LOS ANGELES --
Disney sees its entry into the group vacation market in Hawaii and
Wyoming as an evolutionary step firmly based on a core Disney
Lisa Haines, a
spokeswoman for Disney, put it this way: "We're using our
storytelling expertise to tell the great and fascinating stories of
the places we're visiting at each destination."
The stories, in
other words, will be fact-based rather than fairy tales. "Our goal
is to provide an authentic experience," said Haines.
To test the concept
this summer, Disney will take 75 families, about 400 to 450 loyal
customers, in groups of 35 or less, on one-week trips to Wyoming
and Hawaii. The company is recruiting its guests from Disney Cruise
Line, the Disney Vacation Club and the World of Disney retail store
in New York.
The groups will be
rigorously quizzed each step of the way to see what
itinerary, called Escape to Paradise, will include Oahu, the Big
Island and Kauai.
The Wyoming trip,
Quest for the West, will visit the Grand Teton National Park,
Jackson Hole and Yellowstone National Park.
The target is
Disney's existing customer base, "families who love to vacation
with Disney," Haines said, adding, "We know there's a market out
there. ... We think it's a perfect opportunity for us to
Will the Mouse
become an 800-pound gorilla in the tour market? Operators don't
think so, at least not yet.
"I don't perceive
it as any kind of a threat," said Classic Custom Vacations'
chairman, Ron Letterman. "The Hawaii market is serviced by some
pretty sophisticated operators. I think they [Disney] are going out
of their core competence. They built a business around Disney
locations, with advantages they gave themselves based on the parks
and their hotels. Going out of that, I think they are going to be
Hawaiian, a spokesman said, "Disney is certainly very good at
almost everything it does. It brings something new to the
marketplace, and that's good. If they include Hawaii's historical
and cultural information, that would be good because that's one of
the main reasons people go to Hawaii."
reporter David Cogswell, send e-mail to [email protected].