Gnashers and Foamers

Written by Kevin Yee. Posted in Disney Parks, Features, Walt Disney World

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kevinyee

Published on June 03, 2014 at 2:12 am with 56 Comments

There’s a longstanding divide in the world of Disney fandom, especially in the online realms. The point of contention is a fundamental one: are the Disney parks on the right road, or the wrong one? At the first extreme, these fans see Disney doing nothing wrong and can stomach no criticism of their beloved Disney product. As one Imagineer once put it, such fans are “foamers” because they foam at the mouth with fervent, almost messianic, desire once a new Disney project is announced. These fans feel Disney can do no wrong, no matter how cheap the product looks or how expensive everything becomes. At the opposite extreme, a different set of fans feel the exact reverse; that Walt Disney World has completely jumped the shark, that Universal is pumping out such superior product that any offering Disney puts out is immediately and automatically ridiculed, and that Disney has declined by so much that a broad brush is used to paint their every new initiative and venture. I call these fans “gnashers” because they give the appearance of gnashing their teeth, so upset are they that Disney isn’t meeting their high standards and by definition can’t do so again. The two sets of fans, unfortunately, have a difficult time coexisting online.

First, let’s acknowledge the obvious: I have been both of these types of fans at times. I was definitely a foamer when I first started using the Internet in 1995 (in those days, on the Usenet message board alt.disney.disneyland, but later with my first Disneyland websites and then as one of the co-founders of Mouseplanet). And let’s not forget that I’ve written more than a dozen books about Disney parks, all of them taking the high road and stressing only the positives. I have also been a gnasher. My detractors early on would call me very similar names when I first starting suggesting that WDW was anything other than pristine and perfect, but I’m more guilty than even that. The truth is that familiarity sometimes really does breed contempt, and I went through a process of acclimation when I moved from DL to WDW (I think of it now as acculturation, like culture shock) and it takes a while to work through that toward acceptance. Several years, in fact.

Starbucks at World of Disney

Starbucks at World of Disney

 

I now like to think there is wisdom to be found in seeing BOTH sides of the coin. This kind of attitude is true in all things in life, of course, and maybe we ARE just talking about being older and wiser in general. Or maybe each of us has our own individual acculturation curve to work through. It’s hard to know what is the right amount of “critical” to be at any given time; there are so many moving parts that it’s difficult to see not only the overview at the moment, but also the entire picture in historical context as well.

And we must also acknowledge that “fans” are, by definition, somewhat heavily invested in their current worldview. The very word implies this; it comes from “fanatic” and denotes a certain mindset, one that is so set in its ways that convincing the owner to fairly judge new information, let alone alter the mindset, is difficult to imagine. After all, how hard it is to convert a Giants fan into a Dodgers fan or vice versa? Can you switch from being a Patriots fan to liking the Dallas Cowboys? We take it as a matter of course that a fan has a position and simply “defends” that position when challenged.

Starbucks on the West Side

Starbucks on the West Side

This leads to a lot of friction. Look at the recent example of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. If you look around the comments section of any website (including this one) you will see examples of foamers being foamers and gnashers being gnashers. It’s hard for people, having staked a place in the ground, to be anything other than consistent with their original claims. The reality, if you ask me, is right in the middle of both extremes in this case. The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is not a Potter-swatter or an E-Ticket in the vein of Radiator Springs Racers or even Expedition Everest. But neither is it completely dismissable as some kiddie ride unworthy of attention; it’s a serious Disney ride with serious levels of theming that few, if any, companies apart from Disney could ever hope to match. It’s got charm and repeatability. Why not call it what it is?

Foamers fail to see that today’s Walt Disney World does not really match the older vision of this place as a vacation destination, with relaxation foremost on its agenda and the Guest experience trumping the desire for endless profit. Gnashers fail to see that Walt Disney World is (and has always been) a beehive of upkeep, maintenance, and new spending. Currently underway are massive expansions to Downtown Disney and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, plus rumored expansions to come in Epcot and presumably a big Star Wars presence in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. And I think it’s likely that Maelstrom will turn into a Frozen ride.

Sir Mickey has been partly redecorated for Frozen.

Sir Mickey has been partly redecorated for Frozen.

Yes, the Harry Potter attractions and the Transformers ride at Universal are E-Ticket rides. But not everything at Universal is. Would the Uni backers be so happy if a bare-steel coaster like Rip Ride Rockit (which is frankly mediocre as a coaster) showed up in the Magic Kingdom? I’ve also previously pointed out that Universal isn’t really BALANCED yet; there aren’t enough “singles and doubles” to keep the day balanced. And I think it’s also true that people just don’t CARE about a whole lot of the Universal “intellectual properties”. Does anyone connect with the Toon Lagoon cartoon strips? Half the movies referenced in their great daytime parade are not recognizable by large chunks of the audience.

People are quick to point out their own view if it is the opposing view. They are less quick to add “yes, but” to their contribution. I guess folks are worried that counterarguments will water down the effectiveness of their main point? To my mind, the opposite is true. Someone unwilling to entertain an opposing view is so closed-minded as to warrant dismissal.

The problem is ultimately one of jingoism. People like to reduce their belief set down to a simple set of rules (“Disney is bad” or “Disney has jumped the shark”) and allow those rules to guide their thinking and their reactions to what they see and experience in the parks. There is no room for the entire spectrum and range of options. There is no accounting for the fact that different theme park projects have different managers, different source material to work from, different implementation ideas, and different budgets. A single ideology has little chance of capturing the complexity of it all.

United World Soccer - new in Downtown Disney

United World Soccer – new in Downtown Disney

The online medium in general, and discussion boards in particular, have such amazing potential to expose each of us to new ideas and to help us expand our horizons. But it seems to me like it’s hit a glass wall. What will it take for us to go beyond just “defending our borders” and have a REAL conversation? Let’s move each other. I’d like to see us constantly reminding each other of the fringe arguments that end up meaning a lot. For instance, Disney’s status as a publicly-traded company is, and has been for decades, THE prime reason and explanation for almost everything happening in the parks, right down to the way upkeep works. But other elements of the Disney company – from studios to DCL – impact how (and why) the theme parks do business, and this sort of stuff comes out great in conversations. Why does anybody have to be “right”?

After the Los Angeles riots, Rodney King plaintively (and famously) asked on TV: “Can’t we all just get along?” King, no philosopher he, was nonetheless on to something about human nature. Why CAN’T we have a debate online that is academic, intellectual, and driven by a desire to LEARN rather than a desire to DEFEND? Ideological principles have their uses, but they only take you so far. Reality is complex. Let’s embrace that. And let’s learn from each other.

Thanks

I don’t often use this space for purely personal reflection (I put scholarly ruminations in a different category), but let me wax nostalgic for just a second. The primary reward for doing a weekly article about Disney parks (since 1999!) has been the enriching discussion with you, the readership. I’ve appreciated the opportunity, and I appreciate your attention and support.

I hope we see each other in the parks sometime. Say hi!

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Ultimate Orlando

I’ve maintained a “side blog” since 2006 and have unified all my social networking around one site and brand. That means I only use the “Ultimate Orlando” venues/accounts on Facebook and Twitter, and a dedicated YouTube channel and playlist. If you follow me on any of these services, please update your bookmarks:

 

About Kevin Yee

Kevin Yee is an author and blogger writing about travel, tourism, and theme parks in Central Florida. He is a founding member of MiceAge and has written numerous books about Disney parks (see http://bit.ly/kevinyee).

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  • BradyNBradleysMom

    You want to talk about hitting singles and doubles? Let’s be honest here for a second: every article by Kevin Yee is a home run. This one, however, was a GRAND SLAM. Reading it, I was also reminded of tai chi. Those elegant movements. One idea and thought came out and was advanced…and then another point was on deck, ready to be revealed…like an opposing arm or leg movement in tai chi. Just brilliant.

    Kevin Yee is a master at writing about the Disney experience. He’s nailed it yet again too because there really are these two very vocal and aggressive camps. And I think a lot of the online fighting is really ridiculous.

    The truth is that Universal really needed to spend a lot of money to build some things to make it worth going to at all. My family is proof of that. Universal was never on our list of things to do until Harry Potter, and then when Universal spent the money and built that it guaranteed one day from us in Orlando for sure. But it was still not a full day, as outside of Potter we thought the rest of IOA was junky. Jurassic Park is such a disappointment. It could be so much more. But Universal cheaped out. USF has nothing that interests us…until Diagon Alley opens. And that means after summer Universal will get a full one-day park-to-park ticket out of each of us in my family, but I don’t see us ever doing two or more days at Universal. Outside Potter, Universal is still very cheap looking and junky to us.

    Disney’s worst park in my opinion is Hollywood Studios. Outside of places to eat, there’s nothing I enjoy doing there. It is a half day park to me, though I think it’s pretty in the Hollywood looking parts. I wish every day the ugly hat was torn down though. I hate looking at it.

    If Disney built Star Wars Land then DHS would be a full day park for us. On some trips, we skip DHS altogether. But if Star Wars was there, we’d hit it every time. Animal Kingdom is a full day experience for us because of the animals. We enjoy watching them and going at a leisurely pace…and I actually like that it closes earlier and then we go back to the pool and relax.

    Toon Lagoon is so ugly at Universal. And so is the Super Heroes Island. Most of USF is ugly too and reminds me of Six Flags. It has a very “good enough” attitude, like executives though “eh, this is good enough…no need to try really hard, we’re okay coming in a distant second”. Even the worst of DHS does not feel like that. Though, it does feel very value engineered. DHS has always felt like Disney executives said “We want to build something only we don’t really know what, exactly, and we don’t want to spend all that much. But the few things we build here will kind of be placeholders until we figure it out. But make parts of it gorgeous because those will be permanent”.

    I wish I could express myself as well as Kevin Yee but I can’t. He really gets the issues here. Disney fans and Universal fans are both lucky to have him as a writer covering the parks. Three cheers for Yee!

    • SFMike

      I agree B&BsMom…this was a great article. I also agree that that ugly hat at the Hollywood Studios has to go. After all these years and change of ownership of the Chinese Theater in LA you would think that Disney could come to an agreement that could turn WDW’s Hollywood Blvd back into Hollywood Blvd. It used to be so dramatic and cool and now it’s a lame reminder of corporate stubbornness.

    • ex-wdi

      Clearly Kevin has his own foamers now. :)

      • AaroniusPolonius

        I know, right? Get a room!

    • jcruise86

      At first I thought B&B’s mom was “Kevin foaming” to be funny, but then she shared her Studios feelings which made ME seem like a WDW foamer in contrast. (B&B’sMom–if you go to the Disney’s Studios in Paris, you’ll owe the WDW Studios an apology, unless it’s as extensive and excellent as Carsland.)

      If I were Yee foamer it would be because I think he calls ‘em as he sees ‘em. I’m looking forward to his review of every major detail of the new Harry Potter expansion.

      • jcruise86

        Oops–I meant unless “the Ratatouille expansion” is as extensive as Carsland. “Its” above is a pronoun without an antecedent,
        and a possessive pronoun that shouldn’t have an apostrophe. :)

  • Imagineer45

    Great article! I agree with the whole idea of foamers and gnashers. I try to stay in the middle, as Disney theme parks grew rapidly under Walt Disney and Eisner, but have stopped growing as quickly under Iger. But, the attractions Iger has put down have been quality attractions. The SDMT, for example, I think is a quality attraction that serves it purpose. The gnashers say that it lacks real thrills, but it is supposed to be a family friendly coaster, almost like a bridge from Barnstormer to BTMR, which was much needed. The foamers on the other hand go insane when Disney announces they are bringing back a parade and value this over Potter 2.0, which they think is just cheap theming. Both groups have to meet in the middle and admit the Universal is pumping out attractions, and that Disney is making them at a slower rate. But, slow and steady sometimes wins the race.

    • Marko50

      If both sides met in the middle, the Disney/Uni message boards would be SOOOO much more boring.

  • Ravjay12

    Great article Kevin! I am guilty of being a gnasher at times when it comes to Disney and the direction they go sometimes because I know they can do better!! They used to be at break neck pace at pumping out attraction after attraction like Universal is now. Now Disney seems focused on ways to get more of our money by building more merchandising locations, timeshares, and that Fast-pass+ thing with the wristbands which means more wait times for everyone else. They also have re-tracked many of their roller coasters and seemed to have passed them off as new attractions when they open back up. They’ll do the same on their Disneyland’s 60th anniversary with the Fantasyland animatronics upgrade.

    I’m not saying that every decision they’ve made recently has been a bad one. California Adventure redux was a necessary fix for the Disneyland resort and it is beautiful. But again if they had done it right the first time around, they could’ve used that money on new attractions there. Fantasyland in WDW is also very well done and the detail is incredible. But how long can we be excited over a well themed kiddie coaster?

    Also Disney has this awful habit of announcing things way too soon taking too long to build it, and then no one is excited about it anymore. Avatar is an example, and Star Wars themed land which seems to be losing more ground everyday. They have all these incredible movie franchises now and they should take advantage while they are still hot. But Disney will take their time and decide to build on those movie franchises when no one cares anymore.

    Disney’s philosophy is and always will be no matter what we do, good or bad, the people will still come. I’m not saying Universal is perfect either. They may not have the multi-day things to see that Disney World has, but Disney needs to take note of what is going on down there. Universal is getting ahead of Disney in terms of creativity and cutting edge technology and ride systems that Disney used to do. At Tokyo Disney Resort, thousands of miles away, they have some of the most incredible attractions ever seen that won’t be coming to state side parks. Disney does have the capability to produce these incredible rides, but most of us in the states will never see them. Carsland looks incredible, but Radiator Springs Racers is just a candy coated version of Test-Track. Like Fantasyland at WDW we see incredible theming from Disney with no new innovations in their attractions.

    Universal is a third gate and a water park away from making it a multi-day destination and that’s bad news for WDW. I believe everyone on Micechat loves Disney theme parks and wants to see them do well. I love that MiceChat covers all the major theme parks and not just Disney. It really gives you a good perspective on what everyone is doing, and we can all voice our opinions good or bad.

    • CaptainAction

      Yeah, in earlier days you may not really appreciate something new at WDW but that was ok, because there were always several new things coming. We felt appreciated.

      Now that this debate is even happening shows how deep the problems are at WDW.

      The Dwarf Coaster is cute and well themed but 3 years?!?
      When soo many people are noticing that they feel used by WDW, something is very wrong.
      If enough folks notice that they too aren’t feeling WDW is giving near as much as they are asking, then WDW might, just might, make a course correction.
      I understand that there is just some honest disagreement between those who love WDW and feel taken advantage of by WDW, but if you get excited about themed restrooms, you have a serious problem.

      When some of us point out the lack of unique new experiences in the last 12 years at WDW. The foamers yell that we aren’t there target audience anymore.
      Message received. So, I should give $5,000 to a company who doesn’t value my opinion?

      Some of you can’t even make yourself visit Universal Florida. Like you were cheating on a spouse.
      That’s strange too.

      If WDW was doing 10% of what Universal Florida is doing, then there wouldn’t even be a debate going on here. But WDW isn’t doing 10% of what Universal is doing, so the debate rages on.

      I like to think I’m an individual. I evaluate, course correct, make decisions. I switched political parties when I was given correct information about which party supported the positions important to me. Some people can’t do this.

      I certainly wouldn’t hammer Universal if I’d never entered the park.
      I know WDW and I know Universal.
      WDW doesn’t consider me a target audience. They will have to earn my business back.

      • daliseurat

        I think you have a good point. WDW has not kept up with Universal at all. When Islands of Adventure opened and they debuted the Spider-Man ride, I waited for Disney to respond. Still waiting. Oh, they’ve done some nice things. and Expedition Everest is really good…or WAS when the yeti worked, but while I;ve been waiting Universal has continued to improve it parks with updates like The SImpsons ride and land, Minion Mayhem etc. Plus…they gave us Transformers and Harry Potter. Disney responds with Fantasyland Forest. No E-Ticket. But we do get a restaurant instead of that. Plus a recycled attraction. The only thing really cool is the Dwarf Mine ride, which would be great if it was surrounded by an E-Ticket. FAntasyland Forest is lovely, it really is. But, it isn’t making me come and spend money. I’m already planning my next trip to Universal to see Diagon Alley. How long before Disney actually amps it up and gives something amazing again? I remember when I HAD to come to WDW every year because of the new stuff. Not any more.

      • TodAZ1

        “The Dwarf Coaster is cute and well themed but 3 years?!?”

        Absolutely what I thought about this attraction, no matter how wonderful the final product is. I don’t think all of Carsland took that long to build.

    • daliseurat

      I wouldn’t say Radiator Springs racers is a candy coated version of Test Track. It may utilize the same tech, but it is an infinitely better attraction.

      • Ravjay12

        I absolutely loved Carsland as far as the landscape and the mountain ranges. I enjoyed just walking through it and the immersive environment. It was even more incredible at night with the neon lighting and soft colors on the range. But the ride? My family and I went on it once and we never need to do it again. If we new then, what we know now, we wouldn’t have even considered it. Test Track at Disney World as a ride was so much better. We always came back to do Test Track again and again. That’s just mine and my family’s opinion. We just think the RR was very overrated. I know when you have a line that’s 2+ hours everyday even on slow days you have something special. Our family just didn’t get why it’s so popular.

      • daliseurat

        Very surprised at your reaction. I felt the environment you rode in, the animatronics and everything were really amazing, where as both versions of Test Track just felt “cheap” to me. Interesting how people can have such different reactions. DId you have to wait in the 2 hour line? That may have colored your opinion. I know I used fast pass and got on in ten minutes.

  • Tielo

    I’m coming to Orlando for more then 20 years (not every year) and always visited all the parks (Sea World/Bush Gardens, WDW, Universal Resort). Not all the parks every year but mix it up. It could take 4 or 5 years before we would visit a park. Differences are sometimes huge, new attractions offerings or shows, improvement or decrease in service and/or food, etc. I never had a favourite and was always excited to go to these parks for what they are (they are very different). The only parks that where able to disappoint me several time where actually the WDW parks. This are personal observations and could go from rude cast members, bad food, disappointing new rides or killing a great ride with a makeover. That alone never would rule out the parks to ever visit again but I check all parks and plan my vacation around what they are offering for their growing entrance fee and at the moment I only care to go to Universal Resort for the 2 month I’ll vacation in Orlando this December/January.
    But maybe in 2 years time, if Disney or Sea World are adding amazing rides, I’ll visit them again.

  • ralfrick

    This is a good reminder of why extremists make me rather uncomfortable. Also, there is a lot of wisdom in the phrase “pick your battles”.

  • AaroniusPolonius

    I’m not sure where I stand on the foamers versus gnashers side anymore. I contain multitudes.

    Using New Fantasyland as an example, I think it’s superb from a theme and integration standpoint. I think it’s a step in the right direction, and it’s an example of Disney the corporation living up to their own brand and producing a “Disney” quality experience.

    On the other hand, it took much, MUCH too long to finish the Dwarf centerpiece of the expansion, and unfortunately, this level of theme excellence and investment also shows the rust in the rest of the park, like the dead zone from COP to Buzz in Tomorrowland (and really, that area has been dead since long before Tomorrowland’s 1994 Deco redux.)

    It’s also one expansion out of at least two more that need to be executed in the MK alone, to say nothing of the other three parks.

    What Universal has done, starting with the initial opening of IOA and really gaining traction with that park’s Harry Potter land, is demonstrate a counterpoint to Disney. Which is to say that before Universal started going for it, you really only had Disney or not Disney playing in this level of the theme park space (I love Busch Gardens and think that it’s a better, more complete animal park than DAK, but it’s not remotely close to a theme park as we consider Disney to be.) Now, right up the street, you have a competitor that’s really going for it: they really appear to be attempting a coup for the Iron Throne.

    That plays into gnashing at Disney, and specifically Disney World, where they’ve played the divestment game for the past 15 years at least, if not more. Where they’ve allowed whole sections of their parks to fall into irrelevance (Epcot’s Future World,) or never built them in the first place (DAK.) Now, while I appreciate that New Fantasyland isn’t lipstick on a pig, the new Innoventions paint scheme is, for example. Disney just has a lot more work to do in order to make up for their past divestment…and they have a lot more parks to renovate and renew, as well.

    New Fantasyland makes me happy and hopeful, in that Disney certainly seems to be trying to be “Disney” again. But, they need to be “Disney” again in parts of Adventureland and Tomorrowland, roughly HALF of Epcot (dead mall Future World and hey! Some new countries?) and the rest (I honestly don’t even know where to begin with DHS, and why DAK isn’t creating more rides through the animals is utterly beyond me.)

    The issue, the one that makes me gnash, is that we fans, en masse, have been pretty willing to accept this lack of “Disney” at Disney parks, and that the only thing that’s really going to change that is us not going until they step it up. Again, looking to Universal, should their continual investment really pay off over the next few years, it will be a massive benefit to Disney fans, as Disney will be forced into a defensive, competitive mode, and forced to wow us with their brilliance.

    Who knows? In a few years, maybe we’ll all look at Universal’s ascendance as the best thing to ever happen to Disney World.

    As for Universal, I’ve been giving props to them since 1999, when IOA opened. Flaws and all, that resort has really been trying hard for theme park/integrated resort excellence.

    They may not always succeed…
    they may not have the ideal intellectual property mix…
    they may not be “balanced”…
    (although if they wind up with a completely state-of-the-art, refreshed and renewed pair of nearly exclusively E-Ticket theme parks in a few years, hooray for all of us,)
    and they may never have that idealistic, free of irony ‘Disney Magic,’…
    …but at least they’ve consistently TRIED. I just don’t feel that one can remotely say that about Disney over the last couple of decades in good conscience without exposing one’s obvious bias.

    And that, as a Disney fan, as a theme park fan, and as a spending patron, really makes me gnash my teeth.

  • michael darling

    Kevin, there is a third group (and probably 4th and 5th): the Optimists. There are several of those here on MiceChat. We are Disney fans plain and simple, but, we are not blindly foaming over everything they do/create. We’ve got no problem voicing our opinion when we see something we don’t like (tastes ARE subjective), but we don’t stay in that negative groove. We tend to enjoy and celebrate the stuff that comes (even if it takes 3 years to arrive). We are armchar-imagineers, liking some things, disliking others, but we try to stay positive, hoping for the best. WDW has a long way to go, no doubt, but getting ulcers over it and gnashing on boards is not the way to live. Some of us (many of us) prefer to congratulate WDW when something DOES succeed, even if not the way we had hoped. Any more emotion spent (foaming or frothing) would be imbalance and someone should truly look at their priorities and go outside and play.
    The Disneyland Updates are a wonderful example on MiceAge. They show the good, the bad and the ugly. We celebrate the good, make comments on the bad, and share our opinions. MiceChat is a great place for all types of fans. When fans turn on each other, the fun is gone.

  • Cory Gross

    Great article!

    I’m definitely not a gnasher, and I suspect that “foamer” is really more of an insulting epithet used by gnashers to attack anyone who disagrees with them. At least, that is how it has worked in my experience… “There are two types of people in the world: those who put people into two types and those who don’t.”

    I’ve never met anyone who was totally unreserved in their love for Disney. We all have things that we see as creative or economic missteps by the company – I could very easily get going on my list – but something that actual fans of Disney have in common is that they still legitimately enjoy watching the movies and going to the parks. Nor have I actually met anyone who seriously thinks there is something wrong with people who don’t appreciate Disney. If someone doesn’t like it and doesn’t want to go to the parks, great, more power to them, it’s a free country.

    What I react badly to because of my own PTSD-like reaction to bullying is when gnashers get so insulting towards people who don’t share their contempt for Disney. I just don’t get that… If they were somehow deeply hurt by the Disney company or Disney fans and felt the need to lash out and hurt them for the sake of hurting them (the proverbial “Did Disney slap your mother or something?”), that would at least be comprehensible. But near as I can tell, they just happened to go to another theme park one time and there were a few rides they like more. The level of vitriol over a THEME PARK is just bizarre. It’s that vitriol that I have a problem with.

    There is totally space for having intelligent, informed, and empathetic discussion about those theme parks that doesn’t have to devolve into “you’re a morally bad person because you don’t share my opinion about a ride!”

  • solarnole

    Universal is more connected and caring to its core fans then Disney. When they close a major ride like King Kong or Jaws they announce the closing date and make the final day a huge fan event. Every person at the closing of Kong got a banana and a proper send off to a favorite ride. It’s nice as a fan to be treated as one.

    Disney never sets the date and lies by stating that Horizens or the Subs at Magic Kingdom, etc are down for refurbishment only to never see the light of day again. I don’t understand why Disney treats it’s core fans like enemies and they out right lie to them and create misinformation. Then they have the nerve to hawk endless rip off limited edition pins of the closed attractions.

    I started out as a huge Disney fan but the more I dealt with Universal the more I turned away from Disney. The rides are made by the same group of companies brought at the IAAPA convention in Orlando. It’s like Honda vs GM, one is bigger but not really better. Why should I support a company that cannot be honest with its customers and does not trust them?

    Disney needs to refocus on the customer and stop being so arrogant and greedy

    • CaptainAction

      Great points!

    • daliseurat

      Excellent points, I agree.

  • tofubeast

    Great article as per usual, Kevin. I’d say I agree with michael darling. I’m an optimist, too.

    With that said, I am REALLY digging the new information coming out on the internet in the past day about “Pandora- the land of Avatar”. Hearing James Cameron discuss the technology going into the audio-animatronics sounds pretty darn cool. It’s going to be something we haven’t seen yet.

    I will admit, I enjoyed the movie. It may not excite me like SW, but I think it’s going to be a pretty neat addition to AK with multiple attractions.

    Ever the optimist.

    And I can related to what you said about acculturation and it taking a few years to get WDW. FI grew up in Socal and now live in S. Florida. It took me awhile to love MK because I was constantly comparing. I now accept it as it’s own identity and have stopped comparing the parks to no end.

  • Susan Hughes

    I live out here in “Disneyland” California. So I guess I would be called a “gnasher”. Not because I’m upset at what goes on at Walt’s original park. Things here couldn’t be better. I’m a gnasher because things “aren’t” going well at WDW. And as a result, all our much anticipated projects have been put on hold or cancelled.
    I gnash my teeth whenever I hear of “this and that” going wrong in Orlando, because what goes south in Orlando, jacks things up for us at the flourishing Disneyland Resort.
    It’s time for each U.S. resort to “earn it”. If WDW flounders, let only WDW suffer the consequences. If the Disneyland Resort sets attendance and financial records, reward them for doing so.

    • AaroniusPolonius

      Well, that’s kind of the rub here, Ms. Hughes. Walt Disney World IS setting attendance and financial records. Their 2013 annual report demonstrates record spending at all WDW parks (Disneyland Park in CA actually posted an attendance decline, if I recall correctly.)

      One of the key differences between the two resorts (of many) is that when DCA 1.0 opened as a laughable excuse of a “theme park,” the fans of the California property held the corporation to the fire, pretty much refusing to go to DCA until that theme park was altered to be more Disney and less “Six Flags Over Disney.” (And frankly, I think they have a ways to go from DCA 2.0 as well.)

      Contrast this with WDW, where they’ve been printing money without dramatic investment for around a decade. It’s why we, as fans, are pretty culpable here. We keep going and spending, whether Disney drops in a ride or not.

      • DLFan1995

        That’s the biggest problem with Disney overall – Since people continue to visit, even when the parks aren’t striving to improve, Disney doesn’t have an incentive to make MAJOR reinvestments to even challenge Universal’s bar raising, let alone surpass it.

        Until Disney actually FEELS a dramatic financial impact, they just have little incentive.

      • Susan Hughes

        Disneyland did have a slight decline in attendance. But the odd reason for that was the popularity of the new DCA. So it’s still all in the family in my opinion :o )
        And I read somewhere that attendance is measured by which park guests enter first. They may start their day at DCA (specifically Cars Land) but they will always end up at Disneyland too. This type of ticket counting needs to change.

  • WDWHound

    Great article, Kevin.
    While I lean more to the gnasher side these day, I do think that many of Disney’s recent efforts in do not get the recognition they deserve. New Fantasyland is a great example. Yes, it took a looong time to build, but the finished product is quite good. The Little Mermaid ride is a fun C/D ticket, the Mine Train looks like a solid D ticket with great theming (I am looking forward to seeing the face projection technology that they used on the dwarf animatronics) and the Be Our Guest Restaurant is one of the most well themed dining experiences that Disney has ever built.

    What keeps the gnasher side of me alive and gnashing is Disney’s pace of new development and their seeming disinterest in building new E-ticket attractions in Orlando . Radiator Springs, and Mystic Manor have proven that Disney still knows how to build E-tickets, but we have not seen a new E-ticket in Orlando since Expedition Everest (and that attraction is no longer an E-ticket in my mind since it became Yeti’s Disco Dance Train). I know that the Pandora project in Animal Kingdom is supposed to remedy this, but why is it taking so long to build, and why have the not built a least one E-ticket Everest?

    I fear the answer is that that Disney feels there is no driving financial need. Why build at the pace of Universal Studios when attendance and profits continues to grow? The problem with this line of thinking (assuming that this is their line of thinking) is that what works fine today may not work as well in 10 year. If Universal is allowed to close the gap and pass Disney in terms of attractions, Disney may suddenly find their profits drop substantially. In that happens, Disney may find it is much harder to play catchup than it would have been to stay ahead in the first place.

    • WDWHound

      Apologies for the many typos in the above post.

  • DuckyDelite

    Hold on. I’m gonna go get some popcorn. This ought to be good!

  • BlahBlahson

    Thank you for writing this article, the name calling and bashing people are up to on the comments needs to stop.

    As an all theme parks fan, I am both a foamer and a gnasher. I am a total realist to a fault.

    The reality in theme parks is that we are looking for entertainment, and theme parks have to update their offerings in order to keep us entertained.

    So Here’s Orlando’s Breakdown at least.

    Busch Gardens Tampa: 04 Wild Mouse, 05 Sheikra, 08 Jungala, 11 Cheetah hunt and new Gwazi trains, 12 Animal Care Center, 14 New Land theming/Drop tower, all the while constantly upgrading their shows and animal attractions. Food offerings holding steady.

    Seaworld: The Major influx of attractions since 98, standard show upgrades, The opening of Aquatica, the constant attractions updates of Aquatica, the Opening of Discovery Cove, the increase in festival food, gathering better artists than Disney’s Epcot festivals

    Universal: A change of philosophy, Harry Potter, Massive MASSIVE upgrades in daily food offerings, large guest service improvements, Improving Mardis Gras concert lineups, improving HHN quality, improving resort experiences, acquisition of wet n wild. Difficult to find anything declining in value.

    Disney: A notable slowdown in the number of new ride-based attractions(especially in relation to the 18+ year old demographic), strong character experience upgrades, Hotel value comparison is held up only by perks/transportation/dining attached to WDW, great upgrades in festivals/marathons but notably expensive as well, No notable upgrades to waterparks, generally positive food offering upgrades

    Other Orlando: Many many more new hotels and resorts and attractions all the time, Orlando Eye Project, KSC adding new tours and exhibits, the Space shuttle, and Angry birds, Fun Spot undergoing large upgrades in both locations, loss of dinner shows. Legoland’s arrival and bi-annual attractions upgrade pace.

    So…it’s pretty easy to see why folks are getting down on WDW, just as a realist. Everyone else is doing more with less, and doing it at a faster pace.

    However, WDW is also doing a lot of innovative, forward thinking stuff. Off the top of my head, Taking RFID technology to the whole resort level, Be Our Guest, Animatronic Faces, maximizing revenue streams, Character Experiences, RunDisney, Food Festivals, the world’s biggest starbucks’ locations, that they should be credited for. It’s just that half of that stuff doesn’t really interest me.

    • AaroniusPolonius

      Blah, this is incredibly well-written, and an excellent summation.

      I’d even go further with Legoland, as they’re really pushing towards the integrated resort at an accelerated pace. The idea that they’re going to have hourly bus service from the Orlando Eye to their resort, soon to have an on-site hotel, is truly remarkable (especially considering that their park used to be the failed Cypress Gardens.)

      Legoland also represents another example of a well-funded, conglomerate-backed competitor (Merlin directly, Lego by association,) going after a premium audience that, up until this point, Disney had all to themselves to a large degree.

      It’s just super-interesting to watch the Central Florida theme park market right now. You’ve got two of the five/six major media conglomerates represented (Disney/Comcast-Universal,) and four of the six major players in the amusement park industry represented (Disney, Universal, SeaWorld Parks & Resorts, and Merlin/Legoland.) It’s a whole different ballgame from floundering corporate entities (HBJ, at times Busch) and local amusements (Cypress Gardens and so on.)

      • BlahBlahson

        I had some fatigue when I finally got down to Legoland Florida…but for the children’s market that park outclasses everything but MK even in its toddler years.

      • AaroniusPolonius

        I’d be interested to see when or if Legoland cracks into the top 20 theme parks which Florida parks will be suffering because of that (my money is on the SeaWorld parks, which seem to be the first casualties in the rise of Universal.)

  • Algernon

    I guess I’m a heavy duty gnasher, but I always have a problem when something is changed for what I consider to be the worse. I’m closest to Disneyland. I think the old parking lot was better. You drove in, went right to a space and a tram immediately pulled up a few yards away to take you to the ticket booths. I guess they were too cheap or lacked the imagination to make the new parking building like that. Now you park and walk and walk and walk, take an escalator, another escalator, and walk some more, then WAIT in line for a tram. Tell me the old lot wasn’t better. I also think the cement sidewalks on Main Street looked better and brighter, and the old slurry seal pavement throughout the park looked better. And I think some parts of Disneyland are overgrown with trees–there used to be more sun and a better view of the Castle from Main Street. I also think the Submarine Voyage was a better ride. And I hate Nemo. I miss the Peoplemover, Skyway and the elevated Astrojets–the whole 1967 Tomorrowland, but I do really like the Christmas (excuse me—”Holiday”) overlays on Small World and Haunted Mansion.

    As for “foamers,” let’s take it to the extreme: since everything new satisfies them, why not tear the entire place down and replace it with something new–Coney Island–Magic Mountain, or whatever. They can call it Disneyland, and have Mickey Mouse walking around. Still the same place, right?

    If Las Vegas was smart, somebody would build “Yesterland” over there.