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Mickey Mouse vs. Chuck E. Cheese?

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  • Mickey Mouse vs. Chuck E. Cheese?

    Word is now coming out of Walt Disney World that the Mouse is looking to take on the Rat. As in: The biggest rodent in themed dining -- Chuck E. Cheese.

    That's the word that came out of a meeting that Chairman of Disney Parks & Resorts Jay Rasulo recently had with WDW managers. As part of the Walt Disney Company's new Regional Entertainment initiative, the Mouse is seriously considering building a chain of restaurants that would feature character dining. Where patrons would pay a premium price for the privilege of dining in a highly themed environment with their favorite Disney characters.
    As one unnamed exec who's familiar with this now-in-development project told me over this past weekend:
    "Character dining has always been very popular at our theme parks. Not to mention being incredibly profitable. So as we began exploring the idea of building a series of stand-alone Disney's Grand Resort hotels around the U.S., character dining was always a key component of that plan. Something we could offer that the other resorts in this same tourism center couldn't.
    But then -- as we began looking at what it would actually cost to build one of these Grand Resorts -- we began wondering: Would it be cheaper / more profitable in the long run if we just pulled the character dining experience straight out of these proposed hotels and then just did that as a stand-alone? See how the public would react to a highly themed restaurant that was well away from Disneyland or Walt Disney World that still gave them the chance to dine with Mickey Mouse, Jack Sparrow or their favorite Disney Princess."
    According to what the managers who actually attended this meeting with Jay are saying, Rasulo would like to roll out the prototype of this Disney Regional Entertainment concept sooner rather than later. More importantly, that there have already reportedly been some rather serious discusions about where the proof-of-concept version of this well-away-from-a-Disney-theme-park character dining experience should be built. With the Chairman of Disney Parks & Resorts supposedly mentioning Chicago as the city where the first of what will eventually be a national chain of restaurants would be built.
    Taken from: Jim Hill Media

    So, what are your thoughts on this? Do you think that a Character dining experience could work well outside of Disney parks?
    Last edited by Alchimedes; 10-02-2007, 11:35 PM. Reason: Hotlink to other forum

  • #2
    Re: Mickey Mouse vs. Chuck E. Cheese?

    Originally posted by DisneyRoyalty View Post
    So, what are your thoughts on this? Do you think that a Character dining experience could work well outside of Disney parks?
    Chuck E. Cheese busness model was never about "themed dining..." It has always been run on revinue generated from the games... The business itself has struggled since the video game industry turnned to console market...

    Things have changed a little...

    Having said that, I doubt Disney will enter a theme dining market...
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    • #3
      Re: Mickey Mouse vs. Chuck E. Cheese?

      Jay Rasulo is an *******.

      That is all.

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      • #4
        Re: Mickey Mouse vs. Chuck E. Cheese?

        If Disney did this it would have to be a completely different model than Chuck E Cheese.

        -The food would have to be much much nicer than the Crap E Cheese pizza. It would have to be near gourmet standards.
        -The concept would have to stray from the "play some cheap games while your parents wish they were dead" Okay, that's a bit strong, but Character Dining barely works with a buffet style situation. I'd hate to see them try and make it with a "eat a few bites of pizza and run around like crazy" model.
        -The staff would have to be at Disney Standards, which is far far more than I can say about any Chuck E Cheese.

        It could work, but I won't hold my breath.




        I also question everything that Jim Hill says. Is it just me or does all his "sources" sound remarkably the same... like his own writing.... I'm just saying.....Also to equate Disney Character Dining with Chuck E Cheese shows a remarkable ignorance to Disney Character Dining and Chuck E Cheese.
        St. Elizabeth, Patron Saint of Themed parks. Protect us from break downs, long lines, and used gum. Amen.

        "Dance like it hurts, love like you need money, and work when people are watching" - Dogbert




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        • #5
          Re: Mickey Mouse vs. Chuck E. Cheese?

          Very interesting. If done, Disney might actually be able to take Chuck E. Cheese to task on this, since Chuck does not have ANY national competition, so it needs some competition or it will stagnate.
          That said, CEC CMs (they are called Cast Members too, wonder where that idea came from?) are in general far far below Disney standards, and their walkarounds (just Chuck E. now since ALL of the other characters have been discontinued) are an absolute joke. I've been to many many Chuck E. Cheese's where Chuck comes out every couple of hours, is non-engaging, wanders around for 5 minutes and then goes back in so the the guy in the suit goes back to making pizzas or fixing their junky games.
          Disney could school them. It would be a wonderful opportunity to introduce children to the Disney brand, not just in over-priced t-shirts in the mall, but what is truly disney. The cast, and especially the characters. Imagine the cool shows and birthday parties Disney could come up with.
          "If we cut the budget are you going to be the one standing at the exit explaining to guests why the ride they just rode is a piece of crap?" - - John Lasseter

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          • #6
            Re: Mickey Mouse vs. Chuck E. Cheese?

            Again, I don't think the margins are worth going after nationally...

            Chuck E. Cheese isn't exactly a booming business worthy of competition... People don't want to plunk tokens in video games like they used to when their Wii at home is much more interesting...
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            • #7
              Re: Mickey Mouse vs. Chuck E. Cheese?

              Originally posted by thejoshualee View Post
              If Disney did this it would have to be a completely different model than Chuck E Cheese.

              -The food would have to be much much nicer than the Crap E Cheese pizza. It would have to be near gourmet standards.
              -The concept would have to stray from the "play some cheap games while your parents wish they were dead" Okay, that's a bit strong, but Character Dining barely works with a buffet style situation. I'd hate to see them try and make it with a "eat a few bites of pizza and run around like crazy" model.
              -The staff would have to be at Disney Standards, which is far far more than I can say about any Chuck E Cheese.

              It could work, but I won't hold my breath.
              I think you are focusing too much on the analogy used rather then the actual meat of the matter - Character Dining in stand-alone locations. CCheese is just an example of a themed experience, the comments don't really elude to disney trying to make an arcade or follow CCheese's model - just to put Character Dining in an offsite location.

              A comparison to maybe Rainforest Cafe would have been a better example.

              Given the popularity of the Character Dining in the parks - I'm not suprised they haven't done this already. But given the scars from the Disney Stores, I'm sure they are approaching such opportunities a little bit different now.

              Let alone diluting the value of the experience to start with! If you can go down and get pasta with Mickey any time you want... no one is going to pay the stupid prices at the parks
              Check out my blog - Coreplex: Rambling from inside the Grid


              Am I evil? yes, I am
              Am I evil? I am man, yes, I am

              Originally posted by sleepyjeff
              Disneyland was meant to be sipped not chug-a-lugged

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              • #8
                Re: Mickey Mouse vs. Chuck E. Cheese?

                Originally posted by flynnibus View Post
                Given the popularity of the Character Dining in the parks - I'm not suprised they haven't done this already. But given the scars from the Disney Stores, I'm sure they are approaching such opportunities a little bit different now.
                Exactly. If Disney were to do this they would need to be very careful of not oversaturating the market (a'la The Disney Stores) and price the experience appropriately.
                I believe there would be a strong demand for such an experience. I have several friends who have taken their kids to some events like this and loved it. Now whether Disney should build from scratch is the question. Maybe they should try to partner with a national restuarant chain and have sort of like a traveling dining event, much like Disney on Ice, so that it becomes more of a special event rather than normal occurance.
                ______________________________________________
                "Screw with my pixie dust at your own peril!" - Mr. Wiggins

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                • #9
                  Re: Mickey Mouse vs. Chuck E. Cheese?

                  Chuck E. Cheese is the worst. You can't compare the business models of Disney and this particular franchise (CEC Entertainment, Inc.). Although CEC has survived longer than anticipated, it has had a very rocky ride. Founded in 1977, and later purchased sometime in 1984 by Showbiz Pizza, stock prices have fluctuated dramatically.

                  I have found the best way to determine the stability of a public company is to watch the value of its stock on a regular basis. CEC is the trading symbol, check it out on e*trade or even google. You will notice that over a 6-month period it went from $43.83 to $26.17.

                  Disney should never follow any venture that Chuck E. Cheese explores.
                  Last edited by BoygunaSurf; 10-04-2007, 02:20 PM.
                  Ah, how strange! The molecules are so active now!

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                  • #10
                    Re: Mickey Mouse vs. Chuck E. Cheese?

                    If it is going to be "finer dining" than CEC (either buffet or sit-down, as opposed to order at counter, sit down and wait for a number/name to be called), then it would probably be important to cycle the characters once a week or so, in order to get repeat guests. Maybe have characters appear according to some historic event (Mickey's B-day, 70th Anniv of Snow White, etc.).

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                    • #11
                      Re: Mickey Mouse vs. Chuck E. Cheese?

                      A better model for them for nationwide chains is to look at the parks. Themed, but not necessarily screaming cartoons. Like the Blue Bayou or the Epcot restaurants... even Cosmic Ray's might be able to survive outside of the parks in certain situations.

                      People normally don't go to Chuck E. Cheese if they're above 9. Gamers are growing older. Nolan Bushnell is a gaming guy, not a pizza guy. Therefore, there's plenty to be learned there.
                      -Tim

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                      • #12
                        Re: Mickey Mouse vs. Chuck E. Cheese?

                        I agree, frumy.
                        I would venture to say that the reason they're looking into this is because the character dining is a very big hit at WDW. So much so, that some tourists can't even get in. PS/Reservations are booked solidly and early.
                        Downside to this is that the big moneymakers -- WDW hotels and admissions to parks -- might get hit as people won't feel the need to travel as often to WDW with character dining in the nearby big city.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Mickey Mouse vs. Chuck E. Cheese?

                          Frankly, I really do not get the connection to Chuck E Cheese, except it is just an assumption by the thread poster. Its not in the article quoted above.

                          It is a whole different animal, and it can manifest itself in several different ways. For example, they could go for a Princess and Pirate theme. Or an animated movie theme. Or Fab Five type characters. And I assume, since they are talking about it in reference to the experiences at the parks, the characters would not be cheap animatronics, but more like park Character dining.

                          Personally, I dont like character dining, because it interrupts the dining experience. But I know it is popular with the families at the parks, and I think it could work, in the right model. Weirder restaraunt concepts have stayed alive... like the aforementioned Charles Cheese... which I never thought would work way back when it started.

                          One suggestion: that they make the experience different over time... not run the same old characters through over and over. Just a thought. I wish them luck in it. It might work, but I dont see it being a money powerhouse.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Mickey Mouse vs. Chuck E. Cheese?

                            I think that a lot of people are getting sidetracked by the fact that the article mentions Chuck E. Cheese. It's not saying that Disney wants to make their own version of CEC with arcades and pizza, but using CEC as an example since CEC is one of the only character dining places out there.

                            I think that it could work out well for Disney, since there isn't really any competitors other than CEC and Disney would surely trounce them. Because Of course the restaurants would be nicer and done better, that's how Disney is, they have the money to do things right.

                            If they put these restaurants in only a few select locations then I don't think it would really take away from people visiting the parks. Say there is a family in New York that would love to take their kids to WDW but simply can't afford to spend hundreds on a vacation. Maybe the next best thing would take them to a character dining where they could still meet their favorite characters, and have a nice meal. And also, people don't go to the parks just to meet Mickey, they go for the whole experience of the parks, the rides, the characters, the parades, the atmosphere.

                            They already do character meet and greets at some locations outside of the Disney resorts, like the World of Disney store in New York City and at El Capitan theater in Hollywood. I think that having a few character dining places in select cities across the country could work.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Mickey Mouse vs. Chuck E. Cheese?

                              Originally posted by CaptainTeach View Post
                              Frankly, I really do not get the connection to Chuck E Cheese, except it is just an assumption by the thread poster. Its not in the article quoted above.
                              Yes it is.. in the first sentence.

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                              • #16
                                Re: Mickey Mouse vs. Chuck E. Cheese?

                                Originally posted by DisneyRoyalty View Post
                                I think that it could work out well for Disney, since there isn't really any competitors other than CEC and Disney would surely trounce them. Because Of course the restaurants would be nicer and done better, that's how Disney is, they have the money to do things right..
                                I have seen businesses in the Bay Area that have used the proposed model utilising actors as thematic wait staff... It is nice, unique, fun...

                                But they are no longer in business...

                                The problem is in order to make the concept work you have to charge a premium and hire wait staff that is for the most part underpaid...

                                I am not convinced that Disney could pull this off even if it wanted to...
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                                • #17
                                  Re: Mickey Mouse vs. Chuck E. Cheese?

                                  Considering this info is coming from Jim Hill.....

                                  Yeah.

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                                  • #18
                                    Re: Mickey Mouse vs. Chuck E. Cheese?

                                    I am a bit skeptical about the idea. Sure character dining is incredibly successful, but wheres the magic in explaining that mickey and friends are all over the county at the same time? Also I think it wouldn't be as special, like it is when its incorporated with a resort vacation...
                                    You can't talk S*** unless your gonna do something about it...

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                                    • #19
                                      Re: Mickey Mouse vs. Chuck E. Cheese?

                                      If I remember right here in the Phoenix market we had two places that were Disney that operated similar to CEC. Larger scale with no characters, better food (more than just pizza for the kids,) video games, and McDonald's type playland on steriods, etc. It catered to kids birthday parties. The only one I went to was the one in the area we call Arrowhead. I just remember that when it closed it was bought out by another group and named it something like The Jungle. I remember going to it after Disney had pulled out and laughing at the fact that they still had the hidden Mickey carpet in place.

                                      I don't know how many of these places there were nationwide (heck I can't even remember the exact name) but unless they are completely changing the concept, they have already sort of ventured down this road.
                                      Stalking is when two people go for a long romantic walk together but only one of them knows about it.

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                                      • #20
                                        Re: Mickey Mouse vs. Chuck E. Cheese?

                                        Ahh yes, i believe it's name was Club Disney. It was sad that it was a big ripoff and had an age limit.

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