Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal published an article about The Walt Disney Company considering a change to demand-based ticket pricing for Disneyland and Disney World. Rather than eventually out-pricing middle class families by continuing to raise overall prices, this change could help alleviate the resorts’ unmagical overcrowding through lower priced tickets during off-peak days.
According to author Ben Fritz, Disney will be surveying previous visitors this week to gauge their reactions to different variable-pricing options. Though I have not visited either resort in the past few years and will not be among the surveyed, I find the situation intriguing.
Chris Bobbitt, Technical Assent Vice President, commented that this is a good example of Lean management and economics working in tandem. Disney is an organization that understands its capacity to deliver the experience that it wants, what it costs to do that, what the limits are, and trying to manage demand around that capacity.
Beyond the basic survey questions, I would be curious to know how the behavior of visitors changes on the slow days, or how people might use the park differently, such as use of restaurants and rides. Further, it would be interesting to see the profiles of the types of people who would take advantage of demand-based pricing. Are they people who live within driving distance of the resort? People who don’t have school-aged children? People who pull kids out of school for an annual trip to California or Florida?
There have been several high-profile cases in the news lately of backlash against service businesses that have use demand-based pricing (e.g., Uber) and one important consideration is those who have access to the service on a pricing model other than pure supply-demand pricing (e.g., senior tickets at the movies, educator discounts).
From a personal perspective as one of the many who does not live within day-trip distance of one of the resorts, going to Disneyland or Disney World involves the choice of dealing with the infuriating crowds during times when my children are not in school or pulling my children out of school during non-peak times. A more affordable ticket is certainly more incentive to make the latter decision and in consideration of this, I think it would be fantastic if this child-oriented company would provide a special service on non-peak days such as education events, science experiments at the parks, or homework hour with Mickey.