Photo source: Rick Munarriz.
Things are rocking at
's theme parks. The family entertainment giant posted
strong quarterly results after the market close on Tuesday, and
its parks and resorts division helped fuel Disney's stellar
Revenue and operating income climbed 8% and 23%, respectively,
at its parks and resorts segment. Margins widened domestically on
the strength of attendance gains and improved guest spending,
despite an uptick in costs.
One item that's driving the higher park overhead is the
implementation of MyMagic+. Disney has reportedly invested about
$1 billion in the next-gen platform that allows guests armed with
RFID-backed tickets, or MagicBand bracelets, to enter the parks,
reserve expedited attraction queues and, in some cases, pay for
Disney is coming off the first full quarter that MyMagic+ was
available to all park guests, and it's clearly gaining traction.
It revealed during Tuesday night's conference call that half of
its park guests are now using MyMagic+ MagicBands, and 90% of
them are rating the experience as very good or excellent.
MyMagic+ is free -- unlike rival parks that charge for
line-skipping perks -- but that doesn't mean that Disney doesn't
see it as a revenue driver. Improving guest satisfaction is
something that it sees increasing length of stay, repeat
visitation, and positive word of mouth. It feels that the
well-received popularity of the platform is already being priced
into its offerings.
Things can get better, of course; Disney just doesn't want to
talk about the specifics yet. "There are other opportunities from
a direct revenue generating perspective that I won't get into in
great detail but we'd be glad to detail at a later day," CEO Bob
Iger said during Tuesday night's call.
Well, because we're down to dreaming out loud and connecting
the dots, let's explore a few ways that Disney could use MyMagic+
and its growing army of MagicBand-wearing fans to raise the
1. Welcome to personalized rides
Let's say that you're on It's a Small World. It's the final room,
where the farewells are scrawled in different languages on
colorful plywood. Boring. Right? The boats are stacked up again.
That song is burning in your brain. Now, picture a more high-tech
twist. Guests tap their MagicBands on scanners before entering
the boat and, armed with personal information that patrons can
decide to opt in or out of, Disney knows the nationality of
everyone on board. A world map could offer digital pushpins of
everyone on board the boat, with farewells offered in any related
Speaking of foreign languages, why can't a Haunted Mansion
doom buggy offer narration in the desired language based on the
tap of a MagicBand? This could be offered on any ride where
familiar guests are grouped together and the ride dialogue won't
bleed into other vehicles.
Personalized rides already exist. Rival Universal Studios
Florida features an E.T. ride where riders offer up their names,
which are then encoded on cards and spoken by E.T. at the end of
the adventure. Disney's Spaceship Earth in EPCOT takes snapshots
of guests, and uses a brief on-screen questionnaire to create a
visual representation of what their futures might be like.
MyMagic+ can go beyond all of these things because the
information is pre-submitted, with more data to mine.
2. Theme parks are the ultimate social network
Custom-tailored rides would be a game changer. After all, if a
ride entering a room watching a TV just happens to be watching
your favorite ABC show, or favorite team on ESPN, that would be a
pretty neat trick. If a family digital portrait hanging on a wall
family portrait -- if the ride itself could be different every
time based on your evolving interests -- you would probably visit
a park more frequently. It gets you.
Now, let's think about what's possible if Disney knows not
only you, but also many of the tens of thousands of guests
sharing the park with you on any given day. Your smartphone could
alert you and all of your fellow Jack Skellington fans about a
surprise in-park gathering with an
A Nightmare Before Christmas
bent. Based on who is visiting the park, Disney could fill a day
with niche-specific events, or even flash-sale in-store discounts
that aren't publicly announced, yet ultimately serve to get
like-minded guests to share a bonding experience. It's OK if you
just want a day in the park with your family; MyMagic+ should be
only as invasive as you want it to be. However, for bored teens
and adventurous adults, MyMagic+ is the key to social
opportunities that would make park visits more valuable and
3. Life goes on outside the parks
MagicBands are cheap and low-tech. The real grunt work is
performed in the fleet of scanners at ride entrances, store
registers, and eateries. Why should the scanners be limited to
Disney's gated attractions and resort hotels? Why not have them
at Disney Store locations? It's not about finalizing transactions
-- at least not right away -- but about getting to know its
guests even better.
Scanning your MagicBand at a local Disney Store location could
unlock an in-store discount, contest giveaway, or perhaps even a
virtual character or trinket used in a mobile app game. Disney
could partner with other select retailers and movie theater
chains to install scanners that offer similar perks. Anything
that draws you closer to any of its revenue centers is fertile
soil for expansion. And if we're starting to wear MagicBand
bracelets outside the parks, how far away are we really from a
MagicBand fitness-tracking bracelet? Disney could be the
sneakiest and smartest wearable computing play that no one saw
coming, and it's just starting to scratch the surface.
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originally appeared on Fool.com.
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