Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tour Walt Disney's Hideaway

The L.A. Times reported last week that Walt's apartment above the fire station on MainStreet will be open for tours starting in January. The apartment is one of many legendary historical sites at Disneyland, "Disney built the 500-square-foot apartment, outfitted with red crushed carpet and velvety Victorian decore, in 1954. It was the park's second structure after the opera house, which doubled as a saw mill."

Tours are only available to selected guests as a part of the 2008 "Disney Dreams Giveaway," (aka the "Year of a Million Dreams" promotion, that hardly anyone knows about, only by a different name for 2008.) Although some of the ideas behind both of these promotions are great, as a whole I'm not sold on their success as a marketing tool. I'm not a marketing guy, but I have a hunch that these promotions are more of a success due to a relatively stable economy at the time being. But hey, timing is everything.

The "Dreams" promotions are funny to me. Aside from the fact that not many people even know these promotions exist, (and even if they did) I don't think it has a direct influence in getting people through the turn stiles. The random chance of getting to see Walt's apartment or staying the night in Sleeping Beauty's castle isn't going to draw anyone to the park that wasn't going to go anyhow. Are people going to the parks more often to increase their chances of randomly winning something?

The "Disney Dreams Giveaway" sounds like a used car lot gimmick, and no one knows how, what, or where this giveaway works or is awarded within the parks. How can it possibly boost attendance? Disney should get some of those survey takers that hit you for your zip code as soon as you walk in to the park to ask if anyone is visiting the park in hopes of winning the days "Year of Million Dreams" prize. At least some lucky random people will get to see some of these coveted Disney sites as a by-product.

This all brings me to something I've wished Disneyland would offer for a long time, and it's something that would actually draw people in. To keep in tradition with the overly used and cliche Disney marketing words that are slowly loosing... well... their magic, I'll call it "The Disneyland Magical History Tour."

A before hours (and for you marketing guys- yes, a separate ticket required) tour of some of Disneyland's legendary landmarks like, Walt's apartment, Club 33, and the Lilly Bell train car, and various other behind the scenes spots. Disneyland has so much history being the "original," you can't tell me this wouldn't have a waiting list backed up for months.

It would make more sense to use some of the history and sites that already exist, which are of no additional expense beyond a tour guide, to entice people who are genuinely interested enough to pay to see these locales.

(Photos: Alex Gallardo/L.A. Times)

1 comment:

Cory Gross said...

Good observation about the Dreams stuff not bringing anyone to the parks that wasn't already going to go anyways. The random nature of the prize also serves as a disincentive as well: I'd would DIE to stay in the Cinderella suite, but I'm not going to take an expensive trip to Florida in the HOPE of winning it.

But in Disneyland, expanding the historical tour to include some extra sites would certainly be a guaranteed incentive. There is already the "Walk in Walt's Footsteps" tour, which I took on my first trip to Disneyland, to which your idea could easily be attached.

The main attractions of the tour were the preamble in the Enchanted Tiki Room (where we got a private talk about it and a chance to very delicately handle one of the original orchids), a visit to Club 33's lobby, and then a passable lunch at the Golden Horseshoe (I think it was supposed to be on the balcony of the old Disney Gallery, but they were running several tours that weekend). We got the usual front-of-line access to the train, and I don't know if they've since folded the Lilly Belle into that. Now, if they put a visit to Walt's Apartment and LUNCH at Club 33 on the bill, that would be fantastic and I'd be willing to pay an extra $25-75 for it.

Knowing that I was guaranteed a chance to see these things would be a bigger draw than a random chance on the whim of a cast member.