Guests passing into the Disneyland Park the past weekend, using the turn stiles to the right of the main entrance (next to Guest Relations) passed by a long line stretching out of the small office dubbed “Donald’s Desk” next to the ticket booths below the Disneyland Hotel. Many of them wondered: what was that line for? After all, since the Annual Passport office vacanted the small rooms to move into the Disneyland Park and the rooms were renamed “Donald’s Desk” the number of guests frequenting it had become minimal. So what was going on there?
The answer: Donald Desk had been designated as pick-up location for free Annual Passport Francilien! Free APs? Yes!
As a special christmas present to locals the resort had organized in mid December a huge mass mailing to the households in the area addressing the letters not to the residents in name but to “the families / inhabitants of appartment _ at ____”. In fact even households consisting only of cast members working at the resort also received the mailing. With that mass mailing the recipients were granted a voucher for one free Annual Passport Francilien per household that had to be picked up during the first weeks of the new year at “Donald’s Desk” – explaining the long line.
It must be assumed that the resort reasons that by handing out one free AP per household this might encourage additional members of the household to pay for an AP, so that families can enjoy the park together. This and the numerous additional passport promotions for locals on official website BilletFrancilien.com of the resort (e.g. one free ticket for a kid up to age 12 for each adult Francilien one day one or two park passport bought online till April 1st – restrictions apply, please check the official website) indicate that the resort has decided to continue the strategy of 2009: continueing increasing the guest numbers even at the cost of reducing the amount spent per guests and ignoring the impact that huge crowds have on the experience of the guests (in particular the large amounts of money paying “once-in-a-lifetime” guests).
One needs to wonder whether the resort is aware of the implications that its huge push to increase guests numbers (and in particular AP numbers) has on the guest experience – especially considering the reports by fans that the Disneyland Park feels extremly crowded even during off-season weekends. This impact is further increased by the (over the years) greatly reduced entertainment schedule as indicated by the various vacant theaters in particular during the off-season, which means guests that used to watch e.g. “The Legend of the Lion King” are now standing in line for other attractions, further reducing the “rides per guest per day” number. Also the experiences of Disneyland (Anaheim, CA) with an increased AP number show that with larger number of APs also the number of cars to be accomodated for increases significantly (as the average number of guests per car goes down, as fellow AP holders arrive separately e.g. to meet up with friends inside the resort). The push to further increase guest numbers certainly promises for an interesting year…