Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Blair Family Memories

We would like to speak from our point of view as Mary Blair's nieces.

We have been impressed and deeply touched by the eloquence and outpouring from the hearts of so many people who want to keep 'Small World' as it is. And now the Artists! Amazing. A HUGE thanks to all of you!


Our thoughts are the same. PLEASE keep the integrity of Small World--the children of all nations and its message of world peace. It is a completely unique experience, in and of itself.
Our intention is not a 'put down' to the imagineers, who have made Disneyland a fabulous, magical place for children and adults---something for everyone. 'Small World' however, doesn't need fixing. It isn't broken. Bring back it's original color and sparkle. Mary loved 'sparkle'. She also loved children.

We have enjoyed the 'special memories' that many have written about Small World. We have one also.
In 1978, several months before Mary died, my sister Maggie and I, along with my family, began planning a surprise 50th wedding anniversary party for our parents. Maggie and I met with Mary at a favorite restaurant of Mary's near her home in Soquel, California to discuss the plans. She introduced us to the hostess saying, 'these are my two nieces, whom I adore'. We adored her as well.

As part of the party plans, Lee put together a slide show, and we taped our parent's favorite 'old' songs, putting the music from 'It's A Small World' in several places. We did that to honor Mary, but also to make the party more fun. (And no, it didn't make us crazy.)

When the party was over and most guests had gone, Maggie and I were doing 'cleanup chores'. We looked up in time to see Mary, a lone figure in the middle of the dance floor. She had a gentle smile on her face, eyes closed, and was turning slowly around and around to the music from 'It's a Small World'. Two weeks later she was gone.


Again, our family appreciates very much your kind words and heartfelt feelings.


Our Best,
Jeanne Chamberlain & Maggie Richardson
.

112 comments:

acroyear70 said...

At this point, if it's going to happen it's going to happen.

The one thing that might help is that after *years* of complaining, DisneyCo has a knack for doing the right thing on anniversaries, so everybody should just keep a steady stream (not a flood) of complaints to bring the old back and maybe they'll do just like the Epcot Wand and restore the original in time for the 50th anniversary in 2014!

theatreman said...

Thanks to the Blair nieces for these lovely memories and for "getting the point," that it isn't just the integrity of a lovely collaborative artwork which is at issue here, but the theme and meaning which inspired IASM.

That thematic spine has supported the ride for 50 years and given millions of children and adults an image of a world at peace -- needed as much to day as when the ride opened.

And thanks to acroyear70 for the forward-looking anniversary comment. Indeed the gloved hand and the wand did come down, as did the Berlin Wall.

If the characters do intrude, perhaps it will be a celebrity drop-by of short duration.

Would that the several hundred nameless little dolls who have been the faithful stars of the ride for all these years could stop singing for a moment, and speak to Imagineering for themselves!

Tuckenie said...

See the rumors we're getting now is that the public flap is giving Disney pause and may actually result in most, if not all of the changes being nixed to save face. If anything, I would say the public pressure needs to be increased in positive ways to force Disney to get the point.

Anonymous said...

I would like to ask all you on this website how much actual money you spent at Disneyland this year. If you did not spend at least $1,000, which is what's required to keep the place running on a percap basis from each guest, then go away, or just send a check in that amount to Disney as a donation to the "Disneyland Museum" as that is the only way keeping things the way they were will remain the way they were. Walt always said Disneyland would be ever changing and I am sure he would have made changes to Small World.

Bruce said...

From Anonymous: "Walt always said Disneyland would be ever changing and I am sure he would have made changes to Small World."

I believe Walt would have made changes to IASW too. But I also believe that those changes would have kept to the established theme and intent of the original attraction. After all, Walt was a smart man and knew the marketing power of his characters. If he wanted to include them in the attraction he could have, but he didn't so there must be a reason why. The most obvious reason is that the Disney characters didn't fit with the theme of the attraction.

I don't believe Walt would take a popular attraction like Peter Pan's Flight and try to make it more relevant by adding in characters from Toy Story. He would have shown way more imagination than that (just look at his original intent for EPCOT to see how far his imagination could reach) and he also would never bastardize the theme of a popular attraction to boost attendance for a short time.

The most important question we should be asking is how do these particular changes enhance and feed the theme of children coming together in a celebration of our uniqueness and world peace in a playful and innocent atmosphere? If a show element doesn't add to that theme it should be cut from the show. Theme is everything. Without it all you have is some low level distraction that's soon forgotten.

Merlin Jones said...

I feel this debate can be viewed in part as a referendum on the poor quality changes that have been made to Disneyland classics in recent years - - Tarzan's Treehouse, Pooh, Pirates of the Caribbean: Movie Edition, Pirates's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island, A Great Moment for Lincoln's Haircut, Tomorrowland murals, Tomorrowland '98 - - none of which were necessary for bottom-line profit growth.

These alterations in concept and quality are subjective in taste and theory and did not improve upon execution. And bad guest reactions were often dismissed, spun or ignored by those who instigated the revisions.

A lot of folks are concerned that this slippery slope of taste and theme hurts Walt's creation incrementally toward the future.

Walt, Marc and Mary are not here anymore - - yet their work, art, taste and ideas deserve to live on at Disneyland as much as on film. The changes being made to these attractions are not unlike censorship edits, redubbing or colorization to classic movies: not by the original artists.

It's time for the park's stewards to put aside politics and defenses and take a fresh look at Disneyland's future, with historic preservation in mind. Add new things to the park as Walt intended, but don't pee on the past.

Prediction; Taking a preservationist approach to classic Disneyland won't negatively affect guest spending one little bit - - in fact, it will rise, as it did during the 50th anniversary. Nostalgia is built in to Disneyland's appeal.

There is always DCA for current franchise exploitation.

Cory The Raven said...

I wonder with which sacred cow will the "Disneyland is not a museum" rhetoric end? How far does a change have to go before it's too much? What are the special things that are dear to the heart of the defenders of "any-and-all changes simply for the sake of change with no regard to quality or intent" that they would finally say "no wait, you can't change THAT!"?

Maybe once that day comes, they'll finally get what the argument is about. It isn't about no changes whatsoever, but about making changes that actually improve the ride experience, address problem areas, and enhance immersive theming.

As has been noted elsewhere on this blog, there are things in Disneyland that actually do need help. Why does the Haunted Mansion's load area still look like an empty black soundstage? Why is the Peoplemover track still empty and Innoventions a dead fish? Why is Winnie the Pooh practically a walk-on when Pooh is such a popular character? Why is the Fantasyland Skyway Station sitting back there doing nothing? Why hasn't there been a real new attraction in Frontierland since Big Thunder Mountain? Why has the Star Tours film been the same for, what, 20 years? Why did Tom Sawyer's Island get so dilapidated to begin with that a Pirate's Lair could be justified? And why DCA, why?!

Those are the real issues around the resort that need to be addressed. And ques can be taken from elsewhere in the park. I don't think anyone would argue that the successive additions to the Jungle Cruise have been bad, nor the wholesale addition of Indiana Jones. I actually like the addition of Constance. At least Buzz Lightyear is a good enough darkride and at least the submarines - which never should have closed to begin with - are finally back in some form. The new facades of Fantasyland '83 actually are quite impressive and give more depth to the environment. And get this: all they had to do to redeem the Enchanted Tiki Room was keep it in good repair.

Again, it's not about being for or against change. Its about being for good changes, and not seeing them in messing around needlessly with attractions that already work.

Spokker said...

"If you did not spend at least $1,000, which is what's required to keep the place running on a percap basis from each guest, then go away"

Perhaps if they actually built, oh nothing, new rides that were on the level of WED's achievements, I'd spend that much per year on Disneyland.

Unfortunately, at least in my eyes, the way the park has been run for the past decade isn't worth that much money. I'm pretty happy paying my $160 bucks for the SoCal pass so I can enjoy the classics like Haunted Mansion and Toad until Disneyland management finally gets rid of them or changes them into something not worth paying admission to see.

I wish we could go back to the ticket system so I would only have to pay to see Mansion, Toad, Matterhorn, Jungle Cruise, and others. I'm sure as hell not riding Buzz Lightyear or the Nemo Subs.

The fact is, Disney did this to themselves. Disneyland is nothing more than a local hangout for those of us with cheap passes. $120 for SoCal select? Sounds like a fair price for all the crap they've been shoveling into the parks the last few years.

Namowal said...

I'm aware that Walt expected Disneyland to change over time. My problem isn't so much that they're fooling with the attraction, but that they're altering it in a tacky and unimaginative way. They could have thrown in Disney characters and "Hooray for the U.S.A." material back in the 1960s when they were building the thing. At least, back then, they knew better.

theatreman said...

Cory the Raven put it very well:
"It's not about being for or against change. Its about being for good changes, and not seeing them in messing around needlessly with attractions that already work."

For some guests any kind of novelty may be appealing. Others will not appreciate changes made simply for the sake of change, particularly when the original tone and integrity of an attraction are vulgarized.

The latter is the case with "Tiki Room Under New Management," "Stitch's Tiki Room," and the proposed re-purposing of IASM, all changes which crudely undermine the basic concepts of the atractions and substitute dumbed-down approaches.

Disney has often make marvelous improvements, sometimes subtle, sometimes quite noticeable, in keeping with the spririt of original creations.

Well-intended objections arise when a very successful attraction which has perhaps become shopworn, is revamped with robust and insensitive disregard and even disdain for the original.

Genuinely imaginative improvements which enhance the original rather than destroy it are certainly welcome.

Cleaning the Mona Lisa to remove an accumulation of dirt, or adding improved lighting or a better frame, or placing the painting in a new gallery can be great.

Painting in crossed eyes may be applauded by some, but will not be seen as creative improvement by the discriminating.

Spokker said...

To add to my previous comment:

Last year I had a Southern California pass with parking. I went over 40 times. I think I ate there maybe a couple times. I never bought ANY merchandise, not a single thing. So I probably spent $300 total at the Disneyland Resort last year.

I went to Tokyo Disney last year as well. I stayed in an official hotel. I paid for two 4-day passes for my girlfriend and I, and two after 6pm passes for when we got there.

We generally ate in-park and I bought maybe $300 worth of souvenirs for ourselves and our family (Eh, I admit I went crazy with the soundtrack CDs). In all I probably spent around 2 grand at TDR.

Which resort deserved it more?

Brian said...

But back to the letter from Mary's neices...

Sweet :)

theatreman said...

$1,000 per guest average seems a bit high, although if a hotel stay is included, that wouold not be a hard mark to reach.

Broadway shows, sporting events and concerts often cost $100 and last for around two to four hours at the very most. In comparison, Disney's park admission is a bargain for as much as eight hours or more of entertainment.

I guess the extravagance of some overnight guests covers the hard-working father who brings a family of five. Let's hope that prices never get out of his reach.

Let's also hope that the attractions and entertainment are not cheapened and compromised.

But back to the nieces indeed...

unhappiest place on earth said...

Merlin is right..Pee on the past as we are so in tune to do in todays times is not the way. Great job reitterating the way i also feel! Also, thanks to tuck and cory for the comments and points of views. I'm truly glad this has encouraged people to speak up. Time will only tell if it was heard. But if it holds true to fall on deaf ears, at least we stood our ground and let the world know how we feel.
A great fighter once said something
"It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -Emilio Zapata
Fight when you have to, but always stand true...

Viewliner Ltd. said...

If you haven't seen my post on Mary Blair yet here is the link. It is a very cool article.

http://viewlinerltd.blogspot.com/2008/04/designing-woman-mary-blair.html

Merlin Jones said...

>>Hong Kong Disneyland has a new Small World site with pics of all the Disney characters created for this attraction. Click on “Dolls and Characters” and then on “See Disney Characters”. Click on each main character pic to see a full grouping of supporting characters: Pinocchio; Cinderella and Prince Charming; Peter Pan, TinkerBell and Wendy; Aristokitten Marie; Mulan and Mushu; Baloo and Mowgli; Aladdin, Jasmine, Carpet, Genie and Abu; Woody, Bullseye and Jessie; Pocahontas, Meeko and Flit; The Three Caballeros; Simba, Timon, Pumbaa and Mufasa; Nemo, Dory and Peach; Lilo and Stitch; Ariel and Flounder; Bambi and Thumper.<<:

http://park.hongkongdisneyland.com/hkdl/html/iasw/en_US/index.html

Anonymous said...

Pinocchio; Cinderella and Prince Charming; Peter Pan, TinkerBell and Wendy; Aristokitten Marie; Mulan and Mushu; Baloo and Mowgli; Aladdin, Jasmine, Carpet, Genie and Abu; Woody, Bullseye and Jessie; Pocahontas, Meeko and Flit; The Three Caballeros; Simba, Timon, Pumbaa and Mufasa; Nemo, Dory and Peach; Lilo and Stitch; Ariel and Flounder; Bambi and Thumper.
We didn't forget anyone, did we?... I don't think that is enough characters representing the disney empire!::::sarcastically::::
By the way, what country is Nemo from again, Oceana?
Excuse me, while I go hurl my lunch...

mr wiggins said...

> By the way, what country is Nemo from again, Oceana? <

A country called Pixar, which was annexed to the Kingdom of Disney, which you've no doubt heard of: it's a place, like Portabello Road, where "anything and everything you have to unload is sold on the barrel" -- including its own heart and history.


> Excuse me, while I go hurl my lunch... <

Get in line, I'm still hurling my breakfast.

Merlin Jones said...

Notice they have Bambi at the North Pole...?

An Austrian book made into an American movie. Celebrating his cultural folk tale heritage?

Or did some Disney exec confuse Bambi with... Rudolph???

Andy Castro said...

Apparently someone forgot to tell Imagineer that "it's a small world" is no longer relevant to today's audiences.

"The ride is as relevant as ever."

Spokker said...

"Apparently someone forgot to tell Imagineer that "it's a small world" is no longer relevant to today's audiences."

Listen Castro, Small World is just as relevant as it ever was! Shame on you.

Now excuse me while we put Stitch in the Polynesian scene which in and of itself doesn't even make sense considering the movie took place in Hawaii and Stitch is an alien from outer space.

I'm surprised they built figures for this project. I figured they'd just put the characters on TV screens as another example of their boring digital projection technology.

Hell, they could have put it in OH-MY-GOD 3D and called it Small World Mania. That would really give the SoCal passholders a reason to drive all the way from La Palma to see it!

I can't wait for ReImagineering to take on Midway Mania by the way. I wonder if the tourist from China will be thinking to themselves, "I flew halfway across the world to watch TV?"

The talking potato is more exciting than the actual ride. What did they spend that 90 million on?

/bsdb said...

The talking potato is more exciting than the actual ride.

How many times have we seen this before.

DL's Innoventions was mostly a snoozefest, except for the host. "Riding Tom Morrow" became a fun way to cool off from the summer furnace heat, slowly walking the carousel while watching his tedium-relieving gestures (checking his fingernails or cleaning out his ear) between performances. Being upclose and personal with a well-designed audio-animatronic? That's Disney magic. Screw the corporate advertising a la Fry's Electronics.

Then there's Stitch in MK. The makeover sucks overall, but the AAs, once again, rock the house. The new preshow is cute, and the Stitch AA is a technological marvel (at least for the theater half seated directly in front of him); smooth, fluid movements and excellent facial articulation. As with Tom Morrow, I enjoy watching the AA, but the attraction in which said AA resides... not so much. (Truthfully, not at all.)

I'm not surprised that WDI will soon be featuring this AA in TDL's Tiki Room makeover, to get the most for their Imagineering R&D dollar. Of course, the addition of the Stitch AA will mean yet another update of a classic Walt attraction/abomination hybrid, creating a new and improved classic Walt attraction/abomination hybrid, in WDI's ongoing effort to keep the park relevant for today's youth. And by that, of course, I mean relevant for the redistribution of their disposable income into TDL's cash registers.

While I don't believe that a little blue alien could make Hawaiian mythology and sixties Polynesian Pop/Tiki Kitsch more relevant in the 21st century, WDI seems compelled to prove the case. Or is this just another project for Imagineers to charge their time against, in their ongoing efforts to prove themselves as being relevant in the 21st century, while dodging the Imagineering Pink Slip Faerie? Ooooh this is a toughie.

It's all so very frustrating as a foamer. The Yeti at the end of Everest is freakin' amazing! But two seconds worth of exposure while traveling at high speed can't begin to justify the expense! I really want to see this creature, his massive towering torso and hairy arms and threatening gestures. I want the Yeti to scare my socks off! But two seconds? A lousy blurry far-too-fast two seconds? Where's the payoff? AAARRRGGGHHH!!

This all started with DL's Indy, when the elements in the queue became more impressive than the show elements in attraction itself. And the tradition seems to continue with Mr. Potato Head.

Instead of being the driving force behind an attraction, AAs have been relegated to set dressing duty. Problem is, the overall attraction quality will pale in comparison, if one element of the set dressing stands head and shoulders above everything else. The comparisons to other attractions heavily laden with AAs will be made, even subconsciously. You cannot sell Yugos right next door to a Ferrari dealership for the exact same price! And yet, that is precisely what Disney continues to do with their parks: marketeering simple C- or D-Tickets as if they were E-Tickets, because of advanced technology or an AA like Stitch or Potato Head. Un-freakin-believable.

I guess I really shouldn't be surprised with the Disney character additions to DL's small world. What I should be surprised at, is that it took them this long to do it.

Tuckenie said...

Please stick to the subject of Small World. There will be a time and place to discuss the Stitch addition to the Tiki room (which I know nothing about but just the work in Tokyo over everybody else) and Toy Story Mania. Having ridden TSM during the Cast Previews, I can tell you the ride is wonderful and a lot of fun. Also very well themed. Spokker is just dead wrong and will be eating his words on that one.

Now back to Small World: Do the opinions of Mary Blair's family members matter in the discussion and why should Disney think so?

/bsdb said...

Personally, I feel this topic has been debated to death. The Disney characters are coming to Anaheim's small world, whether we like it or not. And while I believe debate and discussion are valuable to the Disney executives who should be welcoming any and all customer opinions regarding their products and services, I cannot help but feel that those in charge of P&R, especially WDI, honestly don't give a tinker's damn what the hell we think about anything they produce.

This generation of Imagineers mainly cares about pleasing management to keep their butts employed. Which, of course, means bending to the will of the accountaneers who expect them to produce miracles on shoestring budgets, and the marketeers who are constantly seeking ways to grow the bottom line. There is no longer a need to seek and receive foamer approval to keep one's job; those days have long since passed, along with David Mumford and Bruce Gordon.

It's all about making the cheap seem less so, and merchandise tie-ins. Brand new and newly refreshed attractions must become franchise profit centers through their respective gift shops. The Disney characters sell and sell well. Faceless and nameless international generic dolls, no matter how colorful their costumes, do not. End of discussion.


We've had our say, we've spoken our peace. But the plan will still move forward. Maybe the rainforest will remain and not be downsized and relocated to another part of the show building; no one seems to know at this point. But we foamers gave it our best shot. Hooray for our side.

Time to let go and move on.

Digital Jedi said...

I don't know about you, /bsdb, but I'm one of those people who has instructed my family to keep me on life support for as long as humanly possible. I'm serious. Jack me into the cigarette lighter if you have to, but keep me going for as long as possible.

But that's just me, I suppose. I'm going to beat this horse till it wakes back up. ;) I'm sure Jeanne and Maggie are going to do the same.

Anonymous said...

I say let go and move on.

Besides, it's time for Dorothea Redmond's family to start writing letters about what happened to Walt's NOS Apartment, or Harriet Burns and Wally Boag to picket the Tiki Room.
Who knows? maybe the spirit of Harper Goff can protest the Victorian "facade-omy" of Midway Madness?

Cheer up! Spring has sprung!

Rodney said...

Even though it is a specific topic discussing IASW, I believe it(IASW) is a small print to a much bigger picture. IASW is just a small scene of a much bigger panoramic picture, and it seems Imagineering has become dusters and merchandisers in a world of walt-retailand.

As much love I have for the park, it is not me who is changing, but it is the park that is devolving, forcing me to distance myself from the Land that was supposed to be mine.
I have some fond memories within, and the magic was there as recent for me as 10 years ago. Not so much anymore due to the overcrowding, the ankle-biting strollers, the $6 drinks and $8 burgers that are worse tasting than the McD $1 cheeseburgers.
It's seeing the same shirts in every retail store in the park, when at one time the different themed lands had theme specific wearibles.
It's having to make advanced reservations through a special phone number to eat INSIDE the park on the day you buy park admission, instead of the first come-first served method.
It is being roped off like cattle during a parade or firework show, forced to buckle down until it passes.
It's the addition of fastpasses which just allows you to enter into another waiting line.
It's the saturation of turning attractions into something they were not intended to be viewed as. It's the cheaply massmade overseas souveniers with minimum creative thought, but with a kings ransom price tag.
It is trying to "accomodate" 60,000 daily visitors into a park built originally for 30,000 daily visitors.
It's the removal of the spirit and soul of what made Disneyland the happiest place on earth.

This IS the devolution of Disneyland with stopping nowhere in sight.
It's been a noble attempt to try and wake the misled, but until there is a company leader who truly understands Walt's ambitions, goals, creativity, and not twist his very own words just to guise shareholders, there will be no need for me to spend my hard earned dollars in the park.

Anonymous said...

Disneyland is just devolving as it reflects a devolving world. As much as it been an escape from the real world, Disneyland to a degree has reflected in it's own mirror the values of our world.

As our society devolves and erodes, Disneyland eventually echoes these things in it's own unintentional way. The fact that the place is overcrowded or all the homogenized merchandise reflects our own GAP and Banana Republic clogged cities, dominated by the same dozen or so chain retailers. My point is that it's hard to fight the Zeitgeist.

Anonymous said...

I find it funny that the author and readers of this blog are opposing a re-imagineering of an attraction.

You all have this misconception of a golden age for Disney. I can't believe you guys are not taking this opportunity to celebrate the original and let in something new. Your faith in Disney's imagineering team seems to be non-existent, as you assume that any change would jeopardize the attractions integrity. I'm a bit more optimistic that changes would be a fun addition and not ruin Ms. Blair's vision.

Perhaps I have mistakened the point of this blog. At first glance, it seems as one of optimism and hope, but as I read I see that all faith for Disney is gone. We have people arguing over theme park failures and emotional pleas to resist change. How very un-Disney.

Anonymous said...

This blog deals with mistakes and how to solve them. I thought this quote was appropriate.

Frank Lloyd Wright said "A doctor can bury his mistakes, but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines."

Another Mousernonymous said...

Anonymous who is quoted stating "I find it funny that the author and readers of this blog are opposing a re-imagineering of an attraction."

I also find it funny that most of the contributors here currently or previously worked as imagineers and report the trouble here first. Obviously it doesn't sit well with the public or current disney employees. You should really take the time to read the posts and have the chance to embrace the same conclusions as most posters here. Most of us here are not for change, when it is just for changes sake. If it truly enhances the attraction or rides experience, then change would be welcomed. Nobody here can justify that adding popular Disney characters to IASW will actually enhance the ride on any level. In fact it will numb and dumb down the ride, but it could generate retail sales with stuffed characters and such.

If that doesn't make sense, try this example.
I'd like to see you tell your wife or husband that you are going to add a better grass lawn and flower gardens beneath the windows in your front yard. But while you are in the front yard, you decide to paint your house neon green with purple trim, just for the sake of change... Let's see what kind of feedback you receive after the project is done...

That example might be a little extreme, but it is how some feel. Some people dumped their lives into working for the mouse, and when silly ideas are brought up and actually approved, you could imagine the frustrations.

This would be a totally different scenario IF the park was doing its daily normal attendance average, but Its a Small World wasn't. This is NOT the case.

Anonymous said...

"Most of us here are not for change, when it is just for changes sake."

That's what I don't understand. Is it really just for changes sake? Most of the time Disney had made attempts to change an attraction it has been to improve the technical issues and make the ride relevant. According to you, an attraction only needs a change if it lacks riders. Is this the same way Disney judges it? If not, how do they decide which attractions to change?

Sometimes changes to attractions are successful, sometimes its not. I don't agree in preventing and judging an attempt before it happens. It could be as bad as a neon green paint job, but that's only a guess. Would any changes be acceptable to this attraction?

Anonymous said...

>Nobody here can justify that adding popular Disney characters to IASW will actually enhance the ride on any level.<

That is because the average guest is the ultimate judge of this and my guess is that by and large they will enjoy it, declaring it an enhancement to the ride.

Spokker said...

"I don't agree in preventing and judging an attempt before it happens."

Why? WDI draws concept art and builds models to gauge how a project will look before it's built. You can plainly see before the attraction is even built whether or not the project works.

Candy Mountain was a project that was in development for some time at WED. They kept working at it until someone convinced Walt the project wasn't all that great.

Was Walt an idiot for canceling a project without even seeing the finished product?

It goes both ways. Are guests idiots for spending thousands of dollars on a Disneyland vacation without even experiencing it for themselves first? Disney doesn't let you try before you buy. It would be impossible. So the only way people can judge whether a Disney vacation is right for them is by images, videos, and word of mouth.

We've been on Small World. We've seen the characters on the Hong Kong version. I think that's enough to realize that this project is wrong on so many levels.

I don't think any of us would mind if they made lighting enhancements or technical adjustments that built upon the original intent of the attraction. In fact we would welcome it. I wouldn't mind if the boats were a little more elegant and not so 60's-ish. I would like to see the two entrance tunnels plussed in a reasonable way. They have always looked a little bare to me.

But it's hard to imagine how the addition of Disney characters, an act that cheapens both the attraction and the characters themselves, build upon the original intent of the attraction.

It reminds me of the game Kingdom Hearts, where Disney characters and anime characters come together in some kind of ultimate nerdgasm crossover.

Nothing makes sense and you sort of come out of the experience feeling kind of dirty. That's how I predict riding the new and improved Small World will feel, at least for me.

Spokker said...

"That is because the average guest is the ultimate judge of this and my guess is that by and large they will enjoy it, declaring it an enhancement to the ride."

I don't buy into this phony baloney that the general public are stupid drones.

Walt liked the guests, and you should too. He believed in their capacity to understand the smallest of details, which is why he strived to add them.

John Hench complained to Walt that the guest wouldn't even notice the details on a stagecoach. Walt turned to him and told him that he was a bad communicator.

No, the guest gets it, which is why Small World, up until its closure continued to be such a popular attraction, while Pooh was rightfully shunned and often enjoys 3-minute posted wait times.

I think Nemo is underperforming as well. I was at Disneyland on a Friday night recently. Space Mountian had a posted wait time of 50 minutes. Nemo's line started under its marquee, which is roughly a 15-20 minute wait.

Projections are nice, but AAs are better :)

Another Mousernonymous said...

So by your reasoning, you would think Buzz Lightyear would be "at home" in Space Mountain, and would make a fine addition to the ride, even though it doesn't go with the theme? How about adding him to Star Tours? It's outerspace, and he is afterall, a spaceman, right?

Truth is, most people in the public don't care whats added or removed. As long as their kids are entertained somehow... Just wait until they use the now obsolete animitronic Mr. Lincoln, and re-skin his likeness to Eddie Murphy, so he can be placed into the Haunted Mansion. It's not that far off from what is happening throughout the park. I truly believe that the additions taint the rides. Pirates is a prime example. Johnny Depp aka Captain Sparrow steals the show and in doing so, changes the story and script of the ride. The old man in the bayou no longer has place in the ride, the real captain of the Wicked Wench (blackbeard character) is a sad loss, as Barbossa isnt as whimsical, and leaves the whole fort battle lacklustering. when you enter the mayor being dunked, you shift your attention to Johnny, losing the storyline. It is a shame that such a frontrunning attraction that had a timeless tale, gets homogenized and dated by adding the few elements. Great Animatronic, just bad placement and bad descision to mimic the movie, when the movie was made to mimic the ride.

To answer a question
"According to you, an attraction only needs a change if it lacks riders. Is this the same way Disney judges it? If not, how do they decide which attractions to change?"

Disney bases alot of ideas on the attraction turnstyle counts. In my opinion, only regular maintenance such as paint, function, improved lighting, or improved special effects should be used on current successful attractions. And even moreso on the attractions Walt was personally involved with, if for nothing else, a show of respect. That is to say, unless the attraction has low attendance reports. then the ride should be rethought, and or replaced with something more relevant.

If it were not for Disneyland, Anaheim, there would be no others. Preservation isn't bad when the thing you want to preserve is timeless and still popular, even by today's standards.
Disneyland is the epitome of Americana, and haven't we already lost enough of that?

/bsdb said...

That is because the average guest is the ultimate judge of this and my guess is that by and large they will enjoy it, declaring it an enhancement to the ride.

And why wouldn't they? Everybody wants stimulation these days. Moms across the country spend dozens of hours every month helping to stimulate their offspring into smarter (and hence more successful) individuals. Adding the Disney characters will make small world pseudo-interactive, by turning the attraction into a 'Where's Waldo' type of adventure, so those tiny tots can continue their stimulation exercises, even at Disneyland:

"Oh look, Timmy! Can you spot Bambi? And where's Peter Pan? There's Pocahontas. How many of her animal friends are with her? Isn't this fun?"

"Yeah! This is way more fun than staring at bunch of stupid dumb dolls!"


Toy Story Midway Mania across the plaza is most likely the future direction for the Disney theme parks: interactivity interactivity interactivity! Three-dimensional video gaming coming to life. That's all Timmy and Princess care about now. They don't want to visit some boring old theme park. They'd rather stay home and play video games. And parents don't have to be rocket scientists to figure out that it's cheaper to buy new video games for the kids than taking them to some boring old theme park. What's a marginally talented entertainment executive to do, to keep that overcompensated salary rolling in?

Adding Disney characters turns a passive cruise around the world into an exciting scavenger hunt! No need to stare mindlessly at foreign children whom we shouldn't be concerned about in the first place, since they're not us, right?

We don't want to be passive. We want stimulation!! Interactivity to the rescue!


(Note to WDI: now's your chance to transform Storybookland after completing small world. Heaven knows those modern tikes must be bored to tears floating passively by empty miniature houses instead of blowing them up.)

Anonymous said...

>>I don't buy into this phony baloney that the general public are stupid drones. <<

Agree..the public is not dumb, but they DO want to be entertained and have fun. It's not 1964. I don't know how many of you have small kids , but BSDB nailed this reaction best.

"Yeah! This is way more fun than staring at bunch of stupid dumb dolls!"

Sad but true.

They don't see the ride as "pacifistic kinetic art". At least not yet. Kids won't even watch black and white movies anymore because they aren't stimulating enough. As BSDB said, it's all about interacting. I took a 9 year old boy to the park recently and he refused to ride Pirates because he thought it was "too slow and boring". Shocking.

If the new Pirate Ride is any indication of acceptance of change, watch the flashes go off and fingers point when Johnny Depp comes into view.

Tuckenie said...

Comparing the Small World changes to a new ride that's receiving Great reviews isn't exactly making your case.

Anonymous said...

"Comparing the Small World changes to a new ride that's receiving Great reviews isn't exactly making your case."

The reviews that you refer to are based mainly that the Depp characters animitronics and skinning are so lifelike. I have yet to see a review state that the storyline of the ride flows better than it ever did. The reviews are misleading, since the majority of reviews focus on the flattery of the lifelike Depp to the projected Davy Jones onto a sheet of mist. The story isn't there anymore. In fact, why add a Barbossa, but not change the Wicked Wench paint scheme to the Black Pearls blacked out scheme?
Let's face it....Disney execs have been half assing the attractions for say, the last 15 years. Maybe some would say even longer, and in turn, they have ruined the attractions created storylines. This goes for the "Under New Management" ETR in Florida, The POTC-Depp additions, The Nemos, and even down to the smallest of detailed attractions like Swiss Family Piracy, and Tom Sparrow Island.
It was ALL about the details with Walt, and that concept died when he died. Just look to DCA for further proof.

There is no case to make anymore, because the Mouse will do whatever it wants to, and will attempt to crush whoever stands in its way.

There is NO optimism left for the "Amusement Park" for me, and this July is truly the last time I will visit the park for what I expect to be many years to come, unless they get their crap together. If in fact that ever happens.
$76/person inc. parking just to step inside isn't just a drop in the bucket anymore, and I'm sure that Disney will feel the consequences of their actions soon.

Tuckenie said...

I was talking about Toy Story Mania and responding to /bsdb, not Pirates. My comment wasn't approved before your's. Toy Story Mania is receiving GREAT reviews so far from those who have ridden it, like Kevin Yee at MiceAge.

As I've said before, the changes on POTC are at best debatable but probably moot since the ride was PCed before that. At least Sparrow brings back a little of the fun that was taken out.

Anonymous said...

>>It was ALL about the details with Walt, and that concept died when he died. Just look to DCA for further proof.<<

DCA yes, but TDS and Disneyland Paris are "riots of detail" and are the exception. Detail did not die with Walt.

Spokker said...

"Toy Story Mania is receiving GREAT reviews so far from those who have ridden it, like Kevin Yee at MiceAge."

I love Kevin Yee but he's just one guy. I'm also hearing a lot of word of mouth that people aren't too excited about the ride based on early videos of it.

Personally I'm not too keen on the 3D screens you "shoot" at. I have a Wii at home. You aim at the screen and "shoot" things. Just like the Wii, Toy Story Mania relies on a gimmick. And just like Toy Story Mania, people have been rejecting the Wii's motion controls as too gimmicky, and eschewing those types of games for more traditional ones.

Toy Story Mania will be a fun diversion, just like the Wii, but I think that most guests will reject the ride after a while for more traditional attractions that don't rely on cheap gimmicks for the bulk of the experience.

The environment based on the videos and even Kevin Yee's review feels very bare. A lot of painted flats, zero animatronics (except for the potato in the queue), just the screens.

Disneyland is about creating immersive environments. While the exteriors of both attractions are very nice, especially DCA's version, the ride just doesn't stimulate me. Perhaps I've grown less fond of that frantic video game type entertainment as I've grown older.

Video games do get a bad rap sometimes. Many people like myself bought Grand Theft Auto IV not so much to shoot cops and blow up cars, but to marvel at the incredibly detailed world the developers created.

At one point it was Disneyland attractions that were incredibly detailed. Now it's just bang, bang, shoot-em-up mania. I am optimistic that the Little Mermaid dark ride and Radiator Springs Racers will hold more substance.

As with Nemo, with its own brand of projected characters, Midway Mania's line will die down after the hype has passed, and more traditional rides like Mansion and Pirates will keep on truckin'.

Spokker said...

"I'm sure that Disney will feel the consequences of their actions soon."

Even as someone who is weary of how Disneyland is being run, statements like these are troubling.

Disneyland attendance is flat this year, but that's quite an achievement considering they are still attracting 50th level crowds. So it's hard to say that Disneyland is doing something wrong in attracting guests. You know, "If people hate it so much why are they still going?!"

Personally I think nostalgia and cheap APs are fueling much of the attendance. It is a testament to the legacy of what Walt Disney created in Disneyland that people continue to flock to it after all these years. I don't consider the new stuff to be huge draws in and of themselves (certainly not as much as Indy was). They are nice diversions and all, but I think that people are attracted to their old favorites more than anything else.

Also, cheap APs. $120 bucks for a SoCal Select Pass. $160 for a SoCal pass. Just because attendance is high doesn't mean they are making more money. The park feels incredibly crowded now, especially on Friday nights when all the APs hit the park after work or school.

I have to wonder what effect this has on the tourist who may not visit the park as much, but spends way more money on one trip than an AP spends in a whole year. Sure, APs can "always come back" but those tourists might not if they experienced a way-too-crowded Disneyland.

The only thing Disneyland management really has to do is market the nostalgia, keep the park running in reasonable shape, and don't screw up *all* the classics, and they will continue to rake in money hand over fist.

From management's point of view, it's hard to make the argument that Disney should build a top-notch high-budget E-Ticket in Disneyland when a relatively cheap overlay or some Food and Wine festival is all that's needed to attract the 500k-strong annual passholder demographic.

mr cratchet said...

Yeah, but It's a Small World kind of sucks, especially the Disneyland version. I rode it for the first time in October and was bored out of my mind, and I usually love the classic Disney attractions, Carousel of Progress being one of my favorites, and Horizons still very sorely missed. Whatever made It's a Small World work, if indeed it ever did, is no more. It's sad they are making the changes they are -- I agree they are dumb; but perhaps it is time to take a real good look at the market. It is no secret that Americans are getting dumber and fatter with time. Naturally, to accomodate these dumber and fatter guests we get a painfully stupid ride that is now built to withstand fat people. Maybe this is the right move for a depressingly fat, stupid market?

theatreman said...

It's a Big Celebrity-Scoring World After All!

(Stay Behind the Red Rope.)

Spot the VIPs!!

The game is on in Hong Kong.

-----------------------------

Here are Comments on a YouTube video of the iasm attraction in Hong Kong. The sightings are keyed to minutes/seconds of the video:

"Wow! I saw Aladdin in 00:21!!
disneynut06

Me too. Jasmine, Abu and Genie (trapped in his lamp) are there as well.

You can also see Simba, Timon, Pumbaa and Mufasa (though just his face) at 00:43, the Three Caballeros (Jose Carioca, Donald Duck & Panchito) at 01:49, Pocahontas, Meeko & Flit at 2:03 and Woody & Jessie at 02:08."

----------------------------

Can the Touch Screens and Scores be far behind?

It's a whole new, vulgar and rather sad world of inverted values: common people don't count for much; celebrities rule.

Spokker said...

"It's a whole new, vulgar and rather sad world of inverted values: common people don't count for much; celebrities rule."

Eh, maybe I'll have to rescind my earlier comments. Your discovery doesn't surprise me at all.

I guess the same people who will enjoy the Small World changes are the same ones who line up to catch a glimpse of Johnny Depp at the three Pirates movie premieres at Disneyland.

It's the same people who go ga-ga over the fact that Eli Manning took the time out of his busy schedule to visit the park. Maybe there is something wrong with me, but stuff like that just doesn't excite me.

I guess the children of the world just aren't a draw anymore.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the problem is that this country has been over diversified since IASW grand opening? Your neighbors could be Middle Eastern, Mexican, Russian, or Zimbabweian...Maybe seeing dolls dressed up to represent the native lands they were from just isn't exotic anymore.

It is a sad time that our children no longer build hill racers or go carts from scratch skateboard and bicycle parts like the old "Our Gang/Little Rascals" comedies. I know I did, and I'm not all that old being in my 30s. Too much is being lost in our times including values.

There was a female who posted and that I will try to summerize from what I recall. She mentioned something to the effect of video games are cheaper than park admission and last longer. It's also less of a liability to play a video game versus actually creating a "physical play enviroment". She also said try getting today's children to watch anything black and white....It struck a chord with me. She is right! And parenting plays a huge role in this, I can assure you.

Not saying that our children when all grown up might actually revert and take interest in the B&W films/cartoons, but its also possible that it all might just go away. Who the heck is Fess Parker anyway?
Sorry, but the Disney descisions to change IASW and todays children issues seem to run parallel.
I guess we are all guilty in one way or another for allowing this to lead up to where we are at presently.
They just don't make em like Walt, Mary, Alice and the nine old men anymore, as they were the ones who made the difference and left impressions that no one else has come close to creating since.

Anonymous said...

Believe it or not, there was a time in the early 90's when attendance at the parks was down, way down. Losing money down. They were still relatively well maintained and the shows were just as we remembered them. But the public was not interested like they were before. Rides that we're "under utilized" or cost too much to operate would be closed to save operating costs. When you aren't making money you have to lose less. Ugly times.

Back then the whole issue of "relevance" of those under utilized shows was raised and the spiral began of updating. It's harder to argue for the "classics" when no one is showing up. So enhancements were a way of keeping the product fresh. Fueling this was a WDI proposal to apply the money dedicated to rehab an existing attraction to enhancing it creatively and make it marketable. "Tarzan's Treehouse" would be an example. So rehab money became "lets rethink it" money to a degree. Marketing money may also be applied. This was a win/win as WDI got work to do and the park and something to market. Now you can see the culture where the IASM Doll idea could thrive. In many cases this makes sense, especially when no one was coming to see the Classics. The pre "50th" attendance world was a different place.

Just a bit of context to illustrate how WDI got into this relevance situation and that the shows we love were not always embraced by the public.

Spokker said...

Wasn't the early 90s marked with a recession, so perhaps that contributed to a rough start in the early 90s for Disney.

But one thing I noticed that attendance was 10.3 million in 1994. Then it jumped to 14.1 million in 1995, which probably had more to do with Indy and the 40th). Attendance increased further to 15 million in 1996, which is even higher than it is today.

Then there was a downward trend from 1997 to 2003. Could it have had something to do with the massive closures and cutbacks?

The next big jump was during the 50th, and Disneyland continues to maintain those numbers at the moment.

The way I see it, the two big jumps occurred when a high-budget E-Ticket ride was opened, and when nostalgia was heavily marketed to lure people back to the parks.

/bsdb said...

There was a female who posted and that I will try to summerize from what I recall. She mentioned something to the effect of video games are cheaper than park admission and last longer.

That was me. Guilty as charged.

The same argument holds for taking the family to the local multiplex versus waiting for the DVD release. For today's cash-strapped households of four or more, the DVD purchase is about half the cost of a matinee plus popcorn. Given the current economic downturn, should be interesting to see how well Narnia and WALL*E do at the box this summer.

Sorry, but the Disney descisions to change IASW and todays children issues seem to run parallel.

While that may be true, I doubt this was the main impetus behind the character additions to the ride. Seems like a "happy accident" in trying to justify the rationale of making the ride "relevant" to today's youth, much like trying to justify continuing development of film-based attractions like Midway Mania, instead of returning to highly themed, immersive environments like Pirates and Mansion. Which, BTW, I'd rather spend my vacation dollars to enjoy. I have little interest in these theme park video games on steroids.

And speaking of Midway Mania... the ride's gift shop at DCA opened last week, even though CM previews won't begin for a few more weeks and the lottery-based AP previews aren't until June 9. The ride doesn't even "officially" open until June 17.

Selling ride-specific souvenirs before the ride opens? Go ahead, Marty. Tell me once again how these changes to small world have NOTHING to do with increasing merchandising opportunities. I dare you.

Anonymous said...

To add to Spokker's comments, Indy was the "bullet" that was bitten to remedy the drops in attendance in the early nineties (and it worked). Although to the finance fellows, "Fantasmic!" was considered a better use of the money for it's ROI. That's why the drought in permanent "E" tickets and more parades, band aids,etc.

An interesting side note is that part of the definition of a park "enhancement" (they have to meet a criteria to be considered) is something that adds considerable show value but does not have to be marketable or have a return on investment. The Storybookland Boat Ride getting "Ariel's Grotto" and other new scenes would be an example. Certainly they synergize those films but no one intended to capitalize on that. WDI just wanted to update the ride to show scenes of the more popular films. IASM dolls probably began innocently as well. Who knows if they became justified as merchandise ROI eventually as a result of the high investment (beyond the cost of a typical enhancement).

Gina Draker Studio said...

I just found this site and wanted to put my own two-cents in!

I am a life long loyal Disneyphile, devoted Walt Disney aficionado, and passionate Disneyland Historian and collector...also professionally worked for the Disney organization as a Sculptor. Along with being a Disney Mommy myself and being a Disney family - an Orange County family that goes way back to the beginning of Walt's 1955 dream of a family park, I have literally grown up at Walt's Disneyland.

For Disney enthusiasts, such as I, it is a community of traditionalists and art lovers. Truly, ART lovers! Walt's original park lies in his creative and personal artistic vision, his genius at putting together a framework of the most capable artists and artisans of their day - and we haven't seen their likes since! He showcased these talents to perfection! Walt knew what he was doing and trusted his mighty team of Imagineers to make his dreams reality! Walt loves Mary's use of stylized characters and pictoral storytelling. Mary Blair always impressed her unique attitude of life and joy in her brilliant design, color and compositional works of art!

Mary Blair was one of the finest artists to ever grace not only Disneyland and Disney history, but also the lives of countless children the world over.

Why can't the "new" Disney management leave Walt's creative legacy alone? These are absolute Masterpieces!

As a Parent, I feel so strongly and urge other parents to give voice that this legendary heritage should remain intact for our children, our grandchildren, and for the next generations to come!

This, after all, is what makes a classic a classic! Mary Blair is certainly a Classic and a Disney Treasure for Keeps!

God Bless ya, Mary - and Thanks!

Anonymous said...

"Unfortunately, at least in my eyes, the way the park has been run for the past decade isn't worth that much money. I'm pretty happy paying my $160 bucks for the SoCal pass so I can enjoy the classics..."

Right on spokker.
You can count me in with around 50 other friends who get our annual passes to visit the glory of long gone genius design and imagination...I sure don't visit the park to see a Copper and Brown coated "Tomorrow"...hell, I can drive down any street in L.A. and see that! In regards to the subject matter, to me A Small World is Walt's "Sgt. Pepper"...I wouldn't want to see Paul McCartney overhall and update the album with drum machines and replace John Lennon's vocal tracks with Miley Cirus either. How about we update the Carousel of Progress song while we're at it? The Sherman Bros. wouldn't mind, right? OK everyone sing: "It's a great beige uninspired tomorrow"

Anonymous said...

>How about we update the Carousel of Progress song while we're at it? <

"Now is the time, now is the best time, now is the best of our lives."

I heard that this was the new COP theme for a few years because GE didn't want those purchases to wait till tomorrow, they wanted them to buy now! Merchandise rules!

Anonymous said...

"In regards to the subject matter, to me A Small World is Walt's "Sgt. Pepper".

It's interesting to make comparisons between Walt and the Beatles. My question is...if you ride Small World backwards and slow the boats down will the new dolls sing "I buried Walt"?.

"Let it be" is probably more fitting.

Anonymous said...

""Let it be" is probably more fitting."

Ahhh,...Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom...Let It Be...yes...Mother Mary Blair!

It's a sign!

Anonymous said...

I'm sure glad IASM wasn't Walt's "Creedence"

Then we'd have "Who'll stop the Rain Forest".

Eric said...

I completely welcome the cartoon characters to "its a small world". I think it's a great addition that will make the ride much more entertaining and relevant to the thousands of kinds who visit the parks each year.

Has anyone here seen the videos of HK Disneyland's new small world ride? It's great! The scenes are cute, and the added characters do not at all "bastardize" the significance or art of the attraction.

Although the company has definitely made some mistakes, including placing that ridiculous hat at the studios and the insulting "disneyfication of Spaceship Earth (the wand...), I think that most changes to the parks have been positive ones.

Remember that theme parks are all about entertainment. And for them to keep running and to continue being successful they need relevant and contemporary entertainment. There's nothing wrong with adding Pirates characters to the classic ride; it's done nothing but made it much more enjoyable not only for me, but also for the kids who go crazy for these characters. Have you heard a seven year old cry and whine because he wants to hide in caverns and act like Tom Sawyer and Hulkeberry Finn? No; they want to battle Barbossa and search for hidden treasure onn a secret island (Pirates Lair)!

This is all about the kids and giving them a truly magical and fun place to go; where they can live their dreams of battling pirates and be able to say that Stitch spit on them and burped on their faces! What little girl wouldn't want to swim with Nemo or dress up like Gabriella (HSM characters @ the boutique @ the studios..)

Its all about the kids. And I would, although with a bit of reluctance, give up the nostalgia that I received from riding on Horizons or the Indy Speedway to give them the chance to feel like their shooting into space or whatever the imagineers can think of to replace those dated attractions.

Yes, they need to bring back the PeopleMover, build something worth my time to replace Innoventions, and make a new Star Tours film. I'm sure that the imagineers all know this and are hard at work trying to fix it all. Push them to do it, and push the executives to fund the changes. But all this over small world... it's just not worth our time.

Anonymous said...

Let's just scrap ALL of the current attractions all together and start from scratch so the whole park can be "relevant". What Eric fails to see is the changes are temporary at best(and not even a fix). In another 8 years or so(and, if mankind is still here) kids will be asking "who is jack sparrow?", just like Davey Crocket, Tom Sawyer, and Huck Finn. We've seemed to become accustomed to replacing the word "timeless" with the word "timeline". It's a sad time indeed.....

Thomas said...

Of course Walt et.al. never meant for the parks to remain static museums. He expected them to evolve along with us, not devolve into cheap, shrill commercials to sell more merchandise.

We used to visit WDW on a yearly basis. I could not imagine visiting the Orlando area without visiting Disney. Now, Disney is simply priced out of the reach of most American families. How patriotic is that? And even if I had the money I wouldn't spend it there.

Sappy as it may sound, I loved the Disney parks. It breaks my heart to see what they have degenerated into. I can find more creative integrity at my local Chucky Cheese. A company that does not respect itself has no respect for its audience.

/bsdb said...

Push them to do it, and push the executives to fund the changes.

Imagineers have no difficulty in generating new ideas. Where the difficulties lie is in convincing the executives to fund them.

"Pushing the executives to fund the changes" is beyond Herculean. You blithely toss this on the table as if it's merely a matter of will, that the Imagineers aren't applying themselves. Get freaking real.

Characters were added to small world for one reason and one reason only:

Sell

More

Merchandise

The executives only care about "relevance" when said relevance compels park visitors to open their wallets to make a purchase. Why else would Disney be willing to spend over $300 million on Carsland in DCA? Because of merchandise.

The Cars die cast toy line has sold over $2 billion worldwide since the film's release, two years ago. That's $2 BILLION in two years. No way Burbank would ever approve an entire new land based on one film with a modestly successful box office if it weren't for the film's merchandise success.

Nemo was more successful at the box, but Cars was and continues to be more successful in the toy store. And that's all that matters to the executives.

freedogshampoo said...

I have absolutely no problem with their capitalistic approach to developing rides and upgrading attractions. I mean, If I really enjoy the attraction that much (which includes an appreciation for the characters and the theming, a la cars or nemo), then I damn right WILL purchase more merchandise. If it works, it works. And I think in the case of Potc, Stich's Escape, and the additions to small world, it has/will work(ed). I'm happier, their happier.

/bsdb said...

If I really enjoy the attraction that much (which includes an appreciation for the characters and the theming, a la cars or nemo), then I damn right WILL purchase more merchandise.

Disney will worship the theme park ground you walk on. You're their target audience. Not me. Knock yourself out and spend away.

And I think in the case of Potc, Stich's Escape, and the additions to small world, it has/will work(ed).

Stitch is a mess, like Tiki Room. It's not working. And small world in MK is a different market than Anaheim, where the changes are going in. WDW execs decided not to add characters, years ago, before the MK small world rehab began. Who knows why. Perhaps they believed it wasn't worth the effort and added cost?

Price points for Disney theme parks have outpaced inflation for the past decade at an alarming rate. Attendance will certainly decline, especially for WDW, as gas prices and airfare continue to rise. But for most who brave the added transportation costs and choose to visit the parks, anyway, their spending habits within the berm will certainly alter. And not in the manner that Disney will welcome.

The design and subsequent approval of attraction projects based on marketability of related merchandise is foolhardy, with continuing downward pressure on park spending by the guests. Having a rock-solid attraction exist on its own without any consideration towards merchandising will bring in the crowds. That was Walt's original park model, and it worked for decades: Jungle Cruise, Submarine Voyage, small world, Pirates, Mansion, et. al.

Rejecting a park addition because the merchandise opportunities are perceived as weak is a poor rationale for hindering change. Where would New Orleans Square be today if Walt rejected pirates and ghosts as the overarching themes because of lack in consumer interest with pieces-of-eight and customizable tombstones?

Anonymous said...

About a decade ago, Disney started really pushing the merchandising and licensing of their movies. Along with the saturation of the Disney Stores, overkill was inevitable. Now, Disney has their own OUTLET STORES to dump the excess merchandise the no one wants to buy.

What will Disney do when their parks start suffering the same malaise that merchandise did? When people eventually realize that the parks have become more oriented toward merchandise than entertainment, it will start having a significant effect on their attendance numbers.

While there will probably always be a loyal Disney following, it would be foolish to think that Disney is immune from the results of unrestrained over merchandising (one of the biggest problems with the Pressler era at Disneyland). Eventually one day, people will just realize that they are just not enjoying the parks anymore and the entertainment value is just no longer there.

Anonymous said...

Good points to the last few posters. On an added note, The CEOs, Presidents and higher ups in power have to justify their salaries to their stockholders and such. So some type of accountability is in place, the more they sell, the more they make, so why not push EVERYTHING? Don't go expecting a CEO to ask for a paycut, just to help save a suffering park(or any company, for that matter). They will run it into the ground, bankrupt it, and move on to destroy other companies. It happens all the time. The U.S. has already lost approximately 40% of its labor jobs to overseas and south of the border contracts with American founded Companies. But, if people here don't have jobs, how do you expect them to spend money on IASW plush dolls?

freedogshampoo said...

/bsdb, you're right; great rides sell themselves. Test Track, Mission: Space, and Space Mountain are some of the most popular rides of all the parks, and they have absolutely no character branding whatsoever.

But in my opinion, "small world" is not a great ride.

I understand its cultural significance and its important role in Disney history. I still enjoy watching "Disneyland At The 1964 World's Fair", where Walt describes the ride and his dreams for it. I'm not just a regular theme park goer, I'm a true Disney fan.

But it's also sad to see the classic attraction show its age and loose its entertainment value. True, all the attraction needs a REALLY GOOD rehab; but not one to bring it back to its 'former glory'. It needs a complete refresh to make it fun and exciting for today's audience. This doesn't mean making it a white water thrill ride either, though that would be pretty interesting ... : P

Under New Management failed. But then again, even if its original incarnation was still open at WDW, it would only be good enough for sit down dinner entertainment (not even; Rainforest Cafe animatronics are more advanced)

I too was originally opposed to the rumored small world enhancements...but after watching the HK Disney version of it, I realized that it really wasn't bad at all. The kids love it, it's adorable and they even kept Ms. Blair's artistic style. If anyone here hasn't seen it in person or a video of it, then they really should. It's great.




P.S. Adding Toy Story characters to Peter Pan would just be silly... pretty funny though.

Spokker said...

"But in my opinion, "small world" is not a great ride."

The daily rider counts disagree with you.

Small World continues to be relevant to today's audiences and the hordes of people who rode it every single day before this refurbishment only proves that.

freedogshampoo said...

"The daily rider counts disagree with you."

Very well then. This will only make it more entertaining. Nothing negative will come out of this, that is what I'm trying to get through...

Anonymous said...

I remember a time when Disneyland was made of 5 different lands, and all lands were branded to sell merchandise that closely represented the theming of that particular land. Now, you cannot walk through the merchandise stores throughout the park and not help to see the exact same plushes and cheaply made, mass produced merchandise in all the stores. They have pushed the envelope too far, and most guests are not ignorant to this happening. It IS the SAME merchandise that winds up in the discounted/clearanced Disney Character Warehouse stores, that, just happen to be expanding and opening up more retail outlets. And this doesn't seem to be a problem? They(The Park outlet stores) are now currently at 10 stores nationwide(mostly located on the West Coast), and all they carry is "Park specific" items that were either over purchased/overstocked, or bluntly just didn't sell. Adding characters to a ride that Walt Himslef was alive to see finished, didn't go with the attractions intent then, and it sure doesn't fit now. It was just a sly merchandising ploy to add yet another retail shop at the rides exit, just like, for example, Star Tours, which empties its riders into a retail shop at the end of the ride. Ever try walking through that store after exiting the ride? It's a complete pain in the rear, fighting elbows to arses, and strollers in the wake of all the chaos. Enhancing the attraction by adding new lighting, paint, motors for the dolls,glitter and such is one thing I'd be positive about. changing the rides theme and feel by adding known animation characters forced to fit in by conformity is another story, and actually undermines the ride's ideas and intent. It's all been debated to death, just go back and read the other related topics prior to this one, and see the pros and cons for yourself. What is going on at Disneyland currently should concern everyone whoever shared a memory within the park, and it is not all about IASW. It's all about the bigger picture, and if you don't see the problem in the big picture, I doubt that myself, or any one of us here can help anyone to understand.

Gina Draker Studio said...

Okay - for those of you who want to "update" a Walt classic...
Remember when they tried that with "new" Coke?

'Nuff said.

freedogshampoo said...

lol ; )

Cornelius said...

OK, this is the most ill and repugnant aspect to the proposed IASW changes:

play> Dateline 1964: The IASW attraction showcases children of the world - ordinary, everyday children of the world. There is nothing special or unique about these doll children other than that they live in different countries. They all breath the same air and stand on the same globe. ff>> Dateline 2008: Enter the "celebrities" from Disney's galaxy of stars!!!!!! Stitch, OOH! And here's Alice!! Oh, aren't they wonderful! Much better and more interesting than ORDINARY children! What other celeb can we pick out of this forest of no-names who are obscuring our vision?

Do you all see what has happened?
The focus of the ride has changed.
The focus of the ride has changed.
The focus of the ride has changed because Disney Celebrity characters are indeed more important than ORDINARY CHILDREN.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if years from now this thread will be viewed as the equivalent of defending the integrity of Red Skelton's Clown paintings?

Anonymous said...

Its official, New Guinea and the Rain Forest are being replaced by America. Don’t expect to see a press release from Disney any time soon. They are still perplexed at the negative press and reaction generated by the news of adding Disney “toys” to Walt Disney's original small world attraction. There will be no public fanfare or press release generated about this from the mouse house. The plan is to open the attraction with the new scene in place, with hopes it will change the minds of doubters once they see it. If not, the view is it will be done and installed regardless of how it is received. The model of the new America section shows it will take up the entire room where the rain forest and New Guinea are now located. The rain forest is being down sized and relocated elsewhere within the attraction due to all the negative publicity its removal has generated. New Guinea and its Mary Blair huts however are a different story, they are now part of Yesterdayland. Down at Disneyland the room is cleared and construction on the new scene is well underway.

It is truly a sad day for fans of Walt Disney’s original it’s a small world attraction.

theatreman said...

Corneliuis got it all right and his comment deserves careful consideration!

On the other hand, confusing this issue with Red Skelton clown paintings gets the argument all out of focus. It's not about the quality of the art, it's about the meaning behind the attraction.

Anonymous said...

Because Disney characters ARE more important than ordinary children.

Anonymous said...

(My laptop crapped out in the middle sending m' post last night...)

The long and the short of it is that Walt Disney himself approved the attraction as-is. He didn't feel as if there was a need to place any of the Disney characters in the attraction. The arrogance meters in Burbank, Glendale and out back have got to be pegged out.
Lets pull out Dumbo and rerelease it with Mickey Mouse in the role of Timothy to update it for today's generation.

David H

Anonymous said...

In reading some of the other posts and blogs, I'm wondering if Congress couldn't declare Its A Small World (along with other parts of Disneyland) a National Historical Landmark. HA! Can't touch that!

David H

Anonymous said...

It's been suggested on other IASM threads. I say we blow it up, then it will live on mythically in the pristine, romanticized state that we seem to remember it in.

Anonymous said...

freedogshampoo-
"But it's also sad to see the classic attraction show its age and loose its entertainment value."
"It needs a complete refresh to make it fun and exciting for today's audience. "

So we should also be updating the Sistine Chapel, the Mona Lisa, a couple of works by Monet, the Ninth Symphony...for that matter the Star Spangled Banner...

Its one thing to reinterpret something open to interpretation (such as the works of Shakespeare who didn't set his plays in any specific time period - I saw Two Gentlemen of Verona set in the 50's), its another to redo a work of art. (Maybe we should a new boquet of daisies to the Mona Lisa to bring some color into it to catch the attention of more people.)

David H

freedogshampoo said...

Theme parks, though, are about relevant entertainment. Who wants to pay $150 a night hotel and $60 a day entrance ticket to see 50's Disney? Nobody would be at Disneyland right now if everything was left the way Walt had left it.

On the other hand, Disney sells nostalgia above all else. I had my great Disney memories when I was kid, and I definitely want my children to have great memories in the parks too. But I really don't think that riding "From The Earth To The Moon" or the original Jungle Cruise will do that.

I mean, "Star Tours" doesn't even do it for many.

The artistic merit/significance will still be there.
Lilo, Aladdin, Jasmin, and Bambi are also children of the world. Remember Bambi's first steps? It will not only add more entertainment value to the ride, but also add to its culture. Disney does not think that its characters are more important than ordinary children; in fact, Disney's characters ARE ordinary children. A diamond in rough, a mermaid thats always reprimanded by her father and stitch thing thats always getting itself into trouble. They all sound like ordinary kids to me.

This enhanced attraction will also remind us that Disney appreciates people from all cultures and walks of life. They has a great story to tell about every geographical region on the ride. Good Job!

Don't worry about artistic clash. The characters have been Blair-ed. They FIT in with the ride artistically. Not only are they shaped and colored like the other dolls, they have also been made to look as young and innocent.

Entertainment
Entertainment
Entertainment

And Spokker, I'm sure that many people love the ride and still go on it. But I think that they continue to go on it simply for nostalgia's sake. I did the same once, when I took my boyfriend to the park. I disliked the ride, but I thought, "Well, hey! Everybody has had to go through this nightmare at least once in their lives! He should have the same experience too!" And he liked it too for that reason. Because it was lame. It was funny too!

But who really wants a lame ride? Wouldn't the entertainment that you receive from a riding an enhanced attraction outweigh the nostalgia received from a dated one?

Let us not compare this, though, to the Tiki Room. THAT was a big mistake. The script, music, and story line was all changed (and for worse...). This won't happen at small world. It will be same old ride, with the same story, track and music. We'll, just have a few extra dolls to enjoy looking at.

In the case of Stitch replacing Alien... Well, the former WAS better...But I think that we can all agree that the original didn't belong in the park. And adding Stitch has only made it more enjoyable for the kids.

It might be better to compare this with Pirates (I know that this might start another long.. dragging.. debate..). But at least with that ride, I still get to enjoy my nostalgia, and the kids have Sparrow to look at. Win-Win.

Anonymous said...

“Theme parks, though, are about relevant entertainment. Who wants to pay $150 a night hotel and $60 a day entrance ticket to see 50's Disney? Nobody would be at Disneyland right now if everything was left the way Walt had left it.”

If EVERY park were “hip and relevant” there would be nothing unique about any of them. Various parks have their distinctive elements, which make them stand out from the rest. Dollywood, Colonial Williamsberg (a LOT older than Disneyland’s eras), Tivoli Gardens and many other parks are successful without sacrificing their heritage of quality and integrity.

Anonymous said...

“Because Disney characters ARE more important than ordinary children”

I hope you were being sarcastic.

freedogshampoo said...

But Dollywood has stayed relevant with the addition of various steel and wooden coasters. They've even added an entire water park to bring more people in.

Same thing with Busch and Tivoli Gardens.

This is the same thing that I see happening with the various Disney parks. Not the addition of crazy roller-coasters to bring people in, but well-themed rides that keep the integrity of the park.

/bsdb said...

It will be same old ride, with the same story, track and music. We'll, just have a few extra dolls to enjoy looking at.

Not even close.

Several scenes have changed significantly to accommodate those "few extra dolls." And the music has also changed, with overlays of the dolls' corresponding movie soundtracks in their respective locations. Many who have ridden HKDL's small world have reported that the blending of the movie songs with the Sherman Brothers' song is less than stellar, often jarring. The music has definitely NOT remained the same.

The story has changed by adding the Disney characters. Several sets have changed by adding new scenes and shrinking old ones to accommodate them. The music has definitely changed with overlays of the film scores. The only thing that hasn't changed is the flume. Oh wait. That's currently being totally rebuilt, isn't it? So even the flume has changed, to accommodate the rising obesity rates. And who's to say that the layout of the flume isn't also changing, as long as it's being rebuilt from scratch?

If you think nothing about this attraction is changing but the addition of a handful of Disney characters, you're sadly mistaken. This is a major refurbishment, no matter how anyone attempts to spin otherwise.

Anonymous said...


This is the same thing that I see happening with the various Disney parks. Not the addition of crazy roller-coasters to bring people in, but well-themed rides that keep the integrity of the park.

Are you kidding? Disneyland hasn't had an original themed ride since Indiana Jones. Disneyland just keeps painting over the classic storylines, which in turn, changes the storyline in a completely noticeable way. Nemo...Same track, same lagoon used from the Submarine voyage, so that ride cannot be used as a debate.

Now IF Disneyland(not to be confused with Disneyworld) created new themed rides, I'd have no problem with any changes. But, they keep taking away from Disneyland little by little of what made it what it is today. All of this in the name of "relevance"?
Disneyland Anaheim is what put "Theme Parks" on the map, and it is a park that Walt worked hands on personally. No other disney park in the world has had that opportunity, so what is wrong with leaving the attractions as they were intended to be viewed? IASW in Disneyworld wasnt the actual attraction represented at the worlds fair, but Anaheim was.

The way I see it, is Disneyland is the mold, of which came all the other parks. So go ahead and redo attractions at Disneyworld Orlando,Disney Tokyo, Paris, Hong Kong, but leave the original alone. Keep the maintenance up and clean, while keeping the original thoughts and presentations through the intended storyline.

Also, to correct freedog:
Who wants to pay $150 a night hotel and $60 a day entrance ticket to see 50's Disney?

Well apparently many people do. Disneyland's 50th anniversary was one of the highest attendance years, and sold more merchandise than prior years. Maybe you would be happier at Magic Mountain. They change rides often and still do not have the consistant attendance numbers that Disneyland receives.

freedogshampoo said...

Yes, all of this in the name of relevance.

Just like what was done with From the Earth to the Moon --> Mission to Mars.

Disneyland was great because it was something new and different. We have to keep it new and different. People come expecting new and different...with classic charm, of course. Other people also come expecting the classics... and they're being catered to as well. Small World is not going away.

There'll be enough nostalgia left in the ride to last your lifetime, even with the changes. Give a kid the chance to ride the attraction and enjoy it the way they want to.

Disneyland's 50th anniversary was one of the highest attendance years, and sold more merchandise than prior years.

I know. I wonder what would've happened,though, if everyone came and saw the park exactly the way they saw it when they were young; even with continued maintenance and repairs...

so what is wrong with leaving the attractions as they were intended to be viewed

What is wrong with that is that Disneyland would become a museum. Do museums turn a profit? No.



You're completely right about the small changes to the music, big changes to the set, and possible redo of the track .. but what I mean is that essentially the ride will be the same. The song will still be there, the dolls will still be there... I can't say anything about the track.. but the concept will remain.

This refurbishment is not for you. It's for the tons of kids who want to go have a good time. The company is doing its job. It's entertaining families. Nemo is doing it; Splash Mountain is doing it; Pirates and Buzz Lightyear are too. If it's not entertaining you, then stop going back.

consistent attendance numbers that Disneyland receives.

So even after the "un-disneyfication" of Disneyland, people still go back? They must be doing something right then!

If I seemed a bit snappy in this post, I didnt mean it.. I just really think that this is an upgrade. Not a downgrade.

Gina Draker Studio said...

Thanks Freedogshampoo for your passion! However, I must disagree with you whole heartedly.

The consent is to keep Walt's Masterpieces just that. If he wanted Mickey in the Small World then he would have had it that way. Thing is, he wanted this attraction to celebrate CHILDREN - not characters. That's the point. That's as relevant as it gets.

freedogshampoo said...

New Guinea and the Rain Forest are being replaced by America

Now this is where I come in and agree that a change to this attraction (this specific change) is a big mistake...

*BTW, the comment that was moderated read:

"Now let's not get carried away. We should not be comparing a theme park attraction to historical relics."

* There was another, but I did not mean it to be insulting. I understand where you're coming from. I apologize. What I was trying to say was that the caparison of artists was unfair.

Anonymous said...

Freedogshampoo wrote:
I know. I wonder what would've happened,though, if everyone came and saw the park exactly the way they saw it when they were young; even with continued maintenance and repairs...

That IS why people continue to go back. It is the single most important connection between family/generation after generation that transpires shared emotions with one another.

I don't think my folks would have taken me so many times when I was young if there wasn't some type of magic feel to it, for them as well as me. That magic feel is the shared emotions, that are the same. One, because the elders already have experienced the attraction, and they pass the torch to the young ones, who eventually pass that torch to their own children...

It's always a nice feeling to ride something as you are older, and have floods of fond memories, when you were a child on that particular attraction. But when I rode Nemo for example, and after growing up on Submarine Voyage,throughout the whole ride I wasn't having memory flashbacks....I was thinking in my head.."WTF?" as if I were lost...No emotion but lost.
When you say
"We have to keep it new and different."
I'm all for that. But not in the way when it destroys a classic attraction. New to me means "from ground up or from scratch"...But when you make tweaks to a classic attraction(s), that's simply put, "remodeled" or even "refurbished". There is no "New".

You agree that the Tiki Room in Orlando is a mess... well that is how the attractions start out. It's one idea that snowballs into itself, and then you wind up with an attraction featuring Gilbert Gotfried and miami sound machine doing tiki. Wait until they push Haunted Mansion ideas to add Eddie Murphys...Would that make the Haunted Mansion ride more relevant for todays youth and times?

Gina Draker Studio said...

I recall Diane Disney Miller once saying that her father's comments about Disneyland never being finished is often taken out of context time and time again. She stated clearly, as I remember, this never meant changes to those classic attractions that are timeless. That is what makes Disneyland legendary, a legacy, a respected and beloved family tradition.
And...It is also art. It is also historical. It is truly an Americana mid-century iconic collection of pop culture created by a genius who's like we will never see again.

If this kind of artistic vision creates a "Museum", then so be it.

"Fantasy, if it's really convincing, can't become dated, for the simple reason that it represents a flight into a dimension that lies beyond the reach of time." ~ Walt Disney

freedogshampoo said...

Well, after all this I have been able to understand everyones opinions a bit better. I still disagree, but I definitely do understand. I still think that this is what the ride needs to grab the interests of the kids who, in my experience and opinion, don't have much enthusiasm for it. And at the same time, I think it would keep the focus of the original. But of course, this is one of the many points that we disagree on..
I guess we'll just find out exactly what the ride gives up, retains or adds when it is re-opened.
I do hope to join you folks when it's time to fight a different fight.

So, anyways I found these videos... I hope no one has seen them yet...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zzz8fQlR1Ws

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hqHrdzsBL4

I don't post them hoping to change anybody's mind. I'm putting them up to deepen the argument of the theme park attraction conservatives; it could make your fight stronger. Or, it could be used to justify the enthusiastic views of your opposition. I don't mind how you take. But they are interesting vids.

; D

Anonymous said...

"I still think that this is what the ride needs to grab the interests of the kids who, in my experience and opinion, don't have much enthusiasm for it."


This focus on trying to entice those who aren’t interested is what I would consider “dumbing down”. Taking a successful product and changing it to please those who don’t care is the most idiotic concept. While the action MAY entice a few, it will (HAS) also anger those who were fans.

If Apple computer decided to change their operating system to Vista because they wanted it to be more appealing to PC users, it would result in a product that neither Apple or PC users would flock to.

freedogshampoo said...

Well, you want something that keeps the integrity of the original, while also adding to it to get new people come. So it's more like Apple adding virtualization software (or boot camp) to their Macs... Which would create a product that both users would flock to. This is far from idiotic; their share price has almost tripled since then.. and their market share (of the computer market, specifically) has followed suit. And they did this to appeal to PC users. People who at first were not interested in Apple computers.

Anyways, this could be seen as what is happening with small world. But I don't feel like repeating myself again...

Mr Banks said...

Freedog: You've shown up 11 times on this one thread. Thank you, but I think you've made your point.

mr wiggins said...

From It's a Stitch World to Depp of the Caribbean, from the dumbed-down Toonization of the Park to the mind numbing sameness of its merchandise, it's clear that Disneyland has become little more than the factory outlet for a branding company -- an open air mall for Disney to cynically shill its own heritage. Anyone who grew up on the high caliber Disneyland showmanship of the pre-Pressler era, and who expects to ever see more of the same, is chasing pixie dust.

Anonymous said...

^^^^

That’s a key element. Those who know what the level of quality Disney exhibited in the past are written off by the current generation that doesn’t. And, the next generation will write off those who think the current level of “quality” should be the standard. Eventually, a generation will come along that won’t think that Disney’s parks were EVER anything special.

Gina Draker Studio said...

What scares us most - we, the true blue Walt Disneyphiles - is that we have grown up with that Magic that really dignified Walt's dream. Since then, it has indeed been dumbed down, become just one more expansive mall of plushed-filled, over-priced brand-driven under-quality merchandise, and has become a vast unimaginative Eisnerland via DCA...yet! in saying all this, the truth is, we are still loyal to the dreamer. The dream has inspired us to be artists and creatives, and also memory makers for our kids too!

That is sacred, and that is why Walt is such an icon to look up to.

If you want Magic Mountain - then go for it! If you want Legoland - then be my guest. But, Disneyland is the original and one of a kind showplace of a Visionary and his team of artists, artisans, builders, and Imagineers. Uncle Walt had class. That's the difference.
What I fear the most, is that our beloved Disneyland will become just another roller coaster or thrill ride hype-induced park... We've already seen what has happened to Walter and Cordelia Knott's Berry Farm since it was passed on to their kids and then sold, re-packaged and de-humanized.

So, it's not just about losing Small World, but also the entire dream.

Anonymous said...

The reality is that each generation clings to the romantic notions of their own adolescence and longs for that emotional masterpiece to be there for them. The kids of the today will see this Disneyland that way in 20 years. "Disney quality" is a subjective thing as it can mean the masterpiece of the Tiki Room, or the mediocrity of Holidayland and the Midget Autopia.

Anonymous said...

Since the Toy Story ride is proving to be such a hit, be thankful they didn't turn IASW into video screens where you shoot the dolls for points.

Spokker said...

""Disney quality" is a subjective thing as it can mean the masterpiece of the Tiki Room, or the mediocrity of Holidayland and the Midget Autopia."

Holidayland and Midget Autopia doesn't exist anymore. The Tiki Room does, and rightfully so.

In 20 years expect something like Remember... Dreams Come True to be heralded as the best of this generation and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh to be forgotten.

Time can certainly cloud perceptions and make one remember things as being better than they really were. But time isn't going to do much to help some of the cheaper attractions and shows of the last decade.

Anonymous said...

"The reality is that each generation clings to the romantic notions of their own adolescence and longs for that emotional masterpiece to be there for them. The kids of the today will see this Disneyland that way in 20 years. "Disney quality" is a subjective thing as it can mean the masterpiece of the Tiki Room, or the mediocrity of Holidayland and the Midget Autopia."

EXACTLY! If no one maintains the concept of quality, it will eventually be lost. “Subjective” is subjective. Granite countertops are quality, Formica is not. Berber carpeting is quality, dirt floors are not. But there ARE those that are willing to accept the bottom as their “quality”.

But does that mean that we should give in to that acceptance and let the quality that Disney is capable of diminish to the level acceptable to those who don’t care or who have never experienced that former Disney quality?

mr wiggins said...

> The reality is that each generation clings to the romantic notions of their own adolescence and longs for that emotional masterpiece to be there for them. <

The reality here is the replacement of showmanship with marketing, the result of replacing showmen with marketeers.

Mike said...

New post, please.

This has been beaten to DEATH, but rightfully so - it marks a significant shift in Disney history. They officially don't care about preserving any legacy; they will charge on assuming the role of giant corporate entity chasing short-term profit. How original.

Any reports on that new Toy Story ride? I'm curious to read Re-Imagineering's angle.

Anonymous said...

"They officially don't care about preserving any legacy; they will charge on assuming the role of giant corporate entity chasing short-term profit. How original."

I think this has all turned into a gross overreaction.

Walt Disney was the ultimate marketer as Disneyland was planned to have a live TV studio in the Opera House to promote itself every week as a series (1953 treatment). The huge investments that have been made in upkeep and renewal post Eisner (100m for the Subs alone) shows that they are thinking long term. and why wouldn't you promote your hottest properties? Because the public loves them.

Sleeping Beauty Castle was likely named such to promote the upcoming movie.

Disney is a business and has shareholders, that's a reality. But there seems to be an unfair blindness to the immense good that is done by the Company.

"Toy Story is the next level of dark rides", says the Times. That's a good thing. Let's be happy about it.

Who would you rather have Iger or Eisner? I think you'd say Iger. He brought Pixar into the mix and recognized that WDI needs creative headship. There is only so much money every year that can be spent in these areas as well, and by the look of DCA they are spending it and in an economic meltdown to boot. You may not agree with redoing IASM (not a great spend IMHO) but the fact that they are investing in older shows is a sign that they are interested in the product. To focus only on the missteps and make blanket assessments only weakens your own valid arguments.

Spokker said...

"Any reports on that new Toy Story ride?"

You mean the new ride at Disneyland? I caught a commercial for it with the Toy Story characters running around on Main St. I can't wait to go to Disneyland and ride it!

Spokker said...

""Toy Story is the next level of dark rides", says the Times. That's a good thing. Let's be happy about it. "

I would have to disagree with that. If you just sit there and watch, it ends up being a bland and empty experience. It's the same with Buzz Lightyear.

I'm surprised that people are still impressed by 3D effects and air and water being thrown at you.

To me, Pirates of the Caribbean is more 3D than Toy Story Mania will ever be.

Anonymous said...

Well, I just saw the video on Youtube of IASW in Hong Kong...and it's spectacular, and the Disney characters included are cleverly inserted and IMO don't detract from the ride in the least. My fears were unfounded, I'm happy to say.

Anonymous said...

Sweet comments. Too bad Disney can't care less about its heritage.

Anonymous said...

I believe that Mr. Disney tried to entertain, educate and run a business, all in balance, but with emphasis on creativity and fun and education, diminishing the business where he could get away with it. I believe the original it's a small world was paid for by Pepsi Cola and the advertising was big on the outside. But once inside it was non existant -like "MASH" laugh tracks in the operating room. The major theme was actually pretty serious - pay attention to UNICEF: it IS a small world, there are bad things that we won't touch on here in this ride, but there is a lot of reason for hope if you look for it. Look at all the differences... but in the similarity of the dolls, we are actually at some level all the same. The entertainment was both in the delivery a 4/4 time theme that is almost but not quite a silly polka, and in the humor, brightness, and variety of the characters. That, I believe, balanced the seriousness of the message. Also, the quality of Mary Blair's artistry is just wonderful -they could have originally opted for a bear's hoedown goofieness to the characters, but did not - and that artistry, too, balances the triteness of the song.

My feeling is that pushing marketing inside the ride with today's flavor of characters is inconsistent with the message intended to be sent. The addition of these characters is not terrible... but it seems to throw the balance off. In the "MASH" analogy that show COULD have had the laugh track inside the operating room, and maybe most people would never have noticed it, and maybe it wouldn't have changed the ratings appreciably... but I believe it would have diminished the overall quality of the endeavor when you step back to look at things as a whole.

It is entirely possible that the world WAS bigger in 1964 and we had to be told it was small. Big land areas – the Soviet Union and China, far away, were inaccessible and feared. Today, changes in politics, the ubiquity of information transfer by satellite, internet, etc and the global commoditization of air travel has changed that. Immigrants coming to the Untied States are not necessarily all laborers as eastern Europeans once were; many are now going straight for the upper levels of engineering, medicine and finance.

I tend to believe that if the message of “It’s A Small World” were to be done today from scratch and unknowing of the precedent, the polka-like 4/4 would probably not be considered (unless it became so out of date it’s fashionable again) and I’m not sure the brightness would be there, to our loss. I don’t know what to do about that. I think the balance and the hope would be found in other ways if it was the message being focused upon not the marketing.

Just the same, I like it the way it is/was/intended, sans marketing, and I think it’s still applicable and very much fun and educational for young children, if not for the more cynical teens and adults.

I am old enough to remember the ride at the World's Fair in NY. I was young at the time. This was the last ride we rode on. In early February or March of 1966 my father, who was working in advanced development for a defense contractor on the moon program at the time, took the family on a business trip he had been sent on to Anahaim and we were delighted to see that "It's a Small World" hadn't been lost with the NY Fair's closing.

Also, I have read Mary Blair's nieces comments and have enjoyed them and glad that they shared them.

-gd

Gina Draker Studio said...

I have certainly commented on this before, but will do so now to the credit of "GD" - with whom by the way, I share the same initials!
Thank you so very much for your articulate response. It is most certainly an educated one.

GD 2 :)