OM in the News: What Happens When Disney, Universal, and Legoland Reach Capacity
While the rest of the country is enjoying the brief holiday respite, here in Orlando–with temperatures in the 70′s– the theme parks are jammed. So much so that most reached capacity this week as crowds crushed into the parks. The Orlando Sentinel (Dec.29, 2011) reported that Legoland Florida (our newest park), Universal Studios, and 3 of Disney’s 4 theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom) all reached capacity this week and had to temporarily shut their gates. Traffic was so heavy that drivers were warned it would take an extra 45-60 min. just to exit Interstate I-4.
How do the companies handle the surge–and losses from turning away customers willing to pay the $85 a day admission fees? Legoland simply closed its parking lot at 12:30 pm. It also extended its operating hours by 1.5 hours to 8:30pm. Universal similarly hit capacity at 12:30 pm and stopped admitting guests. But it set up a queue for customers to wait outside the park and allowed them to enter as early arrivals fizzled out and went back to their hotels. Universal also delayed closing, from 11 pm till midnight.
Disney’s tactic was different. It limited access to guests staying at hotels that it owns, to people with high-priced tickets (like park-hoppers or annual passes), and to those who had made dining reservations inside one of the parks. At 2:30 pm, Disney then resumed normal admission.
This can provide an interesting example of how different companies deal with capacity when you teach Supp.7. The theme parks also bring in extra workers, open more food and drink stations, add more parades and street entertainment–anything to keep the visitors happy once they enter.
1. How does this differ from issues other service firms (like hospitals, restaurants, etc.) face when they are at capacity?
2. How does Disney’s policy differ from its competitors?