Leave it to Disney to lead the way.

Fact:  Times Square would not look the way it does today without Disney.

When I first moved to the city in the early 90s, 42nd Street was still a disaster of crack addicts and run down movie theaters, and this weird corner hot dog stand.

And then Disney was the first corporation to commit to a presence on the seedy block with the New Amsterdam Theatre.  And with that, they became the cornerstone of the redevelopment of 42nd Street, which blossomed into the redevelopment of Times Square, which is one of the reasons NYC has more tourists than ever and another reason why Broadway business boomed in the last couple of decades.

So, regardless of what some of you may think of the ‘corporatization’ of The Great White Way, The Mouse has done a massive amount of good.

And they continue to lead the way in a variety of areas, especially in customer service.

Last week I published a blog about Broadway’s return policy (or lack thereof), and not too long after I received an email from a big Muckety Muck over at the Mouse House making sure I knew about their new public ticketing policy for Aladdin.  

What’s that policy?  Well, it’s basically what I described in that blog.

You can exchange your tickets – for a $12 fee (that is waived if you do it where you bought the tickets within a 24 hour period.)  You can read the full policy here.

I’ve always heard that Disney was pretty liberal with exchanges (and even refunds (!)) since customer loyalty is so important to them since their brand crosses over so many different mediums, from theme parks to movies and more.  And, let’s face it, they can afford to be more liberal, since they have a market cap of 134.26 billion dollars.

But what’s awesome about their new advertised policy is that customers will win when they need to exchange, and Disney will win, because they’ll make a few extra bucks in the process (that market cap may just go up a bit).

So the question is . . . now that Disney has led the way, and since they recently left their outlier status behind and became full members of the Broadway League, how long until all the other Broadway Producers (and theater owners – since that’s what it’s really going to take to change ticketing policy) follow suit?

I give it 18 months.  In 18 months, all of Broadway will be offering for-a-small-price exchanges.

Your prediction?

(If you want a great read on Disney and their customer service policies, check out this book.  Implement just one of their practices and your theatergoers will be oodles happier.)


(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

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  • Brad says:

    $12 is an interesting number. Why $12 and not $10? There must be some special Disney math behind that number.

    Pretty soon I predict that theaters will offer another, higher priced service for people who want to re-book seats when they missed a show.

  • George says:

    As a big Disney supporter…

    I have NOTHING but praise for company – and it’s pretty much summed up by “Saving Mister Banks” – what is so frigging bad about a “Happy Ending???”

    And I have NO comprehension why Disney – or any wildly successful company – should be attacked… because they are… wildly successful… don’t – we – want to be successful??? Honestly?

    But then I was never raised on “Socialism with a Smile” as my parents came from “Socialism is For Real” – so the whole class warfare, eat the rich, greed is bad but jealous is good mentality is just incomprehensible to me and my way of thinking…

    (Besides – no “corporation” ever stole money from me – I was free to spend it or not – but GOVT steals 40 cents on every dollar I make… has stolen $200K over my life for those in the front line of the greatest ponzi schemes in History and I can only hope not to be around when the House of Printing Money Cards finally does collapse…)

    So Kudos to Disney for thinking long-term about their Broadway audiences…

    Will the rest of Broaway follow suit?

    Naw, I don’t think so – I don’t think there is a long term view in the minds of most producers (there sure isn’t when it comes to the unions) – there seems to be a kamikazi “let me get mine outta this thing” before everything goes bye-bye and the whole apple cart is completely dependent on tourists being gouged by hotels, restuarant and hucksters… and that – too – ain’t going to last too much longer…

    It may be that Disney ends up being the ONLY game in town… as they have the resources and business savy to keep going when most others will be tempted (for forced) to quit.

    Who else could put a “package” deal together, travel, hotel, restaurant and show… for one price – that is calculate down to the different between a $10 and a $12 expense per unit???

    Sooner or later – we must all come around to the fact that this is a – business – and the product is a “product” and that the audience is a customer… and a customer can be won or lost based on how much they like our “product” how much they are willing to pay… and how efficiently we can produce it.

    Take any of those three legs for granted and (save for govt subsidies) there is “sale”

    Look I LOVE Live Theatre – from Opera to Community Theatre – but the day I fool myself into thinking that it is anything more than a “product” to my customer… is that day I stopwasting my time… daydreaming…


  • Is Disney the only business model now? There are some great minds in the Broadway community – and they enjoyed great success BEFORE Disney took claim – and not only can they crunch numbers (financial profit as the sole measurement-what chance do the rest of us have?!) but they have creativity and imagination.
    Let’s see if anyone OUTSIDE the Disney community can arrive at another solution rather then a fee.
    Just for the record, when “Victor/Victoria” was running with Julie Andrews, she fell ill for a bit, and you could readily exchange your ticket for another night at no additional cost nor fee. Can’t recall other examples at the moment, but other shows have done this thru my many theater going years on Broadway and London’s West End.

  • A Contrarian says:

    I exchanged tickets not once but twice for “On the Twentieth Century” and got better seats each time — with no fee. Don’t know if it was Jujamcin policy or the producers of the show. Couldn’t do it across the street at a Shubert house — at least not officially/no questions asked.

  • George Rady says:

    Nope – the only “business model” is the one that turns a profit… and it can even be “One Off” (I am endeavoring to produce “Oliver” along just those lines… one production, two performances and that’s it!)

    But the production goal is to establish myself and start building – my – audience i.e. hey I just got an email from that guy who did that production of “Oliver” a while back… with 150 kids and professional Leads and Orchestra…. I wonder what he’ll be doing with this one???

    Disney if focused on LONG TERM commitment.

    They can even LOSE money on a “bad” movie like “Newsies” and still make beau coupe bucks by putting in – back – on stage (once their marketing showed that the film – despite being awful – attracted a cult following… and had some GREAT dance numbers that could pick up on the Dance Craze on television…

    That is thinking – comprehensively – about what you are really doing!

    And, as Ken said in one of his blogs “Anything that can be done Big, can be done small”

    Would I offer an exchange program to my “grown” audience??? I would be irresponsible – not – to consider it.


  • Tom Hartman says:

    For a lot of people, tourists included, a night at a B’way show is a major investment. A family of four comes to over $500 just for tickets alone. An exchange policy, even at a small fee, acts as insurance on this investment. I think we will see others follow Disney’s lead and I think it will help B’way business all around.

  • Robert H-P says:

    About six years ago,when our son was *just* old enough to attend Broadway plays, we went to the Lion King because a friend was playing Scar. We were very excited, told our son he’d get a backstage tour, got great seats, etc. Sadly, right before the curtain went down, our son started wailing he didn’t want to be there, and wouldn’t stop (distracting others).
    The ushers asked us to take him out, BUT gave us vouchers for a future show. Not only did they handle the whole thing very delicately and professionally (who wants to be told their kid is the bad apple?), but the voucher policy was a total surprise! Very pleased.

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