Tuesday, September 08, 2009

A Great Big Ugly Tomorrow



"I'm not sure I'm ready to celebrate the re-birth of the golden age of Imagineering just yet.

Things have just been too dismal with WDI's recent efforts for me to just jump on the bandwagon and start pushing again.

I just returned from a week in Disney World and I can tell you that Tomorrowland without Space Mountain and the Tomorrowland Transit Authority is a wasteland. We stopped by for a couple spins on Buzz Lightyear and took in a nostalgia-driven showing of the Carousel of Progress, but outside of that we passed right on by. Stitch and Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor are nearly unwatchable.

Epcot's Future World is a shadow of what it once was. Yes, Soarin' is terrific (although the film is in bad shape already), but the new Spaceship Earth is a DISASTER, the Wonders of Life pavilion remains vacant, Mission Space has run its course, the Imagination ride is the WORST Disney attraction in history, and Test Track is still a breakdown waiting to happen.

The Studios has been stagnant for YEARS now. How many times can you watch the Indiana Jones Stunt Show or see the same tired little Mermaid stage show? Toy Story Mania is a gem for sure, but that's about it.

Animal Kingdom ... Everest is nice, but nothing really spectacular. The rest? Mostly off-the-shelf stuff I can see at my local theme park or zoo.

Where are the Pirates of the Caribbeans, Haunted Mansions, and American Adventures for the next generation? Disney has abandoned what made them successful for decades and really given us a lot of recycled slop in the last decade.

I think the last truly great ride that Disney built was Splash Mountain ... and that was what? 20 years ago??"

-Anonymous

75 comments:

Anonymous said...

updated hall of presidents?

Anonymous said...

I may be way off base here, but is it because John Lasseter has no personal connection to WDW? I have read about how important Disneyland in Cali is to him, maybe EPCOT and the rest of WDW are off his radar.

Lidstrom said...

This is what happens when you decide that you care about the bottom line more than what the company once stood for. It is a little refreshing to see somebody else express the views I have, since many people effectively shout me down when I say these things.

bob said...

No, don't start filling your blog with rants like this one. This is not up to snuff with your usual well thought out posts. I'm not going to sit here and say everything is perfect, but EVERYTHING doesn't suck either. In the same rant he says that Toy Story Mania is a gem, but they haven't made a truly great ride in 20 years. Uh... that was only a year ago.

Anonymous said...

Toy story is a gem of a "c" ticket ride. Splash mounatin is an "E" ticket, no inconssitancy there. Tomorrowland at disneyland is on the verge of being a joke. Buzzlightyear is not our future and fish don't talk! (I like the effort, good job but...) There is serious accounting and management failure within the coprporation, however, there are a lot of people within the ranks who when unleashed are prepared to do great things for the company and the guests. That is why I check out this site on a regular basis. I am waiting for those good people to unleash their imagination and technical innovation that was the trademark of the first twenty-five years. Accounting needs to know that to save a buck and earn a buck you need to spend it on quality and not go for cutting corners because when it gets cheap or cheezy the entire amount spent becomes a wasted effort. Winnie the Pooh in California is a perfect example of cutting corners and doing it on the cheap and wasting the entire budget in the process. Compare California's ride numbers with that of its cousin in Japan. As I rant and rave off the subject forgive me please, Tomorrowland in the USA parks are both in need of TLC.

tjcrandley said...

You ask were are the major e-tickets? There are a couple answers. First, the quick answer is "Japan". DisneySea is amazing. Oriental Land Company pays for amazing quality and WDI gives it to them.

However, this isn't what you meant. You meant in the US. And I would say that there are no landmark attractions since Splash Mountain, Tower of Terror, and Indian Jones Adventure. These were the last great e-Tickets before the cycle turned and the US parks saw there great downturn.

But during the cycle low-point the Imagineers were sneaky and snuck in lots of amazing thing. Check out the queue at Everest- it's as detailed and planned as Jungle Cruise or Indy - if not more so. Look at the Condor Flats or Grissley Run at California Adventure. Look at the Nemo ride at Disney Studios in France. Look at Fantasmic (in Disneyland) or the Dreams Firework show, or the Disney Cruise Line and Castaway Key. All of these are examples of the creative team honing their skills to fight off complacency and inserting small things into tight budgets.

Everest is actually the indication that the tide is turning and we are about to enter another great period for the company. The ride has a solid story and great themeing. You see this through the queue, and in the area of the park immediately surrounding the ride. This is WDI flexing it's muscles and saying "See, we still have it. Now give us the money we need to really impress you."

At the helm of this is John Lasseter. He is the Walt Disney, Marc Davis and Frank Wells of our time. He is the perfect counterpoint for Bob Iger. He has a creative vision. And he knows how to tell a story. The cycle has started up again. At some point in the (hopefully distant) future, it will go down, and then back up and so on. Maybe it's Walt rolling in his grave that starts the cycle...

tjcrandley said...

(Part 1) I'm not sure I completely agree with your viewpoint. Yes there are (many) problems, but there are also some big wins for the company. But before I talk about the wins, I want to talk about the last 45 years at Disney.

Walt left the company at a time where he was at the top of his creative game, especially when it came to Disneyland attractions. In the last 5 years of his life he:
1)mastered the Worlds Fair offerings, deliverying Small World, Mr. Lincoln, and much of the 1960's Tomorrowland in the process
2)started and participated in the design work for Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Carribean
3)and most importantly, trained and honed a creative team that was able to deliver these and many other attractions after he died.

This creative team was driving a lot of the advances thorugh the opening of Disney World, which carreid over a number of updated/modified/cloned rides from Disneyland. This creative team was also able to act as a counter point to the CEO after Walt, his brother Roy, who was a serious mney man - always concerend about the bottom line. However, under both Walt and Roy there was very strond leadership.

In the 1970's and early 1980's however, new attrractions got kinda thin. The leadership after Walt Disney World opened was disjointed and distracted at best. Now the CEO's (Don Tatem, Card Walker, and Walt's son in law Rom Miller) had to provide direction to 2 parks, 2 movie units, 2 television units, and provide quaterly returns for the investors - who invested heavily to open Walt Disney World. The 10 years after Roy's death brought poor leadership on top, which caused a lot of the creative team to get complacent, and in turn, the public got complacent.

To add fuel to this fire, Disney was really the only show in town when it came to themed entertainment. Knotts had a good thing going, but they were always seen as a company that was trying to capture what Disney had, and rarely (even today) innovated.

tjcrandley said...

(Part 2) Enter Micheal Eisner. He picked up the company at a creative lowpoint, with failing attendance numbers, failing box office receipts, failing tv productions - in other words the worst the company had been in the 20 years since walt died. But Micahel didn't come from the Disney culture - he was an outsider coming in. He was able to recognize that the only way to fix the parks and the company was to "Re-Imagineer" Disney.

So starts the golden years of Disney. Eisner provides the company direction and develops a creative team that can deliver his vision. Old parks got much needed paint and repair, movies and animation got back on track, and once the creative team was ready, new parks started to open. Every action was a building block to Eisners vision - rebuild the creative power of Disney. This infusion started to push the public to expect more, which pushed the creative team to design more.

And design they did. They came up with Disneyland Paris (the EuroDisneyland), which was the greatest accomplishment of WDI at the time (DisneySea now holds that crown). They designed Splash Mountain. They designed Tower of Terror. They pushed the limits with everything they touched up to Animal Kingdom, and nearly everything turned to gold. The first 10-12 years of Eisner were like a peak in the cylce that is Disney parks.

Then Micahel fell of the wagon when Frank Wells died. Frank was to Michael like Walt was to Roy. They needed each other to make it work, and when Frank left the compmany, no-one replaced him to counterpoint Micahael. And so he continued to slide, influenced by the "yes-men" mentatlity that surrounded him. Cost per hour and profit per customer because the driving factor for parks in the and Europe. Investments were overcalulated with short term dollar signs and under-calculated with long term returns. Look at the stark difference between Animal Kingdom and California Adventure, parks that opened nearly at the same time but were radicaly different in terms of priority.

Once California Adventure opened, the cycle of complacency and weak direction started. Miachael wasn't focused on the base anymore, and those in charge of the various units floundered without a clear vision from the head cheese.

John Fincher said...

Bob - agreed. Not everything sucks. There has to be SOME reason people (like us) go back 2-3 times a year - year after year.

Yes, some things need to be updated (HD Soarin' would be awesome), but Disney has something no one else has. Universal and IOA have some awesome attractions and rides, but they lack depth, and the Disney magic.

Anonymous said...

I agree with bob. I would rather have months between quality posts than this sort of thing. It's not that I fundamentally disagree with the point being made but the writing is quite poor and the whole thing just seems like a second rate, cranky forum post. We have come to expect a bit more from this blog!

WV said...

You should be cautious judging a land when the "weenie" is out of commission; it's usually not quite fair. Especially, when that weenie is being updated to be better than it is before- chaos must happen to obtain order, and that most likely describes the state of WDW’s Tomorrowland as it currently stands. While I do not doubt that Tomorrowland is a wasteland in its current state, I wouldn’t cast judgment on a state of progress…
As far as MGM (yes I refuse to call it DHS) goes you do have a valid point… however not as much as you may think. You have to remember that WDW is built on the concept of EXPANSION unlike Disneyland which is limited to only a few acres. At Disneyland, old rides are replaced with new to bring in more guests, despite an attractions current popularity—and it’s usually an OLDER attraction being replaced by a newer one. However, at Disney World rides are not replaced unless they don’t bring in a crowd or are outdated. Attractions like Indiana Jones which are now boring to frequent visitors still draw dramatic crowds; shows still are at least two-thirds full. Sure, it’s full of outdated special effects however people still show and thoroughly ENJOY the experience.
Disney World is a big property, and because of that a lot is often left behind, I’m looking forward to a revamp of EPCOTs Future World, among many of the ideas listed above. Pavilions should include Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, Cognitive Neuroscience, and a full exploration of Internet Technology. Honestly, the only attraction that feels relevant in that land is Spaceship Earth. In today’s society automobiles, spaceflight, gliders, and fish are part of the present. The only AWE left in that whole park is Spaceship Earth; it’s a globe of hope in a land of despair.
-Weekly Visitor (of Disneyland)

dreemfinder said...

Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor is unwatchable? Your 'review' reads like you didn't go in and see the show, but had long ago abandoned hope that it could ever be better than it was the last time you saw it.

If that's the case, and you haven't seen the show since it opened, it MAY be time to take a second look.

Just sayin'...

Bruce said...

This post is real harsh on Everest in Animal Kingdom. To my mind it's exactly what Disney parks need more of - engrossing, transporting attractions, based off original ideas that find new ways to surprise and delight.

The theming in and around Everest is top notch. The concept is original and thankfully not tied to a movie or some other property. Sure, going backwards on a roller coaster isn't a new idea, but the way in which it is done on Everest is really impressive. Seeing the Yeti, furthering the story and going back on a different track.

Toy Story Midway Mania is a lot of fun too, but is more a D to Everest's E, which I see as the best attraction Disney has created since Tower of Terror.

Anonymous said...

i apologize in advance for my far from perfect english, i'm german ;)

as you speak of e-ticket rides during the last twenty years, you definitely forgot at least three attractions that gave the right way… first the original tower of terror which has a terrific theming, the building, the details and the ride are truly terrific and impressing! second is paris' space mountain, also the original one. this ride was truly exceptional, a great thrill ride, the choreography of music, movement and theme is, in my eys, still unmatched, and there is also - third - the original rockin' rollercoaster. but too bad, that for one and three, the clones are simply watered down versions and for SMP - what the hell did they think when he created mission 2?

and it might be offtopic, but i still think that a great problem of paris lies in the fact, that they don't offer more real thrillrides. i understan, that it's the company's philosophy to deliver great family-oriented parks, but there's a difference between the US and europe. we simply don't have the likes of magic mountain or universal's islands where we can challenge our stomachs all day long, and you simply don't catch the twenty and thirtysomethings in europe with a tame themepark, so they'll spend their money elsewhere…

Brian said...

I'm going to have to agree - while the post makes a lot of good points, it doesn't read with the same thought and eloquence as what has been posted here before - I really like this blog for its intelligence - if I want simple critique, I can read MiceChat. I'd urge the owners - again - to keep up the quality, not the quantity...

Anonymous said...

Posts like this make me wonder if that Anonymous will ever find happiness. The critiques are kind of all over the place. Disney is ridiculed for closing a ride for updates. Its also ridiculed for not updating a show. How can they win?

Things should be updated, but how often is another debate. If you think 'Indiana Jones Stunt Show' and 'The Little Mermaid' have overstayed their welcome, then you need to ask how often the average visitor is showing up at Disney World. Every year? 5 years? 10 years? Once in a lifetime? I think that's a better gauge as to how often it should be updated.

>>> Where are the Pirates of the Caribbeans, Haunted Mansions, and American Adventures for the next generation? <<<

You just named them... Soarin', Everest, Toy Story Mania.

>>> Epcot's Future World is a shadow of what it once was. <<<

>>> I think the last truly great ride that Disney built was Splash Mountain ... and that was what? 20 years ago??" <<<

Comments like these make me wonder what kind of rose colored glasses you're looking at the past in. It also makes me wonder you're age. Assuming that you'd be old enough to have solid memories twenty years ago, you're probably old enough to realize the changes to the bigger picture.

I'll hold off on the discussions/excuses about the economy and ask that you focus just on Disney. In the last 20 years the company has made really big moves towards tightly integrating their businesses into solid marketing powerhouses. For example, Pirates of the Caribbean isn't just a ride anymore... its a full-on franchise with various product lines, destinations, and a lifestyle brand that extends beyond the ride. Twenty years ago, Disney's offerings were very modular. Today, the parks are looked at as a place to extend a brand. Even attractions without their own merchandise/franchise help to extend the broader Disney brand with Mickey Mouse dolls and t-shirts.

I always get a kick out of people when they think that WDI is being poorly run or stifled, as if all these super creative people cannot break the glass ceiling and somehow tug on the purse strings to facilitate the creative class. Too often on this site I've seen glimpses of a conspiracy theory that Disney "suits" are financial illuminati that need to suppress the spendy altruistic WDI folks. Spare me.

Spokker said...

"Today, the parks are looked at as a place to extend a brand. "

That's part of the problem. Disneyland was once a place where original attractions were created such as Pirates and the Haunted Mansion. The Tiki Room, Carousel of Progress, Adventures Thru Innerspace, etc. Now are you telling me that if it can't sustain a movie it doesn't belong in Disneyland?

Those attractions would be less likely to exist under today's thinking. Those attractions are what made Disneyland what it is today.

"Too often on this site I've seen glimpses of a conspiracy theory that Disney "suits" are financial illuminati that need to suppress the spendy altruistic WDI folks."

No conspiracy here. Just a lack of creativity.

Josh said...

First of all, I'm glad to see posts going back up on this blog - if nothing else, there's always good discussion to be had here.

Second, I'm with those who do see some good having come out in the past few years. Everest - notwithstanding the seemingly perpetual B-Mode operation - is a pretty incredible piece of Imagineering, and though I prefer Buzz Lightyear over Toy Story Midway Mania, that's a pretty solid attraction too.

Certainly there have been some less than A-Game attractions/shows fielded in recent years, but I certainly see that trend being reversed, and I'm optimistic about the direction Imagineering and those holding the purse strings are going.

Hale said...

My response:

Yes, Tomorrowland does seem very quiet. And while I think Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor is a good show, it would fit much better story wise at the Studios. Stitch is lame and annoying.

Now, Journey Into Imagination IS TERRIBLE. A mish-mash of ninetys' movie themes, terrible gags, frightening effects, and a little bit of real imagination. There are so many ways that ride can be improved, I don't see why they don't close it down and fix it up just one more time.

Anonymous said...

I think [the new]Spaceship Earth is amazing. just had to fit that in. But yeah the last time I was @MK w/ Space Mountain and tta down, it was a real drab feeling, did'nt even go to tommorowland.

Anonymous said...

Amen! We are going to Orlando this year and not even going to WDW. Just Universal and Sea World. Disney is too expensive and just gets worse every year.

Anonymous said...

What a cheap post. I went to WDW last year, and thoroughly enjoyed myself.
Someone needs to quit looking at the parks with a magnifying glass.
And great attractions like Pirates and Haunted Mansion don't just roll off the printing presses.
They take ideas, and resources. WDI's resources have been spread on a lot of projects around the world.
Quit acting like a spoiled child and start enjoying the parks. Otherwise, just go to Six Flags.

Ryne said...

How to fix WDW: Add an e-ticket to DHS and DAK. Replace Stitch and Monsters at MK, and update CoP. Tear down the Hat at DHS. Restore Imagination and fix Spaceship Earth at Epcot. The parks wouldn't be perfect, but they'd be much better if these things were addressed.

thepicklebarrel said...

unfortunately, amen.

Spokker said...

"WDI's resources have been spread on a lot of projects around the world."

If resources being spread around the world is resulting in lower quality projects, then fewer projects need to be done.

"Someone needs to quit looking at the parks with a magnifying glass."

You are paying a premium price for a premium product. I don't look at Six Flags with a magnifying glass. I will look at Disneyland with a magnifying glass.

Indeed, this is the company that encourages you to find "Hidden Mickeys." God forbid I find some scratched paint while looking for those damn things.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Walt constantly look at his park with a magnifying glass? Isn't that what made it different from anything that had ever come before or that had been dreamed of before?

Brian said...

>
>>> Where are the Pirates of the Caribbeans, Haunted Mansions, and American Adventures for the next generation? <<<

You just named them... Soarin', Everest, Toy Story Mania.
<

Really? I think you must have given the newer three attractions a handicap.

Weekly Visitor said...

@Ryne

"How to fix WDW: Add an e-ticket to DHS and DAK."

People have an OBSESSION with E ticket attractions. True big E tickets are EXCELLENT, but they are NOT what make or break a park, the D's and the C's are. Sure, MGM (again I hate DHS) has room for an additional E but the stained D's are what are really discouraging. "The Great Movie
Ride" is old and in bad need of a full refurbishment with new scenes to bring it up to date. Star Tours is... well if I continue on Star Tours I'll get into mis-managemement

DAK on the other hand has Kilimanjaro Rapids, Dinosaur, Expedition Everest, and the Safari Adventure... WHAT ELSE IS IN THAT PARK!?p

Anonymous said...

The parks are better than 5 - 10 years ago, and much more creative and quality attractions are going in - look at DCA for example.

The big change, and one we're likly stuck with, is the incessent co-branding and excessive commercialism. Walt could make a buck and was pioneer in licensing mechandise in the 1930s. But it seems we'll never get a major ride that isn't tied to a Disney or Disney affiliate movie, etc., the same plush and Disney clothes are in all the shops, marketing's importance is too high relative to content, etc.

Something's gone and likely forever, but things are better.

All in all, a solid B vs. the C or less of 10 years ago. Could be lost worse.

mr wiggins said...

"At the helm of this is John Lasseter. He is the Walt Disney, Marc Davis and Frank Wells of our time."

You betcha. And there's no greater proof of it than Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, John's latest and greatest display of brilliance at Disneyland. It's got everything you'd want in a direct-to-video sequel... and you get to watch it underwater!

No doubt about it, plunking a video rehash of a Pixar movie about a toon fish into Tomorrowland isn't just creatively awesome, it's a "major E-Ticket!"

Tony called it that himself, in his E-Ticket Magazine interview.

Yup. The Park is in good hands.

:)

Anonymous said...

Just read the details on the new Fantasyland expansion, and parts of it are just depressing. I'm glad they're getting rid of toontown and bringing more of the circus theme with dumbo and barnstorming. I'm hopeful that can attract more crowds over to that area that's just never felt like it had any reason to exist other than turning Mickey's birthdayland tent city into the Starland run-down ghostland.

But the Little Mermaid adventure is, as the above comment mentions, a direct-to-DVD-sequel, experienced in the Doom Buggies! Not just that, but one that can be experienced in DCA or WDW. That'll bring the cross-country tourists in! Oh, and princesses! Gotta hand it to John L, he's not afraid of over-saturation.

Spokker said...

But guests wanted a One-Disney experience, at least according to Rasulo.

Anonymous said...

You know,I am beginning to see that most of you are just a bunch of sour puss former Imagineers.

Spokker said...

"You know,I am beginning to see that most of you are just a bunch of sour puss former Imagineers."

So was John Hench ;)

Anonymous said...

The WDW "leadership" believes that since the average WDW guests comes only once every several years that the status quo is just find. Obviously they've been infected with the ID-10-T virus.

Because ROI is everything, they just can't bring themselves to spend the big bucks on the bid WOW!

I went in to the MK last week and wasn't the least bit surprised to see that the generic trash cans are still around - the plain green/blue/white whatever. It used to be that each area had themed trashcans which were repainted on a regular basis - but it cost too much money and they were deamed expendible.

Why oh why can't we kidnap whoever their current President is and put them through a Disney-version of 'A Christmas Carol'.

David H

mr wiggins said...

"You know,I am beginning to see that most of you are just a bunch of sour puss former Imagineers."

And what do your amazing powers of perception tell you about the folks who pitched, greenlit, designed and built such classic Disneyland attractions as the Finding Nemo Underwater DVD Sequel, Tarzan's Disney Store Treehouse, Depp of the Caribbean, It's a Small Disney Plush Commercial, and Winnie the Pooh's Nap Time?

Don't hold back, now...

:)

Brian said...

>>"At the helm of this is John Lasseter. He is the Walt Disney, Marc Davis and Frank Wells of our time."

You betcha. And there's no greater proof of it than Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, John's latest and greatest display of brilliance at Disneyland. It's got everything you'd want in a direct-to-video sequel... and you get to watch it underwater!

No doubt about it, plunking a video rehash of a Pixar movie about a toon fish into Tomorrowland isn't just creatively awesome, it's a "major E-Ticket!"

Tony called it that himself, in his E-Ticket Magazine interview.

Yup. The Park is in good hands.

:) <<

Touche Mr. Wiggins

- Brian (a.k.a. Circa1966)

Joe Moyer said...

I guess I am from a different time in which the rides at Disneyland weren't necessarily themed to a movie. Pirates, Matterhorn bobsleds, Submarine Voyage, Haunted Mansion always seemed to based on the actual experience rather than having to watch a movie to know what was going on in the ride. My biggest disappointment was the re-theming of the Submarine Voyage to Nemo. Don't get me wrong I enjoy the Pixar films as much as anyone, but talk about ruining the whole basis for Tomorrowland which was exploration of new and exciting places that most people would never get a chance to go. Yet at the same time making it thrilling and stimulating ones imagination. Despite Lasseters ability to loosen the purse strings the Pixar-fication of both parks is concerning and not too entirely well done from my perspective.

Tom Slick said...

I have to agree with Joe Moyers statement, and have to quote this:
>>> Where are the Pirates of the Caribbeans, Haunted Mansions, and American Adventures for the next generation? <<<

You just named them... Soarin', Everest, Toy Story Mania.

First off, I've said this before, but maybe it needs reiterating.

Soarin' is great, but the film definately has scratches in it, and should be reshot in HiDef, to be played back on a HiDef screen.

Everest is NOTHING more than the Matterhorn on steroids. So much so, it should have been called Matterest. Some WDI smartguy just took an already in-use concept, and improved it by making it faster, and intensifying the Animatronic Yeti. If it were to be made unique, they should have made Everest into a Volcano, with a Tiki God animatronic, or anything else NOT related to a Yeti, or Yeti enviroment.

Toy Story Mania and Buzz Lightyear rides are just extreme video game machines with a cart on a track. If this is the future of Attractions, count me out. I can play shooter games all day long on my computer or PS3.
And at least I won't have to worry about the nasty dirty controllers, that even look slimey. Have you ever watched what the kids are picking, while they are waiting in line? Yep, that stuff winds up on the guns, and on your hands.

Let me emphasize that I'm not a germaphobic. In fact, I don't even carry Purell on me, or in the Park(Although that is going to change), but the less I have to put my hands on anything in today's times, the better off I feel. I don't even think that Disney disinfects the handrails/handles/game controls of the rides at night, so who knows how long that H1N1 has been lurking on that game control?

Overrated Video Game rides, Old flight simulator rides, and copied ideas that you call "unique" (Matt-Erest) should not be the way of future attractions at Disney Parks. There are all kinds of themes/theme appropriate attractions that have yet to be tapped.
So whatever the problem is, whether Disney keeps taking the shortcosts, or the "Imagineer" title just doesn't hold up to what it once was known for...Either way, unfortunately we as fans lose today, and inevitably, Disney loses tomorrow, given the current path it is on.

So Much More said...

Soarin' is great, but the film definately has scratches in it, and should be reshot in HiDef, to be played back on a HiDef screen.

Actually, Soarin’ is adequate at best. While it is a unique experience, it falls short of “what it could have been”. A true Disney experience would have you entering a hanger, boarding an aircraft, taking off and then flying over the various environments. Instead we walk into a huge room, sit down on a huge machine that then swings us out in front of a huge movie screen.

The potential was there, but those who took over the initial concept just took the easy “creative” route.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Wiggins, you seem to want Disneyland and the other Disney parks made into your image of what they were in the sixties. Geez, last time I looked we were in a new century.
Here's a prediction for you. A few months after the Lincoln attraction reopens for the fourth (I think) time, there will be no line for it and they will again quietly close it down in a couple years.

Rick Stuart said...

Pirates of the Caribbean was built over 40 years ago. As successful a ride as that was, what is shocking is how little they've used the technology since then. If they built one every 4 years, we'd have ten of them by now.

Anonymous said...

"We are going to Orlando this year and not even going to WDW. Just Universal and Sea World. Disney is too expensive and just gets worse every year."

The only thing that could make someone thing Universal and SeaWorld are better than what Disney still has to offer are expectations. Just because Disney isn't as good as we demand from them doesn't mean they aren't the best, and, at least in this group here, they are the best.

I love, love, love SeaWorld and I'm absolutely disappointed by what Disney has done in the past 20 years or so, but. . . Hollywood Studios is still better than SeaWorld (which is absolutely better than Universal, which is also good).

In this scenario, Disney is like the athlete loaded with talent who is awesome but slacks off and makes mistakes. SeaWorld is the athlete who gives 110% every play to be almost as good. But while he's more admirable, he's still, in the end, not as good.

I'm all for being critical of Disney because we know what they can do and have every reason to expect it. I'm not for pretending Anheiser-Busch does it better, because they don't. End of story.

Anonymous said...

Furthermore (same Anon as above), the other parks in the area are comparable in price, so even that's not a decent excuse. And that's without offering the great resorts, free transportation and Dining Plan.

Tom Slick said...

Anonymous said...
Mr. Wiggins, you seem to want Disneyland and the other Disney parks made into your image of what they were in the sixties.Geez, last time I looked we were in a new century.


Hmmmmm.... I wonder if that was the time when Disney actually offered creative and unique attractions, and where all of the Park's real estate was utilized? The park was definately on its A-game in the 60s, and I personally credit Walt for still being alive until the latter part running his show. Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Tiki Room, It's a Small World.......Let's just agree that most of the attractions that were opened in the 1960's were the ones that permanently put Disneyland on the ever changing Amusement park map.

And I guess you somehow missed that there's STILL an empty track running through Tomorrowland, and still houses more than two "empty" buildings. So much for an optimistic new century, huh?

Here's a prediction for you. A few months after the Lincoln attraction reopens for the fourth (I think) time, there will be no line for it and they will again quietly close it down in a couple years.

Perhaps Anonymous would rather see an animatronic Barack Obama pushing his healthcare plan?

Maybe Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln will close in two years, but it pays great tribute to a President, and man that Walt Disney personally admired. Mr. Lincoln was Walt's favorite President, and I think it should remain the same out of respect for the late and great Mr. Disney. If for nothing else, to pay homage to Mr. Lincoln, who Walt had once said that, If it were not for President Abraham Lincoln, Disneyland might not have existed.

Anonymous said...

And yet attendance is on the rise or relevant, considering the worldwide recession.
Thanks, I know I can always count on this website to cast gloom and doom regardless of the news at Disney.
You guys make sour grapes look refreshing.

Spokker said...

"And yet attendance is on the rise or relevant, considering the worldwide recession."

Did you happen to notice that they are giving tickets away for free if you go on your birthday? Have you noticed the $99 summer fun passes? Have you noticed the ~$130 annual passes with payment plans?

Attendance is up, but it's the same 500,000 people going every week. The family that lives down Katella is visiting Disneyland after work. It's the local hang out now.

Anonymous said...

Tokyo, Tokyo, Tokyo!!!
Why the hell is fantasyland hedging their bets on live park character lands? Hasn't the company seen people's faces when they enter Triton's Kingdom at TDS? An overwhelming darklight, beautifully art directed, lair of rides that are as beatific to look at as they are fun to ride?
Journey to the Center of the Earth is the best dark ride anywhere. Outstanding design, thrills, mystery, and NOT based on a recent film (how refreshing)....why wasn't this considered if the Magic Kingdom needed a facelift....
20K in Tokyo also defies words. Perfection.
Pooh's Hunny Hunt...also perfection.
What's with the non-imagination in these Nemo rides, or video games like Toy Story....
Haven't they learned the "lessons from the parks"??
Hey! Let's go have dinner with Belle! REALLY???????
Blech.

Anonymous said...

I'd rather have dinner with Lincoln.

Spokker said...

"Journey to the Center of the Earth is the best dark ride anywhere. Outstanding design, thrills, mystery, and NOT based on a recent film (how refreshing)"

I always recommend that people not use Fastpass at least once just to look at the crap in the queue. Also, make sure you check out the descriptions of the various fictional technology on the display. The diagram that explains how the "terravator" works is really cool.

mr wiggins said...

"Mr. Wiggins, you seem to want Disneyland and the other Disney parks made into your image of what they were in the sixties. Geez, last time I looked we were in a new century."

Having been a frequent visitor of Disneyland in the 60's, I don't want a return to the Disneyland of the 60's. I want a return to the high standards of innovation, creativity and showmanship of Disneyland in the 60's. A return to the quality of merchandise, food, maintenance and customer service that Disneyland had in the 60's.

But since you obviously prefer Disneyland's standards of this century, by all means, enjoy! Buzz Lightyear's Atom Blasters and Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage and Tarzan's Treehouse and Winnie the Pooh are made for you. You'll gaze in wonder at an off-the-shelf Ferris wheel with Mickey's face on it and say, "That's real Disney magic!" You'll appreciate another decade of no new unique attractions, only those that are marketing channels for Disney and Pixar franchise brands. You'll give yourself whiplash trying to spot the little blue space alien in It's a Small World, then whip out your wallet to buy Stitch plush from the gift shop at the exit line. The absence of name musical entertainment won't bother you at all -- you'll be thrilled by entertainment like "Celebrate! A Streetacular." You'll appreciate benches being replaced by ODV carts that sell generic county fair junk. You'll delight in ever-shrinking portions of ever-lower quality food at ever-rising prices; and if your pre-cooked, re-heated hamburger is too dry, you'll gladly pay $.99 for two very thin slices of tomato to moisten it.

You and Disney are a perfect match of buyer and seller. In your mutual standards of entertainment, showmanship, quality and value, you're made for each other. Like it says on the dedication plaque, "Disneyland is your land."

Have fun!

Brian said...

>>Tokyo, Tokyo, Tokyo!!! <<

I realize that the ownership arrangements with the non-US parks is different, and so the funding situation different, but it is a dirty shame that the US parks - the parks that founded the Disney Park empire - are left to rot while money and imagination are concentrated on the other parks...

Anonymous said...

Mr. Wiggins, I used to see you as a bleeding heart retro foamer, but your last comment was very enlightening and now I get where you are coming from.

Where is the DeFranco Family when you need them?

dreemfinder said...

In your previous post you guys threw the door open to contributions from the Disney blogosphere and thus invited in this kind of judgemental amateur whining that fills the other sites. ReImagineering used to be something with a little more insight as it was coming from the perspective of an experienced and insightful team of insiders, not from -- you should pardon the expression -- Annual Passholders (who only know what they've been shown and so complain when things aren't up to their own nostalgic and naive imaginings) who are only out to appear 'knowledgable' and think the way to do that is to disapprove.

Please close the gate and let's wait for insightful insights. This is Club 33, not the Pecos Bill Cafe.

Anonymous said...

May I ask your opinion on things like flash forward and the last witch mountain film. "stolen" ideas at the base line, but in this world what isn't. And how do you feel about star wars in general--overplayed or more future potential if done correctly. Because I do think that your P&F film was an excellent decision for the Mark Twain redo/overhaul. Tomorrowland could have tremendous potential.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I gotta agree with Dreemfinder here. I want to here from insiders about who know what's going on, not people who've never gotten over America Sings and Captain Eo closing.

Anonymous said...

With P&F on the Mark Twain, Fantasmic! on the River, Tarzan in Ad'land with Aladdin, and Buzz and Nemo in Tomorrowland, there are characters in everything. Why not get rid of the land names and just call the whole place Fantasyland?

Anonymous said...

An update for the latecomer to this site on the P&F tie in to the Mark Twain--the decision was made because the idea of remaking the tom sawyer movie was not original enough idea and at that time there was a problem with the situation of that type of film not generating enough public interest, not to mention the massive amount of money needed to do the pipeline/ constuction overhaul on the river itself.

Have the character tie-ins watered down the parks, yes. The parks have been out of balance for some time. That was never expected to change under Lasseter. Things like Nemo's sub voyage was chosen because it was either that or bury the sea under a pile of dirt for a shop and a taco cart.
Another problem we ran into was increasing guests demand and limited land space at Disneyland. Overlays are sadly what happens with growth--we have been here 50 years.

Anonymous said...

As a latecomer, it's still hard to accept the classic attractions like the Mark Twain becoming "video store standees" for the latest release. I guess I have not matured enough to just accept the way things are but thanks for the insight.

Anonymous said...

Overlays are sadly what happens with growth--we have been here 50 years.

And the Peoplemover/Rocket Rods track has sat dormant and vacant for over eight years...And how long were the Subs down for? I guess Disney has alot of money to sit on, with all of that "ear estate" and nothing to do with it!

Weekly Visitor said...

"Please close the gate and let's wait for insightful insights. This is Club 33, not the Pecos Bill Cafe."

Here! Here!

Overlays are sadly what happens with growth--we have been here 50 years.

With a statement like that I know that you are not an Imagineer. Since Imagineering has almost NOTHING to do with those overlays.

Currently Imagineering funding is tied up with ANNOUNCED projects (Singapore, MK's Fantasyland, Star Tours) There isn't much more funding, time, or manpower for any additional work. In fact, some minor "clerical" or "housekeeping" duties have recently been scaled back in order to make funding these major projects easier.

Current "wasted" Tomorrowland real estate hasn't been forgotten. And honestly, anyone who's complaining that Disneyland is out of real estate isn't paying attention...

Old motor boat cruise land...
Old Fantasyland skyway bucket station...
Old Nature's Wonderland (across from Thunder)...

DJ TRex said...

Somebody above mentioned the Disney "brand" and what the theme parks stand for and I think that's the ultimate source of the problem. When Walt created Disneyland it was to be a shining torch to the history, culture and future of America. With its stage coaches, castles and products of tomorrow Disneyland celebrated an America drunk with optimism and hope.

Nowadays America's a little lost when it comes to its "brand." People have become much more sensitive (rightly so...) of the abuses of our past and the harmful byproducts of our technology which leaves Disney a little lost in how to establish its "brand" since it's so closely linked to America's.

It's tough to continue a storyline for Tomorrowland when it tomorrow contains global warming, toxic waste and war. Gone are the themes of "tomorrow will be great" and "America's corporations are serving up the big solutions." What can Disney build with but Buzz Lightyear and talking fish?

The 1955 Disneyland reflected America and America was reflected back with wonderful optimism and naive promise and hope. Today's America and, therefore, today's Disney don't quite have a good storyline figured out just yet which has led to a lot of "off theme" products and uninspired ideas.

Rick9719 said...

You've got to be kidding DJ? You think Disney never knew war or polution? Disney's film unit was a major player in WWII and half the films he made were nature films. Disney needs to quit listening to pesimistic liberals and show a bit more optimism about America. We need to focus on that bright future now more than ever. Yes America has made mistakes. Quit focusing on them. We also did a lot right and by focusing on the Dream of America you bring America closer to the dream.

Anonymous said...

I have to strongly disagree with the comment, "Animal Kingdom ... Mostly off-the-shelf stuff I can see at my local theme park or zoo."
Last time I checked you will not, and will never, find anything like Kilimanjaro Safaris at your local zoo. A brilliant E-ticket attraction that was built within the last 20 years.

Spokker said...

Haha, did you guys notice they opened up an official Disney blog?

Either the posters are spam bots designed to post positive things about Disney or every Disney sycophant has flocked to this thing flies to a bug zapper. I've got to believe that at least one cynical Disneyland nerd has tried to get some negative comments through. What a sham.

Anonymous said...

Hahaha, Spokker, that is Media Control at it's finest!(aka damage control,its all the same...) Hillarious, and sad at the same time!

/bsdb said...

Disney's blog has one glaring element not typically found in most fanboy discussion boards: correct spelling and proper grammar.

Sure, there are a few comments here and there with the typical junior high school composition skills. But many of the comments are well-written, particularly in terms of language mechanics, which is anything but typical on Disney fan sites.

I'd be interested to know what percentage of these comments came from the inside.

Anonymous said...

There were some comments about this post not being the typical Re-Imagineering article. I would just like to comment that I think it is entirely appropriate.

It is a to the point, from the heart review that reads like a quote from a focus group session, which many times, because of participants’ neutrality, can be much more powerful than an internally generated report or intellectual analysis.

The article's simple resonance is a testament to the necessity of both this blog and Imagineers' continued "push for voice" within the company.

Digital Jedi said...

Might have been a little less suspicious if everybody hadn't been named Amy, Micheal, Bobby, Ronnie, Ricky, Mike. Kinda of a whitebread roster of names.

Anonymous said...

"Disney's blog has one glaring element not typically found in most fanboy discussion boards: correct spelling and proper grammar."

When the company chooses marketing terms to describe it's events and attractions, ( i.e. "Grad Nite" and "Adventure thru Inner Space") then you have to take the whole grammar thing with a grain of salt.

Anonymous said...

On the positive side, here's a link to images and descriptions of the all new Disney Gallery at Disneyland.

http://micechat.com/forums/blogs/dateline-disneyland/1263-give-day-get-disney-day-disney-gallery-opens-dca-progress-downtown-disney-more.html

The Premiere show, "Enchanting the Classics" is a tribute to the 2nd Generation of Imagineers that enhanced Classic Attractions like HM, IASW, and POTC, and brought us new ones like "Star Tours" and BTMRR. It explains how enhancement was always Walt's way down to "Daddy's Bench" from Griffith Park! The art of these enhancements is on display too. Quite elaborate. They spared no expense in telling this "next chapter" story. Very interesting and lavishly done.

Anonymous said...

This post is right on. Disney is scraping by with low-imagination attractions because the public doesn't demand any better.

Anonymous said...

Ok... wow whats your problem what has diney even done to you. you really didnt like anything. sure some rides are a bit out of date but thats all forgotten when you ried it. you said that the animal kingdom isnt better than your local zoo? yeah ok man you should stick to that idea. disney doesnt make that amny new rides ill ghive you that but we get to rrie that rides that made disney famouse not just the ride that 2010

Anonymous said...

I want to see an audio-animatronic ride version of the Disney Story. I'd like to see animatronic figures of Disney and his actual animators working on Disney shorts and features from the early days right through Mary Poppins. What a ride, to see Disney in a storyboard session; the guys in the "sweatbox" looking at pencil test reels; Ward Kimball and the others interacting. The gals in the ink and paint departments plying their craft. Screens in each car could show actual footage what the animators are working on.

Anonymous said...

With all do respect, you are very, very wrong in a lot of the things you said. Splash Mountain is definently not the last great attraction disney has created, think about the Tower of Terror, Everest, Toy Story(one you listed yourself to be a "gem"), and many others. The studios is not stagnant, it has some great attractions the whole family can enjoy. Future World is different, but the future changes and Mission Space has not run its course at all. If that's what you think, what did you think about Mission to Mars, or even Flight to the Moon, that had run its course way before it closed. But what really got me was what you said about AK, it is certainly not what you can see at a zoo, it is much, much more than that. Try to stay positive about the place, like Walt said, it will never be complete and it is gonna change sometimes. Yes there are some bad ones but with that many great ones. If you are just gonna list what is wrong and be negative, dont go and dont talk about it.