Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Bobby! Cindy!


Four months in, and still no entries? Why?

Well, the reason is simple and two-fold.
Firstly this blog has lost momentum. When Re-Imagineering started, WDI couldn't have been in worse shape; badly managed, demoralized and bereft of creative and financial capital. Contributors had an easy time of rallying together and belting out a collective battle cry. We had stood in the shadows and witnessed the deterioration of our stateside parks for far too long.

But even though its petty politics as usual at 1401 Flower, there is an undeniable seachange underway there. How can you not celebrate the resuscitation of the Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland, of Disneyland's Lincoln and Disney World's Hall Presidents, the demise, imminent and otherwise, of giant Mickey wands in Future World and Hats in Hollywood? And the list continues: Worlds of Color, America's River teeming with life, Cars Lands, Ariel E-tickets, Red Cars and the Roaring Twenties. WDI has never been busier.

And so, perhaps, Re-Imagineering has become a little less 'relevant', an ironic admission in that WDI has been championing and misusing the term for decades.

As for the other reason Re-Imagineering has been so dead of late, quite simply we've just been busy with other things. It's a challenge keeping up a blog when life gets in the way. We'll try to do better in the near future.

Finally, I'd like to open up this blog to other contributors. More than a few reader comments have been excellently written, incredibly entertaining and completely in tune with the tone of this blog, so if any of you have an entry in mind send it on and we'll pretty it up and put it front page.

For the rest of the readers, don't worry, we're not finished here. Several more articles are in gestation and will go up eventually. (Tomorrowland is still a catastrophe!) In the meantime, I hope that the articles already posted are still of value.

Stay tuned.

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear that you all haven't abandoned me!

Tom Slick said...

Marsha, Marsha Marsha!!!
It was always about Marsha, right?

Well, I have a slight problem with the DCA park, that some may think is a blessing just because they are doing "something"(another change for change's sake) with it.

Its called the "Wonderful World of Color" Watershow. Now, I'm not knocking the show itself, and I'm sure it will be amazing the first 2 times you get to see it.

I guess I don't think the park needs another show in DCA, based on the lack of attractions it currently holds. With all of that water area, would have made a much better and larger Grizzly Rapids ride, if it were to remain a water themed area under extreme change. Then WWoC could have been placed in the much smaller Grizzly Rapids location.

I just can't see more money pumped into something that may only run 2 shows a night, until it gets old, like Fantasmic.

The size of the DCA water area is immensley big enough to have housed more rides/attractions, but I fear that the Imagineering Dept. have ran out of gas and ideas. Probably worse, DisneyCorp probably zipped the pockets, where they hide all the spending money as to not affect their yearly bonuses.

How cool would it have been to see WDW Epcot "Test Track" put in the place of the lake, or something similar, say maybe in the theme of Cars, using the similar technology?

Bottom line, yeah, it may be nice to see something done with that grossly wasteful lake in the middle of the park that did absolutely nothing for years. But I think that the vision is short termed, and absolutely a waste. I don't expect to see people handing over $70+, so they can see a Disney themed Bellagio(Las Vegas) water/light show, as I can count on one hand the ride attractions(not shows), that are remarkable and or unique to DCA.

Remember kids, Bellagio's show is free, and they serve 99 cent Shrimp Cocktails right down the street.....

Anonymous said...

I do see your point and water shows can only do so much and eventually become a cliche in themselves. (Chernabog rising does sound like another Fantasmic!) But the one thing that DCA needs most is some magic and emotion. I bet Steve Davidson knows how to get pixie dust to come out of a nozzle and get the guests going home with some of that magic in place of money in their pockets.

Spokker said...

There has definitely been an improvement over the Pressler/Harris years on maintenance and upkeep. Also, Disney seems willing to pump big bucks into projects (see DCA 2.0).

However, the risk taking of yesteryear is still not there. If Disney is going to spend a billion bucks on a makeover, it's going to be Cars and The Little Mermaid. Anything "un-characterized" is going to be but a small investment, such as DCA's upcoming Red Cars A-Ticket (which is actually my favorite part of the new makeover, considering my interest in Los Angeles public transit both past and present).

While DCA 1.0 will be remembered as a punchline to a joke on The Simpsons, DCA 2.0 is going to be a proper Disney theme park, if a bit disjointed.

I'm just wondering when they are going to wow us again with something not based on a Pixar or existing Disney property.

As you said, real life gets in the way. I'm starting a new job soon and it's just not a good idea to think about Disneyland too much. After all, they aren't thinking about us anymore.

Gotta save up for my second trip to TDR ;)

Spokker said...

To be fair, Tom, I think World of Color (they've since dropped the "Wonderful" off the title) will be a bit more impressive than the Bellagio Show. If the images created in midair with water look half as good as the concept art, it's going to be quite a show.

So I'll enjoy it on my obligatory visit to see how much the park improved. I just won't request tomato with my hamburger.

Anonymous said...

Tom,

DCA is going to have a Cars-themed ride that's similar to Test Track, called the Radio Springs Racers, currently seeing the very beginning of land prep in the parking lot east of Paradise Pier.

And there hasn't been a 99 cent shrimp cocktail served anywhere on the strip in quite a few years. Heck, they are even hard to find downtown.

Anonymous said...

i'm so glad you're back :)

MarkTwain said...

This isn't the first "dry spell" on this website, and I'm not complaining. If there are starting to be long gaps in between times where Disney needs to be criticized, then that's probably a pretty good sign.

...Also, I hope that the hat at DHS does in fact come down soon, as so many have rumored. The wait is killing me!

MarkTwain said...

I speculate another reason that there hasn't been any new posts in a while, is that there hasn't been much announced as of late. Disney has pretty much put all of their plans for Disneyland/DCA and Hong Kong on the table, and anyone could tell you that there's nothing going on in WDW. There really isn't much to debate over until some more rumors come to fruition. Nothing to do now but watch construction progress...

Tom Slick said...

I guess I would be more optimistic if the lake were utilized similar to the Rivers of America. I mean the R.o.A. wasn't built for Fantasmic, or any shows at that time. And actually, Rivers of America still provides entertaining/relaxing trips around the Island via the Mark Twain and Sailing ship Columbia, not to mention you can canoe around the river, should you choose.

But I have low expectancies when I know I'll still see a motionless, lifeless mass of h2o just how its been for the past 9 years or so.(Ok, so it wasn't motionless when the wave machine worked)(INSERT OOOHS AND AHHS HERE)< sarcastically speaking.

The idea of World of Color just seems so copycat to Fantasmic, that it leads me to believe that the creative juices from WDI have all but dried up. Hell, Expedition Everest is almost a carbon copied story of the Matterhorn, with the exception that it was built on, and injected with steriods.

But back to World of Color in DCA, and the changes going on in the park. I myself, am also looking foward to the overall aesthetic changes to DCA. I'm a sucker for mid century design, and am intrigued to see how it will all turn out.

Anything "should" be better than how the property currently sits, but that still doesn't fix the problem of an activeless lake by day. There are more hours in a day, than at night, especially at DCA...

Spokker said...

The Rivers of America is a more organic setting than is the Paradise Bay or whatever the hell they are calling it now. The DCA lake feels very artificial and nothing like a real beach front or whatever they were going for with that Santa Monica Pier parody.

I liken the Rivers of America to the Cape Cod area of the American Waterfront in Tokyo DisneySea. It feels like a real place despite its purpose as a theme park "land."

Unfortunately that is one of the things the DCA makeover cannot fix. The park's basic infrastructure was just poorly designed. I don't envy the DCA 2.0 designers at all. They have a hell of a mess to fix.

Spokker said...

The Grizzly River Run area is actually a pretty organic land. They just forgot to add the animatronic animals, which would have given it a Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland vibe.

I personally would have built a beefed up mine train ride in the spirit of the old Disneyland and Knott's mine rides. LED rainbow caverns!

J said...

I rarely have cause to mention Disney on the site where I contribute, but the recent news concerning Disney and Marvel led me to write a post (linked) that is semi-related to reimagineering. Also, I'm so glad you've come back from your "hiatus"! Here's hoping your future posts are only good news.

Anonymous said...

Luckily there's still plenty of room in the GRR building to house an additional attraction (or two if they can play things as smartly as they did Buzz).

In all honesty it feels as if WDI built that area and left a LOT of empty space lying around on purpose. I wouldn't be surprised if the next announcement for DCA (after all of this 2.0 business is done) includes an expansion of the Golden State/Condor Flats area. That land has Baxter's name all over it because of the themeing...

deltron72 said...

Get ready for adventures in spiderland or great moments with the x-men

Brian said...

Thanks for promises of things to come...yes, let's not forget Tomorrowland. How about something on the Mark VII...what the heck happened with them?

The quality of the contributions to this blog are first rate - it's better to have quality than it is to have quantity.

Anonymous said...

I think it's time for Tony Baxter to write a mea culpa on the New Tomorrowland screw up he foisted on us.

Mark Daymont said...

Normally I might agree with those who are worried about whether a watershow at DCA will manage to keep people's interests... but I fortunately was able to visit Waltzing Waters many years ago in Florida, and they managed to keep guests entertained for repeated visits with far less of a budget and creative crew. I'm definitely looking forward to the new show.

And I'm definitely glad to hear that "Re-Imagineering" will continue!

Ian said...

I'm sorry, I can't find this information; where should articles be submitted?

/bsdb said...

I think it's time for Tony Baxter to write a mea culpa on the New Tomorrowland screw up he foisted on us.

Before dragging Tony into this, ask Timur Galen for that mea culpa on both New TL98 and the original DCA, since he was the person in charge of the pursestrings.

Even though I'm also disappointed with Tony's descent into mediocrity since Indy, I'm knowledgeable enough to realize that measly budgets have been the driving force behind that mediocrity since DLP opened in '92.

The first generation Imagineering Legends were able to create fantastic worlds on shoestring budgets. Baxter has never mastered that skill. But for those accountaneers with the stomach to risk high level investments in the parks, Tony has been the best creative visionary for the job. But without that "money to burn" project budget, Baxter's end result has been and always will be less than spectacular, as evidenced by New TL98 and DL's Pooh.

The rumored budget for refurbishing the Sleeping Beauty castle walkthrough was supposedly $20 million. I have no idea if this final figure is factual, but given the solid quality of the new walkthrough, with Baxter as DL's creative exec, I wouldn't be surprised if the total cost was actually more.

Tony can do amazing work if you let him spend like a drunken sailor. In the era of tight arse Rasulo and his fiscal flying monkeys, that's a bad combination.

Either give control of P&R to someone with the risk-taking gene while keeping Baxter at the helm of DL Creative, or keep Rasulo and 'nudge' Tony into retirement a la Sklar and Chao, bringing him back as a glorified consultant to guide the fledgling Imagineers. But the continuation of Baxter and Rasulo is not good for DL's future.

Personally, I'd like to see someone else in charge of P&R who actually enjoys spending time in the parks, as Lasseter and Baxter do. But with Disney's Engulf & Devour™ activities through the creative corporate landscape, I don't hold much hope for a new regime in Burbank and Glendale.

Disney as the Borg will surely rob the parks of the capital desperately needed to stop the mediocrity slide.

Anonymous said...

Okay /bsdb, what you are saying in a way is that Tony is really creative if he can keep throwing money at something.
I'm sorry, but that sounds more like a spoiled baby when he doesn't get his way.
The concept of the Tomorrowland was all Tony (and Bruce Gordon) regardless of budget.
There have been many projects done very creatively on budgets that don't break the bank.
And $20 for a redo of the Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough? Then I am wondering what is going on? It's a nice attraction, but $20 million? No wonder the stock doesn't go up.
I mean yes, it looks great! But still it is a redo of an old attraction, and it cost more than the original park did!
Maybe something could have been done a little cheaper and some of that money put towards another new attraction.

/bsdb said...

I mean yes, it looks great! But still it is a redo of an old attraction, and it cost more than the original park did!

Not sure what the cost to rehab the castle vs the original cost of DL has to do with anything. Houses in my neighborhood which sold for $20K in 1955 now sell for $2 million, give or take. Perhaps $20 mil is a bit steep. But with Iger earning over $30 mil last year, it's a tough call.

If you wish to paint Baxter as a 'spoiled baby,' you'll get no argument from me. But to deny his talents is foolhardy at best. Several heavy hitters for the company including Lasseter and Docter are totally smitten with his creativity. They would love to see Tony spread more of his magic all over DL, even if it meant Rasulo's brain imploding over the budget swells.

There is a balance between the Baxter project wet dream and the Galen 'brown paint is so much cheaper!' fiscal stinginess. That's the hard part, finding the balancing point. The only certainty is, how much simpler the task would be without Jay's fiscal flying monkeys.

Rasulo vs Baxter is kind of like Voldemort and Potter: "Neither can live while the other survives."

I'll leave it to your discretion over which one's which.

Anonymous said...

"But without that "money to burn" project budget, Baxters end result has been and always will be less than spectacular, as evidenced by New TL98"

Little $$ or a budget = lack of interest with Baxter. I saw Pressler more than Baxter during the TL98 build.

And that was once. And I was there for 4 months prior to opening.

Spend less time building your legacy. Focus on the customer Tony.

Dave said...

I have a question, and perhaps this is naive, but can anyone tell me what exactly is the new theme of DCA 2.0?

Disney's Miscellaneous Adventure?

Spokker said...

Disney's Dumping Ground

2.0 and beyond said...

”Firstly this blog has lost momentum. When Re-Imagineering started, WDI couldn't have been in worse shape; badly managed, demoralized and bereft of creative and financial capital. Contributors had an easy time of rallying together and belting out a collective battle cry. We had stood in the shadows and witnessed the deterioration of our stateside parks for far too long.

But even though its petty politics as usual at 1401 Flower, there is an undeniable seachange underway there. How can you not celebrate the resuscitation of the Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland, of Disneyland's Lincoln and Disney World's Hall Presidents, the demise, imminent and otherwise, of giant Mickey wands in Future World and Hats in Hollywood? And the list continues: Worlds of Color, America's River teeming with life, Cars Lands, Ariel E-tickets, Red Cars and the Roaring Twenties. WDI has never been busier.”



While there has been change at Imagineering, MOST of it is still under the auspices of the former anointed who had produced many of the problems that initiated this blog in the first place.

Yes, there is finally some movement at Imagineering. HOWEVER, as you mentioned, the petty politics are still in control. While there have been some gems being produced (DL’s Castle Walkthru, Hall of Presidents, DL’s Lincoln), the big power is still being directed elsewhere. Even Lasseter, being that he totally avoids the politics, just aligned himself with the existing remnants of the former faulty management.

Lasseter’s HAS had a benefit for Imagineering in his insistence that creativity should trump finance (spend money to make money). But, even there his efforts seem to be primarily focused on his Pixar products. Other equally viable projects apparently aren’t able to get his support, even small ones with tight budgets.

Probably the biggest problem still holding back Imagineering creativity is Jay Rasulo. He is still manipulating the goings on there, influencing areas in which he should have no say. He’s administrative management that manipulates creativity for political reasons.

And just being busy doesn’t mean things are going well.

Mr Banks said...

2.0: Brilliantly said and quite true as well.

/bsdb said...

Lasseter’s HAS had a benefit for Imagineering in his insistence that creativity should trump finance (spend money to make money). But, even there his efforts seem to be primarily focused on his Pixar products. Other equally viable projects apparently aren’t able to get his support, even small ones with tight budgets.

Ouch.

This definitely gives more credence to the net rumor about MI Laugh Floor invading DL's Tomorrowland.

What a waste of limited funds and park space that would be!

Dave said...

You knew the job was dangerous when you took it, John...

I know JL likes to stay out of the politics, but if this rumor of MILF coming to Disneyland is true he needs to get over it and finally get his hands dirty. Lasseter needs to use whatever clout he might have to keep this atrocious attraction from being shoehorned into Tomorrowland. If he is powerless to stop this kind of idiocy, so be it, but he must certainly understand that another poorly executed, out of theme Pixar based attraction will only serve to damage his credibility among fans and artistic peers alike.

Rasulo may be the one calling the shots, but it is Lasseter who will take the heat for putting the last nail in the coffin of Walt's Tomorrowland.

Spokker said...

Lasseter puts this nice guy image out there (behind the scenes DVD content, promoting his boyfriend Miyazaki, etc.) and he looks like a big kid at heart with all those toys in his office (not that that's a bad thing necessarily).

But behind the scenes I bet you he's a real hard ass and has no problem saying what needs to be said, not that that's a bad thing. I don't think he stays away from drama. He had no problem sacking the original directors of a couple films.

If he's as influential as people think he is, then his agenda is clearly to imprint the Pixar legacy on the theme parks as much as possible. I have no problem with that agenda up to a point. But Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor being installed in Tomorrowland would be Pixar overkill. DCA already has a Monsters Inc. attraction and Tomorrowland already has a Pixar attraction. I don't believe for a second that there aren't 50 bazillion concepts for the Magic Eye Theater that Imagineers from all seniority levels have concocted.

This leaves something to be desired with the corporate model. Such a policy as the "One-Disney Experience" drains creativity from society. This policy ensures that the minimum number of new ideas comes to reality.

Clones and character driven attractions are good things... in moderation. A lot of nerds such as myself like to compare differences between the various Haunted Mansion and Pirates variants. I don't know what Fantasyland would be like without Alice, Peter Pan and Dumbo.

But when there are few original ideas because some MBA lied about guests clamoring for a uniform Disney theme park experience across the world, I think it hurts the theme parks creatively, and it hurts society creatively.

Whether it benefits the world economically, I guess Rasulo can run a regression model with his super secret Disney accounting data and show us why he makes the big bucks.

NEGATIVE CORRELATION BETWEEN ORIGINAL RIDES AND REVENUE. GREENLIGHT THE UP BALLOON RIDE FOR ALL PARKS.

cultedne said...

Recent reports coming from various divisions within the Disney Company: for the new fiscal year, everyone will be getting new stationary and business cards.

The various divisions the Disney Company used to have their own unique versions of Mickey for their stationary and nametag logos:

Animator Mickey for Feature Animation,

Clapboard Mickey for Disney Studio,

Sorcerer Mickey for Imagineering,

Maestro Mickey for Wald Disney Records,

Etc.

Apparently, due to their ongoing “One Disney” initiative, the new logos for the divisions will no longer have the various unique identifying Mickey. They will now display a generic Mickey for all.

I believe that those unique Mickey logos were a significant element of the pride and morale CM’s had for their divisions and the company overall.

So, this move just continues the slippage of the former Walt Disney Company’s current focus on the Disney Brand down to essentially being Generic Disney.

I don’t know if they have taken into consideration the effect of the morale of their various division CM’s who are attached to their associated logo Mickey’s, but it may be another case of failing to understand their own culture.

Spokker said...

Fun fact: Several years ago the version of Mickey for the animated feature division was Suicide By Hanging Mickey.

/bsdb said...

Generic Mickey name tags, business cards, and letterhead? For ALL departments?? Oy vey.

Why even bother with name tags at all? Just toss 'em in the trash and hand out Improve Your Memory in Five Easy Lessons to all employees. More cost savings! YOO HOO!!

But don't stop there! Just eliminate the company stationery and WDC letter head altogether and go with plain recycled paper from Office Depot. Golly! More cost savings!!

How about ditching the company cars and leasing out mopeds? Ka-CHING!! Look at that bottom line now!!


Seriously... how desperately cheap is this company? Eliminate the custom Mickeys to pinch a few pennies... but give Iger another $30 million for his Acquisition Itch and firings of senior Disney execs.

Yeah. Priceless.

Spokker said...

Video of the presentation at D23 called Imagineering Pixar for the Disney Parks: The Road to Generica.

In the very last video John Lasseter blasts execs who slash budgets. If he really cared about Disney theme parks he'd blast the executive who wants to cram the parks full of Pixar clones, himself.

Anonymous said...

Keep the articles coming for and against Disney. We need more blogs like this.

If the current management does not take good care of the Disney Company like Walt did it will someday become a "museum" or worse.

Kids might ask their parents one day, "Daddy, what is Disneyland and why was it paved over?"

Daddy might say, "The Disney parks 'used' to be fun places to take the whole family, but it went in a wrong direction. Hey, but you can still see it on youtube!"

If possible lets not let the Disney Company and the Disney parks become -"Things that used to be part of America and the World."

"Daddy why did they let the magic go away?"

2.0 and beyond said...

Spokker:
"He should slam executives who want to dry up creativity at the parks by building Pixar-attraction clones in every park."



It’s not necessarily the executives trying to dry up creativity, but rather executives trying to suck up to Lasseter by constantly pitching Pixar concepts. Significant concepts that aren’t Pixar related don’t appear to be able to get any support.

Spokker said...

"Significant concepts that aren’t Pixar related don’t appear to be able to get any support."

I wish we could see what those are.

Pixar really does the most damage to Tomorrowland. With Nemo, Buzz and (maybe) Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, the future is as bleak as ever.

Anonymous said...

What's your point here if you hate all that WDI does then why do you bother to have anything to do with it? It is no doubt that Disney has had some growing pains but have you been to any of the other parks lately? Disney still stands alone is guest service and experience.My 2 cent's from a Happy Cast member!

Spokker said...

"Disney still stands alone is guest service and experience.My 2 cent's from a Happy Cast member!"

Hah! The fans who love everything Disney does always seem to bitch about cast members who don't kiss their entitled AP asses.

coartlirn said...

^^^^
I am quite certain that Spokker does not totally hate everything that WDI does. He most likely quietly enjoys the successful aspects of the company’s output (like many of the rest of us) as he chooses to point out the flaws that they seem to be producing more often. Since the successful aspects don’t need much help, it just makes sense that those problem areas of poor quality and creativity should be where the attention is paid.

As a more-or-less happy (though often frustrated) cast member, I can say that many of us appreciate when flaws are brought up and discussed. If poor quality and creativity are ignored, then it will just continue. If management starts feeling the pressure due to faulty decisions, maybe it will result in improvement.