Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Why We Whine


“Get it?” “Got it.” “Good.”


You’ll hear the phrase thrown around a lot on Disney boards and blogs, mostly in the context of critics of Disney Theme Parks and those who they feel share their way of thinking. “That guy get’s it!”

So what is this “it” that they get? What set’s them apart from the rest of the critical, mean spirited blogosphere out to get Disney?

Would You Like Some Cheese With That Whine?

First off, let’s just drop the notion that every Disney critic is just complaining because it’s fun or because they have an axe to grind or because they're just miserable, as that’s simply not true. Criticism of Disney is not the same as armchair movie critiquing, browser wars or debates over favorite sports teams. Disney Critiquing is fueled by a whole other animal.

The vast majority of truly sincere Disney critics are the old timers, the ones who've seen Disney in its prime. We've witnessed a business model all the experts said wouldn’t succeed succeed in ways no one could have imagined. Now we witness the budding growth of those principles plowed over before they've fully blossomed.

We know what Disney can be but now we don’t always see it trying.

Take Space Mountain. Bereft of any Disney characters, the Mountain has been one of those must-ride attractions for guests of Walt Disney World and Disneyland for generations. How ingenious is a ride design that, with only moderate refurbishing, still manages year after year to draw not only the most jaded teens and thrill seekers but even coaster-phobics whose greater fear is missing out on a truly magical Disney experience? Plain and simple, that is a well crafted attraction; a success that has as much to do with the spirit and principles that went into it's creation as it does with the steel and plaster comprising its parts.

But when we look at something like the recent character infusions in "it’s a small world" or Epcot's Grand Fiesta Tour we see a completely different Disney than the one we knew; a Disney not trying to put its best foot forward but its hand into our wallets. We don’t see craftsmanship, we see crass commercialism, a directly antithetical concept to the ones laid out by Disney’s founders, a philosophy that Disney already proved didn’t work in the long run.

That’s Not Nostalgic. That’s Just Boring.

And that brings us to another misrepresentation. The nostalgists.

If you think that all the Disney critics are a bunch of sour, grumpy old men living life in the past, then you’re about as far away from accurate as Carl Fredricksen was from Paradise Falls. You’ve taken one characterization of nostalgia and over emphasized it. Nostalgia is so much more then pining away for the days of old.

The type of nostalgia were talking about here isn’t just about remembering something fondly from our youth. It’s about rekindling that fondness each and every time we hear the name, watch the films or visit the parks.

Walt and his gang understood the concept of nostalgia quite well, even if that was never a stated or exclusive goal. By pouring so much energy, talent and money into their theme parks they succeeded in creating timeless worlds of fantasy and adventure that guests were eager to revisit, even after their sour old disposition should have overtaken them. You could never got tired of, or tired in, a Disney theme park.

It didn’t mean stagnation. It meant that, despite the occasional refurbishment or freshening-up, you still had a sense of connection and familiarity with the place, one you’d want to share with your friends, family and loved ones. How masterful a business it is if it can not only keep customers patronizing them throughout the entirety of their life but actively recruiting converts to the Disney theme park experience.

The Disney parks were, of course, designed to be be enjoyed by young and old alike, not as a place kids merely dragged their parents to. Without that spirit, without that sense of kindling nostalgia in all its guests, Disney would stagnate on the back of one demographic. Disney already proved that trying to include everyone is a much more successful strategy in the long term. It's a business model that not only worked, it worked in spades.

And this is what mostly younger, post-Eisner era Disney fans generally do not understand. They see a thread or blog post lamenting the dismantling of Horizons, the desecration of Future World or the inclusion of some Disney characters in "it's a small world", and they don’t get it. They only see the surface elements: the destruction of something old, the inclusion of something new and 'old people' not happy about it. They don’t necessarily understand that the much maligned slogan “Disneyland will never be complete” didn’t mean the total destruction of an attraction because it was merely old, nor the carte blanche inclusion of anything because it’s new and shiny.

Sell-Out, Don't Sellout

True fans never wanted Horizons to just continue to take us past a giant outdated microprocessor or present video chatting as a future technology for all time. Nor did we wish for World of Motion and "it's a small world" to be covered in lacquer and preserved as is for future generations. What we expected, what vintage Disney delivered over several generations, was an elevation of the principles that made it a cultural phenomenon in the first place.

The new company buzzward 'synergy' so often implemented today is just the opposite. In some cases it’s successful in the sense that it often causes an explosion of cash in every corner of the company, but often at the cost of an even more lucrative long term investment. Ellen may have made Universe of Energy more tolerable, but how long did it take for the gag to wear thin? How many times can any one guest tolerate another belch from an animatronic Stitch? Martin Short? Sure, he's funny. When he tells a different joke ever so often.

Our arguments are not about calcifying the past. They're about learning from it; not dismissing the best tenets of success as if they were dumb luck or happenstance but applying them to modern times. In an age where corporate leaders play internal politics for the betterment of themselves rather than the company, we understand how difficult it can be for a top executive to focus less on on their bonus check and more on returning the Peoplemover to Disneyland. But we also know that the founding father of the company would have had nothing to do with that reality.
“Some people worship money as something you've got to have piled up in a big pile somewhere. I've only thought about money in one way, and that is to do something with it. I don't think there's a thing I own that I will ever get the benefit of except through doing things with it… I'd rather have that in (the company) working…”

-Walt Disney


The Disney brand is, by and large, all about heart. We’ve no delusions that it’s not a business. But if you understand the basic concept of a business that puts emphasis on its customers to the Nth degree, understand the difference between genuine synergy and pandering, understand that the causes and events that made fans so demanding are the exact same causes and events that made Disney Disney, then maybe, just maybe, you’ll understand us whiners and get “it” too.

We complain, critique and whine because we love Disney that much. Imagineering's Golden Age trained us to expect more, and to never settle for less. We’re simply byproducts of the same philosophy that made the company such a success.
__________________

Contributed by Re-Imagineering reader Digital Jedi

Note: Those interested in contributing entries to Re-Imagineering should initially forward a comment to any existing entry that includes your e-mail address and your stated interest. The comment will not be published so your e-mail will remain anonymous.

40 comments:

Dazed And Confuzzled said...

Bravo!

Anne said...

I understand your point, but there are a couple of things I disagree with.

First, I haven't seen the Small World changes at Disneyland, but I've ridden Gran Fiesta Tour, and I don't think it's a thinly disguised marketing ploy at all. I saw one "Three Caballeros" t-shirt in the Mexico pavilion, but they're not hawking thousands of Donald, Jose and Panchito plushes or "Three Caballeros" DVDs. One new t-shirt isn't exactly a marketing blitz.

Second, I was under the impression that Walt Disney pretty much invented synergy. Why else would he build a Sleeping Beauty Castle at the same time his animators were working on the film? That's a giant advertisement dead center in the park, if you want to look at it cynically.

Still, thank you for pointing out that those of us who criticize Disney aren't always just blindly nostalgic. There are certainly many extinct attractions that deserved to go to Yesterland! Worthy successors or well-done updates to existing rides are always welcome, in my opinion.

Future Guy said...

Well said!

Tom Frauenhofer said...

Very well stated - I agree wholeheartedly.

Anonymous said...

My problem is people that believe in "golden ages". Talk about an off concept. How often have we've heard about the golden age of film and music, and how today's efforts just don't measure up.

The concept that imagineering had a golden age implies that everything outside of this era will not measure up. Doesn't that seem pessimistic?

Spokker said...

"The concept that imagineering had a golden age implies that everything outside of this era will not measure up. Doesn't that seem pessimistic?"

There doesn't have to be just one golden age. Think about Disney's animated features. There was a golden age around the time of Pinocchio and Fantasia. After Disney died there was a dark age. And then there was another golden age with Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid. Then there was another dark age with all those crappy non-Pixar 3D movies. Now we might see another golden age again.

The same is true for the theme parks. Nothing is stopping Imagineering from flourishing in another golden age except dumb decisions that limit their capacity for creativity.

Anonymous said...

Bring the People Mover back to Disneyland? Come on that's nostalgia, not tomorrow. How about doing something futuristic...get rid of Autopia and replace it with something new and imaginative. And World of Motion was always boring. And Pirates of the Carribean is even better with Sparrow in it.
But you old guys will never get that.

Brian said...

>> And Pirates of the Carribean is even better with Sparrow in it.
<<

Well that's a matter of opinion.

Digital, thanks for the great post - you said it well and I agree with you. And while I lament the passing of the innocence of "Small World" among other things, I also wonder what could have been if Imagineering had continued to follow the ark of their golden age.

Spokker said...

"Bring the People Mover back to Disneyland? Come on that's nostalgia, not tomorrow."

It's also better than nothing.

"get rid of Autopia and replace it with something new and imaginative."

Bravo. But will it happen? Disney seems to take the easy way out these days, with Pixar rides and makeovers, both permanent and seasonal. So if people ask for a People Mover makeover, maybe it might actually happen. I think fans have given up waiting for the next Horizons anyway.

And besides, it's not like you can't re-imagine the People Mover for a new generation. It doesn't have to look like it came out of the sixties. It also shouldn't be based on Incredibles either...

Anonymous said...

Ok. the thing that irks me is the notion of intergrating a STARBUCKS into the Market House on Main Street. If it's a small sign that says "we proudly serve Starbucks coffee", that's one thing. If they do the whole pumkinspiceddoubleshotnowhipnonfatlatte thing, even if it's themed, then that's over the line for me.
Starbucks is an experience that is so much from the real world it contrasdicts Main Street. Nestle makes nespresso coffee which is premium espresso and could be an option, but Starbucks is so real world.

The addition of a Starbucks (in historic sections) to many pristine towns is a desecration of their authenticity (Mill Valley CA for one) and are not allowed in by the city for that reason. It symbolizes urban homogenization and in DL only reminds us of the real world. A true spellbreaker. Put one outside the gate or in Tomorrowland and make it Starbuck Rogers in the 25th century! and make it cool.

Digital Jedi said...

Anonymous said:
>>>Bring the People Mover back to Disneyland? Come on that's nostalgia, not tomorrow<<<

Again, your focusing in on one aspect of nostalgia and missing the bigger picture, much the same way your doing with one portion of a sentence in the article. The People Mover was futuristic. Sometimes going forward also means going back to a good idea. Do you presume that the return of the People Mover means an exact scale replica of what was once there? Or do you have imagination enough to at least theorize what could be done to make a better version? Or something in the same spirit? While I don't subscribe to the "something is better than nothing" philosophy, I don't accept the nothing, when something grand could take its place, either. Why should anybody?

bluesky said...

Well said! For me, this article sums up what most of the Disney geeks (me included) have been suggesting for years. The one thing that erks me the most is shutting down The AC to replace it with a 3rd party vendor because the land it occupies is worth more as a rental than The AC brings in. And to boot, Disney does not have to spring for employee benefits. The problem with this line of thinking is that it does not take into consideration what the guest would take from it. Where are more warm memories going to be made? At The AC or at an Apple Store or whatever it will become. Creating lasting memories isn't that what Disney and life in general is about? There have been countless short sided decisions made by Disney within the past 15 years that may or may not improve the bottom line for the short term, but to not have the power to stay relevant/classic.

Anonymous said...

>>>Bring the People Mover back to Disneyland? Come on that's nostalgia, not tomorrow<<<

I agree that something is almost always better than nothing. While the People Mover at first evokes a great deal of nostalgia, the concept can still be considered futuristic. Especially if they use the LIM ride system that exists in the Florida version of this attraction. Since the old system was ripped out for Rocket Rods anyway, I don't see why LIMs wouldn't be used if a new People Mover was to be installed.

For what it's worth, a reliable, air pollution free mode of public transportation is probably of more interest now than when these attractions first debuted. Since such things are far from commonplace, they still have a place in the land of tomorrow. They certainly belong as much as singing fish, or stand up comedian monsters.

I just wish the ride audio still occasionally informed guests about what they were riding instead of making it the land's trailer reel.

Spokker said...

Starbucks is a bad idea.

Starbucks: Founded 1972.

Existing sponsors on Main Street include or included:

Kodak: Founded 1892
Carnation: Founded 1899
Coca Cola: 1886
Nestle: 1866

It simply doesn't fit.

Anonymous said...

First of all, all the whinning of the ReImagineering staff is what has brought about so much change to Disney. You know how to address a problem, take advice, and then work with. You know how to take a simple idea like changing the water color in the DCA lagoon develop it into what is now "The World of Color". You understand the balance of global finance in relation to customer sales. You know how to ditch a stalled idea without killing it. Most of the other blogs revolve around you because of your "golden age" experience. Jobs wouldn't even be involved with the retail stores now if you were not there to agree that they were sinking even faster than before being sold off. So, if you ask me--
Whine on!

Coherent Disney Fan said...

Derelict abandonment should not be tolerated in Disneyland, period. A Starbucks should not be tolerated on Main Street. It is decisions like these that ruin the concept for what Disneyland once strongly represented.

The Peoplemover track should be re-utilized, but I agree, NO INCREDIBLES/WAL-E animated features hosting another videogame ride. It is time that Disneyland retrains the public for the future. Out with the 1980's thought of videogames(From the Starcade to Innovations to Buzz Lightyear), and give us something to hold on to for the hope of the future. If talking fish and moving shooter games are the future, we are all in a very real heap of trouble.

There are PLENTY of themes that could correspond with the Earth's future that could be handled in a positive, Disneylandic way. I think the single biggest factor holding this back, is that most people do NOT SEE an optimistic future. But someone has to push in that direction, or else we all fail to ensure mans survival in the end. I do not want to believe that, and who better to show this forward type thinking than that of Disneys own Imagineer Department. Afterall, This is ideal type of work that they get paid for, right?

I want to believe that the World and all of mankind will eventually wake up and harness the use of Solar powered LED lighting for every kind of structure and vehicles. All the while, continuing to strive for more efficient means of power and renewable consumables.

How about using a section of the Submarine Lagoon to show that harnessing wave energy can create electricity? How about changing Innovations to showcase the REAL technological advances in everyday living such as eco-friendly food packaging, and general household items that will also be eco-friendly? Reality for Tomorrowland is better than never-can-happen/make believe.

Lets face it, the future seems to look grim at this present time, but we all know now that conservancy and "Going Green" is the wave for OUR future, and our future is NOW. It doesn't have to be presented as an "In Your Face" exhibit, but can show exemplorary examples of how certain companies are working to save, renew and or preserve crucial resources. That would be the Tomorrowland that could entertain and educate. Bring back the Edutainment roster.

I'd much rather see a Tomorrowland actually host attractions and projects that are trying to create a better realistic Tomorrow, than the current talking fish and animated spaceman. I can agree with Digital Jedis points of views, and I'm in my 30s.

Digital Jedi said...

Anne said:
>>>First, I haven't seen the Small World changes at Disneyland, but I've ridden Gran Fiesta Tour, and I don't think it's a thinly disguised marketing ploy at all.

[...]

Second, I was under the impression that Walt Disney pretty much invented synergy.
<<<

Anne, consider the difference between synergy -- real synergy -- and crass commercialism. Real synergy is defined as "The interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects."

Walt took Sleeping Beauty's castle and did several things with it. He made a real-world version of it AND he made it the centerpiece of his theme park. He made fantasy reality, made his park iconic and made his movie iconic all the same time. Several elements that had he tried to achieve them alone wouldn't have had as great an impact. Driving in money by giving the people something they'd never seen before is one form of genuine synergy.

Where's the synergy in The Grand Fiesta Tour? World Showcase was not designed as a venue for more Disney characters. What other reason then to force fit characters into it then to remind consumers about the brand? "Don't forget your in Disney World! Don't forget about our cartoons!" That's not genuine synergy, because it does nothing to make the ride more lucrative in the long run, and it does nothing for the characters themselves. There is no impact. It's characters included for the sake of including characters.

Anonymous said...

What the heck is this group's problem with Pixar? Using those characters and their universes at the Disney parks has made them better.
And I bet if Walt was still alive there would have been some kind of Mary Poppins and Love Bug attraction built at the parks.
I mean gee, that's all most of Fantasyland is, attractions based on MOVIES that Disney made.

Anonymous said...

"Starbucks is a bad idea.

Starbucks: Founded 1972. It simply doesn't fit."


Exactly. So everyday. Thanks, Spokker.
Next we'll have the Emporium brought to you by GAP, Cold Stone Creamery, and Wetzel's Town Square pretzels.

Why bother immersing people inside a berm when you just fill it with more of the real world?

Anonymous said...

Disneyland was not dedicated to say "here age relives" cartoon characters in every attraction, it was to "the hard facts that created America". There was moral and cultural depth beyond Fantasyland that inspired people. That is what is missing in the synergy.

Spokker said...

"I mean gee, that's all most of Fantasyland is, attractions based on MOVIES that Disney made."

And there were also wholly original creations such as Pirates of the Caribbean, the Matterhorn Bobsleds, Haunted Mansion, the Carousel of Progress, The Submarine Voyage, The Enchanted Tiki Room, the Jungle Cruise, It's a Small World, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and the monorail.

Funny how the original attractions were either the biggest rides and/or the most heavily promoted by Walt Disney himself. He didn't seem to spend the most time on TV promoting Peter Pan's Flight or Snow White's Scary Adventures, as well-crafted those rides may be, instead opting to showcase his fabulous new animatronic show or man-made mountain. These were attractions that dominated TV specials. These were the attractions you could feel the company's passion for.

Even after Walt's death the tradition of original attractions was carried on for some time, with movie-to-theme park adaptations largely in the background. Adventure Thru Inner Space, Big Thunder, Space Mountain, the People Mover, Country Bear Jamboree, Horizons, World of Motion, and well, practically everything at EPCOT.

The reversal to a reliance on movie-to-theme park adaptations likely started during the Eisner era and has intensified in recent years. Not only have new attractions been based on existing brands, they are taking over originals (Small World, Submarine Voyage). They call it synergy, but it's really cost-cutting. The costs associated with thinking up some new theme park ride have been eliminated. The only cost is figuring out how to cram the movie into the park and results have definitely varied.

The book Imagineering speaks of the "spark" that happens at Imagineering every time a new idea comes to life. That spark no longer happens at WDI because it already happened at Pixar. WDI is simply the middleman.

Spokker said...

"Why bother immersing people inside a berm when you just fill it with more of the real world?"

There's a certain balance that must be struck.

In the context of Main Street, we deal with modern cash registers and things like that because ultimately there are few substitutes that work. But what we can do is attempt to strike partnerships with real world companies that make sense.

As far as, say, Frontierland goes, well, we have to make a compromise. Of course, there aren't any companies to choose from that operated back then, so if you want to get an attraction sponsored, it has to be out of place by virtue of necessity. A little sign at the front of the attraction is okay.

But there are plenty of turn of the century corporations to choose from that still exist today in the context of Main Street. Starbucks fails in this regard.

Digital Jedi said...

Anonymous said:
>>>What the heck is this group's problem with Pixar?<<<

Who said anybody here had a problem with Pixar? I love Pixar, personally. This blog has posted, from what I can recall, exclusively positive remarks about John Lasseter and the direction he takes the projects he's involved in. Heck, they site him as the example that should be followed. I never exclusively sited Pixar as a problem at Disney, but characters in general. Characters do not make a park better. Meaningful, well thought out attractions do, whether you use characters or not.

Anonymous said...

Starbucks on Main Street? Great. And maybe a teeny, tiny little Walmart? And a MacDonald's? Or is that already there? Then we can all stay home, rather than traveling to Disney for what we experience daily at home. Very, very dumb idea.

Anonymous said...

Spokker says: The book Imagineering speaks of the "spark" that happens at Imagineering every time a new idea comes to life. That spark no longer happens at WDI because it already happened at Pixar. WDI is simply the middleman.

Congratulations, you finally get it that WDI is just the middleman.
For all the idol worship most of the Disney fans have heaped on the Imagineers of the last 15 or so years, they really are just middlemen.
But there is hope in the new generation coming in and with a little spark from Pixar, maybe they will start creating original stuff again.
But as much as you claim the "original" attractions were not based on films, you are wrong. They were, just a lot more loosely.
Jungle Cruise: The African Queen.
Matterhorn: Third Man on the Mountain.
Space Mountain: All those Sci Fi films done in the sixties.
Pirates of the Carribean: All the Errol Flynn and other pirate swashbucklers made in the 30s.
Haunted Mansion: How many ghostly movies were made in the 50s? Huh?
So maybe they didn't have Disney characters in them, but I would bet you that if Walt had been around a few more years he might have even made some.
But there I go again, committing the crime I accuse the folks on here of doing....thinking what Walt would've thought.
Let's see...it's 2009. It's a new century. If the parks don't represent the times then people won't go.
Get your heads and brains out of the past and frankly...QUIT YOUR WHINING.

Digital Jedi said...

Anonymous said:
>>>But as much as you claim the "original" attractions were not based on films, you are wrong. They were, just a lot more loosely.<<<

Okay, I realize you didn't read the article, or even any article on this blog, or for that matter any of the previous comments, too closely, but we're talking about the crass commercialism of characters and movies, with the exclusive motive of getting them in the park some way, ANY way, whether it's a good idea or not, whether it's a well thought out attraction or not, just to get one target demographic into the park on the basis of the name alone. Nobody ever said there was anything wrong with basing attractions on characters and movies, however loosely, as long as it's done right. Honestly, how can you be that dim?

>>>Let's see...it's 2009. It's a new century. If the parks don't represent the times then people won't go.<<<

Let's see...Walt built the park in 1955 and half the park was devoted to an era already 50+ years old. Walt already proved that a complete fallacy. Disney never represented the times deliberately, and was beyond successful. Nothing has ever NEEDED to represent the times for people to go to it. What it NEEDS to be, is interesting. What Disney NEEDS to be, is better than your average Six Flags.

>>>Get your heads and brains out of the past and frankly...QUIT YOUR WHINING.<<<

Um, no?

I guess people like you will only ever read the parts of the complaints that you want to hear so you can rail against them. I already explained quite thoroughly why our heads and brains are not in the past, but in a good idea. If anything, much of what Disney has been doing has stuck it in the past. Or do you think Ellen's Energy Adventure is "this century" with its 1990s version of Jeopardy?

Ashley said...

I agree 110% It seems to be lost on some of the powers that be, give the people what they want and the money will follow. It doesn't have to be hitting you over the head in t-shirt, hoodie, and coffee mug form.

And here is a thought, the Disney family museum is doing well because people want to SEE what happened, how it was created. Things need to be re-imagined and replaced eventually and that's fine. But what about creating a park that is dedicated to staying the way it started? Run it like you would any Disney park of course. Imagine how many people would want to go there?

I could go on forever, anyway wonderful article!

Anonymous said...

Banks--what happened to Melin and Tangaroa, lost in space?

Would you like to address the issue of where Iger is going to get the money to keep up with these parks and projects and billions he's investing in things like Marvel that he won't get back for at least 10 more years. Because last time I checked the real economy--the one he and others keep referring to still has a banking industry in the toilet and a U.S. forclosure rate at triple it's prior standing due to no job creation. Or perhaps he believes that Mr.Jobs and his isolated product line can bail him out?

/bsdb said...

We complain, critique and whine because we love Disney that much. Imagineering's Golden Age trained us to expect more, and to never settle for less. We’re simply byproducts of the same philosophy that made the company such a success.

Speaking of Imagineering's Golden Age... Disney Imagineer Tim Delaney has left WDI.

It's unknown whether his departure was voluntary, but almost everyone leaves Disney under that guise to keep from burning bridges to future work.

Tim was hired by WED in the mid-seventies, and has worked as a Show Producer and Executive Designer for projects in almost every Disney park.

Old School Imagineering is definitely becoming a thing of the past.

Anonymous said...

You self-righteous Disney fan freaks. What comes across to me is that you are all just jealous of Disney.
"Disney seems to take the easy way out these days, with Pixar rides"
You seem to infer that Pixar rides are bad. I don't know about you folks, but my kids think they are really cool and fun.
Do any of you actually have any kids you go with to the parks any more?

Mr Banks said...

"You seem to infer that Pixar rides are bad. I don't know about you folks, but my kids think they are really cool and fun."

Perhaps if you enjoyed the Pixar rides as much as your kids Disney would truly be on to something.

Digital Jedi said...

Anonymous seems to be arguing with somebody who doesn't like Pixar. I don't know who that person is, but feel free to continue debating it with him/her. No one here is.

Can someone explain to me how one can be jealous of a theme park? I'm trying loose weight.

By the way, my daughter is five. She likes Small World.

Anonymous said...

Disney Parks should be as convenient as a trip to a local mall which happens to have a supporting cast of entertainment. Regulate nostalgia to the back waters of a holiday cash grab. Original design will only last to became a caricature of itself, so why bother? Instead focus on cost effective equipment, cloaked in relevance, and window dress with preteen displays of social status.

This parody of a broken down mantra may be false, but regardless the fact is true; Disney must avoid that perception real or imagined. The idea of Disney Inc as a monolithic cash machine has been snowballing not only within the DF crowd, but with the infrequent guest as well.

Truth be told I feel sorry for Bob Iger and the Cast because the challenge is colossal. We are obviously in the middle of something, with a whole host of changes coming down the pike recently. Just where that something is heading keeps these post hopping. And yes I'm a DF ( with kids though)

RightBlocker91 said...

Great piece- here's an excerpt from one I wrote about trees at the MK.

Walt Disney World is a place that inspires and enlightens, so much so that visits to WDW refresh and invigorate guests. It is easy to understand why guests become attached to attractions, shops, and resorts. But Disney parks are not museums; they are living, breathing entities that "will never be complete “as long as there is imagination left in the world.” But Walt also said that “even the trees will grow; the place will get more beautiful each year.” These quiet areas of understated beauty live on in the imaginations of guests long after they return home.

John Hench wrote that “Imagineers carefully select images essential to each story [they] want to tell in a Disney park.” Disney guests “engage in a special world of story” when they enter the parks; they feel immersed “within the special world that [Imagineering] created” (Hench). No place is that more evident than in the Magic Kingdom where subtle visual clues lead to smooth transitions from one land to another.

Imagine, then, the shock of a "hubless" Magic Kingdom.

Imagineers conceived the Hub as a “design solution to accommodate guests’ decision making” (Hench). That leafy oasis of shade surrounded by inviting park benches offered tantalizing views into the other lands of the Magic Kingdom. It also provided a gathering place complete with ample seating and much needed shade. “Just like Walt did,” the Imagineer “assumes the guests’ point of view . . . tak[ing] the guests’ interests to heart and defend[ing] them when others didn’t think that it mattered” (Hench). The Hub in its original form fulfilled this promise.

A 1982 WDW souvenir book devotes three pages to what it calls “the miracle of the Hub.” What is so special about this area of the Park? In addition to the practicality of providing “easy access to all areas of the Magic Kingdom,” the Hub provides a “sense of continuity." The goal of the Imagineers was to ensure that “all the elements within a land work together to create a smooth and constant chain of events” (Hench). This was provided by the greenery of the Hub, a visual break making transitions into each land smooth and seamless.

Without the Hub,“visual details disagree” so “guests experience active clutter” (Hench". Neon lights are now visible from the riverboat; the angular buildings of Tomorrowland are visible from Main Street. The actual perspective of Main Street is ruined. The hub provided a leafy transition from MS to the castle. The “forced perspective [of Main Street], combined with the depth of the Hub beyond the end of the street, opens up a vast and exhilarating vista to the guest entering the park” (WDI Field Guide). Without those trees, Main Street looks much smaller; the castle loses much of its mystique. It feels as if the castle has been pulled towards the front of the park. Instead of a far away portal to a land of enchantment, it's been reduced to an immense stone structure from Europe plopped down at the end of a very American street. This “mixed message sets up conflicts [and] creates tension” (Hench); the sense of balance and proportion is so altered that approaching this lovely castle is no longer inviting or suspenseful.

The loss of the hub violates the time-honored hallmark of WDI design that “each land relates to others in a noncompetitive way - contradictions that would intrude upon what the story seeks to communicate [are] studiously avoided” (The First Decade). The “distant lands of adventure, America’s past, fantasy, and the future” no longer seem so distant.

The power of the Disney parks to move and inspire cannot be underestimated: What other man-made structures pull at the heartstrings of so many people worldwide as those created by Disney? The Magic Kingdom’s signature Hub must be restored to its original warmth and integrity in order to fulfill Walt’s vision of parks that grow more beautiful with each passing year.

Smilee306 said...

"Jealous? Jealous of what? That is the ugliest lamp I've ever seen in my entire life!"

No, seriously. If you're going to come on here and anonymously call us names, you could at least have some salient points. I too am puzzled at why you think that anyone here hates pixar and why we would be jealous of disney...I guess people will read whatever they want into each topic so that they can be angry and post little childish responses. Left me scratching my head anyway.

Bonus points for identifying the quote that popped into my head while reading the post. :)

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but this article only serves as further proof that whining, crying and acting like big, selfish, change-hating babies is the only thing that most of you people here at this blog do and are capable of doing.

Raging on every single new attraction or change that occurs at Disney is NEVER good for ANY of you. You know that not everything is a marketing ploy!

Shut this blog down at once and go get lives and leave Disney and the Imagineers alone!!!

Digital Jedi said...

You know, I know that this is belated, and that we've moved on to other topics, but I've been away and just wanted to catch up.

And I just wanted to say, that posts like the one by Anonymous above are just further evidence that not only are these particular Anonymous commentators NOT reading these articles, but they also only have one line to ever spill. And oddly enough, they're doing exactly what they're accusing us of doing. Complaining, offering no counter argument, and then saying to go away.

"Shut this blog down at once"? Right. How can we argue with such profound logic?

octopdog said...

Nostalgia doesn’t sell tickets. No theater has continuously screened 1955’s hit classic “Rebel without a Cause.” It would be box office suicide to show the same film for over 50 years.

Like the theater owner, Disneyland wants to sell tickets. To a modern audience many classic Disneyland attractions are no longer relevant or their technology is outdated. The Jungle Cruise is like riding a black and white documentary movie. Lets not forget, Fantasyland missed the rebirth of classic Disney animation by several decades.

There is a lesson to be learned when you enter town square. In 1955, parents remembered walking down a street similar to Main Street U.S.A. In order for nostalgia to work the audience has to remember – if they don’t remember it’s historic.

Digital Jedi said...

octodog said:
>>>Nostalgia doesn’t sell tickets. No theater has continuously screened 1955’s hit classic “Rebel without a Cause.” It would be box office suicide to show the same film for over 50 years.<<<

Right, because Disney didn't make a lick of cash re-releasing the same movies in theaters for over 50 years, nor did they make the fool mistake of putting all their "ancient" forgettable movies on DVD when the technology came ou--- oh, wait...


>>>Like the theater owner, Disneyland wants to sell tickets. To a modern audience many classic Disneyland attractions are no longer relevant or their technology is outdated. The Jungle Cruise is like riding a black and white documentary movie. Lets not forget, Fantasyland missed the rebirth of classic Disney animation by several decades.<<<

And Fantasyland and Jungle Cruise do so poorly in attendance, don't they?


>>>There is a lesson to be learned when you enter town square. In 1955, parents remembered walking down a street similar to Main Street U.S.A. In order for nostalgia to work the audience has to remember – if they don’t remember it’s historic.<<<

Right again. Because you can only appreciate Main Street if your over 100 years old and no one likes history of any kind in any form or any packing. That's why movies only take place in 2010 and never any other time period. Ever.


Nostalgia built Disney and made it what it is. Relevance is MTV, who change they're lineup every year in fear of an "evolve or die" mentality. Lack of nostalgia means ideas and concepts are fleeting, and loose meaning in a few short years or even months. Not exactly the best business strategy for a theme park, now is it? Most of the ideas I was exposed to when I went to Disney World as a child were already 30 to 40 years old. Why did they connect to my generation, if nostalgia doesn't sell tickets? It's because they created a moment and environment that I wanted to go back to time and again. It created nostalgia in me, for Disney. Not to relive my days of living on the Frontier.

Digital Jedi said...

octodog said:
>>>Nostalgia doesn’t sell tickets. No theater has continuously screened 1955’s hit classic “Rebel without a Cause.” It would be box office suicide to show the same film for over 50 years.<<<

Right, because Disney didn't make a lick of cash re-releasing the same movies in theaters for over 50 years, nor did they make the fool mistake of putting all their "ancient" forgettable movies on DVD when the technology came ou--- oh, wait...


>>>Like the theater owner, Disneyland wants to sell tickets. To a modern audience many classic Disneyland attractions are no longer relevant or their technology is outdated. The Jungle Cruise is like riding a black and white documentary movie. Lets not forget, Fantasyland missed the rebirth of classic Disney animation by several decades.<<<

And Fantasyland and Jungle Cruise do so poorly in attendance, don't they?


>>>There is a lesson to be learned when you enter town square. In 1955, parents remembered walking down a street similar to Main Street U.S.A. In order for nostalgia to work the audience has to remember – if they don’t remember it’s historic.<<<

Right again. Because you can only appreciate Main Street if your over 100 years old and no one likes history of any kind in any form or any packing. That's why movies only take place in 2010 and never any other time period. Ever.


Nostalgia built Disney and made it what it is. Relevance is MTV, who change they're lineup every year in fear of an "evolve or die" mentality. Lack of nostalgia means ideas and concepts are fleeting, and loose meaning in a few short years or even months. Not exactly the best business strategy for a theme park, now is it? Most of the ideas I was exposed to when I went to Disney World as a child were already 30 to 40 years old. Why did they connect to my generation, if nostalgia doesn't sell tickets? It's because they created a moment and environment that I wanted to go back to time and again. It created nostalgia in me, for Disney. Not to relive my days of living on the Frontier.