|Image from insidethemagic.com|
Saturday, August 3, 2013
Disney, D23, and Me
Disney fans have choices to make. There is no shortage of ways to spend your money on anything / everything Disney. And how you choose to spend your money earmarked, so to speak, for Disney really comes down to each fans business, tastes, and preferences. To criticize how someone else spends money on Disney neglects what you may have stuffed in your own closet.
Back in 2009 I guess, Disney announced it was going to create a special insiders fan club named D23 – D for Disney and 23 for 1923, the year Walt made it to Hollywood to begin his remarkable story. Many people rejoiced thinking that at last there was something for them to put them on the inside track for special access to their own enhanced Disney experiences. But many others, like me, were immediately cynical about the concept.
Disney is a multi-billion dollar corporation run by college type executives that serves its shareholders by giving them return on their investment. Disney does nothing for its fans without an ulterior motive that affects bottom line profits. So once you put D23 in that perspective, one can see what the D23 fan club truly is – another Disney revenue stream, another way for Disney to separate money from its legions of fans.
So for the first year, Disney charged $75 a person per year to be a D23 member (no family plans here). For that $75 you did get a beautifully published quarterly magazine, some charter member trinkets, and the opportunity to purchase exclusive D23 merchandise and gain access to exclusive D23 events that were to be held around the country. And of course there would be a D23 Expo were members could get a discount off the steep admission price and enter a convention that would give them ample opportunity to spend even more money. D23 is all about money.
But after the initial excitement, cracks began to appear in the D23 model. $75 a person, per year? Why would four people in the same family all need a magazine? D23 events? Unless you lived within a 100 miles of Disney headquarters in Burbank, events were few and far between across the rest of the country. Orlando held some D23 events but compared what the Disney Studios could offer; WDW most definitely came up short on the D23 side. I remember one Disney World fan website get so excited about the events that were coming Florida and how the D23 Expo would be held in Orlando every other year. Boy did that guy miss the boat. Disney is a Southern California based company. That’s where the good stuff is. That’s where the access to major Disney stars and celebrities exists. That’s where the key people that make the big decisions that run the company live and work.
Then there is the numbers question. The number of Disney fans in not unlimited. Once everyone who wanted to become a D23 member became one, there was no room to grow. The numbers stagnated then began to reduce as people jumped off realizing that D23 brought them little. So Disney added a second tier of pricing at about half off the $75 but eliminating the magazine (which really is pretty nice). But Disney’s ultimate goal, even at half off, remained the same. People with D23 membership will still spend money on D23 merchandise and events.
So now here we are a after little over 4 years D23 first started at staring at the next D23 Expo that begins this Friday. These days, there is so little excitement about D23 that Disney took the next step with their fan club and added a “free” membership to D23 hoping that membership would trigger into bringing crowds to the Expo at a discounted members price. But as we a taught from childhood, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Once in D23, Disney’s hope is you continue to buy stuff and support the program. For people who enjoy what D23 offers - go right ahead. I’m a Disney fan. Just don’t need to spend any more money than I already do.