Back in Spring of 2015, I had one of the most emotional experiences ever in my life.
Yes, read that again.
Right before watching the Festival Of Fantasy parade, I visited Mickey Mouse. My family waited near Town Square. The wait time was 15 minutes. The only way to share my experience was my phone and my memories.
“You know Mickey, Rafael is coming all the way from Venezuela to visit!”, a Cast Member said.
“Venezuela? Great! I have a great idea. ¿Nos tomamos una foto juntos?”, Mickey said.
That moment when he talked to me and even mentioned my country, I knew that this was the next step in meet & greets. My heart started pounding, my eyes got teary, and I was just talking to the most famous mouse in the whole universe.
Disney Parks management thinks differently. Mickey has lost his voice in the past few days, as well as any hopes for expanding this great character interaction to other characters. There has been no official announcements.
Park management arguments this decision because people get confused when Mickey doesn’t talk in other Meet & Greets or even other characters. But we can look at the problem another way.
What if Disney could expand this initiative to more characters? Why should Mickey talk only in the Magic Kingdom?
This decision is, mostly, a cost cutting measure. As simple as that, without any PR pixie dust. It’s a shame to see not only Mickey go, but the possibility of expanding this technology to more interactive Meet & Greets. I imagined the possibilities to use this technology in controlled situations such as dining experiences, designated areas and even Disney hotels. If Meet & Greets have become such an important aspect of the Disney experience, why not invest fully in it?
I’m not sure if this is only a temporary decision due to the further investments for Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary, but I’m sure that the company could embrace this technology for other characters, even justify the cost by first operating them in ticketed events and later expand for the day to day guest.
Or it is just a case to make hard decisiones like getting rid of this great experience while management handles the new structure of Walt Disney Imagineering and further expansion in the parks.