I am a Disney fanatic. I’ll admit it with no shame. I grew up watching the movies (Aladdin and Lion King were and are my favorites) as well as visiting the parks. It was always my family’s vacation spot, because we knew exactly what we were buying: the Disney Experience.
While in college, I met my wife who was also a huge Disney fan. Naturally, we honeymooned in Disney World! This past week, to celebrate our one year anniversary, we went to, you guessed it, Disney World. Like my parents, we hope to make it our family vacation spot in the future; partially because we love it, and partially because we know what kind of experience it will be every time. We pay for that experience, but it is worth it to us.
The experience is worth the cost – it is capitalism at its finest. A stint at Disney World is expensive, no doubt about that.
First, there are lodging requirements that you have to consider. These drastically range in price. Second, if you’re going to Disney World, you are obviously going to the theme parks. Those also cost a considerable amount of money. Third, there is food: snacks, drinks, and Mickey Mouse Ice Creams are a few of many choices. Finally, no trip to Disney World is complete without the gambit of tourist items you HAVE to buy. Long story short: with all things included, it comes out to be an expensive trip.
If it is so expensive, why do people continue to flock there like some sort of pilgrimage? Because the Disney Parks have carefully calculated where to put all of the money that tourists spend. They have thought of everything. Cutting-edge technology is used in all of the parks. They even have machines that pump distinct smells across the parks and in the rides (so if you walk down Main Street, you will smell fresh baked cookies even if there are not any being baked, and if you ride Pirates of the Caribbean, you will smell salt water as if you really were at sea).
Instead of carrying a hotel key card/park ticket/credit card, Disney has developed a wrist band that does everything. It opens your room, gets into the park, buys anything you might want to buy. No swiping needed. Just hold it up to a scanner.
Transportation around the parks is completely free. The food is delicious – all of it. The rides are a blast; the staff is charming; the shows are outstanding. Disney has honed a formula that combines every fathomable facet which makes people feel like they are getting more for their money. It’s simply the Magic of Disney. But is it really magic, or finely tuned capitalism?
I promise this post is not a plug for Disney, but an honest reflection of capitalism visible in theme parks. It occured once I started working on Common Sense, and on this last Disney trip, that the magic of Disney is really the magic of capitalism. The entire Disney experience isn’t about Mickey Mouse, its about the consumer.
The corporation invests billions every year to keep the consumer happy and coming back. A bare bones trip to Disney may not be all inclusive, but it feels all inclusive. How? Because there is an army of staff members to make it that way. Outside of each park and hotel there is someone with an Ipad whose sole job is to survey passers-by about their experience in order to provide headquarters with a never ending flow of feedback.
There is constantly some form of construction going on around the resort so that an addition or renovation can be continuously unveiled. And get this, they set off two or three fireworks shows (that will blow you away) every night. Believe it or not, they do all of this so that you will by that $30 Mickey tee shirt.
$30 TEE-SHIRT?! Yup. And the one I wanted happened to be sold out.
So what is the point? The point is that Disney and all of its magic is impossible without capitalism. The point is that Disney is great because you buy $30 Tee-Shirts and they put on fireworks shows every night. Put less figuratively, you pay for it and they pay for it. A trip for two, depending on the conditions, could easily cost $2000. That’s pretty expensive, especially by millennial standards!
However, the investment that Disney puts forth to make that $2000 seem worthwhile is in the BILLIONS. They realize that the product they present has to be so good that it makes an expensive vacation worth every penny and create repeat customers. There is no coercion, arm pulling, regulation, and there are definitely no mandates.
Just a young girl dressed as the princess she cannot wait to meet, a young boy who wants so desperately to be a pirate, and parents who want to take a vacation that, though expensive, will provide a safe, entertaining family atmosphere where satisfaction is all but guaranteed.
The magic of Disney? Or the magic of Capitalism? Well, maybe both!