Has Disneyland Paris lost its magic? What can Sports organisations learn?

walt disney castle
Photo by Benjamin Suter on Pexels.com

This year my family booked a trip to Disneyland Paris, over the New Year Celebrations.

We have been before and thoroughly enjoyed the experience and we were well aware that the New Year is a particularly busy time in the Parks.

The overall experience got me thinking how sports teams and clubs can learn from my Disneyland experience, so I have included top line thoughts for the #SportsBiz or #SportsMarketing reader.


This blog outlines my personal thoughts:

  1. Too many people in the Parks. 

As mentioned before, the New Year is a particularly busy time in the Parks. But there were far too many people allowed into the Parks which definitely affected the overall experience. I understand Disney are here to make money especially over key holiday periods, but at what cost to the overall experience?

Many of the faces of parents were not only tired but they looked as if they had the life sucked out of them by battling through the long queues for rides and food together with the battle of walking down main Street USA!  I didn’t see too many happy faces towards the end of each day!!!

What can sports learn:

Sports clubs and teams must ensure their experience is excellent on game day and non game days.

A review should be conducted by the club or team – if they sell out any given match, how would the extra fans affect the overall experience? What measures can be put in place to ensure the club can cope with additional people while not affecting the quality of the experience.

  1. Queues were far too long.

Queues were far too long for rides and food/drink – this resulted in a terrible experience for those ‘guests’ in the Parks.

What can sports learn:

Clubs and teams should be aware of busy times pre, during and post a game in terms of ticket collection, access to the stadium and purchasing food and drink, providing additional kiosks and staff to cope for those busy periods. In addition, technology should be used to keep fans in the loop regarding longer queues around the stadium, directing fans to smaller queues where possible.

During one of the days there was a queue for ice cream with only one person serving.  It took approx 15 mins for me to get near the front of the queue. I left the queue frustrated and with no ice cream!

What can sports learn;

If you are offering food or other service, make sure it is well staffed. If not, this could result in fans simply walking away (like I did) and missed sales.  Clubs must ensure proper staffing is in place especially during key holiday periods to cope with additional fans.  Maybe ‘pop up shops’ could be used to reduce queues.

Also, a club or team should seek to introduce new technology to help improve the experience. This could include introducing cashless payments.

3. The Quality and range of food.

The Quality and range of food was poor (chips, burgers etc) which were served ‘lukewarm’. Several times I had ask servers for my food to be served hot.

What can sports learn:

Food and beverages can have an important impact on the fans experience at a stadium. Clubs or teams should conduct regular research with fans to gauge their feedback on the quality and variety of food and beverages on sale. In addition, good suppliers/partners and well trained staff should be employed by the club with clear KPIs on the quality of service.

4. Queueing for the bus back to the hotel.  

There was no queueing system in place for buses, outside the Parks, to take ‘guests’ to a number of hotels around the area. On one evening we witnessed fights and verbal abuse happening between those who had just come out of the Park. People were jumping the queues causing altercations with those who had been waiting patiently for the next bus.  I know this is not Disney’s direct responsibility for those hotels outside their control but they have to play some part in ensuring this experience is much better.  Afterall, the reasons why these hotels are there in the first place is due to the Parks!  In addition, for kids to witness adults fighting and abusing one another is surely not part of the magic of Disney.

What can sports learn: 

I believe a club or team has an obligation to the fans for whole journey on game days.  Clubs and teams should work closely with local transportation, local businesses and accommodation providers to ensure the best service as possible is delivered for the fans to make sure they come back many times during the season.

5. Fast track system is still paper based. 

‘Guests’ must go to the attraction to request their fast pass. A printed ticket is issued with a timeslot to return to the attraction to gain access to the fast pass lane. Yet in Disney World, Florida, the fast passes are obtained via the Disney app. A much better experience.  The fast pass system at Disneyland Paris needs to be digitalised like Florida – and fast!!!

What can sports learn: 

Clubs and teams should conduct research with fans in terms of information they require on game day that contributes to a positive match day experience. This could cover areas such as: engaging and relevant team/game day content, parking information, ordering food and drink from your mobile inside the stadium, updates on queues pre game and at half time and more. If deployed correctly, technology can be used to improve the experience.


Final thoughts 

What do Disneyland Paris need to do?

– Get back to basics and ensure the experience is improved especially during busy periods.

– Reduce the amount of people allowed into the Parks during busy times (I know this is highly unlikely due to €€€€ but it is  something that requires serious discussion).

– Improve the quality and range of food with more healthy options available.

For sports clubs and teams, make sure you’re asking fans for feedback, start to measure the overall fan experience and create a clear action plan (and owner) to ensure the experience is consistently brilliant.


About me

Geoff runs his own Sports Consultancy, working with clients such as FIFA, UEFA, AFC and FIBA across the world. He is also on the board of Tourism Northern Ireland. You can follow Geoff on twitter @geoffwnjwilson connect on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/geoffwnjwilson

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