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  1. #1

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    The death of the AA-based attraction....

    By far my longest post ever... but stick with it if yu can.

    A month ago, at MouseInfo there was an "Ask Marcie" thread. (For those that don't know Marcie is a Disneyland Marketing employee, first brought in to counter spin Al's anti-Pressler/Harris articles. She's still Spinerella of Disneyland Marketing, but not as agressivly so now that DisCo has realized that Al was rigth all along.)

    Anyway, the thread is here:
    http://www.miboards.com/forums/showt...ghlight=marcie

    In Post 222, Marice has this to say:

    "It is funny that you mention about an attaction with AA figures. When AA figures were introduced to DL back in the 60's they were such a novelty that alone they attracted guests to the parks, because everyone wanted to see these new marvels in a theme park attraction. Since then they have lost a lot of their luster. No longer does an AA figure have any impact on bringing guests out to a park. It is all about immersing someone into an attraction or show by using all sorts of effects, ride systems, and techniques that may make it a personal experience to them. So those are the types of attractions that are being considered for the future - at least for the U.S. parks. Not in all future attractions will this be the case, but mainly the current "E" tickets that are under consideration seem to be following that direction for WDI at this time. If an AA figure will compliment a story or theming of an attraction, then they will be incorporated. Otherwise you will not see any attraction being built again that is the vehicle for a slew of AA figures to be displayed or used as the central focus of the marketing campaign to entice people to come to the parks. It is funny, but The Great Movie Ride was the last attraction to feature such a large cast of AA figures and it will probably remain that way for a long time to come.

    It's Tough to be a Bug is a good example of how AA figures were used to compliment the story and give unique elements to the experience. Yet, Flik and Hopper are not the main focus of the show itself. Even though Hopper is one of the most advanced AA figures Disney has in its parks.

    Trends and moods by the theme park audience changes from time to time and Disney is trying to make sure their parks stay relevant to the times or face the same demise that the forerunners to theme parks (or amusement parks) did back in the early-to-mid 20th Century."


    Okay... I'll grant her that the AA shows have not done well. Mr. Lincoln, Country Bears, CoP, America Sings.... But I'll counter that film based attractions, such as Mission to Moon/Mars, EO, HISTA, Muppets and Star Tours haven't fared much better, but there seems to be no move to stop using film....

    And I'll grant that some of the AA focused rides have not stood the test of time, like World of Motion, Horizons, Spaceship Earth, Universe of Energy, and the one she mentions, The Great Movie Ride. But, on the flip side are pirates and mansion. 35+ years old and still going strong.

    So, has the audience really changed? Maybe.... Maybe in 1967 they could just mention the AAs and people would rush into the park to see them. My parents or grandparents wouldn't go near a coaster or something like Indy, but they'd go to see the Country Bears and Pirates. I love the thrill rides... and now I'm the grandfather.

    But, the changing audience theory doesn't explain the continued popularity of mansion and pirates. What makes them different than World of Motion, Horizons, The Great Movie Ride, or Spaceship Earth? My hypothesis is, "The Story".

    World of Morion and Horizons weren't doomed because they were filled with AAs, and people no longer want to see AAs. They were doomed because they were edutainment rather than pure entertainment. Rather than being fixed in an exotic and fascinating, historic or fictional world, they were non-fiction based.... A glimpse at a better future or an explaination of how things work, and that just doesn't have the repeatability that pure fantasy offers. This problem of longevity can be seen in many of these "reality/edutainment" type attractions including Inner Space, People Mover, House of the Future, Living with the Land, Living Seas, Wonders of Life, MGM's soundstage and backlot tours, and many others...


    MGM overall, as Kevin pointed out in a recent article, is the failure to fully imerse guests in interesting illusion. There is always the reminder that you're in a theme park, not in the place depectied in the themes. The same problem that MGM has overall, was inherant in The Great Movie Ride. It showed you scenes from great movies, but there was always the reminder that you were just looking at scenes from great movies. You weren't IN a story. You were seeing sets.


    A comment from Jay Rasulo was that Disney would proceed with a philosophy of park development where big budget E-Ticket ride addition years would be alternated with smaller budget cartoon based attraction openings. I don't think this philosophy is bad, unless every new big-budget E-Ticket becomes a thrill ride.

    This is what I fear is meant by "It is all about immersing someone into an attraction or show by using all sorts of effects, ride systems, and techniques that may make it a personal experience to them." I think they are focused too much on effects, ride systems and techniques.... and not at all on story.



    My conclusin is this.

    I find it unfortunate that Disney is not exploring the creation of additional AA filled rides of the Pirates and Mansion variety. That is, long, slow rides passed richly detailed sets of exotic and fantastic themes with loads of realistic AAs that really bring the setting to life and put you IN the story. If the lesson they learned of Motion, Horizons, Spaceship Earth and The Great Movie Ride is that these rides do not work anymore, than I think they learned the wrong lesson.



    Now, in many threads I've clashed with people that want Tomorrowland to stay a "realistic glimpse of the future" rather than the sci-fi/space fantasy land it has become. Why do I think Disney is wrong about AA based E-Tickets, but right about Tomorrowland? The simple answer is, the evidence.

    Disney has built 2 AA based, fantasy themed, highly immersive, non-cartoon based attractions. Both remain very popular even after 35 years of operation. Disney has bult a dozen or more non-fiction/edutainment-y based attractions... None of them have been able to remain highly popular for more than 10 or 15 years.

    Fantasy works if the goal is to create rides that will stand the test of time. Non-fiction does not.



    I think the next ride for DCA should be a Pirates type attraction. A slow ride through richly detailed sets of fictional/fantastic scenes, united into a single immersive theme, full of AAs that bring the story to life. I think this would go a long way towards bringing balace to a park that already has thrills and shows and carni-rides and movies....

    Unfortunatly, the next ride will be a Pooh type ride themed to Monsters, and the next ride after that will be a thrill ride based on the Test Track technology, themed to Pixar's "Cars".

    What happend to balance and variety? Oh yeah, Disney thinks the audience has changed and no longer wants those things. I think Disney is wrong on this one, and Mansion and Pirates are my evidence.

  2. #2

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    Whew ... quite a read ... but I do agree with you immensely ... I believe that WDI has lost sight of the fact that people want to be immersed in something that is not only entertaining, but, GASP, immersive. Those two elements make rides like POTC and HM say around, people like them for the non thrilling entertainment.
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  3. #3

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    No longer does an AA figure have any impact on bringing guests out to a park. It is all about immersing someone into an attraction or show by using all sorts of effects, ride systems, and techniques that may make it a personal experience to them. So those are the types of attractions that are being considered for the future - at least for the U.S. parks.
    That is such an interesting statement. I mean, AA's are part of what can be the full immersion factor, especially on an attraction like Pirates. Heck, it made a significant difference in Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, and the lack of it made for a lackluster attraction for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.

    What I think is misconstrued is the fascination of advanced special effects. Yes, we're interested in how special effects work. But the AA's provide a fully dimensional connection to the story, in my opinion. I really like Soarin' Over California, but I don't feel any attachment to it. You can say that Space Mountain doesn't incorporate characters, but the designers used that figure in the queue (albeit a very small role).

    Anyway, I just thought it was a strange statement to make. :shrug:


  4. #4

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    [I'll admit to switching to skim mode half way through, so forgive me if I missed the point]...

    I agree with what's said. The problem is RARELY the technology (or lack there of) that's used. It's all about story and experience combined with technology, with story being king. All the technological wizardry in the world won't make up for a mind-numbingly dumned down edutainment story. That's no reflection on the technology. Likewise, a well crafted story is going to be lost if it's complimented by nothing but some cardboard cutouts. They can't half-*** either side of the formula.

  5. #5

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    I completely disagree with her article. I mean, AA's aren't absolutely needed to make an attraction great (see: Space Mountain), but I almost feel like that article is just a cop-out on Disney not making any great AA-based rides in a long, long time.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by NPCody
    I completely disagree with her article. I mean, AA's aren't absolutely needed to make an attraction great (see: Space Mountain), but I almost feel like that article is just a cop-out on Disney not making any great AA-based rides in a long, long time.
    To be fair, it wasn't in an article... just a response to a question in a discussion board thread.

    And I agree with her main point. AA's in and of themselves do not guarantee success.... I dislike the implication that Disney is not looking at building any AA driven rides, looking instead to effects and ride systems.

  7. #7

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    Good stuff, but I don't think the attractions at Epcot based on AA's demise was based on it not being in an fantasy setting. I believe that it was more, like you said "edutament" (or how ever you put it, edtertainment.,, maybe), they teach you stuff and you know your being taught something.

    Thats the problem, maybe they should of taught you something inadvertly. For Example: as opposed to "there are 7 planets in our solar System" they could show 7 planets rotate around the sun (bad example but you get the jist). Also they really weren't story telling, they were showing you a documentary. I mean unless you really want to know how the wheel got created, you have no need to care.

    Splash in my opinion is like a perfect ride. It has a fun story, it has tons of AA's, it has awesome music, it adds a thrill element, and its pretty much complete emersion. Maybe Disney should look to the past if they want to find a great new attraction.

    Lastly, I want a Bambi Attraction!
    Last edited by Uncle Remus; 03-07-2005 at 08:57 PM.
    (insert funny comment here)

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by dshimel

    In Post 222, Marice has this to say:

    "When AA figures were introduced to DL back in the 60's they were such a novelty that alone they attracted guests to the parks, because everyone wanted to see these new marvels in a theme park attraction."
    I don't think I buy that premise... My professional marketing opinion is that people where still coming back to DL because it was still a new park, and since ABC was marketing the heck out of the park to get a return on it's investment... The advertisements were seen be 90 million people almost every week who saw Southern California as a "place to be" even in the harsh winter of the midwest and the east coast.

    AA was an attraction because Walt used the technology in the movies because CGI haddn't been invented at the time... Today the technology is somewhat novel but only if it is placed in an entertaining context. You would not have a Tiki Room if it wasn't for the Bird in Mary Poppins...

    "Trends and moods by the theme park audience changes from time to time and Disney is trying to make sure their parks stay relevant to the times or face the same demise that the forerunners to theme parks (or amusement parks) did back in the early-to-mid 20th Century."
    "Trends and moods" are often manufacturable in the entertainment industry...

    It may be a reason why people don't see Mr. Lincoln... But it doesn't explain why ToT has an relitively empty queche line when it is supposed to appeal to those "trends and moods"

    Why don't you go back to the 5 P's of Marketing, don't you? Product, Price, Placement, Promotion, and Pinache (or Imagination)... and come back to us with a better answer...

    Because I can tell you the Product is becoming cheaper and blander.

    The Price is woopingly inflated for value...

    Placement for DL hasn't been the same since Eisner changed the theme park marketing strategy to be more attractive to members of the East Coast.

    The promotion is not the same as it was in the 60's when they had a weekly TV show promoting the park.

    And sadly Pinache... I hate to see wasted imagination...

    If you are going to focus on the film side, as Chernin pointed out recently, "Both businesses (Animation and Live Action movie studios) were absolute disasters."

    http://today.reuters.com/news/newsAr...CHERNIN-DC.XML

    I agree if you have a staff that can't seem to create a story on staff... you are going to have problems trying to create rides that are only a little better than larger retail stores... Because the point of an attraction will be to sell something like Toy Story 3...

    So does that mean I will avoid the Buzz Lightyear? Heck no, I am totally there... But in the back of my mind I am going to be suspicious... Why because is Buzz Lightyear one of the "hard facts" that keep America great as in the charge of Walt's dedication? No... IMHO Buzz Lightyear is more a testiment to the Eisner Creedo which is that the "only obligation" of the Disney Company "is to make money..."

    The only reply I have is, "Remember the Alamo!"
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  9. #9

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    Hey cellarhound,
    when you say "remember the Alamo," what do you mean? The Disney movie with the same name (which was a MAJOR disaster) or the REAL event?

  10. #10

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    I agree with Marcie's post if it means getting more great IMMERSIVE rides. Case in point: Indy.

    The Indy ride had lots of amazing new effects (how many other rides use real fire as an effect?!), only a few AA's of Indy strategically placed, and it turned out to be one of the best rides ever. It is immersive and packed full of story, and the technology isn't there for technology' sake... it's just the medium through which the story is told.

    I think if Marcie's comments mean that we'll see more Indy-caliber rides, then great!
    "I could never convince the financiers that Disneyland was feasible because dreams offer too little collateral"

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  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by E-ticket
    I think if Marcie's comments mean that we'll see more Indy-caliber rides, then great!

    Rides that only half the guests can go on??!?!

    Mr. E-Ticket, do you visit with your kids and grandparents? Indy is a great ride for a certain demographic, but is highly exclusionary. Indy is my personal favorite ride, but I didn't get to ride it for about 8 years while my kids were young... and rides like this is why my father hasn't been to the park for about a decade.

    I think there needs to be a mix of Indy-type rides for those that are tall-enough, don't mind thrills and can be shaken about violently, and Pirates-type rides that can be enjoyed by everyone from 2 year-olds to 102 year-olds.

    From all I've heard, it seems they are dividing rides into two catagories.....
    Indy/ToT/GRR or Pooh/Bugs/Dumbo.

    We get e-tickets driven by effects and ride-systems.... which tend to exclude large segments of the market....

    We get cartoon based rides with plywood sets or 3D movies or carnie rides.... which tend to exclude largesegments of the market....

    I think there is still a great need for a 3rd catagory of ride.... The Pirates/Mansion type. The slow ride past highly-detailed sets, great imaginative theme, and packed with AAs to bring the story to life.



    They're targeting the parks to families, and adding rides that people can't enjoy as a family.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by DLBakerguy
    Hey cellarhound,
    when you say "remember the Alamo," what do you mean? The Disney movie with the same name (which was a MAJOR disaster) or the REAL event?
    Ding, ding, ding... We have a winner!!! (Sorry I was being sarcastic... Sometimes it is difficult to tell on the net...)
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  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by dshimel
    I think there is still a great need for a 3rd catagory of ride.... The Pirates/Mansion type. The slow ride past highly-detailed sets, great imaginative theme, and packed with AAs to bring the story to life.
    Hear, hear!

    Though I'd prefer it even more if they just made EVERY ride something for the whole family. Wasn't that the conceit behind Disneyland originally?
    Kevin Yee
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  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by E-ticket
    I agree with Marcie's post if it means getting more great IMMERSIVE rides. Case in point: Indy.

    The Indy ride had lots of amazing new effects (how many other rides use real fire as an effect?!), only a few AA's of Indy strategically placed, and it turned out to be one of the best rides ever. It is immersive and packed full of story, and the technology isn't there for technology' sake... it's just the medium through which the story is told.

    I think if Marcie's comments mean that we'll see more Indy-caliber rides, then great!

    More emersive rides are nice... But is the point of these rides to stimulate and fullfill the imagination? The American Dream? Build a sense of American Comunity? Or is it to boost movie sales?

    My argument is that what Walt wanted to do was to use the technology employed by the film industry to stimulate imagination and build a sense of community... Look at his best rides... They Disneyland's best rides... They either are places where experiances are shared with groups of people, or they directly are an incredibly imaginative dark ride...

    The trouble is when AA is imployed for large audiances (where there is no community just a public address)... You are reacting as an individual than as a group... There is no natural performance variations which keep the show fresh and interesting. It has nothing to do with trends...

    You can see Aladdin 1,000 times each time it will be slightly differant then the last... but if you see the Tiki Room Birds it is exactly the same show, luckily what saves the Tiki Room if I remember correctly is that it is in the round so you are also reacting to the audiance and experiancing a sense of community...

    Emersion to Interesting Illusion usually is not enough... If you see something with a group of people you want to talk about it afterward... The best rides share a common experiance to talk about...

    Let me give you an example... The first time I rode the Haunted Mansion I was seven and with my Grandmother... We talked about it for years afterward how she conned me to go on the ride by asking me to protect her...

    If it was Pooh, we wouldn't have talked about it for maybe a minute of how Pooh across the wall effect was cool, and I would have left with a tee shirt... and would have gone back to repeat the "adventure" later? Probably not... Lets face it, a woozle is pretty lame when you are 10 year old boy... I liked it better when it was a wall full of talking mounted moose heads...
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  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by cellarhound
    More emersive rides are nice... But is the point of these rides to stimulate and fullfill the imagination? The American Dream? Build a sense of American Comunity? Or is it to boost movie sales?
    Don't fool yourself for an instant. The point of any expendature by DisCo is to make money... nothing more, nothing less.

    DisCo is 66% owned by investment banks and mutual funds and they change their stock holdings faster than the blink of a eye. They hold the stock ONLY if they think it is going up SOON! They demand that the CEO, through the board, has NO adenda other than increasing the stock price, and doing it NOW!


    Quote Originally Posted by cellarhound
    My argument is that what Walt wanted to do was to use the technology employed by the film industry to stimulate imagination and build a sense of community... Look at his best rides... They Disneyland's best rides... They either are places where experiances are shared with groups of people, or they directly are an incredibly imaginative dark ride...
    The point is moot. He's been dead 39 years. He no longer has a say.

    Any conversation about DisCo must be within the context of today's reality. It is owned by people that want profits, and they want them now.

    I think Disney can make money by building Pirates type rides. Not becuase that is what Walt wanted or what Walt orignially built the parks for or for some perceived higher purpose or because us nutty fans will talk ourselves blue in the face over how much we hate the current leadership .....

    I think DisCo should beuild these kinds of rides simply because I believe that people today will spend a lot of money to go to a Disney park to experience this kind of ride.

    And that is the ONLY reason the company will build anything.... making money and making it soon.

    Harsh reality, but realty none the less.

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