Monday, September 18, 2006

Comforting Words

21 comments:

Incredibles said...

Short, sweet and to the point. Thank you for pointing out something positive that Disney has done in the last year: the acquisition of Pixar. More importantly, the acquisition of the Pixar creativity and mind set.

Will Robison said...

I just returned from WDW and really, they ought to practice what they preach. I was thoroughly disappointed and I'm one of the biggest Disney fans I know. Everything was twice as expensive and half as good. I'm actually very upset with Disney. I just hope this reflects the end of the Eisner era and not the beginning of the new era.

Bruce said...

Here's hoping Pixar can save the Walt Disney Company with the most powerful tool of all - the teachings of Walt himself.

Sad that the mouse house needs outside help to stay true to their roots. But at least the propper steps to healing have been taken - finally.

mnmears said...

Hey, let's give a little credit to Bob Iger, too.

Iger's the one who recognized -- thanks, in part, to his own children -- that the Disney Company needed to keep John Lasseter and Pixar.

Lasseter and many of his peers who form the creative core of Pixar grew up admiring Walt Disney and the classic animated films.

Many of them are graduates of CalArts, which is closely aligned with the Disney family. Many of the studio's legendary talents -- people like Ward, Frank and Ollie, Joe Grant and so many others taught classes or participated in workshops at CalArts, training people like Glen Keene, John Lasseter, Joe Ranft, Pete Docter and so many others who are honoring their teachers and the inspiration of Walt Disney.

Walt's primary goal -- or at least one of his top drives -- was giving the public a good show. John Lasseter understands that -- so, too, I think does Bob iger.

Geoff said...

I agree that the end of the Eisner era means good things for the Disney Company. Though when I see ads on tv for Disney Mobile it makes me wonder what Disney we will have in 20 years? the childlike loving company that I remember from my childhood (I'm only 21 and Disney has changed that much...thanks eisner :( )

The Pixar officials really seem like they care about what the Disney image means to people, what it represents, and seem to want to keep that tradition going strong. Iger understood that, and the company started caring more and more about their guests. Lasseter also seems to want to continue this rebirth of the caring, friendly Disney of the past.

Only time will tell if this trend will continue or if it will falter. I hope that this trend will continue for all our sakes. I am reminded of a recent episode of "Family Guy" of the Disney park rides, and one of the rides turned out to be a "Disney Stock Slide." The name of that episode is "the courtship of Stewie's Father" and it shows truely how michael eisner is, by showing him ala CEO trying to rip out the heart of the main character.

Good post in the blog, short quick and very much too the point.

Anonymous said...

"EPCOT...will take its cue from the new ideas and new technologies that are now emerging from the creative centers of American industry. It will be a community of tomorrow that will never be completed, but will always be introducing and testing and demonstrating new materials and systems. And EPCOT will always be a showcase to the world for the ingenuity and imagination of American free enterprise."

Anonymous said...

Lovely, pithy post. I hope that any changes start with the attitude of Disney itself. Its reputation has suffered horribly and there is a lot of healing to do.

I had cancelled my trip this year not only because of bad experiences from the last time I was there, but all the complaints that have been pouring in from people who have been there recently. Look through consumer complaints sites like Epinion etc. The biggest complaint by far (even over ride breakdowns) is the rudenss/incompetence of the Disney staff that is reaching legendary proportions. Certainly a trickle down from upper management. Disney needs a deep change in attitude.

Anonymous said...

They need to stop looking at the $$$$. If they produce a quality product. People will come. People will want thier products. Don't do what Eisner did and flood the marketplace with uninspired products. They need originality that's what made Disney so great and magical in the first place. Give us something we can not get anywhere else. They should not be cutting back on the imagineers. By farming out the work we get the same stuff we see at all of the other parks around the world. So far I think Iger and Pixar are doing a great job! Keep it up!

Can't wait to see what they do with Oswald.

Ted said...

I agree with the comments that Bob Iger deserves some credit.
The way I see it, Iger knows that he doesn't know everything (unlike a former CEO) so he hires the best people that know what he doesn't know (Dick Cook, John Lasseter, etc) and gives them the tools, support and power to do what they do best.

PARISINJUNE said...

The quality of a man's work portrays the quality of a man's character. Sadly, some of your board members run companies that say little for their own level of standards, much less what they do for this one. You are only as good as those you associate yourself with. Quality alone will not determine how far you will go, only that you have a starting chance to get there.

Chris said...

"EPCOT...will take its cue from the new ideas and new technologies that are now emerging from the creative centers of American industry. It will be a community of tomorrow that will never be completed, but will always be introducing and testing and demonstrating new materials and systems. And EPCOT will always be a showcase to the world for the ingenuity and imagination of American free enterprise."

That quote was about the actual CITY of EPCOT, not the theme park. But yes, we all know Epcot the theme park does need to have some changes.

BigThunder said...

The finest compliment I can pay to Mr. Lasseter is that his "Comforting Words" sound a lot like something Walt Disney would have said.

/bsdb said...

John gets it. Many within Disney still do not.

"Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" might be a good baptism for the suits, followed up by a two-day seminar on the Slow Food Movement.

And if that doesn't jump start the process... lock 'em all up in the El Cap Suite at the Grand Californian for a three-day weekend with a bunch of Premium APs and Disneyland Alumni Club members. Not to mention a few 'involuntarily terminated' Imagineers just to mix it up.

Quality isn't difficult to understand once you're willing to stick a crowbar into your wallet and pony up for it.

Digital Jedi said...

A glimmer of hope.

Ordinarily I wouldn't get my hopes up. But this is Disney. Unfortunately, when it comes to Disney, Walt trained me to think that way. :D

Here's hoping their not dashed. :(

Will Robison said...

To follow up on what I said earlier and to bring this subject back to Imagineering and not Management - I had the best of times and the worst of times with Disney Rides while at the parks. I found Philharmagic to be awesomely fun. I found Turtle Talk to be magical the way Disney used to be magical - a show that Walt himself would have been delighted with. I loved the new Davy Jones effect on Pirates and was not terribly outputted by the Capt. Jack Sparrow changes to the ride - I thought Pirates was just as much fun as I remembered it.

On the other hand... I was thoroughly disgusted with the Haunted Mansion - noting that the audio tracks were all out of sorts with the animatronics creating a terrible cacophony of noise instead of a well-blended and delightful show. I had a very rude Monorail train operator - something I expect from mass transit back home, but not something that I want from Disney. I am digusted that they are automating The Land boats. And the wonderfulness of the WDW Pooh ride made me even more angry at the Disneyland version being such a big piece of... well, Pooh.

There is a glimmer of hope that they can right the ship. But they've got a long way to go.

P.S. My sister's biggest complaint about WDW was the fact that she had to park her stroller about five miles from the new Stunt Show and then had to carry her kids the entire way through the heat without so much as a single piece of shade. This is the sort of thing you expect at Universal or other crappy parks, not Disney.

gr0mmit said...

Is it remotely possible that good, wholesome quality plussed by comittee might lead to a generic result where the work of any single individual is unable to come through? A sort of "the nail that sticks up must be hammered down?"

jOe said...

Talk is cheap.

I've heard of promising steps taken towards reviving Disney, with Iger acquiring Oswald, attraction enhancements at Disneyland, and rumors of a meeting with ex-Imagineers. I have every bit of confidence that Lasseter has the best of intentions for Disney. Pixar has always been a sign of quality animation and great storytelling, and John's desire to see things improved on the Imagineering front is good news as well.

The question is, do John and Bob have the power to push against the number crunchers, the stockholders and Wall Street to bring the parks back to a level that Walt would have wanted? The world has changed a lot since Disney ceased to be the man and became the corporation.

I want to see another golden age for Disney here. I want to see great things happen again. With Universal's Islands of Adventure, Universal was doing Disney better than Disney could do Disney. Now is their chance.

dan_steinberg said...

Amen.

Now let's just hope that Disneyland's recent $4-per-day ticket price increase goes to hiring high quality Cast Members. Although I wouldn't hold my breath on that one...

Anonymous said...

John, I think you give us all hope. Just the fact that you are on board. The Pixar movies have a strength and a quality that Disney was starting to miss. I live in VA but travel to LA a bit to cover family movies for a conservative TV show. The Pixar movies have extremely well developed story lines that teach amazing lessons to kids and adults. And that type of story development costs money--thanks for taking the time and money to do it right. Lastly, please fix DCA. Infuse it quickly with 3 strong attractions/shows a year or it will never compete with the park across the walkway. Midway Mania sounds great but what about a massive water show in Paradise Bay (at night), a Bigfoot Expediton coaster and a Pacific Coastline area with Sealions to feed? Good luck, John, you are the man they need.

nona said...

It's worth remembering that John Lasseter's very first job, right out of CalArts, was as a Jungle Cruise skipper. He knows and loves the parks, and I have a feeling he understands what needs to be done to bring them back to the level Walt would have expected.

Anonymous said...

Lasseter’s new creative leadership position at Disney had produced an initial euphoria at Imagineering, as the apparent intent was to put creativity and quality at the forefront of the company’s new direction.

Unfortunately, it appears that, though Lasseter is enamored with Imagineering, he has no intention, or is incapable of taking on the political quagmire that has resulted in years of mediocre concepts and weak attractions (Oh, there have been the occasional successful project [even under faulty management, some good things manage to get through], however, an occasional success is a lot different than the mostly successful projects that the company USED to produce).

But, without some pressure on Lasseter’s part, Imagineering will again slip into the creatively handcuffed, politically controlled mess they’ve been plagued with over much of the past decade. Imagineering won’t fix itself. If that’s what he’s waiting for, I don’t expect much from him.