JCL Blog

The Ultimate Walled Garden

I spent some time yesterday at Disneyland – the ultimate physical walled garden.  I can only marvel at Disney’s success in controlling every part of the experience.  From the music playing everywhere to the delicate balance of the wait times, to the happy and helpful staff, to the cleanliness, to the renewal found in the new additions, it is hard not to be impressed.

Of course none of this compares to the impressive marketing effort that brought me here for the fourth time since my girls were born – and manages to fill the park just about every day of the year.

Later this spring I am taking the girls to New York City – the ultimate open environment.  My mind is full of all of the potential contrasts – and I can hardly wait to hear what they think.

I was relieved that my girls elected to go to the beach today instead of back to Disneyland.  I have not deciphered their reasons for not going back, but here are mine for being relieved:

  1. Coffee:  For some reason Nescafe has the exclusive for coffee in the park.  I do enjoy good coffee and being in an environment where it cannot be found at any price is downright disorienting.
  2. Pricing:  The pay at the gate, wait in line, pricing construct is a highly complex business case to be sure.  Once in the gate we pay for rides with our time and the purveyors offer rides at a level that I suspect is just sufficient to prevent the customers from resorting to violence.  In the seven hours we were in the park we got in 9 rides (about 5 mins duration each), waited in line about half an hour each, and consumed one meal of unremarkable quality, and got a fair amount of exercise walking around.
  3. Recommend it?  Strangely yes – as long as your kids are 10 or under.  Mine are 10 and 12, so I don’t think we will be back.

So what?  The connection between Disneyland and Steve Jobs is hard to miss.  Pixar is everywhere in the park these days and Steve Jobs is in fact the largest shareholder in Disney.  The Apple customer experience is the Disneyland walled garden of computing.  The iPad looks like it will be building another layer of bricks on the wall and the growing rift with Google and Amazon leads me to believe this trend will continue. 

I recently replaced all of the Macs in our house with PCs – mostly in response to Apple’s efforts to control every part of the experience. 

It will be interesting to see if the Apple marketing machine continues to keeps its park as full as Disneyland does.