Contribute to Our Research

Keeping Walt Disney World As Walt Disney World

Everyone – especially any of you bunkered down in Burbank or Glendale – should read the latest at Passport to Dreams Old and New about how alterations to Walt Disney World have stripped it off some of its unique feeling. More often than not, these alterations are caused by sloppiness, and a general lack of understanding by California-based folks who don’t heed the small but important nuances that separate Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom.

We’ve all suffered from the “One Disney”, “DisneyParks” campaign that has not resulted in a rising tide of greater quality throughout the worldwide resorts but instead a wave of homogenization that has attempted to fit square pegs in round holes. As Foxx points out, this is because too often decisions that greatly affect Walt Disney World are made by parties in California to whom Disneyland is the living end of themed entertainment and Walt Disney World is an afterthought.

It’s fine that this is where their interests lie; I certainly don’t begrudge Messrs. Lasseter and Baxter their Disneyland love, because it’s what they grew up with. I don’t expect them to share my EPCOT fixation. But if people are going to be calling the shots on decisions that impact the unique culture of Walt Disney World in particular, it needs to be people who are well-versed stakeholders in that culture. That was easy back in the day, when WED was small and the same group of Imagineers who made Disneyland moved on, as a group, to create the Magic Kingdom. Everyone was on the same page because they had shared that experience – they had that knowledge “in their head” because they had made those design decisions. Nowadays, though, if you haven’t studied the history and know the unique differences between, say, the two Haunted Mansions, you can’t make effective decisions on their presentation.

This is a problem that has come to the fore in recent years, as time passes and we have developed two distinct subsets of fans – those who grew up on Disneyland and those who grew up on Walt Disney World. A lot of the company is operated by west-coasters, and it’s easy to tell. We’ve spoken at length about how even fan-centered divisions like D23 have an obvious west-coast bias, and it has colored both the selection of and content for their historical events.

I think it’s time that the Florida branch of Imagineering come into its own, with the power to initiate its own major projects and to call the shots on these critical details. We need people who first and foremost understand Walt Disney World calling the shots, and less of these missives from California mandating everything from design decisions to spiels. Obviously the power within Disney will continue to come from California, and the center of Imagineering will remain in Glendale. But there needs to be a team in Orlando with both the manpower and agency to be able to veto these incongruous “drops” from Disneyland and to retain the unique voice of Walt Disney World.

Read the article!

Related Posts...

9 comments to Keeping Walt Disney World As Walt Disney World

  • Thank you both, Mr. Crawford and FoxxFur, for highlighting the inequalities between Anaheim and Orlando. There’s plenty of room for valid criticism for missteps by TDO, but we need to call Anaheim and Glendale for their shortcomings.

  • I agree. Disney can be successful with a decentralized environment where it makes sense. No more square pegs in round holes please!

  • DG80

    I may be biased but I think that the worst offense of the sort happened in Paris when they tried to fit a variant of Disneyland’s Space Mountain into DLP’s Verne/Méliès-inspired version in 2005. It’s now a contradictory mishmash of styles and story fragments.

  • Anonymous

    I’m sorry, but to me, overall, this just comes off as nothing more than just simply looking for things to complain about and looking for excuses to be unhappy.

    • DeeJay

      I’m curious, Anonymous, about which park you grew up with and how often you frequent either of the parks. There’s a difference between complaining and pointing out cultural differences that exist between the two parks as a result of careful planning when they were built and the slow eradication of those differences as a result of homogenizing for the sake of the dollar. It’s not a matter of being happy or unhappy, but rather a careful and well-researched study of what once were the unique histories of the parks. It’s no different than the white washing of history by certain groups to fit their own particular beliefs. Besides, if you don’t like the information, don’t read it.

  • Carrie

    Frankly I’m included to agree with both you and FoxxFur.
    Disneyland and Disney World are two different places which should have at least some different and unique attractions without the lines between both being blurred. If one could go to Disneyland and see the exact same generic attractions as Disney World as well as Disneyland Paris, we may as well just changed the name is “Six Flags” and be done with it.
    That is part of why people travel to the various Disney parks, because each one has unique and fun elements all their own. If this stops happening then there is no longer the desire to travel across the country or the world to see something that your home park doesn’t have. It also takes away something vital and alive about the Disney parks, the excitement is gone.

  • The Manimal

    2 great articles that highlight a serious problem. I know things need to be updated and refereshed once in awhile but that doesn’t have to mean 100% homogenous continuity. The original portraits in the HAUNTED MANSION were much more ominous than the DISNEYLAND knockoffs they have now.

  • Mousketracy

    I hadn’t heard that they changed Space Mountain in Paris. I am crushed — that attraction alone is the reason I want to go back to Paris. Good to have the heads-up and be braced for disappointment, but wow. Why on earth would you “fix” the best Space Mountain Disney ever created?

    Homogenizing is going to seriously hurt them in the long run. If Hong Kong or Paris is the exact same park as Anaheim or Orlando, why bother going? Go to Anaheim once and check the whole franchise off your to-do list.

    I had hoped the money-grubbing and soul-sucking tendencies of the Eisner era would clear up after Iger took over. And I don’t think all hope is lost, but I do think we need to make sure TDA knows we’re paying attention, and that the most devoted fans of Disney do not consider these steps “improvements.”

  • In the design and creativity there is nothing like innovation and effort.

Leave a Reply