Disney has fired the latest salvo in the theme park Customer Experience wars, announcing a Star Wars themed resort where guests will become part of the world of Jedi, droids and the Galactic Empire.
“It’s unlike anything that exists today,” said Bob Chapek, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “From the second you arrive, you will become a part of the Star Wars story! You’ll immediately become a citizen of the galaxy and experience all that entails, including dressing up in the proper attire. Once you leave Earth, you will discover a starship alive with characters, stories and adventures that unfold all around you. It is 100% immersive, and the story will touch every single minute of your day, and it will culminate in a unique journey for every person who visits.”
This new resort promises to offer a different sort of customer experience to Star Warsfans who can afford it. The immersive concept sounds a lot like HBO’s wildly popular series Westworld, though presumably Disney won’t give its guests fully functioning light sabers so they can mow down real-life stormtroopers (or, God forbid, each other)!
Immersive Experiences Create Memories that Drive Loyalty
Over the past few years, theme parks have been investing in elaborate worlds that put visitors in touch with the sights, sounds and tastes of popular movies. Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter has greatly boosted attendance at its parks. Disney recently opened Pandora, based on the movie Avatar, and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is slated to debut in 2019.
All of this is good CX strategy. We know from our research that a customer’s experience is based largely on emotional factors. By tapping into stories and characters that guests already have an emotional attachment to, theme parks have a head start on designing a customer experience that will spark positive emotions. These positive emotions mean guests spend more time and money in the park and go home to rave about the experience to their friends.
Themed worlds let visitors continue their emotional connection after the ride is over. It’s not just a Harry Potter roller coaster anymore – you can stroll through Diagon Alley, see a fire-breathing dragon and relax with a Butterbeer at the Leaky Cauldron.
These immersive “worlds” tap into an important factor that builds long-term loyalty: customer memories. As our research has shown, and as Prof. Ryan Hamilton and I discuss in detail in our book, The Intuitive Customer, customers’ memories of their experience, more than the experience itself, create true loyalty and long-term value.
The Star Wars Resort Takes Things a Step Further
The Disney and Universal theme parks already do a good job of creating memories, from the chance to meet Cinderella to riding the Hogwarts Express. And the new Star Wars park will reportedly take this to a new level by allowing you to fly the Millennium Falcon and giving your actions real-world consequences.
The Star Wars resort promises guests a chance to engage with the Star Wars story on a deeper emotional level, actually becoming part of the story throughout their visit. This sort of specialized experience appeals to the inner snob in each of us as well as making the Disney park more alluring for people who aspire to stay at the resort, but can’t afford it. Just seeing the resort’s role-playing guests can enhance the experience for everyone else in the same way we enjoy seeing celebrities or the inside of an opulent mansion.
I’m thinking that this Star Wars resort sounds like a lot of fun. I’ve always wanted to wield a lightsaber. I’m just hoping they don’t expect me to fit into an R2-D2 costume!
Would you want to stay at the new Star Wars resort? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.
Find out more about the important part emotions play in your Customer Experience, how to evoke them and drive value, in our book The Intuitive Customer: 7 imperatives for moving your Customer Experience to the next level.
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Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s leading Customer experience consultancy & training organizations. Colin is an international author of six bestselling books and an engaging keynote speaker.
Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter @ColinShaw_CX