Archives

Contribute to Our Research

Drip, Drip, Drip…

Conceptual rendering for Discoveryland, Disneyland ParisA conceptual rendering by Tim Delaney of Discoveryland at Disneyland Paris

Ominous news emerged last week that two long-time Imagineers had been dismissed from Walt Disney Imagineering. The departures of Executive Designer & Vice President Tim Delaney and head sculptor Valerie Edwards were the most shocking terminations in several years, and follow a period of seeming stability (however illusory it has been) at WDI.

The news of Delaney’s departure was perhaps most shocking to fans, to whom his name is well-known after years of high-profile projects. Edwards, though, has risen in public prominence since she was selected to succeed legendary Imagineer Blaine Gibson as head of the sculpture shop. Her work includes the recent sculpts of Captain Jack Sparrow and Barack Obama, and her reputation is that of a stickler for the highest quality. She had been with Disney for twenty-one years.

Delaney, who had been at WDI since 1976, served on a number of important projects from EPCOT Center’s The Living Seas to Disneyland Paris’s Discoveryland. On that project he served as show producer, helping craft one of the most fully visualized new lands of Disney’s modern era. He went on to help design California Adventure’s Paradise Pier and entrance plaza areas, which have been heavily criticized, but on those projects he was hamstrung by nonexistent budgets and poor choices from corporate managers. Placed in a similar situation with Hong Kong Disneyland’s Tomorrowland, he managed to create a visually pleasing area on a shoestring. Most recently, he had worked on the planned expansions for California Adventure, and tried to sell Parks & Resorts head Jay Rasulo on a roughly $750 million pirate-themed expansion for the Hong Kong park.

Rendering of Pirate-themed area for Hong Kong Disneyland, 2006The unbuilt Pirates of the Caribbean expansion

I should be perfectly clear here. I know no one inside WDI, beyond the shake-hands-and-introduce-myself stage. I don’t know anything about the political situation inside WDI, aside from what I read from a dozen different anonymous nabobs online. The best I can do is try to determine the most legitimate sources, attempt to discern their biases and filter them as well as possible, and to look for trends and common threads that indicate what’s actually going on. Unless I state otherwise, anything I “know” is basically informed speculation.

There are other people, however, that do have contacts inside WDI. Among these folks is Lee MacDonald, publisher of Tales from the Laughing Place. So I thought it appropriate I reprint a comment of his that was posted originally in a thread on LaughingPlace and later on WDWMagic. I can neither confirm or deny anything he says, but I think it’s an interesting viewpoint from someone who knows Delaney personally:

It all happened very quickly but it is correct. I didn’t know Valerie at all but she was certainly worthy of being Blaine’s true successor. Her new Admiral Donald for the two new DCL ships is beautiful – probably the best Donald sculpt that I’ve ever seen.

Tim on the other hand has been a good friend for many years. I regard him as one of the two greatest conceptualists and show producers at WDI (the other is Tom Morris). A thirty-two year imagineer whose body of work is second-to-none.

People will associate Tim with his role as executive producer for Paradise Pier and the entrance at DCA but neither were his choice. Bob Weis’ team are spending nearly twice the amount of money on one attraction that Tim had for the entire Pier area ($350m versus $200m). No-one wanted the poisoned chalice of the entrance – Barry Braverman could not get a single creative lead to take it on. Tim did the best he could with the brief of the park being a postcard view of CA. His entrance cost less than the facade for the new Cathay Circle Theater – I kid you not.

Tim’s real legacy will be his incredible work on EPCOT CENTER and especially The Living Seas. He was told by numerous engineers that the tank couldn’t work but he endeavored to make it work. A lot of his touches were incorporated into Future World.

EuroDisneyland’s Discoveryland is the only Tomorrowland that works. It is a wonderful architectural edifice to a Tomorrow that Never Was. It is the only timeless incarnation of a Tomorrowland. Again he was told that an angled LIM was impossible – he made it work for the incredible Space Mountain (in my view the greatest roller coaster ever made). He was told that synchronized music would never work – he made it work.

Paradise Pier is awash with similar touches – a steel coaster to look and feel like a woodie. Some whimsical designs like the former main store there. Even the Sun Wheel with its swinging cars and the other off-the-shelf attractions have small touches that make the difference. There isn’t another Golden Zephyr out there – it is entirely unique. People might not like PP but he delivered on a ridiculously small budget. It isn’t the biggest failure of DCA. His land was given less than a quarter of the park’s budget and expected to deliver half the attraction count. Poor menu planning and a lack of executive leadership were not Tim’s fault.

His work on HKDL’s Tomorrowland again delivered the best possible version on a budget. He even stripped items like the giant Buzz and probe in the Space Mountain load area from DisneyQuest Chicago – he had nothing to work with. The park’s Autopia is a wonderfully quirky version with its fun noises to replace the diesel putt-putt.

Recently his work has been largely conceptual. Jay rejected his and Tom’s $750m HKDL PirateLand which was probably the greatest collection of concept art I’ve ever seen – it was breath-taking in its boldness. He pursued a project to improve queue line interaction which led to Epcot’s Soarin’ receiving the screen quiz. His work was instrumental in the evolution of the new MK Dumbo queue – it is the direct successor of his work. He also worked on a number of lodge concepts for the Disney Regional Resorts team – when Wing opted to retire and Don Goodman’s Real Estate Development team was moved to Nick Franklin’s NBD division the projects were largely snuffed out.

He was a wonderful mentor to a host of junior imagineers and he was a wonderfully creative partner. Seeing Tom Morris and Tim discuss projects was like watching kids in a sandbox. There are few people that truly understand what works in a Disney theme park.

He was largely responsible for the execution of the D23 Expo area for WDP&R – Tom Fitzgerald conceived the entrance but the rest was all executed by Dave Fisher and Tim Delaney. It worked because of them.

I’m still numb with shock. I just cannot fathom the logic behind this knuckle-headedness. It further reinforces my view that Bruce Vaughn is singularly the worst leader that WDI has ever had. He does nothing to protect the talent or nurture creative development. He is simply a hatchet man. At least his predecessors made projects happen. This is the problem with having a non-creative lead at WDI. Even Don Goodman’s reign didn’t breed the level of disharmony and sheer depression that currently grips WDI.

I know that Tim will enjoy his retirement – but it has come too early. Tim could have continued to contribute to WDI for many more years. His presence at 1401F will be missed by many of us that have had the privilege to know and work with him for so long. I regard him as one of the few executives to speak his mind and we shared very similar views of the current direction of WDP&R.

I hope that we are both proved wrong.

Recent months have been fairly exciting for Disney park fans. Maintenance has improved at the parks, although this is not saying much considering the poor condition that Walt Disney World has found itself in over the last decade. Mega-projects are on the way for parks in Hong Kong, Anaheim and Orlando. Disney is talking the talk, engaging with fans at successful events like the D23 Expo, and things have generally been looking up.

I fear, though, that there’s a degree of hype at work that is blinding us with an avalanche of pixie dust. Instead of stabilizing and building the creative ranks at WDI, as we all hoped would happen with Iger arrived and allowed John Lasseter to take a creative role in the company, the attrition continues as long-time talent is dismissed. This serves two roles; first, it eliminates the higher salaries that veteran Imagineers command. Second, it removes the inconvenience of highly-placed and popular designers that are constantly pushing for higher budgets and better-quality projects. I doubt it’s a coincidence that these events follow a period when Delaney had been pushing Rasulo for the high-budget Pirates land, or that it has been widely repeated that Valerie Edwards had been pushing for a higher quality of output from her department.

I reiterate that I don’t know anyone on the inside, or have any particular insight into the dynamics of WDI. But more and more it appears that Iger has truly given Rasulo free reign to run things as tight-fistedly as he wants, and that current Imagineering head Bruce Vaughn is playing along. I’ve heard good many things about Vaughn and his work at R&D, but the slow decimation of the creative side of WDI does not reflect well upon his tenure.

Of course, the ultimate issue is something that long-time Disney watchers have feared for many years now. There are many within and without Disney, acolytes of the soulless corporatism that has overrun the company, that would love to eliminate WDI as an active developer of new content. Instead, creative personnel would be dismissed and only a small core of administrators would remain to outsource new attractions and enhancements to third-party vendors. Disney would no longer have to pay its high-dollar talent, or provide benefits and other expenses. They would instead farm projects out to outside firms, most likely composed of the very same personnel they fired, and save a few bucks by forcing these design houses to underbid each other for work.

I fear that this is the active goal of Bob Iger and Jay Rasulo. I also hope that I’m wrong, but the blinkered mindset that springs from America’s business schools today would say otherwise. When Imagineers as talented and prominent as Tim Delaney and Valerie Edwards can be dismissed, who will be next? Think of all the talent that’s already gone – Eddie Sotto, the Kirk brothers – and think of who is left. There is widespread mumbling out there, which I can only hope is baseless bluster, that no less than Tony Baxter will depart when his contract ends next year. While that would be such a high-profile departure and would raise the ire of even casual fans, at this point even something once-unthinkable like that seems possible.

We’re seeing the elimination of the last generation of Imagineers who worked directly in Walt’s wake under the tutelage of the original giants of Imagineering. These are the people that took up the mantle, and who created the attractions that made us all fans. It seems that they’re being picked off one by one, in favor of people who will better “play the game” and raise less objections to the constantly lowered standards enforced by upper management.

I hope I’m wrong, but we all need to pay attention and be aware of the situation.

Related Posts...

14 comments to Drip, Drip, Drip…

  • android.dreamer

    To do what Disney does as far as building new rides and areas is a lot of money. I’m surprised that they can do what other theme parks wouldn’t dare to do. Grand sets, parks, and rides, would be ideal, but I don’t see why they couldn’t do it cheaper. The sets for Islands of Adventure was mostly done with foam and some paint. I think the talent should stay, but making something that is grand and cheap I think is part of the process of designing something so creative. From a business perspective, creative engineers that keep wanting larger and more expensive projects need to also present a smaller business aspect in how to do it cheaper. For example, Soarin’ could have been a ride where you follow a track from room to room, but making it so you simply rise in front of a big theater. was a lot cheaper to do. I think without the ‘erector set’ idea, Soarin’ would have never happened.

    The lowest bidding contract is really stupid of Disney and these guys shouldn’t have been fired. But I do think a new managing style with set budgets, focus groups, calculating expected return from a new attraction, etc. are all part of the creative process and it should be integrated that engineers think that way as well as creating. It is a lot more thought and work, but I think that is the direction Disney needs to go. Say “We are going to spend this amount and want to do this much with this area. Imagineers, what do we make there?” Bidding contracts should really be a last resort. Yes, it is cheaper, but it is about getting the best quality for the dime, and not just the cheapest quality for the dime.

  • Well, I never really know how to discuss these things because I have no real idea as to where the money goes. Anyone who watches Disney long enough can look at a new project and guess roughly how much it’s going to cost, but I’ll be darned if I could tell you why it costs that much. But I could say the same about animated features; why did Up cost almost $200 million? I have no idea.

    As for the parks, I don’t really care how much they spend on projects as long as:

    1) They can afford it, and not bankrupt the company
    2) All the money goes “on the screen”

    And with Disney being as big as it is, it can afford a lot. A *lot*.

    I think the thing that can throw one off about the “behind the scenes” aspect of the creative process in parks and animation is the iterative design process. If WDI has to work on, and dispose of, ten different ideas before they get it right, then that’s what it takes. How many times does Pixar start over on a film before they get it the way they want? Heck, Walt had Ward Kimball lead a unit for 8 months working on that soup sequence from Snow White and spend God knows how much money, only to throw it out when it didn’t work. As long as it’s in service of getting the best idea possible, and not just the cheapest “it’ll do” version of the concept. As hoary as the phrase is, this *is* the “Disney difference”. Other parks could do it, they just don’t. What they do is “good enough” for their ambitions. WDI’s ambitions should be endless. I don’t want them thinking about cost or budgets in the conceptual stage, I want them coming up with the biggest, craziest ideas possible. Then, once they get the idea to end all ideas, they figure out how to do it and the sharp pencil boys figure out how to pay for it.

    I hate to go back and play the Walt card, but he and Roy left it all on the field. He didn’t try and fit Disneyland into a budget, he just put everything he had into it. If he’d found $5 under his couch the week before it opened, it would go for some new bushes or something. This is just the ultimate conflict between Disney’s tradition and the modern corporatist mindset. Walt wasn’t running the company so he could make a sweet 20% profit every quarter. He was making as much money as possible to pour it back into the product. He left it all on the field.

    Of course, that’s never going to happen again. But if Disney continues on the path to outsourcing it will eventually kill the golden goose. Disney’s fame came from his innovations, and you don’t innovate with the lowest bidder. We need those Imagineers sitting in their offices coming up with insane ideas, and making ridiculously elaborate renderings, and dreaming as big as possible without worrying about how anyone could ever pay for it. There’s a difference between wretched excess for excess’s sake and putting every possible dollar into making the best show possible. And I’m a strong believer that things should be plussed within an inch of their life – Soarin’ is a cool idea, but it eats me alive that more wasn’t done to cloak the ride system and the fact that you’re just in a giant theater.

    One more thing, about the mention of IOA. You can sculpt a lot of things with foam and paint, but it shows. Foxx recently wrote something about the new Fantasyland that I was so happy about because it mentioned something that’s been eating at me terribly for a while. I hope against hope and common sense that the new Fantasyland will be made of more traditional and “real” materials. Disney’s preferred construction methods of recent years can recreate any texture with molded concrete or fiberglass, but if you look at the difference between the construction at Animal Kingdom and, say, Liberty Square, the difference is striking. But now I’m way off topic.

    Long story short, we all need to know that the people that matter are being eliminated from the company. And that’s bad.

  • RandySavage

    Hey.

    If the construction of buildings at DAK uses cheaper materials or less craftsmanship than Liberty Square, then they’ve fooled me, because I am impressed by most of AK’s structures. (Although I did notice they used synthetic rather than wooden benches – maybe that’s what you mean).

    Have you seen the Yak and Yeti restaurant? I think it is great work… particularly the outside “ruined” terrace and fountain. So I was surprised to learn that Yak & Yeti was entirely 3rd party – from design to construction there was no involvement by WDI. I would much prefer that Delaney and Edwards (and Chris Smith and the Kirks and many, many others) would be retained by WDI, but if the product by the vendors can be of equal quality (considering many of the vendors are former WDI), I suppose it’s not the end of the world.

  • Another Voice

    I guess I’ve grown-up to be an anonymous nabob on the Internet.

    If you really want to understand what’s going on with the parks, and by extension WDI, there’s one thing you need to know.

    Disney doesn’t see the parks as a core business. The “content” engine for Disney is the studio and television. That’s what management understands, that’s where they focus their energies, that’s what they care about.

    The theme parks are only a way of generating ancillary revenue from what the “core” Disney generates.

    Disney believes people go to theme parks to see the princess, Mickey, Stitch, fairies and all the other synergized productions. They do not believe you primarily visit because you enjoy the rides, like eating the restaurants or think the resorts are a swell place to stay. Those things are just how Disney moneterizes your visit, and a chance to squeeze a few extra guilders from your wallet.

    In short, the theme parks are a business just like selling Zac Effron lunch boxes and plus-sized Tinker Bell wedding dresses.

    Back in the days when the parks were run as a business unto itself, there was an understanding you need to attract people to visit the parks through quality attractions, fresh shows and an overall high value for the money. New, big, well done attractions would keep the turnstiles clicking the profits coming in. Disney’s greatest attractions are popular because of the what they were on their own terms. Pirates, Mansion, Space Mountain, Jungle Cruise, on and on – they didn’t need a prior knowledge of a film, cable show or story to be interesting and appealing.

    But today “big plans” are for the Magic Kingdom to get permanent Princess meet-n-greets, Disneyland looses it riverboat to the latest addition to the Princess toy line and California Adventure hangs a massive mouse head on a Ferries Wheel and it’s called “place making”. None of these projects create any interest in their own right – they only have appeal because of products from outside the theme park. Disney believes that you want to see Princess and will pay $83/day for that priviledge. They think it’s less risker to create a faux American Idol show rather than to use their creativity to create something new. And because “Finding Nemo” made big box office, you will pay money to see a Nemo musical, a Nemo attraction with projected fish instead of the boring real ones, a Nemo talking character kiddie Q&A session, a Nemo fiberglass photo op, and will pay extra money for a special ‘Nemo’ motel room with “themed” shower curtains.

    It also leads to the problem with “budgets”. It’s not about corporate attitudes or not. It’s that the budget for a project is no longer judged against a standard of “what would make a popular theme park addition”. Now attraction and show budgets are based against the value of the overall franchise to Disney. ‘Carsland’ at DCA gets $350 million because Disney sells shiploads of slave-made Chinese toys; ‘Universe of Energy’ suffers because Bill Nye the Science Guy is no longer under contract.

    When your goal is ‘exploitation’ instead of ‘creation’ than ANY budget will always be too high. If your idea is to squeeze more money from a product, than every single penny you spend on repackaging it is money they you could have kept.

  • But I’m grateful for all my anonymous nabobs :)

    Randy:

    First, it’s good to see you back!

    Perhaps DAK wasn’t the best choice to make my point, as overall I think there’s an incredible amount of artistry in the Africa and Asia sections. It’s a different kind of design as the olden days, but it is spectacular. Where’s Foxx? This is one of her specialties.

    Still, I feel that a lot of the construction methods today don’t convey the “right” feeling – I’m not saying there’s less artistry, and the reasons they use these materials is usually valid (like they hold up better in the Orlando climate). Still, there’s something about Disneyland and the MK that feels somehow wonderfully more organic than later parks. I’m too tired right now to be smart and figure out why. A prime example for me is, say, Main Street USA. Somehow that new addition they made to the Emporium on Center Street, as well as the new barber shop, feel… wrong. Like I said, I can’t be smart about it right now, but it just has a difference vibe.

    I did find Yak and Yeti visually very impressive, but it is just a restaurant. I’ve no doubt that there are many firms out there who can do amazing work with theming and design – after all, all those wonderful Imagineers who left in the late 1990s all have their own studios now. But there’s no substitute for having your own creative staff, R&D, etc., if you really want to keep ahead of everyone else. Because what is Yak & Yeti without DAK to surround it? And to do something as nuts as DAK, you need your own people blue-skying the day away.

    AV:

    Everything you say is true and it makes me sad.

  • RandySavage

    ^ I think the prime example of what you’re are talking about are the “Arabic” buildings near Adventureland’s carpet spinner. Those immediately stand out as being cheap looking/plasticy – like something you’d find at a nice McDonald’s playground. That is not good.

    But when you think all hope is lost with construction quality, they restore a little faith:
    see http://www.disneyorama.com/2009/01/golden-oak-outpost-re-opens-at-the-magic-kingdom/

    Another Voice makes a compelling argument, as usual, but sometimes WDI/WDC bucks the trend (ie, 2/3 of HKDL expansion, Everest). Maybe they know in the back of their minds that 3 of their 5 most successful films were born of an original theme park concept.

    And while the new Fantasyland is clearly designed to supplement the Princesses Franchise – it doesn’t seem that out of line with Walt’s Fantasyland (even including new zones for 3 of Walt’s films).

    Fixing DCA is such a poisoned chalice that I would be hard-pressed to satisfactorily re-make that park without leveling it and starting from scratch. Although I believe dedicating a land to a single film breaks the first rule of Designing Themeparks 101, I hope to be proven wrong.

  • BT

    @RandySavage

    While the Yak and Yeti is run by an Operating Participant (3rd Party), the design of the building was handled completely by WDI. Just as the WS restaurants in EPCOT are OPs as well, the restaurants were all WED designs.

  • android.dreamer

    My point was with what AV was saying. The corporate side of Disney needs to treat the theme parks as a profit potential on their own attractions and not simply as a marketing tool to sell merchandise. I disagree with the thought they should only use higher quality products. It is like the old joke of NASA spending a fortune to make a pen write in space when Soviet Cosmonauts used a pencil. It is very difficult to pitch a $20 million attraction to an executive that doesn’t want to put money into the park. If the executive is only willing to invest $5 million, then an engineer needs to know what can be done differently to reduce the price. The ‘imagineering’ is doing something that looks grand to the naked eye, but is in fact, is forced to come up with a technical achievement to get it done. That is why the imagineering should stay at Disney and not be outsourced.

    With the Nemo ride, they could have easily replaced the projection lights and screens with real fish tanks. It could have been a really calming experience, instead of “NEMO! NEMO?! NEMO?” yelling in my ear. The fish tanks are more expensive. But if we treat the attractions as being the center stage in bringing in customers, and not the promotion, than the extra cost brings in greater value. And maximizing value for the price is something an executive can understand.

  • RandySavage

    @BT

    Did some more research. I was wrong when I said it was designed entirely 3rd party.

    The reason I thought it was is Schussler Creative’s website claims credit:
    http://www.schusslercreative.com/yak_yeti.html

    But I believe you may be wrong saying it was entirely WDI.

    “It’s pretty freaking cool,” said Schussler. “We worked directly alongside Disney’s ‘imagineering’ division in putting this restaurant together.”

    http://www.nrn.com/breakingNews.aspx?id=350412#ixzz0UxTqpVXd

  • Another Voice

    “…but sometimes WDI/WDC bucks the trend…”

    But look at where and why WDI “bucks the trend”.

    Both the Tokyo Disney Resort and Disneyland Hong Kong are run solely on the basis of being theme parks. The Oriental Land Company knows where its business is and it’s not in promoting DVD sales. So their focus goes to making the visit to the park the best possible because that is what will drive people back. And that attitude shows up in the stunning gulf in quality between Tokyo and WDW. Yes, Tokyo has characters, but they treated far differently – they are the actors in shows, your hosts for the day. But they are not the be-al and end-all of your visit in the way the Fantasyland suburbs want them to be.

    Even the government in Hong Kong knows better. The whole ‘Pirate expansion’ was proposed not because it was a great attraction, but because Disney was trying to use ‘Pirates 3’ as a way to crack open the Chinese threatrical market (that was why the entire Singpore storyline and Yun-Fat Chow were crammed into the film – but that’s another long story). Hong Kong understood that, that’s why they rejected the concept; they know that their park needs something original and fresh to attract guests.

    Everest is the exception to the overall trend in that Disney did do something specifically to help park attendance, but it’s even somewhat complicated here too. There is a myth within the Disney suits that “Space Mountain saved Euro Disney”. It’s not hard to see why they want to believe it – it’s a quick fix that fits neatly on a PowerPoint slide.

    Sadly, it doesn’t work.

    Disney tried it with jamming ‘Tower of Terror’ DCA (didn’t work). The original goal at Animal Kingdom (a park that only gets guests through the graces of park hopping) was to clone Tokyo Disney Sea’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth” as the savior weenie. But that proved far, far too costly for a non-franchise attraction. And rather than risk building something new, it was decided to clone Disneyland’s Matterhorn instead. Just like the movies, Disney wants to go with an idea that’s “proven”.

    Just compare ‘Journey’ to ‘Everest’ and once again you’ll see the stunning difference in respect for the guests. ‘Journey’ is a fully realized adventure from start to finish, all with massive amounts of storytelling and immersive environments leading to a ride system that presents both show and thrills. ‘Everest’ is a pre-canned coaster in a concrete box where half the coaster is complete blackness (to save money) and the “pre-show” was bought at the Pier One outlet store.

    Disney was successful becasue it created things that seemed impossible. People will heave out good money to be amazed. Fewer people will pay to see the average, the “okay” or the “you have to understand we’re a busy”. The fans frequently lower their expectations, but the general public does not.

    And we’re claiming that everything is okay because a restaurant and a snack stand were designed effectively, then we’re all in much more trouble than we can imagine.

  • android.dreamer

    Well, I think we should design our own theme park! With hookers! And blackjack!

  • Eric

    Wow.

    This is some of the most interesting dialog on Disney parks, design culture and business, that I’ve ever seen. I’m glad I read the comments.

    Someone here really nailed it on the head by pointing out that Disney parks (stateside) are no longer run to be successful on their own (I’m paraphrasing). It’s really sad actually as we see Jack Sparrow shoehorned into Pirates, etc, etc.

    I remember when they shut down “America Sings” (a great attraction) and the signs went up – “We’re Imagineering another, blah, blah, blah”. In my youth, I just knew that something amazing, mind blowing and truly incredible was on it’s way. Sadly, I have been let down ever since then — big time. The cut corners are endless – seeing the theming/thoughtfulness of Tokyo’s Crush show was a recent exclamation point.

    It’s sad for me – taking my young daughter to the parks just doesn’t seem like the same experience as it used to be when I was a boy. Don’t get me wrong … there are still great things … I saw the flag retreat for the first time on my last visit … the Disneyland Band playing … definitely some spirit of Walt still there … just not enough.

  • android.dreamer

    Well, it wasn’t written about Imagineering, but in fact about film distribution, Bog Iger said last night what Disney really needs to do is: “research and development, risk-taking . . . real focus on changing the status quo”. (Financial Times)

    He might have ‘possibly’ meant it?

  • @Randy

    It’s so funny that you chose that example, because the other morning I was thinking about this topic and thought of the Golden Oak as an example of something that felt “right”. And you’re so correct about the Arabic additions to Adventureland – that’s a great example of the plasticine vibe. I think the problem is much worse on the resort side – look at any of the new DVC construction vs. something like the Poly.

    I think you’re right about WDI, and we’ve all seen what they can do without too much corporate interference (TDS). I also agree about DCA, and after visiting I’m increasingly unsure if it could be fixed with anything but a total demolition. I, too, fear you’re right about Carsland – the models and everything looked amazing but I just think it’s such a huge conceptual mistake. I’ve been reluctant to write about it, because it’s such an odd situation. They’re spending big, on a project that looks to be superb. But it’s such a bad idea thematically.

    @android

    I totally agree with you about Nemo, but I do think that that ride was a failure of conception and not budget. Heck, they could have kept the projections – just have them talking about the oceans, not – as you say – screaming NEMO!! at us for 5 minutes.

    Also, I like where you’re going with the theme park idea…

    Regarding Iger, I hope you’re right. But he’s a media guy, like Eisner was. I’ve yet to see any evidence of Iger getting excited about the parks to the degree that even Eisner did, and I’m afraid that Another Voice is right about management viewing the parks as another pipeline for promoting “content”. I definitely believe Iger’s comments when it comes to filmed entertainment and online distribution, but I don’t think that the importance of the parks has clicked for him yet. Maybe it will someday, and trust me – no one is more happier than I am when I get something like this wrong.

    @Eric

    Welcome! Stick around!

Leave a Reply