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Woody’s Roundup 01-27-2008

While I continue to futz around working on some story ideas, the tubed interwebs thankfully continue to produce stories of interest and worthy of linkage. Here are a few for your late-weekend perusal.

Spaceship EarthFirst, I’m glad to report that EPCOT Central seems to be up and blogging again. These folks are die-hard EPCOT traditionalists like myself, and I’m glad that there are people out there keeping Disney’s feet to the fire concerning the park’s current lack of unifying purpose. A few recent pieces of note:

- A story about management dropping the ball on EPCOT’s 25th anniversary last year. I was fortunate to be able to make it down for the celebration and, while the fan organizers did a magnificent job setting things up, they shouldn’t have had to. I’ve been planning a series for the site entitled “Why Won’t Disney Take My Money?” and one of the first of these will be about EPCOT’s 25th. It’s shocking to me that, as a fanbase, Disney fans practically have to beg corporate to be recognized and catered to. It has to be a fairly unique situation – rabid, dedicated fans that are sneered at by the company they seek to celebrate. It’s reached the stage of an abusive relationship and Disney really needs to get their act together on this front.

- A story about the necessity of criticism and the need to hold management’s feet to the fire concerning the revitalization of EPCOT. I link to this post because it makes almost verbatim an argument I’ve been making for years:

Disney is a company that needs to make money. It’s a for-profit company. It needs to grow revenue and income. Those are also common explanations. To that, I counter that only by offering something truly revolutionary, truly out of the ordinary, can a company grow for the long term. Walt Disney knew that, that’s why he was never content to continue doing what had made him successful. An artistically driven company like Disney has to take risks, and if that turns the stomach of its top managers, why did they get into this game in the first place.

Disney is filled these days with people who got into it for one key reason: to make money for themselves. That’s not a bad motivator, I have no qualm with that. But they wanted to make money fast, to do it the easy way. With projects like ABC’s flagging ratings, the theme-park design fiascoes and the death of traditional animation, they’re learning the lesson the hard way. It’s not about the quick buck, it’s about the long haul. It’s about doing what’s right.

People forget that Walt did things the right way and made a lot of money. You don’t have to sell your soul for a profitable company, but you might have to obsess a little less about the quarterly reports. The Disney Frontier blog agrees.

- A story about the fact that despite the departure of Eisner, Pressler and Stainton, all is not well at Disney. While I mostly approve of Iger’s moves lately, he’s still a corporate guy with no real Disney allegiance. The Disney loyalists in the company, like Lasseter, are mostly Disneyland-obsessed and so the Florida property continues to be ignored and looted and – even worse – sold off piecemeal. No one seems to grasp the philosophy under which the Florida property was purchased and organized and so, slowly, irreparable damage is being done. More interestingly, the author suggests EPCOT as a new branding strategy for Disney to reach audiences immune to the charms of Hannah Montana and I think it’s a brilliant idea. If someone at Team Disney had an ounce of gumption they’d look into this ASAP.

More from this great blog in future updates.

A few interesting facts about Adventureland.

Disneyland Resort ParisEuro Disney continues its economic turnaround as it announces a twenty percent increase in first quarter revenues. The resort, which hasn’t operated at a profit since 2001, has had seven consecutive quarters of revenue growth. The increase in attendance, hotel occupancy, and per-guest spending is attributed – shockingly! – to the addition of new attractions (gasp!). This will presumably only continue as the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror opens at Disney Studios Paris this month. Hopefully this innovative new strategy of “adding new things” will continue, making the Disney Studios worth visiting and refreshing the long-stagnant Disneyland Paris itself.

Suzanne PleshetteApparently actress Suzanne Pleshette died last weekend while I was off in the mountains and “off the grid”. I learn this from Isn’t Life Terrible, which posted a tribute to Pleshette last week. While the she had a large body of work, I of course grew up knowing her from her work at Disney.

Pleshette starred in four live-action films for Disney over the years; these included The Ugly Dachshund, Blackbeard’s Ghost, The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin, and The Shaggy D.A.. While two of these I never saw as a child, and even as a kid I knew The Shaggy D.A. wasn’t very good, I was an enormous fan of The Ugly Dachshund. My brother and I were fairly obsessed with the film, watching it over and over as only fanboy kids can. Pleshette starred, as she would in two of her other Disney films, opposite Dean Jones – himself another childhood obsession. Jones, alongside Han Solo and Cary Grant, made up a weird childhood trifecta of male role models and embodied all that was cool, mod and hip and provided a worthy subject for emulation. Pairing Jones with the ultra-foxy Pleshette provided a Disney power couple par excellence.

Check out the tribute via the link for some interesting facts about Pleshette’s career and time at Disney, as well as some words about her role in 40 Pounds of Trouble. This film is definitely an oddity – a Universal picture featuring extensive footage shot within Disneyland itself. Definitely surreal, and a great time capsule of Disneyland itself.

Finally, wrapping things up, is my dear and beloved Tina Fey. Have a great Sunday!

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2 comments to Woody’s Roundup 01-27-2008

  • An Emancipated Woman

    Dean Jones, Han Solo, Cary Grant. Check. WHAT ABOUT THE GREAT LESLIE?

  • Oh wow – that’s a pretty good burn. And an excellent point. The only excuse that I can offer for my gaffe is that even as a child I knew that there were some heights not meant to be ascended by mere mortals..

    I shouldn’ta hadn’ta oughten’ta slept on him…

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