September 4th) for $34.99. That's a few months (Rumours are it will be released to all Disney+ subscribers on December 4th). We all understand that Mulan cost $200 million to produce and that it's going to be a complete flop due to the current political situation (which was not envisioned when the project was green lighted).
However, Disney will not make $200 million dollars back for this film by charging a premium to watch it, and risks backlash from those who have paid only to find out it was going to be made free a few weeks later. What would work is an advanced digital download with a blu ray / DVD sent by mail or available for pick-up in local Disney stores.
People are going to feel a little cheated paying for a movie that will be made widely available for free 3 months later. That's not how they should be positioning Disney+.
One of the great messages Walt Disney had to his entire team of Imagineers was to build things right the first time. This concept of forward-thinking is what needs to guide the Walt Disney Company as it faces a major pandemic for the first time in its history.
Disney has a base of very loyal customers (guests) and employees (cast members). Focusing on the basics (keeping the lights on in the parks, making sure Disney+ continues to grow organically and is well-received, and optimizing its retail operations is the way to go.
Selling a few more of its 30 000 hotel rooms at Walt Disney World will help, but not in the ways other investments will.