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  1. #1

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    How the Grinch Saved Disneyland


    The Whos down in Who-ville are all in a fit
    The Holiday Fever has once again hit!
    Ringing bat-winged jing-tinglers, blowing haunt horns ‘til dawn,
    They celebrate nothing ‘til they’re haggard and drawn.

    The end of September is a beautiful season
    But try as I may, I can’t see the reason
    To make-over the Park, and close down a ride
    Striping everything orange a country-mile wide!

    When I stop and consider their plan a bit more
    The Grinch sees the genius of using the Park as a store!
    Manufacture promotions to get locals to shop
    Selling Taiwanese Pumpkin Churro Whips eight bucks a pop!

    What can we lose when we see so many smiles?
    And bins of Nemo plushes for miles and miles?
    So break out the bubbly, ‘cause Skellington’s here!
    Merry Selling to All, and a Promotional New Year!!


    I know, I know, the Grinch can be a bit overly dramatic, but do you agree? Let’s look at the argument closer:

    With the unregulated proliferation of the AP, DL has had to adjust its model in order to compensate for the drop in per ticket admission sales. How better to accomplish this than by merchandise and food service sales. What this means of course, is the constant NEED for more merch, and food choices, and a higher volume of both. In essence, DIS needs increasingly more and more cheap excuses for locals to show up

    DL’s market now caters more to the ‘casual visitor’ that the unregulated AP system has created. In order to keep APers interested and coming back to the Park regularly, to make up revenue lost through ticket sales, new different merch and food must be constantly offered. This is accomplished by the constant promotions/giveaways/special AP events/movie/TV tie-ins offered in the Parks today.

    I traveled to the Park last week and found the decorations and appointments to be quite attractive and festive. HMH was a treat, as usual, but I couldn’t help feeling that the entire focus of the Parks has drastically changed over the years, away from attractions and towards merchandise and promotions.



    DL’s main drawing power now seems to lie firmly planted in its retail appeal, not in its ability to thrill and enchant through experience. I personally hate to see this over-reliance on retail in order to support a Park, IMO, perfectly capable of standing on its own two creative feet without resorting to an addiction upon cheap plush sales.



    By letting everybody in for virtually nothing through their non-regulated policies for AP sales, DIS has dug itself a hole that becomes harder and harder to fill back up as time goes on, IMO. We see DL attractions suffer because of it. A ‘half-finished’(possible ‘never-finished’ PLOTSI), a hand-me-down Finding Nemo, also not fully-completed/fulfilled.

    Theme is also affected negatively by this addiction to promotional gimmickry to maintain revenue. Unique shops are almost a thing of the past, and the liberties taken to ‘seasonalize’ many Lands are staggering.



    In short, I dislike seeing attractions taking a back-seat to merch sales. It would be hard for me to imagine, in today’s DL, a new attraction being considered without a movie/TV promotion, an exit store, and a strong merchandising future. Does it matter? Is it harmful long-term? Or is it a problem as fleeting and meaningless as ‘HalloweenTime’?

  2. #2

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    Re: How the Grinch Saved Disneyland

    Swab -- you went to the park and didn't tell me? I mean just because Fantasmic! is dark doesn't mean that I like to do other things!

    Anyway, I must let you know that you came to the park at the absolute worst time of the year. The competition over the Halloween market in the So Cal Theme park business is most poignant. DL is simply trying to attract guests away from Universal and Knott's. It has nothing to do with DL itself, but everything to do with this competition. DL would be empty at this time of year if they didn't do anything. And if that means horrid Halloween decorations and merchandise then so be it. Trust me, Haloween time is not the best season for DL and they have to do something to get people to go.

    I wouldn't worry too much. After the holidays things will return more or less back to normal.

  3. #3

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    Re: How the Grinch Saved Disneyland

    Love the song.

    As for the rest of it, I agree to a point. What that point is, I will expand upon later if I feel like it.

  4. #4

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    Re: How the Grinch Saved Disneyland

    Quote Originally Posted by DisneyIPresume View Post
    Swab -- you went to the park and didn't tell me? I mean just because Fantasmic! is dark doesn't mean that I like to do other things!
    You're scaring me a little here.
    Anyway, I must let you know that you came to the park at the absolute worst time of the year. The competition over the Halloween market in the So Cal Theme park business is most poignant. DL is simply trying to attract guests away from Universal and Knott's. It has nothing to do with DL itself, but everything to do with this competition. DL would be empty at this time of year if they didn't do anything. And if that means horrid Halloween decorations and merchandise then so be it. Trust me, Haloween time is not the best season for DL and they have to do something to get people to go.

    I wouldn't worry too much. After the holidays things will return more or less back to normal.
    The problem, IMO, is not that 'no one' would come, it is that the people who do come do not pay admission.

  5. #5

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    Re: How the Grinch Saved Disneyland

    I see what you are saying Swab. We look at a couple of the new rides and it's pretty evident. TSMM & BLAB spit you out into a store that pumps mostly pixar stuff you could buy at world of Disney or any Disney store at your local mall across the country. What was dissappointing to me was Tower of Terror. When TOT opened they had a very good selection of Disney Merchandise that was unique but also some Twilight Zone product. Not anymore, now it's the same crap in any store in the whole resort.

    I'm not sure I'd pin the merchandise on the AP persay. I know most annual passholders buy plenty of food and the occasional shirt or hat. It seems that the food caters to everyone but the merchandise definately is geared towards the vacationing family.

    Interesting thoughts Fo'c'sl'e.

    Chad

  6. #6

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    Re: How the Grinch Saved Disneyland

    Quote Originally Posted by dlandjimmy View Post
    Love the song.
    Thanks--I aim's t' please.

    As for the rest of it, I agree to a point. What that point is, I will expand upon later if I feel like it.
    Well, don't knock yourself out.

  7. #7

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    Re: How the Grinch Saved Disneyland

    I'm a big believer in the "drug addict" Disney fan analogy (Why wouldn't I be? I created it). Swab is expounding on the effect.

    Simply put, as Swab notes, the AP system where folks can visit the park quite frequently (some even every day) desensitizes the fans, who become easily bored with the everyday offerings at the Park. There is no novelty anywhere--it's all been seen and done and eaten countless times. The dose of "drug" must therefore be increased if the "Fan" is to feel the same kind of high once felt on lesser doses.

    The Disney addicts must have more and more sensory stimulation in order to enjoy the Park. Rides must be upgraded regularly to keep them interested. Where once a Monte Cristo was a once-a-year delicacy to be savored, now it's been relegated to nothing but an artery-clogging confection that should be avoided in place of finer fare in Downtown Disney. Where once Pirates of the Caribbean was a thrilling adventure, now the Johnny Depp ride is nothing but an elaborate commercial.

    Promotions, merchandise, food offerings, paint schemes, all must change to keep up with the insatiable appetite of the "fan" who grows increasingly bored with the choices, because he had the same choices yesterday or last week.

    The AP program has been a boon to people who love the park. Ironically, the program is responsible for the quintessential theme park's eventual destruction.
    Last edited by Steve DeGaetano; 10-01-2008 at 08:10 AM.

  8. #8

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    Re: How the Grinch Saved Disneyland

    Quote Originally Posted by aashee View Post
    I see what you are saying Swab. We look at a couple of the new rides and it's pretty evident. TSMM & BLAB spit you out into a store that pumps mostly pixar stuff you could buy at world of Disney or any Disney store at your local mall across the country. What was dissappointing to me was Tower of Terror. When TOT opened they had a very good selection of Disney Merchandise that was unique but also some Twilight Zone product. Not anymore, now it's the same crap in any store in the whole resort.
    Agreed.

    ...but the merchandise definately is geared towards the vacationing family.
    Here's where I think we disagree, and let me present my case: if the merch was truly meant for the occasional visitor, why change it seasonally, and offer 'limited time' promotional swag? To me, it appears that the one-time per year family would not require the merch scheme altered many times per year.
    Interesting thoughts Fo'c'sl'e.
    Far too gracious, as always.

  9. #9

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    Re: How the Grinch Saved Disneyland

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve DeGaetano View Post
    I'm a big believer in the "drug addict" Disney fan analogy (Why wouldn't I? I created it). Swab is expounding on the effect.

    Simply put, as Swab notes, the AP system where folks can visit the park quite frequently (some even every day) desensitizes the fans, who become easily bored with the everyday offerings at the Park. There is no novelty anywhere--it's all been seen and done and eaten countless times. The dose of "drug" must increased if the "Fan" is to feel the same kind of high once felt on lessser doses.

    The Disney addicts must have more and more sensory stimulation in order to enjoy the Park. Rides must be upgrades regularly to keep them interested. Where once a Monte Cristo was a once-a-year delicacy to be savored, now it's been relegated to nothing but an artery-clogging confection that should be avoided in place of finer fare in Downtown Disney. Where once Pirates of the Caribbean was a thrilling adventure, now the Johnny Depp ride is nothing but an elaborate commercial.

    Promotions, merchandise, food offerings, paint schemes, all must change to keep up with the insatiable appetite of the "fan" who grows increasingly bored with the choices, because he had the same choices yesterday or last week.

    The AP program has been a boon to people who love the park. Ironically, the program is responsible for the quintessential theme park's eventual destruction.
    Well said Steve

  10. #10

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    Re: How the Grinch Saved Disneyland

    Quote Originally Posted by fo'c's'le swab View Post
    Here's where I think we disagree, and let me present my case: if the merch was truly meant for the occasional visitor, why change it seasonally, and offer 'limited time' promotional swag? To me, it appears that the one-time per year family would not require the merch scheme altered many times per year.
    That makes sense but remember, Disneyland now plugs the heck out of the seasons on TV and Radio. Heck, the commercials with the kids dressed like a witch were out in mid-September.

    Here's where we probably both agree on Disney's thinking. Plug the heck out of Halloween and Christmas. Sell the different seasonal items to APs & newcomers. Convince the newcomers that the AP is "An Exceptional Value". Reel those people into buying an annual pass. Sell the new APers the different stuff from season to season.

    Now that's the plan for getting new APs, I guess keeping the longtimers like myself is to add to an existing attraction like HMH and Candy Corn Acres.

    The more I disect the situation, the more we agree Swabby.

  11. #11

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    Re: How the Grinch Saved Disneyland

    I have to agree completely. Even over the past 6 years that I have been visiting yearly, the change has become much more evident. Even as short a time ago as six years, merchandise was very land specific. You couldn't get all the same stuff in the Star Trader that you could in Frontierland. But now... if you've been to one store, you've been to them all. And the homogenization doesn't end with the stores, it carries all the way up to the parks as a whole where we see the desire to make them all so similar that the need to travel and see other parks disappears, just as the need to visit other lands and stores is disappearing inside DL.

    We also begin to see decisions made based on what can be sold. When Disney began really pushing the Princess line a few years ago, the decision was made to create a retail location based on that line. Voila! Princess Fantasy Faire. No longer are the Princesses out in the public where they can be enjoyed in their true setting, lending life and character (no pun intended) to the Fantasyland area, but they are cooped up in receiving lines, randomly changed so that children and adults alike have no idea who they're going to get to see after waiting in long lines. Cute as the little show is, there is very little imagination or creativity involved in it. Looking at the "experience" as a whole, it is carefully crafted to induce spending. "Here, meet a real princess... now, we'll teach you how to be a real princess... and now, here's the stuff you need to buy to look like a real princess."

    We have also seen marketing campaigns and decisions drive what happens at the parks. Right down to a name battle over TSMM. Is it TSM or TSMM? Guests don't have a clue. Marketing's job is to sell what the creative people come up with, not to decide what they can create, or to alter it. If they really were worth their salt (nautical reference for swabbie =D), they'd be able to sell anything creative sent their way... and do it without a movie tie in.

    I truly hope that the new leadership and changes happening will begin a "rebirth" of sorts where the creative folks can take charge again and push back against the homogenous "blek" of the marketing mentality. I hope that we can see some truly creative attractions again, that aren't "audience included" thanks to a movie franchise.

    Our revels now are ended. These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits and Are melted into air, into thin air: And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, The solemn temples, the great globe itself, Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep. mycroft16 on Twitter

  12. #12

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    Re: How the Grinch Saved Disneyland

    See Swab, everyone else is making the points I would've made, including yourself. Therefor there was no need for me to type a long response out.

    Thanks, to all the intelligent minds in this discussion.

  13. #13

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    Re: How the Grinch Saved Disneyland

    Quote Originally Posted by dlandjimmy View Post
    See Swab, everyone else is making the points I would've made, including yourself. Therefor there was no need for me to type a long response out.

    Thanks, to all the intelligent minds in this discussion.
    Reading MCers thoughtful presentations are why I start these threads--whether they agree or not, I like seeing MCers rise to the occasion and express themselves in a serious (though not always strictly serious) discussion. I'd like to hear/read your viewpoint, but either way, thanks for the participation.

  14. #14

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    Re: How the Grinch Saved Disneyland

    I don't think the merch push can be laid solely at the feet of the AP. I think the incredibly high cost of creating and building new attractions has also contributed to the need for more revenue streams. If a new first class attraction costs around $200M then Disney is going to have to augment gate revenue somehow.

    And I have yet to see one authoritative post on this board with regards to AP usage and spending habits. Without any facts the theories about the effect of the AP program on park revenue is just wild speculation.
    Quote Originally Posted by SummerInFL View Post
    Jesus, even I wouldn't eat that.

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  15. #15

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    Re: How the Grinch Saved Disneyland

    A question for MCers:
    If you are one who sees the shift towards DIS's increased 'retail' presence in the Park, do you believe it is merely a response to a changing demographic, or as the cause for the changing demographic?

    Do APs play a part in this change? Or is the AP system itself the cuase for the change?

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