Saturday, October 17, 2009

Rainy Days and Mondays

Two of WDI's senior Imagineers just were given their walking papers, leaving a tsunami of questions in their wake.

Tim Delaney had been with Imagineering since 1976. As Executive Designer, Vice President, his high points were easily Discoveryland at Disneyland Paris, the centerpeice of which is the incredible re-imagining of Space Mountain, and The Living Seas at Epcot.

On the low end Tim brought us California Adventure's inaugural entryway and Paradise Pier. Just two days before California Adventure opened, Tim defended the park with a ferocious tenacity not seen since the Queen Mother Alien fought off Ellen Ripley.

Doobie Moseley - Laughing Place: Have you been confident this whole time that this park (California Adventure) would be able to please Disney guests?

Tim Delaney: Absolutely, no question in my mind. Absolutely. The reason is because of the combination of the way it’s laid out and the art direction, everything about it...They’re going to love it and this is how I felt about this entire California project from the very beginning.

Dubious taste aside, Tim was still an old school champion of quality at Imagineering and always fought for the better show. It could easily be argued that getting even the most basic elements of quality green-lit for an Eisner-era project whose very manifesto was about cheaper than cheap meant a fight to the finish, something Tim hinted at in the same interview.

Tim: I like Paradise Pier. I knew it would be challenging but I knew we could do it. I knew that there was something there so I had to fight. It’s a fight.

It was that very spirit of holding firm to ones ideals that very well may have been Tim's undoing. Infact, most recently Tim fought hard for a truly first class version of Pirates of the Caribbean for Hong Kong Disneyland, but Jay Rasulo squashed the idea and sent him back to his room without supper.

Perhaps even more bewildering is the dismissal of Valerie Edwards, WDI's head sculpter, who had been with the company for 21 years and was a featured guest artist on the D23 webzine as recently as this August. She oversaw the creation of character sculptures for Disney parks throughout the world and just recently finished the sculpt of Barack Obama for The Magic Kingdom's Hall of Presidents.

As with Tim Delaney, she was known as a fearless champion of quality at Disney, something her mentors, master sculpter Blaine Gibson, Imagineering legend John Hench and animation artist and father George Edwards would have been proud of.

Judging by the emotional fallout over at WDI these past few days, her colleagues were equally proud.

Unfortunately current management saw her tenure a bit differently. Where previous mangement saw her value, today's leadership saw her as 'difficult'. Seems Valerie read John Lasseter's "Quality is a great business plan" memo too literally.

For the creative professionals who remain at WDI the message is both clear and ominous. Along with their feelings of loss and sadness comes a creeping fear that the company will continue to jettison those who fight for quality in order to promote those who just say, 'yes'.

68 comments:

Bruce said...

Certainly filling Imagineering's halls with yes men is a bad idea, but as stated in the article we really have no idea why these two were let go. It's kind of unfair to immediately jump to this conclusion.

I'm just upset two very talented and tenured people have been let go. Even in spite of Delaney's epic failure at DCA.

/bsdb said...

Unfortunately along with the feelings of loss and sadness at 1401 Flower comes a creeping fear that the company will continue to jettison those who fight for quality in order to promote those who just say, 'yes'.

I believe it's a combination of two things: standing up for quality projects (i.e., those which cost more in time and financial outlay) coupled with "exorbitant compensation" as defined by Burbank management (which, of course, is anything above entry-level slave wages).

Team Rasulo has been overly focused on the short-term bottom line since taking the reins from Pressler, almost seven years ago. Jay doesn't seem to understand the importance of quality in the theme parks, which shouldn't be too surprising, since he personally despises the very idea of spending time in them and cannot comprehend why so many generations the world over have readily flocked to them. Say what you will about Michael Eisner, but at least he genuinely enjoyed the theme parks and was captivated by the process of creating them. The same cannot be said of Rasulo.

The "second generation" Imagineers will continue to be shown the curb, one by one, until none of them remain. The Legacy of Walt is nothing but a marketing tool leveraged by Burbank to extract more and more disposable income from the wallets of the fanboys.

There is no genuine admiration for what preceded the current regime, as there is at the newly opened Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, of which I'm a proud Founding Member. Every single molecule in that establishment carries the love and respect for the man and his life, his creativity, ingenuity, and continuously displays the willingness to take risk after risk after risk to make his dreams become our reality. The only reality Iger and Rasulo seem to care about are the quarterly numbers which help determine the stock price, and as such, the worth of their options.

It makes me sick to see such major talent wasted like this. Who will train the up and coming Imagineers, and help them to become the best designers possible? Who will care for Walt's Legacy outside the borders of the new museum? This is core of the gold mine that's maintained The Walt Disney Company's success, year in and year out. But the only thing that seems to matter to Burbank these days, is to chip away at the mountain top, to extract that gold until none remains.

At the end of the day, as with any other large multinational corporate conglomerate, it all comes down to money.

INNOVIZ said...

Is there anyone left at this point, that really thinks that Imagineering is heading for another "Golden Age?"

The Disney brand used to be about quality shows. This is what set Disney apart from the other parks. This has slowly and consistently been dwindeling for some time.

I would point to all the instances of off the shelf solutions that were bought, and then had a Disney "overlay" applied to them. I would equate it to: buying a product, removing the trademark and putting your own on it and pawning it off as yours, like a certain sea life artist did for years. This was not what Imagineering was about until this generation.

Apparently, gone are the days of true innovative designs.

We are witnessing the Generation of the "Catalog Imagineer's."

In fairness, there are exceptions, but only a few. That is what is so frustrating to me, being a designer, is witnessing the lackluster performance of this generation of Imagineers.

Sad, but it does not have to be this way.

Anonymous said...

Tim's failure outnumber his successes. DCA, The entrance to Disneyland's Tomorrowland. Come on, he was an expensive embarrassment to good design.
Valerie, on the other hand, is hard to understand. Hopefully they gave her a consultant contract so she can continue to sculpt for the company the way Blaine did after retiring.

/bsdb said...

Tim's failure outnumber his successes. DCA, The entrance to Disneyland's Tomorrowland. Come on, he was an expensive embarrassment to good design.

Anyone who would make this statement is certainly ignorant of Tim's entire Imagineering career. You're citing only two of hundreds of designs that Tim created during his three decades plus at WED/WDI.

I highly recommend Disneyland Paris: From Sketch to Reality by Alain Littaye and Didier Ghez to see examples of Tim's best work (IMHO) as the show producer for Discoveryland. This book is a must have for any serious Imagineering fan.

coraigi said...

^^^^

It depends on why they fired her. If it was because they didn't want to have her trying to assert her quality standards on the work they were outsourcing, then I doubt they would bring her as a consultant to do the same thing.

It feels like her quality standards were becoming an annoyance. Apparently Imagineering management is willing to forgive some quality flaws for expediency sake, and she wouldn't accept that.

So, apparently Imagineering is willing to sacrifice creativity and quality in their new game plan.

Spokker said...

Tim Delaney in the BBC documentary Shoot for the Moon. It takes a serious look at designing and building Space Mountain Paris. Great special.

Sacking him is only Disney's loss.

Anonymous said...

You guys bemoan everyone who leaves claiming quality suffers. Many of the people being let go, like Tim, were the ones who foisted DCA on us.
I am sure Bob Weis is very satisfied with things. Remember he gave us the original Disney/MGM Studios. Now there's a person who knows how to manage the Imagineering process.

Anonymous said...

"Tim's failure outnumber his successes. DCA, The entrance to Disneyland's Tomorrowland. Come on, he was an expensive embarrassment to good design."

Not true at all. Beyond the works mentioned by BSDB, are all the great things he designed that did not get built. So much of what Imagineers do never is seen by the public.

BTW, Tony Baxter placed Tim's DLP AstroOrbiter ride in front of DL's Tomorrowland. If you don't like it, blame TB for that.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, this is the way that American business chooses to run in these times. Quality is jettisoned for quick money schemes and fixes....and it is sad and it makes obvious the lack of caring and the abundance of greed.

pariartspaul said...

Wow, I’m so really out of the loop these days to get this news on this website! Politics change at Imagineering every few years and people come and go. Tim and Valerie both had a great run there, that’s for sure.

It was tough for a lot of us who became Imagineers in one era to be asked to alter our work philosophies so often. Lol… I know from experience, having entered a career learning about Walt’s way of doing things from people like Marc Davis, Blaine, Claude Coats, Harriet Burns, Maggie Elliot, Joyce Carlson, Hench and all… doing the best I could, then a few years later I turn around and all of sudden Paul Pressler was my boss! Quite shocking… I felt like Alice in the looking glass world and everything was backwards. It took a few years after being layed off to get back on the right side of the mirror. Every once in a while now it’s fun to take a peek back in though.

I don’t think I ever worked with Tim directly only peripherally, but I’ve always known him as a consummate Imagineer and a really nice, thoughtful, professional guy. I like to think this ‘layoff’ was a mutual agreement and this will be a great new beginning for him.

I’ve worked with Valerie directly for some years on many projects and she is an AMAZING artist. Nothing ever came out of her department unless it was the best it could be. I know she’ll be having fun continuing on with sculpting. Val, you go girl! I wish you the best as always…

Greg Maletic said...

If you're going to bad-mouth Tim Delaney, at least have the guts to do so without hiding behind anonymity.

I'm not an unabashed fan of everything he created (I'm probably the only person that wasn't excited about his famous exterior for the Hong Kong Pirates; it felt too "theme-park-y" to me), but I think it's a reach to lay the blame for DCA on his doorstep. He was a designer on the project and was handed a difficult assignment, to say the least.

He created Discoveryland in Paris. My first visit to that land--before Space Mountain was built--was an extraordinary experience I'll never forget. I think it's a beautiful achievement. And his California Screamin' is, I think, one of the best coasters around.

He was a guy that wanted to build things that Disney theme park fans love, and he had the expertise to do so. It's unfortunate that he's gone.

noremac and roads less traveled said...

Might this simply be a payroll issue of getting rid of the ole' timers who earn so much more than kids these days? Isn't a lot of the design, sculpting, model building, engineering, project management and just about everything else being outsourced these days? Where do former Imagineers go? Could Re-Imagineering put up a separate listing or links page for the new companies these exiles and ex-pats start, get hired by or consult for, kind of an alumni list? I find some occasionally on other websites via articles & interviews, but a centralized source would be great. They should also be invited to write columns and articles!

Anonymous said...

I don't know how anyone can say that Imagineering is headed in a bad direction. The company's commitment to the DCA expansion, World of Color, Carsland, a new main entry, is amazing. All of those things are unprecedented investments in quality and innovation. And Disney has been lifting rides from outside companies since the beginning of the park. Imagineering certainly didn't invent the dumbo ride. Get a life.

berspor said...

^^^^^

Disney’s “commitment” to the DCA expansion is little more than another stopgap move, albeit a major one. Yes, they are adding Little Mermaid and Carsland, but in the years since the park opened, they have tried to punch up the park with Tower of Terror, Monster’s Inc. and Midway Mania. What they have realized was that it would take more than adding just an attraction at a time. Unfortunately, just changing area themeing, along with adding a few new attractions, still may not be enough to turn DCA around.

What you may not realize is that many of the people involved with the current DCA expansion were part of the original DCA team – responsible for DCA in the first place.

I have no doubt that some of the additions will be worthwhile. However, I don’t think the overall park experience will change that much. People will do as they do now – go to DCA to experience the three or four new attractions, and WOC, then head back to Disneyland.

Anonymous said...

You bad mouth Disney for adding a bunch of new attractions at DCA.
All you folks do is whine and complain!
How about something positive for a change?

Anonymous said...

Something positive ?- The threat of the hostile takeover and resulting piece meal sale adverted.
Bad news- Progressive suffering ever since Disney was forced to enter what corporate finance calls the real world.
Others have said it, yes men and payroll issues, just some symptoms that dedicated Imagineers have to overcome today.

Anonymous said...

"How about something positive for a change?"

Exactly what I want to ask Disney.

Anonymous said...

Dole Whip.

Spokker said...

Okay, everyone shut up now and look at this.

At that new Disney museum there is a scale model of the Disneyland that Walt Disney imagined. It's like some kind of perfect Disneyland.

View of the entrance complete with original Space Mountain concept.

Overhead view.

Seriously, they should build this somewhere in real life.

My God, it makes me even more depressed about the current state of the park. What's amazing to me is that most of this stuff, aside from that version of Space Mountain, was fully realized at one time. What an incredible vision. What an incredible team that put it all together.

Anonymous said...

Spokker, I think what you meant to say is that this, except for the conceptual model of Space Mountain, is the Disneyland that existed at the time of Walt's death, and is based on the Disneyland map at the time.

/bsdb said...

On my first visit to the WDFM, I spent more time pouring over that model, than on any other individual exhibit. Hands down, it's my favorite part of the museum. Pure genius.

Spokker is correct. It also makes me depressed about the current state of the parks, at least the domestic ones.

So many people are glowing about MK's upcoming FL makeover. Why? Sure, it might look great on the outside, once it's finished. But inside, it'll be nothing more than glorified meet-n-greet.

Eric Jacobson, another long-time Imagineer who's supposedly heading up the project, is not getting the original asking price for the rehab's budget. We've seen this song and dance before, with New TL98 and DCA. So why is everyone so excited about it?

Jacobson is a great designer, but... as Delaney was forced to work with obscenely low budgets for DCA, Jacobson is being backed into the same corner with MK's FL makeover. When it's completed, will Burbank kick him to the curb as well, given his decades of employment and high salary as Sr VP?

The thought of Imagineering becoming just another job shop is gut wrenching. All other design studios once measured themselves against Imagineering, considered the industry gold standard. Now? No one studio is considered the leader and innovator of design, with the possible exception of Apple. But last time I checked, Apple doesn't design themed environments.

Anonymous said...

BTW the other Imagineer let go that day was Christopher Smith. his work is posted here.

http://disneyandmore.blogspot.com/2009/09/new-high-res-files-of-dumbo-little.html

Anonymous said...

/bsdb said...
"Eric Jacobson, another long-time Imagineer who's supposedly heading up the project, is not getting the original asking price for the rehab's budget. We've seen this song and dance before, with New TL98 and DCA. So why is everyone so excited about it?
Jacobson is a great designer, but... as Delaney was forced to work with obscenely low budgets for DCA, Jacobson is being backed into the same corner with MK's FL makeover. When it's completed, will Burbank kick him to the curb as well, given his decades of employment and high salary as Sr VP?"
You've pre-judged before the attraction is even open.

2.0 and beyond said...

^^^^^
Another in a line of quality Imagineering artists that were laid off. So, how many do they have left?

I think they are almost entirely relying on interns to do their renderings now. I don't know if any of them have actually had the opportunity to actually mentor under previous Imagineering artists. By the looks of the work from some recent artists, it looks like they got their training from reading comic books.

noremac said...

/bsdb, you don't think apple designs themed environments, but they sure do retail pretty well, not to mention have a look at this article about the "new" Disney stores, Jobs & apple's research involved.
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/13/business/media/13disney.html?_r=3&ref=business
Wonder who on the WDI staff is involved with this?

The precedence has also been set for bringing talent capital back for projects, Bob Weiss and DCA.

Anonymous, were not prejudging the WDW MK FL addition, just optimistically cautious based on some past performance. Since each park VP is responsible for budgeting the improvements and additions they seem to worry more about their annual reviews and accounting reports - rightfully so perhaps but it may be nice if Burbank would just back it up and say this is what's going in and were not going to hold you responsible if it doesn't appear to work out at first.
It was originally rumored WDW HS wasn't going to get Star Tours 2.0 because someone didn't want to pay for it so it was going to go into just DL & Tokyo. How many other attractions or "plussing" designed by WDI was supposed to happen but someone locally decided they didn't want to spend the money so into the morgue the project went?
Like the Great Communicator once said "Trust, but verify".
Personally, the Lil Mermaid ride should be great, the enhanced experiential meet & greets will be nice for that age group, but there's other places I may have spent the money on like Tomorrowland (Carousel of Progress!) or freshening up some of the other attractions that are almost forty years old.
Have a happy!

forati said...

Anonymous said:

“You've pre-judged before the attraction is even open.”



When the description and artwork indicate that two thirds of the new WDW FL enhancement is dedicated to Meet and Greets, then there is no reason that it shouldn’t be pre-judged on that element.

But, that’s beside the point and actually an assumption on your part that the enhancement would be a failure. In the position that /bsdb puts forth, if Jacobson gets kicked to the curb, given Disney’s ongoing strategies, it would indicate that the project was successful. They have been firing or ignoring those with successful projects and promoting those with failures and less than successful results.

Anonymous said...

First off, I don't know of ANY Disney project that ever got it's "asking" price. (That's why they call it an "asking" price) and those numbers usually are based on very sketchy information so they are grossly inflated. there is a routine negotiation that happens where they want you to knock off a certian amount so you pad it up front. Going over budget toward the end and landing at the "asking" price or more does happen.

/bsdb said...

There's a big difference between asking $750 million but receiving only half as much, which is what Jacobson's team is now working with. And the days of slowly inching over the budget bit by bit and eventually landing near the asking price a la Baxter are over.

Once the budgetary ceiling is reached, it almost takes an act of Walt to get any more funds pumped into the project. Nemo Subs was allowed to go over budget only by the grace of Lasseter's link with the Rotunda office. Otherwise, the rehab would have sucked a lot more than it does, which is too scary to contemplate.

Tom Slick said...

I've said it before. Tony Baxter is a Corporate Heel, and so is Marty Sklar. They have given up and given into the very things Walt was against, cheapness and homogenization of the Lands. They should get the door first.

Including the recent "plussings" that offered nothing more than Characters to whore off merchandise to the public. I hope there is some serious rethinking and change when George takes over Anaheim.

Speaking of Homogenization, Al Lutz confirms talks between DLR and Starbucks. Every place that serves coffee within the Resort property is to switch to Starbucks under the proposed deal, that includes the hotels too. I'd personally rather see a smaller company be introduced, as Starbucks is old news and on its way out, with its $3+ cups of coffee/lattes/frappuccinos.

As an example, They could talk with Apffels coffee that Philippe's still sells for .09¢ a cup. Disney could pull down a profit, customers would be happy at paying $1-1.50 a cup, while keeping Main Street "period correct", all the while keeping another CA company going and growing. This would only help to shake off the overall "Cowhoreporate" feel of the Resort itself.

I digress, I do realize that most, if not all of Main Street was sponsored by companies at one time or another, but what is failed eyesight by all in favor; The fact that the original companies were antique and around for ages, which fit nicely into the theme of Main Street. Carnation was founded in 1899, Sunkist in 1893, etc. etc...

By adding Starbucks(Est. 1971) just brings a NOT needed updated/real world feel to Main Street just by the mention of its namesake. At that point, might as well lose the gaslamps that line Main Street, as well as replace the incadescant bulbs that light up the storefronts on Main Street with CFL bulbs, Lose the Horses and double decker autobusses, and instead, substitute them with limo stretched Toyota Prius', and Smartcars that shuttle the Park visitors to the Hub and back.

I know, I know, It's not the end of the world, but it is another step closer to losing authenticity.
If I wanted to see Facades, I'd go to Universal Studios. I'm just sayin'...

Anonymous said...

I don't agree that Baxter should be gone and some of these things you say are over the top, but it is true that Starbucks is a generic, real world or at least modern era coffee experience. No one would take their grandkids to the Market House to show "how it used to be" and have a iced latte. Coffee Bean would at least do the show of grinding and all the handmade aspects, which is what Main Street is about. Where is the artisan element to coffee? Grinding the beans. Do the espresso in New Orleans Square.

I say they should have percolators!

Anonymous said...

Starbucks is as ironic to the 1890s as Chevron is to "Cars of the future".

Anonymous said...

I have not heard "heel" used since watching a Doris Day movie. Great word.. but wrong target, Tony and Marty work for a big company and don't really decide anything, they just do interviews so it looks like they do. Tony loves the parks and so does Marty.

Frustrating. Isn't it tough to know exactly who peed in the pool?

Spokker said...

I don't agree that Baxter should be sacked. It must kill him deep inside to be an old school Imagineer in the last decade or so. His influence is superficial and as another poster has said, he can't make any real change at his stature. I would recommend he quit on principle, but where would he go? WED doesn't exist in any form anywhere. He still has to support his family. He does what he can in my opinion.

Sklar, on the other hand, sold out and sold out big. This is the guy who could have enacted huge change if he had spoken up. The time to speak up was when Bruce Gordon was fired. With Gordon's pink slip, it proved to everybody, and get ready to bleep me here, that being passionate about the company you work for doesn't mean sh*t.

Fired in 2005 and died in 2007. Yet many so-called Disney fan sites neglected to mention he was fired when they wrote those dumb obituaries about him. Bruce was forced out by corporate politics and I wouldn't be surprised if it killed him.

My interpretation of the situation is probably flawed, but I hope some insider with more information can convince me that Bruce Gordon died a happy man. As a fan of all this stupid Disney theme park crap, it tears me up inside that he was let go and died all too young.

Anonymous said...

Marty Sklar is retired. he no longer works for Disney.

Anonymous said...

As someone who has lived in several corporate environments for a few decades, I am reminded of the old adage "There are two sides to every story".

Something tells me that Tim and Val may not have been the faultless genius angels that some make them out to be. If they were fired on purpose, perhaps there's another side to their careers we aren't being told about by their cheerleaders and Internet fans? For all we know Tim was let go for inappropriate behavior in the Xerox room, and Val was caught using company assets for private gain. I'm sure that's not the case, but we just dont' know the details of their personnel files.

Somehow though, I'm pretty sure the robots will still sing in the Pirate ride at Disneyland in the morning and the world will go on. There's two sides to every story folks, don't forget that.

/bsdb said...

There's two sides to every story folks, don't forget that.

This is correct. The side which isn't being mentioned by official Disney media channels, is how Bruce Vaughn was promoted in 2007 by Jay Rasulo to be a hatchet-man and cleanse Imagineering of long-term full-time six-figure salaried executives.

Rasulo is slowly reshaping Imagineering into a job shop, and using Vaughn to do his dirty work. Tim and Valerie have not been the first to get the boot, nor will they be the last. The second generation Imagineers are viewed by Burbank as a detriment to the bottom line. Burbank has no loyalty towards Walt's legacy and the creative geniuses who have come before them, including Imagineers like Tim and Valerie.

This is simply about increasing profitability for all TWDC business units, including WDI. Removing highly paid executives and directors who've been with the company for several decades and replacing them with contractors and consultants is the method which Jay Rasulo is currently favoring.

Tim and Valerie didn't do anything wrong, other than survive Disney politics long enough to eventually draw a significant salary, which is now distasteful to those who sign the paychecks. Nothing else.

Anonymous said...

I thought mean spirited personal attacks ( like MS and TB, BV, etc.) were "off limits" on this blog? Well mannered critique is one thing, but "peeing in the pool" by "hatchet men"?

I long for the "good ol days" when it meant something to rant on about a 70's miniskirt and boots on an animatronic, or mourning the loss of the Rain Forest in IASW. That's Re-Imagineering.

Nothing personal.

Anonymous said...

" The second generation Imagineers are viewed by Burbank as a detriment to the bottom line"

How do you explain Bob Weis coming back and running most of the scope of WDI? He is most certainly a "second generation" Imagineer. I'm sure he did not return for the price of a 20 year old. He had his own design studio and was lured back no doubt and for more than he got when he was there years ago. They are reshaping their business as you point out, but I'm not sure it's all 100% payroll driven.

/bsdb said...

Obviously, not every single second generation Imagineer will be let go. Even Uni Creative kept about 30 permanent employees to manage the place after their downsizing. But the ongoing termination of long-term Imagineers is all about money and the bottom line.

As more and more contractors and consultants are utilized on a per-project basis in Glendale, permanent full-time execs and directors will be needed less and less. So their numbers will continue to diminish over time, as individual contracts run out and fail to renew.

Gone are the days of thousands of permanent Imagineers working on dozens of projects across the park and resort spectrum. Projects will continue to be fewer in number and smaller in scope, spread out over many years to design and construct, save the obvious work being done in DCA, Hong Kong, and soon Shanghai (which Bob Weis will lead, btw).

Bob Weis is clearly the exception, not the norm. Far more second generation Imagineers have been let go than brought back, and I don't see that trend reversing, ever. I predict several more well-known Imagineers like Delaney will be forced to leave before Phase I of DCA's rehab is completed in 2012, if not sooner. Burbank simply does not care.

Anonymous said...

I was "let go" in a economic move of vast proportions back around 1990. Many who were life-long Disney were let go. It happens. Ir is sad, and unfortunate, but it is what it is: specific leadership at the time make poor decisions. eventually new leadership comes along and things are fixed. Disney is still Disney. I am still Disney, after all of these years.

Anonymous said...

"There is hope for the future. And when the world is ready for a new and better life, all this will someday come to pass. In God's good time... Now then, proceed to lay off the crew."
-Captain Nemo

Anonymous said...

Bob Weis should have been running WDI after Disney/MGM Studios. But he was made the fall guy for Disney America, and some of the names mentioned by other comments in this post were busily thrusting their blades of steel as deep as they could into his back.

Anonymous said...

"While passionate debate and dissent are encouraged at Re-Imagineering, comments that are personally disrespectful or derogatory will not be published."


Yeah right.

Mr Banks said...

Thank you for the reminder. I've 'un-published' the comments you mentioned. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Most appreciated. I come here to enjoy the debate!

Anonymous said...

Well, if you read the papers, it looks like Shanghai DL will be a reality. In saying that, it also looks from the concept art like the layout of the park will be original in many ways. Too early to tell, but that seems to be the intent. A step in the right direction for WDI in that they may be able to create some new and exciting attractions for that MK that will hopefully make their way back into the US or at least be the basis for some. DLP had exactly that effect and many of the best nuances from that park made their way into the others.

I think this is a moment (c'mon, how long can a moment be?) to be positive about this development and celebrate a shot at the future.

Lou Zucaro said...

I realize Apple has as passionate a fanboy base as "old" Disney Imagineers do, but I think a lot of people who are not into the actual technology don't realize that what Apple is really good at is marketing, followed by "making stuff look pretty".

Apple didn't invent the GUI, or the mouse, or Linux or aluminum construction or clean lines or MP3 players or any number of other things that people think they "invented".

They're good at putting things together that maybe weren't together before. And they're even better at making people believe that they've invented these things...and that they do them "for the good of the people".

Neither of those things is true.

I say this not to incite a Love Apple / Hate Apple debate, but because I think it's entirely unfair (to Walt) to compare Apple with Disney.

Walt was a visionary. Jobs is a salesman.

Lou Zucaro said...

Oh...and I'd also love to see some kind of directory of Imagineers online someplace.

Anonymous said...

Walt Disney is most certainly a salesman, and that is one of the keys to him being a successful visionary. Ideas are one thing, but capturing the public's imagination and convincing those corporations to fund the vision is the real key.

Salesmanship, like advertising should be "truth well told". And there is no shame in its masterful execution. Go Steve Jobs for he is both as well.

Anonymous said...

If Steve Jobs is not a visionary in his field than who is? Bill Gates? It's true Apple buys small companies and integrates their innovations into their software, just like Disney borrows classic stories (and ride systems i might add) and spins them as their own. Walt and Steve both keep their own names high on the door to attach as much fame as possible to themselves.

I think they are more alike than apart. Both are autocrats with idealistic goals too. Apple didn't have to make computing pretty or a better experience, it is all in those details that we Apple lovers crave. Apple is to Compaq what Disney is to amusement parks. Sales and vision go hand in hand.

Tom Slick said...

While I can appreciate why my post was removed for making direct statements about two people, I don't understand why the original "Anonymous" poster who incited the "pee in the pool" post is still included in the discussion? The Statement I made was in rebuttal to "Anonymous"(comment#32 October 29, 2009 5:40:00 PM PDT) where they stated
Tony and Marty work for a big company and don't really decide anything, they just do interviews so it looks like they do. Tony loves the parks and so does Marty.

Frustrating. Isn't it tough to know exactly who peed in the pool?



I usually do not cry "not fair" like alot of sensitive peeple, but what gives? I really don't feel my statements were any harsher or crossed over any boundaries than that of the original poster, and if it were seen as such, maybe I should look elsewhere to participate on the blogosphere.

I'm not a sugar coater, and I'm not a P.C.er, while I do refrain from using curse words and or derogatory words to get my points accross. If anything my TB/MS point was in a grey area debate as reference, not a direct attack that I had dug up and initiated.

I love the info and knowledge supplied on this blog, but do we really "need" a bunch of over sensitive, whiney people who do not even take the time to make up a name to blow the PC whistle? Come on, really? "Pee in pools" is acceptable, but associating people with the pee is not??? I hope it has not come to this...I should add that, I'm not typing this in an angry tone, but I just want to make some clarifications and defend my original post that was removed by Mr. Banks...I'm fine with the removal, but feel that if mine goes, so should the original reference of the pee statement, plain and simple.

Lou Zucaro said...

My point is that a lot of what Jobs does is refinement & massaging, whereas, IMHO, Disney did a lot of actual creation.

Plus, wasn't Disney known for actually listening to people to see how they felt, how they thought things could be made better? Even if he didn't always incorporate those things, that's a great trait for a visionary.

Jobs is known for telling people who disagree with him to f-off, telling them they don't know what they're talking about, and flat out ignoring the requests and pleas of customers because "he knows what's best and they don't".

I had an employee years ago who left to go program for Apple. He said they had pages and pages of "tech support" scripts filled with lies and fabrications because they simply didn't have the staff to deal with the Mac's real issues, so they blamed problems on completely unrelated things and suggested "fixes" that were bogus (not in all circumstances, but in many).

He also said that the Windows dev teams at Apple aren't pressed to find and remove bugs (like the QT bugs that were in Windows versions of the software for 2 years) because it helps them convince people to switch to Mac because it's a better experience.

Sorry, but that doesn't sound like the type of company Disney ran.

In my own personal experience, I've had fantastic customer service from Disney, and terrible customer service from Apple.

Just like sometimes there's a fine line between a hero and a villain, there's a fine line between somebody who's a visionary and somebody who's just a salesman.

Attitude and intent go a long way.

Mr Banks said...

To above Tom: Wondering who peed in a pool is very different from calling someone out. Regardless, if other posters find that entry objectionable I'll be happy to remove it.

Anonymous said...

I'm the one who wrote the "peed in the pool" comment and only was alluding to the frustration of solving an unsolvable mystery and meant no offense to anyone.

Anonymous said...

I was lucky enough to work with Valerie some years ago. She is truly an amazing talent with such a fun and spirited personality.

I do sure hope she will "consult" as I'm positively sure her skills will still be needed.
Just not as a "blue-badge" drawing a regular salary with benefits. Called when needed, just like the rest of us, seems to be the way these days.

Best to you Val!

Anonymous said...

Dumbo was invented by Disney. There is a patent concerning the Mouse design element of the attraction.

Anonymous said...

Once upon a time I would have been sorry to see some old-timers go. But lately I've been thinking that Imagineering needs a lot more turnover.

I've had the opportunity to see a variety of projects unfold at Disney. And Imagineering is so different from other parts of the company.

With Imagineering, everything seems to take longer than necessary. There are twice as many people in the meetings, and the meetings just ramble on and on. There's not enough innovation, and too much "that's how we do things here".

The vast majority of the Imagineers seem to be middle-aged or older, and have been around for years and years. In other business units, there is a lot more diversity of ages, and a lot more people who have recently come into the organization with enthusiasm and new ideas.

So I'm starting to think that we need to lose some of the expertise, the experience, the traditional ways. We need to make some room for inexperience, innovation, enthusiasm, and crazy ideas that just might work.

Spokker said...

"We need to make some room for inexperience, innovation, enthusiasm, and crazy ideas that just might work."

Yeah, as long as those crazy ideas consist of Cars Land and Little Mermaid the Ride...

When one of those young Imagineers suggests something on the scale of Horzions, Disney will go, "You want a horizon, kid? There's the horizon. Keep walking, buddy."

Anonymous said...

Spokker, you just plain don't like anything unless it came from Walt's time. The anonymous poster's comment about Most Imagineers being middle age is very accurate and the "that's the way things are done around here" has been in place since 95.
The place needs a good shaking up.

2.0 and beyond said...

^^^^^
Actually, most Imagineers are NOT middle age. While some of the senior Imagineers are, many of those who are getting a good deal of the opportunities are third generation (if not fourth).

As for "that's the way things are done around here", that hasn’t been the operational situation for some time. The First Generation of the “DisneyWay” used to be Imagineers with a broad range of skills, who could take on numerous aspects of a project. The Second Generation Imagineers mentored with those and developed many of their skills along with the underlying “Disney Way”. The Third Generation did much of the same. The Fourth Generation though, does not have the broad range of their predecessors. Many are very limited in their skills and do not appear to be obliged to absorb the skills and Disney Way from them. And these are the ones setting the new direction.

The shaking up has already happened a couple of times, but all that did was shift the political structure around. When Lasseter went in, it appeared to indicate a real change in the political structure might come about. But when he declined to take any active steps to correct the imbalance, the structure pretty much realigned itself again to the negative political environment of earlier régimes.

So, the “shaking up” that again needs to be done is NOT the “middle age” Imagineers, but to finally eliminate that political stranglehold.

Smilee306 said...

Spokker said...
Okay, everyone shut up now and look at this.

Just wanted to say, beautiful. Those pictures are so beautiful.

Anonymous said...

You bad mouth Disney for adding a bunch of new attractions at DCA.
All you folks do is whine and complain!
How about something positive for a change?


You said it! I don't think this blog and its writers even know how to be positive either. They probably can't even spell it either!

You guys bemoan everyone who leaves claiming quality suffers. Many of the people being let go, like Tim, were the ones who foisted DCA on us.
I am sure Bob Weis is very satisfied with things. Remember he gave us the original Disney/MGM Studios. Now there's a person who knows how to manage the Imagineering process.


My thoughts exactly! The pessimism needs to stop at once!

Spokker, /bsdb, Tom Slick, 2.0 and Beyond, etc. are dead wrong about everything they say or think and need to stop acting like Chicken Little and Statler & Waldorf!

Anonymous said...

I haven't really been following the above discussion, but, since there has been a dearth of new posts for a couple of months, may I make a suggestion for a possible post (or series of posts)? What about an article about aspects of the park, existing or historical, that represent(ed) imagineering at its best, with all the requisite elements of a great attraction/experience? You might focus on lesser known attractions or areas of the parks (rather than the usual suspects, Pirates, Mansion, etc.). Just a thought in the hopes of reviving things here.

Spokker said...

The recession has dried up a lot of Disney criticism from the insiders who posted at Re-Imagineering. You've heard of "loose lips sink ships," right? Loose lips can also sink jobs and in this economy you're not going to find another one.

Jobs are currently being added to the economy, but unemployment continues to rise as discouraged workers start looking for work again, encouraged by reports of new jobs. As you can imagine, it's very competitive right now. I have heard of thousands of applications being sent in for a single position.

I wonder. If you plotted the unemployment rate against the amount of Disney rumors/criticism released per month by insiders, would they be negatively correlated? Haha God I hate my life.

Angelique R said...

I do not disagree with some of the decisions regarding Paradise Pier. Taking down the Maliboomer and developing World of Color were great decisions. But some of the rebranding looks both hasty and sloppy. The new Mickey's Symphony swings look rediculous, the Orange was WAY better.

I just never thought it was an Epic Fail, I think Delaney should have been given an opportunity to further the California theme before rebranding everything. It wasn't the lack of Disney icons that hurt DCA, it was the small size and comparatively high price. If they were to continue to build it out with Delaney's vision I think the experience would be more congruent--it feels awkwardly disjointed.

Anonymous said...

I have worked with the aforementioned 'sacked' imagineers, and am still saddened by the loss of such immense talent. Throughout these blogs I have continuously noticed the word 're-imagineering', I think the word we're looking for here is 'de-imagineering'. I was and remain a fan of all things Disney, and long for the day when the pendulum swings its way back to the side where creatives make the decisions as to what goes into the parks. I still know many Imagineers, and respect ,and admire their talents, skills, and desire for quality. I also know that if the bean counters keep slapping your hands, you will hesitate to reach for the cheese. Power to the mouse!

ret1954@hotmail.com said...

Valarie Edwards was my first introduction into sculpting,she was my teacher and friend and the most talented person I ever met.Disney are fools for ever letting such talent go.I wish her the best because she is the best and will always be the best.