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  1. #1

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    Disneyland and Its Effect on the Other Parks

    Have we ever considered what makes any of the Disney parks a great, good, or bad experience? It can be said that we sub-consciously judge this through the parks relation to Walt's folly, Disneyland.

    When Walt Disney started developing his original park, there was no way of knowing if it would be a success. However, when Disneyland opened in 1955, it was met with unbelievable praise and astonishment. As it developed through the years, it only continued to see positive feedback.

    Each of the original lands encompassed a general yet effective theme. Main Street, U.S.A. - small-town America at the turn of the century; Adventureland - the exotic locales of faraway lands; Frontierland - the Wild West and roots of America; Fantasyland - a village of fairy tales and stories; and Tomorrowland - a presentation of the future and the Space Age. Walt struck gold with these lands, each becoming beloved by park visitors.

    When the company finally set out to build another park, they decided to use the same scheme. The Magic Kingdom in Florida also found success when it opened it 1971. Since the opening of Disneyland, Walt added two more lands to the list. Each was more specific than the earlier lands but still had room for creativity. New Orleans Square opened in 1966 in Disneyland and Liberty Square opened with the Magic Kingdom in 1971.

    Walt and the people at WED had so far created detailed, elaborate lands that had surpassed the audience's expectations. Walt continued to develop new exciting lands in his head. Unfortunately, he died before the opening of the Magic Kingdom and before any of his further plans could be built. WED didn't decide to build another park until they began to develop Epcot Center.

    Epcot Center was not a completely original creation, however. It was based on Walt's ideas of a city of the future (EPCOT) and his celebration of international cultures. In some ways, Epcot Center could have been said to be the child of Tomorrowland and the planned International Land. The familiarity of these concepts to park guests led to Epcot Center being a semi-success at opening in 1982 and to this day considered one of the better Disney parks.

    This poses the question: does a Disney park's success depend on its relation to Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom? Let's continue.

    In 1989, Disney-MGM Studios opened. The park was originally a planned pavilion for Epcot Center but managed to be built as its own park. This new endeavor was not at all derived from the original lands of Disneyland. It was met with mixed reviews and presently considered one of the weaker Disney parks.

    This can also be applied to its sister park: Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris which opened in 2002.

    Throughout this process, Tokyo Disneyland and Euro Disneyland (Paris) had opened using the same successful design of Disneyland for the most part.

    In 1998, Disney's Animal Kingdom was born. It was another moderate success. It could be said that the park was loosely based on Adventureland, a key connection to Disneyland.

    In the early 1990's, Disney had been developing a park called Disney's America. Being that it was never built, there is no way to say whether the park would have been a hit. Based on the way of thinking presented in this discussion, it would have. The park found its roots in Frontierland, Main Street, New Orleans Square, and Liberty Square.

    As the 21st century came, Disney was in the development of two parks. One would be considered one of Disney's worst parks, while the other being considered a milestone in theme park history.

    In February 2001, Disney's California Adventure opened. This was a completely new venture for Disney. The park had no connections to Disneyland; in fact, it was more of a derivative of Disney-MGM Studios. The park underperformed.

    Later that year, in September, Tokyo DisneySea opened. This was also a completely new venture for Disney. Rather than not finding any connections to Disneyland, this park became what could be considered Disneyland's counterpart. The park centered around various lands that did not necessarily relate to each other but worked together. It was a somewhat altered image of Disneyland. Main Street became a Mediterranean town, Tomorrowland a port of the future, Adventureland became a river delta and an Arabian outpost, Fantasyland was now a underwater mermaid environment, Frontierland became a mysterious volcano, and New Orleans Square was now New York and Cape Cod.

    Tokyo DisneySea became one of Disney's most highly respected parks.

    Let's sum up the information so far. Epcot Center (Tomorrowland) worked, Animal Kingdom (Adventureland) worked, Disney's America (Main Street, Frontierland, New Orleans Square, and Liberty Square) may have worked, and Tokyo DisneySea (version of Disneyland) worked. The Studios parks and California Adventure (no connections to Disneyland) did not work.

    But aren't we forgetting something? Fantasyland. We have yet to see a park derived from the idea of Fantasyland. This leads to my belief why so many feel that a great park would be one based on myths, legends, and tall tales. Fantasyland was developed on imagination and story-telling. And recently, many ideas have been brought up about a park based on various stories from around the world. This idea almost made it into a park and even almost became its own park. Beastly Kingdom was based on the legendary and mythical animals of the world. It never came to fruition and possibly never will.


    Next time Disney decides to build a new park, why not try to see how it connects to Disneyland or the Magic Kingdom? Chances are if you can't find a link, the park might be a flop.

    Your thoughts?
    Last edited by FutureImagineer; 08-24-2009 at 02:21 PM.

  2. #2

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    Re: Disneyland and Its Effect on the Other Parks

    Personally, I think the Imagineers majorly messed up WDW. It just goes to show that Walt was a very unique and smart man. I do think a park won't be as famous if it's not linked to a Disney park. It probably would flop if it was built by Disney. Then again, Epcot doesn't seem very Disney to me and it didn't flop
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  3. #3

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    Re: Disneyland and Its Effect on the Other Parks

    Quote Originally Posted by LittleImagineer View Post
    Personally, I think the Imagineers majorly messed up WDW. It just goes to show that Walt was a very unique and smart man. I do think a park won't be as famous if it's not linked to a Disney park. It probably would flop if it was built by Disney. Then again, Epcot doesn't seem very Disney to me and it didn't flop
    I'm not sure if you got what I was saying or if I'm confusing what you are saying but I meant that good Disney parks (meaning just parks made by the Disney Company) usually have some form of a connection to the original Disneyland concept. I never meant that a park wasn't "Disney" enough. That 's another argument for another thread. Hopefully, I'm not misunderstanding your comment?

  4. #4

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    Re: Disneyland and Its Effect on the Other Parks

    A small correction: Animal Kingdom opened in 1998, not 1989. That might have been a typo.

    This is an interesting notion, though. Just earlier I was thinking about how Epcot and AK could be seen as expounding on the Tomorrowland and Adventureland concepts, while the Studios park in Florida was a far more specific (in my mind, therefore weaker) concept that was rushed to compete with Universal.

    If you look at the Studios park now (I don't care for the new name, so...I don't use it), it has almost abandoned the idea of "moviemaking" as the central conceit and is pretty much just a collection of stuff loosely related to the world of popular entertainment, with a fake backlot or production building thrown in here or there as a half-hearted concession to the idea that you're on a film set. It's hard to say whether this is absolutely true, but I feel like part of the reason the Studios has ended up ignoring its own theme so much is because it's simply too specific to build a theme park around. You need room to play and be creative, and the glitz of Hollywood is just too constraining.

    The best Disney parks IMO are built around one or two general themes, or in the case of the Disneyland-style parks, a collection of several general themes that vary widely among themselves but somehow all fit together perfectly.

    To me, there's some kind of magic alchemy in the interplay of the original five lands at Disneyland: You have wonders of the past (Main Street/Frontierland), present (Adventureland), future (Tomorrowland) and "never was" (Fantasyland) all rubbing shoulders. It's just a perfect combination of concepts.

  5. #5

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    Re: Disneyland and Its Effect on the Other Parks

    ^thanks for the correction. I also agree with you that the studios theme may be too constraining and how the original lay of the lands at Disneyland is a great combination, just in the same way that it works at DisneySea.

  6. #6

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    Re: Disneyland and Its Effect on the Other Parks

    Small correction: Oriental Land Company opened DisneySeas. Not Disney.
    When OLC has stuff (or whole parks) designed by Disney's Imagineers, OLC pays for it. And it reaps the benefits. And OLC deserves the praise you're heaping on The Disney Company.
    "Here You Leave the World of California Today and Enter the World of, um, er, California Today."

  7. #7

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    Re: Disneyland and Its Effect on the Other Parks

    Quote Originally Posted by sediment View Post
    Small correction: Oriental Land Company opened DisneySeas. Not Disney.
    When OLC has stuff (or whole parks) designed by Disney's Imagineers, OLC pays for it. And it reaps the benefits. And OLC deserves the praise you're heaping on The Disney Company.
    that is true that OLC opened/runs the park and WDI designed the park. however, I was not heaping praise upon the Disney Company. I was just stating that DisneySea was a popular successful park. the point of this thread is to pose the question: does the success of the Disney parks rely on the park's connection to the original Disneyland?

    thanks for the input though.

  8. #8

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    Re: Disneyland and Its Effect on the Other Parks

    Quote Originally Posted by FutureImagineer View Post
    that is true that OLC opened/runs the park and WDI designed the park. however, I was not heaping praise upon the Disney Company. I was just stating that DisneySea was a popular successful park. the point of this thread is to pose the question: does the success of the Disney parks rely on the park's connection to the original Disneyland?

    thanks for the input though.
    Answer: No.
    Success of theme parks (whoever owns them) is based largely on the quality of the park and its offerings. That they might be built on a highly successful model (King's Island in Ohio also has a Disneyland-y layout) is merely a smart business strategy (of not re-inventing a wheel or, in this case, a hub).

    Any other questions?
    "Here You Leave the World of California Today and Enter the World of, um, er, California Today."

  9. #9

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    Re: Disneyland and Its Effect on the Other Parks

    I think it all goes back to management, IMO. Reason why Animal Kingdom and Epcot worked so well could've been attribute to the using the right amount of land and money.

    Whereas DCA failed because they kept cutting the park's budget upon building and planning.

    And anything from Tokyo Disney Resort works because the OLC knew how to manage budgeting and construction of its parks.

  10. #10

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    Re: Disneyland and Its Effect on the Other Parks

    Euro Disneyland was a major flop when it first opened, despite it mirroring the original Disneyland format. I guess I'm not sure how you define your terms regarding "success" and "failure"...


    As for themes themselves, Disneyland's were vague enough to cover nearly the entirety of attraction possibilities; it would be difficult for any park with broad themes not to overlap thematically. But even similar themes can have quite different executions. While it is true that half of Epcot deals with "The Future" (and only very thinly in today's incarnation), Future World owes much more to the World's Fair concept than Disneyland's Tomorrowland.

    The World Showcase half of Epcot doesn't have any connection to Disneyland at all, besides a very tenuous link to an unbuilt (and largely unknown) street. It's success follows from its broad theme ("The World") and meticulous detail in its environs. And while this was the conceit used in Disneyland's planning, it speaks more to the idea of a well-chosen (and well-executed) theme, not necessarily one connected to Walt's original design.

    I think the same can be said for Tokyo DisneySEA. That park's success can be attributed to the immersiveness of its theming more so than its (also tenuous) connection to Disneyland. While I agree that Porto Discovery hews very closely to Tomorrowland in concept, both the Arabian Coast and Lost River Delta (South American Jungle) are both very specific area concepts; they might be locations in Adventureland, but their specificity contrasts greatly with the broad catch-all of "Adventure."

    This is doubly true for Mermaid Lagoon: while I could see it fitting in Fantasyland, its motif based around a single film in Disney's ouvre just isn't comparable to what Fantasyland encompasses. Even Toontown has broader possibilities... It's more in line with Flik's Fun Faire (and even has several of the same rides).

    And I'm not sure how one would compare Captain Nemo's island hideout with the "Wild West and roots of America." I guess their both pretty rocky...and have mines! But both themes do tingle the imagination with their potential, which is more than you can say for "California"...


    Oh, and I think your assessment of there not being a park based on the Fantasyland concept is quite spot on. That would be a terrific place to begin planning a theme for a third gate!
    .


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