Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Disneyland is Escapism
While reading a review of Peter Jackson's "King Kong" remake a few months back, a quote resonated.
About Merian Cooper's classic 1933 movie, Jackson said: "The original Kong is a wonderful blend - probably the most perfect blend - of escapism and adventure, mystery and romance. It does everything an escapist movie should do: it takes you places you are never going to see and gives you experiences you are never going to have."
This definition of escapism could also fit Disneyland (and the whole classic Walt Disney experience) like a glove.
Lack of escapism is one reason the public has rejected Disney's California Adventure while still embracing good ol' Disneyland in its 50th year.
The Walt Disney Company marketers have become so fixated on mirroring the current consumer marketplace and lifestyle ("hip 'n' edgy, "relevant and compelling"), that they have forgotten that Disney's primary commercial niche has always been to transcend the dullness of reality with escapism and adventure, mystery and romance... idealism, sentiment, futurism and nostalgia.
Since the 40's, Disney has rarely been "relevant" to contemporary society- - but was often seen by trendsetters as corny, nostalgic and out of touch. But that didn't mean it was held in a lower commercial regard than "of-the-moment" programming and experiences like Nickelodeon or GameWorks. In fact, this timeless nature allowed the material to transcend trend, to bond generations through emotion, idealism and common aspirations, to carve a niche in the heart. It was indeed relevant, but to the wisdom of the ages, not the times.
It was "Disney" - - it was the premium brand, unlike anything else, beyond reality, beyond popular - - Disney was the part of our hopes and fantasies that lived in the stars, in another time and on the other side of the Earth somewhere, not at the mall, in the home, the office cubicle or the bank account.
We paid Disney good money to be transported to other worlds - - and even more to take home a souvenier of the experience to remind and reassure - to brighten our own dull workaday niche.
Imagineering must once again take us somewhere else, somewhere we didn't dream we could go, to an experience beyond expectation. We don't want to be reminded of the dull, competitive reality we are stuck with everyday. That is the world of soap marketers, not dreamers, entertainers, adventurers, time-travellers and futurists.
Imagineering must once again focus more on possibility than limitation.
The people will follow the dream.
"I don't want the public to see the world they live in while they're in the Park. I want them to feel they're in another world." - - Walt Disney