Is Chapek right?

It’s not difficult to find hate for Bob Chapek on the internet. I read a load of it yesterday when the new AP programme was announced for DLR.

But it got me thinking: what would I do differently?

It seems to me that WDW is a victim of its own success: too many people want to go there. How do you deal with that? How would Walt have dealt with that?

One way is to do what UOR is doing — build another gate. Disney has the land. And could get the money.

Another is to let the parks become overcrowded. But that diminishes the guest experience. Look at MNSSHP or MVMCP. (Presumably beginning Halloween in August is one way to try to reduce crowds at MNSSHP, by giving people more opportunities to go. Though the season pass thing they did seems counter to this approach: you don’t really want people going more than once.)

Another — apparently the Chapek approach — is to get people to take shorter trips. If we assume people’s vacation budgets are fixed, simply increase the prices. If your $5,000 budget gets you a five night stay, increase the prices to $1,250 and now people can only stay for four nights. Boom: less crowded parks. But the same revenue.

There’s been criticism of the SWGSR pricing. Lots of predictions it will flop. But what’s Disney to do? There are only 100 rooms. That’s 36,500 room nights per year. Roughly 100,000 guests a year. It has to be insanely expensive otherwise demand will be too high. Disney can’t really build a second starcruiser or SWGE will get even more overcrowded. Are there enough people with enough money to pay? My mind was blown recently when I discovered how many VIP tours at $600 or so an hour are taking place every day. I thought it would be maybe a dozen, lol.

Tom Bricker had wise things to say about the new DLR APs:

Diehard former Annual Passholders are likely to disagree, but we think the Magic Key program sounds fantastic. In addition to being good for Disney, it’s good for regular ticket-buying guests as well as the overall “health” of the parks. On busy days, Disneyland could buckle under the weight of Annual Passholders, and their colossal numbers could make for nightmarish conditions.

Disneyland has a totally different vibe from Walt Disney World, and in many ways, that’s for the better. One way it’s not so great is in the sense that many Disneyland locals treat the parks as leisurely hangout spots. A laidback locals’ culture is great, but Disneyland should be special–not an alternative to visiting Irvine Spectrum or the Grove.

Limiting locals reservations will not just throttle and redistribute crowds. It’ll also create a greater sense of urgency and appreciation when visiting Disneyland, which is a good thing. This means less camping out for hours to see Fantasmic, monopolizing tables in restaurants, and just generally less loitering.

Everyone seems to be want Chapek to fired. Fine. Fire him. Now you’re CEO. What do you do? And is it congruent with Walt’s vision (and what do you understand that vision to be)?


I actually agree with Bricker’s remarks on the Magic Key program. I used to be an out of state AP holder (expired in Jan 2020). I also plan to buy a Magic Key when we’re there later this month.


Pretty simple economics. If supply is lower than demand, the price goes up.

There’s not a ton of other options, because supply increases (more parks) are incredibly expensive and demand for a luxury item (vacation travel) is more volatile. What if they build another park and there’s another travel slump similar to post 9/11 or the 2008 crash? Or another pandemic? Plus, the labor market for service industry seems to be undergoing a shift (unclear if it’s temporary due to pandemic or a longer term issue)…which I think is a risk Disney’s not really had to deal with in the past.


I actually agree with him on the Magic Key program. Honestly, I could see a benefit to changing the AP program in DW.


Yeah… I don’t think Chapek is doing much of anything wrong… He’s just easy to “hate on” because he’s this big guy that doesn’t smile a lot or have that “charisma” / charm like Josh D’Amaro. Plus, he’s tenure started at the worst time - right in the start of a pandemic and so many other domestic / economic issues. Personally, I like Iger. However, Iger just hanging around isn’t helping Chapek. Everyone is still differing to him as “de facto” CEO

Chapek’s business acumen is solid though. He’s got a strong proven track record of success. He’s not going anywhere. Personally, and it’s probably obvious, but I think he’s doing a good job. Sometimes it’s hard to be the “bad guy” that has to come in and “clean up” some issues.


I think it’s more to do with the fact that he’s goring the SuperFans’ oxen. In this case, the oxen are relatively inexpensive and conveniently-accessed park admission. SuperFans are kind of sadly stuck on the idea that Disney finds them valuable because of the fervor and tenure of their fandom. That fervor doesn’t translate into either the absolute spending or margin that that group believes it does.


I agree with a lot of what you wrote. My biggest decision (which I am almost certain won’t happen) is the new Fast Pass system. I keep the old Fast Pass system intact. However, I make it free to onsite guests and charge $100/day to offsite guests. That gives a massive benefit to onsite guests, ensuring Disney Hotels are full. Disney’s approach has always been to do everything in there power to get and keep people in their bubble. This would do that.

I think the Starcruiser pricing released was actually lower than what I was fearing. Probably not something I’d spring for even as a huge Star Wars fan, but many will. They won’t have any trouble selling that place out.


It is easy to hate on Cheap-ek, and I do. But, not about limiting, eliminating, modifying AP’s. I see AP’s as a bargain-basement sale. When stuff is selling more than you’d like, you don’t sell it super cheaply. I’d have limited AP’s to DVC’s.

Main thing I really hate about him is that we are supposed to be patient and suffer with a diminished product while paying even more than before. The market works both ways. They aren’t treating their employees right and they aren’t paying them right either. THAT is the reason for the staffing shortage which leads to the diminished experience.

Being Six Flags with Disney prices won’t work for very long.


WTF?? :rofl: Don’t drag Sx Flags into this mess!! :laughing:

I worked at Six Flags for years going from Ops / Entertainment to Corporate - Marketing / Sales / Sponsorship… There’s nothing “wrong” or “less” about Six Flags. If anything they offer exactly what you want. Upfront & affordable pricing for day guests & APs.

Plus APs get unlimited visits to ALL their parks across the country, free parking, unlimited drinks, “FastPasses” included and so much more at fraction of the Disney cost.

Six Flags is a GREAT place to visit, offers wide range of rides / experiences for all ages. All of this at a affordable prices without long distance travel for most people.

So…please… don’t make Six Flags sound like some parking lot carnival… :wink::smile:


I too agree with Bricker’s comments. I think they should have gone even further and raised the prices as these are not different prices than what it cost before to have an AP. If a million people can afford an AP, it is priced too low. It’s not that I want to pay more, but I am willing to pay more to have less crowded parks.
I don’t actually disagree with most of what Chapek is doing. As @darkmite2 said

My biggest beef right now, and part of why we cancelled the Orlando part of our bi-coastal Disney trip is that they have allowed too many people in to make it enjoyable (in Orlando). The lines should never be more than 20-30 minutes, and that is getting to be too much for me, even. Yes, I am spoiled but knew all the ins and outs of fast pass, max pass, and FPP so never had to wait in lines all these years. If they were going to increase crowds so much in the last 6 weeks or so (again, in Orlando), they should have brought back fast pass or something else to make the lines shorter. We enjoyed Disneyland 7/23-28 despite not having fast passes, because the amount of people they are letting into the 2 parks works fine with the large number of rides there are in both parks. This does not work at WDW, where except for MK there are not enough rides. So, what would I do? Either add 15-20 rides per park except MK (a mix of headliners and secondary rides) OR set the capacity limits lower so that there is never more than a 30 minute wait on rides, and charge a lot more for the park tickets to make up for the lost revenue of more people. I assume this won’t be a popular idea, but it gives Disney the same amount of money with maybe half the people, plus a better experience for those who are willing to pay.


Boo! We don’t want you here!

Boo! We want Disney!

Boo! We don’t want affordable pricing. Wait …

So that’s every park? Huh.

Fast Passes included. Huh. And drinks?

Do you have a web address so I can sign up?

What are you talking about? We love Six Flags.

Boo Disney! Boo!


I also don’t disagree with Chapek’s vision. My number one complaint, since about 2016 has been the crowds. I prioritized travel in low seasons (mid-late January and September) to avoid crowds - used to work great. But I can’t seem to avoid them anymore and it makes me not want to go.

But Chapek’s problem is that the complaint is crowds, but most Disney fans aren’t onboard with the only true solution to fixing the problem…charging more for the experience. Even if they wanted to build a 5th park (which they really don’t), it would take years for that to materialize, so not a fix anytime soon. Disney fans really need to think about what they value the most Disney with low crowds (and more money) or Disney with high crowds (and pay less money). Really what it comes down to.

I’m in the camp of happily paying more. But I know that doesn’t work for everyone.

Great topic @mousematt


Walt’s philosophy was make it the best you can and people will come and people will be willing to pay for the best. Chapek’s is people will come anyway, so charge as much as you possibly can, add up-charge events for what used to be part of the basic admission, and trim away as many “extras” as possible in order to increase the profit margin. I’m not saying that Walt didn’t care about the bottom line - he most assuredly did - but it wasn’t the motivation that overrode everything else. If Walt had been Chapek, Disneyland would never had been built because it was too financially risky a proposition. This is why we’ll never see a 5th gate as long as Chapek is in charge. Iger was only slightly better


Yeah this is what they need to do long term. In the short term they need to cap attendance and add some kind of FP or paid line skipping pass.

But that is just a bandaid. The real problem is that there aren’t enough rides at 3 of the 4 parks, and they keep delaying opening the ones they’re working on. Bad move. Open the floodgates. More rides, big or small. Get people away from the existing headliners.


Unless a company is savvy or lucky enough to pull off producing Veblen goods - and I think Apple and Tesla are really the only mass-market products that come close - this is what institutional investors eventually push every publicly-traded company to do.


This summer, one of the UK’s biggest parks installed four fairground rides. They jazzed up the theming a bit. Bizarrely it’s been a huge success and has pulled crowds away from other rides.


YES to this :100: %


Yep, that’s what we need, a WDW only available to the elite who can afford to pay whatever Disney charges. But hey, not everyone can afford a Porsche, or a 35’ yacht, or be members at a Country Club that charges $20K a year, so I guess the logic is sound. Some people try to scrape up enough money to go once every 3 or 4 years, and others can go 3 or 4 (or more) times in one year. Disney is clearly more interested in the latter group.

But hey, I don’t have a better solution for crowd control, so bring it on - and I’ll settle for UOR or Six Flags.


This is my choice! :smiley: thanks to touring plans I cam maneuver around the crowds and to me, they add to the excitement and fun.

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Six Flags has been doing this for years.

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