To: Bob Iger
The Walt Disney Company
July 12, 2023
Allow me to introduce myself. I am a lifelong — literally — Disney fan, bordering on fanatic. She who is my wife and I are a Magic Key holders for Disneyland even though we live several hundred miles away. Despite the distance, we visit Disneyland and Disney California Adventure as often as opportunity permits, usually three or four times a year. We were annual pass holders for many years before that program was discontinued during the COVID panicdemic. We will be married 40 years this October.
I write to you regarding the utter botch job that was yesterday’s online Oogie Boogie Bash ticket sale. For the uninitiated, Oogie Boogie Bash is an after-hours event at Disney California Adventure held on numerous nights during the Halloween season. It features trick-or-treating, assorted Disney characters wandering about, light shows, and if memory serves me right a parade. Plus, of course, special merchandise for the event. After all, this is Disney we’re talking about.
It is worth noting that I work in retail, thus fully understand the frustration of bearing the brunt of a customer’s wrath over situations about which one has no control. It’s not like you personally were responsible for the assorted system and systemic failures that ruined the Oogie Boogie Bash ticket sale experience for so many. However, you are the boss, and the sign on Harry Truman’s desk about the buck stops here applies to you in this matter.
My wife and I have dealt with the continuous price increases for everything involved with the parks. We have dealt with the attendance philosophy of cramming as many people per square inch into the parks as possible. Throughout it all, we have remained loyal and steadfast fans, not begging for special favors but accepting what is and still enjoying the experience. Regrettably, Disney seems intent on making this as challenging to maintain as possible.
We have attended Oogie Boogie Bash several times over the years and enjoyed the experience. Originally we were going to take a pass on attending this year, as the price has risen to the level where the experience, albeit enjoyable, is far lower in value than the cost. However, as mentioned above, our 40th wedding anniversary is coming up. As we were already going to be in Southern California one of the weekends while the event is taking place, we thought we’d splurge a bit as an early anniversary present for ourselves.
Due to this thing commonly referred to as “the job,” which for some strange reason frowns on employees spending time on their phone trying to buy event tickets as opposed to, say, stocking shelves and helping customers, I was unable to attempt either the Magic Keyholder pre-sale or the initial public sale. Based on the nearly innumerable quantity of comments on assorted Facebook pages for and by Magic Keyholders, IT issues at your end rendered these attempts by others as failures.
Having a closing shift yesterday, I figured — erroneously, as it turned out — that between the 9 AM starting time for the queue and my shift beginning at 2 PM, there would be time to buy tickets for the September 24 date, as it was the only date we would be able to attend. I mean, five hours for an automated system, even one with a lengthy history of failure such as the one necessitating halting ticket sales the first day to be resumed yesterday, should easily prove doable, right?
Um, wrong, as the queue closed after eleven hours, with my progress bar never moving past the halfway point. And yes, I tried using other browsers and machines.
I can handle things selling out. It happens. Annoying, but life continues. What goes far beyond annoying is when a multi-billion dollar company cannot figure out how to efficiently run a website that it knows will have heavy traffic yet cannot implement the proper software, server space, and bandwidth to handle the demand of legitimate customers while filtering out bots looking to buy as many tickets as possible strictly for resell. There is no excuse for this level of incompetence and indifference to loyal customers.
I have already detailed these issues directly to Disneyland’s guest relations department, fully aware that all I will garner in return is a generic “we’re sorry — but hey, come spend money on us anyway for all our other Halloween stuff!” Such verbiage ranks alongside what would happen if a customer came into my store — for the record, it is a sporting goods store — looking for a new baseball bat and my replying that we’re all out of them, but you can buy this spiffy new workout ensemble instead. The response would not be positive.
Yesterday and the inevitable generic response to it does not constitute customer service. It is a creator of consumer goods taking its customers for granted and adding a dash of insult along the way. Disney is a luxury, not a necessity, as is evidenced by your recent movies tanking and your streaming service hemorrhaging red ink. Even you have said park attendance and experience is overpriced (https://www.businessinsider.com/disney-ceo-bob-iger-tickets-theme-parks-too-expensive-wsj-2022-11). This is your response? Back-end incompetence and smug indifference?
My wife and I will still joyously celebrate our wedding anniversary … somewhere else that actually wants our money. It will not be with anything Disney-related, and I wouldn’t heavily wager on any further celebrations being with you either. There is much truth in the saying, “Never push a loyal person to the point where they no longer care.” If I am reading the room correctly, my wife and I are far from the only ones who, going forward, will prove this point.
One Ticked Off Disneyphile
PS: Congratulations on the job extension, I guess.