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...