As a Disney shareholder, I spent much of our recent vacation to the Magic Kingdom and its surrounding parks looking for ways to enhance the customer experience.
I found a few.
Many were related to specific rides.
My philosophy on a Disney ride is simple:
It needs to make my heart skip a beat, either through the sense of magic, wonder, excitement, or nostalgia that it creates. Many do. Most, in fact, do, making the failures even more pronounced.
The Tomorrowland Speedway, for example, is simply an inferior version of the go-karts that you can ride in my town. In fact, because they are affixed to tracks and are therefore limited in terms of movement, I would argue that they are aggressively inferior.
The Under The Sea ~ Journey Of The Little Mermaid is an uninspired slog through scenes from the film, absent a single moment of wonder or magic. I can’t believe that money and time was spent designing and building this ride. And this need not be so. The similarly themed Frozen ride in Epcot, Frozen Ever After, is a similar journey through scenes from the film but contains moments of genuine magic and wonder that would send me back again and again.
The Jungle Cruise is an astounding display of missed opportunities and possesses a level of un-wokeness that will undoubtedly cause problems for Disney at some point. It is a ride for another time, and that time has passed.
I won’t go through all the problematic rides that I encountered, but if Disney would like to hire me to infuse every moment of the Disney experience with magic, wonder, excitement or nostalgia, I await their offer. I am perfectly suited and uniquely talented for this position.
In fact, perhaps I’ll write a letter.
Four things unrelated to rides that also need improvement:
The paper straws are an abomination. They fell apart with great rapidity and became useless fairly quickly. It took me 2-3 straws to finish every frozen drink that I consumed. I understand that straws are made of plastic and eliminating them helps the planet to some infinitesimal degree, but I also know that these paper straws sucked and the carbon footprint of 2-3 of them might outweigh that of a single, plastic straw.
Disney is in serious need of better drinking fountains or - even better- water filling stations. It was exceptionally difficult to find reliable water sources in the parks. I understand that a sad, relatively inoperable drinking fountain means more purchases of water in the park, but having ancient, inoperable drinking fountains makes the parks look bad. Un-magical to say the least. Also, if you’re going to take away plastic straws to help the environment, how about all the plastic being used in those water bottles? Update the damn drinking fountains.
Disney needs more buses. The most significant pain point for most customers was the wait time on buses and the number of people jammed onto every bus. And since most customers start and end their days on a Disney bus, this is a moment you want to get right. Small children and older folks often did not have seats on buses in an effort to pack as many people onto them as possible. More buses would make the start and end of every day a more positive experience and would go a long way in making folks feel great about their vacation.
Disney misses out on easy opportunities to make the place a little more magical. The bus depots at our resort, for example, were named after the points of the compass even though they hardly corresponded to the actual compass points. The West Depot? Is that the best you can do? Give that depot a real name. Something that causes vacationers to think or imagine or wonder. Maybe name them after exceptionally minor Disney characters and encourage folks to figure out in which films these characters appeared. Or dedicate each one to a Disney employee who made a significant difference to the park. Put a plaque on the wall honoring their achievement. DO SOMETHING. West Depot is uninspiring and sadly pedestrian. Look to make every moment significant and memorable and magical.