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Guest mentality article

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Joined: 03 Jan 2008
Posts: 143

PostPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2008 8:27 pm    Post subject: Guest mentality article Reply with quote

Found an interesting article that interviews a behavioral science doctor who was contracted by Universal to study how people respond emotionally to Universal and Disney.

What I find most interesting is that everything he says seems to suggest Disney is heading headlong in the opposite direction of what their customers want and are expecting. They may be trying to build a new demographic but it seems as if they are very much about the alienate their core customer base with the "interactive adventures" path rather then passive dark rides and experiences.
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Joined: 13 Apr 2008
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Location: Dixie! (tha South)

PostPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2008 9:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

accurate conclusion Smile
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 27, 2008 12:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When he says "But also there was the sense that Disney was safe and predictable and Universal as thrilling and perhaps unexpected.", do you think he is implying that Disney is trying to be more interactive with the guests? (Although we know they are as we have read from numerous articles and by the types of attractions they are adding) Because he says "And we learned from doing the interviews that they were coming up with words to describe Universal as more active and participatory"

I understand what he is saying for the most part...I say 'for the most part' because I havent any schooling in psychology so some of it was Chinese to me...but i guess since Disney's guests expect the parks to be passive and observational, and they are doing just the opposite, then yeah I guess I do see your point.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 27, 2008 12:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

One of the key aspects that I've come to realize is that it's no longer Disney vs Universal or Disney vs everyone else. Maybe in the 1960's-1980's that was the case, but at least in Orlando it's not the case.

The mentality one should have to understand the Orlando theme park industry (and also other theme park mega-centers like Paris, Los Angeles, Tokyo, and soon to be Dubai) is that it's not a competition. It's a SHOPPING MALL.

The key thing to understand is that Disney, Universal, Sea World, Busch Gardens, Kennedy Space Center, Gator Land and the like all offer completely different experiences to a park guest. It's Guess, Express, American Eagle Jcrew and Pottery Barn. If you think about it, each has its place and neither can supplant the others.

Disney can create Animal Kingdom, but it will never be Gator Land. Epcot can have a dolphin tank in the Living Seas but they will never have Shamu. Mission Space is a ride at EPCOT, but they can never compete with a working SpacePort at Kennedy Space Center. Each of these experiences are brands that target different demograhics. So while at Disney you have more families, at Universal you've got more young couples and groups of friends enjoying the park together. At Kennedy Space center you have people who are more patriotic and often educationally oriented. Think of the Orlando (or Los Angeles) as a series of attractions from which a tourist can pick and choose a series of experiences. Competition between parks is really a misnomer. Together they define an entire playground of experiences that Orlando is known for as a whole.

Universal will succeed by defining a series of experiences that are unique to them. The best example of this is Halloween Horror Nights, which is a hugely successful brand that no serious competitor has been able to touch as of yet. The same goes for each park, which in turn has rightfully found its niche.

I might also mention that the mistake Universal could make (as Time Warner did with Six Flags in the 1990's) is deciding to abandon the family and go only after the 18-35 demographic by eschewing dark ride and immersive experiences in favor of thrill rides. What happened was that teens and gangs started dominating the parks and families fled. The revenue plummeted and the image of the park suffered. The alternative to this mistake is to offer many unique, family oriented experiences that do not compete with Disney. Or as Universal is successfully doing with Harry Potter, the Simpsons, Dr. Suess, Jurassic Park... find other extremely popular brands that sometimes overlap with Disney but are also unique and loved by the public. If Sea World catches on and goes beyond Shamu, they'll be in great shape as well...


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Joined: 03 Jan 2008
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 27, 2008 1:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, the problem is that if Guess, Gap, American Eagle etc.. all sold the identical pair of pants that was supposed to be all the rage, none of them will really succeed.

Not to mention, no one goes to the Gap expecting to find clothing in the style of Guess.

However, Disney seems to think they can be everything - and really need to stop it. Epcot is entirely losing its unique identity. They seem to have completely confused "new" with "better." They're not the same. Epcot needs better, not just new.

I'm impressed with Uni lately. They know their market and are growing it. The Simpsons looks like a good attraction full of details, and the coaster though not my desired attraction I know is appealing to many Uni fans. At least it's an interesting coaster and what Sea World is planning. They're just building a flying coaster with minimal theme and a few water splash effects.

And Busch Gardens in Tampa? Jungala i really don't understand. Why would you put a tiny drop tower in a crater? The animal areas expand their theme, but the tiny drop ride? Why...?

Have you guys seen the debate over the rumored "Night Kingdom" that the rumor-mongers say Disney wants to build? The fandom reaction has been atrocious. I haven't seen an idea (new addition, not a redo) so universally disliked in a long time. The fans are craving passive mega darkrides from Disney which they have not produced in a long time - and despite "interactivity" being all the rage, everyone is passing on it.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2008 10:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Loric, you are my hero! Thanks for posting the article! I don't have time to read now, but I will put it on my pile of "things to read for my thesis" (*sigh*... it's a long list!).

On a side note (I am moving quickly tonight and just running through here on my way to elsewhere) -- I think that interactivity can be more than what we have seen already in the parks (i.e. attractions where you shoot things, or devices that provide information/services). I think there is some untapped blend of story and interactivity where it becomes more based on interactions with characters, etc... (At least, this is what I am experimenting with for my thesis project). Right now, the thinking in the industry is (almost) all about technology or hardware, but maybe in the future that will change... For how long will people want to rush around in their daily life and then come to a theme park and rush to get to dinner reservations and fast-pass reservations and rush to get to all the best shows... and additionally, stare at computer screens everywhere they go (which is exactly what they did at home)? (I am really not sure that those screens on Spaceship Earth really added to the experience). I think it will be interesting to see where things go in the future... I hope that it will be something rich, beautiful and exciting...
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2008 12:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Holly, i was thinking about the industry obsession with technology and realized something - it's very much Epcot's fault.

Not in a bad way really, but it's the reason for that mentality.

Take this interview from Epcot's opening:

It's understandable when you consider how people weren't technologically friendly back then. The reason Epcot went for so many "humanizing computers" themes. But as people accepted technology, Epcot grew away from that idea because it wasn't really needed anymore.

But then back to WDI... They had sort of formed into a process and train of thought based so heavily on technology. I think the current output is what happens when their thechnology-driven mind outpaces the artistic and the consumer is so technology-friendly that they dont see "new" technology as grand or interesting.
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