fevereiro 13, 2011
First visit to Disney, and it felt outdated
Last week I made my first visit to Disney as a conscious being. We visited all theme parks and stayed at one of their resorts and never stepped out of Disney property, always using Disney transportation. Visits to Universal and other parks will have to wait.
Almost everything runs smoothly there, from transportation to accommodations and using the dining plans. It is a great place to go and only have to worry about what will the next attraction be. Of course, this all come at a price, and it isn't cheap. But that's another story.
What I wanted to share is that even though I had a great time, I couldn't help but feel that everything seemed a little... old. The newer attractions are fantastic, notably Expedition Everest and Rock 'n' Roller, two of the newest roller coasters (and the only two I felt were worth riding). But the majority had a nostalgic feeling, where I caught myself thinking "wow" but then "this must have been great at the 80s". I can't believe that animatronics are still robot-like even at Disney, a place that depends so much on them. Disney characters, those actors in Disney costumes, still have static faces and no voice. C'mon Disney, technology has advanced enough that we can at least put voice synthesizers in costumes. And give them some facial expressions while at it. The great actors under those costume deserve it (they are great because they have to use the whole body to show expressions that their faces can't, but they can only go so far).
And then there is the IT infra-structure. Wireless internet access was horrible at the resort I was staying in, and that was the Grand Floridian, their greatest resort. Worse - I couldn't bill to the room, as the access was provided by a different company and I had to provide a credit card number every day to have crappy access. It was only much later that I found out that I could plug in an ethernet cable (surprise: they still exist!) and have decent internet access that could be charged to my room (still daily, but at least I didn't have to enter credit card details over and over). But that meant I had to take my laptop out of the bag, and laptops are filled with work-related things that I was trying to avoid.
And they are missing some opportunities there too. If you don't pay, you can't access anything. Not even Disney's website (which is horribly slow and buggy, by the way). This is how it should work: Wi-fi access should by widely available at the whole property and it is fine to charge for access, but let people buy plans that match their stay. If I'm staying for 10 days, let me choose when booking to have internet access for that long and forget about it. The daily reminder that I had to pay was extremely annoying. Plus, let access to Disney website free, it is in Disney best interest to allow their visitors to have quick access to maps, time tables etc.
But that is stating the obvious - even airports adopt this solution. Disney could go beyond and allow free access to selected websites. Facebook and Twitter are obvious choices. Why? Because I've seen many teenagers uploading pictures of themselves to Facebook and tweeting about which attraction they are going to. But for each teenager doing that, there were other 100 that wouldn't do it because they don't want to max out their data plans, or don't have one. But they carry their mobiles everywhere, of course. Disney could use this to its advantage and let them do it for free. Let go to Disney become a viral action and incentivize sharing the experience in real time as much as possible. If I see many friends having a great time at Disney right now in Facebook or Twitter, this would definitely increase my chances of going at some point. Not so much if they just upload 500 photos when they get home in an album that nobody will go through.
So there, Disney. It is time to speed up and catch up with the times. That Rock'n'Roller is a great example of the speed of innovation you're looking for. That is fast.