President Obama delivered a speech from the
last Thursday, January 19, 2012. It’s
not that I had a team or roving reporters from the field; I had friends who happened to be visiting
Walt Disney World Resort and were texting me to keep me informed. President Obama declared in his speech to
support tourism that “ Magic Kingdom
is open for business.” So what does all
of that mean? America
? Walt Disney World Resort has over 32 million
guests per year, but actual numbers are a well guarded industry secret. Cinderella’s Castle is an icon recognized
world wide and is known as one of the world’s most photographed locations. What would be a better backdrop for a speech
to support tourism? Magic
Also, the location could be controlled . . . access, etc. My friends indicated that the
would close after the first 25,000 guests entered the gates. Guests were routed through a backstage area
in Tomorrowland to gain access to the park, and then were allowed access to
other areas of the park by walking behind Cinderella’s Castle. No crossing the hub, which was blocked for
the speech and security reasons. There
was also no access to Magic Kingdom
until the speech was over and the area had been cleared. Ironic, isn’t it? While the idea of Main
Street, U.S.A. America
being open for business was touted, guests were unable to get to Get it? Main Street, U.S.A.
Anyway, Walt Disney World Resort compensated guests who might have had some limitations to making magic during their vacation due to the Presidents’ visit by offering extended hours at other parks, more entertainment options at other parks, and a nighttime fireworks display at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Way to go Disney! Another reason we keep coming back!
What does it mean that
is open for business? I watched the 11, almost 12 minute speech on
line later on Thursday. The President
proposed that travel visas be easier to obtain in more countries and processed
faster for countries, especially America China,
India, and who have
growing middle classes and economic means to travel. Another proposal was marketing our country
world wide as a tourist destination for National Parks, iconic cities, natural
beauty, historic destinations, and theme parks.
The basic theme is that tourism is a way to grow our nation’s economy. I can get behind those ideas. Brazil
What does it mean for us? Interestingly, the Disney boards and forums are popping right now with complaints that Brazilians have taken over the parks. Yes, there are many Brazilian tour groups that make twice annual pilgrimages to Walt Disney World—January and July. Complaints about the large noisy groups, line jumping, and public displays of affection abound. We were last at the World in July and witnessed line cutting, washing of hair in bathroom sinks, and attempts to guard Fastpass machines—which is a story the husband loves to tell—from members of various Brazilian tour groups. I hesitate to claim that all Brazilian tour groups behave in this manner, and obviously we aren’t paying attention to those who are operating within expectations.
My personal response to the unacceptable behavior is to make eye contact with the offenders and say, “no” which is understood in many languages. The husband would say that I have a “presence” and it came in handy a few times during our trip in July to at least temporarily halt inappropriate behavior from members of Brazilian tour groups. But, I would do the same for offenders of any nationality.
Having visited foreign countries myself, I would never knowingly commit a social faux pas and I’m sensing that many visitors to our country would feel the same. And, to quote Oprah, “when you know better, you do better.” So, let’s make sure our guests know better. My idea: Provide a TV channel to be played at the Disney Resorts, or even throughout
that instructs on park rules, expectations, and etiquette in multiple
languages. I know there would be a way
to advertise park amenities, products, or services throughout the messages,
making it multi-purpose. This same idea
could be used in other heavily traveled tourist destinations. Orlando
So, it may mean crowds at certain destinations . . . even beyond theme parks.
What about languages? While many visitors to the
already speak English, I
certainly hope that the folks who are in charge of placing staffs at National
Parks, historic destinations, iconic cities, and theme parks are considering
multilingual employees or employees with various language capabilities. It may be beneficial to have tourist
information in multiple language formats just like we find directions for
assembly for electronic devices and toys. U.S.
I volunteer at our local events center. In fact, I have spent time there the last 3 out of 4 days. The center provides a location for events big and small and a home for theater productions. The center has been fodder for controversy among members of our city and city council, as expectations for the center to be profitable or not be a burden to tax payers have surfaced. When volunteering there on Saturday, I was able to inform a fellow citizen that event centers such as ours, even in bit cities, do not typically run in the black. Their purpose is to offer events and draw crowds so that other local businesses—restaurants, shops, gas stations, and hotels make a profit. The more people in our community who understand that the better. The same concept is behind “
for business.” Let’s offer our National
Parks, iconic cities, historic locations, and theme parks to the world so that
our businesses can make a profit. That’s
an idea I can get behind. America