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  1. #1

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

    For the purposes of this thread, "original" means "not directly based on a movie." (Acknowledged: Nothing is 100% original, no art was created in a vacuum, everything was inspired by something, nothing new under the sun, etc.)


    So if you've been on MiceChat for 10 seconds, you already know that there is an ongoing debate between those who want more original attractions and those who say that they're no longer a viable option. Various reasons are often given for the latter, such as: the public wants/demands movie-based attractions, people expect to see pre-existing "Disney" material when they come to a Disney park, they're easier to market, that worked in the 50's and 60's, but it's 2013, etc. (Feel free to add any I've missed).

    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?

    Granted, many popular content producers in all mediums are running screaming from originality for the relative safety of well-established franchises. Pixar, for example, is producing more sequels than ever before. I'm sure some people are against that, and other people think it's fine. But I don't see anyone saying Pixar should never produce an original movie ever again. So why don't the creatives at Imagineering get the same opportunity to create something from scratch...out of the clear BLUE SKY, if you will. What is it about movies, TV shows, books, etc. that are able to introduce people to new franchises, stories, characters and experiences, while the theme park is only fit to adapt them? (and by "them" I mean almost entirely popular recent movies).

    I want to make it clear that I don't think there's anything wrong with something being adapted from a movie, in a theme park or any other medium. I just don't get why it should be exclusively that with the parks, and not elsewhere.

    Especially when attractions like The Enchanted Tiki Room, "it's a small world", Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion and Space Mountain (to name a few) are just as iconically Disney as any movie they've ever produced (and much more iconic than many movies they produced). Some inspired soundtrack albums of their own and their songs are included on Best of Disney compilation albums. Some were adapted into children's picture books and in some cases movies of their own.

    In fact, even with some older adapted attractions, the theme park versions became more iconic than the movies that inspired them. I guarentee more kids know Splash Mountain than Song of the South. And that's why we still have the Brer characters walking around the park.

    And by the way, the "Sleeping Beauty Castle" that acted as the icon of the entire company for decades, is the one from Disneyland. The castle that appears in the movie is King Stefan's Castle (it's implied that Sleeping Beauty Castle in on the blueprints presented by King Hubert, though they're never shown).
    "Happy Working Song" parody for DCA remodel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-TYESfNTP8&feature=plcp

    Retro Rant Review of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame II" (comedy review of direct-to-video
    Disney sequel):
    Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/user/animagus.../1/q1j7FU8QXu0
    Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/user/animagus.../0/sasNTMDRBLU

    Retro Rant Review of "Home on the Range" (comedy review of Disney movie):
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    Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoUie...feature=relmfu
    Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3Vea...feature=relmfu


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  2. #2

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

    It's simple - you have an attraction and or land based on a popular franchise/movie, it draws folks in. They buy a ticket, spend money in the park on food, merchandise and travel accommodations.

    More people are bound to buy a ticket to a theme park based on what's there that caters to them.

  3. #3

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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
    It's simple - you have an attraction and or land based on a popular franchise/movie, it draws folks in. They buy a ticket, spend money in the park on food, merchandise and travel accommodations.

    More people are bound to buy a ticket to a theme park based on what's there that caters to them.
    Yup. This.

    And it's important to remember that for all that we lament the film-franchise attractions now, there was film, TV and sponsorship theming, as well as attempts to pique the public's notice with popular themes, when the park opened.

    What were the three main lands open when Disneyland opened its doors? Fantasyland (all based on Disney movie properties), Frontierland and Tomorrowland. What were the two huge television/film themes in the 1950s and 1960s? Space and the Wild West. People were fascinated in those things outside of Disneyland (and the space race was a huge deal outside of films and TV) so when they went to Disneyland it was catering to their interests. In the 50s Disney also had the Davy Crockett and Texas episodes on their TV show happening, which went into the Wild West theme of Frontierland. The Mike Fink Keelboats were directly based on the Davy Crockett TV show.

  4. #4

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

    Because it's not just about making a profit. It's now about making the absolute most money that can possibly be made in the shortest amount of time.

  5. #5

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

    Because when you spend 1.2 billion dollars, you better know for sure that it's going to turn a profit.

    Movies and television are able to cater to millions of people at a single moment. Books can be produced, reproduced, edited, digitized, etc., within minutes and cost relatively little to publish. The parks have a capacity of 150,000 per day (or less?). Gambling with attractions is incredibly risky, because it costs months of labor, space (a premium at DLR), and millions of dollars.

  6. #6

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

    Safety. Disney does not take risks anymore with attractions in the US parks. Look at the fantastic ride through video of Mystic Manor in HK, the great and immersive attractions at Disneysea in Tokyo and tell me it can't be done here in the US.
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  7. #7

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

    Quote Originally Posted by ohmyjustin View Post
    Because when you spend 1.2 billion dollars, you better know for sure that it's going to turn a profit.
    Pretty much this. When you have to answer to shareholders for capital expenditures, you start thinking more about what is the safe bet.

  8. #8

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

    Because Disney destroyed their own reputation. There is no longer a trust built into names like Disneyland and Walt Disney World that signify new, exciting and sophisticated entertainment offerings. This is compounded by a management that rose to prominence through the Strategic Planning Unit, a group obcessed with exploiting a few franchises to their maximum extent. This attitude is also shown in Walt Disney Pictures' tent pole strategy of only releasing films that are part of a franchise or expected to generate a new franchise (also why Pixar was pressured into the sequel business).

  9. #9

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Disneymike View Post
    Safety. Disney does not take risks anymore with attractions in the US parks.
    They never really did.


    Look at the fantastic ride through video of Mystic Manor in HK, the great and immersive attractions at Disneysea in Tokyo and tell me it can't be done here in the US.
    US guests aren't willing to pay the higher price of admission those types of attractions would demand.

  10. #10

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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
    US guests aren't willing to pay the higher price of admission those types of attractions would demand.
    Says who? An American audience would absolutely embrace an attraction like Mystic Manor.

  11. #11

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

    It is to make an emotional connection to an attraction beyond just the physical experience. If you can link a positive emotional memory to a product, you then have brand loyalty and develop the desire to return to experience that positive reaction again beyond..."Hey, that was a fun ride".

  12. #12

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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
    I want to make it clear that I don't think there's anything wrong with something being adapted from a movie, in a theme park or any other medium. I just don't get why it should be exclusively that with the parks, and not elsewhere.

    Especially when attractions like The Enchanted Tiki Room, "it's a small world", Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion and Space Mountain (to name a few) are just as iconically Disney as any movie they've ever produced (and much more iconic than many movies they produced). Some inspired soundtrack albums of their own and their songs are included on Best of Disney compilation albums. Some were adapted into children's picture books and in some cases movies of their own.

    In fact, even with some older adapted attractions, the theme park versions became more iconic than the movies that inspired them. I guarentee more kids know Splash Mountain than Song of the South. And that's why we still have the Brer characters walking around the park.

    And by the way, the "Sleeping Beauty Castle" that acted as the icon of the entire company for decades, is the one from Disneyland. The castle that appears in the movie is King Stefan's Castle (it's implied that Sleeping Beauty Castle in on the blueprints presented by King Hubert, though they're never shown).
    This is actually something that I have been tossing around in my head for quite a long time that I wanted to bring up as a topic.

    Growing up as a kid in So Cal one of the things I always noticed was how everything - and I do mean everything - at Universal was based on one of their movies, while at Disneyland many of their rides had absolutely nothing to do with their movies. It amazed me that Disney was able to create movies and at the same time create a medium that told a told a story that did not rely on movies at all. It is almost as if they came up with an original story to tell and instead of making a movie about it, they decided to make a ride to do the same thing.

    To me, this is what separated Disney from all the other theme parks -- that they were able to create new experiences and new bona fide Disney characters from their rides alone. The hitch-hiking ghosts are just as much Disney characters as Mickey Mouse or Mary Poppins. The same goes for the Tiki Room birds, the pirates, or the children from iasw.

    Things sadly have changed now. Disney has built an original ride in Hong Kong, so there is hope. Hopefully they will bring something like Mystic Manor here some day.

  13. #13

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

    Quote Originally Posted by disneylandfan95 View Post
    Says who? An American audience would absolutely embrace an attraction like Mystic Manor.
    Says every person who complains on here when the AP prices go up. And those folks are fans... which means they have a more favorable opinion than regular guests.

    The number one complaint about the place is still that it is too expensive, and that is with 40 year old attractions.

  14. #14

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

    Quote Originally Posted by sbk1234 View Post
    Because it's not just about making a profit. It's now about making the absolute most money that can possibly be made in the shortest amount of time.
    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.


    Quote Originally Posted by lazyboy97O View Post
    Because Disney destroyed their own reputation. There is no longer a trust built into names like Disneyland and Walt Disney World that signify new, exciting and sophisticated entertainment offerings. This is compounded by a management that rose to prominence through the Strategic Planning Unit, a group obcessed with exploiting a few franchises to their maximum extent. This attitude is also shown in Walt Disney Pictures' tent pole strategy of only releasing films that are part of a franchise or expected to generate a new franchise (also why Pixar was pressured into the sequel business).
    Exactly.
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  15. #15

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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
    Says every person who complains on here when the AP prices go up. And those folks are fans... which means they have a more favorable opinion than regular guests.

    The number one complaint about the place is still that it is too expensive, and that is with 40 year old attractions.
    I have never seen a single person demand more franchise-based attractions when prices go up. That's ridiculous.

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