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  1. #31

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    Re: What is it about theme parks that supposedly makes originality not an option?

    Quote Originally Posted by explodingboy View Post
    I To my knowledge, I never heard anyone complain about the attractions at DCA being original. I heard people complaining that everything was off the shelf, seemed rushed, and didn't have that "Disney" feel to it. Which to be fair, I agree with.
    Agreed! Well put.

  2. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by lazyboy97O View Post
    I was speaking in terms of single day admission, but you are right that there has been a switch in focus to high frequency repeat visits. But either way, your theory of costs being too much is tossed out in the high cost of franchise attractions, including the most expensive single attraction, Radiator Springs Racers.
    It isn't just about construction costs. They felt justified in spending more money on Cars land because as a franchise attraction, its success was mostly garaunteed. If they had made Racers a non-franchise attraction, the development cost (new story, new characters, new music) and marketing costs (trying to convince people what it is) would have increased and the ROI would have been less. All of those things equal a more costly attraction. The operating costs wouldn't change though, so to make up the shortfall they would need to raise prices.


    There is no appreciable difference in the costs of original versus franchise attractions. Franchise based attractions are simply easier for everybody involved.

    They made for an easy scapegoat. The lack of "Disney" is also something easy to quantify and measure in surveys.
    When you look at what Iger was saying about the lack of Disney in DCA, its clear that he meant lack of Disney Brands. The expansion of DCA was really just focused on adding more characters and franchises., think of all the money they spent on putting Mickey's face on the Sun Wheel and how that makes it a beloved attraction now. Somehow this is how it all works now.

  3. #33

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    Re: What is it about theme parks that supposedly makes originality not an option?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Wiggins View Post
    This. And really, making the most money in the shortest time is all they're about. Disney Corp has been making max-profit/short-term theme park decisions for so long that they no longer have the ability (much less the desire) to create anything original of any consequence. From their beancounter-heavy executive suite to their revolving-door shuffle of theme park presidents, they are structured top to bottom as a marketing machine, the mission of which is, as Eisner mandated, to "turn movies into rides" -- and nothing else.

    That makes me sad. I feel like this turns it into a competition- can I get "my money's worth" out of them before they suck my wallet dry?


    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Wiggins View Post
    Better yet for the beancounters, they don't have to hire, train and maintain a staff of latter-day John Henches, Claude Coatses, Mark Davises and Ken Andersons. Decades of filmmaking experience and deep theme park thinking is no longer required; a vision for Disney theme parks as a separate, innovative medium is no longer wanted. Just the ability to make ride-thru copies of the movies that the suits tell you to make.

    I don't understand the pull of sequels and franchises. If it's just retelling the movie, it's boring. I've seen the movie. Give me something new that I haven't seen. Give me an experience. Give me an immersive environment.


    Quote Originally Posted by MrLiver View Post
    When you look at what Iger was saying about the lack of Disney in DCA, its clear that he meant lack of Disney Brands. The expansion of DCA was really just focused on adding more characters and franchises., think of all the money they spent on putting Mickey's face on the Sun Wheel and how that makes it a beloved attraction now. Somehow this is how it all works now.

    Is *that* why they did it? Huh. As a guest, it made no difference to me. I still love the Wheel and it still terrifies my friends. But whether it has a sun on it or has Mickey is entirely irrelevant.
    I pledge allegiance to the Earth, one planet, many gods, and to the universe in which she spins.

  4. #34

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    Re: What is it about theme parks that supposedly makes originality not an option?

    Quote Originally Posted by MrLiver View Post
    It isn't just about construction costs. They felt justified in spending more money on Cars land because as a franchise attraction, its success was mostly garaunteed. If they had made Racers a non-franchise attraction, the development cost (new story, new characters, new music) and marketing costs (trying to convince people what it is) would have increased and the ROI would have been less. All of those things equal a more costly attraction. The operating costs wouldn't change though, so to make up the shortfall they would need to raise prices.
    Part of what makes a theme park attraction work is succinctness and recontextualization. I think Splash Mountain is the best example of these characteristics at play as the attraction was conceived in a world where Song of the South was a known film and remains celebrated in a world where the film is widely forgotten. Everything you need to know about the characters and story is presented in the attraction. The same very much applies to Radiator Springs Racers. Nothing from Cars 2 seems to be at present, and there is nothing in the attraction that relates to Lightning McQueen's story presented in Cars. Everything you need to know is told to you. Seeing the film is unimportant to the attraction and the land because what is important is not Lighting McQueen and the lessons he learns or Mater's wild adventures, but the homage to Route 66. The excess of story development is simply not necessary and in this medium is often superfluous nonsense that dictates an experience that should exploit the medium's ability to actively engage, allowing for an open ended story.

    The issues of cost would be better managed by address their true source, the cultural and organizational problems at Walt Disney Imagineering. There is no need for complex and convoluted stories to be developed in support of a basic idea such as "pirates" or "ghosts" or "racing." There is also no need for the bloated organizational system that operates Walt Disney Imagineering, with decisions on decisions on decisions on decisions all being made by layers upon layers of people. Even with franchises, Universal Creative delivers Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey for less than The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure.

    Quote Originally Posted by MrLiver View Post
    When you look at what Iger was saying about the lack of Disney in DCA, its clear that he meant lack of Disney Brands. The expansion of DCA was really just focused on adding more characters and franchises., think of all the money they spent on putting Mickey's face on the Sun Wheel and how that makes it a beloved attraction now. Somehow this is how it all works now.
    This is Iger's strategy for everything related to the Disney name.

    Quote Originally Posted by alphabassetgrrl View Post
    I don't understand the pull of sequels and franchises. If it's just retelling the movie, it's boring. I've seen the movie. Give me something new that I haven't seen. Give me an experience. Give me an immersive environment.
    This gets to what I was saying about semiotics. People say they want another Film X, but they do not actually want Film X again, they want those qualities of storytelling and filmmaking that make Film X special. This is why so many sequels aren't as good, because they're just trying to "top pigs with pigs" instead of understanding why pigs became special in the first place.

  5. #35

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    Re: What is it about theme parks that supposedly makes originality not an option?

    Quote Originally Posted by lazyboy97O View Post
    This ignores the semiotics of language. Despite our feel good culture, we are not all very creative and imaginative. Referencing existing works is a means of communication that turns the known into a symbol. The known is also, well, known. It is quantifiable and tangible. Comparing to the unknown is not a proper comparison. The wider public is always going to choose the known because they are simply not capable of imagining what else could be that unknown; if they could we'd all be Imagineers.
    Structural semiotics (e.g., that of Barthes) still recognizes the creative potential of language, along its syntagmatic (temporal) axis. And, while some forms of poststructural semiotics make too much of the iterative (non-original) quality of signification along its syntagmatic axis, post-structural theories of language/culture as a whole have not. Which is to say that I think you underestimate the power of the crowd to produce or to recognize something original

  6. #36

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    Re: What is it about theme parks that supposedly makes originality not an option?

    I don't think originality is dead, look at some original rides in the last few years:

    Soarin'
    Grizzly River Run
    Expedition Everest
    Mystic Manor
    Grizzly Peak Minetrain

    So originality is alive and well; it just seems though the movie tie in rides are given better marketing and more fame.

  7. #37

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    Re: What is it about theme parks that supposedly makes originality not an option?

    Quote Originally Posted by xboxtravis7992 View Post
    I don't think originality is dead, look at some original rides in the last few years:

    Soarin'
    Grizzly River Run
    Expedition Everest
    Mystic Manor
    Grizzly Peak Minetrain

    So originality is alive and well; it just seems though the movie tie in rides are given better marketing and more fame.
    Soarin' and Grizzly River Rapids are from 2001, pre-Iger. Expedition Everest was also approved and under construction when Iger became CEO. Mystic Manor and Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars were demanded by the Government of Hong Kong after Disney scaled back the initial build out of the park.

  8. #38

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    Re: What is it about theme parks that supposedly makes originality not an option?

    I used to completely agree with most people on here that said that Disney was just playing it safe and trying to maximize profit, and while I'm sure that there is a lot of truth to that, I was very surprised a few years ago to discover that there actually is a consumer demand for movie-based attractions as well. And I'm not just talking about Harry Potter or Star Wars.

    I was at Walt Disney World a few years ago on a work trip, and I went with a group of co-workers to a couple of parks in the evening after all of our conferences were over. Most of my co-workers had never been to a Disney park before, and after going on Mission Space, Test Track, and Dinosaur, and Tower, we were waiting in line for Rockin Roller Coaster. One of my co-workers made the comment when we saw the pre-show that he was sick of always having to watch a movie before they went on the ride, and most of the other people agreed with him. I didn't say anything at the time, but I realized that it is much easier for Disney to tell a story through a ride (which is what Walt intended all along) if they use a known franchise like Indy or Star Wars then to have something completely original, where they have to explain so much of the backstory before you can go on the ride. I don't know if that's different then the average Disneyland guest in 1955 or if it's just that a ride like Indy becomes so much more immersive when everyone in line has already seen an Indiana Jones movie then a ride like Dinosaur, which is the same exact ride, but you have to watch a bit of a convoluted pre-show that tries to explain that you're going back in time to do some observational study of the period, but now a rogue scientist has hijacked your time rover and now you're actually going back in time to the moment before the asteroid hit in order to kidnap a dinosaur and bring him back to the present.

    So I think there are a couple of things going on. One is the desire to tell a story, and it's just easier when you have a ride based off of a movie that almost everyone is familiar with. The other is that people are passionate about certain movie franchises, and want to experience that world for themselves (just ask Universal), and want Disney to be the one to recreate that world. I'm not sure how big that group is, but I certainly see an awful lot of people asking for a Star Wars or Marvel land at a Disney park. On top of all of that, it's an easier sell to the board of directors to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a new attraction that is based off of a proven movie franchise then it is to come up with a completely brand new attraction. Imagine trying to sell Test Track vs. Racers. They're more or less the same ride, but without GM sponsoring Test Track it might not have ever been built. Racers though is less of a gamble and it was built despite not having corporate sponsorship. Imagineers are more likely to get a bigger budget on an attraction based off of a popular movie since it is less of a gamble, and they're able to do a lot more.

    Bottom line is that it's easier on everyone and more likely to actually get done and get done right when it's based off of a movie then when it's an unknown story. That's not to say we'll never see an original attraction again, but they will be fewer and further between.
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  9. #39

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    Re: What is it about theme parks that supposedly makes originality not an option?

    Quote Originally Posted by Big D View Post
    One of my co-workers made the comment when we saw the pre-show that he was sick of always having to watch a movie before they went on the ride, and most of the other people agreed with him. I didn't say anything at the time, but I realized that it is much easier for Disney to tell a story through a ride (which is what Walt intended all along) if they use a known franchise like Indy or Star Wars then to have something completely original, where they have to explain so much of the backstory before you can go on the ride. I don't know if that's different then the average Disneyland guest in 1955 or if it's just that a ride like Indy becomes so much more immersive when everyone in line has already seen an Indiana Jones movie then a ride like Dinosaur, which is the same exact ride, but you have to watch a bit of a convoluted pre-show that tries to explain that you're going back in time to do some observational study of the period, but now a rogue scientist has hijacked your time rover and now you're actually going back in time to the moment before the asteroid hit in order to kidnap a dinosaur and bring him back to the present.
    I think this gets into the whole notion of the "Myth of Story" and how attractions simply are not the medium for telling complex narratives. Does any of the Indiana Jones Adventure really depend on anything we learn about Dr. Jones in the films? There's nothing to do with Nazis and despite also taking place in India it has nothing to do with the Thuggees. Does Star Tours have anything to do with the fall and redemption of Anakin Skywalker? Or simultaneous fall and revival of the Republic? Those attractions work without a complicated preshow you must follow not because of their intellectual property, but because they are good uses of the medium. None of the WED era original attractions have these sort of preshows explaining what is happening because the attractions are self explanatory.

    Quote Originally Posted by Big D View Post
    So I think there are a couple of things going on. One is the desire to tell a story, and it's just easier when you have a ride based off of a movie that almost everyone is familiar with. The other is that people are passionate about certain movie franchises, and want to experience that world for themselves (just ask Universal), and want Disney to be the one to recreate that world. I'm not sure how big that group is, but I certainly see an awful lot of people asking for a Star Wars or Marvel land at a Disney park. On top of all of that, it's an easier sell to the board of directors to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a new attraction that is based off of a proven movie franchise then it is to come up with a completely brand new attraction.
    I don't think anybody doubts that films can be the genesis for amazing themed experiences. The issue however is Disney's methodology of choice and placement. These decisions are not being made based on which films have worlds worth exploring, but which films have the greatest sales. They are then placed based less on story and more on the performance of what exists. Compare this to Fantasyland which, excepting Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, features attractions based on films that tend to run the gamut from box office duds to box office mediocrity.

    Quote Originally Posted by Big D View Post
    Imagine trying to sell Test Track vs. Racers. They're more or less the same ride, but without GM sponsoring Test Track it might not have ever been built. Racers though is less of a gamble and it was built despite not having corporate sponsorship. Imagineers are more likely to get a bigger budget on an attraction based off of a popular movie since it is less of a gamble, and they're able to do a lot more.
    First, Test Track is not "more or less the same" as Radiator Springs Racer. Yes, one has a newer version of the other's ride system, but that is like saying Pirates of the Caribbean is more or less "it's a small world."

    Second, there is no guarantee that a franchise attraction will work. Even the expensive The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure has been met with a tepid response. This is not to mention lousy franchise attractions like Stitch's Great Escape. An attraction, like a film, needs heart to get anywhere.

    Quote Originally Posted by Big D View Post
    Bottom line is that it's easier on everyone and more likely to actually get done and get done right when it's based off of a movie then when it's an unknown story. That's not to say we'll never see an original attraction again, but they will be fewer and further between.
    Doing what is easiest is not how creativity thrives. It'll just mean Disney will have to keep spending billions to acquire more and more properties to exploit.

  10. #40

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    Re: What is it about theme parks that supposedly makes originality not an option?

    Big D, you make some very good points. However, I think it's a matter of they used to be much better at selecting more iconic non-franchise subject matter that didn't need an explaination. POTC didn't need Jack Sparrow or any explanation because most people understood what pirates were. Haunted Mansion -most people understood a haunted house. Jungle Cruise - most people understood a jungle. Small World - most people got the idea of children singing about peace. Big Thunder - most people understood at least something about the gold mining history of the west. I think that if a long explanation of the ride is required first, then they've executed it badly. It's not just that they need MIckey and Goofy so people will understand.

  11. #41

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    Re: What is it about theme parks that supposedly makes originality not an option?

    Quote Originally Posted by animagusurreal View Post
    What I'm wondering is why these reasons are thought to pertain to this medium of entertainment, specifically. What is it about the theme park that makes it different that all other mediums when it comes to original content?
    It's not the theme parks. It's the people running them. The people running them have a short-term mentality. When their next paychack comes. When/if/how big the next bonus check/stock options will be.
    Contrast that with someone like Walt Disney, who built a theme park showcasing both his prior creations and new stuff, for the purpose of its existing as long as possible, not merely long enough to get the right ROI.
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  12. #42

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    Re: What is it about theme parks that supposedly makes originality not an option?

    What is it about Photography that keeps everyone with a camera from doing anything that hadn't been done with paint?
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  13. #43

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    Re: What is it about theme parks that supposedly makes originality not an option?

    Quote Originally Posted by IzzyInWonderland View Post
    I might be going out on a limb here, but I think partially it could do a lot with geographic location of more original attractions. For example Tokyo, which seems to have a lot of original attractions and has a great reception to those particular attractions. They did a Tower of Terror based on an original storyline. We have a Tower of Terror based on a TV show. The reason some of the older attractions have survived so well is because they are original and classic. They are still remembered by the people who experienced them in their hey day and have been passed on like heirlooms possibly for generations to come. Sadly I think America expects a certain, shallow level of recognition these days within rides and attractions. If they don't recognize it from somewhere, it will fail. That's the level we're on now.
    I think this is a huge part of it. The franchise-based attractions are all about marketing. It's a much easier sell to just slap Lightning McQueen on a road sign and say "ride Cars at DCA" then it is to explain why an original attraction is so amazing, what's it's about, etc.. The downside of it is that while perhaps more effective at encouraging people into the gate, the long-term appeal and sense of "you can only see this here" that keeps people coming back (vs. watching the Little Mermaid on DVD at home) is greatly reduced.

    I think Walt Disney knew best. In the end, people don't really know what they want until they have it (didn't Steve Jobs say something similar?). No one knew they wanted a Pirates of the Caribbean; if anything, the poor performance of pirate-based movies would suggest they didn't want one. And yet through its creativity, narrative power and world-class execution, it's become one of the most iconic rides of all time.

    Same for Mystic Manor. There really wasn't much buzz about it at all stateside among those not actively watching HKDL projects. There's probably much more discussion now about whether a Marvel land will be coming to HKDL than there ever was about Mystic Manor. But now that it's open and people can see what an original 21st-century dark ride looks like, people are acting like it's the greatest thing ever (and it really is pretty great). A designer can't go by what people already know they want, or innovation would never happen. Disney needs to learn that again with their theme park rides.


  14. #44

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    Re: What is it about theme parks that supposedly makes originality not an option?

    Quote Originally Posted by lazyboy97O View Post
    Doing what is easiest is not how creativity thrives.
    Quote Originally Posted by MarkTwain View Post
    A designer can't go by what people already know they want, or innovation would never happen.
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  15. #45

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    Re: What is it about theme parks that supposedly makes originality not an option?

    Hmm that Mystic Manor in China seems a pretty original ride that WED made.

    I guess they aren't completely out of ideas yet

    Though I suppose the ride system and 'haunted mansion' type ride could be argued as 'not original'.

    Depends on your definition of 'originality'
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