Disney’s Decline – Part 2

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This is the 62nd episode of the Effective Executive podcast. In this episode, Tripp Babbitt revisits 4 lessons from Disney’s decline. Download our Effective Executive Starter Kit.


Show Notes

The Effective Executive – Episode 62

Disney Food and Wine Festival

Cutting Costs – Increases Costs

The Peter Pan Standard

Not All Innovations Need to be Big

Origiinality Always Wins




[00:00:01] This is the 62nd episode of the effective executive podcast and YouTube channel. And in this episode, I wanted to go back to episode 50. I got lots of comments, a lot of views off of it. So, you know, ride the horse. In essence, I wanted to. Having just gotten back now from Disney World. Go back through. The four lessons from Disney’s decline was the name of the episode. I put out there and got lots of comments. Lots of things that really hit a nerve, obviously, and it’s kind of inspired me to create another channel with my wife, which I’ll. Be announcing somehow, if you follow, if you subscribe to this, I’ll let you know. But anyway, the four things the four lessons were enterprise a focus on costs, increases, costs, innovation and not to copy. Those were the four things the four lessons from Disney’s decline and you might be able to hear my dog snoring and behind me. That’s sometimes how it goes when you’re recording it at home. The. So let’s start with entropy. You know, one of the things that we we really got hit with when we were at Disneyworld this time. And remember, we go specifically for the Food and Wine Festival, and it used to start, I’m going to say, maybe late September and run through the end of October. This is like a two month thing, maybe a little bit longer. They’ve been extending it, but now they started it like in August and they ran it through, I think, this week or the middle of November.


[00:02:01] And there were a number of things that were missing this time. And maybe this might be something attributable to COVID. I don’t know the reason, but it’s just it affected my experience at the Food and Wine Festival, and the first thing is there was no. Festival Center used to be close to test track in that area, and then they moved it over towards between the United Kingdom and Canada. And it was it was fine. I was happy with that, but I noticed last year during COVID that they had a reduced wine selection. I didn’t really worry about it that much. But this year there was no wine available for sale, which we typically do as we go to the Food and Wine Festival. Not only try wines, but if we find one we like, we usually buy a bottle in the Festival Center shop and they were not available. So this is again, I don’t know if this is entropy, if this is something that they’re trying to get away from, but the fact that it’s called the Food and Wine Festival, I can get the food. Sometimes you get the wine at the kiosk, but there were less kiosks. Why was there too? The number of them, the good ones were still there. The Canada, where you get the filet mignon and the cheddar and bacon soup, they’re really, like, really good.


[00:03:41] But there were less kiosks. And you know, the one thing that was missing there was there were no wine glasses that we could buy. We bought for the last. This would have been the 16th year that we’ve attended previous 15 years. We’ve got wine glasses that we buy to kind of commemorate the visit there, but we went into a number of the the shops that are around the international showcase and they didn’t have any of the glasses. They matter of fact. One lady told me she sold the last to a cast member, told us, and she’s kind of proud of that. But she said they they sold out at the end of September, and she didn’t think that they would be getting any more in. And this could be part of the supply chain issues that they’re having. But it also might be because they started the Food and Wine Festival Festival in August, and they’re sold out of the glasses by the end of September. I don’t know what the issue is, but it’s this. I mean, Food and Wine Festival have wine glasses as to commemorate and not having wine available. I. You know, when I know Disney’s all about revenue, so is this an entropy thing? I I don’t know the reasons behind it, but it feels like either something was missed or, I don’t know, just feel sloppy to me. I guess would be the word that that I’m looking for.


[00:05:16] As far as a focus on costs I talked about, you know, focus on costs always increases costs when people try to cut costs in the long run and it winds up costing you more money. Ninety nine times out of 100, especially in organization, see this all the time with this huge focus. Oh, we got to get the, you know, our costs down, so we showed this much profit and then the you know, it’s. It’s mind boggling what what organizations will go through big and small in order to cut costs, especially the big ones that are reporting some type of have a quarterly report trying to report good things to their shareholders. So this is where you’ll typically get layoffs and other ridiculous things that that don’t help your organization in the long run. But anyway, Disney has to be done more of this lately. This focus on costs and it comes out and and small ways, but there are four values that they share for Disney is courtesy, safety, show and efficiency. And I talked last time about the air conditioning being seen seemingly being turned down, whereas in the in the old days you could feel that air conditioning blowing out of the stores and it felt good when you would walk by. And it was one of the things to show, courtesy to to their customers that, you know, they understand it’s hot and they’re going to do something for it.


[00:06:58] There were a couple of stores that were were cool as I went to different parks. I can pinpoint one park versus another. But for the most part, it was with wall-to-wall people. Turn the air conditioning on, you know, it’s kind of what I was left with. And we have secret spots that we go to in order to find air conditioning, by the way. But anyway, as far as show goes, I mentioned popcorn. It was back at the entrance had been gone. Probably something associated with COVID would be my guess. So I was happy to to see that. So anyway, those were a few things on the focus for costs. And then the third thing was innovation now. I had not ridden. Well, it just came out Ratatouille Adventure and I gave it an eight out of 10. I mean, I thought it was it was a it was something that was a new experience. It was good. And if you’re going, I suggest that you, you get it. We did not use the enhanced Genie Plus or the Lightning Lane or purchase anything. We were able to get a time to go in or a group. No to go in. But the thing is is, you know, I always compare things to like Peter Pan, how Peter Pan is. It’s kind of ridiculous that every time you go there, it’s 60 to 70, five minutes every time that you go to Peter Pan.


[00:08:31] But it’s it’s one of those things that you try to go to. Now, this last time I didn’t, I didn’t. We didn’t have time. We had other things that were on our mind, but I wasn’t going to wait 60 to 75 minutes to ride Peter Pan this this last time, but it has that kind of longevity associated with it. So I gave it to an eight out of 10 as far as the newness and those types of things, but I gave it a five out of 10. As far as the longevity, well, you know, Dumbo was unique and they kept the line down, but then they made a move to have two. Dumbo’s running at the same time, and ever since then, you’ve never had to wait for a line, I guess, and it’s iconic and you can sit in a Dumbo and get a picture, but something’s a little bit lost. It was one of the original rides, I guess. I kind of liked it the old way where you had to wait and, you know, waiting in line with your son or daughter, you know, when they’re smaller and and this, they have good memories of that. But anyway, I thought I would mention the Ratatouille as far as innovation I thought was pretty cool. We did pay for rise of the resistance. I I say we my wife paid. She got on. She wanted to give it one more shot because we kind of left the rise of resistance, ride the last time going type of thing.


[00:09:58] And I think I mentioned that I almost looked at as an enhanced way to wait in line and rise of the resistance. We wrote again, and I still came out of it going, Yeah, if you’re a big or a Star Wars fan, I get it. You want to go to that. Certainly, if you’ve never been to Disney World before Rise of the Resistance. Very cool that you would want to do it at least once. But. For me, it was and I like Star Wars, but I just thought the ride was, I was I wasn’t blown away. So anyway, from an innovation standpoint, you know, you try some things like this and I don’t believe that you have to, you know, have huge wins. I like the fact Disney does swing for the fences sometimes and and they miss. I still miss Toad’s Adventure. Wild Ride or whatever it was called back in the days, but they’ve taken that out. So.


[00:11:11] You know, the lesson of innovation is there are also a little things that you can do. You know, what are some of the little things? Well, there are big things like the gondolas, you know, the skyliner. I thought, that’s very cool, that I really like that. I think they can do a lot more with it as far as the gondolas go.


[00:11:37] The international showcase is unique, and they ruined it by virtue of putting out these huge barges for harmonious, which I thought was probably a little bit better than mediocre. And. The international showcase, I can’t, you know, you can’t see anything as you walk around the world, I can’t say you can’t see anything, but it’s one of the sites that you get kind of like when you go into Cinderella’s Castle is when you’re at Epcot, you know, Cinderella’s Castle of Magic Kingdom, when you’re at Epcot, it’s that international suitcase and seeing all those countries around there and those types of things now, it’s been blocked by these behemoth structures, barges that hold the fireworks and the. Water cannons for the show. Now people have different opinions about that, and maybe Disney already knows I’m in the minority through some of the surveys that they’ve done. I. Could be. But, you know, it’s it’s. It took away something from me then I didn’t get anything that I thought was better for that particular show. That happily ever after, which was a great show at Magic Kingdom at the close of the park, was replaced by Disney Enchantment. Wow. I mean, I have happily ever after they’ve they’ve done a number of things. I know I don’t know whether happily ever after had the. You know, there’s I said I was at the back more towards the exit because there were so many people.


[00:13:24] But you saw. Reflections or not, reflections. What are they projections on the sides of the building? Very, very cool, I. That and the Disney enchantment, the fireworks show was great and and you could tell fans, I mean, the place is packed all the way down Main Street at Magic Kingdom. It’s really it’s really exciting. And these are the types of things I I really like that Disney does, you know, super well. Now, the fourth thing that I talked about was don’t copy. And, you know, we’re getting Tron and it’s, you know, it’s been slowed down by Disney World is getting Tron and. It’s been slowed down by COVID as far as some of the construction, those types of things, but it’s coming along, but it’s already at some of the other parks. And so to me, you know this this thing of don’t copy, maybe not even copy some of the other parks that’s unique to that particular park, like the international showcase, those are. That’s just that’s a thought, but don’t but definitely don’t copy competition because that will always leave you behind. As far as being an executive, but there’s a number of little things that I think that Disney could do that are low cost or maybe even no cost if they sat down and thought more about the customer experience. But again, what are you spending your time on as an executive? Are you focusing on costs or are you focusing on the customer? And you can’t do both? It just it’s it’s not possible the costs will take care of themselves if you find things because the revenue that you gain that that your customers like.


[00:15:24] And so these are some of the takeaways that I had. So I mixed a little bit of my Disney background. I’ve been going to Disney. Well, I went to Disneyland long before even Disney World was even open. Well, not long before. But, you know, seven or eight years before because I had a family that lived out near Disneyland. And so we went there several times. And then in 1971, I went in the fall when they opened up and then probably a pretty long dry spell there until I’m guessing probably the the late 80s. So but I’ve been there a number of times to have seen a lot of the change that happens, the good and the bad of it. And there’s a number of things, you know, I still go back as the bottom line. They haven’t chased me away completely. It’s become just one of those things they do. But they do need to prove that Food and Wine Festival is still mad about the glasses anyway. Hope you got something out of this? There’s something for the Disney fan or non fan, something for an executive to maybe think about and some of the things that they have out there. I’ll catch you next week.

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