Saturday, April 05, 2008

The World of Animation Speaks

“Mary Blair is one of the most remarkable artists of our time, and her work on "It's a Small World" one of her crowning achievements. The attraction is the result of many talented artists working at the peak of their creative powers. Restoration aside, I can't imagine improving on the original ride.”

Pete Docter
Director / Monsters Inc.

"I would be sad to see the integrity, unity and beauty of Mary Blair's inspired work of 'It's a Small World' be broken to accommodate imagery that does not fit into her vision. It would be like cutting scenes from, say, JUNO into TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Both great films, but they just don't fit together in tone or look and would harm the vision of both. Van Gogh into a Rembrandt? Unthinkable. 'It's a Small World' is a beautiful piece of our history - I hope and wish that it will be preserved and cherished as the work of art it is."

Brenda Chapman
Story Supervisor - Lion King / Director - Prince of Egypt


"The 'It's a Small World' attraction is a genuine piece of american art, created by a great american artist and to change it does a disservice to the artist and the fans who have been inspired by Mrs. Blair's work. In this culture of changing and updating everything to catch our shortening attention spans it is necessary to have a foundation that remains the same and stays constant for the positive growth of our culture. I did not grow up in California and visited Disneyland much later in my life. Going through the ride for the first time, it's charm transported me back to my childhood and made me feel nostalgic for what that wonder and innocence once was. I am saddened that my children might never have that experience."
Pete Sohn
Animator, Story Artist, Voice Actor (Emile -Ratatouille)


"Like many people, 'It's a Small World' holds a special place in my heart. It was the first attraction that my wife and I rode after I proposed to her, and its joyful message of worldwide harmony shone especially bright that day.

I've always been inspired by Mary Blair's color and design work - bold, playful and unique, yet firmly linked to the Disney style. I love to wait outside "It's a Small World"'s signature clock, waiting for the parade of happy figures from many lands. It's still one of the purest ways to experience her sensibilities.

I was surprised to hear recently that modifications being made to the ride would include its content. Because the idea of the ride is to introduce a vision of a world in peace and harmony, I believe uniquely American cartoon characters or displays - however appealing and beloved - would be disruptive to that vision.

I understand that Disneyland was never intended to stand still, that progress is as integral there as the childhood fantasies from which it sprang. But decades from now, I'd like to be able to travel through that same, small world where my wife and I began our lives together."
Jeff Pidgeon
Animator, Story Artist / Toy Story

"Preserving something, whether it's a film, a great painting or a great ride, like 'It's a Small World', assures that it can be enjoyed for generations the way it was originally intended to be enjoyed. Restoring a ride is one thing, changing its meaning is another. If I want to see Disney characters I can always go to Toontown, go see a parade or go on one of many other rides which feature them. Let the park patron make the choice. That's part of the fun of Disneyland. Would you impose the Country Bears upon the Indiana Jones ride? Or sneak Simba in on Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln? It would make as much sense."

Lou Romano
Production Designer / Incredibles, Voice actor / Linguini - Ratatouille


“With all the uncertainty in the world today, one of the few places a person could always escape both reality AND hype, no matter how brief, was It's A Small World at Disneyland. I consider myself lucky to have been able to experience it as it was truly meant to be seen--many times. Its plea to make the world a better place through the multinational voices of our future is something we need today more than ever. Lets hope better taste prevails and any hint of commercialism is avoided in the restoration of this truly great ride.”

Ralph Eggleston
Production Designer / Finding Nemo


“Most people who have sailed through the “It’s A Small World” attraction at Disneyland and The New York Worlds Fair over the past 44 years may not be aware that standing at a high vantage point proudly overlooking her creation, is one small, unobtrusive Animatronic figure representing none other than Mary Blair, herself. I can only imagine a small tear rolling down her tiny cheek at even the thought of changes to her original vision for this now beloved attraction. It is my thought that altering this classic ride, in any way, for any reason, would be akin to defacing any well known work of art hanging in any museum around the world. I would urge those proposing this change to the original Small World attraction to please pause and reconsider. Mary gave so much to Disney and it’s artists in so many ways, please leave this attraction as a monument to her work and her spirit. Thank you.”

Dave Pruiksma
Long time Supervising Animator - Disney Feature Animation


“Mary Blair's striking color, innovative design and strong sense of whimsy have marked her as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. It's a Small World is a monument to both her talent and the vision of Walt Disney. How bold to create an experience not dedicated to advertising a product, but to encouraging acceptance and appreciation of our different cultures.”
Mark Walsh
Supervising Animator - Ratatouille

"I'm totally pissed about (the Disney character additions to) 'Small World', but maybe I've grown to accept the gradual crapification of anything good about Disneyland by people who care only about cross linking everything they own so that they each advertise each other. This is just one more step closer to a Disneyland boiled down to a series of billboard advertisements with a merchandise shop as the wiener at the end."

Don Shank
Visual Development Artist / The Incredibles


"Ironically, the phrase 'Its a small world, after all' takes on a sad, dark meaning in context to today's corporate culture. It speaks directly to the character of those who run the show; that is to say, small, small people of small, small integrity, running the entire world. Changing the ride as they intend to do, with Disney characters dominating the world, perfectly represents everything for which the corporate world stands. It may very well be an unintended work of modern art! I say brilliant, guys!"

Steve Moore
Director, Animator, Editor-in-chief FLIP animation.net


"I am one who thinks that the refurbishment of 'Pirates Of The Caribbean" has ruined that ride. The old 'Pirates' transported riders to a completely unique world and a completely different time period. The addition of Jack Sparrow breaks that fantasy, and brings riders into the modern day. Putting cartoon characters in 'It's A Small World' will have the same effect. Really, how many Aladdin dolls will be sold by adding him to this ride? Is it worth wrecking the integrity of one of Disneyland's most charming attractions?"

Alan Smart
Director / Spongebob Squarepants


"I grew up in Flushing New York, and at age nine had the opportunity to witness 'It's A Small World' in its debut at the Pepsi Pavillion at the New York World's Fair. This ride was a major influence on my life - and is a part of all of our lives. It's theme is of universal understanding. The whole point is to show that we are all the same, no matter where we live. The addition of Disney licensed characters completely cheapens the experience and dilutes the message. I am wholly against this desecration of a Disney classic. "

Jerry Beck
Animation Historian / Editor Cartoon Brew

"Mary Blair's work on Small World is an artistic achievement of her unique sensibilities, a symphony of color, glitter, cellophane, and hope for the world's children. It should be maintained for future generations to enjoy, and not compromised by additions vainly trying to blend in.”


Wendell Luebbe
Art Director

"I'm utterly appalled that a corporation as thoughtful and considerate as The Walt Disney Company would actually consider welcoming those dirty little money-grubbing rats into the hallowed sanctuary that is 'It's A Small World.' Somebody's got to put their foot down before it's too late."

Craig Kellman
Character Designer / Madagascar

“How can a company who understands the concept of "theming" so well make the decision to add film characters to a ride originally designed to celebrate "Children of the World"? The simple design aesthetic is a perfect marriage to that theme as well. The additional characters incorporate multiple design aesthetics and would introduce a visual chaos to "It's a Small World". It would be far better to remove a ride than to compromise the design of that ride with poorly conceived additions. The Walt Disney Co. should respect its own business plan and design concepts or hand over the scepter to someone who does.”

Fred Cline
Designer and Storyboard Director


“Let's keep the original integrity of It's a Small World. It's refreshing to have rides that don't always pay homage to the Disney characters. It gives Disneyland greater breadth and richness.”
Tia Kratter
Art Director


“With much of today’s entertainment being driven by a pop-cultural grab bag esthetic, Walt Disney’s Small World has stood for over 40 years as a most refreshing oasis. Designer Mary Blair’s brilliant creative vision is felt in every crevice and corner of the attraction. To alter this vision by adding elements outside of Blair’s unique design sensibility would not only be a gross creative misstep but would also obscure the very spirit and message of the ride itself.”

Mike Giaimo
Art Director - Pocohantas

"Disney needs to take a preservationist approach to historic works of art emblematic of Walt's vision for Disneyland. Mary Blair's design of Small World is one of Disneyland's unique treasures and should be preserved in its' entirety."

Sue Kroyer
Producer

"Although we recognize the practical necessity of updating attractions to keep Disneyland commercially viable, IT'S A SMALL WORLD is a special circumstance for two reasons. First, it has a unique political and historical pedigree having been created for the New York World's Fair as a testament to worldwide harmony through children. Second, it genuinely represents a personal vision of one of the greatest Disney artists, Mary Blair. "

Bill Kroyer
Director

"Walt Disney's works sought to reconnect us with the spirit of youth. Despite differences of culture and geography, we are all bonded by the laughter, clarity and simplicity of a child's point of view. This quality is not influenced by the whims and trends of a changing consumer society. It is a constant. It remains relevant. The unique talents of Mary Blair, Marc Davis, Rolly Crump and others gave form and feeling to Walt's dream of harmony for future generations. Their uncompromised vision should be preserved at Disneyland as a colorful legacy for our collective inner-child, both past and future."

Tim Hauser
Writer

•••

126 comments:

Anonymous said...

The last time the world of animation spoke they all got laid off.

Gn2Dlnd said...

Thank you for sharing the thoughts of people who work in the industry. I hope that they make an impact.

I've been trying to figure out what strikes me as so wrongheaded about the proposed changes to it's a small world.
Each country represented in the attraction has been allowed to stand on its own merit. While everything was designed through American eyes, I believe a good faith effort was made to present each country's costumes and customs as authentically as possible. The addition of classic Disney animation characters now colors each scene in which they appear as "as seen in America." It's as if each country now has to receive an American stamp of approval. China? Not Chinese enough until it's got Disney's Mulan! Canada? Who's more Canadian than Disney's Pocahontas? France ain't French without Disney's Marie from Disney's Aristocats! Even Hawaii isn't American enough until it's got a Disney space alien on a surfboard. Cowabunga! If the original intent of it's a small world was to show respect and harmony throughout the world, adding Disney animation characters merely reduces each country to a backdrop for whatever Disney character is shoehorned in.

Andy Castro said...

What an amazing outpouring of support from the Animation community. Hopefully this pressure being put on Disney not only by those darned "foamers" but also by the media and now the animation community will help put an end to this nonsense and stop this disaster before it can happen.

Anonymous said...

"Disneyland is like a piece of clay: If there is something I don’t like, I’m not stuck with it. I can reshape and revamp."
--Walt Disney

Spokker said...

Wow, even people with jobs and success aren't jumping for joy at the thought of the Small World changes. What Castro said above was right. It just isn't all us damn foamers and purists.

Take that, Sklar!

Anonymous said...

Why dont you put up Marty's response to all this ISAW nonsense up? (http://www.laughingplace.com/News-ID10029590.asp)

I dont understand what the big deal is. They are adding a few Disney characters to the attraction. If you pay attention to the HKDL version's promotional materials, they are encouraging you to "spot" all the characters you can see -- so maybe they wont be all that noticable, anyways.

If you dislike it so much, then dont ride it and go see the classic version without Disney characters in Paris, Florida, and Tokyo. It's just a theme park attraction, not the end of the world. Why dont you go campaign against global warming and other things that actually matter.

At the end of the day, we're going to get the same result out of the POTC additions in which the general public actually enjoyed it, even if fans complained that it ruined the original and wasnt "What Walt would have wanted."

As much as you complain, these changes are still going to happen and there isn't anything that can be done to stop that. All you're doing is giving Disney fans a bad rep for being a bunch of annoying complainers stuck in Fantasyland.

Anonymous said...

I have witnessed first hand the charm of the attraction for small children and I understand the objections based on design integrity or historical reasons to the renovation.

But I dont think that the little dolls represent in any meaningful way other cultures and other countries. On the contrary, almost identical dolls repeating for 15 minutes that we are all the same seems a very wrong headed way to understand the world.

Merlin Jones said...

>>"Disneyland is like a piece of clay: If there is something I don’t like, I’m not stuck with it. I can reshape and revamp."
--Walt Disney<<

Sadly, Walt's not with us anymore, so what is the relevance of the quote for other, unrelated people reshaping and revamping Disneyland's still-cool art in his name, but sans his great taste and showmanship?

Pirates of the Caribbean: Movie Edition, Tarzan's Treehouse, Winnie-the-Pooh, Lincoln's Haircut, Tiki Room Under New Management, Mary's Murals, Tomorrowland '98... these revamp hiccups hardly inspire confidence in the changes to Walt's Disneyland classics.

Walt is gone. Let his original works survive him.

Innoviz said...

"Isn't that amazing? Here are all of these people, different in so many ways, yet united by their hope and goals and dreams. THIS IS HOW THE WORLD SHOULD BE."

-- Walt Disney, 1960 regarding Olympics

While this quote from Walt does not directly relate to the issue at hand, I think it gives us a glimpse into his mindset, that may well have led to Its a Small World.

It is about the Children of the World. Not about the Animation Characters of the Walt Disney Company.

Merlin Jones said...

>>If you dislike it so much, then dont ride it and go see the classic version without Disney characters in Paris, Florida, and Tokyo.<<

It's preserving the original work that matters most. And the parks are not equal, nor interchangable. If any original versions are to survive, it should be at Walt's original park, Disneyland.

(In my opinion that includes Pirates of the Caribbean, Swiss Family Treehouse, Tom Sawyer Island, Sleeping Beauty Castle, Tomorrowland and any number of other things as well as it's a small world).

I know, I know... Disneyland is not a museum.

But neither is it a Wal-Mart.

>>Why dont you go campaign against global warming and other things that actually matter.<<

George Clooney beat us to it.

Seems like that cause is already well spoken for. But who will protect the art of Walt Disney but those who have a passion for it?

Drew said...

>>"Disneyland is like a piece of clay: If there is something I don’t like, I’m not stuck with it. I can reshape and revamp."
--Walt Disney<<
The people who don't like "it's a small world" will find everything they dislike still in place.

>>I dont understand what the big deal is. They are adding a few Disney characters to the attraction. If you pay attention to the HKDL version's promotional materials, they are encouraging you to "spot" all the characters you can see -- so maybe they wont be all that noticable, anyways.<<
Since when was "it's a small world" a game of hide and seek? The material on Hong Kong Disneyland also makes it clear that these additions are about marketing. Disney wants to introduce the characters into the untapped Chinese market. Of course, a great way to introduce the characters would have been such classics as Peter Pan's Flight, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Snow White's Scary Adventures, Alice in Wonderland, Casey Jr. Circus Train, Storybook Land Canal Boats, or any number of never realized Fantasyland dark rides.

>>If you dislike it so much, then dont ride it and go see the classic version without Disney characters in Paris, Florida, and Tokyo. It's just a theme park attraction, not the end of the world. Why dont you go campaign against global warming and other things that actually matter.<<
The attraction has changed with each incarnation. Some more dramatic than the last. The Disneyland Paris attraction is a clear example of changing the attraction without removing its intent.

>>All you're doing is giving Disney fans a bad rep for being a bunch of annoying complainers stuck in Fantasyland.<<
Of course we're in Fantasyland. Where else is "it's a small world"?

>>But I dont think that the little dolls represent in any meaningful way other cultures and other countries. On the contrary, almost identical dolls repeating for 15 minutes that we are all the same seems a very wrong headed way to understand the world.<<
The reason the children are the same is because "It's time we're aware / There's so much that we share". We are not supposed to be focusing on individuals, but the collective. The Disney characters are distinct individuals whom will be recognized amongst a faceless collective. The focus has therefore shifted.

Anonymous said...

In a funny way this addition does just what Walt never did, talk down to his audience. By adding the known characters to the otherwise seamless statement says that the audience didn't "get it" and they need to give them recognizable Disney pablum to bring them into the message.

Not a bad idea.

Anonymous said...

I think all of you ought to quit over reacting.
I remember when all of the St. Walties tried to stop the changes to the Lincoln attraction. All it did was achieve publicity.
Now at the time no one was going into the attraction. Now it is gone. Perhaps it should have been donated to a museum, like Small World will have to be if you don't all grow up.

Spokker said...

"Disneyland is like a piece of clay: If there is something I don’t like, I’m not stuck with it. I can reshape and revamp."
--Walt Disney

Yeah, if he didn't like it he reshaped and revamped it (with the help of WED), not a marketing department equipped with market research, trend graphs, and focus groups.

Things don't change at Disneyland these days because a creative person didn't like it and felt that it could be better, but because of stupid reasons that include phrases like "market demographics", "value-added", "if it's good enough for Six Flags".

Anonymous said...

As was done when "America Sings" closed and had left over figures...this just in.

Disney is considering the integration of any displaced Small World figures from the Rain Forest into the Haunted Mansion Attic scene as red-eyed "happy headless" pop up children of death. These screaming tot noggins fit the story of the bride and her various ghastly "miscarriages" quite well.

( FYI-The glitter gator will be converted into a singing bust).

Amanda said...

I kinda have to wonder what John Lasseter's views on this are. :)

theatreman said...

>>I dont understand what the big deal is... [In HKD] They are encouraging you to "spot" all the characters you can see.<<

The deal is just what you describe: turning an attraction about world harmony into a "Hidden Character Search."

>>It's just a theme park attraction...<<

But it has spoken eloquently about harmony in a discordant world since the day it opened. Perhaps plussing is needed to make the original intention of the ride more clear to those who "don't get it."

>>Why dont you go campaign against global warming and other things that actually matter?<<

The contention over the proposed removal of the Rain Forest scene is exactly about global warming, and the overall attraction is about the quest for peace on a small planet. What could matter more?

Ghosthost2 said...

>>I kinda have to wonder what John Lasseter's views on this are.<<

Me too. John Lasster's new involvement with Imagineering has lead many a Disney fan including me to think that a bright future is ahead, sadly it doesn't look that way. Yes, DCA is getting a billion dollars, but for the most part, what is being done there, doesn't seem to have much pure creativity behind it. If you want DCA to be a great park, give it a ride on the level of POTC, that isn't based on any established franchise.
I like Lasseter and I hope he steps up and saves WDI.

Drew said...

>>Me too. John Lasster's new involvement with Imagineering has lead many a Disney fan including me to think that a bright future is ahead, sadly it doesn't look that way. Yes, DCA is getting a billion dollars, but for the most part, what is being done there, doesn't seem to have much pure creativity behind it. If you want DCA to be a great park, give it a ride on the level of POTC, that isn't based on any established franchise.
I like Lasseter and I hope he steps up and saves WDI.<<

As excited as I was about him, I can't help but think he just insisted that Woody and Jessie get to steal a scene instead of being one of the hiders...

Tuckenie said...

Sigh, for the last time, THEY'RE NOT TAKING OUT THE RAIN FOREST! Stop worrying about the rain forest! They've already announced the rain forest will remain. If only people cared this much about the REAL rain forest it wouldn't be in danger either.

What this boils down to is whether you can stand seeing a couple of human Disney characters in the Mary Blair style on the ride in a few spots.

If you can't... then bless you. I can only wish that THIS was the top issue to be concerned with in my life. BTW, we're still fighting a war in two countries. Just in case you missed that. Also, rain forests are being destroyed everyday, since you all seem to like those...

Spokker said...

"I can only wish that THIS was the top issue to be concerned with in my life."

I can only assume that your top issue in life is with people who are against the Small World changes. I mean, don't you have more important things to do than complain about complainers on a blog? It goes both ways, my friend.

People often care about many things of varying importance in life. I do care about what's going on in the Middle East and I plan to vote for the candidate that I think can best resolve the situation and bring our troops home.

While I'm waiting I will take the opportunity to bitch about Small World.

theatreman said...

tuckenie appropriately notes: "We're still fighting a war in two countries."

This is another strong reason to resist the dumbing-down of a classical attraction which subtly argues against the "tears" and "fears" (as the lyrics put it) of world disharmony.

The proposed changes would turn IASM into a meaningless "Search for the Disney Characters" (which are hidden among a lot of dress-up dolls in quaint native dress).

A next logical false step could be installing Toy-Story-type "Blasters" in the boats, calling them "Celebrity Spotters," and letting the kids have a competitive, small-war-like, Interactive Experience by seeing who can earn the greatest number of points by most quickly discovering Alice, Stitch and Pocahontas -- all slightly inconspicuous in their Mary-Blair-style disguises.

tuckenie also suggests that: "What this boils down to is whether you can stand seeing a couple of human Disney characters in the Mary Blair style."

However, the number of contemplated character additions is rumored to be closer to 30. One, already-photographed in the Hong Kong DL version of IASM, is Stitch, a definitly non-human extraterrestrial creature accused of crime, and on the lam intergalactically in disguse.

This boils down to a defeat of the ride's world-peace theme.

Drew said...

>>Sigh, for the last time, THEY'RE NOT TAKING OUT THE RAIN FOREST! Stop worrying about the rain forest! They've already announced the rain forest will remain. If only people cared this much about the REAL rain forest it wouldn't be in danger either.<<
All of the indicators still point to the rainforest section being moved and cut down in size. The issue of the characters has been confirmed. So everything still stands. This is a two front issue.

/bsdb said...

Sigh, for the last time, THEY'RE NOT TAKING OUT THE RAIN FOREST! Stop worrying about the rain forest! They've already announced the rain forest will remain.

Technically, the rainforest has not been removed. But, it has been relocated to another part of the ride and merged with another scene. The area before the finale room where the rainforest used to reside has been replaced with an American scene, according to a well-known insider on LP.

Again, this is semantics, pure and simple. The specific use of language to obfuscate the message is a sure sign of damage control. And the damage they're trying to control is the public's displeasure with these changes, which might possibly lead to the demotion of the project's architect. Whom I'm fairly certain was NOT Tony Baxter, considering this project got the green light before Bruce Vaughn took the reins of Creative Development from Tom Fitzgerald last spring, which was when Tony regained creative control of DL.

Not to mention the fact that Lilo & Stitch was released six years ago, which is two years after Sklar's claim that these changes were conceived by Tony, eight years ago. Why would Disney put Lilo & Stitch into small world without knowing how well the film would be received?

Obviously, the Lilo & Stitch additions were conceived of by someone else, if not most or all of the additions. And given Marty's spin doctrine, I suspect the Imagineers who made these changes and additions were working for Tom Fitzgerald.

Grundel said...

That letter from Marty Sklar was pure spin, from a man who doesn't get IT - or have IT.

The BEST ideas from from original minds, not endless public opinion polls and focus groups. Any product developed via public opinion poll is going to be mediocre, because the general public are NOT CREATORS. Watching TV doesn't give someone much insight into creating a hit TV show. Cheers was almost canceled because of a YEAR's worth of public opinion. But the real creative minds were allowed to win out - that is how classics are made.

What has Disney created that is CLASSIC in the last 10 years? I'll give you Reflections of Earth - that's it.

STOP the public opinion polling.

STOP putting short-term profit above long-term profit. Long term profit is in CLASSIC, CREATIVE attractions. Give the reigns to your best talent (the ones you haven't driven away yet.)

OR....

Lets take some public opinion polls to see how we can spread out the brand. I think Goofy could spice up Splash Mountain, Space Mountain definitely needs Mickey in his space outfit, maybe playing tag with Buzz Lightyear. Spaceship Earth is too dull, our imagineers can't seem to find a way to make the Entire History of Man the slightest bit interesting, so let's put a dancing Donald Duck in every scene, and maybe play some cartoons on those video screens. And can someone please explain to me why the Jungle Cruise doesn't have Baloo and Mowgli? Let's only touch the good rides, and ignore the ones that really need revamping, like The Great Movie Ride, Energy, & Imagination. O Canada is already a circle, it can't be too hard to make the room spin. Epcot has room for a Toon Country in between China & Germany - I'm sure that will poll high!

As much as I love Epcot, I think Disney Co abandoned the Dream sometime before 1980, when it rebranded EPCOT the City into Epcot the Park. The downward spiral of American Capitalism brings all great family theme parks to the 6-Flags level eventually. For publicly owned Disney Co to really change, our capitalism would have to develop a motivation other than greed. Nothing short of a social revolution will reverse it.

Brian said...

>> If you can't... then bless you. I can only wish that THIS was the top issue to be concerned with in my life. BTW, we're still fighting a war in two countries. Just in case you missed that. Also, rain forests are being destroyed everyday, since you all seem to like those... <<

Those of us who are activists tend to be on more than one front. This blog happens to deal with Imangineering related topics - the other topics are addressed as appropriate by us in their place.

I had posted before and I think that my post might have gone to cyber space, but I wanted to reiterate my congratulations to those who administer this blog in your efforts to bring to discussion the changes that are the future of It's A Small World. Whether we are able to successfully stop them or not, your efforts have been extraordinary.

Anonymous said...

Let's remember that Lilo and Stitch was a moderate box office hit, and not even that well reviewed. It's a piffle in the Disney canon, albeit a pleasent one.

Spokker said...

"Let's remember that Lilo and Stitch was a moderate box office hit, and not even that well reviewed."

Lilo & Stitch has an 86% on Rotten Tomatoes. That's not well-reviewed? I'm not for seeing Stitch in Small World, but it was still a very well-received film.

rehallag said...

Marty Sklar stated this:

"To make “It’s A Small World” even more relevant to our guests, Tony Baxter ...and I arrived at the same place eight years ago. To accomplish our objective, we decided to seamlessly integrate Disney characters into appropriate thematic scenes in the attraction, and do it completely in the distinctive “Mary Blair style.”

A Mary Blair painting of Alice and the White Rabbit has been released to illustrate their point, see here for the picture.

So we are told the reason to add Disney characters is to "make 'It’s A Small World' even more relevant to our guests" according to both Sklar and Tony Baxter.

And we are not to be concerned over Mary Blair issues because the stylization will be Mary Blair style.

And we are always told that Disneyland is a piece of clay or not a museum therefore implying Disney would makes the same changes.

But, the problem in this logic is that Walt Disney was well able to have included Disney characters from the very beginning and he did not.

The picture by Blair of the White Rabbit and Alice pre-dates Small World by a decade at least. Disney and Blair very well could have added an Alice to the England section of the ride in the first place but they did not.

Currently are going to add Pochahontas. Disney could have put in Little Hiawatha in the original Small World, or Pinocchio for Italy, or the boy with the flying Donkey from Three Caballeros for South America. The list could go on and on.

Disney knew very well the drawing power of his characters and the marketing tie-in power of his characters and used this all the time.

Yet he did not do this for Small World when he could have.

On the comparison with Pirates. If there had been a Small World movie (and sequels) that made billions of dollars and produced hugely popular characters, say a Japanese and an Italian child character, it would be a lot more legitimate to argue that these characters could be added to the ride in their respective country areas.

But that is not what is happening.

Further, read Sklar;s next comment:

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

What follows after the first sentence is non-sequitar. How many years experience they have has nothing to do with whether or not it is marketing pitch for plush toys. The paragraph makes no sense.

But what does make more sense is that Sklar says he and Baxter decided to do this 8 years ago. When was it that they changed it so that Small World exits in to a store that sells plushies and other merchandise? I don't recall exactly, but it was probably about eight years ago.

I think they should have focused on re-painting, and brightening things up. The ride seemed rather dim and dark recently -- it is 40 plus years old -- and an overhaul to make it looks better is a good idea.

Adding characters like this is silly and is something Walt Disney would have done from the beginning if he'd wanted that.

Spokker said...

What were the logistics in gathering these quotes? Are the quotes recent, as in from the last week or so? Are the authors of those quotes all acting on the latest information, including Marty Sklar's letter?

Mr Banks said...

All of these are post Sklar. And continue to come in.

Tuckenie said...

John Frost on thedisneyblog.com has a great post on Marty's letter at this link http://thedisneyblog.com/2008/04/06/martys-its-a-small-world/#comment-6526

This post somewhat changes my opinion on this issue and brings me to a more neutral place on the subject. For the most part my chief objection to the argument being made by the "purists" is that they are attacking the work of imagineers who have been with the company for decades and have worked hard to entertain and create new attractions for guests since they started. I'm a fan of the creative process and I like to see new and creative things done. I also like the idea of revisiting old projects (and for Marty this is an old project)and adding new things. As an artist myself I always find that I'm never satisfied with a creation and always want to add and edit my own work. Now I understand that IASW was worked on by many people including Mary Blair and that's one of the reasons I'm steering more toward neutrality.

I DO hate to see people who have worked their entire lives to entertain people get shredded by those same people when they make a choice they dislike. We have no idea what the full circumstances behind the work being done on IASW are or even what exactly is being done! I feel more concrete evidence is needed that most of these changes are even going to happen before reacting the way many of the people on this blog have. So far I have heard rumor and conjecture, some of which has been disproven, and very little solid information of what is actually going to happen. With all due respect, the only changes that have been confirmed by a neutral journalist are the additions of Alice and Peter Pan. That's not exactly a lot to go by. I've heard rumors about moving the rain forest, killing the rain forest (disproved), and a hypothetical America scene (which I personally have no problem with). Until I see some actual evidence I'll have to withhold my scorn and I think it would behoove others to do the same.

We don't KNOW Stitch is going to be on the ride (yes, I would hate that). We don't KNOW the rain forest was moved. We "heard from a source" according to a comment on a blog. Forgive me if I'm skeptical. Just because someone posted it on the internet or it appears in the Hong Kong version doesn't exactly make it a fact.

Meanwhile, you all have fun burning in effigy people who designed some of the rides you defend with such passion.

I just think it's probably not as bad as you think, but probably not good either. That's the real shame.

Spokker said...

"All of these are post Sklar. And continue to come in."

Thanks. On another message board someone said, "Notice the quotes in question have no dates associated with them" so I thought I'd ask.

Drew said...

>>Disney knew very well the drawing power of his characters and the marketing tie-in power of his characters and used this all the time.

Yet he did not do this for Small World when he could have.<<
Walt did use his characters to promote "it's a small world", Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, the Carousel of Progress, and the Magic Skyway at the World's Fair. Several Disney characters were at the fair as the Ambassadors of Disneyland. The Wonderful World of Color episode "Disneyland Goes to the World's Fair" (on Disk 2 of Disneyland: Stories, Secrets, and Magic) ends after we follow the Ambassadors of Disneyland around for a bit and then we all get to see a ride through of "it's a small world". Despite all of the characters being used to promote these attractions, they never appeared inside.

>>For the most part my chief objection to the argument being made by the "purists" is that they are attacking the work of imagineers who have been with the company for decades and have worked hard to entertain and create new attractions for guests since they started.<<
Sadly, to many Imagineers it is just a job and we're nothing but a much of annoying "foamers".

>>I'm a fan of the creative process and I like to see new and creative things done<<
There is nothing creative about this. It has been done before ad naseum. It was done when Alien Encounter became Stitch's Great Escape. It was done when Tropical Serenade became The Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Management. It was done when Countdown to Extinction became Dinosaur. It was done when El Rio del Tiempo became Gran Fiesta Tour. It was done when The Living Seas became The Seas with Nemo and Friends. It was done when the Dreamport became the Imagination Institute. Need I go on? This has been done before several times by Walt Disney Imagineering. How many times must they repeat themselves before it is no longer creative?

>>That's not exactly a lot to go by. I've heard rumors about moving the rain forest, killing the rain forest (disproved), and a hypothetical America scene (which I personally have no problem with). Until I see some actual evidence I'll have to withhold my scorn and I think it would behoove others to do the same.<<
Disney has offered up very little and been very ambiguous with any denials. The only items really flat out denied are the embellishments that were made by TMZ.

Tuckenie said...

Ok drew. Here's what I want you to do. Go read the argument that John Frost made on thedisneyblog.com because THAT'S how you convince people that your argument is correct. What you just did was attack someone that said they were starting to lean more toward your side and attack the reasons they are still wavering. THAT is not productive or winning the point. In fact it makes you look exactly like the kind of geek that any suit at Disney will instantly ignore.

Everyone needs to pay attention to this because YOU WILL NOT WIN WITH YOUR CURRENT APPROACH. I'm serious here. Pretend for one moment that you are talking to people who are neutral. People who could care less about POTC and the treehouse and the Tiki room and what Disneyland was like thirty years ago and have little clue about mistakes made in the past.

When you bring those up you are just making eyes glaze over and forcing that quote from Walt about the park not being a museum to pop into mind. You do NOT want that. This is not about any other ride. This is about THIS ride.

What John does is explain exactly WHY this is a bad idea thematically and reasonably. He doesn't attack anyone. He's respectful. You all need to do the same.

Explain WHY you think the addition of characters is a bad idea. WHY should the rain forest remain where it is. What exactly is wrong with a scene including America? Talk about the theme of the attraction. Talk about aesthetics. Share memories and your favorite parts that you want to show your children. THOSE are the arguments on this blog that WORK.

But whatever you do, DO NOT attack the imagineers and suits at Disney. I don't know if you all understand this or not but people don't really like to listen to those who insult them. It's kind of a turn off. You are not going to win this by being the whiny guest who always get's their way. Disney will just look at you and go "Ignore them. They don't speak for everyone."

Believe me, I've witnessed several fan campaigns on the internet over the last few years and those that succeed are the ones that remain respectful and don't heap on the hatred. If you want these people to compromise with you then you have to show that you are in some way reasonable and tearing down the very folks you're hoping to win over.

I want you to understand that I'm writing this for your benefit. I honestly hope now that this movement finds success but I really fear that you won't because of the attacks taking place here. Again, please go to thedisneyblog.com and learn how a pro writes a convincing argument. Thank you and good luck.

theatreman said...

HONG KONG PRECEDENTS

If "what is past is prologue" as Shakespeare tells us, we might turn our eyes to a "small world" in the East:

http://www.hongkongdisneyland.com/eng/discover/20080327.html

From the official Hong Kong Disneyland website:

“The attraction will be officially open to the public on April 28, 2008 and is part of the all-new immersive and exciting experiences the Park will offer in 2008.”

“With elements unique to Hong Kong Disneyland, the "it's a small world" attraction will invite guests to join a world of laughter. The attraction is filled with over 200 hundred Audio-Animatronics ® figures representing children from around the world - dressed in their national costumes, featuring splendid landmarks from numerous countries and, for the first time ever, 38 Disney characters.

A photo caption notes that:

“The 241 dolls and 220 toys help guests celebrate the themes of mutual understanding, friendship and love found at Hong Kong Disneyland's "it's a small world" attraction.”

"Toys" aside, [39 Disney characters out of 241 dolls would equal 16%... to begin with... Might Pixar's "Wall-E" be in the wings for California?]

Another caption adds that:

“Guests will see Aladdin and Jasmine on their magic carpet in the Middle East scene and meet Woody and Jessie from the Disney/Pixar Toy Story films while sailing by New York's Empire State Building and San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge in the Americas scene.”

A further caption suggests starring and subsidiary roles:

Aladdin and Jasmine along with the dolls of children in distinctive national costumes sing and greet guests at the Middle East scene in Hong Kong Disneyland's all-new classic [sic]attraction "it's a small world".”

The caption on a photo of Cinderalla and her Prince, notes:

For the first time ever, 38 all-new Disney characters dolls and toys will be part of Hong Kong Disneyland's unique version of "it's a small world"; found in the countries of their origin, these characters include Woody and Jessie, Lilo and Stitch, Cinderella and her Prince, as well as Marie the Cat."

Another page on the site adds more information:

http://park.hongkongdisneyland.com/hkdl/en_US/events/landing?name=smallworldPage

An array of drawn dolls includes Lilo, Stitch and Donald Duck, [but not, as Mr. Sklar noted for DL CA, Mickey or Minnie.]

Guests are encouraged, however, to “Keep your eyes open! The Hong Kong Disneyland version of ‘it’s a small world,’ is the first every to feature the Disney Friends - the attraction includes 38.”

Not an incidental presence, but the stars of the show?

Tuckenie said...

NOT "tearing down the very folks you're hoping to win over."

Great. I suck at typing. Hopefully everyone get's the idea. Sigh...

CJ said...

I'm still trying to figure out why they feel like they need to do this. As we've pointed out many many times, there are some attractions that need some creative overhaul and, dare I say, relevance.

But I don't believe that it's a small world really needs that.

I'm a musician. I get lost in the symbolism and figuratism that is Mary Blair's style. But the music strikes a chord (no pun intended) with me. Ignoring for the moment the technological accomplishments required (at the time) to get many rooms of separate soundtracks to play the down beat at the same time, the musical styles in each room tell a story. They are a musical and instrumental tour around the world, and their unison in the white room (or sweet discordance a' la bagpipes) tells exactly the same story that the words tell, and that the characters symbolically tell. There's no more relevance needed. There's no need to add any recognizable characters to the ride. It tells its intended story without the addition of Disney characters. I understand the push for relevance, but this story is as relevant today (arguably more relevant) as it was when it was first authored.

Although I always wondered why there wasn't an American room...

Mr Banks said...

To above, there wasn't an 'American room' because this was an attraction by Americans for Americans. We were asked to look outside our own national boundaries and open our eyes to cultures and countries outside our own, and in doing so recognize our similarities and celebrate our very small world, after all.

And when the attraction opened in Disneyland it was especially apparent that if you wanted to celebrate America, you need only leave the boat and walk around the rest of Disneyland.

Tuckenie said...

What's interesting, at least to me, is that in my mind growing up the finale of the one at WDW (never been to DL) with all the kids in white seemed to represent America in my child's mind. Sort of a "melting pot" flavor I at least perceived. Now that I understand it was supposed to represent Tivoli Gardens (I have no idea if it's the same at DL) I think it's cool because it shows the influence it had on Walt. Still, I guess I always just assumed that America should be represented and that was where it was on the ride. *shrug* Like I said I dislike adding Stitch and most of the characters but I have no problem with adding America. Just wish they weren't moving the rain forest to do it. What if they had put America or something else where they're putting the rain forest? How are they even making room for the rain forest? At WDW that would be impossible without cutting something.

Anonymous said...

Tuckenie states:
Share memories and your favorite parts that you want to show your children. THOSE are the arguments on this blog that WORK.

And this is exactly the point. There will not be much left to share with all of the plussing of the rides. You know, Tuckenie, Disneyland has been successful all of these years, not simply because they add elements to the attractions. Its alot deeper than that.

The whole park itself, is a piece of Americana built in the mid century, success made possible only by the unique and timeless rides themselves. It wasn't by adding a Depp, a Nemo and so on to already existing rides. The park was so successful in fact, that Disney built other parks in Florida, Paris, Hong Kong, BFE etc etc.. And guess what? They were ALL blueprinted(COPIED) off of the single most important park that started it all....Do you care to guess which park that was?

I personally care less if they pluss or minus any of the other copycat parks, as they are not the original. But desecrating the original Anaheim themepark's rides and concepts is at very minimum,
a slap in the face to all who worked on or
care(d) for the creations, living or deceased.

Disneyland remains a successful venture 53 years later because it is a place that people can return to generation after generation to "Share" with the family members, new and older alike.
Disneyland is one of the few places families can bond over a memory of the park and recall the same story/feeling, or experience.

BUT, when Disneyland continues to add elements/characters in places they were not intended to be placed, it becomes like an awkward moment. Although the placement of Jack Sparrow wasn't horrible, I still come to the conclusion that it was an unnecessary addition to the ride, as I see everyones focus go from exploration of the storyline, shifting immediately to the Actor/Character "Johnny Sparrow" once he is spotted.

I am against change, if it does not improve anything with significance, making me pro-change if the change itself, yields positive results.

So I ask you this, Tuckenie.. "How can adding a Stitch character in IASW be considered an improvement?"

Or "How was adding Depp to POTC a positive impact, and to whom did it positively impact?"

While you seek facts regarding the truth about Sklar and Baxter, then I ask for you to provide some kind of proof that these changes made (or currently "make" in regards to IASW) are positive impacts for guest experiences, and have nothing to do with slick Merchandising schemes.

Truth is, Of the major "E-Ticket" rides within the park have lasted more than 20 years in the park without any major plussings, remodels or additions, and yet they still remain(ed) popular.

Lastly,
Tuckenie stated:
"As an artist myself I always find that I'm never satisfied with a creation and always want to add and edit my own work."

I wonder what would have happened if Rembrandt, Picasso, or Monet felt the same way?
Art becomes famous/popular because it remains true and never altered through passing time.
I guess in layman's terms:
Time Tested, which builds a foundation of success all its own.

Anonymous said...

I was just reading pundit Al Lutz's update on Miceage and according to him IASM won't reopen till Winter '09! I had no idea it was going to take that long.

That means there is still at least a YEAR to whine and send in petitions, etc. I pity those who are on the mailing list at Disney. They'll want to jump out of a window by say, August.

theatreman said...

I think "tuckenie's" plea for respectful discourse is well spoken.

It is easy to slip into mockery and hostility when one is arguing passionately against a decision by the mostly silent, inaccessible, powerful and sometimes inscrutable Disney Company.

However, the realization that someone at the Company does read these comments is encouraging.

In the end it may well be the polite, considered, measured logic which wins the day.

On "the other side" I think Disney, which understandably does not want to engage in a point-by-point dispute on a topic generating hundreds of emails across a number of sites, must be aggravated with the exaggerations, misstatements, and certainly the snarky ridicule - to the detriment of "our" cause.

Having announced the nature of the "changes," but having also said that the project is still in "brainstorming," Disney may be able to retreat, re-think, re-tool and rehab, while still saving face.

Certainly many novel locations in any of the parks can be found to accommodate any Hong-Kong-duplicate Character Animatronics already under constrcution or completed.

Anonymous said...

You guys should notify the associated press that even respected animators and film makers are speaking out against turning It's a small world into a cartoon cash-in.

Merlin Jones said...

>>Certainly many novel locations in any of the parks can be found to accommodate any Hong-Kong-duplicate Character Animatronics already under construction or completed.<<

Emporium windows?

Small World Toy Shop?

Motor Boat Cruise?

The Inkwell Bookstore said...

(I make crappy flip books while I'm supposed to be working)

While many folks have said that the song from IASW is grating, the visual elements of the ride are rarely dissed. This is because Blair's work is wonderful, and IASW is was her masterpiece.

Tuckenie said...

I've seen a lot of fan campaigns the last few years, especially involving popular TV shows that were prematurely canceled and many of the most successful ones were those that choose a positive route to preach their message. Disney execs care about popular image yes but they also like their egos so insulting the very people whose minds you want to change will not work. Since the media is paying attention, I propose a different course of action to achieve the goals of this movement:

Set up a fund for UNICEF!

This does several things including:

1) Honoring the original purpose and message of the ride.

2) Claiming the high road.

3) Shaming Disney without insulting them.

4) Garnering MORE media attention. And most importantly...

5) Helping a worthy cause in the process.


I'd love to see the organizers of this campaign and the owners of this blog set something like that up. It'd be really hard to dismiss this as just some annoying fans who can't adapt to change if you did that. It's the most elegant and masterful stroke you could make. Then if you succeed in raising money you could really push the dagger in by publicly challenging Disney to match the funds!

Anonymous said...

If Disney was SUPER smart they would reopen the ride after they fix the flume to let the world ride the ORIGINAL version one last time all summer long before they add the changes. The public could vote for the changes or not. In any event it's a GOLD MINE$$$!!

"IASM Farewell Cruise" "You owe it to your kids to have shown them Walt's original". cha ching!!!

Drew said...

>>If Disney was SUPER smart they would reopen the ride after they fix the flume to let the world ride the ORIGINAL version one last time all summer long before they add the changes. The public could vote for the changes or not. In any event it's a GOLD MINE$$$!!<<

The smart thing would have been to quickly say they were a Holiday 2008 special promotion and then afterwards claim they were staying due to their "overwhelming popularity". Thankfully, they did not.

Brian said...

I kind of like the UNICEF idea - at least its a way to get something positive from all this energy. It would have to be publicized to get the proper bang for the buck...

Maybe a link from Andy's save the small world web page?

Kimberly said...

I completely agree with the guy who said that the changes to Pirates ruined the ride. It definitely did. Immersion was so near you could taste it with the old ride but instead of reaching for more of that immersion, they went and plopped Johnny Depp and some obviously CGI "villain" with a beard in there. I know they're trying to market themselves but it's like - we've already bought the ticket, we're already on the ride. We didn't want this.

I just wish they were doing more to spread the love to people who aren't under the age of five. Most of the people I know who love Disneyland are my age (21) or older.

Stub Winged Bilge Rat said...

As I read of the changes and the debate over them I would like to bring up another point of view that has been overlooked. To help illustrate I share a memory of a wonderful ride that was under-appreciated by me, until I saw it through the eyes of a very special child.

A boat pulls in and we are cheerfully asked to board and prepare to embark on a trip around the world. The boat moves and it begins "Bear....Deer...." as my son has to name each animal that is represented by the topiary. You can start to hear the familiar tune as a smile lights up his face. For the next 15 minutes his head swivels quickly while his eyes dart around trying to see everything. There is singing, dancing, laughter and I am given a moment in which my son interacts with me and the fog of his disability lifts. In all the times we go no other ride in the park brings the reaction that this one does. He is not the only one as we have been on many, many times and witnessed the way this ride connects with children and adults with special needs.

With the possible changes that are planned I wonder the impact it will have on them. I do not know why this ride resonates so clearly with those with special needs...the colors, the lights, the music, the design... I just know it does! I hope that whatever changes are made that it doesn't loose the magical connection with those guests that already think it is perfect the way it is.

Anonymous said...

Stub Winged Bilge Rat,

I'm so glad you brought this up. A young friend of mine, just a kid of 12, is autistic and for the longest time didn't speak. He COULD, but most of the time chose not to. He was very introverted and angry.

What changed him and affected his life so much was Minnie Mouse. We don't know why or how, but ever since he met Minnie at WDW he started to talk more, and became a very funny, and extroverted young man. He is obsessed with Minnie - not mickey or donald - just minnie (and Disney World in general). He LIVES for it. Literally. He does chores around the house just to save money for his next trip.

Adding a few characters on IASW must have been an interesting artistic debate when it was brought up, I would have LOVED to be in the room when artwork was first displayed and concepts were knocked around. Imagineers aren't stupid, they care about everything they do and they fight for their art (even if their hand IS forced). Surely this idea has been on the minds of these artists day and night for a long time. You don't just wake up and slap some characters into a show. Even the weakest rides and attractions take lots of planning, care and conceptual debate. I'm sure this addition is for a good reason and is more for younger children than 21-40 year old geeks on the internet.

The pictures from Hong Kong look pretty cool actually, and I'm excited to see what they do at DL. I notice there are some nice new projection effects and LED tricks - I wonder if Mary would have liked this kind of technology? She used to apply theatrical gels over certain little squares, or circles here and there - so I think she would have liked the glow of LED.

Some of the additions look pretty subtle - even the cinderella doll. It's crazy how frantic these websites based purely on RUMORS and words, and now that pictures are out of HKDL, it's funny to see that it's not as bad as it was made out to be.

In the end, it doesn't matter to me. If one child like my autistic friend rides the new IASW and is changed forever by it, then some imagineers can sleep well at night knowing they actually CHANGED a child's life. How incredible is that? It's the exact reason I want to become an Imagineer. If I can affect one child's life, and bring happiness into their hearts or flex one muscle in their imagination then I can live knowing I did good in the world.

I am NOT becoming an Imagineer to make the internet die-hards happy (although may I add, the discussions are always eye opening and thought provoking).

To add my two cents to the POTC argument, I DO have to admit that I dislike the changes because now it is a search for Johnny Depp, and he sticks out like a sore thumb. The biggest reason though, is the new music as you enter the battle scene. It was so much more effective at establishing atmosphere without it...sometimes you don't need to add anything if the environment is already perfect.

PS. Would it be cool to request that the blog lowers the number of articles on the main page? The site sometimes takes a while to load up. thanks! ;)

Anonymous said...

>>What has Disney created that is CLASSIC in the last 10 years? I'll give you Reflections of Earth - that's it.<<

This is funny. Man, you might want to do a little bit of research before you say stuff like this.

For one, you obviously have not visited Tokyo DisneySea.

Just off the top of my head, I can list a few great modern classics: Expedition Everest ('06), Nemo Subs ('07), Soarin' ('01), Rock N Roller Coaster ('99), Kilimanjaro Safari ('98), Test Track ('98), Philharmagic ('03)...take your pick.

I do agree, however, with what you said about giving the reigns to the top level artists. That's the idea I guess. Seems like they are doing that with DCA to a certain degree, and did it with DisneySea.

Your post was irritatingly cynical. You're the type of guest that gets ignored as you are placed in a minority group - as i'm sure most die-hard fans are.

Spokker said...

"For one, you obviously have not visited Tokyo DisneySea."

Disney didn't even pay for it. If Imagineering is given a proper budget and the go-ahead to do great things, they'll do great things! What a concept!

"Nemo Subs ('07)"

No. It's a shameless retelling of the movie using the original legendary subs. The original was dynamic and immersive. The Nemo version is like watching TV underwater.

"Rock N Roller Coaster ('99)"

An Aerosmith version of the same type of coaster they have in many Six Flags parks.

"Kilimanjaro Safari ('98)"

Yawn.

"Test Track ('98)"

You seem to be confused. This one isn't a classic. It replaced a classic.

"You're the type of guest that gets ignored"

All guests are ignored. Insert the "Get down there once a month/Don't eat off the lot blah blah blah" quote here.

Drew said...

>>'m sure this addition is for a good reason and is more for younger children than 21-40 year old geeks on the internet.<<
The Disneyland experience was supposed to be more than just about the children. That was made clear on numerous occasions by Walt Disney himself. He believed that children did not need to be coddled and talked down to, but would reach.

>>For one, you obviously have not visited Tokyo DisneySea.<<
Tokyo DisneySea shows what can be done by creative people when allowed to create. If I remember correctly, Steve Kirk, the Imagineer behind Tokyo DisneySea, was dismissed.

Tokyo DisneySea, especially in comparison to Disney's California Adventure, shows exactly how much things have changed (while showing that change is of in itself not always a positive force) at Disney.

Spokker said...

I would like to add to my previous comment, I have no problem with people who enjoy Nemo, Test Track, Rock N Roller Coaster or whatever. I think Nemo is "neat" and Rock N Roller Coaster is "fun", but they are NOT classics, not right now.

Time will tell whether or not we can look back on these attractions and decide if they belong in the same league as Pirates, Mansion, and the Tiki Room.

Probably not, though.

Anonymous said...

I'd say "Pooh" in TDL with the GPS "Hunny Pots" is pretty "Classic" right now. It has been the highest attended ride in that park since it opened almost 8 years ago.

Gavin Elster said...

Look I'm all for keeping that ride the same however, Mary Blair did get paid for her work and it's not like it is MARY BLAIR Presents: Disney's: Its a Small World (brought to you by Bank of America.) She did a job and her payment was cash. You could argue that is is an insensitive destruction of an art installation but hey... I didn't see anyone complain when Country Bear Jamboree went away. That had as much artistic input as IASW. The park owns it and they can do with it as they please. Unless there is a way to claim private amusement park rides have some sort of historical status they can put plushy maquettes and projected scenes from animated features all thru-out this ride til their faces turn blue.

Mr Banks said...

Again, the above is a bewildering argument. Sure, Mary Blair got paid. So did Michaelangelo for the Sistine Ceiling, and Frank Lloyd Wright for The Guggenheim . And sure, the Pope, the City of New York, the Disney Company can do anything they want with their assets.

And your point?

Are people who revere an audacious work of pop art not allowed to fight to preserve a company's asset; an asset created to please the public in the first place?

Drew said...

>>I'd say "Pooh" in TDL with the GPS "Hunny Pots" is pretty "Classic" right now. It has been the highest attended ride in that park since it opened almost 8 years ago.<<
Should that not be a negative sign when a park not owned or operated by Disney is your example?

theatreman said...

The story about the autistic child is valid and touching, but irrelevent to this discussion: It shows the very powerful affect of one of the "live" Costume Characters, which no one would deny.

Then the writer says, ".. I DO have to admit that I dislike the (POTC) Changes because now it is a search for Johnny Depp."

And he will have to admit that if the threateded change go through, IASM will become a search for dozens of Disney Characters.

Disney is encouraging "the search" in Hong Kong, where the ride opens this month.

http://park.hongkongdisneyland.com/hkdl/en_US/events/landing?name=smallworldPage

See Lilo, Stitch and Donald Duck, and then Click on Pinnochio to read:

"Keep your eyes open! The Hong Kong Disneyland version of ‘it’s a small world,’ is the first ever to feature the Disney Friends - the attraction includes 38."

Would that is were the last.

donjuan said...

There are more pictures of the HKDL ride and I gotta say - from pictures at least - it looks weak. Characters aside, the set pieces don't feel very "Mary Blair-ish".

I love IASW and the message it is trying to portray more than the style or the addition of characters. So if the artists think this truly is the best way to strengthen the message then I'll hold off on judgment until it re-opens. If it is just some marketing ploy then that is pretty sad. It's like putting candy in a kid's UNICEF box at Hallowe'en.

Drew said...

>>Disney is encouraging "the search" in Hong Kong, where the ride opens this month.<<

A much more direct bullet point has also been removed from the main body of the page:

"Search for all the 38 Disney Characters that make their first appearance in this attraction, including Peter Pan, Aladdin, Pinocchio, and much more as they come to life as Small World Dolls."

Merlin Jones said...

LATimes coverage:

>>Disney, Pixar artists rally to preserve Small World ride

More than dozen Disney and Pixar creative artists who worked on “The Lion King,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” “Toy Story,” “A Bug’s Life,” “Monsters Inc.,” “Finding Nemo,” “The Incredibles,” “Cars” and “Ratatouille” have rallied together to protest changes to Disneyland’s It’s a Small World ride as a “gross creative misstep” and campaign to preserve the attraction as a “historic work of art.”<<

More at link...

http://travel.latimes.com/daily-deal-blog/?p=1663

Anonymous said...

While they're at it, they should change the name of Disneyland. It's not fair to the memory of Walt that he should be credited with things like ToonTown and Star Wars/Indiana Jones attractions. He should be able to rest in peace.

"To all who come to this crappy place: Welcome! Chaosland is OUR land. Here, age becomes confused about the past and youth can somehow learn to choke down the uncertainty and greed of the future."

Anonymous said...

this is all news to me. I heard that the reason for "Its a Small World" was being shut down was because in general, the population is now much heavier, and the boats were often getting stuck on the tracks and passengers had to be escorted out and split up into more than one boat to lighten the load.

Tom said...

To the Anonymous poster who quoted and replied to this:

>>What has Disney created that is CLASSIC in the last 10 years? I'll give you Reflections of Earth - that's it.<<

This is funny. Man, you might want to do a little bit of research before you say stuff like this.

For one, you obviously have not visited Tokyo DisneySea.

Just off the top of my head, I can list a few great modern classics: Expedition Everest ('06), Nemo Subs ('07), Soarin' ('01), Rock N Roller Coaster ('99), Kilimanjaro Safari ('98), Test Track ('98), Philharmagic ('03)...take your pick.


Any attraction 10 years and newer shouldn't be considered a "CLASSIC".
Even the term "classic car" has a 30 year date for chripes sakes!

Ghosthost2 said...

>>While they're at it, they should change the name of Disneyland. It's not fair to the memory of Walt that he should be credited with things like ToonTown and Star Wars/Indiana Jones attractions. He should be able to rest in peace. <<

I'll assume this post is sarcastic. Of all the post Haunted Mansion attractions, there is not one that Walt would like more than Indiana Jones Adventure.

Anonymous said...

Any comments on Dave Smith's letter found at LP and apparently in the LA Times?

What a brilliant idea to calm the waters by reminding fans about the Tiki Room Under New Management...

Pure rhetorical brilliance, I say.

Mr Banks said...

Dave Smith's letter is definitely bewildering. Sure, Walt changed things all the time. Nobody is debating that. But Walt also knew the difference between something that was different and something that was better. In virtually every case Walt's eye was on making something better.

This is not an instance of making something better. It's about tainting something exquisite with something blatantly commercial.

Merlin Jones said...

Dave's letter to the Times, though I'm sure it's in earnest, is not so different from the form letters that Disneyland sends out whenever anyone complains about a change - - those of the "Disneyland will never be completed" variety.

In fact, we already did a blog on this topic back in '06 that serves as a perfect rebuttal: "Disneyland is NOT a Museum!":

http://imagineerebirth.blogspot.com/2006/06/disneyland-is-not-museum.html

>>How many times have you heard it?

Walt Disney’s famous quote: "Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world."

…Or the oft-repeated WDI slogan: “Disneyland is not a museum.”

In any serious discussion of Disneyland’s preservation or restoration, it’s likely that one or both of these statements will crop-up as a conversation-stopper...<<

Much more (and pics) at link - - or just scroll down the blog to find it.

Let Disneyland Prevail! said...

Off the subject, but....
I'll assume this post is sarcastic. Of all the post Haunted Mansion attractions, there is not one that Walt would like more than Indiana Jones Adventure.

I don't know...Space Mountain did a pretty good job of incorporating a "theme" into a pretty basic rollercoaster that just happens to be concealed indoors!
And it's been going for how many years now?

I personally think current Disney is trying too hard Imagineering by sight(of pocketbook) versus Imagineering from the heart. Too many attractions are being refurbed for the sake of the "Disney Celebrity of the decade".

In fact, I felt that it was just a matter of a couple years more, that the Indiana Jones attraction might have been updated with something all together new. Mainly because the story is stale. The ride itself is cool, but the story is done. Maybe they would have kept the same track, but added a different storyline or Celebrity. Of course now that they are going to release another movie, its probably not going to happen for another 10 years or more.

In any case, leave Small World, so Americans have something left to reflect back upon. Keeping some of Disneyland original like a museum is not a bad thing! People will return like they always have been!

just my two cents worth!

Tuckenie said...

So I start this with word of the depressing rumor that Villains In Vogue at Hollywood Studios is likely to be totally out after it is refurbished. So sad that the one place you might be able to find villain stuff will soon be gone.

Anyhoo, I want to say that I appreciate the fact that the tone of this thread seems to have been more positive the last few days. I still don't like the fervor with which one side seems to be attacking the other, but things seem to be getting a little better.

I will say that THIS though:

">>What has Disney created that is CLASSIC in the last 10 years? I'll give you Reflections of Earth - that's it.<<

>>>This is funny. Man, you might want to do a little bit of research before you say stuff like this.<<<

>>>Any attraction 10 years and newer shouldn't be considered a "CLASSIC". Even the term "classic car" has a 30 year date for chripes sakes!<<<

That was just a completely pointless side conversation, which I think Tom inadvertently points out with his final response. If it can't be a classic within the last ten years doesn't that answer the original question and not the response? But I digress...
(By the way, Soarin' is still the answer. Some rides are BORN classic IMHO.)

As to the museum topic I still believe that it's an argument that can be worked around rather then constantly brought up. (Although when the opposing side brings it up they are basically conceding that they are tarnishing something that would otherwise be priceless and worthy of preservation. I guess you can concede you're being a jerk when you think you'll win anyway.)

I STILL think it's best to not seem like you're pitching a fit because they're changing your favorite ride. No offense, but some posters here have seemed like that. If you want to win over the people who are indifferent or neutral or even excited over the changes you have to do better then that. Otherwise you're just going to be preaching to the same choir and adding this refurb to your long list of complaints in a couple of years.

This is not an argument you win talking about pirates (too successful still) or the Tiki room (they don't care) or any of the other changes you dislike. Learn to FOCUS on IASM and talk about THAT ride alone. They know what has succeeded and what hasn't. Tell them why THIS ONE won't succeed. Tell US why it won't succeed. And PLEASE try to stay positive. It's really your best chance to succeed.

Anonymous said...

If it weren't for museums, most of the world's treasures would be in private collections never to be enjoyed by other interested parties. So, why couldn't Anaheim D.L. be preserved as such?

I do not really see the big uproar. Most of the attractions within that park are foundation rides for other parks, and turned amusement in "theme". If any one Disney park deserved to be preserved, it is surley the one park Walt actually stepped foot in and created with his own hands!

In fact, I'd probably spend more time and money at the park knowing that people actually care about Disneyland image moreso than the American Dollar(which will continue to roll in, regardless).

You wanna make money Disney? Just for starters, try putting out some decent movies again(exception POTC)!
Preserve what made Disneyland, DISNEYLAND! Walt worked side by side with Crump and Blair on Small World, and the completed ride approved by Walt himself did not include ANY Famous Characters.

To the brainiacs behind this, i say this:
"Imagineers, just walk away from the drawing board and put down that Skilsaw for pete's sake! Somebody can get hurt!"

Brian said...

So....where is Roy Disney in all of this?

Gavin Elster said...

Mr Banks. You are correct. It is a non-argument. I stand corrected.

drew said...

>>So....where is Roy Disney in all of this?<<
I think the better question may be, "Where is Rolly Crump?"

Tom again said...

>>>Any attraction 10 years and newer shouldn't be considered a "CLASSIC". Even the term "classic car" has a 30 year date for chripes sakes!<<<

That was just a completely pointless side conversation, which I think Tom inadvertently points out with his final response. If it can't be a classic within the last ten years doesn't that answer the original question and not the response?

I beg to differ. For instance, the story of Tom Sawyer is not read by many people of today, but it still remains a "classic" story even though it never hit Oprahs bookclub list. Things are not born classic, but they are made classic(IMHO)..Agree to disagree. Peers, popularity, and most importantly TIME is the chemistry to make classic. Just like Brittney Spears maybe considered a classic pop music artist twenty years from now, but she's definately not a classic at this moment. Ponder that while you are parking your "classic" 1998 Honda Accord at work...

That's the reasoning for my car example. Nobody in 1956 coined the brand new 1957 Chevy Bel Air a classic. It was just a sharp looking car of that time. Not until the 70's did we hear that a 1957 Bel Air had inherited the term "classic car". Also true about the majority of the rides at Disneyland being classics, especially the ones that Walt himself oversaw completion(This includes POTC and H.M., as he oversaw the final plans and gave final approval to both attractions.).

But by just using addons(Props/Characters) in a way just enough to tweak the "classic attractions" is a plain waste of time and obviously a waste of much needed money. If they(marketing) had just created plush dolls for every country represented inside IASW through the China sweatshops they currently use to fill their retail orders with, I'm pretty sure they'd of had the same results they are currently looking for without having to hack the attraction. Especially with the plush retail shop exit.

Also as a sidenote, I'm tired of hearing the excuse used by Disney officials, especially Public Relations that "Disneyland will never be completed..."Spiel.
So Disney is trying to tell me that by adding knickknack characters and bric a bracs to the original attractions(aka plussing), means that there is still imagination left in the world? Come on, Disney...The majority of us do not fall for this type of trickery. You know deep down that this is NOT what Walt meant when he stated that. I'd seriously rather see the attractions completely removed, than to be butchered and hacked, just because some top brass imagineers have no insight!

There will never be another Walt Disney...Yes, we all know this to be true, but I think the bigger problem at hand, is the fact that nobody in power is trying to mimic him or his approach!

Finally Tom one last time... said...

Mr. Banks...It is 11pm here and after re-reading Tuckenies response to my classic car example, I may have misinterpreted his reply.

If he was not creating a debate about my classic car comparison post, please disregard and delete my current pending response. I'ts pretty late for me, and If Tuckenie was not debating me, I must appologize to the both of you. If he was debating, then by all means, post up! hehe

Its that there are two sides here to choose from, Pro plussing and pro preservation, and I've chosen the latter. Its also sometimes hard to tell who is rallying for what side?

Bottom line for me is that I want to share the same exact experiences that I had as a child at Disneyland, with my own children in the future. If Disneyland continues to make changes to the original attractions, the less we will have to share together. Its almost in the same reference that when you tell a joke to one person, and have them tell one person,and so on 50 times or so... when the 50th person comes back to you and repeats the joke back to you, it has usually been altered quite noticeably. Disney and bad jokes...Parallel?

I'm pretty passionate about Disneyland, just because to me, its the last place on earth that takes you away temporarily from the negative reality we all live in. 10 hours in the park, and I feel probably how a brain surgeon feels on his 2week Bahama vacation. Its my bit of escapism that I can afford, even if there is 20,000 other people in the park that day.

Thanks for keeping us out of the Disneydark! now I'm off to bed.....

Tuckenie said...

"If it weren't for museums, most of the world's treasures would be in private collections never to be enjoyed by other interested parties. So, why couldn't Anaheim D.L. be preserved as such?"

Ok. Alright. Obviously you all keep thinking that Disney has the same point of view and intentions as you. This is just going to keep coming up so I'll play devil's advocate a moment and play the Disney exec you're all trying to convince to reverse this decision:

Start of devil's advocate mode:
Simple. Museums don't make money. THEY DON'T MAKE MONEY. Theme parks! Now THEY make money! You can give me all this bluster about tradition and preserving Mary Blair's art and what Walt would've wanted but the truth is that Walt isn't here to ask, Mary Blair worked on the attraction at Hong Kong, and tradition alone isn't paying the bills. Do people go to Disneyland specifically to ride IASM? Do they really? Because I have surveys and data that say they don't care. It's the ride they go on for nostalgia purposes and because it's safe for kids. The problem is that kids are BORED on the ride so we need to make it more relevant by adding characters. Otherwise I don't see the point in having it when something else would attract more guests and make more money. This refurbishment is going to cost a lot and we have to justify the costs to shareholders and superiors and this is how we're going to do it. Sorry you don't like it but that's reality. You can tell me about the way Disneyland was in the sixties but all I hear is a snorefest compared to ride technology for today. Preserving the past costs more and rewards little, so why would I want to reverse changes likely to attract guests and already costing the company millions of dollars just to spend even more reverting it back to the original ride which will attract little but the guests who would ride it anyway? Answer me that.
End of Devil's Advocate mode.

Sorry to lay it out like that but this is how execs think and until it dawns on everyone that this is the attitude you face you simply will not win. Also you need to develop answers to the harder questions you don't want to think about because public shame alone will not win out. Hope this helps somewhat.

Spokker said...

"Do people go to Disneyland specifically to ride IASM? Do they really? Because I have surveys and data that say they don't care."

The ridership figures for Small World say otherwise. Thousands of people visit the attraction per day, rivaling other E-Tickets for riders.

This isn't a case of the Country Bears or Lincoln where literally nobody is walking through the turnstiles.

Despite the popularity of the attraction, entertainment has made the ride even more popular with the seasonal holiday makeover. The holiday makeover in itself doesn't even need characters to lure crowds.

When the ride reopens this winter you'll see long lines, not for these characters, but for the annual Christmas tradition of It's A Small World Holiday.

Tuckenie said...

Hey Tom, I wasn't really debating your classic car reference. I don't quite agree with the time span of ten years (I'd allow Soarin' the status after seven given how quickly people forget these days) but I'll concede the argument. What I was commenting on was really how your response refutes the original snarky comment that Imagineering hasn't created a classic ride in the last ten years. Your opinion would seem to be that we can't judge that yet because enough time hasn't passed, something I'd agree with for the most part. Sorry for any confusion.

As to my allegiances, you may consider me a pro-preservationist when it comes to the IASM issue. I started out fine with, if not enthusiastic with the changes. Partially that was due to the negativity of certain people on the internet toward certain Imagineers and partially it was due to me not really caring about the ride. After reading well written and logical arguments from bloggers such as John Frost and some others, I changed my mind and am now against the changes. The confusion comes in because this isn't really a passion project for me so I'm more like a fan rooting for this group to succeed from the sidelines. I've been involved in several different fan campaigns over the last 12 years, some that succeeded and some that didn't and I'm trying to use my experience to help with the cause. That's why I write posts like my Devil's advocate comment and my plea for less negativity. I also know several managers at WDW in multiple areas so I know what they respect and what they don't and believe me it often isn't the whiniest guest who get's what they want. So that's where I stand as of now, although I always reserve the right to change my opinion if needed. Hope that clears things up.

theatreman said...

Tuckenie & All -

I think IASM can be a pleasant little boat ride, picking out the cute familiar dolls from the rest, and perhaps it will come to that.

But in my mind it is an unfortunate misunderstanding of an attraction which was based on a deeply important idea of the need and quest for World Peace: the reduction of the exceptional to the mundane.

I have enormous respect for many things Disney has done and continues to do. See for example photos and descriptions of the wonderfully extravagant opening of the Tower of Terror in Paris.

But I am saddened with what was done to the "Tiki Room Under New Management," and the upcoming "Stitch Room" version in Tokyo."

Disney may see these changes as keeping up with the times, but I see them as an unfortunate appeal to the most vulgar and thoughtless attributes of their guests.

Disappointment in these aspects of Disney is motivated not by hate but by love of the Company: what it has been, and what it can still be when it takes the high road.

DisneyLies said...

We have received reports that protesters from Save “small world” have been unable to carry out their planned protest along the route of the Olympic Torch. Says the group’s hypothetical leader Blaire Childe, “This other group of protesters kept getting in our way. They had all these signs about Tibet, and we kept trying to tell them that it’s not the Tibet scene that’s in danger, but the rain forest scene. It’s like they weren’t even listening.”

The group will move on to their second protest project, the recording of a new song titled “We are the small world,” which will feature various stars from the world of music singing about how this beloved attraction should be preserved. To date, they have not signed up any singers although, according to rumor, Michael Jackson keeps leaving messages that are never returned.

Spokker said...

Yes, we get it already. We're all jerkoffs for caring about It's a Small World and there are more important things in the world to worry about, like the war in Iraq, Tibet, and writing painfully unfunny Onion-esque Disneyland-related news stories on your blog.

Brian said...

Maybe if people listened to and understood the message trying to be sent by Small World, there wouldn't be situations like there are in Iraq and Tibet. Isn't that what Walt was trying to do? Send a message of peace through the children of the world? And doesn't the ignorance of this message by WDI just mirror the rest of the world when it comes to undestanding each other?

Thanks Sklar, Baxter, et. al. It really is a Mall world - I wonder how long the bottom line will be all that matters?

And again, where is Roy Disney in all of this? John Lassiter (oh sorry - forgot this is a non-Pixar issue)?

Spokker said...

"And again, where is Roy Disney in all of this?"

I heard he was "paid off". He's got a nice gig now and got what he wanted in forcing Eisner out. Can't wait for the drama that happens a decade from now when he wants to force Iger out.

But yeah, I am concerned about Roy's absence. I hope what I heard wasn't true and that's he not that apathetic.

"John Lassiter (oh sorry - forgot this is a non-Pixar issue)?"

He's too busy dreaming up new ways of pushing his agenda onto the parks. 'Hmmm, how can I cram another Pixar property into a Disney park?'

Tuckenie said...

Spokker, I gotta say, you're a credit to your cause.

Andy Castro said...

Today's interview with Kim Irvine on KCRW 89.9 marked the second time Disney contradicted itself and is revealing itself to be liars regarding the changes coming to "it's a small world."

-- "No firm decision has yet been made."
-- Contradictions eight years in the making.

Anonymous said...

http://www.kcrw.com/etc/programs/de/de080415selling_architecture

Download the podcast and hear the interview with Kim.
It starts at the 16 minute point.

Tuckenie said...

"Today's interview with Kim Irvine on KCRW 89.9 marked the second time Disney contradicted itself and is revealing itself to be liars regarding the changes coming to "it's a small world."

You COULD say it's a contradiction and a lie. Or you could say that maybe they're listening to you and wavering on the decision...

But by all means, take the moment to sling more mud instead of pressing the point and trying to influence their decision more. I mean it's not like you want them to change their minds or anything. That'd just be silly...

Mr Banks said...

Yes, Andy, let's see if we can keep the discourse just a tad more respectful. Remember, many at Imagineering are doing the best job they can do under very challenging circumstances.

I'm not a saint here, either, and often have wanted to throttle a few necks myself. But it's time we all take a deep breath and allow the Imagineers, many working in a tricky, awkward and uncomfortable political atmosphere, to do the best job they can under the circumstances. We're not going to get their respect if we don't give them ours.

We're all allowed to strongly disagree with some of the decisions the company is making. But we should disagree without being disagreeable.

Carry on.

Anonymous said...

Right. While the issue is very hot at Imagineering, having an Imagineer actually state that no firm decision has been made (even though that was limited to the Rain Forrest issue) is a good sign.

As for the characters, while, as she states, they aren’t adding Mickey in a poncho, they ARE apparently adding Donald Duck in a poncho (from images seen on the internet). So the character issue is still apparently under development. But she also acknowledged that there would be NO “identifiable characters from current movies”. Or, in her words, “not at all”.

Of course, there’s no way of knowing if Irvine made her statements with the blessing of Marilyn Waters, the Imagineering censor, or if she may have “misspoke” without permission.

But given that Irvine is apparently directly involved with the project, this may provide some indication that the company may be rethinking the issue.

Spokker said...

Disney has always been a company where one hand doesn't know what the other is doing.

You see things like this at the park, like one day when I heard three different closing times from three different cast members, including a lead. The PR statements such as the ones Castro pointed out also contradict each other sometimes.

No wonder Disney employees read MiceAge just to find out what is happening at their own company.

Andy Castro said...

Rethinking the issue? Yes, they may be reconsidering the idea to remove the Rainforest.

I'd like to point out that Sklar's said in his open letter on April 4 that the rainforest rumors were "all not true."

Then on April 15, Irvine says that no firm decision had been made.

If they're re-thinking the issue, then it doesn't look favorable.

Anonymous said...

I listened to Kim Irvine on NPR and IMHO she gave a great interview regarding the changes and she worked with Mary on the WDW IASM. I trust her and believe that she will be very careful in her effort to execute this idea as good as can be expected. She said the rainforest thing is not decided yet either.

1983horizons1 said...

anonymous said...
"I trust her and believe that she will be very careful in her effort to execute this idea as good as can be expected."


I would also trust her working on the project over anyone else, but just because she'll do a better job on it, still doesn't mean it should be done. She's only doing it because Di$ney is telling her to do it. I'm sure that after working with Mary Blair she wouldn't just DECIDE to add characters own to keep the attraction "fresh".

Anonymouse said...

>>Yes, we get it already. We're all jerkoffs for caring about It's a Small World and there are more important things in the world to worry about, like the war in Iraq, Tibet, and writing painfully unfunny Onion-esque Disneyland-related news stories on your blog.<<

C'mon, lighten up. I'm what most people would call a "die-hard Disney fanatic" and even I got a laugh out of that post.

The reason being is that as passionate as I and others have been on the issue posting about it, making petitions, blogs, entire websites since this rumor broke out, sometimes something you just stop and actually think about what we're all fussing and complaining about.

I've come to the conclusion that at the end of the day, this is just going to be a minor addition to a theme park attraction, and it's still going to be the same "ISAW" we know and love for the most part.

I've decided to stop campaigning and complaining against it and do something better with my time, but I'm not suggesting that any of you stop fighting for what you think is wrong, it's just not ok when people get too passionate about such a small issue when there are bigger problems in the world.

I commend everyones efforts and hope you continue to fight these changes, but I'm done with this ISAW addition drama.

Spokker said...

"it's just not ok when people get too passionate about such a small issue when there are bigger problems in the world."

Today I'm concerned about Small World and also the record high oil reached today and the issues we are facing because of it.

I also advocate mass transit, namely passenger rail, as a way of life to lessen our dependence on foreign oil. I want to see the high speed rail line built from Los Angeles to San Francisco and will be voting for the bond that will fund the initial segment in November.

Are these issues "ok" to care about, anonymous, or is there something even more important going on that I should be worrying about?

I just want to make sure it's ok!

"I've come to the conclusion that at the end of the day, this is just going to be a minor addition to a theme park attraction"

When taken individually these changes are unfortunate, but they aren't that big of a deal.

The frustration comes when attraction after attraction is changed for the worse. It won't stop with Small World. It didn't stop with Pirates. Someday they'll think of some bad plan to revamp the Matterhorn. They might want to add Stitch to Space Mountain. How about Simba on the Jungle Cruise?

The point isn't just to harp on the Small World changes, but to let Disney know that these changes aren't okay in the future, and they haven't been okay in the past. This is short-term thinking.

I want to see the long-term plan for the park, not what they have up their sleeve to entice annual passholders passholders to renew their cheap passes next quarter. I want to see a long-range vision of what Disneyland will look like in five years. I want to see what they have up their sleeve to entice someone thousands of miles away to get up off his ass and make the 11 hour flight to Disneyland.

Unfortunately the company just doesn't think beyond next quarter's earnings. This is dangerous thinking for this silly little "kiddie" park we know and love.

Tuckenie said...

"Are these issues "ok" to care about, anonymous, or is there something even more important going on that I should be worrying about?"

Spokker, why don't you go ride IASW at WDW and remember the message of the ride before you keep slinging all these condescending messages out at people? I admire your passion on the subject, but right now you aren't exactly doing the ride any favors. Save the rainforest and other fan protest sites like this one would be really smart to show some interest in affairs outside of Disney to garner more public support. I already proposed a UNICEF fund-raising campaign on this thread but other ideas could work just as well at promoting the cause while doing real good at the same time. Instead of getting super defensive and taking offense it might behoove you to turn the criticism into a positive. Or you could just keep pushing away the people who agree with you but like a good joke as well. Your choice really.

Oh, and if you really want a comprehensive list of all the things that are more important than this I'd be happy to accommodate but I have too much to do during the day as it is. There's always going to be something more important in the world. Fight for what YOU care about and do it effectively instead of this whiny "why won't they do things the way I want them to?!" blarny I keep reading on here.

Spokker said...

"whiny "why won't they do things the way I want them to?!" blarny I keep reading on here."

I don't see whiny arguments on here. I mostly see sound well-reasoned objections to this change, which is more than I can say for Disney, Marty Sklar, and Dave Smith, neither of which can explain to us why this is a good change beyond, "Well Walt changed things..."

Anonymous said...

It's ironic that an innocent ride designed to promote happiness and harmony has become the subject of so much angst, divisiveness, and anxiety among it's strongest supporters. Maybe there needs to be a collective breath taken or a stiff drink. Pick one and move on.

theatreman said...

The Disney parks have been a major world cultural influence for more than half a century.

This is an achievement of which all Americans can be justifiably proud. Arts and entertainment are no less important that medicine, politics, law and military might.

It is therefore hard to "move on" and ignore or worse accept without comment or complaint an ill-advised dumbing-down of one more classic Disney accomplishment, when there still may be a chance to head it off.

To make the case pleasantly? Yes.... but passionately as well.

Artists, and those who appreciate art - and an excellently conceived and operated theme park is a work of art - may remember John Kennedy's remark carved in the marble of the Center in Washington which honors him:

"I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities, we, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battles or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit.

Disney at its best respects and nourishes the human spirit. That deserves passionate encouragement and support. That's what this is all about.

Anonymous said...

>>"Maybe there needs to be a collective breath taken or a stiff drink. Pick one and move on."<<


Given what they are doing to her ride, a "Bloody Mary" may be appropriate :-)

mawnck said...

The Hong Kong soft opening is online! "Enjoy."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jpmxJF0GrQ

Tongaroa said...

What I find most upsetting about all this is that fact that what we have here is a war among Disney geeks.

Nine times out of ten, Tony Baxter and Kim Irvine would be on the same side as most of the people complaining about these changes. These people did not create DCA or Disney Studios Paris or Tiki Room Under New Management or Journey into YOUR Imagination. In fact, they fought against some of the biggest mistakes WDI has made in the past 10 years. They keep commenting on the visual look of the thing because they are visual artists and they think visually. They love Small World, they love Disney, because it enchanted them VISUALLY when they were kids.

Some of us took the MEANING of Small World to heart more than they did, and we are reacting differently. But remember, we all love Small World and we all love Disney. We just disagree on this issue.

And although I would not call them “Disney Geeks,” Dave Smith and Marty Sklar do care more about Disney heritage than everyone working in the three Team Disney buildings put together.

The thing that gets me, is that all the MBAs and all the non-creative people in the creative divisions of the company are having a good laugh at this. We are giving them a good excuse to not promote Disney Geeks into positions of power.

Remember, these people (Sklar, Smith, Baxter, Irvine) are coming forward because they believe what they are doing is right and they care about the diehard fans and they just want to smooth everything over.

It’s the people you aren’t hearing from that don’t care about you or what you think (but they want your money).

Be nice. This is a civil war, so try to act more civil.

Anonymous said...

"Remember, these people (Sklar, Smith, Baxter, Irvine) are coming forward because they believe what they are doing is right and they care about the diehard fans and they just want to smooth everything over. "

While I agree that Baxter and Irvine care about the diehard fans, I don't really think that Sklar or Smith really do. And I believe that only Sklar and Smith would think that what’s being done is right.

Gil (Been on HKDL ISAW) said...

I recently went on the HKDL version of the ride, and if the new Disneyland version is going to be any similar, wow… these additions are not going to be bad or ruin the ride at all, it will definitely be an enhancement! The ride looked brighter and better than ever, lighting was great, there were bigger and better scenes. Disney characters were definitely present but some weren't even noticeable and it was fun to re-ride to see how many more characters we would discover along the way.

I have been on all the versions of “Small World,” and I can say that HKDL's version is by far the best. When I rode on DL's it was so disappointing, being the original it looked very worn out, scenes looked like they needed a paint job. You could really tell it was in desperate need of a refurbishment, I even saw cobwebs and dust, the queue was all rusty and dirty, it was horrible. You would think that the original would be the best but even the version at MK (which is considered to have worse versions of rides at DL) was better. I'm sure Disney purists would LOVE for ISAW to stay it's same old deteriorating self, but thank god that management does not pay attention to the crazy fans and it isn't.

I think you all are being ridiculous; this is a much needed enhancement and refurbishment to the classic, not the end of the world/hell on earth like all of you are making it seem. I can’t believe that you all think a few minor characters added is a big deal, this ride is in dire need of a refurbishment and any addition should be welcome, especially if they are adding the same great lighting effects and characters from HK.

I think you all need to stop this complaining because it really isn't a big deal. Go complain about something else, like the decrease in quality at WDW and how they seem to be trying to drain every penny out of our wallets while on vacation with all these ridiculous costs and fees - not this.

I can't wait till the Disneyland version opens, when everyone will realize how stupid everyone was being complaining about the proposed additions, shut up, and realize that the ride looks better than ever. Everyone is going to like it just like what happened with Pirate's of the Caribbean, and the fanatics are simply going to have to accept that one again.

mr wiggins said...

> The thing that gets me, is that all the MBAs and all the non-creative people in the creative divisions of the company are having a good laugh at this. We are giving them a good excuse to not promote Disney Geeks into positions of power. <

Not meaning to nitpick here, but in point of historical fact, in-house "Disney Geeks" were being laughed at by WDC management and were off the promote-to-management list as early as 1986.

Your call for civility is well taken. But it would be a mistake to believe that anything we say or do not say, in house or in public, is going to sway two decades of Disney management's entrenched elitism and cynicism regarding its own heritage.

1983horizons1 said...

gil wrote,
"When I rode on DL's it was so disappointing, being the original it looked very worn out, scenes looked like they needed a paint job. You could really tell it was in desperate need of a refurbishment, I even saw cobwebs and dust, the queue was all rusty and dirty, it was horrible."

Adding characters does not fix these problems. Fixing these problems fixes these problems. That's what a good, healthy maintenance refurbishment is for.

"Disney characters were definitely present but some weren't even noticeable and it was fun to re-ride to see how many more characters we would discover along the way."

This saddens me. The characters are not noticeable, yet they are still the star of the attraction.

drew said...

>> Disney characters were definitely present but some weren't even noticeable and it was fun to re-ride to see how many more characters we would discover along the way.<<
Thank you for proving the point. The attraction has changed to a game of "Where's Waldo?" by your own admission. How new the attraction looked has absolutely no bearing on the fact that you were still playing a game the attraction was not designed to play.

theatreman said...

Gil (Been on HKDL ISAW) seems to miss or misunderstand the basic point of the argument here.

We can all agree on the elimination of rust, dust, dirt, cobwebs and peeling paint, as well as the addition of new and improved lighting and effects.

At issus is changing the theme and focus of the ride from a representation of a world of equals at peace, to a "Look past the nameless dolls and pick out your favoritie Disney Character" atraction.

Gil, himself, notes that:

"it was fun to re-ride to see how many more characters we would discover along the way."

The reason for a representation of people from many countries as nameless innocent dolls is important as an argument for ideal world harmony.

If the ride becomes a quest to see Disney creations, it changes from a small world of equality to a Celebrity World with a bunch of background bystanders.

Some HDL photos already show spotlights on the Disney characters. One can almost envision red velvet ropes holding back the nonentities.

A real improvement might involve scores of the ethnic dolls moving out of their native dances and nation-groups to co-mingle in some kind of warm-hearted and dynamic interaction.

Imagine a finale in which dolls of every nationality are joined in lines and dances, and a parade of nations. This is what the original ride was about. Not about "Where in the world is Waldo, or Can you find Donald Duck?"

Developing ways to enhance the theme rather than back away from it is challenging. But hasn't Disney always met worthy challenges with great Imagineering?

I think if Gil really undersood fully what is at stake - having himself seen ALL the small worlds -he might be in the vanguard of those arguing to respect and intensify the orignal theme, rather than reducing it to a (c)Disney parade populated with costumed extras.

theatreman said...

Hmmmmm.

Drew & I came up with the "Waldo" game reference independently and simultaneoursly: his comment was not yet monitored and posted when I wrote.

This, to me, argues that we are on the right track here.

One can imagine check-lists handed out as you board the boats, with ©DISNEY CHARACTER names and little checkmark boxes to fill in as you see the stars. The ride becomes not only a search, but a fun family competition.

Fine idea for a "FIND THE HIDDEN MICKEYS AND HIS FRIENDS" ride, but diametrically contradictory to the original intent and design of IASM, as well as rude to all the namesless nationals who are literally overlooked, and pressed into service as celebrity camouflage to enhance the game.

May wiser heads at Imagineers prevail.

Anonymous said...

Wise heads usually "roll" or resign.

Disney mom said...

I'm what most would consider part of the general public. I'm not a Disney fanatic, I don't read up on all the Disney news and post on the fan forums. I do however love visiting Disney parks to have fun with my family, not to criticize. Especially about something so miniscule as adding a few Disney characters to Its A Small World. I live with a Disney fan in my household and watch the fan community closely thanks to him, and some of the things I see just amaze me sometimes! I know that adding characters to It's A Small World will definitely not stop me from visiting Disneyland, probably the same case with most other regular guests.

Tuckenie said...

"One can imagine check-lists handed out as you board the boats, with ©DISNEY CHARACTER names and little checkmark boxes to fill in as you see the stars. The ride becomes not only a search, but a fun family competition."

Careful. If it's true that Disney reads these boards (and I have no doubt they do at some level) then you're going to feel really sad/angry if they wind up getting the idea from you.

As to the "Where's Waldo" effect my girlfriend brought up a good point, which was that this is hardly the first time subtle references have been snuck into the ride. At WDW there's a puppet with a sign making reference to the fact he can't stand the song.

Disney attractions have a long history of inside jokes and "hidden mickeys" if you will. It's part of the charm of such classics. I don't agree with the character additions for thematic and aesthetic reasons but a few subtle characters turn into more of a sad annoyance then seeing Stitch surfing across the water. That's just disgusting.

Searching the ride for hidden details may detract from the theme but I also find that it helps me enjoy rides I already know by heart. An example would be on the Haunted Mansion, one of my favorites and one I always enjoy discovering a new detail while riding.

On the other hand, simply adding a few subtle characters who are hard to find seems rather pointless...

socalkdg said...

The reason for a representation of people from many countries as nameless innocent dolls is important as an argument for ideal world harmony.

Isn't showing fantasy characters from all over the world promoting world unity? Showing that all children in the world believe in fantasy and sharing that love with other children is a great way to bring the world together. Finding common interests between different people makes relating with each other much easier.
.

I know that my 6 year old daughter gains new respect for the countries at Epcot when she can see various fantasy characters that are specific to that country. It provides a starting point for discussing that country when she sees Alice in England or Mulan in China. The same thing will work for its a small world.

drew said...

>>Disney attractions have a long history of inside jokes and "hidden mickeys" if you will. It's part of the charm of such classics. I don't agree with the character additions for thematic and aesthetic reasons but a few subtle characters turn into more of a sad annoyance then seeing Stitch surfing across the water. That's just disgusting.<<
The big difference I see is that Hidden Mickey's are unofficial and kept "secret". The parks may carry Barrett's book, but he is the sole keeper of that list. The costs associated with these characters is quite a bit more than smaller gags and that cost is going to have be justified by the sharp pencil boys.

>>I know that my 6 year old daughter gains new respect for the countries at Epcot when she can see various fantasy characters that are specific to that country. It provides a starting point for discussing that country when she sees Alice in England or Mulan in China. The same thing will work for its a small world.<<
The idea of "it's a small world" is not the same as the one for World Showcase. At the World Showcase guests are supposed to become involved in the individual attributes of each country. "it's a small world" is not about what makes each country unique, but instead what makes them all the same. It is individualism versus collectivism.

Digital Jedi said...

Tuckenie, I got as far as your second or third post, and I'm afraid I have to address you on this. First, I re-read drew's comments to your previous post, and I'm still scratching my head as to your response. I didn't read a single thing that sounded like an attack. Quoting your comments doesn't equate to an attack, and neither does disagreeing with them.

Secondly, I’m somewhat appalled by the insinuation that the commentators on this blog are so doltish, that the sum total of our responses are akin to cave paintings in a dirty hole. Not everyone has the writing expertise of John Frost. That doesn’t make their feelings on the matter any less valid or, more importantly, any less effective. We do not deserve your reprimands on this.

I’ll admit, that there have been a few insults and names thrown around. But for every “idiotic” and “stupid” I’ve heard, there’s been at least five reasonable, well thought out arguments, from varying degrees of literary standards. Even a simple, “it’s just wrong” garners that praise. Drew said nothing that could be construed as an attack, and I think you we’re rather quick to go on the defensive.

As far as Disney Imagineers and suits go, specifically the ones who refer to us privately with self designed epithets like “foamers”, “Walties”, and even the disdainfully implied “purist”, will receive only strong words from me. Their lack of respect and understanding for this thing called Disney, and their even deeper lack of respect for the people who cherish Walt’s legacy, and yet, still frequent their gates, is too deeply profound for me to be stroking their egos. No results will come of that. That doesn’t mean I will call them idiotic, but I reserve the right to strongly state how foolhardy a decision is.

And we’ve repeatedly done so. We already have explained WHY this idea is bad thematically and reasonably. We already have explained WHY the rainforest shouldn’t be tampered with. We’ve already shared our memories of the attraction and what our favorite parts are, as other have said, ad nauseum. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with doing so again. But you suggesting that we haven’t done so, and to the contrary are just a bunch of whinny babies, is unjustified and harsh. Not to mention, a little judgmental for someone who’s trying to see things our way.

It’s great if you understand where we’re coming from. If you even come to feel as deeply about it as we do, then that’s spectacular. But I, for one, did not appreciate the implication that strong sentiment, and strong words equate to undisciplined attacks and emotion. “YOU WILL NOT WIN WITH YOUR CURRENT APPROACH” (all caps, which, I might add, is the internet equivalent of yelling), is only true if we were looking for compromise here. We’re not. Not really. It’s not even about winning. This is one bad decision out of a hundred or more. It’s the proverbial straw at this point. Maybe in the beginning we could have afforded to be gentler, but we’re way past that now. Now we’re feeling the pressure. With every bad decision that Disney execs make, that pressure builds up. And at some point, the pressure’s got to give. If we don’t say “stop now!” when the pressures on, and we’re ignored, then we’d only have ourselves to blame.

Tuckenie said...

Hey Digital Jedi,

Honestly, I apologize if I hurt your feelings or drew's but I have to stand by my original post. The discourse was getting too negative and I was ticked off that someone would rip a post from someone announcing they were starting to agree with him. I also feel that I received positive feedback from several other comments and that the discourse has been much better since I posted that comment. Even Mr Banks has asked for better discourse on here, although he did it in a better written post then mine.

I understand that for you, this has been a "last straw" and you're sick of Disney changing rides in what you feel is an unacceptable way. Please understand that many of us on here are more on a case-by-case basis and that not all of the rides and changes you dislike so much are hated by all. (Except for the Tiki-room and Stitch. Nobody likes those.) In my case, I care about Small World. I'm commenting on Small World alone and want this movement to succeed in preserving the artistic work of those who have come before us on that ride. This isn't something that's been boiling over for me and I've never been called names by imagineers. The first I heard of some of those I heard from you.

"It’s not even about winning."

Wonderful. Then what is it about? What's even the point of all this if not success? Not exactly the message I would seek to convey...

Digital Jedi said...

Tuckenie said:
>>>Hey Digital Jedi,

Honestly, I apologize if I hurt your feelings or drew's but I have to stand by my original post. The discourse was getting too negative and I was ticked off that someone would rip a post from someone announcing they were starting to agree with him. I also feel that I received positive feedback from several other comments and that the discourse has been much better since I posted that comment. Even Mr Banks has asked for better discourse on here, although he did it in a better written post then mine.
<<<

Well, that's just the thing. You weren't ripped, you were quoted. A few points were made to you, and nothing more. You attributed hostility to the post, but go back and read it in a different tone, and you might see things differently. Frustration was there, perhaps, but not directed at you.

>>>I understand that for you, this has been a "last straw" and you're sick of Disney changing rides in what you feel is an unacceptable way. Please understand that many of us on here are more on a case-by-case basis and that not all of the rides and changes you dislike so much are hated by all. (Except for the Tiki-room and Stitch. Nobody likes those.) In my case, I care about Small World. I'm commenting on Small World alone and want this movement to succeed in preserving the artistic work of those who have come before us on that ride. This isn't something that's been boiling over for me and I've never been called names by imagineers. The first I heard of some of those I heard from you. <<<

But you see, this is about many, if not all, of the recent changes. This particular change didn’t just appear out of “blue sky”, as it were. There’s a mentality at Disney that led up to this, and that’s what truly needs to be addressed. It may be that this is the first time you took notice, because this is a particular attraction that matters to you. But the mentality has been there all along: the disdain management has for anyone who quotes or expresses admiration for Walt Disney, the in-house references to them as “foamers”, the obsession with driving Disney as a corporate monolith when that’s not what made Disney a success or made the name for it that it has. I consider Test Track a fantastic ride. I disagree, however, with the mentality that put it there.

>>>"It’s not even about winning."

Wonderful. Then what is it about? What's even the point of all this if not success? Not exactly the message I would seek to convey...
<<<

Because “winning” implies we’re trying to beat them at something, or that we’re just trying to get our way. A sure fire way to be ignored, is to give the impression that this is all about victory. That’s not what this is about. This is about pointing Disney’s foibles out to them, and others. This is about holding their current philosophies up to the light, and showing them that this is not how to keep the Disney brand and legacy successful, however well it may work out for them in the short term. This is about making the mentality change. Strong, though not foul, language is needed to do so. And if I’m ignored because I’m passionate, then I also need to point out how foolish it is from a business standpoint to ignore principles that made me, and thousands of others, passionate in the first place. As I’ve said on this blog many times, we need to attack the disease, not the symptoms of it.

slickkat said...

Although this attraction is not my favorite on my list... because of the song that gets stuck in your head over & over & over ;)

But I truly appreciate all it stands for and the ORIGNAL art and content.

I am a huge Disney fan, but to ruin this CLASSIC attraction with 'updated' images to include other Disney characters is wrong.

One thing that stands out in my mind about this ride is the fact that when 5 year old (my now 23 year old) son got his first pack of multicultural crayons from Crayola, he said to me, "Mom these crayons are like all the kids in It's a Small World!"

How can adding a Princess or a creepy character such as Stitch, ADD to his timeless classic?

Anonymous said...

Hopefully, we're not about to have this poor idea at Disneyland Paris !
Sometimes it's a good thing not having money !

QgirlKelly said...

I think that "It's a small world" is great how it is! Not changed into some new cartoon! If you want to do this big upgrade make a different one! I know when I was little, my favorite ride at disneyland was "It's a Small World" My dad liked it when he was little too. Thats like taking the mona lisa and painting some fake nails and shiney earrings on top of the painting to make it "better" But really would it be better? No! Of course not! "It's a Small World" Is a classic! You don't just going changeing Classics! So I think just leave it ALONE!!!!

Anonymous said...

(Except for the Tiki-room and Stitch. Nobody likes those.)

That's not true, Tuckeninie. There are a lot of us out there who do like the Tiki Room Under New Management and Stitch's Great Escape.

Don't overgeneralize!

How can adding a Princess or a creepy character such as Stitch, ADD to his timeless classic?

Well, Slickkat, the characters themselves are timeless too, you know. Just as timeless as the attractions.