Saturday, November 21, 2009

Technology vs. Longevity



An engineer’s analysis

Throughout history Disney has consistently been at the technological forefront of theme park design. From introducing steel roller coasters (Matterhorn) to being the first to implement linear induction motors for urban transportation (the People Mover), Disney has always been a leader in world class technology. However, the more recent technology Disney has been using in their attractions seems to lack a certain wow-factor so prevalent in the parks earlier history.

While newer attractions such as Raytheon’s programmable-animatronic arm and Toy Story Midway Mania are reasonably impressive, they lack the quality, theming, and all encompassing immersion displayed in the Pirates, Mansions and Thunder Mountains of years gone by. Toy Story Midway Mania may very well be an exciting attraction, with smiling guests proclaiming their long wait well worthwhile. But exactly how long will those smiles last?

The main driving force behind Midway Mania isn’t the adorable storytelling, funny characters, incredible view or thunderous thrills; it’s the technology. Midway is unique because it offers riders the first interactive 3D experience in a theme park ride. However, while this technology may be remarkable the implementation is weak.

Current generation video game consoles coupled with next generation’s televisions* are able to perform the same tasks with equal awe. In fact, Disney readily recognized this and released a Toy Story Midway Mania game for the Wii and iPhone. While these versions lack the 3D spectacle that makes Midway Mania so amazing, future renditions will be more than capable of providing this effect. That’s right; you can play Midway Mania from the couch in your living room. You may have to give up the ride’s signature quirky-jerky motions in order to skip the line but the trade off is negligible.

Currently Midway Mania is a significant draw for DCA and DHS- meaning that guests attend those parks with the sole intention of experiencing the attraction. But when you are able to play the game at home and in 3D is the long wait now worth it? It’s safe to say Midway Mania will have an extremely short life span.

After further analysis of the ride, it appears obvious that Disney was not only aware of this, but prepared as well. If you remove the 3D effects and guns from Midway mania what’s left? A grocery store shaped room, tacky cardboard cutouts on the walls and TV screens lining the aisles. The basic empty shell that’s left over screams 'cookie cutter': any object of significant value can easily be re-purposed. Not even the vehicles appear to be long term. The attraction runs off of an HP laptop cleverly housed inside the vehicle shell (which is fading and tearing). While the model that Disney used is currently out of production, the closest model with similar specifications sells for $500 from Best Buy.

The lack of quality that Disney put into the environment and the mechanics speak the same message: quick fix. Toy Story Midway Mania isn’t an attraction that will run for years and years; it’s a number in an accountant’s book—adding a quick boost in the numbers for the short term. WDI bit the bullet here and pulled off a wonderful smoke and mirrors attraction. Midway Mania, despite its cheap roots, is highly prized. Enjoy the ride for the time being because it probably won't be around very long.


________________

Disney even released an accessory to house your Wii-mote in, in order to make the game more authentic.
_________

* 2010 televisions from multiple distributors have been announced being 3D capable at the same price as current generation television.


Contributed by Re-Imagineering reader John Clayton

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.


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81 comments:

Anonymous said...

So replacements will be cheap. Nice for maintenance costs. I think Midway Mania was very clever in its way of essentially using off the shelf technology in a ride through shooting gallery type of approach.
I don't think the harsh comments are deserved, though I think the Buzz Lightyear approach is a much more long-term attraction.
I do agree that at some point Midway Mania will fall off in attendance. Then it will have to be replaced. Good thing they did not spend a fortune on it. And lets face it, the Imagineers needed to do something, anything, to upgrade attractions quickly at DCA. Something new and innovative would have taken a long time, and the park needed a good attraction right away.

Capt. Tomorrow said...

Was not one of the ideas behind TSMM was that new games (themed to holidays, etc.) could be swapped out fairly easily and quickly? And once Pixar Canada gets up and running would they not be the group doing the animation for said new games?

Anonymous said...

First off, TSM was never meant to be an "E" Attraction. It's at best a solid D. In that light, it's a very rich addition. BTW every new attraction eventually loses it's spike in popularity, (usually in 18 months) but I'd argue that TSM is so addictive to kids that it will endure better over time than a theater show (Muppets or Bug's Life) of the same ticket value. If you're 11, then it's the coolest thing you've ever done.( I'm more concerned about it poaching Buzz Lightyear and it's now cheap production value.)

Is it a just a Wii game you ride through? Yes. But a movie in a theater is just a bigger living room too. what i think is good about TSM is that families do it together and home gameplay is less the case.

Tim said...

I would guess TSM would have a pretty long shelf life as it would be relatively easy to keep it fresh. It needs to be set up where seasonal overlays can happen with little to no down time.

I expect attendance for TSM will drop off at the end of 2011 when Star Tours 2.0 opens, however there doesn't appear to be anything new on the horizon until then. Up until that point I expect the fastpasses to be gone by 1 PM every day.

PardonMyFrench said...

I agree with most comments above. Toy Story as a theme is a lovable movie enjoyed by families every where and seems to have staying power. The lines are long because of the characters and the current video game feel. The video game feel isn't going to be high tech forever but then again, Buzz Lightyear seems like a cheaper game version, yet still has lines.

You are correct that the technology behind it will lose its wow factor. The tie in with Wii doesn't diminish the game because that look and feel at home doesn't come close to simulate the in person gaming environment.

Is it an Imagineering masterpience? Of course not. Does it get huge lines and reinforces the brand? Yes.

I think it will last because of the brand and not because of the ride (think Snow White ride which I thankfully skipped this year). I think you are way under estimating the power of the Toy Story Brand.

Anonymous said...

It has been a very, very, very long time since Disney has delivered something that was truly cutting edge that pushed the envelope. R&D costs money and seldom has a ROI. In the quest to provide 'shareholder value', Disney has cut off its balls and settled for just good enough. They have lost any and all knowledge of the fact that one time Disney was about blowing the socks off a guest. Now its all about the numbers, doing just enough to technically exceed guest expectations missing the point that there is inherent value in blowing away expectations.

Disney would do well take a cue from the story of Motorola's RAZR and lock up a bunch of Imagineers in a room with a budget of $150 million and the simple task to 'show us what you can come up with'.

No guest research charts and focus groups, no marketing goons, no lawyers, no bureaucrats, none of the operators, just Imagineers let loose to run wild.

Sign me - Wishing I could find that site with the article about 'the myth of ROI'.

David H

Anonymous said...

It is not just research and development that makes for fun parks. It is good research, good development and people with a good story sense of when to use that new technology.
Using new technology without a basic story or good idea to use it in makes no sense.
But something that uses a new technology in a fun way for an attraction then that makes sense.
But you cannot just throw $150 million at it and "see what they come up with."
There are a lot of shareholders that want to make some money and retirees that want their benefits, so it should be done in a responsible manner.
I frankly think the new blood like Rich Ross at the studios is where they should be focusing their efforts right now.

Lindsay S said...

Having played TSMM at DCA, and after having reviewed the Wii game for publication, what makes the non-Wii version better for me is the overall experience. Yes, I can now play the games from TSMM in my living room, and the variety of games is far greater, but the fact that I can simply turn on the console and play for a few hours takes away from the experience of seeing Mr. Potato Head as the Boardwalk Barker, watching the children get excited to play, and rush you feel as you get closer to the front of the line. Playing at home simply isn't as much fun.

From a technological standpoint, the Wii game pales in comparison to its parent. While the game is promoted as being in 3-D, only five or six games are actually formatted for 3-D play, leaving approximately 36 that aren't. From my experience with the 3-D, it's not as well done as if you were actually playing the games at the park. Throwing 3-D pies at Woody and Buzz is fun, yes, but the at-home effect is not the same. The pies look 3-D once they've landed on their targets, not while they're being thrown, as at DCA.

As for innovation and changing the attraction, seasonal overlays would be a nice touch, even just as something to attract holiday crowds. Also, since the variety of games in the Wii version is far greater than those in the real-life attraction, would it not be possible to re-work those extra games into 3-D to be played at the park? Changing the games up every 18 months or so will keep the attraction fresh and keep people coming into the park.

I think of the Wii game not as something to keep you at home, playing with Disney, but more so as a practice round for the real thing. You practice and you practice, and then when you get to the park you can beat your friends and family, or even try to get the top score of the day. The Wii game is more of an ad for the game, and not the other way around.

John Clayton said...

First of all I'd like to thank every one of you for taking the time to read my article and replying. It means a lot to me as a first time writer.

The reply's here have been interesting, but it also shows me that the point of the article didn't emerge as well as I had hopped it would.

Basicly there was no argument here about TSM being a good ride or a bad ride. In fact I love the ride myself. What I'm trying to point out is that TSM is an incredibly "Cheap" attraction that has grabbed everyone's hearts. I'm trying to get you to ask yourself if you think that's a good thing or a bad thing...

A ride with the quality and price tag that's probably lower than 2003 Winnie the Pooh's is now loud and in charge. Why?

Anonymous said...

If an attraction is good, it shouldn't matter how little was spent on it.
Many on this blog seem to equate quality with the amount of money spent on an attraction.
It's good design, not throwing money away that matters.

5tephanie said...

An attraction with great longevity-Autopia, could really use some help from technology.

Is it good or bad when a "cheap" attraction is made? I couldn't care less how much the ride costs, if it elicits a positive feeling of being entertained it is good, and has done its Disney job. How much $ could any of the dark rides cost? Not much and they might stand as reason for even going to Disneyland for those with young children. The amount of money spent is not automatic grounds for an epic win.

Is an attraction with technology as the main feature necessarily bad? It depends on your taste, some people might prefer heaving theming, thick story lines and rich character development in their attractions, and some just want to be wowed for 90 seconds without much thought. To my thinking having attractions with differing appeal is what makes DIsneyland, well, Disneyland.

If TSM becomes the singular template for future attractions that would indeed be a problem.

Perhaps TSM should have been put in Tomorrowland, they could use something with technology as a main component there...

Anonymous said...

Autopia shows the lack of imagination on the part of the Imagineers. They can't imagine anything else but cars powered by gasoline powered lawn mower engines.

Anonymouse said...

A ride with the quality and price tag that's probably lower than 2003 Winnie the Pooh's is now loud and in charge. Why?

We live in the Digital age, plain and simple.

Children are carrying cel phones as young as 5 years old, and we are wondering what is happening to our youth? We ALLOWED this technology to spawn out of control.
Furthermore, quite a number of parents do not know how to be parents, and pawn their kids to entertainment/video consoles for whatever reasons(Too busy, working, cooking dinner, etc etc.). Also, the children of today are no longer required to use creativity as an outlet. They are allowed to hibernate in their rooms and play games that lack anykind of educational or purposeful value, for the most part.

As unobvious as it may or may not be, more and more people seem not to know how to function without a celphone in today's times, and kids seem not to know how to function without their PS3, Wii's, gameboys and Xbox's.
We as a society(moreso in the U.S.), sadly have come to depend on items that are more of nuisances, or outright time wasters, and are not an intergral or educational part of our lives. How many readers care to recall the number of times an actual "emergency" cel phone call had arisen, versus all the casual conversation phone calls received? I'm sure the latter prevails over urgency and emergency hands down.

Back on topic, take for instance The Tower of Terror attraction. Not at all a truly unique attraction, but more loosely based on the Supreme Scream/Maliboomer type ride technology that had already exisited.
These Bungee type attractions have been around for years, and Disney in typical Disney fashion, added a little more gravy to the mashed potatoes.
Great ride, yes. Original,maybe. Dressed up Bungee attraction, definately!

Sure, TSM can be entertaining, but is it REALLY an experience? I don't think so. It is exactly a giant entertainment console with a moving couch, enhanced with 3-D. TSM and Buzz are nothing more than Mr. Toad(or other darkride type attraction) meets PS3, in the flat screen TV section of a big local appliance store,a dding that the ceiling and walls are covered in dayglo paints and backlit by blacklight. With this type of "boxed" entertainment, the Animatronics and pneumatic/hydraulic switches are seemingly becoming priority candidates for Yesterland.

Bottomline, Disney no longer produces "magical" attractions that stir the imagination. I highly doubt it is lack of money, versus stagnant management and Imagineering Department's lack of foresight and vision. If someone presented a from-scratch attraction, and it was a truly unique idea, I'm sure Disney would unlock the safe, and spring the money for it.

nesse said...

Anonymous wrote:

"Autopia shows the lack of imagination on the part of the Imagineers. They can't imagine anything else but cars powered by gasoline powered lawn mower engines."


Actually, Imagineers WERE looking to incorporate electric cars for Autopia AND Chevron was even willing to allow the improvements. It was Disneyland’s management (Pressler) that didn’t want to foot the bill (use some of the sponsor money from Chevron).

So, often Imagineers just aren't allowed to follow through with many of the outstanding ideas they are capable of coming up with.

Anonymous said...

nesse wrote:

"Actually, Imagineers WERE looking to incorporate electric cars for Autopia AND Chevron was even willing to allow the improvements."

Electric cars are not using their imagination at all. Gee they've been around for a long time.

I think a total rethink of what to use in the place of Autopia is in order.
I mean it's still a car on a rail. Big deal.
How about something that hovers, or is self-steering. Or maybe something that might be found on another planet, or even an imaginary world.

Spokker said...

Toy Story Mania is certainly fun, I mean, you're with friends and family and playing a big video game. How can it not be fun?

But for me, Toy Story Mania isn't an experience I'm going to remember. It's an empty thrill. It doesn't really tickle my Imagination like Pirates or a Haunted Mansion quality attraction does.

But that's just me.

Anonymous said...

"I think a total rethink of what to use in the place of Autopia is in order.
I mean it's still a car on a rail. Big deal."

Agree, it can always be better. But let's not forget that if you look for a moment at who enjoys Autopia, it's little kids. They aspire to drive a car. It's a dream come true for them, electric or not and that is a big deal. It gets the parent and the kid together doing something together. Look at their faces, they love it and so do their folks. This is what Walt was thinking about on the park bench at Griffith Park. As low concept as it may be, TSM does the same thing by creating a level playing field where both can enjoy something, like beating dad's score, etc. To me that's great, just ask the guests. Is Dumbo too low of a concept too? No. It simply fills a need for a certain age driven shared experience. But the parks are a mix, a blend of many levels of experience. Of course, not every attraction has to be Pirates, and as a truly shared experience TSM may actually be better.

Disneyland is about being a kid again for grown ups, and about growing up for kids. Next year you are "big enough" to take on another "mountain" or Snow white won't be as scary. Once you've grown through the experiences and have "climbed the mountains" you pass it on to another kid, maybe your own. That's why it's so fun to take others there. You can live through those "rites of passage" again. It works.

noremac and roads less traveled said...

It's one of the reasons Disney is putting more R&D into RFID so you can be recognized and remembered when you enter different attractions (presumably the one you visit the most will be your favorite, never mind trying to cross-reference the crowds or que wait-times – why do you think the groceries & drug stores have you register for customer care cards and if you don’t want them collecting your data you just don’t get one) and they can remember your preferences and personalize the experience. Smaller boutique resorts & restaurants have been keeping files on their guests for years (you like certain things in your room when you arrive or your favorite wine, desert or how you like your coffee, etc). Think of expanding E.T. to more than just calling out your name when you pass by. I could see Mr. Potato Head barking at you personally, ribbing you if you came back twice or more in the same day or Mater personally saying howdy as he meets your car on the ‘track’ in CarsLand, with facial recognition & WDI’s Autonomatronics pushing the boundaries, the possibilities are endless with a minimum of networking & software costs. This isn't new for Disney, they've kind of been trying it with wi-fi since Pal Mickey and have been refining it over the years, now with the smart phone apps which you’ll have to purchase every six months if you visit the parks that often.

IMO (which this all is of course): It's another reason Iger is a proponent for the potential of the web & augmented reality so the kids can interact with the characters online even when not visiting the parks, stores, resorts and Hawaii & DC timeshares. He's trying to change the relationship of the movie studio to something different than just sitting in a theatre and the remodel of the Disney Store/Experience Park as individual mini-attractions – which they tried with DisneyQuest in Chicago.

I think with the intro of Star Tours 2.0 the synergistic attendance at TSMM might actually go up. I wouldn’t look for overlays until attendance does start to wane or they have some other cross-promotional opportunity, maybe randomize the games, add characters or re-theme it all-together to another franchise. Then there is the other rumored Monster's Inc. Door Ride hanging indoor coaster for DHS as the next possible "real" addition, but that fits into the category of attraction telling a story with adrenaline pumping & heart pounding thrills, which are inherently a more passive, along-for-the-ride experience. Oh, but what about the Marvel superheroes; Hhhmmm.

Epcot82 said...

When a ride is designed so it can be quickly changed out or rethemed, you know there's an inherent quality issue. I kind of doubt anyone ever even THOUGHT, with regard to Pirates, Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, etc., "Well, gee, if this doesn't work, we can just reprogram the vehicles, change out the music and -- voila -- new ride!"

But we live in a disposable age.

Seek out the cover story on the '00 decade in Time Magazine. As the writer points out with so much that went wrong in the last 10 years, we should have seen this all coming.

noremac and roads less traveled said...

This should have preceded my previous entry:

This example of synergistic convergence & brand extension with the TS properties is good. I wonder if there will be a reference to TSMM in TS3 with the toys under the bed playing the games when we first see them or when Andy is collecting them before dropping them off at the donation center, whether it is a veiled attempt, sly or blatant?

It's not about cost, utilizing leading edge tech or pioneering something new – it's about differentiating the experience – do you prefer a passive entertainment ride like pirates, safari, mansion or theater (Muppets/Philharmagic/Bugs Life) & stadium shows (Indy/Lion King/Stunt Car) and so many others VERSUS interactive and participatory adventures for the visitor like these ‘shooter’ games (Buzz, TSMM & more in other parks – MiB at USO or Sally Corps’ which will actually allow you along a bonus track if you score enough points or exit you out if you don’t) and the soon to be expanded first person experiences princess meet & greets at MK.

Which kind form more lifelong emotional memories?

Today's audience (the newer generation - which Disney depends on to become new continuous/returning consumers) isn't satisfied with just passively riding through a great themed ride attraction, they want to actually be involved. The Kim Possible at EPCOT as an example. Raytheon’s “Sum of all Thrills” allows the user to ‘choose the customized ride they desire’, which reinforces the guests ability for input. This is a trend for the foreseeable future. Whoever comes up with the newest & greatest twist on this will be the winner. Take a gander at how MagiQuest does it with their wands … not to mention the residual income from the merchandise up-selling!

GrumpyFan said...

Interesting article, but I'm curious why the author thinks TSMM won't be around for long? Does he think the technology used was cheap and will break down? If it is cheap and off-the shelf, then shouldn't it be easily replaired?

I've read some technical articles about TSMM and spoken with an Imagineer who worked on the ride, who said yes, some of it does use off-the shelf commercially available pieces, but there are many other pieces that are industrial grade Siemens components used in factories around the world operating 7/24/365. A direct quote from another John Noonan, technical director for TSMM, "We don't like to use bleeding-edge things, We like to stick to technologies that are considered leading-edge…. As engineers, we try to minimize the technical risks."

Anonymous said...

"In the quest to provide 'shareholder value', Disney has cut off its balls and settled for just good enough."

You people are so greedy when it comes to attractions. Does no one appreciate all the money and effort Disney is investing in DCA? You cannot look at the concept for Radiator Springs Racers or World of Color or an entirely new main entry and tell me that Disney has lost its dedication to amazing themed experiences. All three of those things go way beyond "just good enough".

What does Disney have to do to make you guys happy? TSMM is very innovative and unique experience that people love.

/bsdb said...

All three of those things go way beyond "just good enough".

Compared to DCA 1.0? Definitely.

Compared to Walt Disney Studios Paris? Probably.

Compared to Tokyo DisneySea? No way.

Anonymous said...

After reading all of this, IMHO Imagineers can't win. I never thought I'd say that I'm glad that I don't work there.

Glendale is the new Afghanistan.

noremac and roads less traveled said...

{This should have appeared before my prior entry.}

This example of synergistic convergence & brand extension with the TS properties is good. I wonder if there will be a reference to TSMM in TS3 with the toys under the bed playing the games when we first see them or when Andy is collecting them before dropping them off at the donation center, whether it is a veiled attempt, sly or blatant?

It's not about cost, utilizing leading edge tech or pioneering something new – it's about differentiating the experience – do you prefer a passive entertainment ride like pirates, safari, mansion or theater (Muppets/Philharmagic/Bugs Life) & stadium shows (Indy/Lion King/Stunt Car) and so many others VERSUS interactive and participatory adventures for the visitor like these ‘shooter’ games (Buzz, TSMM & more in other parks – MiB at USO or Sally Corps’ which will actually allow you along a bonus track if you score enough points or exit you out if you don’t) and the soon to be expanded first person experiences princess meet & greets at MK.

Which kind form more lifelong emotional memories?

Today's audience (the newer generation - which Disney depends on to become new continuous/returning consumers) isn't satisfied with just passively riding through a great themed ride attraction, they want to actually be involved. The Kim Possible at EPCOT as an example. Raytheon’s “Sum of all Thrills” allows the user to ‘choose the customized ride they desire’, which reinforces the guests ability for input. This is a trend for the foreseeable future. Whoever comes up with the newest & greatest twist on this will be the winner. Take a gander at how MagiQuest does it with their wands … not to mention the residual income from the merchandise up-selling!

Maybe the gift shops could be moved to the ride entry and then you could purchase a musket or spectre blaster and shoot the pirates and ghosts to rack up points. Every ride could be retro fitted ...
he said with tongue planted firmly in cheek.

Anonymous said...

"If you remove the 3D effects and guns from Midway mania what’s left? A grocery store shaped room, tacky cardboard cutouts on the walls and TV screens lining the aisles."

Give me a break . . .

You realize also that if you remove the animatronics and effects from 'Pirates', you're left with nothing more than a boat ride through Pier One Imports.

Perhaps it's time to delete the bookmark for this site. So much potential for an informative and interesting site reduced to nothing more than an exercise in sniveling.

West Munz said...

I totally agree! The last two attractions - the Nemo submarine ride and Toy Story Mania are basically a series of rooms with tv screens. I go to Disneyland to be taken away to somewhere magical and in no way does a tv get me there or I would just stay at home.

You want to feel like you're in the world of the movie that you loved, so it better be more tangible than a tv screen because you might as well just watch the movie again (which I don't think anyone would argue is more rich and developed than what's playing on the screens in the rides).

I think they're so worried about making the attraction easy to change in the future that making the current attraction good gets forgotten. Reminds me of when reversible clothing was popular, I think it never lasted for the same reason - it never looked that good to begin with - probably because of the fact that it was reversible!

Disney needs to worry about making ONE good ride NOW and forget about how good it could be in some distant future version.

Hopefully the cars area will redeem all this craziness, but I'm not holding my breath after seeing their current offerings.

Anonymous said...

In all fairness, the main factor of WHY TSMM gets lines, is because the current state of DCA has had very little to offer in the entertainment division. I mean, Soarin', Screamin' TOT, and maybe Monsters Inc. What's left after that?

You can hit every attraction in DCA before lunchtime, and have over half a day left to kill in that Park. Every attraction including Bugs Life and Turtle Talk have people waiting to get inside...That's what happens when a themepark is limited in capacity and attractions.

Disneyland Resort should have just expanded the Original Disneyland Park with that property. As a Southern California Native, I am embarrased that they(Resorts Management) actually get people to pay the same admission price as what it costs to enter Original Disneyland. DCA is not no where close to Disneyland's status level or not even close to Disneylands experience, yet it demands the same price...Go Figure?!

Disneyland in Themepark-to-Hotel comparison is the Ritz, while DCA is nothing more than a park bench. I hardly see that by transforming a small section of the already small park into Carsland, and using backlot makeup, that all is going to be redeemed. It can't hurt, but that is still a weak defense for the "pro-DCA" fix.

Anonymous said...

I think the trend toward using video effects as a layer of the otherwise dimensional show comes from Pixar. They want to control the storytelling and do so by making the media themselves. Has John Lassiter championed anything other than a Pixar attraction?

Anonymous said...

To answer John Clayton's question, any time you build an attraction that the public embraces, it is a *good* thing. Nothing is more important than the guest experience. And there's nothing inherently wrong with an attraction lasting only 5 years anyway--the problem is when attractions become unpopular and are left to languish.

Btw, this is really minor, but don't forget about the bursts of air and sprays of water.

/bsdb said...

The lack of quality that Disney put into the environment and the mechanics speak the same message: quick fix. Toy Story Midway Mania isn’t an attraction that will run for years and years; it’s a number in an accountant’s book—adding a quick boost in the numbers for the short term.

TSMM is mostly a product of Theme Park Productions, the group which is responsible for the film-based attractions such as TSMM and Star Tours.

There's currently a net rumor circulating that Tom Fitzgerald, who gained political power through managing Theme Park Productions years ago, will soon be leaving his Imagineering post at DL Paris to become the new Creative Executive of Disneyland.

Interesting rumor, given that Star Tours 2.0 will begin its installation sometime next year, and re-opening in spring/summer 2011.

In light of John's article about attraction technology, most of which is the mainstay of TPP's existence, I find this rumor quite plausible. Replacing Baxter with Fitzgerald would have seemed laughable a few years ago, after the anointing of Lasseter to Principle Creative Advisor. Now... it's all but inevitable.


Happy 40th Anniversary with Imagineering, Tony.

Enjoy your upcoming retirement.

Anonymous said...

I've heard the rumor of Fitz being given the reins of power for DLR too. I also heard that Weis and Baxter joined forces to say no.
It seems Fitz's lust for power and to play some politics show that WDI is still a political cesspool.
Hey John L! Can't you clean up this mess?

2.0 and Beyond said...

^^^^^

I think , as it stands, that Baxter has Disneyland, Weis has DCA and Fitzgerald is over the entire DL Resort (both parks). Of course, he will be using his TPP clout to interfere with any upcoming attractions (Star Tours 2.0, Captain Eo).

Chris said...

I agree with some of the latter comments...it's not TSMM that is the problem, it's the lack of anything else. It isn't an E-ticket but since there's not many E-tickets around, it's the closest we have to one, and since it is interactive...the experience can change a bit each time you ride it.

Back in the old days, the attractions had immersive theming that was so well done that you'd look around and see something new every time you went on the attraction. With this type of attraction, that part lies with the guest to do that, unless they do make changes to the experience.

I would also like to point out about cutting edge technology....there is a philosophy that seems to have changed.

During Walt's time, you told a story and tried to use the best technology to tell the story.

Now it seems like they try to showcase the technology and build an attraction around that, and the story becomes secondary.

That doesn't mean that WDI shouldn't try to use the best technology out there but it can't be that obvious, it has to seamlessly integrate into the story...like the Epcot version of the Seas with Nemo and Friends...they have the angler fish swinging violently on a Kuka arm. It's not blatantly obvious the tech behind it...it's just part of the story and it is the best tool to use for that scene.

I do, however believe there can be advantages to an attraction that can be updated, practically overnight for holidays, etc. IF it's ever done.

There have been many past attractions that were "planned" to be changed and updated over the years which never were.

TSMM could have had a lot more done to make it a more permanent attraction, put more AA's in between the game sequences, or let your player "team up" with Woody or Buzz etc. and make it more like an event than just a game where besides the score at the end, you had a more personal interaction.

/bsdb said...

I think , as it stands, that Baxter has Disneyland, Weis has DCA and Fitzgerald is over the entire DL Resort (both parks).

How does that work? Weis is now the creative lead for Shanghai's development. Won't another Imagineer eventually assume creative control of DCA?

Perhaps that's why Fitzgerald wanted control over the resort as a whole. Weis will be shifting over to the Shanghai project, and Baxter will probably be nudged into retirement a la Marty Sklar.

At that point, Fitzgerald would have Anaheim all to himself.

Ceronomus said...

Sheesh....

Want to know why the lines for the ride are so long? Because it is FUN! Remember fun?

I mean, with the Monsters Inc Laugh Floor stinking up Tomorrowland, people are going to complain about the simplicity of this ride's design?

Yes, the building is big and could be repurposed, but really? Because of this the ride is a throw-away?

Heck, it is one of my favorite attractions.

Anonymous said...

If Fitzgerald has Disneyland Resort all to himself, lord help all us annual passholders.

Mike Caracappa said...

First off, I'd just like to say I'm enjoying the commentary about imagineering here.

Its not just imagineering that's taking the shortcut to technology vs. honest to good storytelling. Its happening in hollywood films as well. Remember when it was once said that all the special effects in the world can't save a bad story? Well that doesn't apply much anymore, especially when Transformers 2 is the highest grossing film of the year. Its also a video game heavy-influenced film. Its not surprising imagineering would do this with TSM, because right now its not about artistic iginuity or a singular vision for storytelling. Its about giving the audience exactly what they want and expect. Like handing over a bowl of chocolate to a kid. Its the reason for the success of the Harry Potter films. There's no real artistic vision to those films except that they are clifts notes to the books with dazzeling special effects. Because that's what the audience is craving and what will make money.
I agree with many of the problems with WDI's recent attractions. With Finding Nemo Subs, you're basically watching a movie underwater. Its a ride begging for something real to look at, like the full sized figures that were once there. However, its cost effective, and its also a ride I bet will soon get very old very quick. But its a combination of technology and recognizable franchises like Pixar that are pulling the weight now instead of attractions built on an emotional foundation of good storytelling. And considering that's the case right now, all I can say is that Disney and WDI had better get their act together if they care at all about the content of their own work.

Anonymous said...

Who care's if TSMM is like a Wii game, that's nothing compared to Avatar being a $200m rehash of "Fern Gully".

Spokker said...

How dare you! It was a $350m rehash of Fern Gully!

Anonymous said...

So how 'bout that new Lincoln guy on Main Street? Sure the technological animation is more fluid, but who else feels the storyline was ripped apart?

Mike Caracappa said...

Really? I thought they did a fantastic job on Lincoln. I don't remember how the original show went so I can't make a comparison. But for what they had I thought it flowed very well. It was certainly better than the awful version before it closed for the 50th. Remember the horrible "getting a haircut" to meet the president, and the lame flies buzzing sound effect? This version was a major improvement.

Anonymous said...

I have to totally disagree with you for several reasons.

One being that the Pixar/Disney characters have more personality and much more story around them than Pirates, the Haunted Mansion, and Thunder Mountain. Though I do enjoy those rides they are more or less meaningless because there isn't much of a story around them and they lack any real Disney character equity. So I'm only riding those for the thrill and let's face it I can go to Universal or Busch Gardens and get far more thrill for the buck. It's the characters, stories and memories that keep people coming back to the parks and Pirates, Haunted Mansion, and Thunder Mountain all lack characters and story telling though I'm sure many people have great memories of them (including me).

I think there might be a generational gap you might not understand but by adding Jack Sparrow into Pirates and getting real Disney character equity into the attraction a younger generation who didn't get Pirates before is now into it. I've seen first hand how an entire generation had no interest in it but once Jack Sparrow was in it couldn't wait to experience it. Even after adding Jack into Pirates though I can pretty much go any day of the week and experience it without waiting more than 2 minutes. I rode it twice during the christmas holidays sans wait if that tells you anything. Mean while the wait for Pooh and Peter Pan are out of those world long. I never saw their wait times dip below 110 minutes. Yet I could hop on it's a small world instantly. Todays generation craves characters with a TV/FILM/GAME backgrounds that they are familiar with and the characters in Pirates, Haunted Mansion and Small world don't have that equity.

Another generation gap issue that I believe shows your age is your statement that the fact that you can play from home somehow cheapens the experience when in fact it only enhances it. When kids have had a positive experience with a game in their living room, with "famous" Disney characters they become fans and nothing in the world sounds better to them than seeing the real thing in real life.

Lastly I imagine if you sat at the exit of any attraction and interviewed guest you'd see it's not the technology of the ride that anyone cares about (unless you're an engineer) but rather the characters and the story. If you spend any time in the parks I believe you'll see it's the rides with heavy character equity that have the 116 minute wait times not the rides like Haunted mansion, Thunder Mountain or Pirates. Even over the last two weeks during the Christmas holidays I was able to hop right onto Pirates and Haunted Mansion without a wait. The longest I waited for Thunder Mountain was 30 minutes and it only retains it's value b/c it's a thrill ride as there isn't much happening on it character/story wise.

/bsdb said...

Anon misses one major point:

Theoretical

Hourly

Ride

Capacity


THRC for short. Imagineers live and die by THRC.

Mansion, Pirates, and iasw all have very high ride capacities. That's why their wait times are so short, sometimes practically non-existent. The Fantasyland dark rides, however, such as Pan, Toad, and Alice, have very low ride capacities. That's why their waits are always lengthy, even when the park is practically empty.

Nice attempt to push a pro-character infusion argument, though. Next time, try using metrics that actually measure your data sets more accurately.

Mike Caracappa said...

Anon, what your refering to has nothing to do with the story or the characters, it has to do with public recognition. People flock to the Pixar/Disney, Tower of Terror, Star Wars rides because it's something they have instant recognition with, and it's what keeps people coming back to those attractions (as long as they stay popular in the publics mind.) Essentially, it's product placement. Rides like Mansion, Pirates, and Big Thunder are unique for one reason: You can only experience those attractions by going to Disneyland. Not counting the movies based on those attractions, they are unique because they were created exclusively for the park (like Matterhorn, Subs, and the Monorail) and not from an outside source. Contray to your comments, those three attractions you mentioned are actually very strong in terms of their characters and storytelling. Even Big Thunder is a story when you ride it (not the backstory, the actual ride). Those attractions would not be popular and repeatedly visited if not for the strength of its storytelling. It's not simply a generational gap issue. It has to do with marketing and executives who won't risk creating a unique attraction, unless it's fueled by something marketable and publically recognized outside of the parks.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said, When kids have had a positive experience with a game in their living room, with "famous" Disney characters they become fans and nothing in the world sounds better to them than seeing the real thing in real life.
Well, that really sums it up, the argument about THRC and other factors is bogus.
Story and character, either in the ride, or the experience of the ride itself make it work. Not whether it is Disney from the sixties, or from today's films.
I mean gee, Pinnochio is so popular right? And it was designed by no less a Disney Imagineer than Tony Baxter! And Innoventions, which Tony Baxter and Tom Fitzgerald have a heavy story (until you get into the "house.") yet no one cares as they can't relate to it.

Spokker said...

Toy Story Mania has a story? Pirates of the Caribbean vanilla-style doesn't have a story, but it had more character than every Pixar ride combined.

Anon, consider reading the Myth of Story.

About capacity, I was in the park once on a rainy Sunday night and Fantasyland was a ghost town, except for Peter Pan which still had a 30 minute wait. Everything else was a walk-on.

Capacity counts. Pirates may have had a short wait during the holidays, but it probably pulled in as much or more people than any of the rides with "character equity."

Spokker said...

"I've seen first hand how an entire generation had no interest in it but once Jack Sparrow was in it couldn't wait to experience it."

Yeah, the bloated ranks of the AP program turned out to see what's new. Rockin' Space Mountain had long lines too. Doesn't mean it was great.

"Todays generation craves characters with a TV/FILM/GAME backgrounds that they are familiar with and the characters in Pirates, Haunted Mansion and Small world don't have that equity."

Children grow up with a sense of imagination, adventure and exploration, not synergy.

John Clayton said...

"Children grow up with a sense of imagination, adventure and exploration, not synergy."

Ideally, yes. However it's rare to find a child with those qualities in today's day and age.

If we cycle are argument back to synergy you'll see what I mean. Look at the number of major IP's targeted at younger kids out in the market today. And then look at the number of sequels, spin-offs, etc they all have. Now if you compare that to the number of IP's targeted to kids back in say the 60's, you get roughly the same number but there's 2 striking differences.

1) Oversaturation of the product

2) "Target audience" Back in the day, people went to the movies as a FAMILY for FAMILY entertainment that all members would enjoy. Now, we have franchises targeted towards boys, girls, their parents etc

I'm not saying this stuff is good or bad, it's just interesting.

I will say though that it is making creativity a greater commodity

On a side note, I'm no Disney "purist". I enjoyed most of the pirates additions. However I will say that Davy Jones has NO PLACE on that attraction and sticks out like a sore thumb!

Anonymous said...

Hey Spokker, Pirates has a story. Pirates raid and ransack a village. Toy Story Mania has a story. See how well you do at a Toy Story adventure style arcade game.
Pinnochio has a big story. Lame ride.
The successful attractions mix just the right amount of story, character and ride or attraction elements to make it something you want to go see.
Let's see in you ideal (sixties) world of Disneyland the best attraction is probably Peoplemover, story is a peak at the transportation of tomorrow and all of Tomorrowland's attractions.
Well that ride had virtually no ridership from 1975 onward. Why? It was boring and lame.
Haunted Mansion's story, a haunted house with about one million little stories, still works because its still interesting.
So is Toy Story Mania.
That's not saying it won't fall off, it probably will.
Even some of Walt's attractions fell off. Mine Train and Pack Mules come to mind.

Spokker said...

"Well that ride had virtually no ridership from 1975 onward. Why? It was boring and lame."

Did it have no ridership or did it only look like it had no ridership because it had no line? Again, you are missing the point about capacity. The People Mover could do 4,600 guests per hour.

Surely, an empty track is more boring and lame.

Anonymous said...

Spokker, I am not missing the point. You are missing the point.
Peoplemover's capacity was nearly the same as Pirates. Pirates was always packed in the seventies, Peoplemover was not.
Even back then they were talking about shutting it down permanently because the tire replacement cost was high. But since Goodyear had to pay for it, they left it alone.

Spokker said...

If your argument is that more people rode Pirates over the People Mover, then I guess. One is an E-Ticket and the other is not. Wedway at the Magic Kingdom was a D ticket I think. I don't know what Disneyland's People Mover was.

Still, the People Mover had higher capacity than Pirates.

Maybe we should get rid of the Mark Twain too, because it doesn't perform as well as other attractions *rolls eyes*

Anonymous said...

You know the original debate we were having was about attractions that had a story.
Peoplemover did not have a story, and definitely had very little show.
And yes I am talking about the Disneyland one.
As to the annual passholders. I think they should charge more than they do, and couple it with a cut in the one day price.
I am only talking about the west coast version mind you.
Though they should probably take a year to do it.

Anonymous said...

I've played the Wii game, and as fun as it is (they did a good job adding game diversity and making it suitable for the Wii), it doesn't compare at all to the ride. Actually being in the car, spinning around, pulling the string, and hearing the music and sound effects engulf you better than any video game.

Midway Mania is also one of those rides that everyone who walks out of is incredibly happy. I don't think I've ever seen a disappointed person at the exit of Midway Mania.

It's a fun ride that people want to play over and over; that's what's going to sustain it.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see the discussion here move toward substance and debate.

After reading through the recent posts — the discussion of ride capacity, story, longevity, branding, etc. — no one seems to have noted one of the obvious details about Toy Story Mania that make it so enjoyable . . . the ability of guests to actively participate in the experience.

In a sense, the visceral participatory experience replaces the need for story. Guests have a direct impact on what they see, hear, touch. That is what I found to be delightful about the ride.

It speaks to the basic enjoyment of play!

I seconds Ceronomus' query: "Remember fun?"

Chris said...

I don't know how this subject went to the Peoplemover...if you're going to critize that, why not the skyway? the monorail? the train? They're all examples of transportation systems...(other than the fact that the peoplemover only had 1 stop), it was a futuristic showcase attraction (and a bit of a testing ground) for Walt, before he was going to let us see the "grown up" version in the EPCOT City project.

Anonymouse said...

Anonymous said: "Peoplemover did not have a story, and definitely had very little show."

Wasn't the Peoplemover the "show" itself? Was it not a showcase of what future mass transit "could be"?

And I know from experience in the mid 1980s until it closed, the Peoplemover must have had a "revival" because wait times in the summer rivaled those of the true "E" ticket fame. It was the monorail dedicated only to Tomorrowland, and a nice way to get off of those weary, beaten feet, with some fantastic photo opportunities with many great views of the Tomorrowland side of the park.

With all of the "forward" thinking crowd here, being content with a video game ride, Disney might as well rake in the big bucks and sell the themepark to Electronic Arts or Sony, or parts thereof...TSM is B-ticket quality at best. Even though B and E sound closely simliar, they are on completely different levels.

Hoot Gibson said...

Midway Mania didn't even hold the attention of my 10 year old boy. Isn't he pretty close the "magic" demogrphic age?

Piece of shit, Disney style.

Hoot Gibson said...

PS.

Technology is only a means to a creative end.

Trevor said...

Here are a couple of profles from the UK film website Flickering Myth about two filmmakers who are pushing the realm of technology and storytelling - Pixar and Robert Zemeckis.

http://flickeringmyth.blogspot.com/2009/11/animated-storytellers-pixar-animation.html

http://flickeringmyth.blogspot.com/2010/01/rendering-reality-robert-zemeckis.html

Part Two will arrive on Jan. 13th and Part Three Jan. 20th.

Enjoy.

Digital Jedi said...

Didn't we already know from way back when we first heard rumors about Midway Mania that the idea behind the attraction was to make something that didn't cost a lot and could be "remodeled" simply by coming up with a new story?

I haven't been on it yet, so I can't speak to its entertainment value. Most everyone I've talked to likes it a lot. The point, though, wasn't whether you thought it was bad or not, but why it cost so little to make. Personally, I think we're looking at this the wrong way. This is not an E-Ticket attraction where all the stops are pulled out to draw the crowds, though that has been the end results. This, or at least it should be, is what our new lower ticket rides should be looking like.

I suspect that an all-the-stops attraction will look more like what they're planning for Carsland and the Haunted Mansion equivalent in Hong Kong. I do think this is partiality a project left over from the Eisner days, as we're still seeing a lot of those wheels put in motion play out. But even so, I think that if Disney is going to do something that costs a lot less than usual, but has a little more flexibility than most attractions, then it should at least be this good. Sensibly, it should mean that the expensive stuff will be that much better.

2.0 and Beyond said...

Midway Mania is very much like Star Tours - Something that pushes the envelope, but something that will soon have rip-offs popping up all over. When Disney eventually releases a WII version for the home gaming fans, it will be time to be looking for the next attraction strategy.

/bsdb said...

Well... the Fitzgerald rumor is apparently true. Tom Fitzgerald is now the WDI Creative Executive of the Disneyland Resort. Tony Baxter and Bob Weis will report directly to Tom.

This ain't rocket science.

Bob will soon be devoting 100% to Shanghai. Since Tom is an Exec VP, while both Tony and Bob are Senior VPs, I don't see Disney replacing Bob with another WDI exec. Tom will probably assume Bob's duties in overseeing DCA.

What does that spell for Baxter, who turns 63 on Monday? I like stated, this ain't rocket science.

Given the continuing economic quagmire, and the continuing downsizing of other Disney business units... I believe Tony is heading into Early Retirement Land, later this year. He pulls in an astronomically high compensation package each year, which is tough to justify, now that he reports to another senior Imagineer at the resort.

Truth is, I can see Fitzgerald representing the entire Disneyland Resort for WDI, by the end of the year. Seems to be the Disney Way as of late.

Anonymous said...

And it is sad that even though it is time for Tony to retire that the best they can do is replace him with Tom Fitzgerald? Please.

Anonymous said...

^^^^
That'll just doom Disneyland to the same sort of "creative support" it "enjoyed" under Braverman. Fitzgerald just doesn't have the creative passion that Baxter, or even Weiss, have.

I don't know what his long term company plans are, but I don't think that his concerns for the parks come close to those of Baxter or Weiss.

octopdog said...

There seems to be no attention to detail or accountability from Imagineering to Theme Park Operations. There can be no accountability without knowing your product or target audience. Without a clear understanding of your product, pencil pushers can make winning arguments for decisions that chase after profits.

Because of the popularity of annual passports expensive attractions with new technology and immersive environments are no longer necessary to keep Disneyland crowded. The repeat business from annual passport holders has shifted the focus from ticket sales to increasing profits from food and merchandise. With this current business model and the absence of cash registers at the entrance of attractions I doubt we will see new attractions like Pirates of the Caribbean.

Midway Mania is not an attraction that will generate extended hotel stays or cause the non-fan to return in mass. However, it is as good as it needs to be for annual passport holders to be happy until the next project opens. Like all those low budget Touchstone pictures in the 1980’s it's good business -- not good art.

Anonymous said...

No one can argue the popularity and creative genius of Tony Baxter. He seems to be a one-hit-wonder and champion of rejected projects. Good ideas and story telling are not enough for a Senior VP. WDI needs someone that can express how creativity and attention to detail adds value to the bottom line.

You have got to make future generations excited about riding classic Disney Attractions. If WDI does not communicate the need to modernize and update classic attractions and increase capacity with new attractions than Disneyland will even fall out of favor with the fans. Believe me, more kiddy rides are not going to spark the imagination of guests who view Disneyland as being out of fashion.

Tony Baxter is an imagineer’s imagineer. We need someone who can preach to God and not to the choir.

2.0 and Beyond said...

^^^^^
One hit wonder??? He has had NUMEROUS hits. And if it weren't for him Disneyland would have been trashed back decades ago. His focus has been on Disneyland, but Disneyland Paris was the most successful Disney park until TDS.

Well, If "God" is Imagineering management, then Baxter may well have a problem. Of course, Imagineering management apparently prefers political solutions (appeasing marketing and merchandising) over worrying about whatever the "choir" wants.

Spokker said...

You know, all those arguments about Disneyland not being a museum sort of fly out the window when the powers that be decide to rip out HISTA in order to make a quick buck off an eccentric pop star's death, eh?

Move forward, move forward, move forward, until we can make gobs of money off nostalgia, that is. I hope those 3D glasses are rose-colored.

These executives are standing on the shoulders of giants and yet they don't even know it.

Anonymous said...

I think Tony's had three hits. Big Thunder, Splash Mountain and Indiana Jones.
But Splash Mountain and Indiana Jones both had severe cost overruns that almost broke the company at the time.
And in Indiana Jones he insisted on putting in effects that look great for a week or so, but cannot be maintained.
Bringing back Lincoln was a work on non-imagination and Captain EO is a look through rose-colored glasses.
I think if some new Imagineers are given a chance to operate out from under the shadow of Tony and Tom, then we could see some great stuff.
If not, then we will see more (yawn) boring attractions that no one goes on.

2.0 and Beyond said...

Anonymous said...

"I think Tony's had three hits. Big Thunder, Splash Mountain and Indiana Jones. 
But Splash Mountain and Indiana Jones both had severe cost overruns that almost broke the company at the time.
And in Indiana Jones he insisted on putting in effects that look great for a week or so, but cannot be maintained.
Bringing back Lincoln was a work on non-imagination and Captain EO is a look through rose-colored glasses.
I think if some new Imagineers are given a chance to operate out from under the shadow of Tony and Tom, then we could see some great stuff.
If not, then we will see more (yawn) boring attractions that no one goes on."



Actually, those three were not even his only DISNEYLAND hits.

As for Splash overruns, that was the first water attraction ever done by Imagineering, which ran into development problems that cannot be rationally be totally attributed to Baxter. And even given that, I believe that the Splash added to WDW’s MK (which generally has significantly reduced construction costs) actually ran in the vicinity of $20 million MORE than the DL prototype.

Indy was another hi-tech prototype that had a lot of development involved. But the issue wasn’t particularly the costs of the ride, but that politics began to become a significant force and there were attempts to subvert that attraction, even during construction.

As for the effects you mention, they COULD HAVE BEEN MAINTAINED, if Disneyland had been under proper management. But that period was at the beginning or Disneyland’s dark years of shoddy and deferred maintenance.

If TONY was given the chance to get out of the shadow of Tom (and the rest of the political restraints he’s been under for over a decade), we would see more than the kind of crap the company has been putting out in recent years. Partnered with Lasseter, Baxter’s output would be impressive indeed.

Anonymous said...

@2.0 and Beyond


You've got it a bit wrong. Splash Mountain's cost arose from an Engineering issue. It was the structural engineer's fault- dimensions, didn't match up and this wasn't noticed until construction had already began. Pieces had to be renovated in order to make the structure work.

As for Indy, the primary cost attributed to that attraction is the development of the EMV. A vehicle that can move with ridiculous amounts of freedom and automation by even today's standards. The EMV was ten years before it's time and that cost can be differed towards future attractions that use that technology.

So while Baxter may recently be headed down nostalgia lane, his "Big 3" still are BIG

Anonymous said...

"Actually, those three were not even his only DISNEYLAND hits."
Then please, by all means, name the other ones.

"As for Splash overruns, that was the first water attraction ever done by Imagineering, which ran into development problems that cannot be rationally be totally attributed to Baxter."
Yes it can, if you worked there and were honest (which they do not want) you would know it could be traced to him and his ever-faithful assistant Bruce Gordon.

"As for the effects you mention, they COULD HAVE BEEN MAINTAINED, if Disneyland had been under proper management."
Again you show your complete ignorance of reality. Even the Disneyland maintenance people, who actually do want the shows to look their best, will tell you many of those effects were not built or designed to last. But no one wanted to tell Tony that. Those that did were fired.
Oh, and the same goes true for Tom Fitz.
Don't get me wrong, if Tony would just draw up some concepts then get the hell out of the way there would have been so much more done. But he doesn't.
Nor is he, nor Tom, great champions of dissent, discussion or other ideas. Everyone knows that with Tony that if it wasn't IBT (Invented by Tony) it didn't stand a chance.
You want reality? Then talk to a guy by the name of Bob Baranick.
Quit letting the idol worship cloud your rose colored glasses.

Anonymous said...

The re-design of Disneyland’s Tomorrowland in 1998 was a colossal train wreck and in many ways it was a giant leap backward with fewer attractions and insignificant design elements. With no peoplemover and the absence of the rockets soaring overhead, the new Tomorrowland lacks the kinetic excitement of its not so glorious past. I am not sure how Tony avoided pink slips. After all, everyone at one time or another seemed to have been fired from WDI in the turbulent nineties.

Not only did Splash Mountain have huge cost overruns, Tony did not deliver the 2,500 people per hour capacity as mandated by Disneyland and promised by WDI. I think the biggest blunder was that the original logs were too big for the flume. I am not sure the castle walk through and the resurrection of Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln warrants the salary of a Senior VP.

I don’t believe the cost overruns of Splash Mountain or Indiana Jones ever adversely affected the financial stability of Disneyland. Many special effects for Indiana Jones have never worked as conceived. It is my understanding that it often fails to meet Disneyland’s own show quality standards. I don’t blame Tony for the decisions made by low-level managers.

/bsdb said...

You want reality? Then talk to a guy by the name of Bob Baranick.

Boy howdy!

How is Bob doing these days? I've lost track of him since the Ireland expansion at BGW.

octopdog said...

We live in the real world and not a blue-sky nirvana where there are no restrictions. Disneyland is a successful business and requires high capacity attractions, restrooms, merchandise and restaurant space. I expect that a Senior VP should be able to balance the requirements of a project and juggle the whims of Disneyland’s revolving management team. This fact remains true for all creative professionals at every company around the world.

You cannot judge imagineers by their great ideas. They must be judged by the completed project and the decisions that are made once a project is funded. The challenge and unrealized opportunity for imagineers is how do you include food and merchandise locations in the immersive experience.

Spokker said...

This site is the fourth result for "Imagineering" on Google (yes I logged out so my own history didn't influence results). You should take advantage of that and update more.

Anonymous said...

"many of those effects were not built or designed to last. But no one wanted to tell Tony that. Those that did were fired."

Again with that damn ice machine... Great effect. Cheaper to hire monkeys to fill ice cube trays and throw them. It would have still been running! Monkey's last a long time.

"Oh, and the same goes true for Tom Fitz."
Mr show up on the last day and change everything about the attraction - Despite months of intense work by many people. It can be very defeating to the soul. What a money waster.

"Then talk to a guy by the name of Bob Baranick.
Quit letting the idol worship cloud your rose colored glasses."

Amen Brother. Some things have to be said.

Mike Murder said...

For the record, I don't believe Baxter deserves all the credit on BTM as he was basically just revamping a concept by Marc Davis and Bill Watkins' role cannot be overlooked. That said, it was definitely the attraction that launched his career at WDI and Splash Mountain and Indy are two of the best rides to ever appear in a Disney park. THAT said, I do think Mr. Baxter gets a lot more credit than he maybe desserves as a "genius" of imagineering.

Greg said...

Can't agree with you on this one. Remember Andy himself is flexible in the roles of his toys. In the scene you refer to, Mr. Potato Head and RC are cast as the bad guys, even though they are counted among the protagonists of the movie as a whole. So it's okay to be flexible with who are the good guys and bad guys, cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers within the context of play. It's okay to throw pies at our heroes. After all, pies don't inflict real harm.

I think your concept applies better to attractions like Stitch's Great Escape, where the audience as asked to join forces with the organization trying to capture Stitch, who were the antagonists throughout the whole move the character originates from!