Saturday, April 05, 2008

Why?


As “It’s a Small World” moves slowly and inexorably towards becoming a showcase for Disney cartoon characters one question and one question alone needs to be asked of the Disney Company loudly, firmly and often by all those participating in the campaign to save Small World from homogenization.

Why?

Demand that the Walt Disney Company give a strong, solid unequivocal reason for adding Disney characters to ‘It’s a Small World’.

Tell the Disney Company that it’s foolish to think this addition will draw in more people. The attraction has never suffered for business. Despite being one of the highest capacity attractions in the park it almost always has a good sized line.

Tell the Disney Company that two years ago 'The Enchanted Tiki Room' underwent a massive and expensive restoration while retaining the same show that premiered in 1963. The crowds rushed back in line.

Tell the Disney Company that, despite your own personal opinion, you understand why many guests might have expected to see Jack Sparrow in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ as they associate the attraction with the movie but that this is a completely different issue.

Tell the Disney Company that the addition of Disney characters to ‘It’s a Small World’ will only upset core fans and generate indifference among most of the general public.

Tell the Disney Company that the Small World they know and love isn’t, as the Disney Company publicly proclaimed, in need of more 'relevance'.

Tell the Disney Company that adding Disney characters into ‘It’s a Small World’ appears to be yet another marketing ploy to sell more character merchandise and that the public will continue to assume as much until given a more sensible excuse.

Tell the Disney Company you want to know ‘WHY?’ Send an e-mail asking ‘WHY?’ Send a letter asking ‘WHY?’ Stop by City Hall at Disneyland and ask ‘WHY?

But good luck getting a reasonable answer.

You can parse the argument seven ways from Sunday but it still comes out the same; there is absolutely no good reason to add Disney characters to ‘It’s a Small World’.

•••

Imagineering Ambassador Marty Sklar defends the addition of Disney characters to 'It's a Small World' as an effort to make the attraction 'more relevant' in an open letter posted here.

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41 comments:

Anonymous said...

Do you really think enough "why?"s are going to cause Disney brass, who like the change most probably because it will push plush, to back off of the idea?

Alastair said...

It's easier to please someone quickly with something familiar than something new, no matter the underlying quality. Quick recognition gives a quick thrill.

It's a shame how the Disney parks, once characterised by an all-encompassing originality, innovation and ambition, have fallen slowly into mediocrity. Even the new rides are underwhelming, veering towards quite mundane thrills (e.g. Test Track, Mission Space). They've just lost the integrity they once had, the idea of the noble vision.

The thing about these characters appearing everywhere, aside from issues of taste (their recent animated films have been embarrassingly poor, pixar's contribution excepted), is that it makes Disney's overall production smaller. Whereas they used to produce something original every time, whether it was a success or not, now they just recycle and duplicate endlessly whatever is familiar and well-known.

Then there's the EPCOT wand factor: you could call it bathos. The debasement of something of integrity by something ridiculous and cheap; I see this in the Pirates changes, in the MGM hat, and there are probably more examples. All in the past few years.

The problem with changing a classic ride, whatever it is, Small World, or Spaceship Earth, or whatever, is we lose the original forever. It is simply gone. We wouldn't get this with a great work of art, literature or architecture. They would be protected. But rides can't be taken away to a museum somewhere to be preserved, and I think some of them would deserve to be protected because there is true greatness in them.

Anonymous said...

We all know that "Disneyland is not a museum," but maybe part of it should be. If Disney corporate can't be made to listen, perhaps there is a way to protect this in spite of them. Has anyone looked into whether IASW can be protected as a historic structure?

Susan in St. Paul said...

We could do an email campaign.

Does anyone have email addresses we could use?

Maybe a sample letter?

Mike said...

The question should be "Why not?"

Just because Disney has preserved their past does not mean they are required to do so forever.

Its all in due time. Disney has made changes to almost every attraction. You're totally splitting hairs here. Tiki Room is bad. Pirates and Mansion are good. Give me a break. It doesn't matter if its good. A change, no matter how good or bad creates publicity.

What's funny is that you're totally playing into their hands. They have yet to alter anything, yet, you've already posted 5 entries on the topic. Perhaps in a month they'll say they've halted alterations due to fan response. In that scenario, Disney wouldn't have spent a dime, but basically used this blog (and others) to generate interest in an attraction that's hasn't been discussed in the news for over 40 years. Your motives are honorable, but I can't help but think TOOL when I read these posts. Disney is spinning this rumor into profit, and you're posting old quotes and pictures of Walt. Marketing brilliance.

the Magic that Was WED said...

>>We could do an email campaign.

Does anyone have email addresses we could use?<<

Emails for the Disney Company usually follow these rules

firstname.lastname@disney.com
fistinitial.lastname@disney.com
or
firstname.middleinitial.lastname@disney.com

Anonymous said...

"Do you really think enough "why?"s are going to cause Disney brass, who like the change most probably because it will push plush, to back off of the idea?"

It appears that Disney may react like all those idiots that take off when cops pull up behind them and hit their lights. Even with NO CHANCE of avoiding eventual capture, they lead them on an extended high-speed (or low-speed) chase until the eventual result.

Disney seems intent on continuing their course in spite of the eventual result of their either abandoning the concept or suffering the long term negative consequences if they actually follow through with it. The best course for the company overall is to accept that the concept is flawed and should be dropped.

The guy that had his heart stomped on by DisneyCo. said...

First off...I hate to say it, But I've lost all respect for Marty Sklar a.k.a. "The Company Heel" after reading his P.R. release statement!
Supposevly 8 years they spent wasting money on planning to fix something that wasn't broke. If Marc,Claude or Walt were still with us, They'd probably kick Sklar in the pants, because once It's a Small World is refurbished and plussed, next will be the Haunted Mansion, then Jungle Cruise, then Pirates of the Caribbean again, and so forth, until all the rides no longer represent or resemble how they were originally meant to be viewed.

Something I would like to address:

>>They have yet to alter anything, yet, you've already posted 5 entries on the topic. Perhaps in a month they'll say they've halted alterations due to fan response. In that scenario, Disney wouldn't have spent a dime, but basically used this blog (and others) to generate interest in an attraction that's hasn't been discussed in the news for over 40 years. Your motives are honorable, but I can't help but think TOOL when I read these posts. Disney is spinning this rumor into profit, and you're posting old quotes and pictures of Walt. Marketing brilliance.

Let's hope that Disney is using us as "Tools" for Publicity. For PERHAPS if it wasn't for this blog, Sklar and Baxter would have had a quiet "plussing" with no friction or backlash to deal with prior to the actual remodel, regardless if they care about public opinion or not.

Obviously, their decisions to refab the interior infuriates concerned parkgoers to the extent that now Disney Corps and execs are watching the "Secret News spillage" entering blogs like this one and exposing their dishonorable schemes.

I for one am glad to see them paying a "little" attention to what parkgoers think about their ideas and plans through blogs like this! Afterall, Disney P.R. keeps coming out with reassurance statements. That doesn't reassure me however, it does let me know they had intent to alter the ride in a pretty big way.

Also, when Disney Parks refurbish/pluss a ride, I have never seen them revert it back to original status due to public outcry, so if this forum raises any kind of awareness in the Disney Hierarchy, this blog along with others have done their jobs.
Afterall, there is nothing anyone can do(actually will want to) the next day to undo what has been already been done at Disney.


And in closing, Why did Sklar announce that he is stepping down? Was he force fed inept Disney propaganda or CEO ideas?
Or did he feel the heat of this planned butchering, since being a part of this dasterdly decision to remodel IASW instead of sticking to the original gameplan, which was to JUST make the moat deeper for heavier America?

If he or Baxter are going to continue to make decisions like this, By all means, please step down and pass the crown to people who actually care about preserving Walt's Ideas and Legacy, all the while creating new and imaginative attractions!

Tuckenie said...

1st) If you're not willing to post the "p.r." statement by Marty Sklar, who has accomplished WAY more for Disney then any of you could ever possibly hope to dream of doing then you're just a plain old COWARD and I've lost all respect I've ever had for anyone on this blog. It's your blog but you're the one who has to live with that decision and the reality that you're living a lie and your movement will die on that lie.

2nd) Don't even pretend to know "what Walt would've wanted". You have no earthly idea what Walt Disney would want and neither does anybody else living on this planet. For we know IASW would've been out of the parks decades ago under Walt.

3rd) "Preserving Walt's Legacy", like at a museum! We're talking about a THEME PARK! This kind of idiocy would be the death of the company! Grow up and learn to adapt to change, especially the change you haven't even seen yet!

4th) "They'd probably kick Sklar in the pants, because once It's a Small World is refurbished and plussed, next will be the Haunted Mansion, then Jungle Cruise, then Pirates of the Caribbean"

All of which have been recently refurbished to positive results. HM at WDW now is amazing, HM at DL has Nightmare character part of the year and I've always heard great things about that. Jungle Cruise at DL was recently updated and Pirates, well it depends on your perspective but I love it because it has a story to follow.


5th) I admit if this was my favorite ride (which I can't believe it's anyone's) I'd be just as passionate on the subject. So bravo on that, but if you're not willing to show your readers both sides then you're doomed to irrelevance because nobody listens to movements unwilling to compromise.

Merlin Jones said...

>>3rd) "Preserving Walt's Legacy", like at a museum! We're talking about a THEME PARK! This kind of idiocy would be the death of the company! Grow up and learn to adapt to change, especially the change you haven't even seen yet!<<

In what way did Pirates of the Caribbean: Movie Edition, Tarzan's Treehouse, Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh, Piarate's Lair at Tom Sawyer Island, or Tomorrowland '98 help prevent the death of the Disney Company?

These kinds of changes are for vanity only, not for the guests. It's just bad taste. And once it happens, no matter how much of a bad idea or execution it is, we are all stuck with the results (see PeopleMover track and Observatron if you don't beleive me).

The Emperor has no clothes.

Anonymous said...

"tuckenie said..."

I really have a hard time taking seriously the comments of a guy who calls Walt Disney World by the never existing term Disneyworld.

Susan in St. Paul said...

There is hope, remember Epcot's wand...

It would be better not to put up silly things that have to be taken down later.

Tuckenie said...

"In what way did Pirates of the Caribbean: Movie Edition, Tarzan's Treehouse, Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh, Piarate's Lair at Tom Sawyer Island, or Tomorrowland '98 help prevent the death of the Disney Company?"

The Pirates ride rehab at the worst is up for debate. I prefer the changes as it gives more of a story and cohesion to the ride. Before that I disliked the PCing of it, in fact I still do, but I'm not offended by Jack Sparrow being added.

The rest of them I kinda have to shrug over since I'm at WDW and have my own bad rehabs to worry about. Why not bring up Journey into Imagination and the Tiki room again?

People aren't perfect and even the best artists in the world will come up with stuff they think will be brilliant and will blow up in their face. All artists are vain to some degree but they have to be in order to have the guts to change and grow. Does that mean we should constantly fight change? We should fear innovation and something different? You ask how any of those rides and refurbs are preventing the death of the company. Well when only DCA is losing attendance with rising prices how are they killing it? Being stagnant and unchanging is how you die in the industry. I wonder what the debate would like it if it was between ripping out the ride and replacing it or have Peter Pan fly around on the ceiling? If given the choice would you all rather see it all gone forever? Who knows, maybe that was the choice!

I do want to apologize for saying this site never posted the letter from Marty Sklar. I hadn't realized it was way down at the bottom of the Tiki Room post from weeks ago. My respect is somewhat restored.

Anonymous said...

OMFG....Marty's drank the Kool-Aid too!....SAVE US ALL!

Cory The Raven said...

2nd) Don't even pretend to know "what Walt would've wanted". You have no earthly idea what Walt Disney would want and neither does anybody else living on this planet. For we know IASW would've been out of the parks decades ago under Walt.

I agree that none of us really know "what Walt would've wanted", which paralyses both camps: those who would use his talk of nostalgia to preserve and those who would use his talk of innovation to change. However, I do think a reasonable case can be built up that whatever Walt would have done, it would have been done in the best and thurough interests of improving the attractions and the park. It wouldn't have been a half-done job with spurious motives.

3rd) "Preserving Walt's Legacy", like at a museum! We're talking about a THEME PARK! This kind of idiocy would be the death of the company! Grow up and learn to adapt to change, especially the change you haven't even seen yet!

As noted by others, the problem with "adapting to change" is that once the original is gone, it's gone. It is only with the utmost luck that the original can be brought back.

I should also note, contrary to the stereotype thrown around about the "Walties", I see very few people who are totally against any change at all. Most critics seem to be fine with changes that are actually positive enhancements to an attraction... That improve the quality and deepen the experience of being at the park. The problem is with bad changes that are simply done for the sake of change, or are a bad response to an existing and real problem.

4th)All of which have been recently refurbished to positive results. HM at WDW now is amazing, HM at DL has Nightmare character part of the year and I've always heard great things about that. Jungle Cruise at DL was recently updated and Pirates, well it depends on your perspective but I love it because it has a story to follow.

Actually, having a story considerably weakens Pirates... The best rides are ones where you are taken into the world of the film or premise as a participant. The worst rides are where you are the passive observer of a story unfolding as you float by. If I wanted to watch stories about Winnie the Pooh or Jack Sparrow, I'd watch the movies. If I want to fly over Neverland and go down the rabbithole, I'll go to Disneyland.

But your objection here goes back my previous point about how critics are not against any and all changes. They're against bad changes. I would argue that the Haunted Mansion upgrades, as well as the Jungle Cruise additions, are positive changes. I would argue that the Tarzan's Treehouse, Pirates: Movie Edition and the newly managed Tiki Room are bad ones.

Anonymous said...

>>The Emperor has no clothes.<<

The Emperor HAS clothes, they are just down for rehab right now, having the hem let out and a few choice Disney Characters woven into the lining so they will be cool again.

Anonymous said...

Brilian post!

"Between Tony, our chief designer Kim Irvine, and me, we represent 128 years creating Disney park entertainment and fun for literally billions of guests around the world." Marty Skalar

Isn’t it Marty who also defended the design of California Adventure when it opened? Isn’t it Tony who castrated Tomorrowland, put the Asto Orbitor in the hub of Disneyland ruining the scale of Sleeping Beauty Castle? And wasn’t it Kim who changed the Sleeping Beauty Castle colors to looks like a plastic princess Barbie toy? Yes, I trust all of them to follow the original integrity of it’s a small world.

Drew said...

>>The Pirates ride rehab at the worst is up for debate. I prefer the changes as it gives more of a story and cohesion to the ride. Before that I disliked the PCing of it, in fact I still do, but I'm not offended by Jack Sparrow being added.<<
But they don't give it cohesion. Everything was set up in Curse of the Black Pearl to make it work. Add Jack as a pirate who is after the treasure, that we have just learned to be cursed. Instead it talked down to the audience (yet again) and assumed they could only understand Jack and Barbossa as enemies and they had the whole thing follow Jack.

>>Does that mean we should constantly fight change? We should fear innovation and something different?<<
The reality is, this is only a change in regards to the attraction. What is taking place has almost been standard operating procedure for some time now. There is nothing new, just the same process being applied over and over again.

Little Nemo said...

While still quite wary, I have to say I am rather relieved by reading Marty Sklar's response -- especially this part:

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

As a rainforest fan, I am glad to hear him say unambiguously that they are NOT planning to remove it and replace it with an "Up with America" section. Thank god.

"To accomplish our objective, we decided to seamlessly integrate Disney characters into appropriate thematic scenes in the attraction, and do it completely in the distinctive “Mary Blair style.”

While still wary -- and, being something of a purist, still probably preferring to keep the original scenes unaltered -- I might be able to live quite well with this if it is done in a subtle, background sort of way -- almost as hidden "spot the allusion" references.

As an example, I have to admit that when I heard they were going to add a Mary Blair-designed Alice into the Great Britain scene, I could see the integrity in the choice (whether fully agreeing with it or not): The Alice books really are a British cultural institution, and further, one very much related to the world of children. When one has traveled in England, it becomes clear how ingrained they are in the culture.

If other additions can be done with as much thought and care ...

Weeelllllll ... maybe ...

Drew said...

>>Isn’t it Marty who also defended the design of California Adventure when it opened?<<

"That process begins with what we call our 'Blue Sky' phase, so called because 'the sky's the limit' when Imagineers are brainstorming new ideas. Disney's California Adventure, the last theme-park concept we have developed to date, may suggest that the process has reached a new standard."
-Marty Sklar as quoted in Designing Disney's Theme Parks: The Architecture of Reassurance

Anonymous said...

Has anyone seen the pics (from Hong Kong)? I had to look at them a few times to see the changes. The only character I saw that didn't look like a Mary Blair doll was Stitch.

Anonymous said...

It's not really fair to go after Marty for defending the design of DCA. What is he supposed to do? Trash Pressler and Eisner's pet project in the press while running WDI? Of course not.

"the process has reached a new standard."

I think his notion on brainstorming can be taken two ways and as such is truthful. I love it.

Drew said...

>>Has anyone seen the pics (from Hong Kong)? I had to look at them a few times to see the changes. The only character I saw that didn't look like a Mary Blair doll was Stitch.<<
If the characters stick out they steal the show. If they blend in their are, at Hong Kong Disneyland, being pushed as a game of hide and seek. "it's a small world" is neither a showcase of Disney characters or a game of hide and seek. It is a showcase of the children of the world and the Disney characters have absolutely no place there, regardless of how "subtle". If one believes that DIsney would like to add the characters and not advertise them, you are fooling yourself.

rehallag said...

Tuckenie wrote:

"2nd) Don't even pretend to know "what Walt would've wanted". You have no earthly idea what Walt Disney would want and neither does anybody else living on this planet. For we know IASW would've been out of the parks decades ago under Walt."

I don't disagree with the second part -- for all we know the ride might have been removed by Walt Disney.

But your first comment is demonstrably false.

If Walt Disney wanted Alice in Small World he would have put her in.

He put no Disney characters in the ride. Obviously he didn't want to or he would have.

Merlin Jones said...

Recently posted photos of the characters in Hong Kong's it's a small world:

http://disneyandmore.blogspot.com/2008/03/first-pictures-of-hong-kong-disneyland.html

Cast includes international folklore icons Woody and Jesse, Ariel and Flounder, Lilo and Stitch, Cinderella & Prince Charming, Aladdin and Jasmine, Pocahontas and Meeko and Aristokitten Marie.
(...seen elsewhere, Mulan, Peter Pan and Wendy). Also it shows the new American scene for Hong Kong.

Hazelrah said...

What is perhaps most frustrating is that Disney is CONSTANTLY wasting money on things that are not broken. Witness the POTC "upgrades", the infamous Hat, and the even more infamous Wand.

These things generated NOTHING of business value, and actually were net loss in creative value. They exist solely as marketing hooks to hang a new campaign on -- value that could have come from any source.

Imagine if the same dollars had been spent to improve something that actually needed improving. We would still have POTC (albeit without Captain Jack), we would still have a pristine Spaceship Earth, and we would still have a great beacon for the end of Hollywood Boulevard -- AND we would have the new thing, whatever those dollars had been directed to.

Sigh.

Anonymous said...

I just looked at the HKDL images.
http://disneyandmore.blogspot.com/2008/03/first-pictures-of-hong-kong-disneyland.html

I encourage all to do so. Intellectually the arguments made here are all sound, but visually this whole thing is such a minor speed bump on the autobahn of other design travesties. You barely even notice they ARE Disney characters, especially the dolls. Compared to Tarzan's Treehouse, this is nothing.

Mr Banks said...

I for one find the Hong Kong characters visually disturbing, repugnant, repellent and ugly. Putting aside the argument that they don't belong there in the first place, they now appear like peculiar naive Disney toys on a shelf begging to be purchased.

And if they're so un-noticeable, all the more reason to remove them.

But I notice them. And they're incredibly unpleasant to me.

Anonymous said...

"I for one find the Hong Kong characters visually disturbing, repugnant, repellent and ugly."

Sounds like a clerk's rant from across the Shoe Department at Barneys. You are the best Mr Banks :-)

mr wiggins said...

> Intellectually the arguments made here are all sound, but visually this whole thing is such a minor speed bump on the autobahn of other design travesties. You barely even notice they ARE Disney characters, especially the dolls. Compared to Tarzan's Treehouse, this is nothing. <

What Disney is doing to it's a small world is a travesty of the heart, more than of the mind or eye, although the latter two are vulgar enough. Certainly, far uglier and more thoughtless bastardizations of the Disney heritage have been made by the company's recent management in their theme parks and animated videos.

But the changes to it's a small world strike at the heart of what made classic Disney product so beloved around the globe, and trumpet the continued heartlessness of the post-Eisner regime.

Anonymous said...

A dissenting voice in the crowd.

After looking at the those HKDL pictures I think any parent and child would enjoy discovering the characters in the show together. I think the guests will prove this out over the handful of offended purists. I'm just trying to be open minded (and this may not be the place to do that).

The story and message is visually obvious and drilled into you, so it's not like you exit not getting the idea of what the ride is about, but along the way you discover some familiar things and the international origins of the stories the films are based on. Just as you would share with your child the Eiffel Tower or the Taj Mahal and relate them in their proper places. Small kids do ask their parents what country they are looking at. Kid's see Mary's work as childlike as their own. They focus on the elements and try to figure out what country they are from in their own way. The Characters may help with that. Alice is a good example as she is in the style of the show and could have been a tribute to Lewis Carroll for all we know. Remember that the stories are cultural, pre date Disney and are native to their countries. (I'd lose the Pixar characters or Stitch). I'm going to go out on a limb and trust Tony's 30 years of experience or whatever and expect the integration to be even better than HKDL.

I'm over pressing the panic button. Thoughts? Anyone out there open minded enough to entertain any of this?

Grundel said...

Disney, show me something you've done RIGHT lately before asking me to embrace any changes you want to make.

Drew said...

>>After looking at the those HKDL pictures I think any parent and child would enjoy discovering the characters in the show together. I think the guests will prove this out over the handful of offended purists.<<
Enjoyment is not the issue. What is being enjoyed is not from how the attraction was designed. If a showcase of characters is what is desired, then a showcase of characters should be designs. Instead this is twisting one attraction to suit a desire it was never designed to suit.

>> but along the way you discover some familiar things and the international origins of the stories the films are based on.<<
"it's a small world" is supposed to be very anti-familiar. The familiar becomes the object of focus. This is the same psychological principle that is at play when we see objects in the clouds. Yes, there are some landmarks, but they are used to identify a location.

The characters do not identify the location. They have their own costumes dictated by their appearance in their respective films. Their stories have also been augmented from the original. The Disney stories are not the ones told by the Grimm brothers, Anderson, Perrault, Kipling, or any of the other storytellers whose story has been adapted. So what is seen is the American version of Cinderella, the American version of Mulan, the American version of whomever. Yes, the Disney versions are known around the world, but it does not change their history.

Then there are the stories that do not originate from where they take place. The Lion King takes place in Africa, but many would be sooner to identify the story with Hamlet, and English story that takes place in Denmark.

>> I'm going to go out on a limb and trust Tony's 30 years of experience or whatever and expect the integration to be even better than HKDL.<<
There seems to be some doubt as to whether this project actually originated with Baxter as stated.

Spokker said...

"Anyone out there open minded enough to entertain any of this?"

Nah. Not me.

I saw the Disney character dolls in the HKDL version of Small World and I thought, the only thing those dolls are missing is a price tag.

Anonymous said...

>>There seems to be some doubt as to whether this project actually originated with Baxter as stated.<<

We'll never really know, but it IS his responsibility to execute someone's intent in his own way in the park. Disneyland is his turf and the people creatively report to him, so whatever you see has his fingerprints of approval on it. My guess is that this was at least partly his idea as Tarzan's Treehouse was more of a radical shift from tradition, was something he conceived and was proud of.

Drew said...

>>We'll never really know, but it IS his responsibility to execute someone's intent in his own way in the park. Disneyland is his turf and the people creatively report to him, so whatever you see has his fingerprints of approval on it. My guess is that this was at least partly his idea as Tarzan's Treehouse was more of a radical shift from tradition, was something he conceived and was proud of.<<
Well that's part of what makes people suspicious. When this project was allegedly conceived, eight years ago, Baxter was not in his current position. This idea existed before the big management shifts that happened at Walt Disney Imagineering.

/bsdb said...

We'll never really know, but it IS his responsibility to execute someone's intent in his own way in the park. Disneyland is his turf and the people creatively report to him, so whatever you see has his fingerprints of approval on it.

Not completely. Tony returned to creative control of DL less than one year ago, and this small world rehab was conceived of and green lit before then, when Tom Fitzgerald was in charge. Once a project receives the green light, it's difficult for "local management" to make alterations or halt it completely. Those types of decisions come down from Rasulo's office. And no way the current leadership in P&R will go against the marketeers on changes that have the potential to sell more merchandise.

Well that's part of what makes people suspicious. When this project was allegedly conceived, eight years ago, Baxter was not in his current position.

Actually, Tony was in charge of the DL Design Studio, eight years ago. He lost the position to Barry Braverman in 2001, after DCA opened to (well deserved) harsh criticism, which made Braverman an easy target for dismissal. So his buddies at the top of the WDI food chain put Barry in charge of the DDS and kicked Tony back to Glendale.

What's disturbing about Marty's references to Tony and the original plan from eight years ago, is that the plan moving forward today has little to do with the ideas Tony envisioned. Adding the Disney characters to Anaheim's small world is a outgrowth of marketeering's decision a few years back, to put them in HKDL's version. The original plan to plus the attraction was apparently more about making small world's environment "richer," such as flooding the room a la PotC, like MK's small world.

As I mentioned in previous comment, at least one of the upcoming changes was obviously not part of the plan from eight years ago. Lilo & Stitch opened in theatres in 2002. Why would anyone at WDI want to add Lilo & Stitch to the Polynesian room in 2000, when the film was still under development and no one knew how well it would be received by the public? For me, this is further evidence that Baxter's ideas to plus small world eight years ago have little semblance to what is being altered and added right now.

And FWIW... I'm tired of people referring to the Polynesia room as "Hawaii" with regard to the Lilo & Stitch addition. Lilo & Stitch specifically took place in Kauai, which last time I checked was a state in the US, not a country in the South Pacific. And while we're at it, Pocahontas lived in the eastern part of the US, not Canada. Why are the Pocahontas characters being added to Canada? At least the Brother Bear characters are from the Pacific Northwest; they would have been a better fit. But of course, Brother Bear was not successful at the box office, so those characters would be more difficult to sell at the exit gift shop.

And Sklar claims these changes aren't about merchandise? Gimme a freakin' break!


If Disney is so damned hellbent on adding characters to small world, couldn't they at least be accurate about their placement? Oh that's right... it's not about the various countries or cultures anymore. It's about showcasing Disney property to promote marketeering opportunities. Who cares about all these "little native children," attired in all their "little native costumes," singing in all their "quaint and exotic native languages"? Nobody can understand their words, anyway, so why not throw in some songs that folks will recognize from various Disney films, right? Plus, they'll come in handy to help those bored family members locate the various Disney characters who are oh-so-subtly placed throughout the attraction, who'd go unnoticed otherwise. Maybe hearing each character's trademark tune will make the game easier to play. Yeah, that's the ticket!

8^P



Someone, anyone, please tell me...

what exactly is John Lasseter's role as Principle Creative Advisor, if not to advise Imagineering against boneheaded changes such as these? Why even have Lasseter in the role, if WDI execs aren't going to heed his advice?

John and Dr Ed and the Sacred Seven of Pixar should have been assigned as agents of change for both Imagineering and Feature Animation. Most of the original Imagineers were from the studios, while most of today's Imagineers do not have animation backgrounds. And execs in Burbank still wonder why Under New Management went so horribly, horribly wrong.

Seems like a no-brainer to me. Bring in great storytellers like the artists at Pixar to get Imagineering back on track. You know, all those folks who've been leaving their very public negative criticisms on another blog about these unnecessary changes to small world.

We get it. Why can't Iger and the Board?

Anonymous said...

>>I'm tired of people referring to the Polynesia room as "Hawaii" with regard to the Lilo & Stitch addition. Lilo & Stitch specifically took place in Kauai, which last time I checked was a state in the US, not a country in the South Pacific. <<

Kauai is an Island that is one part of the State of Hawaii.

/bsdb said...

Kauai is an Island that is one part of the State of Hawaii.

Wow. Thanks for that! I had no idea that Kauai was part of the Hawaiian Islands.

I guess I thought Hawaii was a lone island in the middle of the Pacific, which was also some kind of ancient name for Kauai and got them confused. And isn't Hawaii also our nation's 49th state? Alaska falls in there somewhere but I'm not sure where. Apparently, I'm not smart enough to figure it out.


Any other non-essential items from my post you'd care to pick apart? Personally, I'd rather discuss the idiocy of the changes being made to Anaheim's small world than find fault with my less-than-precise diction. But you obviously do not.

Anonymous said...

So if what BSDB says is true about Tony, wouldn't this whole fiasco pretty much be Marty Sklar's idea? Woah.

/bsdb said...

So if what BSDB says is true about Tony, wouldn't this whole fiasco pretty much be Marty Sklar's idea? Woah.

Well... Marty was the primary reason Tom Fitzgerald promoted to Exec VP of Creative Development in 2001, around the time Tony was replaced by Barry Braverman as creative exec of DL Design Studio. And Tom Fitzgerald was still in charge of Creative Development when these changes to small world were given the green light, before Bruce Vaughn took the helm from Tom almost one year ago.

Marty's letter was posted to LP the same weekend he was in Paris for the ToT opening at WDS. And Tom Fitzgerald is currently assigned to the DLP resort.

Doing the math on this one is easy.