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More to come?

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the rather paltry park hours for December 2009 and the disappointing Fantasmic! schedule and while I spent a good deal of time complaining, this past week Disney added a number of Fantasmic! showings to their schedule to bring the park offerings up closer to where they should be and with some other rumors out there, could we expect more positive changes to come?

I'm usually the first to sound the "negative alarm" when it comes to Disney cutting things at Hollywood Studios, but certainly the reversal of the Fantasmic! schedule for December requires me to applaud Disney for doing the right thing.  Yes, they should have done this to begin with, but I'm happy to see someone in the operations planning for Hollywood Studios get the message and ramp up the amount of Fantasmic! showings.  Anyone who has a trip planned for December, ought to take another look at what's being offered so you can adjust your plan of action, if need be.  

I'm also glad to see that the last few days of the month will have three showings of Fantasmic! per night, which is in addition to the New Years Eve fireworks on December 31st.  I thought when Disney initially cut the Fanasmic! showings last January that the days of 3 showings of Fantasmic! in one night were behind us, but they are back and I'm glad to see Disney is recognizing that despite the sluggish economy, guests are still planning to visit Walt Disney World and Disney is being proactive in accommodating them.

What also has me intrigued is a rumor I ran across last week as well.  On the heels of the news that the Fantasmic! showings in December were increased, there's now a rumor that Disney is looking to "bring Fantasmic! back to a more full schedule" because on nights where there is no Fantasmic!, guest spending and revenue are down.  Before I sound the victory horn, let me reiterate that this is very much a rumor but certainly it's good to hear.  It's no secret that on nights when Fantasmic! isn't being shown, guests have a mass exodus out of Hollywood Studios because there isn't good reason to stay for the evening, especially with fireworks at other parks.  I wrote about the fact that if all these guests are leaving, spending in the park has to drop compared to nights when there is a showing of Fantasmic! and it looks like that fact has finally gotten to someone.

The aspect that bothers me about this rumor is that it hasn't been the hordes of guests complaining about the Fantasmic! schedule, but rather the almighty dollar in the end has been the instrument of change.  It bothers me because it seems "guest demand" has gotten a lot of things changed at Disney World, including a very recent change at Jedi Training Academy where they've changed the way in which guests are selected to participate, largely because many parents complained that their child wasn't picked.  You cannot tell me the amount of guests complaining their son or daughter weren't picked for Jedi Training Academy has been greater than the complaints about Fantasmic!.  Nonetheless, the rumor makes me happy to hear, even if it should have occurred for different reasons.

Of course, the rumor is just that, a rumor.  The good news you can find "between the lines" is what we do know.  First, looking at December there are now just 6 days in the month that do not have any showings of Fantasmic!.  Second, rumors are far from verifiable but they generally do represent a trend in thinking somewhere along the line. Look at the Star Tours 2 rumors that were out there for years and finally were confirmed (of course, I can't help but also mention how many other rumors are out there and that's never lead to anything....monorail expansion, anyone?).   Admittedly, there's a bit of wishful thinking on my end, but to me, it seems like we're perhaps seeing a change in thinking and just maybe all complaints have taken their toll.

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A regular look into Disney's Hollywood Studios, both past and present, with commentary and analysis from Matt Hochberg.


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Posted: Wednesday, November 04, 2009 by