Recognizing that there are only so many theme parks it can build, Disney is looking a new ways to bring some of its "magic" to family vacations, reports Merissa Marr in The Wall Street Journal (2/8/07). The Disney strategy “could include everything from stand-alone Disney themed hotels in cities and beach resorts to Disney branded retail and dining districts, and smaller, more specialized parks. ” Jay Rasulo, chairman of Disney’s theme park and resorts business, explains: “Instead of saying where will the next Disneyland be, we need to think more in terms of where around the world we can deliver an immersive experience appropriate to the size of the market.”
The strategy is premised on the insight that “people wanted to experience Disney in places other than the parks.” However, Disney has stumbled there in the past, having “closed an indoor, interactive theme park project called Disney Quest in 2001, which drew sparse crowds in Chicago. Its children’s play center, Club Disney, shuttered two years earlier after failing to sustain an initial burst of interest.” Problem was, those ventures “did not have an established consumption pattern.” Disney has experienced greater success when it moved into cruises, because that was “already an established business.” It was a relatively simple matter of creating a cruise, Disney-style.
Disney anticipates similar success with “Adventures by Disney," featuring "guided Disney tours to popular destinations including Italy and Ireland. But don’t expect to have your favorite Disney character conducting the tour. "It’s not Mickey Mouse goes to the mountains," says Disney’s Ed Baklor. "Instead, we’re telling a local story with local characters." What Disney is offering is "a family vacation with the safety and quality of the Disney brand as well as Disney-quality guides." Disney also sees its small-scale exports to new markets as a way of driving customers to its big parks, as well as satisfying its guests in between Disneyland trips, which happen only every four years, on average. ~ Tim Manners, editor