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  1. #1

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    Stateside resorts doomed to second place?

    Hi folks, it pains me to start this thread. I'm a guy who grew up going to Disneyland (first trip: 1969, age 4, about a month after the opening of the HM) and seen the reverance for DL grow over the years. WDW also gained a great deal of respect from the time it was launched in the early 70s, both resorts eventually setting the theme park standard -- and a high standard indeed!

    I won't rehash the history lesson, so let me cut to the chase. In more recent years, it seems like Tokyo Disneyland Resort has stolen the thunder of the U.S. resorts. I haven't visited Tokyo, but many on these boards have raved about the resort and declared it superior to WDW and even DL! How can this be? DisneySea in particular opened just a few years ago, and supposedly surpassed venerable Disneyland, despite DL's decades long head start. Does this make any sense?

    From what I can gather, the stewards of TDR (the Oriental Land Company) are determined to be the best, and thus reinvest freely and heavily in their parks. Meanwhile, the suits running the U.S. resorts seem to be more concerned with draconian budget cuts, skimping and cutting corners. I'm not saying that the fans of the Tokyo resort are necessarily right. What I am saying is this: why can't the executives running the U.S. resorts adopt the same high standards of constant reinvestment and improvement? Are they content to let overseas upstarts show them up? Are they not aware of the competition nipping at their heels? Why do we have to put up with executives who seem to want to get away with doing the minimum? Are they squandering the sterling reputation of the Disney name, one of the most powerful brands in the world?

    As I said right off the bat, it pains me to bring all this up. I do love the parks, but anyone can see they can and should be better, and still the reinvestment dollars trickle in, at a painfully slow rate. No matter how much we complain, the company pinches the pennies. I, for one, feel like I've been on my knees since I joined MiceChat, constantly begging them to do the right thing and reinvest in their parks. I'm starting to wonder why I bother. Am I the only one who is fed up with the current state of affairs?
    Last edited by disneyfann121; 01-24-2009 at 10:06 PM.

  2. #2

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    Re: Stateside resorts doomed to second place?

    Let me put it to you this way, while waiting for the Tokyo subway you will see on the platform oldish Japanese women with a cart full of every cleaner, scrub, brush, disinfectant, etc. known to exist in order to clean up any gum, dirt, debris, etc. that has stained the subway platform floor. And they do it amazingly well. It would seem the Japanese have higher standards in general, and this may correlate to approaches to their Disney parks.

  3. #3

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    Re: Stateside resorts doomed to second place?

    Quote Originally Posted by vfire View Post
    Let me put it to you this way, while waiting for the Tokyo subway you will see on the platform oldish Japanese women with a cart full of every cleaner, scrub, brush, disinfectant, etc. known to exist in order to clean up any gum, dirt, debris, etc. that has stained the subway platform floor. And they do it amazingly well. It would seem the Japanese have higher standards in general, and this may correlate to approaches to their Disney parks.
    I agree, their standards are very high. I think we had high standards but have lost them over time. We were in Tokyo in Oct-Nov 08 and I was taken back to the way our parks use to be. The CM were happy to be there, where happy to help you, way better crowd control then what Ive seen lately at DL. It was pleasent to be there.

    I can't remember a trip to DLR or WDW in the past 10 years that I haven't had something to complain about. And Im not talking about long lines, heat rain. Im talking about things Disney has control over. Like wait a hour and half for a Disney bus in WDW to take us from the Boardwalk Hotel to DtD and TL. Or how about being at DL and wanting to leave the park 45 min before a paraide and can't make it down main street either by walking or with an ECV. Wheres the crowd control? Not a problem at TDR.

    Why are we loosing it? Not sure. Maybe its because we have two resorts to fund, where TDR only has three hotels, two parks and a version of DtD. I've heard that park money has been give away to help out some movie disney was doing at the time. Well that cheapens the park. Maybe that has something to do with it. Not sure.

    I know the CM's aren't trained as well as they once were. I was a CM years ago and while I was there i could see that the new hires weren't being trained as well while I was there. It was sad to see.

    Like OP, I hope the suites wake up and whats see going on. I think more attention should be given to the state parks. I also think they need to place more attention on DLR, it is the original Disney Park. Its Walts park and with out Walt none of this would be here. Yes there are other theme parks, but they are not Disney.

    If they don't change things and Tokyo becomes the best park, if people can afford it and its not cheap(flight, hotel) people will go to Tokyo over the state parks. I know I would.
    Last edited by DuffyGuardian; 01-25-2009 at 09:57 AM.

  4. #4

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    Re: Stateside resorts doomed to second place?

    Quote Originally Posted by Janell View Post
    Like OP, I hope the suites wake up and whats see going on. I think more attention should be given to the state parks. I also think they need to place more attention on DLR, it is the original Disney Park. Its Walts park and with out Walt none of this would be here. Yes there are other theme parks, but they are not Disney.

    If they don't change things and Tokyo becomes the best park, if people can afford it and its not cheap(flight, hotel) people will go to Tokyo over the state parks. I know I would.

    This is one situation where I could see a successful outsourcing. Disney should have OLC take over management of Disneyland and WDW. Often outsourcing has the effect of reducing quality, efficiency and overall effectiveness of what it replaced. But, ever since Imagineering lost control over them, the parks have gone through numerous changes, most often not to the their overall best interest.

    OLC would most likely stabilize the overall quality and improve the parks significantly.

  5. #5

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    Re: Stateside resorts doomed to second place?

    I doubt profit from the stateside Disney parks gets soley distributed back into the parks after the executives take their cut. Since the OLC's only investment is TDR and Japan's Disney stores, they can plow their profits, after the executive cut (which is much smaller as a relative percentage for Japanese execs compared to US ones) directly back into their fine product. It's pretty much their only game, whereas US Disney has so many fingers in so many pies being a huge media conglomerate that its focus is split between many different entities which can sometimes cannibalize and/or complement each other.

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    Re: Stateside resorts doomed to second place?

    Good point, vfire, and given the company's consistently Scrooge-like approach to reinvestment, the suits are clearly more interested in lining their own pockets than in creating greatness. Of course, if they did create greatness, the company (and its employees) would be that much richer for it, but just try convincing them of that...

  7. #7

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    Re: Stateside resorts doomed to second place?

    I still remember a comment made to me 10 years ago about this very same issue: "It's because the Japanese don't do anything halfway." I think VFire made the point a few posts ago w/ his comment about the subways. Japanese culture places a high value on honor and integrity. Everything you say and everything you do reflect on who you are as a person, including your work.

    There's not the cynicism about work that there is in this country. In Japan, there's no such thing as "just a job." Some might say the Japanese are overly committed to their work and there is evidence for this. High-powered Japanese businessmen have cots in their offices so that they can sleep there. Japanese schoolkids go to "cram school" to get into college. Remember that Asian kid in your class that was always such an overachiever that he or she showed up the rest of you? In his home country, he's average.

    Now, the other side of this is that it's also an extremely conformist culture, much like the US in the 50s, when DL opened. Do you suppose there's a connection between conformity and quality?
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  8. #8

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    Re: Stateside resorts doomed to second place?

    Quote Originally Posted by disneyfann121 View Post
    Am I the only one who is fed up with the current state of affairs?
    No, you are not.

    A well written and eloquent post.
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    - Neil Gabler


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    Re: Stateside resorts doomed to second place?

    Quote Originally Posted by Broadway Guru View Post
    Remember that Asian kid in your class that was always such an overachiever that he or she showed up the rest of you? In his home country, he's average.
    On a side note, the most popular kid in a school in East Asia is oftentimes the smartest kid.
    I lived in Japan for two years and can imagine the mentality of the OLC executives in charge of TDR from day one was not to screw up such a great and honored institution as Disneyland. They would be sincerely ashamed to see Disney fans rag on them for shortcomings so they try not to shortchange the fans. And the TDR parks are extremely popular with the locals... much like DLR is in southern California.

  10. #10

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    Re: Stateside resorts doomed to second place?

    Another thing people who have visited TDR have noticed is how the Japanese people keep their hands to themselves regarding props & such out on display at the parks. They know not to touch unless they're given the ok. At the parks in the States, people think they have to touch every single little thing, which can lead to abuse, things being broken and then taken offstage and you never see it again.

  11. #11

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    Re: Stateside resorts doomed to second place?

    Everyone has made some interesting points about cultural differences, including some aspects that hadn't occurred to me. I believe that the differences in the business culture are equally important (and the same problems show up here in Canada). Companies seem to be allergic to making large investments, lest that lead to a temporary drop in the share price due to a missed earnings estimate. This slavish devotion to Wall Street is detrimental in the long term, of course, but today's executives can't seem to think beyond the next quarter. Seriously, the WDC can't possibly try to pretend that they are doing the best job they can, particularly as compared to the standards set by their Japanese counterparts.

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    Re: Stateside resorts doomed to second place?

    Quote Originally Posted by disneyfann121 View Post
    Everyone has made some interesting points about cultural differences, including some aspects that hadn't occurred to me. I believe that the differences in the business culture are equally important (and the same problems show up here in Canada). Companies seem to be allergic to making large investments, lest that lead to a temporary drop in the share price due to a missed earnings estimate. This slavish devotion to Wall Street is detrimental in the long term, of course, but today's executives can't seem to think beyond the next quarter. Seriously, the WDC can't possibly try to pretend that they are doing the best job they can, particularly as compared to the standards set by their Japanese counterparts.
    I think you need to get over it. I prescribe a visit to DL. I've authorized four refills.

    In short, we all know the problems, and none of us can fix them. Only a privately run company can run its business answering only to itself (and those it borrowed from) and not shareholders/analysts/Wall-Street/hostile-takeover-firms. And Disney would not be what it is today without all that investment money. It is not an easy business to run.
    "Here You Leave the World of California Today and Enter the World of, um, er, California Today."

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    Re: Stateside resorts doomed to second place?

    Obviously, I disagree. I think the company could be doing a lot better if they just found a little bit of courage. Say, a fraction of the courage that Walt had. That would be a big improvement already.

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    Re: Stateside resorts doomed to second place?

    Quote Originally Posted by disneyfann121 View Post
    Obviously, I disagree. I think the company could be doing a lot better if they just found a little bit of courage. Say, a fraction of the courage that Walt had. That would be a big improvement already.
    Actually we agree. I just don't think they'll ever find that little bit of courage. Do you?
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    Re: Stateside resorts doomed to second place?

    I try to be optimistic about it, but (and believe it or not, I do hate to say this) they've been pretty gutless for a long time.

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