Disney has announced that it will be closing its Star Wars themed hotel. The concept of the hotel was complex, and shows a complete lack of awareness of your customer base. The idea was that the hotel would be like living on a space faring cruise ship. The experience was to be totally immersive.
There were problems with the concept that doomed it to failure from the beginning, and these problems would have been easy to spot, if only someone had discussed it with actual people. The biggest problem is the cost: $1,200 per night for the first two adult guests. For additional guests staying in the same cabin, it would be $500 per night for a child, and $700 per night for an adult. To compare, taking a comparable cruise on a conventional cruise ship with complementary alcohol, internet service, and a personal butler costs about half that. The extra cost is for the Star Wars experience.
So what is this experience? It is focused on the time period of the latest Disney versions of the Star Wars franchise. You know, the movies that only the biggest Star Wars geeks follow with enough excitement to go to this hotel. The characters from the original George Lucas time period don’t exist in this time period, so many original Star Wars fans, most notably the older ones with the money to stay here, won’t recognize many of the characters. The very nature of the hotel limited your customer base, which was already limited by the high cost.
As a hotel instead of an experience, it was a total bomb. There was no swimming pool, no gym, nothing but an extended, expensive cosplay of a movie franchise. For this business to be successful, there has to exist a large enough subset of people who are big enough fans of the movies that are able and willing to spend more than $1,000 a night to cosplay a movie while staying in a crappy hotel.
There just aren’t enough people who are large enough fans to do that at a $1k per night price point. Had Disney executives done a simple market survey, this would have been apparent. The failure of this hotel is a microcosm of the failure of Disney as a company.
There is a lot of talk about Disney and Ron DeSantis’ feud, and many are saying that Disney announcing layoffs and cancelling their projects in the Orlando area are signs that Florida’s governor is losing the battle. That’s BS. The real issue, and reason for these cutbacks, is that the current executives are woke morons with no real business sense. They are taking a company that made its mark, and became an industry giant, by selling family friendly entertainment.
Disney once made wholesome entertainment, beginning in the 1940’s with the classic animated stories like those of Snow White, Pinocchio, Dumbo, and Bambi. Then the 1950’s and 60’s saw the company continue with animated movies, but also told live action stories like Treasure Island, The Absent Minded Professor, Swiss Family Robinson, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, and Old Yeller. Over the years, we saw other wholesome movies like the Apple Dumpling Gang, the series of films like Herbie the Love Bug, and Escape to Witch Mountain. The films of Disney were so family oriented, that the company’s first film to not be rated G was the 1979 film The Black Hole.
We moved to Florida in 1972, when my father, who worked as an early computer engineer for Hewlett Packard, was sent there to support the new tech boom in Central Florida. I visited the Disney complex for most of my life. I grew up around Disney and its theme parks. On two different occasions, I worked for the company. Once when in high school flipping burgers and loading people on the attractions of Horizons and World of Motion, and again years later as a repair technician, repairing dancing chickens at Splash Mountain.
I raised my own kids on Disney movies: The Lion King, Aladdin, the Little Mermaid, Toy Story, and Monsters, Inc.– Disney was still making quality entertainment that families could enjoy well into the new century. Even as an adult, I used to pay to enter the parks to see attractions like the Osborne Family Christmas lights. I would go to see the Christmas decorations and sip some hot cocoa while listening to Christmas music. It was relaxing to escape and see some wholesome entertainment.
Disney has changed so much from those early, family friendly years. The cracks began with the rise of what is called “Gay Days.” In 1991, a large group of about 3,000 homosexuals flooded the park while wearing red shirts. It wasn’t a company sponsored thing. That would change over the years, and by the end of the ‘oughts, the event would grow to be a company sponsored event with 150,000 flooding a family friendly park with sexual messages- all aimed at kids.
Now the company has broken with its former self, and spends time producing many films that are no longer aimed at families. Now they are aimed at sending a political and sexual message to kids. From changing old characters to new, sexualized ones, the new “woke” Disney is more aimed at destroying the family than it is at celebrating it. There was a time that Disney jealously guarded its reputation. That time is gone.
That’s why the Disney hotel failed, and that’s why the Disney company is underperforming. The company has lost its way. If the company is to be saved, the brand has to return to its family friendly, wholesome roots.