Wednesday, March 11, 2009

NOT The Magic Of Disney!

Many people who read this blog know that I have a historical affinity for the Walt Disney Company. As a longtime fan, I have spent a good portion of my income supporting a Disney habit... a habit that, by financial necessity, has waned a bit in the past year or so.

Still, I have generally followed the business of the company. I am a stockholder after all, and I also have an ownership stake in the Disney Vacation Club. No one knows better than I how much Disney likes to part a Disney fan from his money.

So it was with this in mind that I read this morning about Disney's latest venture - D23. D23 is the "Official Community for Disney Fans" - a website that one can log into for free, but which requires you to fork over 75 bucks for the "good stuff".

I took a visit over to D23, and noticed immediately that it is affiliated with Good thing, too, because Disney knows that its most loyal fans are also its biggest spenders!

What does a membership in D23 get you? A magazine four times a year. A membership certificate ("Suitable for framing!"). A membership card. Discounts to a four-day D23 Fan Expo in Anaheim in September. A "surprise" membership gift. AND - the "opportunity" to purchase exclusive D23 merchandise...

Who could afford to pass that all up???

I can. There was perhaps a time when I would have probably swallowed hard and pulled out the credit card. But I know from personal experience that when it comes to Disney, the "official" experience is never as good as the "unofficial" one. Disney is trying to cash in on something that everyone already gets for free. There are more Disney fan websites that carry more useful and more honest information than Disney does than I can count.

Disney is typically terrible at selling its own message because every word on its websites is designed to either avoid litigation or to induce you to buy something. If you want to book a Disney Cruise, for example, you can certainly do that at But if you want decent information ABOUT a Disney cruise, you need to go some place else, like the DIS or, where you can get an honest opinion and hear helpful dos and don'ts.

It's interesting to note that even as Disney describes D23 as a "community", there are no bulletin boards on the site. No place for people to rant - or say something that can be construed as uncomplimentary towards the Mouse.

I am not alone in my assessment of this new venture. Just take a look at this blog and its responses from REAL Disney fans - people who make me look like a Disney lightweight! This day does not bode well for the company.

I don't begrudge Disney's effort to make a buck. That's why the company exists. But to ask its biggest fans to pay for something that REAL fans can already get elsewhere for free - and in THIS economy...

I smell backlash.

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