Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Why Is Limited Time Magic Missing With Disney Fans?

One of this year's Limited Time Magic Long Lost Friends Events
It seems like each and every year, as of late, Disney has a new marketing campaign that is rolled out for the year* (*year is subjective as sometimes campaigns are rolled out for longer than just one calendar year.)  Known as Celebrations, most of the time, they are huge successes.

Past successful Celebrations include Happiest Celebration on Earth, What Will You Celebrate, One More Disney Day, and the ever popular Year of a Million Dreams.  A few additional campaigns have been moderately successful, like Let The Memories Begin, and Give a Day, Get a Disney Day, which while a HUGE success, managed to be so successful, it was actually to it's detriment, as volunteer opportunities (what the promotion was about) were all taken up by the middle of April! (Ironically I STILL have people looking for this promotion on this's been 3 years!!!) 

Disney has really done a pretty good job with relatively successful marketing campaigns.  That is until this year...I guess every company is bound to have a miss year, after years of being spot on the mark. (Relatively speaking, of course.)

This year's promotion of Limited Time Magic, when announced, seemed to have great potential.  It was something that was intriguing and had the chance to be something different than what's been done before.  As far as the initial announcement, on my blog, I wrote:

Disney plans to have a different momentous occurrence each and every week at the Resort.  Each week is going to be set up to celebrate something different, with focus on unexpected experiences that will appear for a limited window and then disappear when the next experience debuts.

Unexpected experiences, huh?  Sounds promising.

Announced experiences included True Love, Independence Week, Long Lost Friends Week, Pirate Week, Dapper Dans Sing Boy Bands, and Unleash the Villains.  Most of these have already happened, however a few are still to come.  The first few ideas seemed intriguing enough and it still left room for other unique ideas that could potentially be done for the future.

Now...the rumor that I have heard behind this campaign (of course, take with a LARGE grain of salt and believe what you will) was that this campaign was a last minute decision which had been done by the marketing department because MyMagic+ simply wasn't ready to be rolled out yet, which they were originally expecting.  The system had hit some hiccups and really, is only just now beginning to be beta tested in the parks.

So, January hit and the campaign started out slow...a dance party here...a meet and greet there...ok...that's fine.  If it was a last minute idea, then that's a little more understandable.  Then they hit us with the pick a logo for next year's merchandise idea...wait...what?  How is that Limited Time Magic of anything?  But it was still early...there was still hope!  One could expect as the year went by, the creative juices would work more for this promotion and we could see some truly outstanding things as the months continued.

Months have rolled by now and there have been a few standouts...Long Lost Friends was such a surprise hit (they even rolled it out twice...though the characters were largely the same for both...would have been nice to see a bit of variety there).  In addition, Independence Week offered amazing Magic Kingdom fireworks that many couldn't usually see for seven full nights, instead of just two.  And while the Monstrous Summer All Nighter was really just a rehash of One More Disney Day, it was still a fun night and they way they announced it was certainly impressive!  (Hello Mike Wazowski!)

I think the absolute BEST use of Limited Time Magic has been the May the Fourth Be With You celebration at Disney's Hollywood Studios.  It was certainly a surprise and truly spectacular to see the effort that was rolled into this one.  It was the kind of "magic" that I think most people expected to see.  It doesn't have to be something available every day, but something unique and creative like this is usually a plus.

From there though, the ideas have seemingly gotten stale.  It seems like if it isn't a new cupcake or delicious goodie being sold, it's the same dance party just dressed up differently.  Some weeks here in the summer didn't even see ideas...they just pointed out things that were already happening (I'm talking to you, week that rolled out the Mike Wazowski wake up call).  Matter fact, even lately, we've just seen rehashes of ideas that have been used already.  (Wait...if they've already been done...then how are they truly limited?)

What started as a campaign that had a large amount of potential, has each week, increasingly turned more and more into a joke, with many people commenting on social media networks each week that things just keep getting lamer and lamer.

What is it that Disney could have done to have made this more of a success?  That is the ever increasing question.  For starters, they could have done more than just special dessert items.  I get that this campaign was seemingly a large marketing campaign, but could you try to be a little less transparent?  In addition, I would have like to have seen some more creative ideas that weren't just rehashes of ideas had already been done.  ( many different dance parties can we do at Rockettower Plaza Stage?)  Truthfully, I would have maybe have liked to have seen less events that lasted all week and that budget for the week could have been rolled into one larger idea.  It seems as though the larger ideas were always the more successful ones.  Those were the things that were really truly special and actually Limited.

With this campaign, it seemed that people really wanted to see the unique.  Parkgoers wanted to see the things that we can't see every day.  So...maybe bring back the walk around Figment character.  (Want to really wow us...bring back Dreamfinder!)  Show the Tapestry of Nations parade.  Heck!  Bring back Honey I Shrunk The Audience for a week!  Bring in a Muppet Week.  (By the way...does anyone else remember the walk around Muppet characters from back in the early 90s?  I totally got my pic taken with them, as well as the Ninja Turtles!)  Or bring back the Sundowner Celebration which I did last summer at Animal Kingdom, which included food demonstrations, street parties, music, and parties.  It felt like a mini Epcot Flower and Garden Festival type atmosphere and was ripe for Limited Time Magic.  It was fabulous and I learned a ton!  Park fans wanted to see something truly wonderful and unique.

Because truthfully, this campaign really shouldn't be aimed at the casual guests.  They will have no clue that something special was going on, unless they read it on the times guide or just happened by it.  Instead, this campaign should have really been geared toward Disney's most loyal fans.  (And my friend Erin reminds me that they should have put out a schedule ahead of time to let people know about events they didn't want to miss!  If not for the full year, at least once each month or something.)  Those of us who come back multiple times a year and can make a special trip if something appeals to us (I really wish I could make that Villains event at the Studios!  That sounds phenomenal!) 

I unfortunately know that Walt Disney World seemingly tends to ignore those of us who are hardcore fans with most things (like our almost nonexistent annual pasholder discounts anymore)...But this right here could have been a great attempt to prove to us that we are just as important to the company as the first time guest is.  Us fanatics, oftentimes spend just as much (if not more in some instances) as they do on things.  This campaign really should have been geared towards the fanatics.  Instead...they just tried to find different ways to sell us the same cupcakes.

I really have tried to be positive about this campaign.  I've given them multiple opportunities to wow me.  I've even been down to Disney many times this year and haven't participated in one event yet.  Nothing seemed unique or special enough for me to want to participate.  I've got one trip left planned for this year...I want to experience something fun.

Well, if anything we have the next campaign to look forward to.  It should be announced within the next couple of months and the rumor is it is going to be called Show Us Your Disney Side, encouraging people to dress in regular clothes, but attempting to look like a character.  (Those of you on Pintrest know what I'm talking about...those pins are all over!)   If this really is the next campaign, it will be interesting to see how it's incorporated into the parks. 

What has been your thoughts of Limited Time Magic?  Have you thought it was a bit lackluster too?  Or have I been misreading the signs?  Has it been something you've enjoyed?  What were the things you loved and thought were just alright?  Let me know on Facebook or in the comments.

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Anonymous said...

Limited Time Magic, a re-hash of old stuff! Xmas ornaments, treats from diff seasons? C' mon! Some events never seemed to have been announced. Offered at down times to bump attendance!
I only really appreciated the AP as Fast Pass for Indiana.

Whole year was Limited Magic Time!

Anonymous said...

This is an interesting topic. I agree that it seems like a last minute replacement campaign without a full schedule developed or planned when it was announced. I imagine there was probably some internal struggle between the marketing department, which needed something to announce for their annual campaign; and the operations department, which is actually in charge of putting on the Limited Time Magic events. It might have even been a shock for operations, which is probably already feeling stressed about implementing the MyMagic+ system. I certainly agree that the whole thing seems under-planned.

But I think Disney fans have some blame on this, too. Can we really expect the company to put on an amazing limited-time-only event every week that will blow us away? How so and at what cost? I give Disney credit for at least trying to do something, rather than just forego this year’s “campaign” completely.

But at the end of the day, it’s not a revenue driver since people can’t plan their trips around the events, so we shouldn’t really expect them to “wow” us every time. I think they’ll reserve their best stuff for things that actually make the company money (MNSSHP I’m looking at you…).

Interesting topic, Rikki!

Unknown said...

Well, I think you misunderstand me when I say that we expect amazing blow us out of the water events for each week. But you do bring up some good points. What I mean though is it should have been more focused on the fan, not necessarily in a big way, but ways that are a little more special than a dance party or Dapper Dans singing boy bands. (which I will fully admit..those things CAN be special for guests, however, when there is, for example, a dance party nearly every night at the MK anyway in Tomorrowland, dressing it up as something new each week doesn't really make it so special.)

This event though should have MADE people wanted to book trips. That's the whole point of a marketing campaign. To spend more money. That is really where they got this whole thing wrong. People weren't able to see what events were, so they COULDN'T book extra trips. Even now, I still don't know what this upcoming week's event is.

Sure, people can obviously spend a little bit on a special dessert or a t-shirt marking an occasion, but honestly, I don't think this campaign has made many people want to book a special trip for any of the things announced. (With a few small the upcoming Villain's party. But again, people have known about that one since the beginning. Therefore, allowing them to book either a special trip or their regular trip around this event.

What really disappointed me though the most was the fact that this summer, they almost seemed to have forgotten the campaign even existed. It seemed like they were only advertising things that either already existed in the parks or were rehashes of things that had already been done at one point or another this year. By the time summer came around, they had had time to come up with creative ideas (and no...they don't have to be things that cost a lot of money...there are certainly things that could have been done that don't cost a ton) but instead the campaign just got staler and staler. That's what I don't understand. Even if resources are tapped, as they very well could be, that doesn't stop the ability to use their creativity on things. Right now, it seems as if the creativity is just being used on how can we dress up this same activity for this week.

But, you certainly do bring up some good points in your argument that are valid too.

Shawn said...

I remember Year of a Million Dreams. That was a great Disney campaign. I wish they'd bring back something like that.