Monday, March 24, 2008

With Utmost Reverence


“No one approaches our classic attractions with more reverence than Disney Imagineers who take great care when refreshing beloved attractions."

-Marilyn Waters
Disney Imagineering Spokeswoman
.

124 comments:

Drew said...

Perfect. Absolutely perfect.

Tangaroa said...

Zing!

Indeed.

Anonymous said...

Harsh but fair :)

Brian said...

Best laugh I've had all day! :)

mr wiggins said...

Dear Marilyn,

Your check's in the mail.

Sincerely,
Marty

/bsdb said...

If Imagineering actually believed these classic attractions were indeed beloved... then why would they feel so compelled to refresh them?

Isn't refreshing typically reserved for stodgy, stale, and stagnant attractions?

Anonymous said...

"Isn't refreshing typically reserved for stodgy, stale, and stagnant attractions?"


Yes it is, and in the eyes of many guests the Tiki Room had become that way. And there are attractions in the parks that end up being beloved, but not well attended. Lincoln was one. Truth be told, the fact that far too many guests were walking out part way through the Tiki Room Show was enough for the operations people to ask WDI to redo the show to bring back the crowds. Of course, back then the Eisner regime wanted to find ways to add in the more popular characters as well. I did not care for the UNM version. In the case of DL they shortened the show altogether with little change and that seemed to work pretty well.

It is very hard to create any show that can pack 'em in for forty years running and not lose audience (Public Executions still work). The less script driven shows can do that more easily. I think most of us would agree that all of these attractions are viewed differently than they were back in their heyday. I love the Tiki Room in it's original nostalgic and naive state, but have a hard time getting others to go in with me. (Probably my whistling).

Patrick said...

I really like the new tiki room. I always used to fall asleep in the old one.

Pissed off for being Pissed on said...

Gilbert Gottfried for Disneys' sake!
:::With backup provided by Miami Sound Machine:::

'Nuff Said!
Bravo Mr. Banks!

Capt. Tomorrow said...

Dear Ms. Waters,

"You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time". ~ Abraham Lincoln

(you know, the man that USE to be on Main Street)

Anonymous said...

"It's something that will never be finished. Something that I can keep developing...and adding to."—Walt Disney

Jessica Q. said...

Anonymous said: "It's something that will never be finished. Something that I can keep developing...and adding to."—Walt Disney

Yeah, keep adding good, quality things to. Not crap.

Innoviz said...

I do not recall is this quote was posted anywhere, but at the risk or repetition,

"The key to the success of It's A Small World was that in creating it, we all remained faithful to the mood and feel and Mary's design."

-Rolly Crump, Imagineer

mr wiggins said...

Dear Marilyn,

No, your check really is in the mail.

Trust me.

Sincerely,
Marty

Destino said...

I have always understood the need to revitalize the TIKI ROOM. I've been alone in that room more times than I'd like. I've watched people walk out. So when they did the refurb I was really pleased. Until I saw the show. I don't mind that they added ZAZU and IAGO. I even like the new Goddess figure. But mocking the old show is low. And the new songs are not good, they are trendy and have already become stale. There's no reason why the show couldn't be re-written with an actually clever, funny and entertaining story. And to me, the Tiki room just isn't right without the Hawaiian War Chant. I love when the whole room suddenly comes to life.

Crazylegs said...

Zing, indeed. I agree that the UNM version sucks mightily - an unpleasant assault on the ears. But I also agree that the attraction was stale and did need some updating. The problem, I think, lies in the taking a rather timeless attraction and polluting it with less-than-timeless characters and gags. Rather than freshening up The Show, Disney chose to dumb it down with slapstick (a theme running through a variety of Disney products in the last 10-15 years, I think).

Namowal said...

My reply to Marilin and Friends (originally posted on the Snopes message board)

Dear Marilyn,
Are you guys on crack? This is obnoxious in every direction. I'd rather you turn the damn ride into a shooting gallery than to have the rainforest scene ripped out. And what's with all your movie characters creeping into every ride? This used to be the exception (Fantasyland). Other attractions were an experience unto themselves, not a freaking commercial for Disney merchandise.
Leave the damned ride alone.
And while you're at it, fix the track on the Matterhorn, get rid of that spinning junk drawer, Innovations, and set the f___ing cabin back on fire.
Thank You"

Brian said...

> Yes it is, and in the eyes of many guests the Tiki Room had become that way. And there are attractions in the parks that end up being beloved, but not well attended. Lincoln was one. Truth be told, the fact that far too many guests were walking out part way through the Tiki Room Show was enough for the operations people to ask WDI to redo the show to bring back the crowds. Of course, back then the Eisner regime wanted to find ways to add in the more popular characters as well. I did not care for the UNM version. In the case of DL they shortened the show altogether with little change and that seemed to work pretty well. <

I think refreshing an attraction is a good thing. But I think the point of this post is that WDI, contrary to what they say, does not hold classic attractions with the utmost reverence. While the graphic notes the Tiki Room Under New Management, the topic is around the purported changes to Small World.

If those changes are pushed forth, Small World will not be refreshed – it will be changed in content and intent. The reason that Disneyland’s Tiki Room continues to work is because the changes remained true to the original, classic premise. The changes that are proposed for Small World do not.

ChristianZ said...

"(you know, the man that USE to be on Main Street)"

He'll be back. In the meantime enjoy the show they have there now.

Merlin Jones said...

http://travel.latimes.com/daily-deal-blog/?p=1552

Well,WDI has confirmed the Small World changes - -and now they are claiming it's all about Mary! ; )

Anonymous said...

I would not like to be an Imagineer now...
This could get very ugly, very fast.

Anonymous said...

Tiki Room UNM is absolutely execrable. Of course the Tiki Room neede refreshing, of course it needed updating. Of course no one wants a museum.

But that does not mean you then go out and debase the previous show, insult it, and the public who enjoyed it. You don't call the public suckers who are waiting in line to see it, and how you're going to suck their money from them.

It's detestable. The people who made this show don't have one hundredth the talent of those who created the original, yet they have the gall to put that show down. A show that is still basically playing to a public still enjoying it 45 years later.

I am rather sure that the new Tiki Room version won't have quite a long as a run, nor be missed when it is gone.

It is a disrespectful and condescending attitude towards Walt Disney, previous Disney workers and the public. It even goes so far as to insult another attraction, Hall of Presidents which attempts to bring dignity and patriotism to the park while being one of Walt Disney's personal projects. How very horrible of the Hall of Presidents.

So now we have the WDI people in their insufferable arrogance trying to tell us that by trashing this show now, they are going to somehow "respect it." Well, they can respect it by keeping the original meaning and point of the ride, and not turning it into yet one more commercial for toys.

The BS meter is pegged.

jonvn

Smilee306 said...

Thanks for posting the link merlin jones. I kept hoping that this was just a rumor, that no one at WDI could be that stupid and oblivious to the whole concept of Small World, but apparently I was wrong. I hate when pessimism has to win out. I can't believe they're doing this.

Anonymous said...

Prejudging is what all the Walties do. So do some of the backstabbers from Imagineering.
I think everyone should quit prejudging and wait to see if it's any good.

Anonymous said...

Hey, let's put in some goose stepping German nazis and Filipino transvetites in the ride, too. I know it sounds bad, but we shouldn't prejudge, right?

mr wiggins said...

> I think everyone should quit prejudging and wait to see if it's any good. <

Great idea! While we're waiting, we can all revel in the magical world of DCA; be amazed by the wonders of Tomorrowland '98; climb Tarzan's treehouse and meet the cartoon ape man himself; marvel at state of the art Imagineering in Critter Country's Winnie the Pooh; play peek-a-boo with Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean; be dazzled by the high-tech miracle of underwater cartoons in the Submarines; then jet to Orlando to cynic-a-long with the birdies in Tiki Room Under New Management. I can't wait!

Brian said...

>> Prejudging is what all the Walties do. So do some of the backstabbers from Imagineering.
I think everyone should quit prejudging and wait to see if it's any good. <<


The problem being that if it's as distasteful as it sounds, waiting to see if it's any good will be too late. The damage will have already been done.

theatreman said...

Wise-ass additions to classical attractions may reflect either a Disney attempt to appeal to what is seen as an increasingly vulgar guest taste, and/or the crudeness of the new generations of designers themselves.

Either way, playing to the lowest common denominator contravenes all that has made Disney successful.

theatreman said...

While the anger vented here is justified, it is gratifying to read the positive comments which suggest better and more sensitive re-imagineering approaches and even specific recommendations and ideas.

Certainly there are new technologies, talented, creative writers and adventurous but not tasteless designers who can reinvigorate rather than ravish (rape?) the classical attractions.

Criticism should not stop, but creative suggestions might have influence as here as well.

Some comments have suggested specific ways in which Lincoln and the Tiki Room might be Re-imagineered. Are there more ideas along that line?

Anonymous said...

"Prejudging is what all the Walties do."

I think it is very telling of the contempt and disrespect for who and what made the company what it is to have people go around saying things like "Walties."

Is this the attitude that is common now within Disney? The company that dotes on its founder like no other? Or is that all just marketing baloney peddling to a gullible public, while internal the employees sneer and speak derisively of their fans and supporters?

To me, unfortunately, that is how it seems to be coming across now.

Brian said...

>> Is this the attitude that is common now within Disney? The company that dotes on its founder like no other? Or is that all just marketing baloney peddling to a gullible public, while internal the employees sneer and speak derisively of their fans and supporters? <<

I think the Disney Corporation has made Walt Disney one of their characters. They quote him out of context, they use his likeness to show how "traditional" they are and they twist his motiviation to increase their bottom line. As they make Mickey and Donald move and talk, they use Walt's movements and speech for corporate gain. How many have rushed out to buy the Archive DVDs that feature Walt - I know I have. I wonder if he's a bigger seller than Mickey?

Do they have a legal right to do this? Probably. Do they have a moral right? Probably not.

Capt. Tomorrow said...

"Some comments have suggested specific ways in which Lincoln and the Tiki Room might be Re-imagineered. Are there more ideas along that line?"

I've said it before and I'll say it again. If Walt had technology like ASIMO available to him, it would not be in Innoventions doing some rinky-dink show. Walt would have had used the ASIMO technology to REALLY bring Mr. Lincoln (and other characters) to life. WDI has a great opportunity to take Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln to new heights, but I know they just won't do it.

Innoviz said...

>> Prejudging is what all the Walties do. So do some of the backstabbers from Imagineering.
I think everyone should quit prejudging and wait to see if it's any good. <<

>> Is this the attitude that is common now within Disney? The company that dotes on its founder like no other? Or is that all just marketing baloney peddling to a gullible public, while internal the employees sneer and speak derisively of their fans and supporters? <<

From my expereince with Disney, this is the new managament mantra that is trickling down into the ranks of the "team players."

I think it reflects their frustration that they simply cannot get it right, that they cannot live up to Walt and WED Enterprises. WDI is not WED, and until things are changed, it will never be. The potential used to be there, perhaps it is there somewhere.

One major problem is that everyone is out to be #1. There is not the sense of unity that there once was. These folks also lack that pioneering spirit that once filled the very halls of Glendale. When a person of talent emerges with this Pioneering Spirit, they are cut down like blades of grass, and disposed of. Instead, perhaps the rest of WDI should learn something from them?

Too much of the talent has either died, retired, or moved on to a less corrosive environment. What they are left with is the yes men (and women) and toadies left at the bottom of the barrel.

INNOVIZ

Spokker said...

What the hell does "prejudging" mean anyway? Are we supposed to just sit here and not comment on any of the goings ons at Disney parks?

When we hear a piece of information are we just supposed to say, "Gee, that sounds swell. I hope it's a good thing that they are getting rid of Mr. Toad the ride and turning it into Mr. Toad the Dream Suite. A night with Thaddeus J. Toad?! He's dreamy!"

What are these Disney forums good for then, if not for commenting on stuff like this? Should the only threads on Disney message boards be stuff like, "Disneyland sure is great!"

"Breastfeeding on Pirates?"

"CHECK OUT THESE PICTURES OF A BUNCH OF FLOWERS WITH THE BACKGROUND ALL BLURRY. OH GOD I WASTED ALL THIS MONEY ON AN SLR CAMERA PLEASE LIKE ME AND MY OUT OF FOCUS DISNEYLAND PICTURES."

"Some family breaks a rule about bringing in outside food that Disney is too lazy to enforce! Here are candid shots of the horrible deed caught in the act! Annual passholders who are ALWAYS well-behaved better stay away from the parks because the 2fer is back!"

"Which rides will accommodate a 600 pound woman with a toilet seat fused to her ass?"

"Is the park going to be crowded this week?"

"How crowded is the park going to be Easter Sunday?"

"How are the crowds eleven months from now?"

"New Years Eve. Crowded?"

"Let me tell about how I used to be a Jungle Cruise skipper for the millionth time."

Yawn.

Give me a bunch of insane purists whining about It's a Small World any day. It's a lot more interesting than anything else on Disney forums these days.

Anonymous said...

To be fair, the damage you're referring to was done during the Eisner regime. I think the Imagineers themselves take great care with renovating the classic attractions, but management often gets in the way.

jonvn said...

So the damage being done now by Iger is OK then?

theatreman said...

THE CHARACTER CAVALCADE ADVANCES

Jim Hill Media reports on 3/26/08 that, “WDW execs are still looking for ways" to extend Disney’s Animal Kingdom park’s operating hours, and are considering “building the long discussed 'Beastly Kingdome'.” However, “You can just forget about 'Dragon's Tower,' 'Quest for the Unicorn' or any other ride concepts that were previously proposed," because "any shows or attractions that are being proposed for this revamped version of Beastly Kingdomme will have to have strong ties to already well- established Disney brands." Hill thinks that, “DAK is pretty light when it comes to rides, shows and attractions that prominently feature the Disney characters (To date, there's only seven of these in that entire theme park: 'It's Tough to Be a Bug,' 'Finding Nemo - The Musical,' 'Dinosaur,' 'Festival of the Lion King,' 'Pocahontas and her Forest Friends,' 'Rafiki's Planet Watch' as well as Camp Minnie-Mickey's character greeting area).” Only seven! Hill’s opinion is that, “Reimagining Beastly Kingdomme as a character-friendly addition to that park will probably be a smart move in the long run.” And it won't require nearly as much Imagination or Imagineering as creating wholly new attractions, right?

mr wiggins said...

> From my expereince with Disney, this is the new managament mantra that is trickling down into the ranks of the "team players." <

Correct, with one exception: it's not new. Dissing Walties as a badge of membership in the New Order of M.E. was obvious among the executive ranks as early as 1986, when it was clear that advocates of the old order weren't going anywhere except out.

> Too much of the talent has either died, retired, or moved on to a less corrosive environment. What they are left with is the yes men (and women) and toadies left at the bottom of the barrel. <

There are a few -- very few --- exceptions, but none in positions of decision-making authority.

Anonymous said...

>> Too much of the talent has either died, retired, or moved on to a less corrosive environment. What they are left with is the yes men (and women) and toadies left at the bottom of the barrel. <

I'd like to see you say that directly to Tony Baxter, Joe Rohde, and others. Why didn't anyone scream about the IASM Xmas Ride? Because it was well done. It could have been an abortion too. Tony is responsible for DL and his name is on this. I can't imagine, given his track record of it being as bad as most of you make it out to be. It's obvious that the pundits out there are not creative enough to imagine, much less admit that it's possible on some level to be done in a seamless way. I think you all insult even the best Imagineers by assuming that the execution of this idea will be done tastelessly.

Disneyland is full of discordant counterdictions and upon the surface they seemed like they could never work. But there is a Bavarian Castle at the end of a small town American Street, and Walt Disney had a big enough imagination to visualize it without prejudice. Creativity is a risk taking business and some things work and some don't. I don't know if this Small World thing will or not, but I do know that the people in charge are capable of pulling it off if allowed.

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen the WDW Tiki Room since the 70's. I did see the new version on You Tube. It's HORRIBLE!

It could have been updated with the music of Don Ho or Israel Kamakawiwo Ole. Wait! That would be creative. And remember this is Disney.

Brian said...

> I'd like to see you say that directly to Tony Baxter, Joe Rohde, and others. Why didn't anyone scream about the IASM Xmas Ride? Because it was well done. It could have been an abortion too. Tony is responsible for DL and his name is on this. I can't imagine, given his track record of it being as bad as most of you make it out to be. It's obvious that the pundits out there are not creative enough to imagine, much less admit that it's possible on some level to be done in a seamless way. I think you all insult even the best Imagineers by assuming that the execution of this idea will be done tastelessly. <

I think we have to identify what the objective of putting characters into Small World really is. If it is to have a seamless transition from Small World characters to Disney characters, then why even put the Disney characters in? I doubt very much that the objective of putting them there is to have them blend in with the rest of the show. If that were the case, why even do it?

It's already been noted here that Tony Baxter doesn't appreciate Mary Blair's work - that's evidenced with the painting over of her brilliant murals in Tomorrowland. Tony has been touted as the next Walt Disney when it comes to the Parks, but I've yet to see him demonstrate this. And I think the Christmas overlay of Small World is just that - a holiday overlay - it's not permanent, it doesn't change the essence of the attraction and it doesn't kill a rainforest. And, I don't know what's creative about following an already established marketing plan - especially when that includes drastically changing a stylistic and artistic classic attraction. Creativity takes more work than is being demonstrated here.

>> Disneyland is full of discordant counterdictions and upon the surface they seemed like they could never work. But there is a Bavarian Castle at the end of a small town American Street, and Walt Disney had a big enough imagination to visualize it without prejudice. Creativity is a risk taking business and some things work and some don't. I don't know if this Small World thing will or not, but I do know that the people in charge are capable of pulling it off if allowed. <<

Right - Walt Disney had the creative genius to be able to bring a number of discordant ideas together and make them work. I think Rolly Crump described Disneyland as a salad with many different ingredients. But what's not in Walt's salad is rotten tomatoes - while the Bavarian castle is at the end of a small town American street, the two are separate entities that come together. Walt knew how to blend, but he also knew about boundaries...and I doubt seriously that he would ever think of putting a horse-drawn street car in the middle of the castle courtyard - nor would he put his beloved characters where they are not appropriate.

ChristianZ said...

"I don't know if this Small World thing will or not, but I do know that the people in charge are capable of pulling it off if allowed."

That might be true but it'd be easier to swallow if it didn't smack of a shallow merchandising attempt and if we didn't hear rumors of current WDI management wishing "the Walties would just go away." I've been on the ride many times (although I've been to Disneyland many times without going on the ride) and I never once heard another guest say, "That ride would be better if they threw some Disney-branded characters into it." And even if that sentiment had been expressed by some guests the ride still was fine the way it was.

Andy Castro said...

SavetheSmallWorld.com

Spokker said...

Since someone mentioned It's a Small World Holiday, it should be noted that it's a temporary overlay. If it were permanent I would raise hell.

If the Small World changes we're talking about were only temporary, then I wouldn't even be posting about it.

Anonymous said...

"I'd like to see you say that directly to Tony Baxter, Joe Rohde, and others"

I'd say it to them. They're not god, they're not walt disney, and they deserve to be told when the things they are doing are no good. It is how people learn.

All this talk about Baxter being the second walt disney? Phooey. Let him get a dozen or so Academy Awards under his belt first, then you can discuss being just an also ran.

mr wiggins said...

> I'd like to see you say that directly to Tony Baxter, Joe Rohde, and others....
...I do know that the people in charge are capable of pulling it off if allowed. <


News flash: it's been many years since creatives were "in charge" at any Disney division, John notwithstanding (and it remains to be seen how much he truly is "in charge").

The IASW protest is neither about the talents of the Imagineers nor their feelings for the traditions of Disneyland.

It's about the the abysmal lack of showmanship of the Marketeers -- the people up and down the management chain who give the marching orders at Disney.

Anonymous said...

Calm down, jonvn, and don't twist my words. I never wrote that Bob Iger was incapable of failure. I'm sure you've read Disney War and are familiar with what happens with the company's management. Iger was Eisner's right-hand man toward the end of his reign. However, he acquired Pixar, so that immediately makes me like him a lot more.

All I said is that the Magic Kingdom Tiki Room overlay was the product of corporate culture under Eisner. Everyone on this blog is taking this way too seriously.

/bsdb said...

That might be true but it'd be easier to swallow if it didn't smack of a shallow merchandising attempt...

Absolutely spot on.

Installing the Disney characters a la Hong Kong allows Anaheim to peddle HKDL iasw merchandise in the exit gift shop. Which, of course, helps to justify the cost of hiring additional Imagineers to do the installation! WDI is infamous for blatant featherbedding of project labor, and this is no exception.

Convincing Burbank that the additional expense to add the Disney characters would be minimal, not to mention significantly offset by the sale of HKDL small world merchandise, has allowed the project's leaders to keep their buddies on Glendale's payroll for another 18 months or so. This was most likely WDI's main goal of the character additions from the start.

In today's Imagineering, it's all about staying employed. Legacy doesn't matter, quality doesn't matter. Receiving a Disney paycheck and Disney healthcare benefits, month after month... that's all that really matters to Imagineers now.


... and if we didn't hear rumors of current WDI management wishing "the Walties would just go away."

Now the WDI undercurrent of distain for John Lasseter becomes clear: he's one of the biggest "Walties" around, and damned proud of it.

I'd rather be accused of being a Waltie, than be labeled as a dumb*ss theme park visitor who'll mindlessly buy any overpriced character-based merchandise that Disney attempts to foist. You know, the target demographic for these latest additions to iasw.

Walties of the (small) world unite!

jonvn said...

"However, he acquired Pixar, so that immediately makes me like him a lot more."

Interesting thing about Pixar...Steve Jobs has this reputation around here of being a tough negotiator. How it works is that he comes in and says "This is what we want, take it or leave it." And Apple has some weight around certain parts, so people generally end up taking it.

It is this sort of chutzpah that has put Steve Jobs where he is now. Good for him, I guess.

But what happened with Pixar? This money making machine was hooked up with Disney. They were making a ton of cash. Somehow negotiations broke down between the two companies, and everyone wants to blame Eisner, who probably has an ego issue or two himself.

So, if Jobs did follow true to form, he said "This is what we want, eat it," Eisner probably told him to buzz off. Eisner likely figured they could do the same stuff, too.

So what happened then? TWO YEARS goes by. Other studios looking in on this. They see this hit maker in need of a partner. Do you think they all just said "Gee, nope."

More likely, Steve Jobs pulled the same negotiating tactic with all of them. "This is what we want, take it or leave it." So, you know? They ALL left it. Nobody signed with Pixar. After two years, nobody wanted to deal with them.

Then Iger comes along. Pixar is a bit on the ropes as they can't find anyone to play with now. So they hammer out a "deal." The deal is that they give Jobs a ton of money and stock, making him the largest single shareholder. Some deal. While Disney didn't fall into doing what Jobs originally wanted, because NOBODY was going to give that to Jobs, they did give him pretty much everything else.

And then what with Iger? Anything? No. That's been it. He consumated this deal. He has done little else that Eisner has not or would not have done, except perhaps be even more cautious in new business ventures.

All these guys are alike, for the most part. They all get taught the same things, and are all advised by the same people. They all follow the same rules, they all follow the same laws.

We now have a new figurehead with Iger. When he goes, and we get the next figure head, whoever that may be, that individual will act in a very similar vein as well.

My guess as to who it will be is Pressler or Rasulo. Just to annoy everyone. But really, it's just not going to make a whole lot of difference.

Figment571 said...

>>I've said it before and I'll say it again. If Walt had technology like ASIMO available to him, it would not be in Innoventions doing some rinky-dink show. Walt would have had used the ASIMO technology to REALLY bring Mr. Lincoln (and other characters) to life. WDI has a great opportunity to take Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln to new heights, but I know they just won't do it.<<

And that's why Disney isn't Disney anymore. They used to push the boundaries of the craft they went to work on and make it better, to create and elevate the art to new heights. Now they just want the quickest turn around they can find. Walt would hate what they've become. I'm sure there are some still in the company fighting for what Walt would have done (this is a loose term because he was always exploring new ideas and things, pushing limits) but they are repressed by a cooperate, get it done ASAP, budget the staples culture. It is a sad time for Disney...

John said...

Here's the response I received from Disney today about "it's a small world," with some emphasis added by me:


3/27/2008



Thank you for your e-mail to the DISNEYLAND® Resort. We appreciate you taking the time to share your comments with us regarding "it's a small world."

As you know, "it's a small world" was created under the creative
supervision of Walt Disney for the 1964 New York World's Fair. During its time at DISNEYLAND® Park, "it's a small world" turned into an icon of the park, becoming an attraction loved by all ages.

During this scheduled refurbishment, we carry on Walt's tradition of continuously updating attractions and adding new elements and surprises
to keep the Disneyland experience new, fresh and exciting.
With "it's a small world," it gives us the opportunity to enrich the storytelling and
take artist Mary Blair's creative approach to a new level.
Because it holds such a special place in the hearts of our Guests, the original intent of "it's a small world," the celebration of children and the youthful spirit everywhere, will be retained and strengthened with the
incorporation of a number of characters that children of today and yesterday hold dear. These new figures will be stylized Disney characters, patterned after the original look, feel and spirit of Mary's designs.

Walt Disney Imagineering takes pride in the heritage and tradition of the Disney theme parks, especially DISNEYLAND® Park, Walt's original park. We hope you will agree that our Disney Imagineers have an
outstanding track record with creating exciting attractions that appeal to visitors of all ages.

Walt Disney stated, "Disneyland will never be completed as long as there is imagination left in the world." It is always our objective to provide a quality "show" for our Guests, and in that spirit, we will
continue to make enhancements to DISNEYLAND® and DISNEY'S CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE® Park, all with the intent of keeping the Disney experience new, fresh and exciting. Thank you for taking the time to contact us
and we hope that you will continue to follow the developments of the
DISNEYLAND® Resort.

Again, thank you for contacting us. We hope you will have the
opportunity to visit the DISNEYLAND® Resort soon and that our attractions and entertainment will delight you in every way.

Sincerely,

DISNEYLAND® Resort
Guest Communications

Digital Jedi said...

All Disney fans are "Walties". Just to more or lesser degrees.

I know they mean it as an insult. But, seriously, that's like telling a baseball player he's too much like Hank Aaron or a dancer he's too much like Barishnikov. You might say it in an insulting way, but you just compared them to the greatest of their kind. How is that an insult? What does that say of your intelligence or knowledge of the subject?

Silly WDI management. You insult yourself when you use the name of the greatest of you as an epithet.

Mr Banks said...

Oh lord, that letter made me sad on so many levels I don't know where to begin.

Walt's tradition of continually updating attractions? Excuse me?

Apparently Disneyland feels that Mary Blair's work needs to be taken to a new level, that her storytelling needs to be enriched.

They also, somehow, believe that the original intent of It's a Small World was merely as a celebration of children and the 'youthful spirit'. What happened to the more noble intent of promoting world peace?

What Stepford Wife wrote that letter?

It's a sad time for Imagineering.

zapjones said...

This is not an attraction that needs changes but I am not outraged by the proposal to put Disney characters in. Done properly it could work but what they are going to do is a poor story choice. Changing the rainforest scene into a tribute to america is just stupid. If they want to add Disney characters in, a better choice would be to restage the room with the farewell signs and add some Disney figures into that scene. But like I said this ride doesn't need to be changed. Just loved.

jonvn said...

When you write to the Disneyland Resort, your letter is sent to a team of people who punch up an answer by numbers and mail back to you. That's it. They've got a canned response and a canned line of pap to tell you.

It is a waste of time writing to them. If you do want to write, write directly to a human being, not the resort. That may have a slim prayer of being looked at, but likely it will go nowhere at all.

I've been told to write to these people to express my feelings on the subject.

There is no reason to. I can say "Walt Disney said, 'Disneyland will never be completed as long as there is imagination left in the world,'" just like they can. I don't need them to tell me that.

Disney is not alone in this manner. This is how corporate communications works. Disneyland gets tons of letters every day. They're skimmed, categorized and responded to in a basically automatic process. Your impassioned and logical ideas are not really given any merit, and you are paid lip service.

The only thing they understand is money. Period. They are not concerned with the ideas of a few people here and there when the overriding majority of the public will continue to spend their money at their parks. The public will continue to go on this ride, and at the exit, buy stuffed toys.

That means, money. They will not stop this because it's not right, because the only thing that is right is the money.

Fact is, most people don't understand this ride, they don't understand its intent, they don't understand its message. It doesn't matter to the public at large who pays the bills, so it just isn't going to matter to Disney.

When the ride opens, with all the publicity that this has given the ride, it will be very popular with many toys sold. And some brain dead corporate marketing tool is going to point to that and say "See, we were right." And it will reinforce the character explosion everywhere.

That's how it's going to go down.

The only thing that will stop this is if the money stops flowing in. But that will not happen. And if it by some chance does, people are not going to say "we messed up." Instead, they will say "the public's taste has changed," when it never has. And they'll blame anyone else but themselves for their own downfall It's human nature.

/bsdb said...

Apparently Disneyland feels that Mary Blair's work needs to be taken to a new level, that her storytelling needs to be enriched.

"Enriched"? Like a bag of cheap pasta? *sigh*

I've been waiting these past two years for the other shoe to drop, for the shark to be jumped, etc, regarding the naysayers and their belief that the "Imagineering Renaissance" wasn't going to happen. With Uncle John's appointment as Principle Creative Advisor for WDI, I've been hoping that the status quo of Eisner Marketeering would finally diminish, with the creatives finally regaining some of their lost power and influence.

Yeah, well... Marketeering apparently continues to thrive, much like cockroaches and Velvetta after a nuclear holocaust.


There's no "logical" reason for these small world additions beyond the desire for more merchandise sales at ride's exit. The capital investment and Imagineering man-hours could have and should have gone to other DL attractions which need to be "enriched" far more than iasw. This effort is misdirected beyond measure. And Disney deserves all of the negative press they will receive and then some.


To end this on a somewhat positive note... it's my understanding that Cartoon Art Museum's exhibit of Mary Blair's work will have its final day this Sunday, March 30, and that Ron Diaz will do some sort of presentation or such in tribute to her career.

Does anyone know what time this will happen? The Museum is open from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM, but there's no mention about this particular event with Ron on the museum's web site. It's a short walk for me, so I'm definitely interested in attending.

Brian said...

>> Walt Disney stated, "Disneyland will never be completed as long as there is imagination left in the world." <<

So given the changes that are being made to Small World, are we to believe that Disneyland is completed or that there is no imagination left in the world...or both? The current regeme obviously knows nothing of "Walt's tradition" and I agree - it is sad. Not only because his vision is being sullied, but because the Corporation is abusing him to sell their product.

I believe if I had received the letter that John did, I would have sent it back with a few corrections...

dean said...

Ahem....for all of you naive types, that's supposed to be DISNEYLAND® with an "®". There's nothing like holding that "®" close to our hearts. ;;)

Thanks for sharing that letter. It speaks volumes on why blogs like this one exist.

Capt. Tomorrow said...

Here's my tip for writing to Disney: send your letter certified mail and check the box that says "Addressee" regarding delivery signature. Now this doesn't mean that Bob Iger, etc. will have to personally sign for the letter, but someone on his staff will, and most likely that will be one of his assistants. This does work as a few years ago I had an absolutely horrible week at the Grand Floridian and after the general manager did absolutely nothing for me I wrote a letter to Al Weiss. Two weeks later I got a call from his admin. assistant and talked to her for almost 90 minutes about all the problems. The end result was that I got compted 4 nights at the Grand Floridian on my next trip to WDW. And ALWAYS be polite.

Mad at Disneyland Resort Executives said...

>> I think the Imagineers themselves take great care with renovating the classic attractions, but management often gets in the way.<<

I think they should stop trying to reinvent the wheel. Its been done, it works, and has been working since 1964 just fine. I dont think any of the rides need to be added to. Now maybe a NEW ride showcasing whatever talent WDI has to offer would be great, but in fairness the execs would rather destroy someone elses works, so they can blame the original artists and WED designers for the failure.

Remember W.D. Executive people, the round cylinder goes into the round hole, and the square block goes into the square hole, not the other way around.

Jonvn made some great points in his last comment.

Anonymous said...

Stylizing the characters in a Mary Blair fashion actually sounds like an interesting excercise, but it's a total money grab. It's just another way to sell more toys. I'm sure artistically, these characters could look pretty cool but I really don't think they belong in the actual ride.

All in all, I'd rather have this over bulldozing the thing.

still, sad.

ps. I have actually met Marylin Waters, she's quite a nice person.

Ceronomus said...

I just raced over to post the EXACT same form letter. :(

Brian said...

>> ps. I have actually met Marylin Waters, she's quite a nice person. <<

I'm sure she is - one has to have a little vinegar in their veins so as not to be run over by the corporate machine and become one of their puppets. While there must have been at least one Imagineer who thought up this bad idea (maybe not) it still seems like the Marketing and Sales departments are trying to run the creative side of the business. The Imagineers - unlike their predecessors who drove creative effort - are obviously pawns in this game.

Anonymous said...

>>Dear Marilyn,

Your check's in the mail.

Sincerely,
Marty<<

Mr Wiggins, what is this supposed to mean? I get that it's a joke, but why Marty, he does not run WDI anymore. Was Marty Sklar responsible for proposing these changes?

Tom Slick said...

Mr. Banks
Please if you may, keep this site alive so I may know where my "Disney Dollar" may go to.
Good or bad...I'd rather know what is going on in the park than not!
Thank you again for keeping it real
and keeping us from the dark!
-Slick

Anonymous said...

I have to wonder how many of you claiming to know what should be done at Disneyland are actually just former Imagineers laid off and now taking cheap shots at the company they no longer work for as an act of revenge?
If that is true it would figure, because all of you would have been part of that backstabbing culture WDI became in the 90s, hence you keep doing it when no longer part of the Disney team.

theatreman said...

>> have to wonder how many of you claiming to know what should be done at Disneyland are actually just former Imagineers<<

I am not now and never have been an Imagineer. I am a stockholder who wants the company to succeed financially but not rapaciously.

My comments have been made in good faith and not as cheap shots. Were you at WDI in the 90s, or how do you know about the culture there? I don't doubt you, I just wonder if you can give a fuller explanation.

Spokker said...

"If that is true it would figure, because all of you would have been part of that backstabbing culture WDI became in the 90s, hence you keep doing it when no longer part of the Disney team."

Commentary on a blog is a far cry from "backstabbing".

Anonymous said...

I just thought you would all like to know that I've found a good picture of the Stich scene from the Hong Kong version which should give us all an idea of what changes are in store for California. Just go to:

http://www.screamscape.com/html/hkdl_-_small_world_3.htm

Jim

Brian said...

>> I have to wonder how many of you claiming to know what should be done at Disneyland are actually just former Imagineers laid off and now taking cheap shots at the company they no longer work for as an act of revenge? <<

Not I. I'm just someone who knows how right Walt Disney got it and who is concerned about how wrong the Walt Disney Company has gone - in Walt's name.

In this day and age of the internet (wouldn't Walt have loved today's technology?) a blog is hardly an act of revenge.

Further I don't think it matters a spec who is writing this blog or what their objective is - the fact is their opinions are spot on - every single one.

theatreman said...

The Official Disneyland website makes a revealing comment about “it’s a small world”:

http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/wdw/parks/attractionDetail?id=ItsASmallWorldAttractionPage

“Take the legendary boat ride around the globe on this musical tour of nations. Hundreds of international dolls sing and dance to the famous 'it's a small world' medley."

In the hip vein of the “Enchanted Tiki Room Under New Management!” the description goes on to mock IASM, saying:

“After it's over, just try to get that tune out of your head.”

Well, OK. That music is often complained about. But why not do something positive about it, rather than ridicule the attraction?

Wikipedia says that the ride lasts 14 minutes and 23 seconds, which is arguably a long time to sustain a single two-part melody, albeit with words in varied languages.

The Hong Kong version apparently introduces other Disney tunes, and while Disney is expert at making these mixes for firework displays, this seems a rehash and inappropriate, solution to IASM. Other Disney songs will be playing all day in other parts of the park.

This particular classic attraction would seem to deserve more thematic musical integrity and coherence, as well as originality. Why not assign a top-flight composer/lyricist team to create, say, three new musical "bridges" which, with lyrics, would be harmoniously complementary to the two main melodies, but which would introduce welcome variation.

Five congenial tunes - the new ones written so that some of them can be played and sung in counterpoint with themselves and the original strains - would significantly improve the musical component of the ride.

1983horizons1 said...

Building off of theatreman's comment on the music...

The music is another problem with getting ride of the new guinea room. It's one of the only rooms without vocals and also includes a different variation on the melody with the tribal drums. I'm sure it wasn't placed just before the finale room for no reason. It's there to provide a break in the music so that when the vocals come back, they seem fresh. Adding an American segement before the finale would undoubtfully add English vocals, and make the song even more monotonous than it already is.

I really like the orchestral flow-through score they used in Disneyland Paris's version of the ride. It's more pleasant to listen to for an extended period of time, especially during the instrumental-only bridges which sporadically interrupt the singing.

I'm not sure about Disneyland, but I'm pretty sure WDW uses Paris's orchestra loop in the queue area, while still using the classic music during the ride.

Andy Castro said...

The LA Times ran a print article today in the paper's business section, and it mentions Re-Imagineering, but not by name.

LA TImes: Disneyland is jeered over ride restyling

And the LA Times Funland Blog continues to call attention to Small World by linking to the SavetheSmallWorld.com web site.
LA Times: Theme park news: Uno meets Snoopy; Save Small World; Pixar parade repairs

Anonymous said...

I just saw the "Stitch" picture from HKDL (earlier posted link) and if you see the toylike styling it's almost too subtle. I wonder if all of this hoopla is worth something guests may not even notice. If they threw glitter on him you wouldn't even notice it's Stitch. I think there may be some overreaction going on here.

I think it's a well done styling job. And yes I am a retired Imagineer and I'm not taking a cheap shot.

Anonymous said...

>> I have to wonder how many of you claiming to know what should be done at Disneyland are actually just former Imagineers laid off and now taking cheap shots at the company they no longer work for as an act of revenge? <<

This site was designed as a forum for Disney and Pixar professionals, many of which were not laid off or fired, and seeks to limit "backstabbing" by not blaming individuals. As for revenge, no need to take cheap shots, the projects themselves are exactly what the company deserves.

Orcatime said...

Visual contradictions to PR spin is a gleeful sight to behold. However, the unwritten statement of "if it ain't broke don't fix it" is exactly what the whole "new" show at WDW is about. I strongly advise those who haven't had the opportunity to see it to find a video of it on the web (visionsfantastic.com has one such video).

Joe H. said...

It's interesting that you chose a picture of the "Enchanted Tiki Room" for this blog entry. You may or may not know that Tokyo Disneyland's Tiki Room will be "plussed" this year with Stitch. Sigh.

Joe H.
http://www.jtcent.com

1983horizons1 said...

Stitch isn't even from our world...

:-/

/bsdb said...

I think it's a well done styling job. And yes I am a retired Imagineer and I'm not taking a cheap shot.

Such as that may be...

Must the Disney characters continue to invade every nook and cranny of the theme parks?

Must all "enhancements" to existing rides be contingent upon their marketability in the form of new merchandise?

Must every single Disney theme park attraction become a profit center?

Apparently, Burbank believes so, while Glendale appears either powerless or disinclined to try to change this mindset.


Personally, I don't care if the Disney characters being installed are carefully crafted in their design. That's not the point.

Disney characters should not be placed in attractions with little to no inherent relationship to those characters.

Where does it end? What, if anything, does Burbank consider "off limits" for the Disney characters? What's going to be next on Marketeering's agenda?

Pirate Mickey dunking the mayor?

Astronaut Donald orbiting the Space Mountain satellites?

Hula Minnie performing in the Tiki Room?

Enough with the characters already, Disney. And your obvious goal of converting the theme parks into glorified expensive shopping malls with rides. Go back to building brand new, original, innovative E-Tickets and earn your profits the old-fashioned "Walt" way.

theatreman said...

>>I strongly advise those who haven't had the opportunity to see it to find a video of it [small world changes] on the web.(visionsfantastic.com has one such video).<<

orcatime: Can you give a URL for the page. I searched around a little but am not too familiar with the site and could not find the video in question.

Thanks!

Brian said...

>> Enough with the characters already, Disney. And your obvious goal of converting the theme parks into glorified expensive shopping malls with rides. Go back to building brand new, original, innovative E-Tickets and earn your profits the old-fashioned "Walt" way. <<

It does seem that Paul Pressler continues to thrive doesn’t it? And after he left Disney and nearly ran the Gap into the ground, maybe someone should take some notice.

I think the correlation to the HKDL figures and the ability to market products without any further development shows that this plan was well thought out by the Disney Company to maximize profit for little expenditure. There’s probably a spreadsheet somewhere where the cost of refurbishing the flume and boats is balanced against potential sales of new plush.

And its interesting in all of this that Disney hasn’t countered on their plan to destroy the rainforest.

I watched (re-watched for the 1000th time probably) the Wonderful World of Color show “From Pirates to Tomorrowland” last night and wondered what has happened to Imagineering? That program was a showcase for the talent that used to be at WED – these people were inventing ways for human and animal figures to be animated. They were inventing new transportation systems and new entertainment venues. Where did the foresight go? Instead of needless “plussing” why aren’t they designing a New Tomorrowland that is green and innovative just as the New Tomorrowland of 1967 was? How terrible that the Disney Company’s legacy is no longer inclusive of innovation in entertainment. Taking a figure of Stitch, calling it stylized ala Mary Blair and sticking it in Small World shows the dearth of creativity and imagination. So apparently Walt was right about imagination in the world…and Disneyland is completed.

Spokker said...

"It's interesting that you chose a picture of the "Enchanted Tiki Room" for this blog entry. You may or may not know that Tokyo Disneyland's Tiki Room will be "plussed" this year with Stitch. Sigh."

To be honest, I think the vast majority of Tokyo Disneyland would welcome that change. The Japanese are CRAZY for Stitch. I mean, I don't think anyone is clamoring to see Alice or Peter Pan in Small World, but the Japanese froth at the mouth for anything Stitch.

Besides, it's not the original anyway. And the "Get The Fever" version wasn't all that bad. It didn't literally have lines that insulted the original attraction and others as Under New Management does.

Preserve the original. Plus Disney World's freakin' Small World instead if they are so hellbent on pushing plush.

G Bev said...

There is nothing wrong with changing or updating classsic attractions as long as you do it well. And with the Tiki Birds they didn't do it well...or with reverence. It's actually the MOST irrevrent attraction they have now.

Anonymous said...

>Where did the foresight go? Instead of needless “plussing” why aren’t they designing a New Tomorrowland that is green and innovative just as the New Tomorrowland of 1967 was?<

WDI could and would do this if the leadership at the top of the WDC had a desire to restore the concept of "inspiration" to the vision statement of the company. The desire to lead and inspire by example has been gone for a long, long, time.

Anonymous said...

“No one approaches our classic attractions with more reverence than Disney Imagineers....."

Who ELSE approaches the attractions? No one. This is pure PR bullcrap.

How does one get a job at WDI? I want in!

Anonymous said...

Speaking of PR spins, did anyone catch the NPR? Here's the link so you can listen to it or read the transcript yourself, http://www.scpr.org/news/stories/2008/03/28/18_small_world_032808.html What is so funny about this is in the previous PR about the changes to it's a small world Marylyn Waters said this project "has been in the works for eight years." Then in the NPR broadcast it is stated, "For the record, Disney spokeswoman Marylyn Waters says that changes to the ride are still in the brainstorming stages.Waters declined to speak on air"

So which is it WDI Spin Doctor Marylyn? Something of "reverence" fully taking into consideration the stylings of Mary Blair so intently designed it's been in the works for 8 years or a recent idea which is still in the "brainstorming" phase? And I thought flip-flopping was reserved for the presidential candidates in their campaign for the white house.

Your brilliant Marylyn, just brilliant.

theatreman said...

Am I correct that somewhere recently Marilyn Waters or another Disney spokesperson described IASM as "a tribute to children and to the sprit of youth?"

If this is the extent of the theming, then a collection of Disney(c) toys fills the bill.

Numerous other sources, however, suggest that the attraction was created around a more thoughtful and significant theme of international peace and the possibility of world harmony.

In that regard, the lyrics "It's a world of tears," and "It's a world of fears," make significant sense, hinting -- in a miniaturized realm of idealized gaiety for dolls -- the need to realize that peaceful happiness in the larger real world of adults and children.

Children, of course, experience fears and tears, but “a world” of tears and fears suggests the larger unfortunate reality of the effect of warfare on children.

Two descriptions of the ride on the official Disney website as of 1 April, 2008 do not mention a celebration of youth, but refer, instead to the ride's original intent, [albeit with a slur on the repetitious music at the one site]:

http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/wdw/parks/attractionDetail?id=ItsASmallWorldAttractionPage

“Take the legendary boat ride around the globe on this musical tour of nations. Hundreds of international dolls sing and dance to the famous "it's a small world" medley. After it's over, just try to get that tune out of your head.”

Even more to the point:
http://disneyland.disney.go.com/disneyland/en_US/parks/attractions/detail?name=itsasmallworldAttractionPage

"Go ahead, you know you want to. Sing along! Global unity is celebrated in this ode to peace and harmony. Dance and costumes from many countries add to the diverse pageantry that makes this a boat ride for the ages.
* Originally created for the 1964 World's Fair
*Over 300 international dolls bring this splendid spectacle to life."

The proposed change is about more than adding a few imaginary figures to a doll collection. Disney should give careful thought to the implication of replacing a "splendid spectacle" which has had significant integrity for more than 50 years, with a meaningless display of toy-store figures.

Anonymous said...

Creativity and management don't mix, unfortunately. I have worked for many creative companies, And when a higher up gets a little idea in their head, it's really tough to convince them it's a bad idea. I have experienced many suits thinking their idea is golden, and then have a creative team work on said horrid idea.(Brilliant ideas tend to come from trophy wives, you know they are just so creative!) and, after all the time, energy and resources are spent and actually see this idea realized, they see how dumb it really is, and it gets shelved.

Captain Bob said...

>Plus Disney World's freakin' Small World instead if they are so hellbent on pushing plush.

Hey, leave the park that *I* attend out of this.

Anonymous said...

Sorry everyone, for some reason my NPR link did not make it through on the last post. Here it is again.

http://www.scpr.org/news/stories/2008/03/28/18_small_world_032808.html

Spokker said...

"Your brilliant Marylyn, just brilliant."

It's "you're". I'm no grammar nazi but when you're questioning someone else's intelligence it helps to triple check your post.

Come on, she's just doing her job. Attack the message, not the person. Attack the higher ups who don't allow the company to be more forthcoming with their PR responses. This woman isn't the enemy.

orcatime said...

theatreman, I was referring to seeing the "new" Enchanted Tiki room show is available on video format on visionsfantastic.com. It shows (rather toungue-in-cheekly) about the dangers of changing what works.

Anonymous said...

Why should we even be debating this stuff about plussing? Shouldn't they(Imagineers) be working on newer technologies to continue the legacy Walt left behind? Why are they wasting time and spending unnecessary money revamping classic rides that still work to this day(stories as well as mechanics)?

It's gone too far, and after this summer, when I make my final return to the park, I will take in only what is left untouched by fruitless refurbishments. Nemo, Indy, Sparrow, Gilbert Godfried, and the rest have all removed the word classic and been replaced with the word stopwatch. Hear that ticking....? That's the sound of expiration creeping up.

Btw, I do not work for the park or ever have, but I can assure you I have the insight that Walt did. You never saw Walt put an animitronic "Fess Parker" on Tom Sawyers Island or in the Country Bear Jamoboree, now did you? It wasn't about celebrities in his time, and I still feel the same.

When you walked under the railroad berm into the park, you were to feel "according to Walt", as you've left the outside world behind. But how I ask you, can you do that, when Johnny Depp is winking at you from POTC, and Stitch making his grunt noises as it waves at you in IASW?

Not every movie that Disney makes, needs its own ride, nor does the movie have to impact an original ride itself....Some movie storylines are just not that good to begin with.

Disney Inc. has definately lost their ways, and I just hope someone reading this, either now, or in the near future, can undo the madness that seems to run rampant in the present day parks.

Anonymous said...

>>You never saw Walt put an animitronic "Fess Parker" on Tom Sawyers Island or in the Country Bear Jamoboree, now did you? It wasn't about celebrities in his time. <<

Animatronics weren't invented yet or he may have. In 1957 there was a Davy Crockett figure placed in the Regimental Headquarters of Fort Wilderness on Tom Sawyer Island. Fess Parker rode in the opening day parade as well. He was the Johnny Depp of the day and used to the company's advantage. The Mouseketeers were used in the MMC Circus and the "Babes in Toyland" Village was in the Opera House (originally intended to be a live TV venue in the park's original concept treatment) on Main Street of all places. The 20k Sets were in Tomorrowland long before Sci-fi was part of the theme. Walt Disney was a great promoter and was about celebrity, especially the ones he created, just ask Hayley and Annette. It's the integration and where that is biggest issue.

Anonymous said...

Animatronics weren't invented yet, or he may have.

I disagree with this idea, as Walt liked to showcase his park to celebrities, not to showcase celebrities in his park(unless it was a concert or special event). He was an entertainer, and enjoyed the hollywood crowds enjoying his park, but having him implement them into a ride is another short lived story, exactly the reason why the likes of Annette, Fess, Satchmo, or Rydell were not featured in any attractions. they were all Pop at that time, and I'm sure Walt knew it.

Walt was smart to keep the two different entities seperate, unlike the branding that is spreading throughout the parks today.

Anonymous said...

"the reason why the likes of Annette, Fess, Satchmo, or Rydell were not featured in any attractions. they were all Pop at that time, and I'm sure Walt knew it."


Fess wasn't, but Fess as Davy Crockett was. The static figure of Fess Parker as Davy Crockett was actually in the Fort on Tom Sawyer Island. The Mike Fink Keel Boats was an attraction based on those shows. It was there through his death in the sixties long after his popularity waned.

Johnny Depp as celebrity is not in Pirates, but Depp as "Jack Sparrow" is. Like Davy, Jack is a Disney character and is just as popular with a higher grossing trilogy of films and may endure longer than Davy, so why would you not use your most popular fictional characters?

You can argue how well the POTC thing was done, but Walt put Davy Crockett on the Island, it looking like Fess didn't stop him. In 1956, when they put Davy (and Georgie) there, Pirates was to be a static, Wax Museum type of walk thru. It's hard to say what Walt would have done with live action "characters" or not, as AA technology was just emerging in human form when he died.

theatreman said...

This thread began as a reaction to vulgar ”plussing” in the “Under New Management” Tiki Room. It is hard to imagine that “The Enchanted Stitch Room” [Tiki crossed out, scheduled to open at Tokyo Disneyland this summer] will be a respectful plussed enchantment of the original.

http://micechat.com/forums/blog.php?b=317

But if Disney is, indeed, still “brainstorming” with regard to “it’s a small world” at Disneyland, perhaps there is still some hope for that attraction. Perhaps plussing suggestions would be accepted.

The original concept, the hope and quest for world peace, is as timely today as when the first boats were launched. How can one “plus” that theme, and at the same time “synergize” with the merchandising people?

Counting on “Blairized” Alice and Stitch dolls would seem to be counterproductive: Alice and Stitch are surely already available, in their appropriate recognizable original styles.

Why not a powerful reinvigoration of the line of “small world toys and collectibles,” based more on the established theme and style of the ride? Fifty years of familiarity on which to capitalize: New plush versions of all the dolls, in their native costume, and also in the all-white finale versions [with a tiny % going to UNICEF].

Collectibles: An open-work peace sphere, made up ofclasped hands, brown, black, tan, red, yellow, white, to hang, or display on its pedestal. Bracelets formed from a ring of the clasped multi-ethnic hands.

A globe-like sphere on whose surface are the smiling many-ethnic faces. A similar soccer ball. (Well, no, maybe we don’t want the kids to be kicking the faces... a big balloon)l

A dove of peace carrying an array of children on her outspread wings, available in china, framed print, Christmas ornament and pillow. Russian nesting dolls, but with each doll representing a different ethnic group. Ball caps with representative ethnic faces, so that kids can choose “their own” cap.

Of course the aging ride itself could absorb a little World-Peace plussing. What about a winding flight of 1000 Sadako Sasaki paper cranes, in brilliant colors (with biographies and make-your-own kits for sale later). Traces of the flight, in different colors, might be seen throughout all the rooms, ending in an all-white flight, of course.

http://www.sadako.org/sadakostory.htm

In the White Room Carnival, why not put more stress on the integration which 50 years of cultural change (and an increase in international air travel) have forwarded? All the dolls could be mixed hand-in-hand with dolls of other ethnic groups for the Finale: cowboy and can-can girl, Chinese and African, Irish and American Indian.

How about a huge revolving wire-frame globe hanging above, with dozens of waving dolls aboard? And then how about a huge ring of multi-ethnic dolls holding hands and “flying” around the globe in the opposite direction?

It’s a whole new world of marketing opportunities, which can be embarked upon without compromising the ride, and without cutting in on the Stitch and Alice franchises.

Think fresh!

Anonymous said...

I know, since World Peace is just a dream away, what if we left the ride JUST the way it is!

Brian said...

>> It’s a whole new world of marketing opportunities, which can be embarked upon without compromising the ride, and without cutting in on the Stitch and Alice franchises.

Think fresh! <<


Thank you for the post, Theatreman...there IS still imagination left in the world.

Anonymous said...

“anonymous said...
I have to wonder how many of you claiming to know what should be done at Disneyland are actually just former Imagineers laid off and now taking cheap shots at the company they no longer work for as an act of revenge?
If that is true it would figure, because all of you would have been part of that backstabbing culture WDI became in the 90s, hence you keep doing it when no longer part of the Disney team.”

Well, some of us are CURRENT Imagineers who are frustrated that creativity is being manipulated by those who have no capacity to understand the damage they are doing to the integrity of Walt Disney’s legacy.

Some of us have been able to survive that “backstabbing culture WDI became in the 90s”. Unfortunately, much of that culture still remains, and the Small World escapade shows it.

Anonymous said...

Beware current Imagineers. Heed the famous last words of a Disney speechwriter.

"Backstabbing will never be completed as long as there is Imagination left at WDI"

Anonymous said...

Thank you theatreman, those are great ideas and it is very refreshing to read a positive post. I like your ideas and feel you are totally correct when it comes to the untapped marketability of the ride without having to compromise it's story or design.

This whole thing is embarrassing as a wanna-be, SOON to be Imagineer. I just hope these characters can also be easily REMOVED one day in the future. Nothing a few screwdrivers can't fix, right?!

Anonymous said...

"but Fess as Davy Crockett was. The static figure of Fess Parker as Davy Crockett was actually in the Fort on Tom Sawyer Island."
Thats about as much of an "attraction" as the plaza/garden that holds the Walt and Mickey Statue at the end of Main Street looking towards Cinderellas Castle. Statues are one thing, Animitronics are another.
Apparently Walt was around when the use of his Animitronics were around, he even talks to Jose in a Wonderful World of Disney episode. Not perfected, but you still didn't see Walt rushing off to incorporate known celeb faces into the park. Even Walt knew the fine line between apples and oranges.

The Small World attraction needs a "Stitch" character to enhance the ride, about as much as D.C.A. is a perfect example of a successfully planned out and incorporated themepark.

Anonymous said...

I forgot the damn point!
Johnny Depp as celebrity is not in Pirates, but Depp as "Jack Sparrow" is. Like Davy, Jack is a Disney character and is just as popular with a higher grossing trilogy of films and may endure longer than Davy, so why would you not use your most popular fictional characters?
Dare I say, BECAUSE THEY ARE DATED,
when the characters are based on identifiable human actors?
Where is Fess as Davey Crockett located in the park now?

What do you think will happen once the movie POTC popularity fades? Another butchering remodel of a ride that at ONE TIME used to showcase a timeless story with NO known actor(s).

I hate to remind Imagineers and Disney suits about this, and for its off topic relevancy, I appologize.
But the '97 remodel of POTC was also unneccessary. There wasn't anything politically correct about piracy to begin with.

Anonymous said...

"BECAUSE THEY ARE DATED,"

This applies to to characters both live action and animated. Snow White only became relevant again because she was repackaged as a lifestyle concept for little girls as a Princess. Same goes for Princess Aurora. Other than Buzz and Peter Pan there is practically nothing in the park for young boys except Jack Sparrow and he is a Disney character for sure. When he's dated in 20 years they'll pull him like they did Davy Crockett.

Captain Bob said...

“A MAGIC KINGDOM OF ALL THE WORLD’S CHILDREN”

A local newspaper reporter got it right when she wrote that, after we updated Pirates of the Caribbean last year, “many fans grudgingly acknowledged that… the additions may make the ride more appealing to young park goers.” Now, based purely on rumors that are mostly inaccurate, we are being criticized for touching another one of Walt Disney’s “classics.”

We all agree that “It’s A Small World” is a Disney classic. But the greatest “change agent” who ever walked down Main Street at Disneyland was Walt himself. In fact, the park had not been open 24 hours when Walt began to “plus” Disneyland, and he never stopped. Having started my Disney career at Disneyland one month before the park opened in 1955, I can cite countless examples.

Like all my colleagues at Walt Disney Imagineering, I was pressed into action to help make “It’s A Small World” happen at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair. We were all working to complete and open Ford’s “Magic Skyway” and General Electric’s “Carousel of Progress” (I worked on both) as well as “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln” for the State of Illinois. But 11 months before the World’s Fair opening, Walt agreed to do “a salute to the children of the world” for UNICEF, and all the Imagineers somehow made it happen.

Mary Blair’s illustrations were, of course, the spark. But this was one of those great Disney “team efforts,” and many Disney legends joined her: Marc Davis; Blaine Gibson; Rolly Crump, Harriet Burns and numerous others. And, of course, Bob and Dick Sherman added that song we can’t get out of our heads. I interfaced with all of them to write and produce a 24-page souvenir book that was sold at the Fair, because Walt wanted to showcase and thank the team for an extraordinary accomplishment.

Now the rumors are swirling that we are “ruining Walt’s creation.” I’ve heard that we are planning to remove the rainforest, add Mickey and Minnie Mouse, create an “Up with America” tribute, to effectively “marginalize” the Mary Blair style and Walt’s classic (all not true).

In fact, just the opposite is true. We want the message of brotherhood and good will among all children around the world to resonate with more people than ever before, especially today’s young people. Our objective is to have everyone who experiences “It’s a Small World” understand (in the words the Shermans’ wrote 44 years ago) that “there is just one moon, and one golden sun, and a smile means friendship to everyone.”

To make “It’s A Small World” even more relevant to our guests, Tony Baxter (who created the concepts for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain and other Disneyland classics) and I arrived at the same place eight years ago. To accomplish our objective, we decided to seamlessly integrate Disney characters into appropriate thematic scenes in the attraction, and do it completely in the distinctive “Mary Blair style.” We spent many long months exploring ways to accomplish this.

We are not turning this classic attraction into a marketing pitch for Disney plush toys (rumors to the contrary). Between Tony, our chief designer Kim Irvine, and me, we represent 128 years creating Disney park entertainment and fun for literally billions of guests around the world. We are not “young marketing whizzes” trying to make a name for ourselves. We were fortunate to have trained, and worked with, all of Walt’s original Imagineers.

In the Shermans’ song, it’s the oceans that are wide, and the mountains that divide. Our goal was, and always will be, to bring people together, and keep this classic “the happiest cruise that ever sailed around the world” (words I personally wrote for that souvenir guide nearly half a century ago).

Or, as Walt Disney phrased it in his introduction to that guide, “a magic kingdom of all the world’s children.”

Martin A. Sklar
Executive Vice President
Walt Disney Imagineering
Imagineering Ambassador

Spokker said...

Hey ReImagineering guys, got any comments on the Mary Sklar letter that's been going around, if it is indeed the real deal? The letter is at LaughingPlace. I have a hard time believing that Sklar would send an open letter to some Disney fan site.

But if it is true the guy sounds more like a marketing creep than Imagineer. The way I see it, while Sklar may have worked with Walt, he's nothing but a company man these days.

ChristianZ said...

The letter is also just above your post.

If Marty said: "Now the rumors are swirling that we are 'ruining Walt’s creation.' I’ve heard that we are planning to remove the rainforest, add Mickey and Minnie Mouse, create an 'Up with America' tribute, to effectively 'marginalize' the Mary Blair style and Walt’s classic (all not true)," then we should wait and see if those are all not true (and give him the benefit of the doubt in the meantime). If the ride re-opens and we find the rainforest hasn't been removed then we'll know the whole "Save the Rainforest" movement was a wild goose chase.

Figment571 said...

Would they start to deny that they were planning this from the start and say it was a "misinterpretation" that got the press to write about it to save face and not suffer from bad PR ? That would be a sneaky move and that would probably be just as worse as going through with this ridiculous marketing scheme!

Do they really think that we are that dumb, "Oh, if we get one of them who worked with Walt to say it's not true and we never had plans for this they must believe him! Hey, let's go throw some characters in Living with the land and sell farmer Stich plushes, they have a 60% marketability!"

"Don't forget Nemo!"

A freakin' mazing!

ChristianZ said...

I suppose you could criminalize them no matter what.

"That would be a sneaky move and that would probably be just as worse as going through with this ridiculous marketing scheme!"

I think the general vibe that I get from this thread is the hope that at least some, if not all, of the rumored/proposed changes that they've heard about turn out to be just rumors or, if actual proposals, do not actually go through.

/bsdb said...

Now, based purely on rumors that are mostly inaccurate, we are being criticized for touching another one of Walt Disney’s “classics.”

"Rumors that are mostly inaccurate" typically do not get discussed by well-known posters on popular Disney fan sites, who have inside ties to WDC. And several of those individuals and/or their friends have recently posted that the "rumors" have been fairly spot on, given eyewitness accounts.

One such poster on LP claims that the characters have been added along with their respective film's music, integrated with the Sherman Brothers' tune. Also, an American scene has replaced the rainforest room, and the rainforest has been moved to another area.

Which parts of these rumors, Mr. Sklar, are "mostly inaccurate"?



Now the rumors are swirling that we are “ruining Walt’s creation.” I’ve heard that we are planning to remove the rainforest, add Mickey and Minnie Mouse, create an “Up with America” tribute, to effectively “marginalize” the Mary Blair style and Walt’s classic (all not true).

While donning his Imagineering Ambassador hat, Mr. Sklar has obviously embraced semantics.

The rainforest indeed has not been "removed" but relocated to another (albeit smaller) area. And the American scene is supposedly not in the vein of a sappy "Up With America" salute. But an American scene has definitely been added in the former rainforest room, just before the finale.

Again I ask... what supposedly is "mostly inaccurate" concerning the discussions online?



In fact, just the opposite is true. We want the message of brotherhood and good will among all children around the world to resonate with more people than ever before, especially today’s young people.

Really? And this can only be achieved through the integration of Disney characters with Mary Blair's dolls?

I had no idea that Stitch on a surf board was such a vital component to the promotion of world peace.



To make “It’s A Small World” even more relevant to our guests, Tony Baxter (who created the concepts for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain and other Disneyland classics) and I arrived at the same place eight years ago.

When it comes to thrilling, testosterone-laden E-Tickets, Tony Baxter is one of the best ride designers around. No doubt.

But for "softer" attractions such as small world... other Imagineers are definitely better suited. Tony headed up the team for DL's Pooh, and that attraction is a complete snorefest. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for the new additions to small world.

To accomplish our objective, we decided to seamlessly integrate Disney characters into appropriate thematic scenes in the attraction, and do it completely in the distinctive “Mary Blair style.” We spent many long months exploring ways to accomplish this.

So... instead of using your "Legendary" creativity and expertise on designing original and innovative attractions, you and Tony were wasting WDI resources on the integration of Disney characters into small world?

For heaven's sake, what the hell is in your Geritol?



We are not turning this classic attraction into a marketing pitch for Disney plush toys (rumors to the contrary).

Oh dear, more Sklar Semantics. Of course these additions aren't being made SOLELY for the marketing of new merchandise. But I highly doubt that the Eisner-era mandate of turning the attractions into profit centers has been eliminated from the P&R mission statement.

The "never sold at MK" Disney character small world pin sets from years ago will no doubt be remanufactured. And Disney character small world t-shirts and plastic toys will most likely also be offered. Perhaps plush will not factor into the new merch lineup. But no doubt new merchandise will definitely be on hand for purchase in the exit gift shop.

Between Tony, our chief designer Kim Irvine, and me, we represent 128 years creating Disney park entertainment and fun for literally billions of guests around the world. We are not “young marketing whizzes” trying to make a name for ourselves.

Correct. Those would be your "corporate masters" from whom you take your marching orders.

We were fortunate to have trained, and worked with, all of Walt’s original Imagineers.

... who are NOT the Imagineers going forward with these character additions.

And speaking of Walt's original Imagineers... where is Alice Davis in all of this hoopla? I'd really like to know what she thinks of these changes being made. Her fabulous costumes have been greatly responsible for the international success this attraction has enjoyed for decades. Was she even consulted about this?

In the Shermans’ song, it’s the oceans that are wide, and the mountains that divide. Our goal was, and always will be, to bring people together, and keep this classic “the happiest cruise that ever sailed around the world” (words I personally wrote for that souvenir guide nearly half a century ago).

Or, as Walt Disney phrased it in his introduction to that guide, “a magic kingdom of all the world’s children.”

And Imagineers delight in deriding us as "Walties" with this kind of sentiment?

Oh yeah. It's apparently OK to drag out Walt Disney to use in your justification for unnecessary changes to a classic attraction, but using Walt as a justification for NOT screwing around with something that works... that's a big bozo no-no. We're just a bunch of foaming kooks who don't get what Walt was all about. But Marty... he gets it.
Uh-huh.

Whodda thunk it? Turns out "Imagineering Ambassador" is indeed a euphemistic term for "silly ol' coot."

Brian said...

^^ Bravo!!

Anonymous said...

" Now the rumors are swirling that we are “ruining Walt’s creation.” I’ve heard that we are planning to remove the rainforest, add Mickey and Minnie Mouse, create an “Up with America” tribute, to effectively “marginalize” the Mary Blair style and Walt’s classic (all not true).

In fact, just the opposite is true. We want the message of brotherhood and good will among all children around the world to resonate with more people than ever before, especially today’s young people. Our objective is to have everyone who experiences “It’s a Small World” understand (in the words the Shermans’ wrote 44 years ago) that “there is just one moon, and one golden sun, and a smile means friendship to everyone.”"

First, while Mickey and Minnie weren’t being included in the “enhancement” (a misguided assumption to the initial rumor) the characters they ARE adding and other changes WILL marginalize the existing attraction.

They’re not just putting the generic dolls (that the entire attraction is made up with) in costumes relating to the characters they are pushing. They are actually changing the essence of the dolls for those characters. And Stitch has NOTHING to do with ANY of the messages of the original attraction and stands out even more than if they didn’t Blairize him.

The message of brotherhood will not resonate to more people with the modified attraction. AND it will potentially loose many who feel the attraction HAS been marginalized.

" To make “It’s A Small World” even more relevant to our guests, Tony Baxter (who created the concepts for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain and other Disneyland classics) and I arrived at the same place eight years ago. To accomplish our objective, we decided to seamlessly integrate Disney characters into appropriate thematic scenes in the attraction, and do it completely in the distinctive “Mary Blair style.” We spent many long months exploring ways to accomplish this."

I find that VERY hard to believe. Given the poisonous political attitudes at Imagineering for the past ten years (in which time Baxter was totally stripped of any involvement with Disneyland) and Baxter’s notorious penchant for integrity of Disney attractions, it just doesn’t ring true that he would be willingly involved.

Anonymous said...

It was Tony's idea to destroy the Swiss Family Treehouse to make it more "relevant" to audiences by adding characters to it, so I'm not surprised that he would allow this to IASM thing. It's not unthinkable by any stretch.

The man I expected to hear from but have not is MR. JOHN LASSITER.

Grundel said...

"Prejudging is what all the Walties do. So do some of the backstabbers from Imagineering.
I think everyone should quit prejudging and wait to see if it's any good."

It wouldn't surprise me at all if this is spin from Disney's PR machine. If Disney Co does get the message and reverse some of their plans, EXPECT them to say that this was the plan all along, and paint the "Walties" as incorrect and hysterical, to discredit and further disenfranchise us. This is the nature of American business, circa 2008.

Small Wonder said...

I first saw Tiki Room "Under New Management"in '96.

I was more than surprised when that Whoopi Goldberg-thing emerged like some hell spawn from under the fountain.

At least one father rushed his hysterical little boy out of the attraction during this sequence.

I have been back to the Magic Kingdom eight times since then and have NEVER set foot back in "that" Tiki Room.

I rarely seen children upset by any Disney attraction (even the concurrent Alien Encounter) and that experience really made me depressed.

It's supposed to be the Happiest Place on Earth goddamit!

Disney seems to have forgotten that theme.

Anonymous said...

WDI is there to create Disney entertainment that pleases the greatest number of guests, not purists, not those going to relive something exactly as it was.

I heard a story once that Herb Ryman told on one of those documentaries where he asked Walt what to design, and Walt said "Just do something people will like".

I think that speaks volumes. People, not purists will probably like the changes to IASW.

Kristy said...

I have always felt that this new version was (amongst other words, such as "awful", "annoying", etc) extremely disrespectful to the original show and those people who designed it and all that.

I happened to love the original tiki-room...

And also, I have gotten so much **** from people over my opinions of this new version that I actually stopped visiting a popular disney board online because i was ripped apart for hating it!!!(just thought id share) i dont understand!

Anonymous said...

The Under New Management Tiki Room in WDW is terrible... why would this guy post this as a POSITIVE reference to previous attraction changes? WOW.... and I think WDW needs to change to the DL version....

queenofthehouse said...

We have only seen the show once since the "new management" and hated it. We will never go back. It was such a nice show before all that yelling was added. What were they thinking? Oh yah, I guess they weren't thinking.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely HATED the Tiki Room when I visited WDW last fall. It was my first time in the attraction, and it was abysmal to say the least. The show was not funny, the Iago the parrot figure was ugly and annoying (didn't look like the character at all IMO - it barely looked like a bird) and there was no charm whatsoever. Again, bear in mind I never saw the original Tiki Room, so I have no prejudice in that regard. It's just a lousy show. Just as disappointing as the Nemo ride (so obvious the whole thing is just a projection on screens. Big deal). Can't the Disney people come up with anything cool anymore?

Anonymous said...

Indeed the DL show is far better than the WDW show! Give Jose back his show...as Walt intended it to be...

Anonymous said...

WILL YOU HATERS JUST SHUT YOUR TRAPS?!

YOU KNOW THAT THE NEW WDW TIKI ROOM IS GREAT AND DONE WITH RESPECT FOR THE OLD!

JUST GET USED TO IT AND LEARN TO SEE IT THAT WAY, YOU NO-GOOD CHANGE-HATERS!!!

Bob in Punta Gorda, Fl said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

WILL YOU HATERS JUST SHUT YOUR TRAPS?!YOU KNOW THAT THE NEW WDW TIKI ROOM IS GREAT AND DONE WITH RESPECT FOR THE OLD!JUST GET USED TO IT AND LEARN TO SEE IT THAT WAY, YOU NO-GOOD CHANGE-HATERS!!!
December 19, 2008 9:30:00 AM PST

LOL you either are making a joke, or else you are seeing a completely different show than the rest of us :) Whether it was designed with this intention or not, the Under New Management is disrespectful towards the old show. When you compare the Disneyland show against Under new management at WDW-Orlando, the Disneyland show is my favorite with Jose as the Leader of the Flock, as Walt intended.

Bob in Punta Gorda, Fl