Sunday, June 22, 2008

Mine! Mine! Mine!



"Success is simply a matter of luck. Ask any failure."

- Earl Nightingale



Yes, I know...

Some of you think I hate the Suits and love the Creatives. You're half right...

While I do love the Creatives, I don't hate Suits. I simply hate it when they overstep their boundaries. I've seen and heard too many stories where a project that started out good or even great evolved into nothing more than a mess of incomprehensible proportions. In Hollywood in particular, and entertainment in general, everyone looks for a meaning to why they're given such large salaries. To justify the lifestyle they live they tend to believe they have powers beyond those of mortal men(or Suits). An executive for the Mouse or some other company will ask for a plot point/character to be changed so that he may take credit when the film is a hit, a bean counter will ask for a cut from a particular scene on a film or lower the budget needed to add an addition AA figure so that he can show his boss he was able to contain cost, and on and on it goes. I've got a friend that actually sold a script about a bunch of older priest involved in a supernatural thriller. The executive said to loose the old guy(the lead character in the script) and add some sexy, hot nuns(there were no women in the story). They proceeded to turn his script which was quite good into something unrecognizable. Something like this goes on all the time in the entertainment business. Sometimes it's films... other times it's theme parks...

As I said earlier, there are good Suits, most that I know are a hybrid of Suit/Creative. That said, there are also good Suits that are in no way Creatives. Bob Iger is one of these. In fact, he's the primary one of these. My favorite Suits tend to be the hybrids, the ones that are equal parts Suit and Creative. John Lasseter is this, although he is a little more Creative than Suit... he tends to have great organization skills. The great thing about Iger is his ability to know where the limits of his creativity end and he doesn't overstep them. He knows when to hand off the responsibility to others.

Unfortunately, there are still people within the company that still have the pre-Eisner mentality. Jay Rasulo is the primary Suit that needs to be removed, but he's not the only one. Some of the executives in charge of Parks and resorts still haven't gotten a clue...

The most notorious examples of this are in Florida at Walt Disney World. It's distance and notoriety insulate it from the scrutiny that it deserves. For several park managers its almost a fiefdom that control without the prying eyes of Burbank looking over their shoulders. Sure, there are bright spots. The new head of Epcot has so far been a pleasant surprise. Hopefully, he'll get the ability to let this park blossom again. My main problem with the Little Mermaid attraction cloning for this park stems from these Suits and many of their middle management. Instead of trying to find things that make WDW different from the other parks it tries to emulate them(Disneyland in particular). Like a bigger, younger brother that is always jealous of the attention his sibling gets, the Suits at WDW are constantly trying to imitate it's Anaheim counterpart and also trying to force it at times to bend to the marketing and promotions it uses for Florida. The problem there is that the guests that enter Florida are different than those that wind up going to California. You can't operate these parks as if they were built with a cookie-cutter no matter how much Rasulo would like.

The reasoning behind TLM ride's planned addition to Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom is cost. They justify it as spreading it across two or sometimes three parks. From a shortsighted perspective it makes sense. But if you look at the opportunity it provided to get travellers to come to WDW for the unique experience an original attraction would offer, it would be better to focus on a long term strategy. Imagine if WDW had built that Western River Expedition and it was only available in Florida? Think of the foreign travellers, not to mention Californians that would decide to make the trek east to experience what could only be experienced in WDW. This is only one of many, many attractions that WDI has proposed that have been waved aside over the last two decades. Granted, there have been several projects that made it through. Mission: Space and Expedition Everest being the primary examples... but trust me when I say there were many more that would have given you thrills and wonder beyond any experience you've had with these rides. I'm not complaining that they're there, I like them quite a bit. But the Suits at the Magic Kingdom have had plenty of opportunity over the last two decades to add E-tickets only to hid the E-Stop on plans based on soulless projections by bean counters. The same people that would have told Walt his plan for a park in Anaheim was going to be a bust...

When executives only look at the bottom line they don't see the attendance lines. The ones people stand in to ride these things they build. Several attractions that have been constructed over the past two decades... mostly C and D-Tickets haven't gotten the lines or projections they've expected. This is where my "If You Build It, They Will Come" philosophy comes into play. Both Winnie the Pooh attractions are a result of this. Particularly the one here in California, but Florida's as well. When you deliver an experience that is adequate the amount of guest riding it also turns out to be adequate. When you go on Pooh's Hunny Hunt in Tokyo, you get a genuinely "Disney" experience... and next year when Monster's Inc: Find and Seek opens up it'll be another case of a totally immersive "Disney" experience. Just not in the American parks... and most certainly not in the Florida Project that Walt envisioned.

As long as Suits remain unimaginative and just scream and whine that they want what Disneyland has then the parks won't be independent destinations that people can plan so as to enjoy all the different experiences each location has to offer. A variety of individuality will create more reason to go to more parks, not less... Instead of building what Disneyland has... built something that Disneyland would want. Create some envy back in the opposite direction.

Now wouldn't that be a change?

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

I politely must say that I don't understand your point about Disneyland envy. It seems to me that it is the other way around. Let's look at what Disney World has as opposed to Disneyland - EPCOT, Disney's Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom, etc. - Tons of original attractions within the parks as well as original hotels, water parks and other activities. - You have it right about cost control (case in point - there are rumors about the Radiator Springs Racers coming to Hollywood Studios.) But, it seems that the most complaining comes from the "Disneyland Mafia" lol.

Honor Hunter said...

Well anonymous,

The list of things that DL has over WDW are numerous...

That's not to say WDW doesn't have its advantages. That's what being twice the size of Manhattan can do for you.

Yes, it has four parks and some great hotels, but the upkeep for MK versus DL is greater. Disneyland has the benefit of being only a little more than a half hour away from Burbank so it tends to get a lot of TLC. Yes WDW has 4 parks, but compare MK's approx 40 or so rides to DL's hovering in at close to 60... Of which, the Indy ride is the only one in existence in America(the other one is in Tokyo DisneySea). They have the track layout in Dinosaur!, and that is the reason you'll never see it there. The POTC ride has more scenes than the one in MK and is almost twice as long... the improvements that the Haunted Mansion got were first scene here. The Midway Mania ride was meant to be exclusive to DCA until the Suits started whining that they wanted it too, even after being offered several other projects that they had turned down which would have been very nice for them. The Little Mermaid attract was also supposed to be an exclusive to DCA as well(at least for four to five years, until some suits reasoned that the cloning could help pay for the high development cost).

And I won't even go into the entertainment. Disneyland's entertainment is vastly better than WDW's... which is why when their Suits visit they wind up importing clones of our entertainment(HSM and others at WDW were scrapped and cloned versions of our own shows were sent there). Our very own Block Party Bash which played here has finally been packed up and given to DHS. But again, it was something DL had first and sent there when Team Anaheim decided it was time for a new parade. It also helps that we are in the entertainment capital so it's much easier to find high-quality actors.

Time and time again, when executives show up here they tend to try and get things that are proposed for DL also. They also tend to try and get us to change the name of attractions(Mania for one... it didn't work this time).

This isn't some sort of WDW sucks, DL is great kind of article. If you take from the post that then you've missed it completely. My point is that they have enough power, room and ability that they should have more, amazing rides but tend to just go into a "Me too!" mode... or as the title of this post was:

"Mine! Mine! Mine!"

Disney fans, particularly WDW fans deserve better and Disney is more than capable of doing it.

That's all...

blank stare said...

I agree. Walt Disney World makes an unbelievable amount of money for some of the entertainment I've seen the last couple times I've gone there. I am amazed at the CM's as well. They were far more less friendly than when I last was at Disneyland. I think because they are so far away, they don't worry about what will happen to them. If someone constantly were there to enforce the standards things would be different.

dreemfinder said...

I should point out that both parks are already unpleasantly crammed with people most days, to the detriment of the Disney experience. Standing in Fantasyland or Tomorrowland this week, all I could see were people on cell phones, blotting out the buildings, the flora, the music and the magic.

Do we need a one-of-a-kind attraction to drive more people to either park? I'm not sure...

Anonymous said...

Not to get them to come. To get them to stay. So that they spend more money.

spacemtn77 said...

And who's the Suit in Florida who keeps that crappy hat standing at Disney's Hollywood Studios?!

Anonymous said...

"I should point out that both parks are already unpleasantly crammed with people most days, to the detriment of the Disney experience."

Hmmm... this is the Disneyland experience. Crowds are here to stay. That's the nature of the business. Disney theme parks are gloried and premium priced carnivals if you don't get it.

The suits is just another manifestation of the carnival barker/boss. They are there to fool you into thinking they are creating magic, but it's really smoke and mirrors.

Anonymous said...

Honor,
The average theme park guest could care less about which theme park has the best live entertainment or how well Main Street is painted. They care about the attraction options and the immersive environment that help them escape from their daily troubles. In this case, WDW wins hands down. (Not that this is a contest). I love Disneyland too, but, being from the MidWest, I'd much rather travel to WDW which has far more options for an AP and is much closer. My point was that WDW has nothing to be jealous of Disneyland about. WDW is the largest and most visited theme park resort in the nation. If they want to "borrow" ideas from their smaller sibling, I have no problem with that. This saves me a trip to California. Your completely right about the parks becoming McDisney. But, this has gone both ways like Tower of Terror, It's tough to be a Bug, The Muppets, and the Food and Wine Festival. I just wish they had built Westcot or Port Disney. Disneyland deserves much better. Hopefully, the upcoming attractions at DCA will make it a worthy second gate.

kaliwolf said...

^^ Isn't that the point though? Disney cloning rides saves to a trip to go to the other resorts, meaning you aren't spending money on them. How is that good for Disney and the health of their parks? Wouldn't it be better to have as many amazing an unique attractions as possible on both coasts so that you would gladly travel to both?

Anonymous said...

After reading this posting, I'm beginning to fear that Blue Sky Disney is now heading in the direction of becoming just another one of those worthless and unhealthy anti-Disney blogs out there, which we have way too many of on the web already (Re-Imagineering, MiceAge, etc.).

It's bad enough that we've got people like Spokker the Troll constantly spamming this blog with his malicious, overly-negative anti-Disney diatribes. And it's even worse that Honor Hunter is still refusing to ban him from here.

Honor Hunter said...

I don't consider what I posted to be negative, anonymous...

I consider it my constructive opinions on the subject. I love Disney, but that doesn't mean I agree with everything or that all things are rosy. There are some things that I wish the Mouse would take more seriously and when they get something wrong I'll point it out.

These have been good times of late, they haven't been perfect times...

We're going to see over the next few years how much control Lasseter is able to get and see what direction the company goes.

I'm cautiously optimistic, but I'm also not a lemming...

socalkdg said...

With the cost of travel increasing, people are going to choose one coast or the other, not both. Clone away.

drew said...

"With the cost of travel increasing, people are going to choose one coast or the other, not both. Clone away."

This view seems based on the idea that such a scenario will continue into perpetuity.

The individual identity of each resort is also much more important in slower economic times. A family looking to vacation that may be able to visit both resorts will more quickly pass one off if the perception is one of sameness. The individuality of each resort is its drawing power. People will be more willing to spend for differing experiences than for two experiences believed to be the same.

Anonymous said...

That's part of that "short term" mentality that Honor was talking about.

Anonymous said...

This view seems based on the idea that such a scenario will continue into perpetuity.

The individual identity of each resort is also much more important in slower economic times. A family looking to vacation that may be able to visit both resorts will more quickly pass one off if the perception is one of sameness. The individuality of each resort is its drawing power. People will be more willing to spend for differing experiences than for two experiences believed to be the same.


Oh, shut up, Drew! You're just as bad as Spokker!

socalkdg said...

Taking the long term approach, the cost of travel continues to increase. Fuel, terrorism, inflation, etc.

Clone away.

drew said...

"Oh, shut up, Drew! You're just as bad as Spokker!"
Good to see the daring of anonymity striking such a thought provoking argument.

"Taking the long term approach, the cost of travel continues to increase. Fuel, terrorism, inflation, etc.

Clone away."
Not necessarily. Cloning makes a lot of sense only in immediately protecting revenues during a drop. Long term it hurts the desirability to visit other resorts in both times of economic upswing and downturns. The resorts do not have to be one or another if they can establish themselves as very different experiences, each of which is worth experiencing.

The more financially beneficial goal (IF properly executed) would be to get guests to visit both resorts in a time of economic decline, other than just throwing in the towel and coddling the idea of a Disney park is a Disney park. It poses a greater short term risk, but not cloning has a greater potential reward.

The more prudent solution would be a more middle ground. Similar, but not duplicate experiences. Differences in queue and facade would not be enough. The best example, in my opinion, would be Space Mountain, where the experience is similar but different enough for each to be unique. Such an approach protects the individuality of each park, but also helps to reduce the cost impact facing a single park.