About the Column

Admit it. You do it a lot. You ask yourself: Why Did Disney DO That?!? Maybe you ask others, too. Maybe you gather in groups, gnaw on turkey legs, and ponder what Disney does. But any such gab sessions inevitably lead to confusion and perhaps frustration. Because none of us have the answers. Disney has the answers, but it's not telling. The Mouse justifies its actions either with "it's part of our business plan" or the even more nebulous "it's part of Walt's vision". You deserve better. In his column, Lee Beatens will uncover the truth. Or at least deliver some entertaining rants.

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FROM: Why Did Disney DO That?!? Published As Necessary

Grad Nite Gets Failing Grade

Lee Beatens waves another Disney perk bye-bye

Today I'm going to be a bit more sympathetic towards the Mouse.

No, really, it's true!

After all, it's easy to sit back and point out a problem, but sometimes we might want to think about why the problem exists, and how we can become a part of the solution.

Case in point:

Many of us complain about what we perceive as the dwindling of the Magical Experience at the Parks. Maybe we feel this way because our favorite ride or attraction has been changed, or even removed. Maybe we feel this way when we see prices go up. Again. Or maybe an event we paid extra for didn't turn out to be as good as we'd hoped.

So we complain. Why did Disney DO that?!?

Grad Night Good-bye

The latest Fan Lament involves Grad Nite at Walt Disney World. Here is an excerpt from the official announcement, released by Thomas Smith, on the Disney Parks Blog:

"...we will no longer be hosting Disney Grad Nite at the Walt Disney World Resort after this year's event. With more leisure guests visiting in the springtime, it's become challenging to schedule special events during April and May."

Let the whining begin!

Myself, I don't buy this reason. WDW is busy year-round, and if I'm not mistaken, most of the Grad Nite festivities take place after normal Park hours (or at least could, as an alternate solution).

My friend Jessica, who lives in California, remembers the Grad Nite program from Disneyland, and says that her high school was banned from the event for several years because of bad behavior.


Grad Night Goons

Have we hit on the real reasoning here? I did some research, and I found many others, both on FaceBook and Twitter, telling similar stories of bans on their schools. Also, many mentioned how much worse it is during these events now, as compared to the 1980's. Even Cast Members have chimed in and said that they don't enjoy hosting Grad Nite because of the bad behavior.

But would Disney shut down an entire event if it started to become unmanageable?

Well, look what happened to Pleasure Island at Downtown Disney. For months before it was closed, we heard nothing but reports about teenagers and criminals invading the walkways and harassing guests. Gangs were reported as well. The press may have blown these things out of proportion, but in the end, Pleasure Island sunk into Disney history.

If certain events have been canceled because of unruly guest behavior, then kudos to Disney for pulling the plug! Guest experience, comfort, and most of all, safety, are job one. We can complain about one bad apple spoiling it for everyone, but that's the world we live in. And Disney can't always keep that part of the world out of its Parks.

Grad Night to Day?

But if so, is a total shutdown of the fun the answer? Mr. Smith gave this ray of hope:

"Instead [of Grad Nite], graduates will have new opportunities to celebrate with us in the parks at more flexible and convenient times."

So what will these be? Mr. Smith mentioned the possibility of 'broader senior class trips. And activities such as youth sports competitions, performing arts programs, including performances, workshops and festivals, and educational programs [that would] give teens chances to experience Walt Disney World virtually any time of the year'. And special pricing was announced to make all of these alternatives more accessible to youths.

Now what, I wonder, could put an end to these things in the future? Cost cutting measures by Disney? Unruly behavior on the part of guests? Or is there some other reason we haven't hit on yet?

Whatever the reason, two things will save our Park perks: A committed company like Disney that wants to deliver what the people want. And guests who don't think that they have more rights than a polite society allows.

Unfortunately, I think we will lose more perks before this issue is resolved.

What do you think?


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