Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Be Disney and be proud of it

My pull-down blogroll to your right links to the sites I read most regularly, although I periodically give a rest to even the favorites.

One of those links is Re-Imagineering, an ongoing anonymous discussion among Disney and Pixar employees about what's wrong, and what isn't working, and occasionally what is working with the modern Disney Theme parks. If you're a fan of those parks, especially of Disneyland in its heyday of the `60s, it's fascinating, if often sad, reading.

One regular stop on my family's periodic trips to Disneyland was The Enchanted Tiki Room, a corny but fun animatronic show where "the birdies sing and the drums go boom" as the song went. While Tiki culture was still popular, and the Tiki Room's animatronics were then state-of-the-art, in the `60s, time passes as it does, and the show eventually became one of Disneyland's (and its equivalent, Disneyworld) least popular attractions - to the point where audiences were regularly walking out before the show finished. It closed for a revamp in the late `90s, and reopened with

[t]he premise that Aladdin’s Iago and Lion King’s Zazu have taken over the show because Jose, Michael, Pierre and Fritz can’t keep butts in the seats. Talk about literal storytelling.
It was a catastrophe, with the show being called, “Abrasive,” “Rude,” “Disrespectful,” “Disgraceful,” and “Obnoxious,” by offended Disney customers. The full story, which is well worth a read, is here.

The sad thing about the story - as most of the stories at Re-Imagineering are, is the writer's conclusion that the people responsible still didn't - and don't - "get" it. It's not about "being careful when updating classic attractions which visitors may have an emotional investment in." It's about thinking about what Disney was, what made Disney successful, and doing what needs to be done o ensure you're sticking to those precepts.

It's about being yourself. About being Disney, in this case. The writer concludes that in some ways Disney is like the classic nerdy kid who we all know and love, even if he is a bit of a dork. Yeah, the kid will grow up and change, but we want - from the "know and love" perspective - for that kid to become an adult version of himself, with the same qualities. We don't want him to shave his head, get a tat, and pierce his tongue.

Good advice for us all. Simple, and Disneyesque. Just be yourself.

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