Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Brand New (Part One)...


The "It's A Small World" situation and the rumors surrounding DAK have made a great deal of Disney Geeks/Fans really upset. As I mentioned earlier Disney could have handled this with more care... they should have known that loyal fans and a great deal of Annual Passholders were going to be upset with any changes to the classic ride designed by Disney Legend Mary Blair.

The addition or changes to rides at parks happen all the time. Some are good, others bad and a few unnoticeable. Not many remember the changes that have taken place to attractions like "Snow White"... many originally don't recall that Snow herself was added later, or the Peter Pan renovations come to mind. Most park visitors take for granted any changes unless it's a ride they were planning on going on and then they're quite disappointed with a long refurb like "Small World". It's people like the Annual Passholders that see these rides much more than an out of state/country visitor that will notice subtle changes or dramatic departures from time honored experiences Imagineers create.

The IASW plans have been in the cards for quite a few years. There has been a need for the canals to have work on them for decades, really. It was when this work was being planned that the realization set in how long it would take and WDI decided to do some alterations and design changes. Some of what was designed be going into HKDL is what Imagineers have planned on putting within the settings of Small World with Mary Blair styled representations, of course(a MB styled Peter Pan in England type of design as an example). The plan was to be subtle, but have some alterations as well as the possible retheming of one section that WDI thought could be altered. Fans have become greatly upset as these plans have shown the Mouse continues to be "Cartooning" attractions that don't or shouldn't need it.

While Disney is sensitive to Passholders needs it also takes into account what guest in the park tend to say they want to see and more and more visitors always mention the characters. They want to see more characters... after all, that is why they chose a Disney park over one somewhere else. Now I know what you're saying. I understand what is going to be mentioned and I tend to agree. The quality of the attraction experience at a Disney theme park is much higher as well and most of these same guest might forget that. But Park Managers working with TeamDisney Suits and some TeamDisney Burbank Suits are continually trying to figure out how to draw more guest into the parks and even more important, get them to hand over more of their cash. This is how the rationalization of seeing more characters in the park and on certain rides is validated and justified.

As the world becomes more and more competitive with Disney being not the only theme park out there... it's trying to define itself and differentiate itself from all the other players. It used to be just Disney half a century ago, really. I mean, now you have along with the Mouse, Universal, MGM, Marvel, Six Flaggs, Sea World and a handful of others all competing for the same dollars. I know that the quality and stylings of rides is what you and I know is a hallmark of a Disney attraction, but no other company has Disney characters to offer its guest(except OLC, of course). With globalization and the world becoming a smaller place the folks at Disney are trying to show guest that these experiences are only available within the walls of a Disney theme park and no other. A companies brand is important and creating new revenue as well as keeping up the old veins of revenue is difficult for many corporations to do. Branding the parks and saturating the market with products featuring Mickey or Princesses or Fairies is one of the ways that this branding works to keep customers happy and paying. The "Cartooning" or "Characterization" as I call it is one of these strategies.

This is where Disney Geeks need to realize the power they have as "Virtual Shareholders"... if you want attention to something, a poll over at TMZ may have a minor effect, but phone calls, letters or more importantly, complaints at City Hall do much better. Now leaving an expletive filled ranting will not be the best way such focus should be directed, but sending a passionate, reasoned letter or note to Guest Relations can bring about enlightenment of Suit at the parks and corporate office. If you want to make your voices heard my friends, then complaining on message boards and filling out polls is not the direction to head. If you want to be heard the path to do so leads to Anaheim and Burbank...

19 comments:

Liz said...

can anyone explain the DAK rumors here? i've only heard about disney's night kingdom recently...

i mean, i've heard TONS of rumors about DAK over the years, but none that were brought up recently...

thanks!

Sea World Fan said...

beastly kingdomme being added with disney characters instead of mythical characters

www.saveitasmallworld.com/phpPETITION

Anonymous said...

I can tell you from MY Bothan that the City Hall/Guest Service complaints about the IASM changes are off the charts. There's nothing wrong with perking up a tired attraction but the fallacy in this post is that anyone has been bitching about a lack of change to IASW. Nothing of the kind. People who rarely come to the park (or for whom it is a once or twice in a lifetime visit) have no context in which to make such a judgment and don't have an expectation of changes being made. If they come once a year, and IASW is closed, they aren't like, gosh, it's been closed so long! And if they come back a year later, and it's open, I find it hard to see how they are disappointed that nothing has changed. In any case, IASW is a special case especially in that it so profoundly bears the mark of a singular artistic view of the world. It doesn't need any additions and the original, at least, should remain unchanged.

Spokker said...

People want to see characters, of course. I agree that characters should have a presence in the park, as they should at all "Magic Kingdom-style" parks. That doesn't mean they should take over entirely.

We're got the Fantasyland character driven dark rides. We also have originals like Pirates and Mansion. There was always a balance struck. And don't tell me that when people are riding Haunted Mansion they are wondering, "Where's Mickey???" It makes as much sense to put in a transparent ghostly Mickey dancing around in the ballroom scene as it does putting Alice in Small World.

There are alternatives. They could easily release some merchandise where classic Disney characters are portrayed in the Mary Blair style, like dolls, shirts, or posters or whatever, and sell them in that Small World gift shop.

Hell, they could add the dolls to the ride for a couple months or so, then auction them off for charity, keeping in with the spirit of the attraction. It'd be a temporary thing.

I just don't understand how it's a good idea as a permanent change.

Spokker said...

Oh, and I want to comment on writing directly to Disney. I will never do it.

Your comment is more likely to be thrown in the garbage or laughed at by employees than do any good. If your letter is especially heartfelt it might go into a "Best Of" book where all the best comments are kept for posterity.

If your letter contains any ideas or suggestions they WILL NOT read it. They have a disclaimer stating just that. They don't want to be sued for actually using an idea or suggestion.

Writing to Disney is no more effective than complaining on Disney message boards.

KINGCRAB said...

I must disagree with you, Spokker.

Writing to Disney IS effective. They DO listen, so don't think that they don't.

kaliwolf said...

I wonder sometimes if Disney Executives look at the success of TDR and have decided that it is due to the abundance of characters over there. They may see TDR as a cash cow (one that they only get a fraction of), see that the Japanese go crazy over anything with the characters, and then decide that to make their parks more profitable, they too must use the characters wherever possible. Are American really crying out for more and more characters? If this really is their thinking, isn't it possible that it may just be a cultural thing that they aren't picking up on? What works in Japan may not over here, though I'm sure that idea is lost on global marketing types like Jay Rasulo. I may be completely off on this, but it's something to consider.

Anonymous said...

One of the reasons Tokyo Disney Sea is so great, is that most of the attractions aren't based on cartoon characters. I like cartoons, but I think their prescene in attractions should be very limited outside of Fantasyland and Toontown.
Tokyo Disney Sea has a Tower of Terror with no franchise tie-ins, a Jounrey to the Center of the Earth ride, a 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride, a simulator called Stormrider, a roller coaster called Raging Spirits, and an Indiana Jones Adventure (but it is the Temple of the Crystal Skull, instead of Temple of the Forbidden Eye). These are almost all of the major attractions in TDS and they are completely free of cartoon characters, and except for Raging Spirits (which looks too small and unthemed) these all strongly appeal to me and are the kind of things that would get me through the turnstiles.

kaliwolf said...

^^^I agree, but I think that's the general viewpoint of American Disney fans (unless you're not American, then I apologize for the assumption). From what I've heard, I think the Japanese local audience enjoys TDS, but they still prefer TDL since that's where the characters "live". Also, almost all of the major entertainment and Seasonal Events for TDS and TDR in general are chock full of the characters. I just think it's possible that Disney sees how well the character saturation works for the OLC, and makes the logical leap that it would work anywhere, which they may be wrong about.

Spokker said...

At TDR it's really a non-issue though. TDS only sees a million less visits than TDL per year.

I attribute this to the fact that both parks offer something totally unique. I would characterize Tokyo Disneyland as fantasy, magic, and whimsy.

I would characterize DisneySea with words like adventure, exploration, and mythical.

The park slogans stress the contrast between the two parks. TDL is the "kingdom of dreams and magic" while TDS is "where adventure and imagination set sail".

In a way they've struck a perfect balance between character driven attractions and original attractions. Even TDS's movie-based attractions aren't just the movie's plot retold, but are entirely new adventures "inspired by" the movies. They are the Magic Lamp Theater, 20.000 Leagues, and Indiana Jones.

Anonymous said...

Don't write to Guest Relations -- write to Guest Communications. They are obligated to respond to each and every letter. But, as Spokker states, don't make ANY suggestions. Writing to Guest Relations is a waste of time and energy. They are there for the guests AT the park -- Guest Communications is for written correspondence.

KINGCRAB said...

In a way they've struck a perfect balance between character driven attractions and original attractions. Even TDS's movie-based attractions aren't just the movie's plot retold, but are entirely new adventures "inspired by" the movies. They are the Magic Lamp Theater, 20.000 Leagues, and Indiana Jones.

IMO, the American parks are just as well balanced in having film-based attractions and completely original things. WDI and the parks' guests ARE NOT stupid!

And, FYI, the Nemo attractions at Epcot and DL are NOT retellings of the movie--they're actually "sequels" to the movies (some of the dialogue indicates that. such as Marlin saying that Nemo is "Lost AGAIN").

And, to the last Anonymous, I'd have to disagree with you as well. For one thing, I'll never understand the vendetta that folks like you have against cartoon or character-based attractions. To me, it's just comes off as people LOOKING for things to complain about and complaining just for the sake of complaining.

Anonymous said...

KINGCRAB, since these are all evil lies, you may want to check out the LA Times blog by Brady MacDonald.

"Disneyland plans to incorporate stylized Disney characters into It’s a Small World in keeping with attraction creator Mary Blair’s original designs and color palette, Walt Disney Imagineering officials confirmed."

http://travel.latimes.com/daily-deal-blog/?p=1552

Anonymous said...

To Kingcrab, considering that Wild Hogs was one of the ten (#9) highest grossing movies in 2007, I have little faith in the intelligence of the general population.
About the bias against cartoon character based attractions, I just don't want everything to be cartoony looking in the parks. I like realistic environments such as those in Indy, Haunted Mansion, Big Thunder Mountain, and POTC, you can't get those types of environments with cartoon based attractions.

Spokker said...

"I just don't want everything to be cartoony looking in the parks. I like realistic environments such as those in Indy, Haunted Mansion, Big Thunder Mountain, and POTC, you can't get those types of environments with cartoon based attractions."

My sentiments exactly. Disneyland would not be what it is if all it did was rely on characters. Some of the most legendary attractions are based on original concepts.

Anonymous said...

Disneyland wouldn't be Disneyland if it wasn't for POTC and the Haunted Mansion, and they were original concepts. DLR needs some new original concepts that are excellent.

princecrab said...

Stop calling my daddy names!

ronnie mashine said...

Regarding this "cartooning" or as Blue Sky calls it "characterization", Honor's already spoke on it.

KINGCRAB said...

KINGCRAB, since these are all evil lies, you may want to check out the LA Times blog by Brady MacDonald.

"Disneyland plans to incorporate stylized Disney characters into It’s a Small World in keeping with attraction creator Mary Blair’s original designs and color palette, Walt Disney Imagineering officials confirmed."

http://travel.latimes.com/daily-deal-blog/?p=1552


Oh, yeah? Well, Imagineering also confirmed that the DL IaSW ride will not become overrun with characters like Mickey and Minnie and it won't become a carbon copy of Hong Kong's version.