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Monday Mouse Watch : Could a slow holiday shopping season translate into a very scary New Year for the Walt Disney World Resort?
According to Jim Hill, the Mouse is rolling out incentives as it cuts back Cast Members hours. As WDW gets ready for what looks to be an incredibly lean 2009
Ho Ho Ho ! Give Us More of Your Dough !
That’s the none-too-subtle message that the Mouse has been trying to get across to both Disney World Cast Members as well as Guests these past few weeks. With retail spending levels at the Resort being 'way off this holiday season, Mickey’s doing everything he can to encourage people to open their wallets over the next few weeks.
For Cast Members, this means that Mickey has just extended their 50%-off-Christmas-shopping-privileges 'til December 13th. Not to mention giving these very same employees a 40% discount should they opt to have a holiday meal at a Resort restaurant like Olivia’s Café and Shutters.
For WDW Guests … Well, if you dine at one of WDW’s finer character dining establishments over the next few weeks, at the end of your meal – along with your bill – you’ll be present with a coupon for an absolutely free WDW lithograph.
So what’s the catch? The only place you can go on property to claim your free litho is a shop deep inside Downtown Disney. Which (Mickey hopes) you’ll do some additional shopping at once you’ve parked your car and hiked all the way into WDW’s retail / entertainment district in order to reach that store.
Mind you, Disney World isn’t the only part of the Mouse House that’s now trotting out additional shopping incentives. Remember last week how I mentioned that Disney Theatrical was doing everything in its power to compell consumers to buy tickets to its Broadway shows? Well, this morning at 10 a.m., Mickey is rolling out yet another promotion. Which – if you buy a full-priced seat for one of Disney’s musicals – will then allow you to take a child 18 and under along with you to that show for free.
There is – of course – a catch. In that, in order to take advantage of Disney on Broadway’s Kids Go Free offer, you must buy your tickets by December 13th. Which – not-so-co-incidentally – is when that shopping extension for WDW Cast Members run out.
Getting back to Walt Disney World … There are some very scary rumors currently making the rounds about how far down advance reservations for the Resort are for the month of January. According to one Disney insider that I spoke with late late week, to date only 35% of the resort’s available room nights have been booked for the coming month.
Should this rumor prove to be true … Well, you can expect the Mouse to roll out some pretty spectacular packages as we get closer & closer to January. With Disney doing whatever it can to put some heads in beds in those 32,000 hotel rooms that it now owns & operates on property.
Meanwhile – to in order to keep costs down at the Resort in the coming year – Mickey’s cut hours for the formerly full-time Cast Members at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort (These folks now only work 32 hours a week). Not to mention putting the brakes to bringing back Mickey’s Pirate & Princess Party at the Magic Kingdom during the first half of 2009.
And then when you add in all of the salaried employees who have been told by their WDW managers that lay-offs are a very distinct possibility for 2009 … It’s just not shaping up to be a very Happy New Year at the Walt Disney World Resort.
But what about you folks? Have you already made plans to travel down to WDW in 2009? Or are you still waiting to see what other incentives the Mouse trots out?