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  1. #1

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    Thoughts on the "Paul Pressler" Generation

    I joined MiceChat a couple of months ago, with very little idea of what the community on here was like other than that they were Disney park fans, but I came to realize quickly that I am one of the younger members on here. And more than that, I came to the realization that, because I was born during the time that Paul Pressler was CEO of Disneyland, with Michael Eisner taking control of the company and parks as a whole, there is a part of DLR that I have never experienced and never will, while many of you have. I'm not just talking about defunct rides or attractions or knowing what it was like to get into the park for $10 (still can't wrap my head around that), I'm talking about when there was no incentive to build everything based on a movie, when the park was always changing while keeping the things that worked and were loved, when perfection was always the goal and you couldn't take the easy or cheap way out if it avoided that.

    That's what I've been told what the park was like before the Pressler era, and of course I've heard all the criticism of the park's current state, of how it might no longer go back to its "glory days" when Walt or his original Imagineers had control of the goings-on. The closest I got to living the golden era (and the decline of it) was The Country Bear Jamboree; it was my favorite attraction when I was little, and while I loved Winnie the Pooh as well I never understood why he had to leave the Hundred Acre Wood and evict Henry and Liver Lips and the rest from what I thought was their home. As you can imagine, the Country Bears movie only made things worse.

    So my question for all you folks is, what exactly do you think of us kids who were born in the late 80s or 90s who never really got to live that Disneyland of yester-year? Do you think there's any hope in us experiencing a different Disneyland? Is there even a point to it - we've already grown up with and learned to love the park as it is today, and I think I still will even after reading about how even more amazing it used to be. And do you have any ideas as to how the "Pressler Generation" might react if the park suddenly (or gradually) started acting like it's old self - not going backwards in the history of the rides, because that's not what the park was meant to do, but what if, say, we went ten years without a new ride or attraction based on a pre-existing franchise? Just completely original ideas, or perhaps based on novels or fairytales but no current movies, shows, or video games made by Disney or any of its partners? Do you think they would like it? Hate it? Would they even notice the change or care about it at all?

    (For the record, I would like to see original ideas mixed with a few really thought-out, well-done rides based on a few really good movies or shows that everyone can enjoy. But then again, I figure most Disney fans born in the 90s do not research Disney history in their spare time or only vaguely know who Paul Pressler is.)

  2. #2

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    Re: Thoughts on the "Paul Pressler" Generation

    I don't think things will ever be the same again and I'm a optimist about the current Disney for the most part. But some things will never be the same, at least in terms of the use of film franchises. I do think we might see an original attraction in the future, but Iger is actually much more driven by cross branding then even Eisner and Pressler. It's really the core of what he believes is best for the company and the driving force behind almost everything he's done.

    In terms of quality of operations and service, those are not likely to ever get back to old levels either. But I think that they've already made some improvements from the worst times and still can and likely will continue to improve. Obviously this takes a financial commitment, but I actually believe that the current management team does believe in its importance much more then the past. But I doubt we'll see front line CM's being paid what they should be any time soon. But they will at least be a little better trained then they have in the recent past. It would be nice not to see CM's in costume outside the parks, perhaps they'll address this soon as Al said it's something TDA is concerned about.

    The other big thing that has moved in a positive direction is the retail but unfortunately, there's still a lot of generic crap, so it has a long way to go to compare to the past. But it seems like more unique merchandise is starting to find its way back into the parks slowly. There's also been a better effort to reduce the use of ODV by building more permanent ODV stands and improved designs for the mobile carts, which has been a nice change. Kind of a compromise that I think works well by still having more ODV in the park but making sure it fits nicely and doesn't compromise the aesthetics or take up as much space.
    The Mickey audience is not made up of people; it has no racial, national, political, religious or social differences or affiliations; the Mickey audience is made up of parts of people, of that deathless, precious, ageless, absolutely primitive remnant of something in every world-wracked human being which makes us play with children’s toys and laugh without self-consciousness at silly things, and sing in bathtubs, and dream and believe that our babies are uniquely beautiful. You know…the Mickey in us.
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  3. #3

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    Re: Thoughts on the "Paul Pressler" Generation

    I started going to the park in 84, myself (though I don't remember those trips since I was 2 or 3) regularly and did so probably until maybe '95 or '96. As a kid pretty much at that time, I don't remember 'bad times', and stopped visiting due to lack of interest throughout Jr. High and high school apart from once a year drama class trips, where we pretty much ran around and goofed off. So, in essence, I pretty much missed out on both the 'bad' Eisner years and being informed what was bad about them at the time.

    I started going again/having renewed interest basically around 2002/2003 and reading historical stuff and delving into the more design/audio tidbits/obscure facts about the park's history, so I kind of randomly circumvented the overt decline simply by coincidence even though it was the generation when I grew up encountering the park. When I went back at age 20, 21, my interest wasn't as much in riding all the rides: it was kind of in analytical mode or having some idea what all was gone and what remained in tributes, and looking around at what made the whole thing seem 'magical': the small details. It kind of was different for me because I wasn't there in terms of a casual mindset of thinking it was perfect or expecting it to be like childhood 100 percent: I respected it, but the food wasn't very good overall for example, and the generic merchandise and increasing, slow 'cartoon overtake' of areas was sad to see.

    Has the park gotten better in terms of maintenance, food quality, thematic detail, money spent on new additions? Absolutely it has since I started going again back circa 2000. It has increased measurably in that time frame and some awesome new bits right there along with some 'corporate decision'/marketing type content I am not that fond of as a whole. But, the difference is...the quality (not in general merch I might add) but in rides and newly built attractions and food offerings is finally there and spot-on, regardless of if I like the subject matter or point of every new attraction or not. People are in charge who want Disneyland to sparkle, seemingly.

    It won't be like 'the old days' of Tom Sawyer Island, the Submarine Voyage, antique stores and culinary goods in New Orleans Square, the Swiss Family Treehouse, some of the quirkier smaller elements I loved as a kid or read about/missed entirely. That ship has sailed and to think they'd reverse certain ideas about the desirable content mix is frankly unrealistic, as much as I or other 'nostalgic' fans might love it if they did. But, I daresay, the Disneyland we have is being operated at near peak quality in execution and attention to detail of the installed products by people who know they need to 'sand the underside of the drawers' out here at the original park, to use an attributed Waltism. The issue is whether or not those drawers are a vehicle for the same 5-6 brands they seek to sell instead making Disneyland itself the star as well as it's classic attractions (Haunted Mansion, the Tiki Room, the Matterhorn, the Mark Twain, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, the Disneyland Railroad, Jungle Cruise, Peter Pan's Flight, Mr. Lincoln, and many more) instead of trying to sell Princesses, Mickey's friends, Jack Sparrow, Marvel, and Star Wars products based on modern motion picture franchises. I am not one to say no after-Walt movie-based ride is of quality or worthwhile (Star Tours, Indy, Splash Mountain are all fantastic) but the point is...Disneyland the place is largely no longer a vehicle to promote itself and the adventures within as a way to escape to a fantasy realm for guests of all ages, as much as I love the park and even as many classic attractions still remain and are refreshed and cared for.

    Disneyland now can now partly be viewed as existing to basically be a immersive 'pitch' for the rest of the Disney empire (films, DVD purchases, toys) and to sell merchandise from the various media branches as much as it can, and charge a premium price both for attractions and quality ambiance which already exist and it has in spades due to 50 plus years of additions, but also, to basically get a captive audience for the very brazen placement of uninspired merchandise which either only crows on about the same modern brands in every store, or to sell items banking on nostalgia and love for the extinct Disneyland and Walt-era history for a much higher price to a niche audience of those who love the history and grew up with the park.

    In many ways, coming back to it as an adult and watching it develop out of a bad area of neglect in maintenance and indifference to 'show' has made me see Disneyland currently has dual identities: as a world-class, well funded entertainment venue with amazing themed experiences and details I love, great ambiance (which it still is), varied and tasty food offerings which only are getting better, and many delightful employees at the same time it's basically a marketing paradise and a shopping mall hawking any item they think they can sell to 'average tourist' or the hardcore fan who wants something more upscale and reminiscent of a obscure element of the park and will pay a much higher price for it. For now, the two exist equally enough for me to largely ignore the mall, though it doesn't amuse or delight me. Some attractions crop up or replace other solely because there is a modern film to tie it to, regardless of end quality or enjoyment factor for all guests or if the movie story fits a brand new attraction, is well adaptable to the theme park medium. This seems to happen more rapidly sadly, even at the same time as they make undeniably good enhancements and changes that I love. The balance can tip, and it might already be doing so. I hope the day doesn't come when even the fact of the high quality of the experience, ambiance, and detail can't hide the fact the only purpose of Disneyland is to support the sale of DVD's or to bolster theatrical grosses at the expense of attraction quality or artistic coherence/thematic design. We'll have to wait and see.
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  4. #4

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    Re: Thoughts on the "Paul Pressler" Generation

    Quote Originally Posted by mylothelostboy View Post


    So my question for all you folks is, what exactly do you think of us kids who were born in the late 80s or 90s who never really got to live that Disneyland of yester-year? Do you think there's any hope in us experiencing a different Disneyland? Is there even a point to it - we've already grown up with and learned to love the park as it is today, and I think I still will even after reading about how even more amazing it used to be. And do you have any ideas as to how the "Pressler Generation" might react if the park suddenly (or gradually) started acting like it's old self - not going backwards in the history of the rides, because that's not what the park was meant to do, but what if, say, we went ten years without a new ride or attraction based on a pre-existing franchise? Just completely original ideas, or perhaps based on novels or fairytales but no current movies, shows, or video games made by Disney or any of its partners? Do you think they would like it? Hate it? Would they even notice the change or care about it at all?
    The good thing about the PP era, is that he was let go!

    Now, getting back to your original question, you don't have the original DL to compare the new DL to. So you shouldn't be disappointed with how DL has evolved, and the same goes for your children.

    It's older posters like me who have seen the damage PP and his cronies have exacted on my beloved park, and if the 50th celebration hadn't come along, DL might have never received the money that made it come alive again!

    Just imagine walking through DL on a Tuesday and having the park all to yourself. It was heaven! But, it was decaying right in front of my eyes and with peeling paint everywhere, maintenance being put on the back burner, and that new park being built across the esplanade, DL's future looked pretty dim. If you look at the bottom of the page under "similar threads" and look for threads dated in 2005, you can read all about what we were thinking during that dreadful time.

    Enough about DL's down time, let's remember back to when DL was young. Unlike newer posters, I had only Knotts to compare DL to. Knotts was free to us and DL cost us $2 to enter, which was a big sum for a family of 5. But DL was way more inventive than Knotts, and because we had to pay to get in, DL was a "treat" for us to go! Not only did we have DL, but Walt had a TV show to promote his park and show us wonderful shows. He didn't do too bad at the theaters either! He had the whole "family" in mind with whatever he did and you could count on it being acceptable for someone as young as 2, or someone as old as 80. That time has gone, we will never see it like it was, and that's what we as older people long for. You on the other hand, have a new view of DL that isn't tainted like ours is.

    So my advice to you is to look forward and not worry about the DL of the past. Let us old folk worry about that.


    This has been a Filmways presentation dahling.

  5. #5

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    Re: Thoughts on the "Paul Pressler" Generation

    Quote Originally Posted by mylothelostboy View Post
    So my question for all you folks is, what exactly do you think of us kids who were born in the late 80s or 90s who never really got to live that Disneyland of yester-year? Do you think there's any hope in us experiencing a different Disneyland? Is there even a point to it - we've already grown up with and learned to love the park as it is today, and I think I still will even after reading about how even more amazing it used to be.
    I've said on several occasions that I wish I could just turn my brain off and enjoy it for what it is. Unfortunately, for me, that's not possible, since the things I liked most about DL were the very things that Pre$$ler liked the least.

    I don't think we'll ever see DL go back to the level of quality and sophistication it was back in the day. That DL came from a very different time, a time when people were by nature more curious about the world around them, not the little devices they held in their hands. People not only wanted to know about the world, they wanted to improve it. Now, well, they want to grab as much of it as they can before the next guy gets it.

    I'll tell you the same thing I've told other people: if you like it, G-d bless you. Enjoy it. It's your park now.

    And do you have any ideas as to how the "Pressler Generation" might react if the park suddenly (or gradually) started acting like it's old self - not going backwards in the history of the rides, because that's not what the park was meant to do, but what if, say, we went ten years without a new ride or attraction based on a pre-existing franchise? Just completely original ideas, or perhaps based on novels or fairytales but no current movies, shows, or video games made by Disney or any of its partners? Do you think they would like it? Hate it? Would they even notice the change or care about it at all?
    I think it's a question of different audiences. Walt aimed the park at one audience; Pre$$ler and his successors have aimed the park at a different one.
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  6. #6

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    Re: Thoughts on the "Paul Pressler" Generation

    An interesting question, being of a 'younger' generation to some posters on here, I grew up going to Disneyland in the 80's and 90's and was perfectly content with what I saw.

    Untill I found this website I had no idea how it was or how low it had fallen. "Ignorance is Bliss", and to be perfectly honest, sometimes I do regret finding this website from time to time, as I find myself having a more critical eye on my trips occasionaly due to having read something on here. I feel that some of the posts and discussion and conversations of this website have contributed more to my 'unenjoyment' at a particular time than anything Eisner or Pressler did, as I recall my favorite ride "Indiana Jones" was built durring that era.

    Which is why I take a break from this site from time to time to charge my wonder, "Ingnorance is Bliss" and all of that.
    There is no right or wrong in this debate. It is simply a matter of perspective.
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  7. #7

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    Re: Thoughts on the "Paul Pressler" Generation

    Quote Originally Posted by Wren View Post
    An interesting question, being of a 'younger' generation to some posters on here, I grew up going to Disneyland in the 80's and 90's and was perfectly content with what I saw.

    Untill I found this website I had no idea how it was or how low it had fallen. "Ignorance is Bliss", and to be perfectly honest, sometimes I do regret finding this website from time to time, as I find myself having a more critical eye on my trips occasionaly due to having read something on here. I feel that some of the posts and discussion and conversations of this website have contributed more to my 'unenjoyment' at a particular time than anything Eisner or Pressler did, as I recall my favorite ride "Indiana Jones" was built durring that era.

    Which is why I take a break from this site from time to time to charge my wonder, "Ingnorance is Bliss" and all of that.
    YES! Totally agreed.

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    Re: Thoughts on the "Paul Pressler" Generation

    To be honest, I think merchandise was actually better under Pressler. That was about the only thing.

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    Re: Thoughts on the "Paul Pressler" Generation

    I'm kind of envious. If you didn't witness the decline, you probably never worry that it's going to happen again. Once a person's faith or trust in an institution is shaken, it's hard to get it back again. Every time something new is announced, I don't get too excited about it like I did as a kid, because I want to spare myself any disappointment if it doesn't live up to its promise.

    Also - young people today seem to deal a lot better with things being temporary than my generation does. We grew up expecting that certain things would always be there, (well, retirement and pensions, for one!) and it's a little harder for us to deal with when we lose them.

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    Re: Thoughts on the "Paul Pressler" Generation

    Good old Eisner! "Disneyland is where we bring our movies to life" I believe is the quote. Well, I don't think we will see a different Disneyland. Corporations are just different now. There's more synergy not only with Disney but with every other company. There will be a beurocratcy behind Disneyland because that's the norm. Budget constraints and statistics are what drive Disney now. Disney thinks the public knows what they want, and so they give it to them. The problem with that is that the public doesn't really know what they want. Walt had a pretty good idea what the public wanted. Back then, if an attraction didn't work it was taken right out. (Most of early tomorrowland, the flying saucers, holidayland.) I don't see alot of that today. Today if an attraction doesn't work, it just sits there until they think of something better. It took them seven years to finally say "ok DCA was a mistake, lets fix it." Also, we will be seeing alot more movie tie-ins because Iger wants them. He is obsessed with franchises. That's why he wanted advatarland. Because he sees that this is a successful movie and wants to get in on the money. Well, I'll get off my soap box now.

  11. #11

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    Re: Thoughts on the "Paul Pressler" Generation

    Pressler? What's wrong with having the head of the world's major amusement park tourist destination being run by a guy who sells pants?

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    Re: Thoughts on the "Paul Pressler" Generation

    "Disneyland is where we bring our movies to life" - was he saying his movies were dead? ... For "today's generation" interested in what the "old Disneyland" was like, I would suggest just trying to fashion a new type of experience, combining the best features of the "classic Disneyland" that still remain in the park, with the best of the new features that have been added in recent years. Visit the spots that you have seen pictures of Walt at, and just soak in the history of the place. There's the constant argument presented here on this site, "Disneyland is not a museum!" bla bla bla. But it is an historic site now. On our last visit there I stood alone on the drawbridge to Sleeping Beauty Castle, and for about one minute I had the bridge to myself. I stood there thinking, "Wow, this is where it all happened.... 500 million people have walked over this bridge, including Walt himself many times... but for this moment I have it to myself." It was a neat feeling to revisit the spots that were important in my childhood. Some were heartbreaking, such as seeing the broken-down Mine Train car parked across the river, some were depressing, such as the once vibrant, exciting, glamorous Tomorrowland being reduced to a junkyard, but many were reassuring, as they have maintained many of the old features of the park in top condition. To today's generation I would say, try to re-create the "classic Disneyland" experience on your own, but also mixing in the best of the recent additions for a combination experience we never had in the "old days."

  13. #13

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    Re: Thoughts on the "Paul Pressler" Generation

    Well said, Bob.

    And I think that Mylo has his finger firmly planted on the pulse of what Disneyland is about and what it was meant to be about for Walt.

    The insightful questions you ask, Mylo, are at the crux of many discussions here. Will be interested to hear more of your own thoughts about the subjects at hand.

    I think what it boils down to is everyone has to make up their own mind about how they see Disneyland and where they see the future of Disneyland.

    In the meantime, none of us will ever (unfortunately) know what the Disneyland from the previous generation was totally like.

    But it sounds like the Disneyland of today is a very special place to you. So go with it. Continue to make it a special place when you visit. I can't help but believe (based on how you communicate) that you probably appreciate those areas of the park that Walt and his Imagineers had a hand in too. So like Bob says, spending time in those places will keep the park, as seen through Walt's eyes, alive for you.

    And based on your questions it sounds like you're very much in touch with what Walt's vision was. And you appreciate that and would like to know more about it through those who did experience the park of different decades.

    For me, I think the Tomorrowland that was conceived in the late 50s through the 60s was just great. Movies not emphasized; it was about exploring your imagination through science. The Rocket Jets were passive thrills, yes, but that was about it. Mission to Mars and Adventures Through Inner Space were awesome. And I think Walt would have loved them.

    Now I know people have problems with the "what would Walt do?" approach, but I can't help it. Nor do I apologize for it. It was his park, it has his name on it, and it was a very special and unique place he built. Something the world had never seen before.

    So much so that when, nowadays, the park strays from that vision, it becomes immediately evident.

    And then it becomes debated.

    And then some old Disney purist like me who remembers the park from the late 60s questions it and gets labeled as wanting to make the park a "museum," etc.

    I don't see it that way though. Even Walt knew change was inevitable and that it should happen. But IMO change should remain within the context of his vision. Because when it doesn't, that's when we see it most blatantly. And that's very telling for me.

    I will always love the park. But I do think that a lot of that will have to do with that connection I feel to Walt's original meaning behind the park. Does that mean I will hate everything they do from here on out? Absolutely not. I frequently see attention to detail, and ideas that are very Walt-like. I feel it when I'm on "Soaring." Or "The Little Mermaid." Heck, had they named the new area something generic like "Route 66" instead of Carsland, and then only given the nod to the movie in one attraction, I'd probably feel a bit of it there too.

    But again, the lens through which I see the park will always be somewhat Walt-centered.

    Because Disneyland is just special, and it embodied a very special vision and created a very special experience for all of us....whatever that experience was. For me it was visiting the park through the 60s and 70s as a guest, and then working there as a CM through the early to late 80s.

    Just make it your own and enjoy it. But never forget that it all "started with a mouse." And a creative genius behind that mouse.

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    Re: Thoughts on the "Paul Pressler" Generation

    Quote Originally Posted by CASurfer65 View Post
    But it sounds like the Disneyland of today is a very special place to you. So go with it. Continue to make it a special place when you visit.
    Great advice. It's much more productive to go and enjoy what's there, perhaps discovering some new favorites in the process.

    My Disneyland memories begin around 1970 and I experienced the 70s expansion -- Country Bear Jamboree, America Sings, Mission to Mars, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad -- none of which were based on movies, Disney or otherwise. That was great, though there's stuff from the 1960s that I feel like I missed out on, like the Flying Saucers and the Monsanto House of the Future. Heck, there are things that were there when I was visiting that I completely skipped over at the time and now regret missing, like Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland and Skull Rock (how many times did I walk through Fantasyland and not stop to look at it?) and only watching the Electrical Parade once. Luckily there are other attractions I never paid much attention to, like Mark Twain and the Haunted Mansion, that still exist and were just waiting for me to catch up to them since I have a somewhat different idea of "fun" than I did before, I suppose.

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    Re: Thoughts on the "Paul Pressler" Generation

    Quote Originally Posted by 999happyhants View Post
    Good old Eisner! "Disneyland is where we bring our movies to life" I believe is the quote.
    Yup. His actual words from his video interview were "Disneyland is all about turning Movies into Rides." A direct ripoff of Universal's "Ride the Movies."

    This is the same guy who made Paul Pressler president of Disneyland based on Pressler's success as a mall retailer. The same guy who mentored Bob Iger, Tom Staggs and numerous other top executives who currently run the Disney Corporation.

    Eisner's gone -- in body. In spirit, not so much. Which is why you see Disneyland increasingly becoming a marketing platform for movie brands.
    Last edited by Mr Wiggins; 05-25-2012 at 07:10 PM.
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