Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Disneyland Civic Projects

In the plaza between Disneyland and California Adventure, thousands of guests have paid in the neighborhood of $150. to commemorate the family name on a brick paver tile, a nostalgic memento to revisit in future years.

One could say they “own a piece of Disneyland.”

But what did they pay for, really, but a homely little tile? Unlike plaques at civil projects or hospital wards, the “donation” didn’t really contribute toward the creation of anything but the brick itself and some additional profit margin for Disneyland merchandisers.

Where is the lasting monument this kind of money could build?

With all the needed talk of Disneyland restoration and revival, the problem of finding budgets for atmospheric items like scenic locales, fountains and forts often comes up short.

Since it is assumed such details will not draw additional paying customers through the gate, but merely enhance the day for those already there, accountaneers don’t tend to see the necessity of aesthetic charm. While the purse strings appear to be loosening a bit these days, can we really expect this to change?

Does it fall on the shoulders of those with a passion for Walt and his artists to turn this bull by the horns? - - Not by begging, complaining or demanding the Company do something on their own dime (though that can produce some slow results as we have seen), but putting our monies where our mouths may be.

What if Disneyland were to draw up plans for the return of specific, historic park scenic elements, restorations or improvements in the manner of civic projects, soliciting funds for their execution?

If people will pay for a mere brick, wouldn’t they pay even more to own a piece of a mural, a tree house or a pirate ship? Especially a beloved icon they were reviving from their own childhood so it might last for generations to come?

Monuments for Walt Disney’s Disneyland by and for the people.

Donations could be solicited at varied levels, with a clear dollar goal set for work to progress. Donors would be noted on a bronze plaque at the location of the “monument”, just as it is in the real world outside the berm.

In this way, permanent artistic improvements could be made to the park's atmosphere, expenditures that don't always measure up to the Company reinvestment goals. And new WDC funds can then be dedicated to creating a roster of exciting new attractions, as they should be.

While this sort of plan would be impractical for the building of major attractions that require bigger budgets, constant maintenance and staffing, it could be just the thing for the little extra details that make Disneyland so special:

Mary Blair’s Tomorrowland Murals
Captain Hook's Pirate Ship and Skull Rock
The Swiss Family Treehouse
Cascade Falls on the Rivers of America
Sleeping Beauty Castle Diorama
The House of the Future
Fort Wilderness
Tomorrowland Terrace Stage Design
Clock of the World

…would seem perfect for such a scheme, helping to bring back a bit more of Walt Disney’s wonderful world of color and design to the historic Magic Kingdom.

By online and in-park voting, the most popular icons could be selected. To avoid competitive, promotional or vanity projects, the focus would stay on historic Walt-era restoration projects – on which most can find common ground.

Are there a significant number of potential patrons… fans, animators, cast-members and common folk who would spend a little of their own cash to sponsor a Disneyland renewal project? To help bring back a bit of Walt and Mary and Marc and the rest?

To pay back to Disneyland a bit of the joy they have received from it over the years? I’d bet on it.

Who wouldn’t want to point out Captain Hook's Ship and proudly tell their kids that it partly belongs to them? And behind the ship, their named plaque awaits to prove it.

If Walt said, “Disneyland is your land,” why not let us all help to contribute to its future? After 50 years, Disneyland really belongs to us all.

Make that tile mean something.

71 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful program that would be! I'd buy one faster than you can say "Tomorrowland Terrace." Or "Tahitian Terrace" for that matter! Or how about funding toward a Peoplemover 2.0? This is one of those things that makes the Disneyland fan salivate and ask "if only, if only..."

mnmears said...

I love this idea ... sure beats the own a lightbulb from Disney's MSELP. And, it beats having my name on some paver outside the park. I agree there needs to be a focus ... the fort or Skull Rock would top my list. I know there are many Mary Blair fans but I'd rather see those murals relocated to near IASW than restored in Tomorrowland.

Tee Kirk said...

You can't imagine how quickly my pocket book would flap open, not only once but myriad times. I'd buy gift donations for friends and co-workers, I'd visit Disneyland more often to see how these upgrades are progressing, I'd feel the thrill of knowing I've made a little difference and shared some of the magic I once knew when I went to Disneyland with new generations of guests. Bring it on, but make sure an independent accounting firm is handling the money. I wouldn't want to see my money flushed away to pay for Bob Iger's new jacuzzi. Perhaps make public how many 'shares' would need to be purchased and then keep a running tally online so that no monkey business could go on behind the iron curtain.

Capt. Tomorrow said...

Bravo Mr. Jones! In those dark, bleak years of the 90’s when Disneyland was for less than it should have (especially in the areas of maintenance and general upkeep), I thought that there should have been a type of an “adopt-a-highway” program for Disneyland fans. People could have chosen a specific attraction, area, etc. to donate money to and then the combined money would be used exclusively for each selection in order to do daily, monthly or yearly refurbishment, painting, maintenance, etc. And now you are basically promoting the same idea, although I don’t know why I didn’t think of the “donor’s plaque” idea. Who wouldn’t want to donate money to a specific engine on the Disneyland Railroad, restoring the Mary Blair tiles in Tomrrowland, reopening Fort Wilderness on Tom Sawyer Island, or a myriad of other things that don’t add to the bottom line (or DO they?), but certainly make Disneyland the crown jewel of ANY theme park.

Pragmatic Idealist said...

It's sad that Disneyland would even need this kind of preservation effort.

Disneyland is a profitable commercial enterprise in addition to being a cultural institution. One would think that current generations of people in The Walt Disney Company would realize, as John Hench did, that everything at The Magic Kingdom is part of a system, which impacts main-gate revenues.

I would, though, be interested in seeing preservation of some of these elements that may be culturally-significant but are, however, dated. The Disneyland Hotel presents the perfect opportunity to present many of these items, such as: the Mary Blair murals; the Tower of the Four Winds; the Sleeping Beauty Castle diorama; the House of the Future; the Clock of the World; and, Skull Rock,

Anonymous said...

You know, if you want a perfectly preserved anachronistic Disneyland of the past, then buy the company out and turn the place into a museum. But I guarantee you won't make money on it. Or is that what you idiots want?

April said...

Disneyland is owned by a corporation. A corporation that makes a LOT of money. I don't want to "donate" my money to a corporation to "preserve" a corporate asset, which would then charge me more money for admission to see "my" property.

And who are we kidding? As soon as Disney decided to build something new and "better," they would have no compunction in tearing down those monuments.

The only way I would ever consider "donating" money to preserve something like Mary Blair's mural would be if it were removed from Disneyland and put in a setting where members of the general public could view it. And who wants that? And Disney would never agree to it anyways...

It would be nice if Disney would maintain these classic aspects of the old Disneyland. However, the only way we, the public, can convince them to do so is through letter-writing and by refusing to spend money on their amusement parks and products until they are restored.

Unfortunately, I seriously doubt there are enough people who feel passionate about these things to make it happen.

April
Once Upon a Time...

moochie said...

Hey anonymous - who said anything about a perfectly preserved Disneyland? This blog simply suggests ways to preserve some of the original ideas, concepts and charm of the early park. Disneyland originally was created with a sophisticated blend of nostalgia and the future. Originally, the park presented these concepts with a genuine sense of wonder through strong design. These days, Disney has put aside the past and the future and has solely focused on the "now." If that's what you enjoy, then more power to you. I for one, can't stand it. In fact, in my opinion - turning Disneyland into a museum isn't the worst idea actually. It would be far better than where it's headed.
May you forever enjoy Johnny Depp and pin trading. Happy 4th of July.

Karl Elvis said...

Oh HELL yeah I'm in for that.

Digital Jedi said...

Quote:
You know, if you want a perfectly preserved anachronistic Disneyland of the past, then buy the company out and turn the place into a museum. But I guarantee you won't make money on it. Or is that what you idiots want?

You apparently didn’t read any of the previous Blogs, or any of Walt Disney’s own statements. I suppose in your way of thinking, preserving anything that holds sentimental/artistic value is fruitless and unprofitable. Fortunately for us, Walt Disney didn’t think that way. When I rode Pirates of the Caribbean as a child the ride was already over twenty years old. It had charm, and appeal and made me want to ride it again and again. How old it was never entered into why I liked it. I was a kid who like the ambiance the place created. To this day I still feel that way when entering a dark ride that simulates caverns. It’s adventurous for me.

Walt built a park that people could go back to again and again. So much money and care was poured into a single creation that time did little to wear upon its appeal, as even in my day the park had its “anachronistic” elements. But they were still fun for me and my friends. We still talked about them and bugged our parents until they took us back (which incidentally, didn’t take much effort as they wanted to go back themselves). The age of a thing had nothing to do with the parks success. It was the charm of a thing, the timelessness of the thing that made it a wonder.

How exactly is any of this anachronistic, in any case? I suppose we should tear down the Statue of Liberty because its seen its day as a national landmark. Maybe replace the torch with a giant Mickey Wand. Since we don’t need anything “old fashion” or we wont make any money on it, then why don’t we disband the NFL, NBA and MLB, cause all that old stuff is just going to become more unprofitable the older it gets. All those old paintings in the Louvre need to go too, cause I’m sure that place is about bankrupt.

No, none of these points, while mildly sarcastic, are in any way different then what we ask for Disney. Some elements of Disney are iconic and deserve the treatment, restoration and respect that our national landmarks get. Isn’t a fair share of Disneyland eye-candy in the first place? So why call us idiots for wanting the place to remain a beautiful site to behold and a place to make us want to spend the day (and our money eating and shopping) in?

It’s usually well into adulthood that we realize that “old” does not equate “uninteresting” or “unprofitable”. On the contrary, timeless things make more money when they seize the public’s interest. We pay professional athletes millions of dollars to participate in games created by people that time forgot. But apparently there is something in hanging on to the old that is beneficial, worthwhile and additionally, profitable for those involved. Nostalgia is a powerful, emotive and lucrative tool for those savvy enough to capitalize on it.

And what is it exactly that is so horrifying about museums that we keep saying we don’t want Disney to become one? You know, Disney is going to get old. This is not a thing you can stop or pretend doesn’t exist because you slap a big wizards hat in the center of MGM Studios or stick a half-naked mannequin in the Swiss Family Tree House. Disney cannot defeat time anymore then we can, so why act like nothing about it will never become museum-like? Don't museums behold beautiful objects that withstand the test of time (and pay for their own upkeep)?

It’s interesting that you should call our tactics anachronistic, when the so-called "synergistic" tactics of Cooperate Disney are recycling concepts from decades, even centuries of the past. You can’t pretend that your Disney is not doing the exact same thing we’re suggesting, only we’re suggesting better, more attractive stuff. Who’s bright idea was it anyway to stick the hat from the 60-year-old Fantasia in the middle of the park to make Disney “hip and relevant”? Did that really enhance the beauty of the recreation of Golden Age Hollywood and make it more relevant for the times? If it’s wrong to want a recreation of the old Captain Hook's Pirate Ship and Sleeping Beauty’s Castle Diorama, then it should also be wrong to replace the Bear Jamboree with the equally out-dated character of Winnie the Pooh. If it’s wrong to want to keep “obsolete” attractions like Horizons and World of Motion, then replacing Robinsons for Tarzan is just mindless (Swiss Family Robinson 1812 vs. Tarzan 1912) as 200 years can’t be any less relevant then 100 years.

This Disney that you appear to defend or support, is doing nothing more modern or hip then anything we’ve suggested. Only the suggestions we’ve made have been for more then just reviving old things. They’ve been for reviving the quality that wet into these old things. Quality that even diminishes the recent conceptualizations in the park that have modern tinges to them. Don’t criticize me for being anachronistic because I want a quality Mary Blair mural restored, when corporate presents me with a shoddy black wall with a bunch of neon Figments spinning on their axis. Don’t criticize me for being anachronistic because I ask for a wonderful recreation of Skull Rock and a Pirate Ship, when corporate thinks my fancy will be tickled by a monstrous recreation of Chicken Little. Don’t criticize me for being anachronistic because I ask for a Main Street with quality merchandise and a thematic like the days of old, when corporate thinks I’ll be equally magnetized by Disney Princesses and pins with a 70-year-old mouse on them.

Ask yourself, what are you defending in your short, clipped, non-descriptive, yet insulting, comment? Are you defending quality like we are? We’re certainly not asking for cheap, shoddy workmanship. We’re not asking for sterility or aloofness in any fashion. We’re asking for the elements that made Disney great to remain or return. We’re asking for all the money, all the time, all the creativity, all the effort you can muster to go back into making the park the great place it once was. We’re asking for Walt Disney’s style of business to take precedence again and compel the park into a new era of nostalgia where both young and old can find a part of themselves there. We’re asking for that which is missing, not for a museum. Although museum–like tactics will certainly have to be employed to obtain this goal. We want a better Disney then what we’ve got. We want a Disney where putting money into it is an investment in entertainment we can expect a return on. We want a Disney where we feel like we’re cared about when we patron it. If that’s idiotic, then I imagine I’m a fool for loving it that way. And Walt was the king of all idiots, case he made millions using that same work ethic. “Hail to the king, baby.”

Incredibles said...

How often do Disney bloggers and enthusiasts complain that Disney is selling out to corporate America and no longer following Walt's mantra? And then you go and write something like this: a blatant attempt to elicit more money from the park patrons.
The blog just before this one, "That's not an Exit, Not an Entrance" discribed how the park guests are already ushered through gift shops at the ends of rides to capitalize on the tourist dollar. Do you not think that this is the exact same thing? And what truly defines Walt-era projects when his ideas are still being used today?! If this idea came from corporate Disney and was implemented, all you idealistic bloggers would trash it as nothing more than another attempt by Disney to let the park guests give them more money.

Besides, in a world where every sports statistic and side of a bus and arena and expo and (insert anything you can think of) is sponsored, can't we leave this greedy corporate America scam out of the one true place people go to escape corporate America? There is already alot of sponsorship at the parks, let the rides be just that: a ride away from reality; not sponsored by it!

True, Epcot and other attractions at the parks use corporate America to keep the rides fresh and updated, but how is a guest emmersed in Captain Hook's world or Sleeping Beauty's dream when they see their own name next to it along with 50 other strangers? An amporphous corporate sponsorship is distant and unrelatable compared to a personal name. This is the exact opposite of the escapism that this blog site promotes.

Katherine said...

I can only speak from a customer point of view. Maybe some people would donate towards such a project. Personally I would not. I cannot fathom the mountains of $$$ Disney makes and goes through every year. Especially since they began nickel and diming guests at their WDW resorts. Personally I think I spend enough on their souvenirs, resorts, food and high-priced bottles of water without "donating" anything. But maybe there are people wealthier than I who would.

On another note, I loathe those paved tiles outside the Magic Kingdom just like I loathe those pictured rock things in ront of EPCOT. Personally I think they just make the parks look cheap and cheesy and take away from the magic. They remind me I am not at a "magic kingdom" but at another amusement park looking for $$$. How many places can you ride on monorails? My family and I used to guess which color monorail we would get on and see who won. Now you get off them and are in a see of tiles of names and dates. Way to kill the magic. I do not know if having a wall of names of people who "bought" a pirate ship would have the same effect. I suppose it would depend on how it was done.

WDW used to be magical. Now it seems like just another series of amusement parks. It seems like they stopped going the distance.

Anonymous said...

The whole tile idea is very similar to something that has been going on (or at least was going on) at EPCOT: Instead of paying money for a nice large paving tile, you get a miniscule picture of your family on one of many small walls inside the park. An interesting idea, but not a great one.

Your idea though, that has some merit. I might possibly consider that, but for one thing, which april said perfectly:
"And who are we kidding? As soon as Disney decided to build something new and "better," they would have no compunction in tearing down those monuments."

Disney would NEED to say something about this. Maybe make them "No Destructo" zones, or something like that, thus providing reasurance.

If they were to tear them down, they should send a part of that object to every person who funded it, so that these people actually do own part of the object.


Another idea that could be incorporated with this, and as an incentive, is to offer discounts. For instance, if you donate $1,000 to the fund, you recieve a 30% discount on everything Disney for life, including parks, meals in the parks, online, everywhere. They would also recieve a nice, framed certificate, authorizing that they own X.XX% of Skull rock. Maybe even have a drawing of skull rock in the backround of the certificate.

This is a great deal for both parties: Disney gets assured that the person may give more money to them through every product they get with the dicount, knowing that if there was NO dicount, they probably wouldn't have recieved that money.

The person who donated the money gets a great deal as well. They have given money to the company, and they know where that money will go. Also, they have now recieved a discount, so that they may visit more often what they have funded.

PARISINJUNE said...

It's a brilliant idea. You probably wouldn't even have to limit it to restoration projects. Could you imagine how many people would go nuts to be a premanent part of Pirates of the Caribbean "touch-ups". It's an idea I've long wanted to see happen. They do this currntly at one of the largest Botanical gardens here in the States and it's had great success. If thoughtfully planned and not "bastardized" by cheap commercialization, it would be a huge success. I say do it, sign me up.

Merlin Jones said...

>>You know, if you want a perfectly preserved anachronistic Disneyland of the past, then buy the company out and turn the place into a museum. But I guarantee you won't make money on it. Or is that what you idiots want?<<

From the article:

"And new WDC funds can then be dedicated to creating a roster of exciting new attractions, as they should be."

How are these things mutually exclusive? Sounds like a Win-Win for everyone.

What is anachronistic about a timeless scenic element like Captain Hook's Pirate Ship and Skull Rock? Peter Pan is as popular it ever was - still being heavily marketed for consumer products, even - and Pirates in general are the biggest thing for Disney since The Lion King. The ship wasn't even removed in 1984 for lack of popularity, but poor planning. and many people miss it?

Why begrudge anyone the pleasure if it doesn't take away budget the latest sparsely themed DCA thrill ride?

Same for Cascade Peak - - timeless. Something against waterfalls?

Both enhanced the park's aesthetics immesuarably.

No one sane has anything against true "progress" - quality, artful additions to the park - - we welcome these - but there is no reason not to preserve classic Walt era art for future generations.

It is now historic, a fact.

The park can grow all it wants and still preserve and restore the charm that has always been - - especially with our help.

Or is Win-Win an anachronism nowadays?

Will Robison said...

I like the spirit of the idea, but not the execution. I can't imagine DL with all those things you listed back in place - it would look like someone slapped tail fins on a Cadillac Escalade. The old items would certainly look out of place in the park that we now know.

I also agree with what other people say. Donate money? How much more money do they want? Have you seen the price of a single day admission to DL lately? And for what? Half the attractions I remember from my youth are no longer there, and most of those haven't been replaced with other rides - they've just been removed. Its a wonder I continue to "donate" any money to the company at all, much less additional money to bring back things that likely should have never been removed in the first place (as mere cost cutting measures so that they could increase their profits!)

I hear poor Bill Gates needs new tires for his car, maybe we should start a fundraiser! Its about that bad an idea.

Anonymous said...

To make the Disney parks "better" you want to bribe the Disney company to do what you want? The same company that does everthing in its power to separate you from your money. The accountaniers will be laughing all the way to the bank.

Anonymous said...

The way to make this work would be for the Disney Fanatics to get together as a group and form a corporation and negotiate with Disney on that level.

Would you really want to donate at a Disney kiosk in a Disney park and trust Disney to do the right thing?

FixWhatsBroke said...

Disneyland is NOT a Zoo!

My Disneyland doesn't have walls of placards that take me out of the park by reminding me that other guests are paying for this attraction in particular - or indeed like the attraction more than me and my family because their names are there and mine aren't. This suggestion is just a high tech form of scratching grafitti in a queue.

Besides, I'm already paying for show; I expect the money to be spent accordingly. To introduce ANOTHER vending/concession source to be exploited and misappropriated by corporate or WDI is just destined to bring on even more dissatisfaction. Even though the intent of Merlin's idea is to complement the show more than the brickwork in the entrance plaza, it's still very Eisner in that it's passing the buck yet again away from those who are supposed to be responsible for it and haven't been. It's one more tax. One more ugly bandage.

We're already paying enough as guests; that is, we've already done our share and continue to do so by simply being paying guests to the park. Gotta be a better way to bring back these details. And I think this better way is still to convince corporate to continue to loosen up the pursestrings and convince WDI to cleverly compromise in design as in the spirit of bringing back the TWA rocket.

Missteps:
the extra details that made Disneyland a unique form of entertainment worth paying for have been removed or replaced.

Perceived no-nos:
the details have been thought of as out-of-date and no longer serve the show or new shows that are arriving and as a result are not worth the cost of maintenance, assimilation or relocation.

Lesson learned:
People do miss them and stop being consumers as a result. The removed details ARE intregal to the show. Remember, DISNEYLAND HAS NEVER BEEN 50 YEARS OLD BEFORE - so mistakes can have been made - and can be corrected.

Tenable practical solutions:
Pay for them. As aesthetic show elements they are as important as fresh coats of paint to the unique success of Disneyland.

...bring back those details that can be done so without tearing out elements that work with the new shows:

Swiss Family Treehouse
- where it was as Tarzan doesn't work any better.
Cascade Falls
- where it was as it is part of the show of Rivers of America.
Sleeping Beauty Castle Diorama
- install an elevator.
House of the Future
- as the home of Innoventions or part of whatever Innoventions can become.
Fort Wilderness
- an open one is better show than a closed one - could actually work as a "Treasure Island" fort.
Rolly Crump Planter
- on top of Tomorrowland Theatre; all part of the the retro-60s refurb.
Clock of the World
- a good show piece to watch while in queue for any Tomorrowland attraction; also part of the the retro-60s refurb.

...and find new homes for those details that would collide with new shows:
Mary Blair's Tomorrowland Murals and Tower of Four Winds
- to Small World Village - the new murals work fine.
Captain Hook's Pirate Ship and Skull Rock
- brought back as part of the new Pleasure Island area of Disney's Adventure (formerly Paradise Pier) - Dumbo works great in its new location.

Guests not paying enough to get a superior Disneyland show is not what is wrong here.

Anonymous said...

This is the only article on this blog I take issue with. I really don't think it falls to the guest to subsidize their experience at the park. We give enough money to this corporation as it is, just to park, enter, eat, and have keepsakes. Where is all that money going?

I agree with the anonymous above, the accountants will be laughing all the way to the bank. Getting a customer to pay for the manufacture of product and then in turn, to pay to use it? Now you're sounding like those suits.

Also, the idea of "donating" to a giant corporation is ridiculous, as some have already touched on. Since when did donations stop helping people who need it most and start helping giant corporations? As much as I love Disneyland, I would never "donate" money to it. There are people without food, shelter, or health who need it MUCH more than Disneyland.

Lastly, if this was implemented, you can bet that the die-hard Disney fans will be the ones shouldering the majority of the cost, rather than your average family vacationers. I think even Disney can do better than this.

Digital Jedi said...

Quote:
How often do Disney bloggers and enthusiasts complain that Disney is selling out to corporate America and no longer following Walt's mantra? And then you go and write something like this: a blatant attempt to elicit more money from the park patrons.
The blog just before this one, "That's not an Exit, Not an Entrance" discribed how the park guests are already ushered through gift shops at the ends of rides to capitalize on the tourist dollar. Do you not think that this is the exact same thing?


Incredibles, it most assuredly is not the same thing. The Blog before this one didn’t belittle merchandising or profiting from guest experience unto itself. It criticized the manner in which it was executed. You can’t have a Theme Park without a way to generate new revenue in the form of shops and concessions. But the manner in which you do it can only leave the customer feeling ripped-off or assaulted and made to feel that that is the focus of the park, rather then seamlessly working it into the experience. This Blog only sought to come up with an elegant solution to upkeeping, restoring or renovating the very things that accountineeres (my new catch phrase) say they don’t have the money to do. So why not have a way to make us part of the process? We already have a way to become a part of Disney. It is no form of selling out to want to redirect an existing process to our, the guests’, benefit. Right now the process only serves the suits behind the scenes.

Quote:
And what truly defines Walt-era projects when his ideas are still being used today?! If this idea came from corporate Disney and was implemented, all you idealistic bloggers would trash it as nothing more than another attempt by Disney to let the park guests give them more money.

We would trash it, if it only sought to increase the pockets of those who are already not in need. The idea being suggested, benefits only the park and, by extension, the guests who patron it. Why would we complain about a process that benefited the park, as long as we could clearly see that it was fruitful?

Quote:
Besides, in a world where every sports statistic and side of a bus and arena and expo and (insert anything you can think of) is sponsored, can't we leave this greedy corporate America scam out of the one true place people go to escape corporate America? There is already alot of sponsorship at the parks, let the rides be just that: a ride away from reality; not sponsored by it!

True, Epcot and other attractions at the parks use corporate America to keep the rides fresh and updated, but how is a guest emmersed in Captain Hook's world or Sleeping Beauty's dream when they see their own name next to it along with 50 other strangers? An amporphous corporate sponsorship is distant and unrelatable compared to a personal name. This is the exact opposite of the escapism that this blog site promotes.


You misunderstand the spirit of the post. You’ve also constructed in your minds eye an eye-sore of an attraction without even considering what a carefully constructed, Imagineer designed reality could and would be. The corporate sponsorships of attractions in Epcot weren’t seamless because a corporation is amorphous. They were seamless because Imagineers worked their names into the attractions signage with the skill of an actual artisan. The names of some actual real people, people whom I should point out shouldn’t diminish your escapism of the place considering your standing in line with hundreds of those actual people throughout the day, can be just as flawlessly worked into a fa├žade that only enhances the park design, not take away from it.

This is not corporate greedy sponsorship. This is working around the beast and making everybody happy in the end. Right now, the only people being made happy are the suits on the other side of the gravy train. It’s not a cure-all or a panacea and I don’t think the Blog pretended it to be. But with all the criticism of this Blog for only pointing out Disney’s flaws and not presenting any fixes, I’m surprised that one that offers to restore, and reinvigorate the parks economy to the benefit of higher quality attractions and the focal point being on the preservation of the nostalgic, is being met with such blanket opposition. It would be nice if we could have a perfect restoration of Walt’s ideals, but a small step towards that would be finding a way to take some revenue and calcifying its current into restoration, renovation and innovation. We can’t have a full blown, miraculous transformation into the ideals that made the park great. But we can take baby steps that appease the corporate bigwigs and garner us our needs and desires at the same time. As Merlin suggests, what’s wrong with Win-Win? As critics like to point out, Disney is a business. Well, let’s make them money and get our long sought after attractions at the same time. After all, they are getting our money anyway, and the results are horrendous, so why not funnel it into something we can have a wee bit of control over and get something quality for a change?

Digital Jedi said...

Quote:
This is the only article on this blog I take issue with. I really don't think it falls to the guest to subsidize their experience at the park. We give enough money to this corporation as it is, just to park, enter, eat, and have keepsakes. Where is all that money going?

I agree with the anonymous above, the accountants will be laughing all the way to the bank. Getting a customer to pay for the manufacture of product and then in turn, to pay to use it? Now you're sounding like those suits.

Also, the idea of "donating" to a giant corporation is ridiculous, as some have already touched on. Since when did donations stop helping people who need it most and start helping giant corporations? As much as I love Disneyland, I would never "donate" money to it. There are people without food, shelter, or health who need it MUCH more than Disneyland.


You donate to Disney each time you buy a Mickey Ice Cream Bar, purchase a PowerAde or pick up a shot glass with an attraction name on it. Whatever you purchase in the parks, for whatever reason you justify that purchase, your making a “donation” to a park that already charges you an arm and a leg to enter. No one is suggesting you do anything different then what patrons already do and have done for decades. They are simply suggesting that Disney “redirect” and “rename” the process and make it one that benefits us and garners us what we’ve been clamoring for all this time. Not spend more money, but channel money in the right direction.

Quote:
Lastly, if this was implemented, you can bet that the die-hard Disney fans will be the ones shouldering the majority of the cost, rather than your average family vacationers. I think even Disney can do better than this.

I don’t think this suggestion was ever intended to make “donators” the sole contributors and burden-bearers of the parks financial infrastructure. I believe it was suggested as a small fix to a larger problem. Something that takes a step in the right direction. Using money for the right reasons.

Anonymous said...

In some ways I like the "form a corporation" idea above. If Disney fans did pool their resources they could approach Disney as a corporate sponsor. Having a large enough amount of money coming from a single source would have much more influence than smaller individual donations.

The Disney Fan Corp. (DFC) could step in to sponsor rides that might otherwise be replaced. Or could sponsor other portions of the park that need saving or updating.

As to recognizing individual DFC members, some form of private area could be part of the sponsorship deal and members would be granted special access similar to Club 33. This would not only help to recognize the DFC membership but to also inspire them to continue to make annual contributions to the corporation to help sustain the sponsorship.

It would be fascinating to me to see how much Disney fan money is out there, and how interested the Disney Company would be in establishing this kind of relationship.

Mr Banks said...

I like the DFC as corporation idea mentioned above. I'd solicit for funds in very subtle ways as the last thing the Disney Parks need is more invasive kiosks shouting down guests. I'd then limit the projects to Walt era touches that are missing from the parks and then quietly attach a single small plaque to each refurbishment or restoration mentioning the DFC sponsorship. I'd also include Walt Disney World into the mix; no use fixating on Disneyland alone.

A program like this, if done with tact and sensitivity, could be incredibly rewarding.

Anonymous said...

You donate to Disney each time you buy a Mickey Ice Cream Bar, purchase a PowerAde or pick up a shot glass with an attraction name on it. Whatever you purchase in the parks, for whatever reason you justify that purchase, your making a “donation” to a park that already charges you an arm and a leg to enter. No one is suggesting you do anything different then what patrons already do and have done for decades.

This illustrates my problem with the idea. A "donation" and a "purchase" are not the same thing. A donation implies giving to a fund or a cause, without expecting anything given in return. A donation is a gift. A purchase is the exchange of money for goods or services of (hopefully) equal value. Now, I know most people don't buy a Mickey Ice Cream Bar without eating it. And most people don't buy a shot glass and promptly throw it away upon exiting the park. And most people don't buy tickets to Disneyland without intending to enter the park. Those are all purchases. And I think many of us commenting have made quite a few Disney related purchases. So being asked to freely give my money to Disney is quite a different thing from what I've been doing in the past. Disney is a corporation, not a non-profit organization. They should be making their money from sales, not donations.

They are simply suggesting that Disney “redirect” and “rename” the process and make it one that benefits us and garners us what we’ve been clamoring for all this time. Not spend more money, but channel money in the right direction.

I think everyone reading this blog agrees that money does need to be channeled in the right direction. It would be nice to see our money benefit us, the consumers, rather than executives. But the solution is not to ask for more of our money. Maybe if the changes mentioned in this article were implemented with change from the corporate piggybank, people would be willing to spend more for the experience. The article contends that most people won't notice, and that it would be a poor business decision. That may be the case. But donating to a company to make its product better? That's bad business. (Or good business, depending on who you are, I guess.)

I don’t think this suggestion was ever intended to make “donators” the sole contributors and burden-bearers of the parks financial infrastructure.

I think you misunderstood my statement, which is fair enough, it was ambiguously worded. It's laughable to think that "donations" would support the parks. I meant that the majority of the donators would be the die-hard Disney fans. Going by the responses to this post, they probably wouldn't mind. But Disneyland is for everyone, and while everyone will be able to enjoy the "donated" amenities, there's a chance they won't understand the idea behind them. With online or in-park voting, you'd have a small demographic of visitors making choices about the park for everyone. Which you could argue is what happens anyway, I suppose, but with it opened up democratically, not all Disneyland visitors will have equal say, now given the opportunity.

Basically, I agree, they should use our money for the right reasons. Then the consumers wouldn't be forced to give them alms.

Digital Jedi said...

Quote:
>>>This illustrates my problem with the idea. A "donation" and a "purchase" are not the same thing. A donation implies giving to a fund or a cause, without expecting anything given in return. A donation is a gift. A purchase is the exchange of money for goods or services of (hopefully) equal value. Now, I know most people don't buy a Mickey Ice Cream Bar without eating it. And most people don't buy a shot glass and promptly throw it away upon exiting the park. And most people don't buy tickets to Disneyland without intending to enter the park. Those are all purchases. And I think many of us commenting have made quite a few Disney related purchases. So being asked to freely give my money to Disney is quite a different thing from what I've been doing in the past. Disney is a corporation, not a non-profit organization. They should be making their money from sales, not donations.<<<

If I might point out something from the article, though:

>>>But what did they pay for, really, but a homely little tile? Unlike plaques at civil projects or hospital wards, the “donation” didn’t really contribute toward the creation of anything but the brick itself and some additional profit margin for Disneyland merchandisers.<<<

>>>If people will pay for a mere brick, wouldn’t they pay even more to own a piece of a mural, a tree house or a pirate ship? Especially a beloved icon they were reviving from their own childhood so it might last for generations to come?<<<

I believe the suggestion being made here, is that there is already an established area of commerce in the parks that can be easily redirected. People like to buy elements of Disney where they can establish themselves as part of the park. It would seem that in any other form of business, this type of product typically is for the upkeep of a given place, monument or arena. It would seem that Disney is currently making money on a product that has no reward for its purchaser, other then an etched tile or brick that they still have to pay to go see. Wouldn’t it make more sense, and be more traditional, to use the funds for these tiles and placards to fund Disney nostalgia? I don't want to give Disney anymore money then already get either, but I would like to put my money where my mouth is. Perhaps we’re getting too caught up in the use of the word “donate”, when really, this is less about donation, and more about redirection. “Donation” is just a nice label to make it more palatable to the corporate side. There was a time when we didn’t mind spending a little extra dough on the Theme Parks when we thought we would get more bang for our bucks. A project like this would be nothing less then a little extra bang.

mnmears said...

I like the DFC idea as well. I know that there are some corporate sponsorship perks -- at least I heard about a special lounge with snacks and reduced wait times for employees of a former sponsor of Space Mountain.

I don't know if there are perks extended to corporate sponsors today, but I'd be surprised if there was no quid pro quo.

I'm sure Honda didn't sponsor Disneyland's 50th Anniversary fireworks spectacular simply for bragging rights and advertising.

A small plaque for DFC-sponsored attractions and/or projects listing a web link with names of individual donors would be a nice touch. Maybe something as mysterious as the Club 33 logo.

Truth be said, I'm waiting for Diane Disney Miller to get details worked out for individual membership in the Walt Disney Family Museum and Library Foundation because it's one of many NONPROFIT foundations I know will be worthy of an annual membership fee.

Disneyland is my primary loves, expecially knowing the guiding hand of Walt helped shape it into the place where I made so many memories to cherish.

But, I think it's fair to include beloved icons in Florida. The students and fans of Walt Disney's life aren't limited to California. How many Florida fans tried to save WDW's Mr. Toad's Wild Ride? Would it have been something worthy of DFC funding?

I know that I'm ready to raise a ruckus if "Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln" is not brought back to Disneyland after the end of the 50th anniversary celebration. I can only hope that they revisit the original show (and recordings) that made it so special.

Sure, it would be nice if there wasn't a NEED for this type of fundraising endeavor and that Disney has nickel and dimed us a bit too often. Ticket prices, special events, parking, food, souvenirs. Don't even get me started on the Disney mini bean bag plush or the current overextended reliance on pin trading. Disney loves to beat any potential profitable idea to death.

I know that Disney is no longer the little company Walt formed, a company that really needed those corporate tie-ins.

Even in Walt's time, according to a story told by Marty Sklar, some of those sponsorships were written into contracts as quid pro quos for services -- such as telecommunication -- that the Disney Company needed.

Just like some of the people who've commented here, there are likely fewer corporations today that have an interest in spending advertising dollars for the development or sponsorship of a theme park attraction.

The Oriental Land Company sure has a great deal of authority and control over what's added/changed at the Tokyo parks. Maybe a nonprofit fan-based group -- along with polite but vocal customers -- can influence more of the Disney's future actions.

PARISINJUNE said...

The sad part is that we are all
STILL arguing over the same problem--management! Regardless the fact if everyone thinks this is good in concept, everyone still knows that those that are doing the executing of it will ruin it, so why even bother to contribute. Shouldn't the newly appointed Chairman be proof of what is still in play around here--globalization and more branding. Nothing personal, but the public is fed up with greedy whoremongers that give us tax dollar clean up messes like Enron. It will be impossible to change things if the right hand is not in sync with the left.

Anonymous said...

If this DFC concept, which Anonymous and Mr. Banks have talked about, came into being, there would need to be a fixed minimum donation amount yearly (or weekly, monthly, et cetera). Otherwise, we would have people going around donating 50 cents a project, just to get a name on the plaque.

There would also need to be some sort of incentive to become part of it- Maybe after signing up for a two year stint, you get a $50 gift card. Thats probably not a good idea, but you understand the concept.


Now, the whole idea sounds well in good on paper, but for it to work, some person will have to donate hundreds of hours of their own time to get it started. I have seen this happen so many times, but with much smaller scale projects- So many people like the idea, and are willing to participate, but none are willing to step forward to get the ball rolling.

Now, I'm not volunteering myself, because I have no knowledge of how to even get something like this started, but I am sure that there are plenty of people out there who have knowledge of how to start a corporation, and how to keep it going.

A website would also need to be made, so as to get the word around. Maybe people who live in NYC, and other big cities around the world, could post papers in Disney stores throughout, so as to give more publicity. I bet if we could get the word out to the people of Japan and France, we would get a lot more people and money.

But, even if this whole idea came into being, my senses tell me that it would regrettably turn into "We'll let you fund it, but only if we get a cut".

Anonymous said...

Just when I thought this blog couldn't get any more stupid- How can you honestly think that Disneyland would be improved by bringing back dated objects and attractions from the past? When are you gonna wake up and realize that Disneyland needs the philosophy of the past, not the specific attractions? We need the passion and design sense that Disneyland had in the 50s and 60's- we don't need a bunch of attractions that are past their prime and no longer relevant in their execution. Fine go back and re-explore the themes and ideas that still work, but don't bring back Inner Space as it was- take it's theme and redo it new and improved, IF it's decided that it's something that todays audience can still get something out of. Walt would NOT be advocating the type of preservation you talk about here. I'm sure he'd be shocked that certain things have stayed at DL as long as they have, long after technologies have improved and trends have changed.

Mr Banks said...

I wish I knew how opening a closed fort, turning on a waterfall, unveiling a lost mid-century modernist masterpeice, re-igniting the flames of a log cabin or re-creating the classic pirate ship from a literary classic is actually bringing back a "bunch of attractions that are past their prime and no longer relevant in their execution." Or how recreating the long lost Rolly Crump designed 'Uti' or groovy 1960's Tomorrowland bandshell ISN'T bringing back the "the passion and design sense that Disneyland had in the 50s and 60's" the above anonymous so sorely misses.

Regardless, it's always fascinating to watch how some people can hang themselves in the web of their own arguments.

For the rest of you (you know who you are) kudos to an excellent thought provoking intelligent debate.

Anonymous said...

Okay, so lets assume that this idea is a go, what happens next? Who decides what the Project is? Where will it be located? What kind of price tag would this have? Does Disney agree to support the idea and provide a means of collecting the money? What percentage of each contribution goes to cover the costs of raising the money and how much to the fund? Would funds be collected for multiple projects at the same time? If everyone who bought an engraved brick contributed $100 would that even begin to cover the cost? Would the fund accept corporate money in exchange for prominent position on whatever signage is added? If it were just individual contributions how much signage space would be needed to recognize all of the contributors? How many hardcore fans are out there and how much money will they contribute to be part of the magic? If nothing happens are the monies refunded?

Personally, I would love to see some of the magic from the Walt era returned to the park, but this concept sure raises a lot of questions.

FixWhatsBroke said...

Do other recreational activity fan organizations or "unions" really ever have a say on how the owners and players conduct their affairs? I tend to think not. When I hear about the negotiations between players and owners and then hear of fan "unions" coming to the table I smile at the denial they are in. A lot of wishful thinking. They're talking about becoming a partner. Not gonna happen.

But then again this is Disneyland - nothing else really should be used to compare it to - otherwise it becomes like everything else.

I'm most definitely with Mr Banks on the quiet plaques if some kind of DFC sponsorship is indeed achieved at all. No names, no pictures, no "Remember Choose Wisely with AT&T" sized signs distracting from the show. No fundraising kiosks.

The show is not how much other people love the show! That kind of thing is done elsewhere. I don't find trips to PinLand off the plaza attractive to the eyes, really. Likewise the appreciation of Walt is not the show - that also should have always and needs to be currently done offstage. Otherwise, in both cases, the show rests on its laurels and tends to become stagnant. Appreciation of all that's been done can quickly become "there's nothing more to do."

What's broken here is corporate and WDI not recognizing what they should be recognizing on their own. And all those things Mr Banks mentions immediately above aren't being recognized. Their minds need to be changed.

I can see DFC working as a gathering place of opinion for that process. But what happens after the minds have been changed? Does DFC monitor? What about the fans who don't want DFC to monitor or restore old attractions? Who want DFC to just stay out of it? Do they make their own corporation to battle DFC?

My biggest issue about this article is that the kind of corporate and imagineering thinking that brought those bricks in the entrance plaza or the pictures at EPCOT to bear should be the target; these things should NOT to be encouraged any further - they're grafitti, an eyesore and blatantly elitist. It's like seeing all the used shopping bags left behind. They need to be cleaned up - to go - not stay and multiply. Those bricks are a MISSTEP. As is selling any active piece of Disneyland that one guest can own and another can't. Recognizing it as a legitimate re-imagineering funding source as Merlin seems to be doing is going down the wrong path. The bricks are my target. Merlin isn't targeting the bricks enough.

As to revenue sources that work, there were a reported 35,000 guests in the park recently. If only half of them paid the entrance fee of $60 you're looking at about a $1,000,000 in one day. The money is already there. The revenue sources are already working. Now it needs to be funneled correctly back into the park. It hasn't when attractions are closed due to maintenance costs. That's bad management or bad engineering.

To depend on an organization like DFC for capital would be like a city encouraging more parking tickets - it's a wrong motivator. "We'll have to let more attractions slide to meet next year's budget." Or "we can let it slide as DFC is taking it over." Or - "well, we've had enough of the railroad dioramas. Toss it over to DFC - they can handle it." The logic of dependency isn't quite there - or could tend to be abused easily.

Are we talking about DFC becoming a partner with votes on what stays and what goes? I can't realistically expect that. Otherwise it's Imagineering. But I could perhaps see DFC taking over the sponsorship of an attraction until a new sponsor can be found so the show can go on. Fort Wilderness would be a good example. I can see the funds working there...for a time. Although that smacks a bit like how oil companies can't seem to take a loss during natural disasters.

Yeah, I can't see DFC telling Imagineering what to do - otherwise it's Imagineering. Neither can I see it upgrading the dioramas on the railroad or bringing back and upgrading Inner Space with its own funds. Again, that's corporate and Imagineerings job already.

And if they're not doing it, their minds need to be encouraged to do so with active, intelligent punditry found herein and elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

I believe the suggestion being made here, is that there is already an established area of commerce in the parks that can be easily redirected. People like to buy elements of Disney where they can establish themselves as part of the park.

There’s no question about that, we’d all love to be some small part of the parks, which is why we’re responding to this blog. And that kind of feeling is something that people feel is worth whatever they pay for it. Plus, some very good arguments could be made in favor of “official” recognition like plaques. But really, I think Disney would get some pretty negative press if this idea was to come off paper in its current state.

Perhaps we’re getting too caught up in the use of the word “donate”, when really, this is less about donation, and more about redirection. “Donation” is just a nice label to make it more palatable to the corporate side.


I agree, we can argue on and on about semantics. It’s a pretty clever trick to modify definitions to change our perceptions, and Disney uses it with generally positive results. (Cast members, guests, etc.) But I think the use of the word “donation” in this plan is not a good idea. Maybe for small items like a fountain or a bench, even the Mary Blair murals. But building big-ticket items like the House of the Future or the Pirate Ship on "donation" dollars, well, Disney would look pretty bad. Those aren’t cheap, and Disney could easily afford to rebuild them without donation money. Regardless of the demand, even Disney’s PR couldn’t spin the “wealthy corporation cons loyal customers” angle. Especially once you get past the headline and get into how Disney’s rebuilding what they previously destroyed and how out-of-touch they are, and on and on. They’d have to (GASP) admit fault!

Honestly, I think “owning a piece of the park” is in high demand, but there’s a better way to sell it than this. Regardless of whether or not it’s a good business plan, though, the article is on to something.

mnmears said...

"It's kind of fun to do the impossible." -- Walt Disney.

If humankind stopped evolving everytime it was faced with adversity or an arduous task, we'd still be living in caves and foraging for food. So, creating the DFC will be difficult. Think it was easy to create Snow White or build Disneyland?

You need to stretch the boundaries of your abilities, your energies and your imagination in order to grow.

I guess one of the things that bothers me most isn't what's happened at Disneyland and WDW -- it's what happened to the unrealized dream of Disney's EPCOT and the fact that so many of us noticed and know better. When Walt died, he left the company and THE WORLD with his ideas. What happened?

The emergence of gluttonous corporate greed and globalization. The end of innovation and the development of things that actually benefit humankind.

Here was Walt's idea for EPCOT, a working, living, breathing community laboratory that had the potential to design and perfect mass transit systems and a whole host of improvements to society's civic and civil surroundings.

Who killed the electric car? Who killed the PeopleMover? The high-speed Mag-Lev bullet train? Who gave up on cleaner nuclear power instead of finding ways to deal with its waste? Who killed the spirit of neighborliness and community? Where is that house of tomorrow, highly energy efficient if not, in fact, self-sufficient. Why do we accept this lack of forward thinking, planning, vision from our leaders, our corporations, ourselves?

At one point in history, this is where the Disney Company was headed. It wasn't out to become a global mega media conglomerate and entertainment company. It had a vision and an eye on the future -- not just the corporate bottom line.

If DLC is formed, I suggest that it work not just to restore memories of the past but for things that inspire humankind, things that would inspire Walt and drive his course of action.

Digital Jedi said...

Going off topic somewhat, and in direct opposition to the notion that the tiles and etchings are inappropriate for the Theme Parks (I've always appreciated these elements and will add one of my wife and baby the next opportunity we get to go to Epcot), my mind tends to focus on specifics, and while we've touched on whether or not the project will work and what kind of structure the project would take, my artistic inclinations have come up with something interesting in relation to one of Merlin’s specific comments.

>>>If people will pay for a mere brick, wouldn’t they pay even more to own a piece of a mural...<<<

Murals are an integral part of the parks aesthetics. As a child, the murals in Disney World kept me involved and always created an adventurous sensation in me while I waited in those excruciatingly long lines. There are only so many finishes to choose from and create variations on for the visually pleasing aspects of the park, and murals are one of the more flexible and least expensive venues to create and maintain. The nostalgia that can be created by these works of art are apparent in the fond memories people have of the Mary Blair murals we hear so much about.

One way the "Leave a Legacy" concept can be incorporated into an esthetically pleasing project is through the use of a high quality PhotoMosaic, similar to this Yoda image shown here. Imagine a mural size image, higher quality then this, obviously. Something that incorporates images of older attractions and reminisces on the days of by-gone Disney, but upon closer inspection, we find that the mural is made of tiny images of park patrons. The mural could conceivably accommodate millions of photos and pay for its own completion. This way patrons, or "donators" would be part of creating an aesthetically pleasing and completely immersive addition to the park. And create a bit of nostalgia in the process.

I know that’s probably a bit more specific then this Blog usually intends. But I'm not doing anything with the idea myself and figured there would be no harm in throwing it out there. Plus, it helps to illustrate that a project like this can have numerous, fruitful and pleasing results, and not just be money going in for a plaque or a brick or simple renovation. It can include innovation. It can be bang for you buck.

FixWhatsBroke said...

The types of photomosaics mentioned above are all over Disneyland for the 50th celebration and work fantastic as a temporary reflection on all the happy memories made at each attraction. But they are anonymously accredited smiles and hugs and temporary items to boot at that. They are somewhat gaudy, trendy clutter, but so is confetti and streamers and they work.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with tile art, mosaics and etchings and fancy brickwork and paving. Let the Imagineers (GET the Imagineers - ENABLE the Imagineers) to make more so for the better. But there's absolutely everything wrong with guests owning a part of it. Where does such activity end? Once that wall or design is filled where does the next guest family go? For $100 you get to essentially scratch your name in or by or near the Sleeping Beauty Castle? And all while this other family can't afford to - and get to look at all those that can? I don't think so.

Anyone who has first been to a nature reserve to find some family's grafitti over the course of 10 years to the same spot knows just how ugly and disappointing such practices are, well-intentioned and controlled or not.

Leave a Legacy in your own scrapbooks at home for your children to see. Take a snapshot from the same camera angle with your kids 15 years later. Share your thoughts about your favorite spots on your website. Share your photos there, too, by gummy. But please have the courtesy and don't scratch neither your names nor likenesses into the show that should be fresh to everyone everyday. Even if the company lets you. Such acts can do nothing but eventually become giant sponsor signs that take others right out of the show no matter how well intentioned or happy you might be at the time.

The market to not take Disneyland home but rather leave part of you there instead is there, that's pretty apparent. The misstep is tapping into this desire at the expense of show. The lesson for re-imagineers to learn is to somehow funnel this desire anonymously into a stronger guest experience.

Anonymous said...

Some clarification and elucidation on my anonymous concept for the DFC. The basic premise is that as individuals big corporate will ignore our requests ‘til the cows come home. No matter how impassioned or educated our individual opinions might be. To be heard by big corporate we had to meet them in their own boardroom.

If those of us who feel strongly about how the Disney parks are run were to get together as a financial entity that we might actually be able to make a difference. Sure we can buy stock in Disney now, but individual investors have virtually no say in how the company is run. But if we were to pool our resources we could approach Disney in the same manner as say Honda or Dole. We could agree to sponsor an attraction in exchange for some form of consideration. Disney still seems eager to enter into sponsorship agreements.

It’s possible that an attraction that might otherwise close could be saved for a period of time by a DFC sponsoship. Or possibly some attraction on the drawing board at WDI could get a green light because of a DFC sponsoship. As we all know in the land of big corporate money talks.

In exchange for being a sponsor the DFC could negotiate some special privilege for its members in lieu of corporate signage and advertising. Maybe a special lounge area for members or discounts on Disney hotels, theme parks, restaurants etc. Something that would appeal to the members who have invested a minimum amount in the DFC.

The passion among hardcore Disney Fans is there; the only question in my mind is if the numbers are. How may of us are at a point in our lives where we have the disposable income to help form the DFC? Could we raise and sustain enough capital to make it real?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Banks, my arguement is not that the things you mentioned shouldn't be done, only that they seem to be all this blog ever talks about. I always get the impression that the writers here don't have any good ideas, unless Marc Davis or John Hench had them first. It always seems like it's about restoration with you guys, not Imagineering. I'm all for fixing the little things that have been lost over the years. But I'm not into pouring money into old landmarks that didn't do anything such as Cascade Peak or Skull Rock. Perhaps they never should have been removed, but they were. Now should we use our money to rebuild them as they were, even if they were outdated, or build something new. Let's take up a fund to create brand new attractions that will take their places, and be actual improvements on the guest experiences.

Your problem, and mine too frankly, is that you don't trust Disney to be able to do anything right anymore. So rather than vote for new attractions which they will likely screw up, better to vote for preserving the past, which at least you know you liked.

Mr Banks said...

To anonymous above: As stated many times before throughout this blog, this isn't a site to table new attraction ideas. This is a forum to discuss and debate what has gone wrong at Imagineering, why it's gone wrong and ways to keep things from going wrong again.

And there's no way to discuss the degradation of the parks without mentioning what came before and why it was so important to the grand design.

You can't truly be progressive unless you know where you've been.

Mr. Wiggins said...

Quoting Anonymous:
Your problem, and mine too frankly, is that you don't trust Disney to be able to do anything right anymore.

Trust isn't the issue.

As currently structured, it is impossible for the Disney corporation to sell Disney show to the world. They sell something else: imitations of Disney show -- occasionally tolerable, often self-conscious, frequently grotesque, but utterly sans heart, soul and showmanship.

Walt's Disneyland -- its designers, builders, cast members, maintainers, every last physical and virtual bit of it -- was the direct (arguably inevitable) result of the company's management structure and management personnel at that time, from Walt on down. A management that guided, inspired and empowered its creatives. A company that valued its showmen and connected them to its audience.

Eisner's Disneyland, from its first shuttered attraction to the last blotch of brown in Tomorrowland, is the direct, inevitable result of that corporation's management structure and management personnel, from Eisner on down.

Be it Parks, WDI or Animation, the structure and management staff of Walt's company were mutated to mirror Eisner's philosophy of management as a political gladiators' den, and his clubby elitism that sneered at Walt's cultural roots. A management that distrusts, devalues and disempowers its creatives. A company that demands political obedience of its showmen and abstracts its audience to numbers.

That Eisner is gone is irrelevant. His management structure is essentially intact, the vast majority of his managers remain; his philosophy is alive and well in innumerable departmental enclaves.

After my 15 years in Burbank, all I have to say to John and Ed is, you can shovel an infinite amount of time, money and creative personnel at this problem and it will not change. Not until you clean house. Leave any remnant of Eisner's structure in place, and your best efforts will be undermined by entrenched, dysfunctional managers whose reason for existence is to protect -- and be protected by -- that structure.

You've got to clean house, guys. Deep. All the way down to where the political perks end and the beating heart of Disney begins.

PARISINJUNE said...

o.k. I usually bash the hell out of Corporate America, but in it's defense, it is doing what it was hired to do-- make profits. These problems started after Frank Wells death and Michael got out of balance. The biggest problem with this tile project idea is that Eisner removed the isolation factor--meaning that not only can you buy what's in the parks at the local discount mall but literally everywhere else. The uniqeness is removed- it becomes a so what. So much so that any new idea becomes watered down. Reinstall the isolation and these projects with actually stand a solid chance. I would even bet that they would work well overseas at the China park-- in helping to expand the park itself. Let's face it, management has a big task ahead of them. If we don't put them on the right track, they will just head right off a cliff. I'd like to say Pixar will change that, but after seeing how many sponsors were tagged onto the Cars film, I don't see that happening.

Digital Jedi said...

>>>You can't truly be progressive unless you know where you've been.<<<

And if I may add to Mr. Banks statement, unless I'm mistaken, weren't some of these non-interactive attractions like Skull Rock and Cascade Peak torn down because they failed to properly maintain them, not because they were outdated? I think those of us calling out for restoration of such elements would be satisfied with updated recreations of these elements. After all, how exactly can a realistic recreation of something not real become outdated? If they did a full scale recreations of the original Starship Enterprise, it would be popular because it's a fantasy element made tangible. And not because it was in any way modern or up to date. I've said before that no one's asking for old stuff to return that wasn't quality, impressive or charming and that didn't enhance the ambiance of the park. Just because it is old, does not mean it's irrelevant.

Mr. Wiggins said...

This isn't an issue of who is personally at fault, or even of the Corporation as the Great Evil. It's an issue of what kind of corporate culture and management structure is suited to create and sell a particular product: Disney show.

Real Disney show -- the stuff we miss and mourn in the movies, merchandise, Parks, and in our professional lives -- is so rich and layered as to be virtually organic. It exists irrespective of medium, era or budget.

But it cannot exist without a sense of honest showmanship. The human connection between storyteller and audience.

It is that sense of connection -- yes, and affection -- that storyteller and audience have for each other which made the world take to its collective heart the collective work we call "Disney," and which the corporate sensibilities of Eisner and many others in the business world are incapable of.

Mr Banks said...

Who is this Mr. Wiggins?! Some of the most thoughtful, intelligent commentary since, well, Digital Jedi. He should write for this blog.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I HATE this idea. An entrance plaza is one thing. Rebuilding old monuments and wasting valueble real estate is not wise in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I HATE this idea. An entrance plaza is one thing. Rebuilding old monuments and wasting valueble real estate is not wise in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Who is this Mr. Wiggins?! Some of the most thoughtful, intelligent commentary since, well, Digital Jedi. He should write for this blog.

Mr. Wiggins and Mr. Banks....It even matches...

Merlin Jones said...

>>Rebuilding old monuments and wasting valueble real estate is not wise in my opinion.<<

Valuable real estate for what? Fry carts?

For the most part, these are things that can be "plugged in" right where they belong - in relatively small spaces. Mary's murals are where they are, same for Fort Wilderness, castle interior, Cascade Peak etc. Only the Pirate Ship and Skull Rock need new real estate (if Dumbo stays put) - - and even that was planned for way back in 1984, near StorybookLand and Small World.

And the names can be artfully placed anywhere - bricks on a planter, slats of a backside of a ship, inside Skull Rock, logs on a fort backwall - - needn't be visually intrusive, so long as its accessible for those who paid for it. Names could be icorporated into the environment cleverly.

/bsdb said...

Before the hat is passed around among the faithful for DL restoration projects... could we please help out the most significant and yet most frequently overlooked and forgotten element of the 'Disney show'? Something near and dear to many blogger's hearts and memories, including mine:

The cast members.

I cannot in good conscience 'donate' my disposable income to revivalist construction projects within the berm, until our cast members, particularly those working directly onstage or in support of onstage cast, are receiving just compensation for their efforts.

Expecting WDC to pony up a 'living wage' for Disneyland's finest is not too much to ask. None of us would tolerate the inadequate DLR pay rates for SoCal's high cost of minimalist existence. Why should they? They rightfully expect it. They rightfully deserve it.


I'd much rather see an internet telethon to collect subsidies for affordable cast member housing, long before monies are raised for Cascade Peak 2.0.

Mr Banks said...

For the record, Mr. Wiggins is NOT Mr. Banks. Whoever that mystery Mr. Wiggins is- his commentary is insightful and eloquently presented.

Ceronomus said...

I can see the logic in asking Disney to let people buy somethng more than a brick. I also can see the logic of demanding that Disney take care of their parks themselves.

I don't think the two are mutually exclusive.

Anonymous said...

Well if they were to rebuild things like Capt Hooks Pirate Ship/Skull rock, and Cascade peak, I would welcome them as they were decorative elements and do add to the general ambient. However, Cascade Peak for example, wasn't very realistic looking. It was a single rocky structure very obviously manmade. It was great when it was there but even then I would have loved to see them redo the rockwork and integrate it better into the surrounding landscape. Would anyone here be interested in that? Do more people want it "as it was" or new and improved? I'd love Capt Hooks Pirate ship also if it was put into a better themed environment.

Again, not for Guests paying for this, but if they could be brought back somehow, they would be welcome.

Anonymous said...

Well if they were to rebuild things like Capt Hooks Pirate Ship/Skull rock, and Cascade peak, I would welcome them as they were decorative elements and do add to the general ambient. However, Cascade Peak for example, wasn't very realistic looking. It was a single rocky structure very obviously manmade. It was great when it was there but even then I would have loved to see them redo the rockwork and integrate it better into the surrounding landscape. Would anyone here be interested in that? Do more people want it "as it was" or new and improved? I'd love Capt Hooks Pirate ship also if it was put into a better themed environment.

Again, not for Guests paying for this, but if they could be brought back somehow, they would be welcome.

Anonymous said...

These comments are all very interesting.

My thoughts, point by point.
1. I like the DFC idea much better than the buy an attraction idea. I think involving more people on a grand scale would be more effective in every way, and more fair and democratic in determining what projects are important.

2. Corporate Disney and the Eisner era: I disagree with the assumption that Disney needs to clean house of all former management under Eisner.

If you read Disney War you will see countless examples that Eisner undermined and countermanded all decisions his managers and employees made at almost every level. He also wouldn't accept blame for his bad decisions and frequently blamed others who had actually tried to do the right thing. Therefore, I don't think it's fair to judge anyone solely on their supposed decisons under Eisner. This includes Iger.

Eisner was the king of dysfunction, and one of his favorite tricks was to pit them against each other. No wonder things got screwed up. I say we give them a chance before we declare them all to be mini-Eisners.

3. Cast members need to be paid more! I completely agree. As a former cast member, I knew people who were living in their cars because they couldn't afford housing. Florida's housing market has exploded, and CM's there haven't had a cost of living raise in 7 years! Unhappy CM's = poor service. Disasterous for a company in an industry built on service levels.

Anonymous said...

These comments are all very interesting.

My thoughts, point by point.
1. I like the DFC idea much better than the buy an attraction idea. I think involving more people on a grand scale would be more effective in every way, and more fair and democratic in determining what projects are important.

2. Corporate Disney and the Eisner era: I disagree with the assumption that Disney needs to clean house of all former management under Eisner.

If you read Disney War you will see countless examples that Eisner undermined and countermanded all decisions his managers and employees made at almost every level. He also wouldn't accept blame for his bad decisions and frequently blamed others who had actually tried to do the right thing. Therefore, I don't think it's fair to judge anyone solely on their supposed decisons under Eisner. This includes Iger.

Eisner was the king of dysfunction, and one of his favorite tricks was to pit them against each other. No wonder things got screwed up. I say we give them a chance before we declare them all to be mini-Eisners.

3. Cast members need to be paid more! I completely agree. As a former cast member, I knew people who were living in their cars because they couldn't afford housing. Florida's housing market has exploded, and CM's there haven't had a cost of living raise in 7 years! Unhappy CM's = poor service. Disasterous for a company in an industry built on service levels.

Anonymous said...

"As a former cast member, I knew people who were living in their cars because they couldn't afford housing. Florida's housing market has exploded, and CM's there haven't had a cost of living raise in 7 years! Unhappy CM's = poor service. Disasterous for a company in an industry built on service levels."

You are 100% correct. CM's should be paid extremely well. It would also be good for Disney to set up a program so that those employees who do well in the park do actually get a raise.

I also feel bad for those foreigners that are hired from other countries to work at EPCOT. The last time I went their, we had a good time talking to several employees from Norway. As they all said, you don't come to Disney for the money. I feel bad that they come for this great experience, only to get paid in dirt. How are they supoosed to live there?

For some reason, I do not see walt doing this....

PARISINJUNE said...

It sounds like the argument that originally started this topic of Civic Projects was founded in managements inability to want to pay for the return of these attractions? Is that an accurate account?

IF that is the case, then Mr. Wiggins would be accurate in stating that these attractions closed due to neglect and management would therefor have an invalid argument that these were outdated and needed to go--example the tiki room.

Perhaps management could compromise a little with letting the public sponsor one attraction for each one they replace themselves and then let the current attractions like Matterhorn, Thunder Mountain... have the upkeep paid for by temporary annual sponsors--thus freeing up current cash flow to do things like pay cast memebers better wages and maintain the parks. Then let corporate sponsors fund the building of new attractions.

mnmears said...

No, Walt wouldn't do that ... In many ways he lived modestly considering the value of the things he contributed to the company.

How many times did Walt risk EVERYTHING in pursuit of his dreams? He wasn't interested in money and wealth as the end-all be-all. He had more courage than any of today's CEOs. If they fail, they can still retire in luxury, a future secured by perks and fat pensions. A hefty chuck of Walt's estate went into the creation of Cal-Arts.

Walt's interest in money was in having enough to pay for his latest dreams, schemes and ventures.

He was business-savvy, taking advantage of a good bargain when possible, crafting contracts that would also benefit him or one of his enterprises -- the Disney-World's Fair sponsored attractions for example.

The multiples and greed weren't there. Walt wasn't paid $10,000 or more for every $1 an average full-time Disneyland cast member took home. I wonder what the multiples are for that hearty golden parachute and handshake Michael Eisner received? How many Disney retirees have to face higher health-insurance copays year after year? How many cast members are going to earn much more than $1 million after taxes in their lifetime? How many can afford to live in California and Florida where homes are $400,000 or more? Today's CEOs are slowly creating Potter's Field with Bailey Park becoming a little more out of reach each and every year.

This clash of economic cultures -- especially when coupled with an elitist attitude of too many CEOs -- has poisoned the well. When you don't trust your boss to do the right thing by you as an employee, when you don't feel that he's doing the right thing for the company ... when you feel that he's ego-driven and unappreciative of the CONTRIBUTIONS by everyone on the team ... well, that's a recipe for disaster.

Now, I don't know how much money Matt Quimet makes at Disneyland, or how much John Lasseter is being paid for the additional responsibilities he's taking on, but I don't know anyone who begrudges either one their salaries. They're true leaders, men who people generally feel good working with and for. They're people who are respected by most everyone -- not simply because of a title but because of they've fostered good feelings among employees and the public at large. Bob Iger, thus far, doesn't seem to have forgotten his middle-class New York roots. When he praises Disneyland's cast members like he did last July 17, it rings true and genuine.

Disney's best cast members should be compensated and rewarded for what they bring to the company. Good ones are worth their weight in gold for the smiles, laughter and memories they help customers create. Poor guest relations and customer service can really destroy the magic.

I know Disneyland's City Hall gets nearly as many guest compliments as complaints ... so, we all know, there remains a strong core of Disney employees who still believe in what Walt wanted and in what they do.

Anonymous said...

"--thus freeing up current cash flow to do things like pay cast memebers better wages and maintain the parks."

Sadly, the money would not go there. It would go towards a Caribbean cruise, or a new sportscar.

The Polsons said...

I love this idea too, but I don't think we should have to pay extra for the things that should be there anyway, that Disney as a company can very well afford to do but just chooses not to. I suppose if voting with our wallets is the only way to restore the Burning Cabin (one you forgot!) or Fort Wilderness (the one I'm saddest about) then I would pay if I could... but WDI should be doing these things with THEIR money, not yet more of mine.

The Polsons said...

Moochie 12:15 -- Right on!

But you gave me another idea... a second Disneyland in another location with the original sign, parking area, all the original stuff they took out and have in storage somewhere, original versions of the Treehouse, Pirates, etc.

Yeah, I know... but wouldn't it be cool to be able to go to that? 8-)

The Polsons said...

fixwhatsbroke 10:41 -- Some REALLY good points, like this one:

"No names, no pictures, no "Remember Choose Wisely with AT&T" sized signs distracting from the show."

I can't tell you how much of a slap in the face that was the first time I rode Indy, opening weekend. It was like someone had tossed ice water in my face and then hit me with the empty cup. If the whole ride had been a sponsored thing, like the Carnation Cafe or Chicken of the Sea tuna sandwiches, that's one thing, but to stick it in the out cue like that was just obnoxious. Had I been an AT&T customer I would have dropped them like a hot rock.

"My biggest issue about this article is that the kind of corporate and imagineering thinking that brought those bricks in the entrance plaza or the pictures at EPCOT to bear should be the target; these things should NOT to be encouraged any further - they're grafitti, an eyesore and blatantly elitist. It's like seeing all the used shopping bags left behind. They need to be cleaned up - to go - not stay and multiply. Those bricks are a MISSTEP. As is selling any active piece of Disneyland that one guest can own and another can't. Recognizing it as a legitimate re-imagineering funding source as Merlin seems to be doing is going down the wrong path. The bricks are my target. Merlin isn't targeting the bricks enough."

Absolutely, 150% agree. It's crass, distracting, elitism, and they're also being vandalized now. Unfortunately, people paid $$ for the dang things to be there forever, so there's no way to get rid of them without infuriating everyone that bought one. I hate those pavers!!!

Acetate said...

Imagineering has dropped the ball for the past 20 years. Where were the rides based on the hits through the 90's. A little mermaid undersea ride, an aladdin flying carpet/ (Not the carnival ride they have) A monsters inc. chase-ride through the door factory, etc. There have been a lot of missed opportunities for new audio-animatronics, all kinds of things.

Intempesta-Nox said...

This is a very interesting topic. I see the good intention behind it, but Disney makes oodles of money, does it not? I don't think money is the problem the parks (and hotels) face, it's who has control over it. I think if the powers that be (at any level) had the genius idea that upgrades/refurbs, along with the occasional (quality) new ride were what the public wanted, they'd have done this long ago. There seems to be a little of this happening as of late, but not enough to justify not having a topic like this come up.

Merlin Jones said...

>>I don't think money is the problem the parks (and hotels) face, it's who has control over it. I think if the powers that be (at any level) had the genius idea that upgrades/refurbs, along with the occasional (quality) new ride were what the public wanted, they'd have done this long ago.<<

There you go. The need for such a plan is to "get around" the people/system that controls the money and doesn't want it being spent this way. One way is to convince them - - when that doesn't (hasn't) work, a new approach must be found or we will lose more of Walt's Disneyland.

Merlin Jones said...

"In July... DisneyAuctions.com hosted a 7-day
auction that raised over $21,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America.
Among the one-of-a-kind experiences offered was an opportunity for one lucky
Disney fan to have his name engraved on the houseboat in the Blue Bayou
scene of the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction.
The winning bid was $9,214.32."

ickymouse said...

Yeah - I got one of those lightbulbs, too. Just after it "Glowed away" for the 23rd time that Summer. Then the bastards had the brass huevos to open it back up in DCA. NOT the same thing, guys. Yeah - sounds like a great plan. Here's a list of stuff I'd like to see back:

The original Rocket Jets - rocket ship & all - back up on top of that platform in the middle of Tomorrowland (and finally get rid of that hideous "sculpture" that resides there now). While we're at it - let's just turn Tomorrowland back to the way it looked in the 70's because nothing in the world is cooler than that.

The Submarine Voyage. Long live Paul Frees!

The Skyway. The stations are still there, guys. Just stick in the pylons, hookup the cars and let's ride.

The original Autopia. Or at LEAST change the paint scheme from that hideous faux" patina"-look Uccchh!

Tom Sawyer's Island. Tom Sawyer is classic literature. Jack Sparrow is not.

Tahitian Terrace - haven't we all had enough of "A whole, new world"?I have.

THE MAIN STREET ELECTRICAL PARADE. ON MAIN STREET. MAIN. STREET.

The Pirates of the Caribbean. "What's that?" you say. "The Pirates are still there". No. That is not the Pirates of the Caribbean. Marc Davis, John Hench, Blaine Gibson, Rolly Crump, Alice Davis & Co. did not put cheesy, Johnny Depp-inspired, sexy-boy pirates in that ride. Please put it back to the way they originally made it. Thank you.

The parking lot. Yes - let's tear down that error ofa all errors and pave it over with a fresh, new batch of asphalt. Let's forget all about Eisner (ekk - I just threw up in my mouth a little)and bring back the magic of the park's entranceway. I'll even donate my Pinocchio sign!

AlwegFan said...

Here here to this comment;

The parking lot. Yes - let's tear down that error ofa all errors and pave it over with a fresh, new batch of asphalt. Let's forget all about Eisner (ekk - I just threw up in my mouth a little)and bring back the magic of the park's entranceway. I'll even donate my Pinocchio sign

And what about BaxterLand - Oohfah! Makes my foo hurt just a little (Nah, it's peobably Innoventions and that Observatron dealie thing-a-ma-bob!

Yeah to the Tahitian Terrace. You put in Alladin Storytelling which is closed for most of the day when you could be making a profit on lovely lunches & dinners!!

Yesterday Land

Shout out to DOLE & The Enchanted Tkiki Room and for their continued corporate endorcement!!!

Anonymous said...

Ah, I don't feel too badly though. The 1997 2-1 Stock Split raised my coinage (simoleons/clams, whatEVER)

Poor Paul Pressler & Cynthia Harrissis all I have to say!!!

Lowest Unique Bid said...

WooHoo......