Wednesday, August 13, 2008

When is Enough, Enough?

Well, it's that time of year again. Kids are starting back to school, fall clothes are being put out on the shelves, oh and Disney is raising the cost of their vacation packages. Now, I've always been understanding of Disney and the need to raise their prices. They are, of course a business, with the goal to make money (ack!) and of course, the goal to help their stockholder's portfolios. However, with each year's raise, Disney also seemed to be adding more entertainment value for the money. This year, however, has been the first year where I feel that they are not. Matter of fact, they seem to be taking more away this year.

Recently rumblings around Disney communities have been talking about this for months. Also, Mike Scopa of and WDW Today recently had an article that pretty much stated these same issues. His article contemplated that while the cost of things in the world are going up, it's not going to cause people to all together stop going down to Disney. However, it is still going to end up affecting Disney's pocketbook in the end. And I have to agree with him...things, at least on a fan's end, are looking a little ridiculous.

What things? Well, many have been talked about here in previous posts, but here's a listing of things that Disney has changed over the past year, where they are either upping the prices and not adding anything additional or they are simply taking something away.

  • Fantasmic going down to 2 shows a week in January
  • Taking away the characters at Liberty Tree Tavern for dinner, yet, the price, still the same.
  • Closing Pocahontas and her Forrest Friends at DAK.
  • Shutting down Woody's Cowboy Camp and the Family Fun Day Parade
  • Taking away the appetizer and tip on the dining plan while only reducing the price by a dollar. (Which, if any of you will notice, the price has now jumped up $2 for next year! And yet, nothing has been added.)
  • Adding a dining surcharge for people who are wanting table service meals during peak periods. (Let me get this straight, they are already, more than likely, paying a higher premium to stay at the resort during this time period and experiencing a higher volume in guests--many times with the parks reaching capacity or close to it, and you want to charge them more money to eat?! Nothing like taking advantage of someone for nothing, now, is there?)
  • The prices of strollers went up
  • Increasing the prices of the special parties, like Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, yet adding nothing for the increases. (And in many cases, taking things away, like the free photo that you used to be available.)
  • And yes, on a different scale, removing Pleasure Island

And of course, these are just the things I can think of off the top of my head. I'm sure there have been more changes recently that have either taken the value away from something or reduced it to nothing to begin with.

The problem that Mike, so eloquently pointed out, is that, with all these changes...people are then going to be changing the way they vacation. And I agree. People will, be doing all they can, to squeeze the value out of their vacations...something that, as of last year even, seemed so readily accessible.

People are going to try to stretch more out of their vacation, getting rid of short trips down to the World, opting for longer stretches of time. I know I try to do this already. I find it silly to go down for a 3 or 4 day weekend and try to stretch my trips to at least 5 or 6, if possible. It's cheaper for the park tickets (adding a couple of dollars is a lot better than adding $75) and the airfare price doesn't change. What does this then mean? Disney will be loosing out on a trip I might have taken, but now won't, b/c it's not cost effective for me to go down for a shorter period of time. Therefore, they will be loosing out on any additional money I would have spent on dining and souvenirs and various other things I would have had to spend for.

People are going to stop getting the Water Park and More options. This is something that affects me. I was going to get the Premium AP, however, with the recent announcement of the removal of Pleasure Island, the value of a Premium AP (and also the Water Park and More option) diminishes greatly. If I want to go to the water park, I'll go once on a trip and pay out of pocket.

With that regard, people are also going to stop getting the Park Hopping option. They will try to keep their schedules, even more so, to one park, per day. Spending the extra money on just being allowed to park hop, would be silly.

People will downgrade hotels. People who stayed in Deluxes won't be staying there anymore...they will downgrade to Moderates or Values. Or, worse for Disney, they will consider staying off site at a vacation home or other hotel. It's more cost effective for them to do so, in some cases. (Of course, the same options will then apply to those who stay at Moderates and Values already as well...they will downgrade their resorts too.)

People won't get the dining plan as readily as they might have before. With the value of it so diminished recently and with the cost of it going up this year, people might look harder at the dining plan to really see what the value is and if it's worth it to them. Or people might decide to eat more counter service meals with maybe one or two table services meals thrown in, maybe opting for buffets where they can eat all they can, so they can skip a meal.

Another thing that could very well be affected...the selling of DVC. I know I'm on the cusp of deciding whether I want to buy into DVC or not...however, if they keep minimizing the value of the other areas of the resort, I will keep my money in my pocketbook, not in Disney's.

The list could go on and on.

Of course, there are people out there who have already been doing some of these things for years. The problem is...with the economy going the way it is right now, things like this are going to increase exponentially. Therefore, people who were just able to save for a Disney vacation before simply won't be able to afford to go and those who comfortably could afford their vacations are now feeling the pinch and are scrimping away. And because of this, Disney won't be making the money they were making previously.

I understand that times are tough and that Disney's gotta do what they have to do. Ah, but you see, maybe if Disney weren't taking away so much, especially so much that is seen in the public eye, people wouldn't feel as if there were getting gypped. They would still feel that they were getting a decent value out of their vacations and feel it as a good choice of a destination to visit. I'm not so sure that's going to be the case in the recent future. I have a feeling people might be choosing to go to their local theme parks or other local attractions for a while, where, while service isn't as great, it also won't cost them an arm and a leg to get in. I guess we'll just have to see.

As for me, I'm still one of the ones who's going to continue my vacations down to Disney, especially since I did just get an AP, I just don't know if I'll be picking up as many souvenirs as I may have done previously. Or eating in the parks as know Pop Tarts make just as good of a breakfast as a cinnamon roll from Main Street...and it's certainly not nearly as costly as a Character Breakfast. Decisions, decisions.

So tell me, has the straw broke the camel's back for you?

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