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  1. #1

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    Whatever happened to Show Quality Services?

    The "Show" at Disney theme parks is the essence of what creates the magic, for me at least. It's what allows you to be transported to worlds that seem composed of both fantasy and reality, whimsy and fact, and still be believable. It's what sets Disney apart, and when WDI is firing on all cyliders, no one can match the type of Show quality they can produce. To create places and experiences, whether they are completely historically based or made of pure imagination or anything in between, where every detail seems to fix exactly, nothing seems out of place or contradictory, that to me should be one of WDI's highest goals. From the little research I've done on the subject, there used to be a group within WDI (I believe) whose sole purpose what to defend and advocate for the Show. Here's a quote from around 2006 about the group:

    Quote Originally Posted by KNRG
    SQS is Show Quality Services. Not only did they evaluate park operations and practices for the best guest show (like making sure things got repainted, that Cindy's hair was the right color, etc..) but they also played a governing body for Imagineering. They held the right to veto any plan that didn't fit in a park in acceptable terms of quality, theme, etc. So, essentially from what I know, SQS was responsible for each park maintaining it's identity and theme.
    Based on that quote, it seems like SQS was a watchdog group within the company that did what many fans on this site and others do: examine even the most minute details in a park to ensure that the maintain quality standards, get proper maintenance, and fit in well with all the other elements of an attraction/land/park. I seem to also remember reading somewhere that a version of this group works on TDR, and that they are part of the reason that Tokyo is so well maintained, the quality standards are so high, and why almost every attraction is themed to perfectly fit in.

    So my questions are, for anyone who might know, does this group still exist? Does it have any power or sway? If it's gone, how long ago was it gotten rid of, and by who? Has any movement been made to bring it back?

    With marketing and globalization schemes like Disney Parks and One Disney threatening the unique identities of the parks; with items of questionable quality coming out of DCA's Pier makeover while other DCA 1.0 elements remain as glaring points of bad show (concrete retaining walls still surrounding a "natural" bay, with otherwise realistic rocks actually "growing" out of one); with the focus on marketable properties replacing any concern over whether an attraction actually fits in an existing land, I feel Show Quality Services is still desperately needed.

  2. #2

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    Re: Whatever happened to Show Quality Services?

    SQS still exists... and is now called Show Quality Standards.

    It exits within WDI and directly oversees lower-level projects such as refurbishments and painting projects. Any time you see barricades up with fences being repainted... that has been overseen by SQS, and so on.

  3. #3

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    Re: Whatever happened to Show Quality Services?

    So it exists, but it's been essentially neutered? Great...

  4. #4

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    Re: Whatever happened to Show Quality Services?

    Hmmmmm they have not be to Indy in a while I'm guessing.

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    Re: Whatever happened to Show Quality Services?

    Quote Originally Posted by kaliwolf View Post
    So it exists, but it's been essentially neutered? Great...
    No.

    Any paint job, adjustment or whatever that is in Guest view must gothrough SQS.
    Including attractions.

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    Re: Whatever happened to Show Quality Services?

    I'm not talking about paint or maintenance, I'm talking about this:

    they also played a governing body for Imagineering. They held the right to veto any plan that didn't fit in a park in acceptable terms of quality, theme, etc. So, essentially from what I know, SQS was responsible for each park maintaining it's identity and theme.

  7. #7

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    Re: Whatever happened to Show Quality Services?

    They said this was up to show quality?


  8. #8

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    Re: Whatever happened to Show Quality Services?

    Quote Originally Posted by kaliwolf View Post
    does this group still exist? Does it have any power or sway? If it's gone, how long ago was it gotten rid of, and by who? Has any movement been made to bring it back?

    With marketing and globalization schemes like Disney Parks and One Disney threatening the unique identities of the parks; with items of questionable quality coming out of DCA's Pier makeover while other DCA 1.0 elements remain as glaring points of bad show (concrete retaining walls still surrounding a "natural" bay, with otherwise realistic rocks actually "growing" out of one); with the focus on marketable properties replacing any concern over whether an attraction actually fits in an existing land, I feel Show Quality Services is still desperately needed.
    SQS is a department within WDI that handles maintenence and minor improvement on all CURRENT EXISTING properties.

    So when new lighting appears on Thunder Mountain: SQS
    When Madam Leota's head starts floating in HM: SQS

    New attractions and new properties are from Core Engineering

    SQS is a very small group with an extremity limited budget that NEVER gets to do what they want

    My battery is low, I'll throw in more details later

  9. #9

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    Re: Whatever happened to Show Quality Services?

    Ok so continuing on...

    SQS is a group that works on current attractions, they are also local to each park: Disney World's SQS department is in Orlando, and Paris's SQS is in Paris (etc). SQS is not responsible and in no way handles new attractions. What they are responsible for is the maintenance, upgrades, and most prominently quality of existing attractions. Most SQS changes aren't significant or notable (such as adding a bandanna to a pirate or fixing the bluebird on Splash)-- but when you hear of a "major refurbishment", that's SQS making changes to attractions.

    While SQS does redesigns of current attractions- like the recent change to the "Grand Fiesta Tour", in EPCOT, now staring the three Caballeros- most MAJOR attraction changes are done by Imagineering. Some recent in-park changes to the DLR not done by SQS include:

    1) All DCA work
    2) Pirates Lair on TSI
    3) POTC 2.0 (Introduction of Jack Sparrow)
    4) Disney Gallery/ Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln
    5) Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough

    Some major changes recently done by SQS include:

    1) Floating Madam Leota
    2) Repaving of Tomorrowland (and attached landscaping)
    3) New bride projection (SHE IS NOT AN ANIMATRONIC)
    4) Lighting changes in RoA area
    And many more that I am surely forgetting or now missing since I'm a student who goes to a college far away from Disneyland who can only visit over holidays and summer

    As an exception to this rule, the events department in TDA handle some things outside of Imagineering, including Holiday Overlays for Small World and Haunted Mansion (I forget the title of this department).

    ROCKIT Mountain was done by Imagineering, since it was in place upon construction. However I don't know what department introduced Ghost Galaxy, nor which department is responsible for Blue Sky Cellar updates. If anyone does know this please fill me in!

  10. #10

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    Re: Whatever happened to Show Quality Services?

    Thank you for all the information.

    Unfortunately if quality measures are only in place to maintain and update then essentially SQS is following, not controlling. This means when Nemo breaks they fix him, instead of pulling the plug on Nemo's introduction to begin with. When a stop sign needs paint on Mullholland they paint it, instead of openly questioning why a subpar rollercoaster is left outside as an unthemed eyesore.

    There was a time when Disney fans in general waited in anticipation, wondering what WED was doing, knowing whatever it was would be original, creative, and knock your socks off... Now most wait out of boredom, knowing that whatever comes will either be tied to a movie or character. Part of this is culture, Disney believes the public wants characters and movies so they hand feed their newest franchises. Part of this is modern technology, Micechat being one of many sites where the news is broken in advance, something that didn't really happen "back then". And part of this is the inability of WDI to be creative. The few times they have attempted to be original they have generally failed.

    I really don't know if SQS would make a difference even if they had the power to do so. In honesty a "jury of your peers" are still your peers... and if WDI lacks creativity then it would likely be reflected in SQS's standards as well.
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  11. #11

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    Re: Whatever happened to Show Quality Services?

    Thank you both for the clarification. I wonder if the old posts I found about this more powerful watchdog group were referring to something else, and they just got the name wrong? I even found a very recent post from the Disney and More blog that refers to SQS in this manner:

    Quote Originally Posted by Alain Littaye
    Which leads us to the question: why isn't it perfect? After all, in each Disney theme park there is a division called SQS - "Show Quality Standard". SQS, in fact, is an Imagineering division. They're here to make sure that each new thing built in the park, small or big, is in agreement with the theming all around, the storyline, etc... Now, what generally happens for the kind of building like this terrace is that a manager at the park's food division go to see another one at park's operations division and explain the problem. In this case, something like "we need a terrace in front of the Last Chance Cafe because people like to eat outside, etc...". Then, normally, park operations go to see SQS for the theming part, etc... Alas, SQS have a cost, and from what I've been told it seems that the park is trying to avoid having SQS involved in "small" projects, at least as much as possible. The logic behind this is to save money, in this case the SQS-Imagineering cost. I'm not saying that this is what happened with this new terrace, but if SQS was not involved in its building and theming not only it would explain some of the mistakes i've just told you, but it's also unfortunate as nothing can replace the Imagineers experience. But we know how executives are thinking: they always think that "guests won't see the difference". Which is not only wrong, but almost an insult to the guests intelligence. People are more sophisticated than they think and they DO see the "difference".
    Full article on Disney and More Blog.

    Has there ever been a group with that type of power and focus? If not, I think they need to create one. There has to be some group that can advocate for the Show on every single project, no matter how large or small. In that article, Alain analyzes the theme and story problems with a small new structure added to Thunder Mesa that at first glance looks fine, but on closer inspection visually detracts from a once "themed to the hilt" area, while adding no depth to the story being told. Instead it actually goes against the Show, since there is no thought process as to why or how the restaurateur would build this structure. When you think about that, and then see what's being built in DCA's Pier (no, not WoC, I have no qualms with that), it might take you aback. The Last Chance terrace theme problems are nothing compared to the Pier. It would seem like no thought at all was given to make a story out of all these elements, to make everything make sense and fit together. Why is there a giant Mickey head on the Wheel? What are the "lighthouses" out in the bay meant to be, and why would a natural bay need them? Why do they look like plastic/fiberglass when they were built around the turn of the century? Why do they not look weathered when they are sitting in the ocean? Why is a natural bay surrounded by concrete retaining walls? Why is one of these walls holding back an otherwise natural beach? Why is there a rock inexplicably growing out of said wall? None of these questions have answers so far, and I'm growing more doubtful these things will be answered/fixed in a satisfactory manner anytime soon. So the final question would be, if SQS still exists in the capacity that Alain indicates, where are they and why did they seemingly not fight (or perhaps they lost) for the Show when it comes to Paradise Pier?

  12. #12

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    Re: Whatever happened to Show Quality Services?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Weaver View Post
    They said this was up to show quality?

    Ah.. Dumpster: The Ride. What a true piece of Disney quality.

  13. #13

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    Re: Whatever happened to Show Quality Services?

    Quote Originally Posted by kaliwolf View Post
    Has there ever been a group with that type of power and focus? If not, I think they need to create one. . So the final question would be, if SQS still exists in the capacity that Alain indicates, where are they and why did they seemingly not fight (or perhaps they lost) for the Show when it comes to Paradise Pier?
    Alain is misplacing the blame here actually. I've never ever heard SQS acting in that capacity, however it is possible that in the past they had. SQS is handled differently in each park, as part as the decentralization. In my opinion, and many experts, this has nothing to do with SQS and has to do with upper management.

    See, when Eisner took over Disney he took a very "hands on" approach with the parks. And, as the Disney company grew and expanded it became obvious that a new approach was required in order to manage the multitude of parks. Hence the "Disney Parks" division was created along with the position President of the Parks. Now, rather than Walt or Eisner approving major projects themselves you had Paul Pressler, Jay Raslo and now the old CFO calling the shots with a team of managers. So now we have the people who are in charge of the money (all 3 have primarily financial backgrounds) in charge of the parks. And when you take people like that and put them in charge you got people who (generally) want the cheapest, most inexpensive, "quick fix"-- hence the lack of recent quality and solid story.

    While Imagineering has a say in the projects they undertake, they are in no way as creatively free as some might think. Budget restrictions are rampant and they are now generally dictated to by either the president of the respective park, or the President of the Parks.

    I know first hand that Imagineering hated the ideas of the promotional suite, Pirates Lair, and Haunted Mansion Holiday and considered all of them a rape of company properties, however management calls the shots.

    So basically Disney Parks and Resorts --> Imagineering. However Imagineering does have a say. Each park has a creative lead, who has the responsibility to approve/deny and tweak any project presented to them. Other than that the workings are a bit gray and I don't know exactly how things happen.

    Realistically this is the same problem that any company faces: quality vs expense

    I hope that makes sense and helps you out

  14. #14

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    Re: Whatever happened to Show Quality Services?

    Back in the day, SQS was known by another name: it was called Walt.

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    Re: Whatever happened to Show Quality Services?

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