Originally published in Theme park Tourist… Saturday, November 26, 2016 04:40
Right after news broke about a new upcharge experience that will bring $700 rental tents to the Magic Kingdom, Disney has announced another upcharge experience that will be coming to this park in just a few days. And while this is an all-new experience, it is at least one that will feel a little bit more familiar for Walt Disney World regulars, and takes the format of a dessert party with reserved seating for Walt Disney World’s last remaining parade: the Festival of Fantasy. But unlike other dessert parties that have been offered in the past, this one will involve the almost multi-hour closure of an iconic Magic Kingdom attraction during regular park hours…
Introducing Tiana’s Riverboat Party Ice Cream Social & Parade Viewing
Beginning November 29, Disney will begin hosting a special upcharge experience every day on the Liberty Square Riverboat attraction at the Magic Kingdom. Available for $49 per adult and $29 per child age 9 and under, guests who want to take part in Tiana’s Riverboat Party Ice Cream Social & Parade Viewing will be able to enjoy not only guaranteed viewing of the Festival of Fantasy parade, but also a number of treats, including a variety of desserts, hand dipped ice cream with toppings, ice cream novelties, snacks, and non-alcoholic beverages while they visit with beloved Princess and the Frog characters Tiana and Naveen.
This event will be offered daily and will kick off 45 minutes before the Festival of Fantasy parade where guests can meet Tiana and Naveen and begin enjoying the desserts that are included with this new upcharge experience. Then, when the Festival of Fantasy gets underway, Tiana and Naveen will leave temporarily so they can appear in the parade. However, once the Festival of Fantasy is over, guests may want to hang out on the Liberty Square Riverboat just a little bit longer, as Princess Tiana and Naveen will re-join the group to meet guests once again and take photos while the Liberty Square Riverboat before waving goodbye to guests as they disembark, ready to continue their day at the Magic Kingdom.
This new event will have an effect on regular park operations
This newest upcharge event is somewhat unique among its peers, as it will require he closure of a Magic Kingdom attraction in the middle of the day. While upcharge events related to the now former Main Street Electrical Parade and even Wishes have historically involved eating a meal somewhere or closing down a restaurant, this event will require the Liberty Square Riverboat attraction to close to regular park guests around 2:00 PM to make way for guests paying for the upcharge event. This attraction will then reopen two hours later after the conclusion of this event.
Though the Liberty Square Riverboat is far from the most popular attraction at the Magic Kingdom (it’s usually walk on, even on the park’s busiest days), the idea that Disney is willing to close off a specific attraction and only make it available only for higher paying guests for several hours during the day is a little concerning. Then again, maybe we shouldn’t be all that surprised at this turn of events considering the current climate at Walt Disney World…
Walt Disney World has entered a new age of upcharges
Upcharge experiences have almost always been a part of the Walt Disney World experience. Guests willing to pay a little extra have always had extra options including tours, special events, and of course the ultra-exclusive VIP tours. However, in recent months, the amount of upcharge experiences that have been introduced in the last few years has been noticeably higher. So what’s behind this recent trend?
While Disney never discusses details in regards to their revenue strategy, some of the Disney’s most recent financial results might give us a glimpse into what exactly is going on here. Though 2016 brought a number of new shows, attractions, restaurants and more to Walt Disney World, attendance during this year has been down. Many have been quick to point the finger at the rising cost of admission as the primary culprit for this trend, the real cause behind it may be a little more complex than you might think.
If you are a long-time theme park fan you may have noticed that attendance at Walt Disney has been growing by large margins year after year for nearly a decade. Though this growth has been certainly great news for shareholders, the fact is that such rapid growth isn’t sustainable at its current rate. A slowdown was inevitable, and though we won’t know the full attendance metrics until next year, all of Walt Disney World’s financial reports this year have alluded to stagnant or dipping attendance. And while rising prices and increased construction could be part of the puzzle, these attendance trends are more than likely the result of a natural correction after years and years of massive growth. Which leads us to Disney’s current situation.
In the face of fewer guests coming through each park’s entrances, Disney has to find a way to continue to grow its revenue. And thats where upcharge experiences like Tiana’s Riverboat Party come into play. If Disney can continue to make more money off of the same number of guests, they’ll be able to keep their revenue going up, despite guest levels beginning to stabilize or even taper off.
With this in mind, we would expect upcharge events like Tiana’s Riverboat Party Ice Cream Social & Parade Viewing to continue to be offered. Even if this particular event isn’t all that sucessful, Disney will likely continue experimenting with various upcharge experiences until it finds something that guests really respond to.
How do you feel about all of these upcharge experiences being added to Walt Disney World? Are you happy to see new events being offered for guests, or would you rather Disney parks kept things a little simpler? Let us know what you think of these developments in the comments below!
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