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  1. #1

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    What the DLR needs – more “synergy!”

    synergy (syn·er·gy )

    n.


    1. The interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects.
    2. Cooperative interaction among groups, especially among the acquired subsidiaries or merged parts of a corporation, that creates an enhanced combined effect.


    Definition #2 gets used a lot around here. But today, we’re here to talk about definition #1 .

    The atmosphere, the beloved Disney characters, the thrills, the live entertainment, the sense of history, and so on…some will prefer certain elements over others, but it’s the artful fusion of these elements that add up to the Disneyland experience. That’s the kind of synergy I’m talking about

    Here’s a quote I’ve seen variations on around the forums: “The general public would rather have something fun than well-themed.”

    It shouldn’t be either-or, it should be both at once. And, as someone recently said in another thread, Disney used to excel at doing both.

    Some claim that the outdoor theming of the lands is arbitrary to the ride-oriented “average guest.” No matter how fast you run from ride to ride – and having recently done a mad two-hour dash, I know – you can’t help but notice the scenery at least a little as you go, and you can’t help but notice that it has some relation to the rides you’re riding in that area. And even if a guest were phenomenally unaware of the history and mythology that Disneyland is referencing in its theming, I think they must grasp the fundamental concepts – hometown, jungle, frontier/old west, fantasy, future.

    Then, there are the rides themselves. I’ve seen it said that Splash Mountain is only popular because it has drops that get you wet. That's certainly a big selling point. I know I love those drops. But I refuse to believe that the singing animals and scenery don’t have something to do with it. I find it hard to believe that people totally ignore them, thinking of nothing but “drops! drops! drops!” the whole way...And the drops are integrated into the story – the initial plunge into the critters’ world, the wild bunny-hill type drop into the Laughing Place, and the big suspenseful climb to the climax of the story – Bre’r Rabbit’s escape! Physical and thematic thrills, working together! Synergy, ladies and gentleman!

    How about, “the general public would rather have something with familiar characters than ones they don’t know.”

    Again, why does it have to be one or the other?

    The vast majority of DL attractions prior to Star Tours in 1987 were not directly based on movies, while every attraction from Star Tours on has been movie-based, except Rocket Rods (closed) and Innoventions (Infomercial masquerading as an attraction). 22 years. It seems like Disneyland could handle at least one new original attraction after that many years of film-based ones.

    Yes, the Fantasyland dark rides have always been based on Disney films, and recreated scenes from them. But the rides were about capturing the feeling of flying with Peter Pan, careening around the roads with Mr. Toad, fleeing through the forest with Snow White, tumbling down the rabbithole with Alice. And these were things the public fantasized about when reading or hearing the original stories, long before Disney even got ahold of them, making them seem much less divorced from the non-film based attractions, which covered archetypal fantasies like jungle voyages and space travel. Recent dark rides, like Pooh and Monster’s Inc., have some elements of the FL dark ride tradition, but mostly, they seem to be about “Look, it’s Pooh!” “Look, it’s Sully!”

    Speaking of Pixar, the film Toy Story is a great example of combining the familiar - toys everyone played with as kids, like Mr. Potato Head and Etch-a-Sketch - with the new – the computer animation medium, characters no-one had ever heard of before (Woody, Buzz, etc.) Today, CGI is considered the “norm” in American animated features, and those original characters are icons.

    Pixar is working on recognizable, merchandisable Toy Story 3 and Cars 2. But in a couple weeks, they’ll release Up. It’s a brand new film with brand new characters that no-one has ever seen before. Why doesn’t Disney feel that theme park audiences can handle that same kind of newness every once in a while? Why should the theme park be a second-hand medium? I’d like to see the creatives at Pixar design an original, non-movie based attraction concept from the ground up, the way Walt’s animators did 50 + years ago. (and yes, I mean Pixar Animation Studios, not WDI, though of course I want to see WDI design one, too).

    And why are there two Toy Story rides in the DLR, with neither of them fully embracing the universal concept at the core of the films – that toys come to life when we leave the room?

    Furthermore, the Fantasyland dark rides were placed into a land specifically designed to synergize with them. (Even moreso following the 1980's refurb, which supposedly is closer to what Walt wanted in the first place). Not so with the poor Pixar rides, placed willy-nilly all over the place.

    And just because people love characters doesn’t mean they hate anything that doesn’t involve them. Why is Soarin’ Over California so popular? Tinkerbell’s 10 second cameo? No, that’s just added perk. It’s Because it makes people feel like they’re flying (or at least, that’s the intent, and some people feel it does. Whether or not it succeeds at that is a topic for another thread ) That’s something that just about everyone dreams of experiencing.

    Why is the Haunted Mansion so popular? Is it because they hope there are Eddie Murphy AA’s inside, and then they wind up dreadfully disappointed?

    Seeing the costumed Disney characters might be the biggest thrill of the day for some kids (and, of course, some adults). But it’s not the only thrill. If Disneyland were nothing but a cement lot where meet and greets were held, it wouldn’t be nearly so popular. In films, the characters typically have a backdrop to work against. Aladdin is in Agrabah. Simba is out on the Savannah. They aren’t just up there on a blank screen all alone. Just like with the characters in Disneyland - part of what makes meeting the characters so magical is meeting them in Disneyland.

    “Disneyland shoppers would rather have convenience than unique items.”

    Guess what I’m going to say?

    Sure, have the top selling merchandise readily available in multiple locations. But what’s wrong with having a few unique items? Not every single guest will buy them, but it’s worth a little shelf space so that Little Jimmy can buy a plushie of his favorite obscure Disney character that he hasn’t been able to find anywhere else. That’s the kind of memory that will make Little Jimmy want to bring his own merchandise-buying family when he grows up.

    And it’s worth a little shelf space to uphold the theme of the stores. That way, they’ll seem like much more part of the overall Disneyland experience, instead of corporate-merchandising-‘o-rama. Again, every guest might not buy the items, but to those that do, they will be very special – a piece of that theme that they can take home with them.

    When Disneyland opened, Walt gave his guests what they expected. He gave them familiar Disney characters. He gave them rides, including a carousel, a spinner and a teacup ride. But he also gave them a lot more than they were expecting. And that was the magic formula.

    Pardon me if this turned out to be a nonsensical late-night rant. Basically, I just wanted to turn the meaning of the odious corporate buzzword “synergy” on its ear .
    Last edited by animagusurreal; 05-14-2009 at 10:48 AM.
    "Happy Working Song" parody for DCA remodel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-TYESfNTP8&feature=plcp

    Retro Rant Review of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame II" (comedy review of direct-to-video
    Disney sequel):
    Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/user/animagus.../1/q1j7FU8QXu0
    Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/user/animagus.../0/sasNTMDRBLU

    Retro Rant Review of "Home on the Range" (comedy review of Disney movie):
    Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7mC-...feature=relmfu
    Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoUie...feature=relmfu
    Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3Vea...feature=relmfu


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  2. #2

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    Re: What the DLR needs – more “synergy!”

    Excellent post -- really well thought out!

    As a comment to this quote from your post...
    Quote Originally Posted by animagusurreal View Post
    ...But in a couple weeks, they’ll release Up. It’s a brand new film with brand new characters that no-one has ever seen before. Why doesn’t Disney feel that theme park audiences can handle that same kind of newness every once in a while? Why should the theme park be a second-hand medium?
    ...I'll refer you to another excellent post:
    Quote Originally Posted by techskip View Post
    I feel that they are taking the easy path. It could easily be blamed on a lack of imagination. It could be blamed on catering to current market trends. It could be blamed on wanting to build what they know will sell. It could be a combination of reasons. Whatever the reason, Disney as an entity has actively chosen the path of least resistance. What I see is a steady flow of rehashed movies in place of what used to be unique Disneyland experiences. The worst part is that in those rare moments that WDI attempts to step outside of a character/ franchise driven concept... they usually fail. Those failures have an almost immediate knee-jerk reaction and more character/franchise driven concepts are green lit. When enough experience has walked through the door, never to return, eventually the company begins to forget about the skills that made it what it is.

    "With the acquisition of Marvel and now of Lucasfilm,
    Disney may have finally found the grail. You don't need
    imagination or art. All you need is a brand."

    - Neil Gabler


  3. #3

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    Re: What the DLR needs – more “synergy!”

    I am gonna refuse to get involved in the inevitable debates that will ensue in this thread, but before that happens, I just wanted to say thank you for an excellent post!


  4. #4

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    Re: What the DLR needs – more “synergy!”

    Wonderful post. Synergy is one of those things that makes you realize the place is awesome without being able to put a finger on what is really going on. When I hear the word synergy my mind automatically goes to Tomorrowland and I can picture the feel it had back in the 70's/early 80's.

    Well done OP, it's good to think about plussing areas to make them more pleasing to the guest.

  5. #5

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    Re: What the DLR needs – more “synergy!”

    Tis true... the corporate meaning of Synergy falls short of what the word really does mean. They've lost sight of the true goal of working together. Thanks for your wonderfully well thought out post.

    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

  6. #6

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    Re: What the DLR needs – more “synergy!”

    Quote Originally Posted by animagusurreal View Post
    And why are there two Toy Story rides in the DLR, with neither of them fully embracing the universal concept at the core of the films – that toys come to life when we leave the room?
    Well, how fun of an attraction would that be, lifeless toys until we are out of sight?
    "Here You Leave the World of California Today and Enter the World of, um, er, California Today."

  7. #7

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    Re: What the DLR needs – more “synergy!”

    Synergy in a corporate setting is more about short-term revenues and profits. "Synergy" these days in the parks is creating an attraction with a gift shop (using Imagineering and Operations combined with Merchandising and Marketing). Wooo, synergy! So innovative!
    "Here You Leave the World of California Today and Enter the World of, um, er, California Today."

  8. #8

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    Re: What the DLR needs – more “synergy!”

    This is the best new thread I have seen on MiceChat in a while. It's just incredible how misunderstood the concept of synergy has become recently, among the very folks who should know it best.


  9. #9

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    Re: What the DLR needs – more “synergy!”

    Quote Originally Posted by 2DieFR View Post
    This is the best new thread I have seen on MiceChat in a while. It's just incredible how misunderstood the concept of synergy has become recently, among the very folks who should know it best.
    It's incredible how misunderstood the concept of Disneyland has become recently, among the very folks who should know it best.

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  10. #10

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    Re: What the DLR needs – more “synergy!”

    Quote Originally Posted by Datameister View Post
    I am gonna refuse to get involved in the inevitable debates that will ensue in this thread, but before that happens, I just wanted to say thank you for an excellent post!
    Why, are you not feeling well today?

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    Re: What the DLR needs – more “synergy!”

    Quote Originally Posted by TacAlert View Post
    Why, are you not feeling well today?
    Just don't want to get involved. People can think whatever they want to think about the issue. I happen to side with animagusurreal, but others will differ and I'm not gonna try to stop them.


  12. #12

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    Re: What the DLR needs – more “synergy!”

    I can think of one or two posters who might disagree. I tend to ignore those one or two.
    "Here You Leave the World of California Today and Enter the World of, um, er, California Today."

  13. #13

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    Re: What the DLR needs – more “synergy!”

    In addition to going with original ideas as well as established properties (it worked in TDS), TWDC as a whole needs to give a lengthy moratorium to the following words (or any derivation there of)
    -Magic, magical
    -Fantasy, fantastic
    -Wonder, wonderful
    -Dream(s), dreaming
    -Imagine, Imagination
    etc.

    These words are so overused by Disney that they've become beyond cliche: they're now saccharine, annoying and meaningless. The english language contains a lot of words... time to expand the vocabulary.

  14. #14

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    Re: What the DLR needs – more “synergy!”

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Wiggins View Post
    As a comment to this quote from your post...I'll refer you to another excellent post:
    that was embarrassing... Obviously I agree with the thoughts and passions of animagusurreal. Mr Wiggins was referring to my answer from another thread. I was specifically asked about my opinion towards character/franchise driven attractions... why some were acceptable and others were not etc. In my reply I specifically pointed to the last original attraction that was successful... Big Thunder Mountain... which opened in 1979. DCA to me is a mixed bag, but regardless of what was put there it is DCA. Disneyland, has not had an original concept attraction since 1979 (original as in not tied to a specific character or exsisting franchise. I don't care if we had it first or WDW).

    What intrigued me most was your comment about themed merchandise. The thread is likely on here somewhere, but at one time I proposed a "Junk Drawer" in each land. The thought was to simplify the essential and "hot ticket" merchandise (autograph books, suntan lotion, current big sellers) and keep that all in one store. It would make it simple for CM's to direct Guests to a specific location, and once Guests realized it they would specifically seek out this store. It would also allow the rest of the stores to sell land specific merchandise. As an added bonus the Junk stores could have a "family owned" theme of it's own. You could have various photos, letters, and family names etc that would trace from the Castle to the Jungle to the Deep South of New Orleans! People are used to chain stores, WDI could easily have fun with that. Just something to think about.

    I think that what always got me about Disneyland, was that it wasn't a collection of jumbled together attractions, it was an experience. You weren't on a rollercoaster that looked like a rocket in some random place. You were in Tomorrowland, the future, riding through the depths of Space Mountain or soaring high above on the Rocket Jets. To me it is that experience that has been lost. Now you can watch Toy Story or Star Wars while you walk through Tomorrowland on your way to the next Infomercial at Innoventions. Then you can fill up on Chevron before you watch Finding Nemo again in your own personal submarine... to me that just isn't a futuristic experience...

    Thank you animagusurreal for a trip down memory lane.
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  15. #15

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    Re: What the DLR needs – more “synergy!”

    Quote Originally Posted by sediment View Post
    Well, how fun of an attraction would that be, lifeless toys until we are out of sight?
    Ha!

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