Tag Archives: Disneyland Resort

How technology can improve theme park resorts

Large theme park resorts are often quick to boast about expensive new attractions that pack-in a host of unique and advanced technology. Yet their customers experience whilst visiting the parks and staying in on-site hotels is often made less enjoyable by reluctance from the resorts to move in to the 21st century.


To be fair to many resorts, including Walt Disney World and Disneyland Paris, they have made huge leaps online in order to ensure every part of booking your trip is quick and easy. Guests can now book their tickets, hotel and transportation all in one place and, in some resorts, make all their dining reservations for the trip from the comfort of their own home.

But once the resorts have your money the technology-based offerings seem to come to an end, leaving guests stressed on a trip which they planned on taking in order to get some rest and relaxation.

Disneyland Paris is notorious for this. As soon as guests get to the check-in desk they are bombarded with an abundance of leaflets, tickets and key cards which allow them to take advantage of a number of services offered around the resort.

At an ideal resort the majority of this should be condensed into one key card. The technology is available to put a guest’s room key and park tickets all on one key-card, yet many resorts seem reluctant to roll out a system which would make life infinitely easier for its customers.

Many places also allow you to charge purchases to your room on the very same key-card, a godsend for visitors looking to take a trip on a water ride, yet some resorts still fail to offer this service which forces guests to either take cash or a credit card, something which may force guests to bring along a wallet or purse when they don’t really need to.

Combining all these features in to one card may come at a cost for the resorts, but it will no doubt make a guest’s trip more enjoyable and may lead to repeat visits as well as visitors spreading a positive image of the resort to friends and family – in essence free advertising.

Speaking of free advertising, social media is another thing many resorts fail to utilise, despite the fact it’s a direct route straight to the computers and mobile devices of their target market.

Most if not all theme park resorts have some kind of social media account. Walt Disney World has a Facebook page, Twitter account and shares the Disney Parks Blog with Disneyland Resort over on the West Coast.

For the most part Walt Disney World often uses its social media accounts in order to promote new attractions, link to news articles on its main website or offer helpful tips to the people who read the various accounts.

Whilst this is all well and good potential customers now expect more of large organisations on social media sites. The key word is social and theme park resorts should be ready to interact with their visitors and potential customers rather than just offering a one-way communication system as so many resorts currently do.

Answering reasonable questions from guests via services such as Twitter is a great way in which to do this. By answering specific questions a theme park resort will create an image that they care about their visitors and want to help them, an image which may persuade a consumer to chose that resort as opposed to a competitor.

Sea World Parks and Entertainment have been particularly successful in this area with their @Shamu Twitter account, which offers a host of free giveaways and interacts with followers in a non-serious manner – giving the potential customers an idea of just how fun the parks will be.

Guests should also expect a similar level of interaction once they get to the resort. A Twitter account for wait time information would be a godsend at many resorts, replacing the increasingly outdated tip boards which force guests to walk in the opposite direction from where they want to go simply in order to check the wait time at an attraction.

It may seem like a service that would be hard to keep up with but it is certainly possible, as proven by London Heathrow Airport, whose Twitter account will quickly answer any questions which one of its 66 million passengers over the course of a year may ask.

Even better would be if the parks offered a wait times application for their parks in a similar style to Lines by Touring Plans, which offers incredibly accurate wait times, park hours and other useful information directly to your mobile device.

Of course checking park hours online can be a problem if you don’t have access to the internet at your hotel, a service which is becoming increasingly common at hotels around the world but many theme park resorts have yet to catch up with their counterparts.

Many guests now carry electronic devices on vacation with them, whether that be a laptop, mobile phone or another system which has internet connectivity. Anyone who caries such a devices will tell you how much they appreciate free or cheap Wi-Fi and how tempted they will be to return to the resort if such a service is offered.

There are many more features which could be added to resorts which would make guests trip much easier, but these are some of the more basic things which guests would enjoy and, if theme park resorts value their customers, should start looking into in the near-future.

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Filed under British parks, Disneyland Paris, Planning, Sea World, Walt Disney World

Theme park spending increases among the “ultra-affluent”

Despite a turbulent economic downturn and the threat of a double-dip recession spending at theme parks has risen, at least with some guests.

(photo provided by Steev)

A report compiled by American Express Business Insights shows a 32% rise in spending inside theme parks by its “ultra-affluent” cardholders, considerably more than the tiny 1% increase among the rest of its customers over the course of the last year.

Abe Pizam, dean of the University of Central Florida’s College of Hospitality and Management, gave the Orlando Sentinel an insight into why spending among the super-rich has increased.

“I think these people didn’t spend a lot before not because they couldn’t afford to, but because it was not socially acceptable,” Pizam said. “Now it is not so shameful as it was.”

The news comes shortly after Disney began pre-sales for homes inside their Golden Oak residential development, a collection of properties inside Walt Disney World which will be aimed at the super-wealthy and will cost a minimum of $1.5 million and a maximum of $8 million.

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment have also been preparing for a similar shift in the market, announcing the expansion of its Discovery Cove Park in Orlando, where packages cost around $199 per person.

With the travel and tourism industry still facing troubles despite the improvement in the economy over the past year it’s likely other such plans may be put into action by major organisations in the theme park industry.

Disney and, to a lesser extent, Universal frequently use hard-ticket events surrounding major holidays in order to gain additional revenue outside of standard park operating hours.

Should both operators see it as profitable then hard-ticket events may become more common place over the course of the operational calendar, with increased numbers of exclusive events where ticket prices far exceed the standard park entrance fee.

On the West Coast Disney has long profited from it’s ultra-exclusive Club 33 in Disneyland and the data provided by the report will be incredibly positive for senior management over at Disneyland Resort.

Should spending by the ultra-affluent continue to rise within theme parks Disney, and other operators, may consider adding similar hospitality areas to their parks and resorts, aiming memberships at rich individuals as opposed to business clients and commercial partners.

With decreased revenues from sponsorships (see Test Track and GM) hitting park operators hard the increased spending by the rich may be seen as a potential new revenue stream for theme parks, with increasing products and services provided at a premium price.

Whatever the result of the findings it’s certainly good news for the theme park industry, now all park operators need is for all tourists to follow in the footsteps of those on high-incomes.

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What does the future hold for the theme park industry?

The financial crisis has forced the theme park industry to re-evaluate the way they operate in order to ensure they survive the recession. The question is, how much will this crisis change the way in which theme parks are run in the future?

(photo by Diana)

Before the current recession many theme park operators aimed to produce the biggest and the best parks in the world. Universal opened Islands of Adventure in 1999 to critical acclaim whilst Disney opened the $4 billion Tokyo DisneySea in 2001, a record cost for any theme park in the world.

Theme parks were in with tourists, as proven by the ever-increasing number of visitors hitting Central Florida each and every year to take in Walt Disney World, Universal, SeaWorld and Busch Gardens.

The popularity of parks led to a number of destinations looking to add theme parks to their offerings to potential visitors. The most notable plan for a themed entertainment destination was Dubailand, a huge destination set just outside the city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

The recession put an end to many of the expansive projects planned around the world. Dubailand dates have been put back considerably or halted altogether whilst a number of the major theme park operators have kept very tight-lipped about their plans for the future that hadn’t already been announced pre-financial crisis.

But whilst Tatweer are struggling with finance for their entertainment super-destination in Dubai another project in the same city has been a huge success.

Sega Republic, a small indoor theme park in Dubai Mall, represents a new age of themed entertainment which puts quality over quantity. I was personally incredibly impressed by the number of highly-themed attractions in the park which kept me wanting to ride over and over again.

Despite its great selection of well-themed, quality attractions there’s no doubt the price to build Sega Republic will be considerably less than even the smallest parks produced by the major operators in the industry.

This begs the question is, are theme park operators ready to rethink their future plans in order to ensure they are safe from external shocks?

Whilst Sega Republic is only one small park in a huge industry there is other signs that major operators are trying to bring some of their theme park magic in a more compact style around the world.

Recently the Walt Disney Company started a huge refurbishment project for their stores around the world, which included adding a number of high-end, interactive, experiences which are aimed at keeping guests in their stores for longer.

Whilst the store refurbishments are by no means fully-fledged mini theme parks what they do represent is Disney shifting their operations strategy after the recession in order to bring some of the Disney Park ‘magic’ to customers rather than them having to travel to one of the five international resorts themselves.

There’s no doubt it has become incredibly hard for developers to obtain the credit needed in order to build new large-scale parks and this could well mean we see more and more of these smaller outlets coupled with further expansion of the already established major destinations, with a prime example being the major expansion of Disney’s California Adventure.

Of course once credit markets loosen up we could see a return to the more traditional style of theme park development, but until then we could be looking at an all-new way in which the theme park industry is run.

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Filed under Disney's California Adventure, Disneyland Paris, Sea World, Tokyo Disneyland, Universal Orlando, Walt Disney World

Why World of Color must stay exclusive to Disney’s California Adventure

The Wonderful World of Color debuted at Disney’s California Adventure last week to critical acclaim from fans and the media alike.

(photo from Michael Huey)

The all-new show, which takes place in Paradise Lagoon, is a mixture of fire, water, music and imagery from the plethora of classic Disney and Pixar movies that is sure to entertain the whole family.

But whilst the show does represent that start of a new generation in theme park spectaculars Disney should refrain from sending this attraction to the East Coast or any of their other parks around the world.

It’s no secret that California Adventure has been far from a fan favourite since its opening in 2001, a problem primarily put down to its large collection of midway-style rides, a lack of world-class attractions and only a couple of unique experiences to be enjoyed in the park.

World of Color represents one part of the $1 billion plus expansion of DCA which is expected to bring the park up to the standard customers expect of a Disney theme park.

One major part of the appeal of this show is that it’s unique to California Adventure, it’s one experience that Disney can use to really promote the park.

Some of the best current attractions at DCA are clones of attractions from other parks or have been cloned, the Tower of Terror, Soarin’ and Toy Story Mania are all prime examples of such attractions,

But World of Color breaks that trend, it’s something totally unique to DCA and it’s something that the executives at Disney can really use to promote the park as a world-class destination up to the standards of its legendary neighbour Disneyland.

The reason millions of people visit Disney parks around the world each year is because they offer a unique experience unrivalled by their competitors, if Disney want the DCA expansion to be a success then they need to ensure that World of Color stays unique to the West Coast park.

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World of Color set to be streamed live online

World of Color, the all new show at Disney’s California Adventure, will see it’s premiere screened live online.

photo from Michael Huey

The all new show which features huge projects on water walls, lights and other special effects will see it’s official premiere take place tomorrow and Disney is streaming all the action live online.

Whilst the premiere of the 20-minute show isn’t open to the public the stream will provide a chance for fans to catch the show before it opens to all audiences on Friday.

If you want tips on getting a good spot to see World of Color check out our last blog post containing information provided by The Disney Parks Blog.

All the action from the premiere will be stream live on the World of Color UStream channel.

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Disney release World of Color viewing tips

With the debut of World of Color at Disney’s California Adventure just around the corner the Disney Parks Blog has released some viewing tips for the all new nighttime spectacular.

According to the blog the best way to secure a good viewing spot for the show is to either grab a Fastpass for a reserved viewing area, order a special picnic basket or book a special dinner which affords great views of the all-new show.

Photo from Loren Javier

  • “World of Color” Disney’s FASTPASS Ticket – FASTPASS tickets for “World of Color” will be available each morning at the Grizzly River Run FASTPASS terminals. Guests can insert their park tickets into the terminal to obtain a FASTPASS ticket to see “World of Color” from the reserved viewing area in Paradise Park. As with other FASTPASS attractions, there will be a limited number of FASTPASS tickets available for the show. Note: guests will not be able to pick a specific show time. FASTPASS tickets will first be distributed for the earlier show, and after those have been distributed, FASTPASS tickets will then be distributed for the later show. When all of the day’s “World of Color” FASTPASS tickets have been distributed, Grizzly River Run terminals will convert back to distributing Grizzly River Run FASTPASS tickets.
    • Tip: If you would like to see the show on the day of its premiere, June 11, here are a few things you should know about getting a “World of Color” FASTPASS ticket. If you arrive before park opening, you may park in the Pumbaa parking lot on Disney Way and, beginning at 7 a.m., gather at the Main Entrance to Disney California Adventure park. When Disney California Adventure park opens to the public, guests lined up for FASTPASS will be walked into the park and over to the FASTPASS terminals. As always, theme park admission will be required to enter the park to obtain a FASTPASS ticket and to view the show.
  • “World of Color” Picnic Meals – You can also secure reserved viewing by ordering a special boxed picnic meal. Beginning June 11 (date subject to change), Picnic meals may be ordered online –www.disneyland.com – or by walk-up purchase, subject to availability, at the Sonoma Terrace, Golden Vine Winery. Picnic meals purchased online will include reserved viewing for the first show and walk up picnics will include reserved viewing for the second show. They are not available for order via the (714) 781-DINE line.
    • Picnic meals be picked up at the Sonoma Terrace from 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Picnic meal options include four selections for adults: “The All American” (cold honey-stung fried chicken), “The Taste of Asia” (chilled miso-glazed salmon), “The European Antipasto” (cured meats, regional cheeses, artichoke heart, sun-dried tomato) and “The Mediterranean Vegetarian” (marinated grilled vegetables in a whole wheat wrap with roasted garlic hummus). Kids’ options for children ages 3-9 include “The Junior All American” (chicken), “The Lunchbox Classic” (peanut butter and jelly) and “The Little Squirt’s Box” (apple wedges, string cheese).
    • All online picnic meals with “World of Color” Reserved Viewing are priced at $14.99 and must be redeemed for the designated reserved show date and time. No refunds, exchanges or other discounts.
    • Each guest entering Paradise Park must present reserved viewing area admission. Guests may only enter the viewing area during designated times, which is specified on their ticket. Separate theme park admission is required.
  • Prix Fixe “World of Color” Dinners – Prix fixe meals with “World of Color” Preferred Viewing are available at both the newly redesigned Wine Country Trattoria and Ariel’s Grotto restaurants. Guests may order from a selection of Italian cuisine at Wine Country Trattoria (current prices are $39.99 for adults and $18.99 for children ages 3-9), or a varied menu of seafood, meat and vegetarian options at Ariel’s Grotto (current prices for inside seating are $36.99 for adults and $20.99 for children ages 3-9). Both restaurants offer Preferred Viewing for “World of Color.” Reservations: (714) 781-DINE. Seatings are at specified times and space is limited. No refunds, exchanges or other discounts. Separate theme park admission is required.

You can also see the show without a reserved spot. There is ample space all around the perimeter of Paradise Bay that provides great views of the show. The views from these locations are certainly different, but the choreography of the fountains, bright bursts of color and music can be enjoyed from all around Paradise Bay.

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