Cutbacks in the World!
On September 18th, 2002, the following notice was distributed by the WDW News Office:
Subject: Propertywide Expansion of Entertainment Offerings
We are pleased to share the following information regarding an exciting propertywide expansion of our entertainment offerings:
Effective October 1, we will offer Walt Disney World® Resort guests exclusive time in our theme parks. We will launch this program, Extra Magic Hour, by opening one of the four theme parks for Walt Disney World Resort guests an hour early every day. As part of this change, we will no longer offer Character Caravan at our resorts as of this date.
To further enhance the guest experience, we are making the following additions beginning in October:
An unprecedented expansion of characters at the Magic Kingdom® Park, with more characters meeting, greeting and interacting with guests than ever before, starting each day with a special character-focused park opening. We will also increase the character presence in World Showcase at Epcot®.
The new Princess Storybook Breakfast at Norway, previously operating under a test phase, is now a permanent offering.
The Disney-MGM Studios will expand the show schedule for Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage from 5 to 7 days.
We are adding additional nights for Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickeys Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom Park.
Guests to the Food & Wine Festival at Epcot will experience expanded name entertainment with the Eat to the Beat music series.
In addition, the Hunchback of Notre Dame - A Musical Adventure will be performed for the last time on September 28. This show premiered in 1996 with the release of the animated film when it was top of mind to guests. Its a testament to the quality of the show and the Cast that it has been part of the offerings for so long.
This is AWESOME news! I'm so glad that WDW has made these changes to provide better service to it's guests. Hopefully, soon, I'll be able to completely remove this Cutbacks in the World page!
The rest of this page was put up on MousePlanet back in mid-October 2001. Please keep that in mind as you read the information...
During the weeks of October 15th and 21st a series of cutbacks have been implemented at Walt Disney World. Ranging from reduced park hours to slashed entertainment schedules (for stage shows as well as "streetmosphere characters) to restaurant closures to the elimination of Early Entry and E-Ride Nights, these cutbacks are officially being implemented because of greatly reduced crowds at Walt Disney World.
Port Orleans Resort French Quarter
Note, Port Orleans Resort French Quarter has started accepting reservations for June 1st and later.
Effective October 21, 2001, park hours at WDW have been serious curtailed!
Here's a copy of the letter that was provided to WDW guests:
MousePlanet reader Russ, who sent me the image of the letter he'd received, writes:
I like the way that the Character Caravan is announced without mentioning the hiatus of Early Entry... which is our next topic of discussion...
Note, as of October 2002, Early Entry has been reinstated under the new name "Extra Magic Hour" and the Character Caravan has been eliminated.
E-Ride Nights Suspended
Note, E-Ride Nights have been reinstated. Several E-Ride Nights have been held since January, 2002. The second quarter E-Ride Nights have been announced and are listed on the page linked above.
Resort Package Delivery Service Curbed
Package delivery, for WDW resort guests, is now limited to a drop-off at a central location at each resort (the main store or front desk depending on the resort). Actual delivery to the guest's room has been discontinued.
Resort Valet Parking Fees Implemented
Actually implemented back in September, the once free service of valet parking (for guests staying at a WDW resort) is no longer. Now a fee of $6.00 is charged.
Attractions ClosedSeveral attractions have been cut or curtailed. The list so far includes:
Note, as of October 2002, the Carousel of Progress and The Timekeeper (which has also been closed) do open occasionally during periods of heavy park crowds.
Restaurant Service CutbackRestaurants have been closed to save operating costs. The list so far includes:
Entertainment CutbacksSevere cuts in park entertainment have resulted in the following reductions:
Note, as of October 2002, the Beauty and the Beast show will be back on a seven days per week schedule. Hunchback of Notre Dame, however, has been cancelled entirely.
In addition, the following "Minor" entertainment has been cut from Epcot:
MousePlanet Reader Rick, informed me of the following Pleasure Island cuts:
Schedules are also cut back on other performances. You can read more in this Orlando Sentinel article.
Opening of New Resort Delayed
Robert Johnson and Todd Pack, Staff Writers for the Orlando Sentinel, reported on October 17th that Disney's Pop Century Resort has been delayed. No new opening date for the resort (which was supposed to open beginning in March 2002) has been announced. (Editor's note: This is the only "cut" that really doesn't affect customer satisfaction, as any guests scheduled to stay at the new resort can easily be accommodated -- even with upgrades if need be -- at the existing properties.)
Certainly any company that is experiencing a reduced cash flow needs to curtail costs as much as possible. That's a pretty basic and well-known law- of- the- economic- jungle. There are two things that bother me about the cutbacks, though:First, why has so much been cut back in the past, even before the September 11th attacks that caused the current downturn in tourism? The shuttering of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Ariel's (a restaurant at the Beach Club Resort), shortened hours at Epcot (the staggered opening of Future World and World Showcase was implemented several years ago), the closing of Bonfamille's and the marina at Port Orleans French Quarter, the fee implemented for valet parking, etc. -- all of these things point to a lowering of service standards long before the terrorist attacks.
Second, the cuts that are being made do, indeed, affect WDW's cash flow (as they are directly targeted at reducing operating cost), but they also reduce the quality that the park visitor and resort guest enjoy.
I have no doubt that WDW management has operated under the assumption that the paying public would not mind the cuts in service and would still happily come to Walt Disney World. Of course, that assumption was pretty much on target during the heady times of the Millennium Celebration, but the very slow months that WDW has had -- even preceding the September 11th events -- may have been a reflection of that reduced quality. Low quality, given time, will always negatively affect the bottom line in a serious way. The Walt Disney Company's cash cow (WDW visitors and guests) has been milked for years. The question is, can the exploitation continue or is ol' Betsy on her last legs?
To everyone planning a trip to WDW, I can only advise, "Caveat Emptor!"