Pixie Dust and Profits is a podcast for small business owners who love Disney and want to sprinkle some of that magic onto their own businesses. Join your host, Nicole Boucher and Yasmine Spencer as they explore the Mouse’s $12.6 billion operation and break down exactly how you can apply these big scale concepts to your own business.
Welcome to this week’s episode of Pixie Dust and Profits. I’m Nicole.
And I’m Yasmine.
And today we’re talking about how Disney makes things feel really exclusive, like you’re part of some club, even though you’re there with thousands of other people, it feels like a special experience because of all these little additional things that they have and they do
Kind of like going to Club 33 except not paying the $33,000 initiation fee if it even is still that
. Yeah, I don’t know. I, that is out of my budget so I haven’t looked at it, but I hear that it’s a really cool perk. You could have them find reservations for you that are really hard to get. So you don’t have to call every day at 6:00 AM or whatever time it is. I am actually terrible about planning for restaurants, so I don’t know any of those timelines. Yasmine does all of that for pixie dust live events. So anyway, what I wanted to talk a little bit about today is some of the things that Disney does to make you feel like really, like you’re in this amazing bubble, right? So, um, when you get Genie Plus, which is their new Fast Pass E system, you’re basically paying to skip the line a little bit. You know, you go through a different line, there’s still gonna be a little bit of a weight, but it’s shorter than others.
Um, but mostly you’re paying to not be in the sun waiting for things. Um, Universal also has this kind of like fast pass approach to things, but there’s this very dnce. So when you look at Genie Plus for Disney, it’s you know, a couple bucks added to your regular ticket price to do the regular Genie Plus where you can kind of choose one up to one ride on each ride as many as you can fit into your day, but you can only have one at a time. Or they have Genie plus individual Lightning Lane tickets. So these are for the high ticket rides you can buy just for that ride. You don’t need to buy the whole entire Genie Plus system. So for example, we use that to go on Rise with the resistance so we don’t have to wait in line and we also don’t have to buy the huge like Genie Plus for every single ride in the, in the park.
We’re just getting that one. And so they have these kind of like little options and it almost feels like micro transactions in a way because it’s, oh it’s just, you know, it’s just $8 to go on Mickey’s runway train and um, let’s just add that onto her order so you can get the things you want to get. You know, piecemealed in Universal is like the complete opposite. Universal is like you can go on whatever ride you want as many times as you want in the fast pass line. You don’t have to wait at all. And um, you can go on the same ride back to back to back to back if you want to, but you can’t buy it like a micro transaction. You have to buy the full experience all at once. And um,
And it’s expensive, right?
It’s very expensive and it, it depends on the day, the time of year, how busy they forecast the park to be is basically how it comes down. And so, um, I think when I was there in June it was approximately like 300 and something dollars each on top of your park tickets. So it was a Yeah, yeah. Per day.
So it was pretty pricey. Um, you can stay at a universal resort, um, one of their luxury resorts and you get it added automatically to your tickets. So sometimes that might be more cost effective for people. Um, in our situation it was just me and my husband and we were there for a few hours and we were like, that would be a cool thing to add to our ticket. And then when we asked and got the $300, we were like, No, that’s okay. We’re good. Um, if it was maybe $75 each, we probably would’ve entertained that, but $300 each was just inputted into no, that’s not, not, that’s not happening. So when you look at this like we were willing to pay something right? And Universal was like didn’t have a product to fit what we would’ve paid cuz we like to do things a little luxury but we’re also fr like we’re also just kind of frugal at the same time and so
Smart with your money, right? Like yeah you wanna get a little bit more out of the experience but you don’t necessarily wanna like, you know, lead your wallet dry,
Right? Especially when you know the kids back at the room with grandma and it’s, you know, we didn’t have to hire a babysitter per se, but we had a limited amount of time and we were willing to, you know, make the most use of that time. But $600 when you price it out for both of us was just too much. So Disney on the other hand, if we had been there, it’s like, oh do you wanna do Ride Atuie? We haven’t done that yet. It’s only $8 in the app and we could very much still spend $300 each walking around the world eating all the foods and getting these lightning lane fast passes. But um, it’s a very different experience cause it feels like it’s right in your hands and you have control of your vacation. And so, you know, not that one is better than the other, they definitely are different trips and different vacations, but it’s just interesting to see how you can feel really included or part of a secret club or something with Disney where like, Hey I can get this little add on here. .
That is so interesting. So like I’ve never been to Universal Studios in Orlando and I’ve never taken part of that. Um, what do they call it, A max pass or they’re just a fast pass. Got it. I’ve never really taken advantage of that, but I’ve been to Universal Studios in Hollywood or California and it was a bit different. Um, and it’s just like, it’s wild to me how expensive it is and I guess that’s really just a, a plan for them to get you to wanna stay in their luxury resorts because then it gets like locked in and it feels like an overall premium experience. That’s so interesting. You know, one really sort of exclusive and kind of like inclusive thing, I’m just gonna throw it out there that I really love about Disney World is the minivans. And we’ve talked about this like endlessly, but they’re bringing them back or they’ve been back already, they were sort of phased out during the pandemic.
And the one amazing thing I like about that is through their partnership with Lyft, they have these like pickup services that you can call if you need to like, you know, head from a park back to your hotel room without wanting to take the bus. And the beauty of it is they have car seats like built in which you’re a parent with a little one needs legally be in a car seat. It’s a pain in the butt. Like I don’t know about you, but hauling a car seat through the airport was not my favorite thing to do. And just the fact that, you know, I could go Disney World, leave my car seat at home and rely on minivans if I need to use something other than bus transportation to get around is really amazing. And the way that Disney does it, it kind of does feel like a more like fancier version of like an Uber Lyft because they’re these cute vans, they’re red with little like white polkadots like Minis bo and they’re all driven by cast members. So it has that like safety element in there too. And I just think that that’s such a neat service for Disney to have exclusively for their park goers. Like just car seats aside. If you um, want to take a shared ride service and you’ve never really taken Uber or Lyft because they don’t offer it in your town, it could be a little bit scary jumping into a stranger’s car, but at least with minivans you know that it’s a Disney employee. So to have that safety element in there as well.
Yeah, minivans are definitely one of those things that uh, are either beloved or absolutely hated. I think of
The community minivans,
Well I mean it’s just kind of the symbolism of Disney charging for every little thing they could possibly charge for, um, to some and people thinking it takes away from the other services that they offer to get people around. And from my point of view, I think it’s smart to have all these different modes of transportation. Especially like when you think about minivans, there’s a niche market for that, right? It’s people who wanna go from a resort to Disney Springs or from another resort to another resort. These are much more difficult to do with Disney’s regular, um, transportation network. But at the same time bus drivers are in high demand right now and it’s a very specific driving license that you need to be able to drive a bus versus minivans, which are just, you know, Chevy SUVs. So anyone can drive those so you know, it’s in their interest to kind of diversify the types of employees they need too. And if people are willing to pay for service and it offset some of the court costs, that’s great. So you know, for better or worse, some people love it because it’s so convenient and useful and um, in my opinion safer than probably an Uber or a Lyft and um, others think it just symbolizes Disney is nickel and diving ,
I have to make it different. Like again, the whole thing about like exclusiveness and really serving your customer is giving them different product services where they’re at and based on their needs and I think this solves like a very real need for a lot of families that go to Disney. But we can save that for another episode. One thing that I really wanna know about Nicole is at Disney World we have like our magic band, which has our tickets on it, or you can use the My Disney Experience app. What does the experience at Universal look like?
It was actually really strange to use the Universal app. Um, okay, I’ll say because I think I just came in expecting that, you know, Disney has this great system, you can get to everything from their app, you can, I mean even if you don’t have a Mickey Band, uh, magic band, you can open your room with the app on your phone or on your um, watch or whatever. So I just kind of expected that Universal will have copied that by now cuz this isn’t brand new technology for Disney. They’ve been building upon it for at least a decade. Um, and so I’m sorry
To sorry to jump in Nicole. Like one thing that I want to confirm is like, didn’t they have similar magic bandy type things at Great Wolf Lodge when you went there?
They did, actually, I forgot about that. They had a little band that you could use, um, to do the arcade and a couple of other things just basically, so you’re, you’re out of water, an indoor water park essentially, so they don’t, you’re not gonna walk around with the wallet. So they use this and I think a lot of water parks use something like this these days, so that way, so the
Buy is not like, yes and the technology is like, not like necessarily exclusive to Disney. It’s being seen in other theme parks. So yeah, it’s interesting that Universal hasn’t quite um, you know, jumped on that train yet.
Yeah, I’ll say that Universal app was very much like informational based. So yeah, you could see where you were on the location and see what restaurants were around you, but there was no like mobile order ahead. There was um, like the Disney app you can be like, here I am, I wanna get over there and it will actually like, give you directions on how to get there if you want to. So like that didn’t happen. But more importantly for me is like I thought all of my reservation information would be in the app so I could easily figure out like what room I was in. I stayed at Cabana Bay and it was a really large resort . So yeah, like just things like what was my room number again? And the thing that really floored me was they still have the ticketing system where you have a paper ticket and you, um, have to like use your fingerprint to get in.
And so we had some trouble with my kiddo trying to get his fingerprint right where it needed to be or whatever. I ended up using my fingerprint on it because I’ve done that at Disney before. But we had to each have our own paper ticket in our hand. I couldn’t be like, here’s our three understandably because staff is like, I, you, I see three in your hand, I can’t count how many people came through. So even my kid had to hold his ticket and like, it just was blind boggling to me that I couldn’t use the app or keep that information somewhere safe. And I’m literally like holding the ticket with my kid, making sure he doesn’t drop it because I don’t even wanna know what process I’d have to go through to go get a replacement ticket to get into the park if we were to try to switch parks or anything.
So that was really frustrating to like have to dig in my pockets to find paper tickets. They weren’t even plastic cards. So Disney, if you don’t have a magic band or anything like that, you, you can use a plastic card and you know, enough environmentally plastic is plastic but they also can, you know, get in your wallet that might get a little wet on water rides or like the paper tickets were just so crumbly and I, I don’t know, it just floored me. I was expecting a little bit more than just here’s a paper ticket, get into the park. Like it’s, you know, the old days . So in that way, I mean, yeah, I got into the park, it served as purpose, but there’s something really magical when you’re scanning into Disney and whether you’re using a card or a magic band or your watch or whatever, the little like Mickey ears, you know, light up, you get this big ding like you can go like, you’re ready, you’re in.
And it just kind of gives you those pictures of, you know, the old videos of Disney World where they have like the, the rope drop and everyone’s standing and waiting and like you kind of get that ding that that excitement, that pixie dust in when you’re walk in cuz you’re like, Oh I did it, I’m here. Um, you didn’t feel that at Universal. It was like, here, here’s my paper ticket, you scan it and then put your finger here and um, it just didn’t feel the same entering the park. Which I mean that’s my own taste too, .
No, but I think, I think it says something about making things a little bit more seamless and even like, like you said, exclusive, more personalized for your audience. So why don’t we talk about a couple ways that our, um, listeners at home can apply these principles to their business. Cuz let’s be real, not everyone has the budget to create magic bands for their customers. I mean, I wish I did, but I’m a couple billion dollars short of that. So, um, one tip that I wanna give everyone, and I feel like this is pretty basic, but I can’t tell you how many times actually don’t see this being done is one way that you can help convert people or make your customers feel more appreciated. Whether you’re a service based provider or you are selling products, is personalization in emails? I know, I know it sounds so silly, but you know, when you open up an email it’s like, hi friend or hey, like you kind of know that’s being broadcasted to everyone, but what it says like, Hey Kel, and it mentions your names a couple times throughout. I mean, you might be savvy enough to know that this is going to more than just you, but it actually does help in terms of making the person on the other end feel like you’re communicating with them one on one, which can really foster that connection and you know, sort of increase the exclusivity of your brand because you are really, um, welcoming people and really making that connection with them.
So I know that that’s more about like the marketing side of things. So when it comes to selling, Yasmin actually mentioned this when she was talking about how Universals fast pass system is kind of this like one cost all in that is really priced in a way to make their luxury hotels look one more affordable or that you get more bonuses and exclusivity by being there. So definitely think about that in terms of the products that you have, right? So do you have something that’s kind of a gateway to something larger? Do you have something that can be the bonus to the larger thing that just makes the larger thing a no brainer? Because when you’re charging $300 for one person to have a fast pass and your hotel room is $600 a night, if that like early entry fast access to everything all at once is really important to you, that $600 a night suddenly in your head turns into $300 a night.
And so thinking about those things where you might have something that is really valuable as part of a bigger offer. So definitely look at those things. Um, I think while this is airing, we’ll still be in time for you to get ready for a Black Friday sale. So also consider how um, Disney has this kind of like ad hoc micro transaction just by the rides you want versus Universals get access to everything and how like which one of those paths you feel like fits best for your audience and the type of products that you sell when you’re going into something like Black Friday because you could do something that’s like all of my little products are all on sale, or you could have, you know, an all access path, big bundle or something like that. A big bundle of everything that you have.
One other strategy that I actually employ for one of my clients that really helps us drive sales is we do a gift with purchase, but the gift with purchase is an exclusive item that’s only available as a gift with purchase. So it’s not something that you can regularly buy in the store and yeah, yeah, we purposefully make it so it’s covetable so it actually gets people to spend a certain, um, basket size. So let’s say it’s like free with a $50 purchase in order to get that, which increases our purchases. So again, that’s something that’s like the Universal hotels, What it reminded me of is, you know, if you’re springing for that, well then you get this item so it gets sort of bundled in there and thus the investment that you’re making in the the other products makes it worthwhile because you’re getting this one item that you really want for sort of air quotes free.
Yeah, and you know, having been a consumer who’s had to buy a few things lately for a friend, they have a lot of those out there and I would just caution you when you’re doing it to plug and play with your carts as if you were a customer, see what they would add, see what they need to do in order to reach that threshold to get the free item or the free shipping or whatever it may be. Um, because it happened twice in the last week trying to send some gifts to a friend and I was at like $49 and I needed to be at 50 in order to get, it might have been free shipping, but it was like, okay, so I need to get two pairs of socks and this and that to get over that threshold and then it became like a $75 order and I wasn’t willing to spend that.
I really wanted to stay around 50. So definitely look at that experience because yes, you want to entice people to get to that threshold, you want them to spend more to get there, but you want their cart. If you take your most popular sellers and put them in a cart and they add up to $38, having a $50 threshold makes sense cuz then they gotta add, you know, a whole product and they’re basically getting shipping for free. But if your best sellers add up to $48 and your threshold’s 50, it might actually have an unintended side effect of abandoned carts because they’re mm-hmm. feeling like you purposely made it this way to make them spend more. So there’s a lot of psychology that comes into the marketing and selling, and I just want you to, to encourage you to pretend like your customer when you’re setting these up and try and break your carts, try and add a couple different things. Look at what it looks like and what it would feel like to someone when you’re deciding what that threshold level is. It doesn’t have to be $50, it could be 40, it could be 45. You can make it whatever number you want, but mm-hmm. , you know, just act like a customer for a little bit and see how that feels.
Thank you again for joining us for another episode of Pixie Dust and Profits. I hope you took something away from this episode. And as always, if you ever have any questions or any comments, please DM us on Instagram or comment on one of our posts. We’d love to hear from you. We’re @PixieDustandProfits on Instagram and hey, if you’re kind of feeling disorganized and you know you have all these new ideas and you’re not quite sure where they fit into your current business plan and you wanna get focused, we highly recommend that you check out our squirrel workbook. It’s all about helping you sort of, you know, shun shiny object syndrome and focus on the things that matter in your business. And you can get that at pixiedustandprofits.com/squirrel.
Thanks for joining us today. We’ll see you next time.