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Exploring Disney Season Pass Ending-Yield Management Issues?


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The Orange County Register has published an interesting report which delves into why Disney has moved to end its season pass programs.  The likely culprit seems to be a concern millions of season pass holders will swamp Parks reservations soaking up all available visitations due to covid required crowd reduction efforts   

It helps to think about Park capacity much as an airline or hotel conceptualizes seat and room inventory.  Once the airplane leaves the runway with an empty seat that revenue can never be recaptured.  The seat was as perishable as a Boysenberry left to rot on the vine.  

Ditto a hotel room.  If it fails to sell tonight that room night of revenue can never be sold and captured.  The sun set and rose on the opportunity to sell the inventory.  The room revenue potential is forever lost.  Perished in the daylight. 

Now think about Park visits in the same vein.  No longer able to just squeeze one more visitor in the gates due to covid capacity limits, your product has become much more like an airline seat or hotel room.  Both industries the management of occupancy or seating capacity is referred to as yield management.  

The goal is to achieve some level of revenue on every seat or room every day.  Some seats will be sold at a discount, if necessary.  Same for the hotel room.  At the end of the day the airline or hotel achieves increased revenues.  

Doesn’t that sound an awful like an amusement park with covid crowd restrictions?  Yield management to the rescue.

Suddenly, the Park must make each seat count.  Maximum revenue must be obtained from each admission.  See the problem with unlimited season pass admissions?  On many days they are capable of soaking up every available space but at highly discounted prices.  Best for Park industry to start selling the limited capacity at premium rates—just like cruise lines do.

With suddenly limited capacity at Parks the value and revenue stream from each ticket becomes much more critical to company health and profitability.  Indeed, it becomes paramount.

The best, highest spending, guest must be placed in the Park first and foremost.  Then unsold space can be discounted and put on clearance to harvest additional revenues.  Just like an airline seat.   

These are the concepts the Orange County Register newspaper report hints at but fails to spell out in simple terms.  Fram a revenue perspective Amusement Parks are now much more like hotels than a festival ground, which can almost always accommodate just-one-more guest.   

https://www.ocregister.com/2021/02/04/disneyland-seizes-opportunity-to-reboot-annual-pass-program

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Basically reservations and blackout days.  All guests are required to make a reservation in advance.

Have several different price points with the difference being what days are blacked out and how far in advance you can make a reservation and how many reservations you can make at a time.

Higher tier pass holders get a number of extra visits which by pass blackout days.  

Disneyland sent out surveys to former pass holders which outlined possible tiers and pricing.  At the high end around $1500 for 6 reservations few blackout dates, 90 days in advance reservations, and 6 by pass blackout tickets.  At the low end only 1 or 2 reservations at a time, 30 days in advance, lots of blackout days, including the entire summer, and few if any bypass blackout day tickets.  All of the passes appeared to still technically be unlimited, as long as you can manage to make reservations but same day reservations are unlikely.

Disneyland is pretty unique they had a pass holder base which was estimated to be 5 times larger then the total resort capacity.  Combined with the tourists and it was either hitting capacity or close to capacity frequently.  There are only a handful of other parks on the planet which had similar issues before the pandemic.  The only other one off the top of head is Tokyo Disneyland.  Capacity issues in Florida were basically only ride openings and Christmas to New Years.

Unless seasonal parks start seeing capacity issues outside of special events like Haunt, it’s unlikely to be replicated widely.  Although something might need to be done about attendance during Haunt.  I could see requiring reservations or just going to a separate ticket.

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On 2/5/2021 at 8:36 AM, Kenban said:

Basically reservations and blackout days.  All guests are required to make a reservation in advance.

Have several different price points with the difference being what days are blacked out and how far in advance you can make a reservation and how many reservations you can make at a time.

Higher tier pass holders get a number of extra visits which by pass blackout days.  

Disneyland sent out surveys to former pass holders which outlined possible tiers and pricing.  At the high end around $1500 for 6 reservations few blackout dates, 90 days in advance reservations, and 6 by pass blackout tickets.  At the low end only 1 or 2 reservations at a time, 30 days in advance, lots of blackout days, including the entire summer, and few if any bypass blackout day tickets.  All of the passes appeared to still technically be unlimited, as long as you can manage to make reservations but same day reservations are unlikely.

Disneyland is pretty unique they had a pass holder base which was estimated to be 5 times larger then the total resort capacity.  Combined with the tourists and it was either hitting capacity or close to capacity frequently.  There are only a handful of other parks on the planet which had similar issues before the pandemic.  The only other one off the top of head is Tokyo Disneyland.  Capacity issues in Florida were basically only ride openings and Christmas to New Years.

Unless seasonal parks start seeing capacity issues outside of special events like Haunt, it’s unlikely to be replicated widely.  Although something might need to be done about attendance during Haunt.  I could see requiring reservations or just going to a separate ticket.

With Haunt they could try to add some weekdays and more/later Sunday nights. On days when they open during the day they could have some Haunt stuff going on during the day like Cedar Point sorta does. Some indoor haunts open during the day and have more indoor shows during the day. The park is dead from 11am to Haunt open on Saturdays. I went to Haunt 2019 on a odd 90 degree day and got 3 whole laps around the park on coasters before 4pm.  I also wouldn't be opposed to a Holiday World style reservation system for House walkthroughs at night. Food and booze lines get crazy during Haunt too. Move some of that to mobile and fix those problems.

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