Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Main Street Electrical Parade Returns

Because when it ran in California Adventure, it just wasn't the MAIN STREET Electrical parade.

Welcome back, MSEP! You are the golden standard that all Disneyphiles hold every parade to.

Disney just announced today that for the summer they're having some special offerings, called "Summer Nighttastic" (Read the article here) focusing mostly on the parade, but including a new (sort of) fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom as well as a new drop profile on the Tower of Terror attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Disney, or any company for that matter, doesn't make decisions like this out of goodwill or promoting a good product. Kudos to Disney for figuring out what's likely a way to bring people in this summer without discounting. Bob Iger said earlier this year that Disney would start to pull back discounting, a problem plaguing the travel industry. Travelers are staying home, so to entice them back out to the road, companies are deeply discounting their fares. Now that the public is accustomed to that, how do you stop discounting?

Did anyone go to (or work at) the parks over the holidays? They were as packed as ever, but as you see from Disney's 1st quarter financial report released this week, earnings were flat when compared to the year before - which is odd considering that this year's first quarter for Disney included the full holiday season. Last year, due to Disney's accounting year, the first quarter only included through the 27th of December. To me, the bottom line is Disney was as packed as ever, and even including 5 extra of the busiest days of the year, they still didn't make any more money than the year before, when nobody was at the parks and the financial collapse had just happened. Too much discounting.

This strategy, putting special offerings (The MSEP hasn't run at Disney World since 2001), rather than special prices is a great move in the right direction.

On a lighter note, Ron Logan, former Vice President of Disney Entertainment shared a great story in his Entertainment class at UCF's Rosen School of Hospitality Management. Remember when they retired the Main Street Electrical Parade and you could buy lights from it? He had a shadowbox of some light bulbs in his office when someone came up with the idea of parading the floats down Broadway in New York to promote the world premiere of Hercules. "Great idea" he said, "except we dismantled that and sold the pieces as collectors items."

"No we didn't. They're in a warehouse in Orlando" his staffer told him.

Disney did wind up with a little egg on their face as they paraded the floats they said they had dismantled and sold to Disneyana fans. But, Disney fans are pretty forgiving of Disney, and they made good on any complaints they got (he doesn't remember exactly what they did, but thinks it was probably park passes).

So there you have it folks, a return of a classic Disney attraction. This move makes a lot of people happy, especially the shareholders when Disney's 4th quarter (July-Sept) financials are revealed. Me? I'll be sitting on Main Street waiting to hear those familiar opening chords on the Moog synthesizer.