Disney's CFO has revealed that the company hopes that its new MyMagic+ system will help keep guests at Walt Disney World for a greater share of their Orlando vacation, discouraging them from exploring other local attractions.
Jay Rasulo was speaking on a call to discuss Disney's second-quarter earnings, which saw profits rise by 32 percent when compared to the same quarter a year earlier. The firm's income grew to $1.51 billion, up from $1.14 billion in Q2 2012. The company was boosted by the strong performance of its theme parks division, which saw revenues rise by 14 percent.
MyMagic+ will enable guests to plan large portions of their Walt Disney World vacation in advance. This will include pre-booking times during which they can experience major rides without queuing, in an extension of the existing FASTPASS system. A smartphone application and a revamped website will provide guests with control over this and other features, such as restaurant reservations. The system due to launch at some point in 2013.
Rasulo says that there are advantages for Disney in encouraging guests to organise all aspects of their vacation in advance: "We have known for a really long time that getting our visitors to Walt Disney World to make decisions about where they spend their time before they leave home is a powerful driver of visits per guest. When they get into the Orlando market and their time isn't yet planned, they can be subject to everything you see down there, which is a lot of in-city marketing for all the many products that people have put there to basically bleed off the feed that we fundamentally motivate."
The Disney executive's comments are a clear stab at local rivals such as the Universal Orlando Resort, which has seen significant attendance boosts since the 2010 debut of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure. Universal plans to open a second Harry Potter land in 2014 at Universal Studios Florida, and is also opening a Disney-style family hotel known as the Cabana Bay Beach Resort. Meanwhile, SeaWorld Orlando is expanding its offerings with the debut of Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin later this month.
Rasulo believes that MyMagic+ will help keep guests on Disney property: "If we can get people to plan their vacation before they leave home, we know that we get more time with them. We get a bigger share of their wallet. And the second thing is what happens to purchases when they become much more convenient, and you don't spend time queuing up for a transaction, queuing up to get in the park, and you actually have more time to enjoy the entertainment and, subsequently, spend more money doing things — other than standing in line, which, of course, you can't spend any money while you're doing that."