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Disney’s New Parking Deck Was Magical

I recently went to Disney World with my family like most every year. I am constantly in awe by what Disney attempts and achieves. A couple years ago, I was fascinated by Disney’s MagicBands. This year, I was fascinated by… their new parking deck at Disney Springs (formerly “Downtown Disney”)!

From the outside, the parking garage looks normal, if not massive with 3,000 spaces spread across 5 levels. When you enter, you see a sign with the number of spaces per level. This is pretty normal. I’ve seen this before and often questioned their accuracy.

What does get interesting is when you pull into the deck and see counts of available spaces per row.

Telling me how many spaces per row?! Now that just goes beyond what most parking areas do. Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport’s parking deck is big and complicated with one-ways and angled entries and exits. When I’m frantically searching for a parking spot because I’m running late for my flight, more detail with counts per lane would be amazing. 

To tell counts, Disney uses sensors above each parking space. (See the sensors hanging from the ceiling above each space in the picture below?)

Further, the sensors are equipped with lights – red and green from what I saw, but unsure if there are other hues. These are fantastic as you look down each row to see where the available spots are.

Wow, these are pretty cool. The parking deck is also FREE for everyone, which comes as a surprise (and very welcome relief) considering the high costs for every other attraction. Implementation of these sensors must come at a hefty price. Disney is, once again, banking on a consumer’s entire visit experience today and in the future to reap returns.

The sensors also give Disney another stream of data. I’m unsure what is in each sensor, but the fact that they have them may allow Disney to do some traffic and parking pattern analysis. Perhaps they even have little cameras that they can also analyze types of cars, license plates, etc. to better understand where consumers are coming from.

Further, Disney is consolidating parking options at Disney Springs into this deck and another one. Disney’s theme parks and resorts have pretty good ideas on volume of guests via tickets or room accommodations. However, Disney Springs is a large outdoor shopping and eating experience with no real “gate” or ticketing. Thus, I don’t think Disney has good visibility on visitors to the Springs. With the parking deck’s sensors, Disney can now have a data stream that can be used as a proxy for guest count. Moreover, it allows the company to direct consumer experience via its flow of people through specific entry and exit points.

Disney is a massive corporation touching on everything from sports with ESPN to some of the finest resorts all over the globe (check out Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge) and incredibly expansive theme parks. Each resort, each theme park is a large business unit in itself with acute attention to detail. I can be surprised by how Disney is able to push such great technology (and adoption) amongst its vast corporation. However, I can also see the beauty and need to be aware by leveraging technology to constantly amaze visitor experience because of its size.

So take a second and think about Disney and all that it touches… pretty magical, right?


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