Which brings to mind “Studio Disney 365” (i.e. that tween-centric store which opened in the Disneyland Resort’s Downtown Disney shopping district back on June 26th of last year) as well as “The Pirates League” (i.e. that Adventureland addition which opened at WDW’s Magic Kingdom back on June 29th 2009). Disney Parks & Resorts execs had hoped that these two new immersive makeover experiences would mirror the success of the Company’s wildly popular “Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique” franchise. But instead … Well, it’s “Studio Disney 365” and “The Pirates League” themselves – rather than the Guests – that now seem in need of makeovers.
To be fair here, nobody at The Walt Disney Company knew that the economy was going to tank back in the Fall of 2008. Which would then radically change the way that your typical tourist spends their money while visiting Disney Parks & Resorts. Which is why those pricey make-over packages that “The Pirates League” (EX: The Captain’s Package: $124.95 for your choice of costume, a face painting session, fake teeth as well as some souvenir photos) and “Studio Disney 365” (Where the wardrobe packages started at $81 and hair & make-up sessions could run you as
high as $39.95 per kid) initially offered last year were non-starters with many Guests.
Photo by Scott Winegar. Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved
With hope that discounts might inspire some of Disney World’s biggest fans to visit Adventureland’s newest establishment, back in November, the “Pirates League” began giving annual passholders & DVC members 50% off on its First Mate, Empress and Captain packages. Meanwhile out in California, Studio Disney 365 has recently rolled back its prices as well.
How recently? So recently that – when Alice and I dropped by this Downtown Disney shop last week to check out the place – the Cast Members who were working at “Studio Disney 365” that day didn’t even have any printed literature on the premises that they could give me which listed their new prices. But – that said – the staffers there were able to show me a series of
laminated cards which featured “Studio Disney 365” ’s new packages and their prices.
And Disneyland Resort officials clearly wanted to know if these new lower prices are making Guests think twice about experiencing “Studio Disney 365.” Given that -- as my daughter and I walked through the Downtown Disney District two weeks ago today -- we were approached by survey takers three separate times. And each time, the survey taker wanted to know if we were aware of DTD’s tween
makeover parlor. More importantly, the price changes that the Company had recently instituted at this establishment.
“So what exactly is the problem with ‘Studio Disney 365’ ?,” you ask. According to what several Disney insiders told me last week, the belief in-house is that the core concept behind this new would-be tween makeover franchise remains sound. It’s just that – in its rush to fill the 4 or 5 vacancies that popped up in the Disneyland Resort’s Downtown Disney retail corridor last year – the Company chose poorly when it came to “Studio Disney 365” ’s premiere location.
As one Mouse House manager explained it to me:
“You have to understand that the first ‘Studio Disney 365’ was supposed to be built inside of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Where it was thought that tweens who had just watched the ‘High School Musical’ street show would be far more inclined to go for a HSM-themed makeover. But when Saks announced that it was closing all of its Club Libby Lus in November of 2008,
that left a hole in Disneyland’s Downtown that Disney needed to be filled ASAP. Which is why the first ‘Studio Disney 365’ was built in California, rather than in Florida.”
Photo by Garth Vaughan. Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved
Now as to why “The Pirate League” has been such a slow starter … This may just be a case of the folks who handle Merchandise Synergy & Franchises doing their jobs too well. At least when it comes to creating a hidden away venue when Guests & their families can then go to become buccaneers.
As one longtime Adventureland Cast Member recently told me:
“I don’t know if it’s because the signage for this shop really doesn’t stand out or because the entrance to ‘The Pirates League’ is in the wrong spot. But Guests seem to have a real problem when it comes to being able to find this place. Even people with reservations, who supposedly know where they’re going , will walk right by the shop. These Guests often make it as far as Golden Oak
Outpost in Frontierland before they then finally turn around and ask for directions. So given peoples’ difficulty in finding this place, you can imagine all of the walk-up business that ‘The Pirate League’ misses out on.”
Photo by Kent Phillips. Copyright 2009 Disney. All Rights Reserved
So obviously (as I said at the start of this article) we’re dealing with timing & location issues here. And given the difficult first 8 months that Disney Parks & Resorts has had with both “Studio Disney 365” and “The Pirate League” … Well, you’d think that Company officials might now be losing confidence in these "Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique” follow-ups.
Well, think again. Given that “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” will be sailing into theaters on May 20, 2011 (Not to mention that Playhouse Disney will debut “Jake
and the Never Land Pirates,” a new series from Disney Television Animation, that very same year), Mouse House managers expect that the public's interest in becoming buccaneers will see a strong resurgence come the Spring of next year. Likewise given that “Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam” is set to air on the Disney Channel this summer (More importantly, that interest in “Hannah Montana” will continue to build as this highly rated cable television series heads into its finale in the Spring of 2011), there are still lots of little girls out there who would
love to follow in Demi Lovato & Miley Cyrus’ footsteps and then have themselves made over as Studio Rockers, Trend Setters or Scene Stealers.
So as far as Disney Parks & Resorts management is concerned, all that stands between “Studio Disney 365” and “The Pirate League” becoming “Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique” –sized successes is time … As in: The economy needs some more time to recover. So that parents can then feel better about indulging their children with $124.95 Pirate makeovers.
Photo by Kent Phillips. Copyright 2009 Disney. All Rights Reserved
More to the point, The Walt Disney Company needs to do a far better job when it comes to making the public aware of the locations of its newest immersive makeover experiences.
Which may explain why – when Nick Jonas was looking for to stage a surprise concert with his band, the Administration back on February 2nd – Downtown Disney officials offered to set up a stage for Nick right in front of “Studio Disney 365.” So that -- when pictures & videos of this impromptu event began popping up on the Web late last week -- the audience that Mickey had been trying to target now knew exactly where this new Disneyland Resort shop was located.
Which – you have to admit – was a pretty smart way for the Mouse to get the word out to "Studio Disney 365." Now if Mickey could only come up with a similar sort of stunt that would then make WDW Guests keenly aware of where “The Pirate League” can be found.
Anybody got any ideas?
Just FYI, it's Nick Jonas & the Administration (you put Kevin).
And I didn't even know that the Pirate makeovers were done in a separate location from the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique...I just assumed that they were done there. Maybe they need to put some pamphlets near the park maps & time guides, to makes guests more aware of the fact that that service is available.
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