Monday, June 11, 2007

What Would Walt Do? Part One

Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin
Turtle Talk with Crush
The Seas with Nemo and Friends
Finding Nemo, the Musical
Monster's Inc Laugh Floor Comedy Club
Toy Story Mania

The Disney-Pixar Studios?

The Disney Geeks were debating some of the hot issues on the Disney blog-o-sphere and one that really stuck dealt with Pixar. Mainly the supposed invasion of Pixar into various areas where a theme has been established and may not mesh with the Pixar characters.

Like Monster's Inc. Laugh Floor or the Seas with Nemo and Friends. A lot of people are mad that Pixar characters have moved into Tomorrowland and Epcot. Posts abound about Walt's original vision for the parks. Would Walt have done this seems to be the battle cry from more than one person.

My original thought was that Walt would have wanted people having fun. Enjoying themselves. Bringing their kids, friends and families to share the magic. He would have wanted people having a good time at the parks.

Andrew (the other Disney Geek) brought up the oft-quoted statement from Walt about Disneyland. "Disneyland will never be completed as long as there is imagination left in the world."

Most people would agree with change. New rides, new shows and new experiences; but at what cost they ponder. Losing Toad to Pooh was never that painful until I read Foxxfur's great posting. Granted, what was the attraction pulling in? How many times did you ride Toad before they Poohed on it? And I'm not talking about the Save Toad crowd, either. I mean you--on vacation with limited time to stand in line. What was your choice? Now the lines for Pooh are always more than 45 minutes.

The same goes for Timekeeper. I was able to see it twice before it was taken down. I loved it. But the crowds weren't there. And Horizons. And World of Motion.

A lot of people cry foul when they think of losing a niche attraction.

Recently, on an unnamed podcast, there were lots of comments about potential changes to the Carousel of Progress. So many people left a voicemail or emailed with the decree that the attraction should be left alone because Walt worked on it--that it was one of Walt's last attractions and it should remain the same.

Well. Not really. The ride was updated when it was moved from Disneyland to the Magic Kingdom in 1975. A new theme song was written and the final scene was moved from the 1960's to the 197o's. In 1981, the final scene was updated to show the 1980's. In 1994, the final scene was changed again to reflect the 2000's and the theme song was changed back to the original.

To me, this was a little more drastic than changing Pirates of the Caribbean--which is actually the last attraction that Walt worked on (at least the Disneyland one). Most everyone raved about the updated scenes with Captain Jack. Do you remember the changes made to Pirates a few years ago? The infamous chase scene? The one with the lusty pirates chasing after the women? Due to the politically correct nature of the time, the Imagineers actually switched the characters. It turned out to be the women chasing the pirates. Not quite as funny and not quite as much attention, either.

Are the anguished cries about Walt simply for nostalgia? With the creation of Main St. at the Magic Kingdoms, did Walt set a precedent for the parks? Look at the attractions come and gone at Disneyland over the years. How many of them would you want to ride over and over again (even if only for nostalgia's sake)? Not withstanding the fact that many of us have never ridden the Rainbow Caverns Mine Train; would you rather have that or Big Thunder Mountain?

So why are so many upset? Is it the sense of nostalgia lost? The fact that they can't share these attractions with friends and loved ones? Is it that Imagineering is missing the mark? Or is it that Imagineering isn't even shooting any longer. Are the suits pulling the trigger?

A lot of the closings, shutterings and changes are officially done in the name of low attendance.

Is Disney pandering to nostalgia instead of imagination and creativity?

What would Walt do? He would be making changes. He would be plussing. He would be finding out what the guests wanted. He would do what was best for the park--which in turn would be best for the guest--which would lead to more attendance and more money flowing into the Mouse's coffers. A cycle. Not sure if it is vicious or not, though.

What would the Disney Geeks do? We would put our money where our mouth is (collectively). We would ride our favorite rides, make time for the niche attractions to keep them going and participate in the online Disney universe. There has been a rumor that the Tomorrowland Transit Authority in the Magic Kingdom might be going away. On our last trip(s), we made sure to ride it several times. When the little ones refer to it as the blue roller coaster and want to ride it again...and again...and again...the Disney Geeks oblige.

We didn't ride the Tomorrowland Transit Authority for nostalgia. We rode it because we like it and we enjoy it. Are we open to changes, refurbishments and plusses? Of course. But at its heart, the Tomorrowland Transit Authority needs to remain a great ride that everyone can enjoy (not like the Rocket Rods that were at Disneyland). The point is not to spew negativity at the changes to favorite attractions, but to agree to celebrate what Walt Disney World is--and can be.

Go ahead...post a comment. We dare you.
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