Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

Magicbands in the Magic Kingdom: Customer-Centric Information Technology Implementation at Disney

Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

Magicbands in the Magic Kingdom: Customer-Centric Information Technology Implementation at Disney

Article excerpt

A BRIEF BACKGROUND OF THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY

The Walt Disney Company, commonly known as Disney, was co-founded on October 16, 1923 by brothers Roy and Walt Disney. Moving forward nearly one hundred years, Disney has grown into one of the most successful and well recognized brands in the world, with several revenue generators, including broadcasting, consumer products, motion pictures, and of course, theme parks. Disney has become a household name and provides plenty of joy for children and families of all ages. The success of Disney can be attributed to a few critical factors such as their solid customer base, successful branding, and ability to diversify into multiple industries. Their longevity is due to the fact that they continue to create happiness through magical experiences and lifelong memories. This has remained their core promise since the very beginning. In recent years, Disney vowed to be relevant to every single guest that interacts with their brand (Adamson, 2014).

Most of these magical experiences occur in Disney's two major theme parks: Disneyland in California and Disney World in Florida. Walt Disney first inquired about a theme park back in 1953. He dreamt of a location with only one entrance, off the beaten path of nearby streets, that featured custom themed rides which highlighted the storytelling more than the thrill aspect. His dream became a reality on July 1955 when Disneyland opened in Anaheim, California. Following the initial success of his first theme park, Walt Disney was motivated to expand and build a second one. His vision found a home on 30,000 acres of land just south of Orlando, Florida and would eventually be named Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom (Niles, 2013). Walt Disney's passion and vision has led to much success and Disney is known as one of the world's top hospitality providers.

Today, creating personal touch and experience remains the centerpiece of Disney' s customer-centric business model. Disney has long used the slogan "happiest place on earth" to describe their amusement parks. At the Disney theme parks, hundreds of attractions, rides, and characters exist. Disney focuses on more of a show aspect by connecting each attraction on a personal level to the parkgoers with sights, sounds, and smells that are infused into the customer's memory as part of the "Disney Experience." Given the brand recognition and unrelenting focus on customer experience, it is no surprise that Disney enjoys a strong and loyal customer following. Customers become walking advertisements and sub-consciously recommend company products and services to family, friends, and other fellow Disney consumers. Disney thrives on having a loyal customer base that will likely make return visits over and over again. This allows for Disney to have a continuous revenue stream, and very little time throughout the year where park attendance is underperforming. In addition to park attendance, Disney's loyal customers also spend generously on merchandise, dinner reservations, vacation packages, and hotel reservations. With such a loyal following, Disney is able to hold significant market share in the theme park and entertainment industry.

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

Disney is a great example of a company that invests their capital in order to stay on top of the service industry pyramid. Disney commands the highest prices in the theme park industry (Figure 1 illustrates the pricing history of the Orlando park), yet continues to drive some of the highest attendance rates within the industry. This is why the Disney Experience, including both the tangible and intangible components of that experience, is imperative to the success of Disney. Technology is a driving force in that success, and a major component of Disney's customer-centric business model.

Given the popularity of Disney theme parks, a constant point of concern for guests is overcrowding and long wait times at all of the attractions. …

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