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The Executive Behind Walt Disney World’s MyMagic+ Will Leave The Company

Nick Franklin has decided to pursue new challenges after 17 years with the Mouse.

by
Chris Queen

Bio

May 22, 2014 - 1:00 pm

Nick Franklin

Disney Parks has announced that Nick Franklin, who held the cool title of Executive Vice President for Next Generation Experience at the company, is leaving Disney after 17 years.¬†Franklin spearheaded the massive My Magic+ effort and has served the longest on Disney Parks Chairman Tom Staggs’ Executive Committee.

“Nick let us know that after 17 successful years with Disney, he wanted to help other companies innovate in how they provide products and services to their customers, much like he did here in leading the development of MyMagic+,” Disney spokeswoman Kim Prunty said. “We want to thank Nick for his tremendous accomplishments throughout his tenure with Disney.”

In 2009, Disney tapped Franklin, then the head of its global business and real-estate development teams, to lead a secretive project that was referred to internally as “NextGen.” That work ultimately produced MyMagic+, the many-tentacled technology project at Walt Disney World that includes a reservation system allowing visitors to book attraction times up two months before their trips and microchip-embedded wristbands that interact with sensors installed throughout the resort.

Franklin served as essentially a CEO for the MyMagic+ project, and his team grew from 35 to more than a thousand employees. The company has already hailed Franklin’s efforts as a success, despite rumors that the effort went over budget and took longer to implement than expected. Disney is looking to expand the program beyond Walt Disney World.

Although Disney executives have been hesitant to discuss MyMagic+’s financial performance, they say Disney World visitors are embracing the technology. The company’s chief financial officer, Jay Rasulo, told analysts recently that more than 75 percent of guests staying in Disney-owned hotels are now reserving ride times ahead of their trips, as are more than 25 percent of day visitors.

The company says that guests who plan more of their trip schedules in advance ultimately spend more time and money at Disney World, rather than visiting rival attractions. The project, which includes enhanced data collection, is also designed to make purchases easier and to give Disney more personal information about its guests, ultimately leading to more spending on food, souvenirs and other items.

Franklin also negotiated the deals that led to Hong Kong Disneyland and the forthcoming Shanghai Disneyland.

All Chris Queen wanted to be growing up was a game show host, a weather man, or James Bond. But his writing talent won out. By day, Chris is a somewhat mild-mannered church communications director, but by night, he keeps his finger on the pulse of pop culture and writes about it. In addition to his Disney obsession (as evidenced by his posts on this website), Chris's interests include college sports -- especially his beloved Georgia Bulldogs -- and a wide variety of music. A native of Marietta, GA, Chris moved with his family as a child to nearby Covington, GA, where he still makes his home. He is an active charter member of Eastridge Community Church and enjoys spending time with family and friends. In addition to his work at PJ Media, Chris spent nearly a year as a contributor to NewsReal Blog. He has also written for Celebrations Magazine and two newspapers in Metro Atlanta. Check out his website, www.chrisqueen.net.

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Not mentioned is the fact that those visitors who do not stay at Disney hotels or book attractions in advance are forced to deal with longer lines for the more popular rides. You cannot decide to visit Disney World at the last minute and have a good time. You will spend 90+ minutes waiting in line for "Soarin'" while tech junkies happily stroll down the "fast pass" lane.

You cannot arrive at the park mid-day and expect to do anything but wait in line, because all the fast pass times have by then already been booked. Not everyone, after all, wants to show up at 8:59 and run like the devil to a kiosk to book fast passes. What good is a fast pass reservation for 8:15 pm when you have to be the kiosk at 9:01 to get it? (That is how Disney makes money. You are forced to spend more time in the park as you kill time waiting for the fast past time.)

Disney has made the experience worse for people who simply want to have a leisurely vacation. It isn't worth $100+ per person per day to wait in line and eat lousy, overpriced food. If I enjoyed waiting in line for crappy food I would have stayed in the U.S. Army.
21 weeks ago
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