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  1. #1

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    Question How Long Do You Think It Will Take to Recover from the Mismanagement of the Mid-90's?

    I was doing some late night internet browsing, and I read a very brief entry doing a basic overview of the mismanagement of Disneyland and soon-to-be Disneyland Resort with the inclusion of California Adventure Cynthia Harriss and Paul Pressler from the mid-90's to early 2000's. It was a short run but the consequences could be felt years later. In my half awake/half asleep mind, I began to think back to both posts I have seen on the forum as well as personal memories from my visits to the park. While that era is behind us and the new management has taken some big strides forwards, the past is still lingering in the present.

    For example, we all know when California Adventure was made, it was made as cheap as possible and was a very dull partner to coincide with the original Disneyland Park. In the years after its opening, especially when the new management was in place, DCA has seen major strides in a bight direction. It saw the new brilliantly themed lands of Buena Vista Street and Carsland, the re imagining of theming with Grizzly River Run's old theme of extreme sports to a 50's national park theme, and even the inclusion of some much needed dark rides (While not astounding, still much needed in a park like DCA.) They also started fixing and cleaning up rides, making them look presentable again. They even redesigned some rides to still retain their original premise but look fresh and crisp for a new generation (Haunted Mansion and Space Mountain are two rides that come to mind.)

    However, while the new management is taking two steps forward, the old management still remains taking things a step back. There are many attractions that will never see the light of day, and some attractions surfaced that should never of even seen the light of day, quite frankly. Park maintenance is also still an issue in some areas. Some walkways need repair, and some repairs look downright ugly (Main Street USA's street. I mean, look at it! That is if memory serves me correctly.) While a lot of buildings are being repainted, there are still many areas that scream for a dire repaint from either fading, chipping, or peeling. And some animatronics just seem to be constantly broken or turned off that whenever you pass by them, you start to bet in your mind the odd of it being broken/off. (My mind constantly thinks of Splash Mountain's final showpiece with the giant steamboat.) And that's only part of the whole ordeal. There's the commercialization of the many shops losing much of their unique merchandise in exchange for more generic stuff. Not to mention the store shop windows along Main Street and especially Buena Vista Street losing much of their original charm and characteristics in favor of just cramming in as much merchandise as possible. Just commercialization as a whole seemed to pop up everywhere, removing much of the charm. Many of these issues would never of been an issue, or at least be very minute issues before the mismanagement.

    So while the new management is going towards a brighter future, the mismanagement of the old management could still be felt today. How long do you think it will take for Disneyland Resort to recover from the past? I know we can never return to how it was before, but I mean about as close as we can get. That is, IF you believe the parks can recover. It's a very open ended question with no definite answer until the time actually comes. Could be next week, could take a whole generation, or maybe even a lifetime to recover! Or never at all...I want to hear your takes on it.



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  2. #2

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    Re: How Long Do You Think It Will Take to Recover from the Mismanagement of the Mid-9

    It already did! A great book to read about this would be "Disney War" check it out!

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    Re: How Long Do You Think It Will Take to Recover from the Mismanagement of the Mid-9

    Quote Originally Posted by Bongo View Post
    Just commercialization as a whole seemed to pop up everywhere, removing much of the charm. Many of these issues would never of been an issue, or at least be very minute issues before the mismanagement.
    I think that's a pretty big misconception there. That these changes were being influenced by one set of managers onlyl ("the old management"). That's not really the case at all. When DCA first opened, it had some of the best merchandise of any Disney park. Very park specific collectables. It just turns out that this kind of merchandise doesnt' sell well, and each subsequent management team has tried and played around with Merchandising and it just doesn't ever seem to work. I remember when they were still trying to sell the Tiki Room 45th Anniversay stuff in Frontierland 3 or 4 years later. It just doesn't move. The changeover of the Disney Gallery is also proof of what little market there is in Disney collectables.

    And that leads me to the bigger point. There is no such thing as mismanagement really, like the stores being full of Mickey sweatshirts, the park is just a reflection of what the guests want and will spend money on. It's a reflection of the amount of money guests put into it and what they think is a good value.

    With that in mind, the "mismanagement" will never stop because the park will always be a reflection of what guests are willing to pay for.

    Or in the case of DCA - not pay for.

  4. #4

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    Re: How Long Do You Think It Will Take to Recover from the Mismanagement of the Mid-9

    I think it will not recover until all of DCA has been remade from it's "if it's good enough for Six Flags" philosophies. It's only half redone. When Condor Flats, Grizzly Peek, ALL of Paradise Pier, and all of Hollywoodland is redone - then we can say DCA has fully recovered.

    Then there's Disneyland - "TL:98" is still with us. A true testament to Paul Pressler's philosophies. When that is fully fixed, (Another "Renovation" attempt), then we can say Disneyland has mostly recovered from the mis-management of the 90s.

    But an err of caution:
    It's not just the Eisner/Pressler/Harris years that are the only era of mismanagement to worry about - The current Iger/Pushing Franchises so hard down the throats of all Disney parks. They are leaving no room to create new, original ideas. And that could go on indefinitely. Some balance has to come back, and so far, there are absolutely no signs of it. It's creative laziness being forced by the top. When imagineering is capable of imagining completely new and original ideas. And I'll never forgive altering PotC and Small World to franchises ... There are ways to plus and add to an attraction ... without messing up their delicate themes. (Small World is meant to be the unselfish "One People, under One Golden Sun" - Not a selfish portrayal of various INDIVIDUAL "Disney" personalities competing for your attention. PotC too long to get into right now). But an insistence to change the classics to have a franchise attached to them? Sorry. That's just as "bungle-headed" and the wrong way for DL, as the Pressler/Harris years of mis-management. And something that needs to be addressed, at some point, as well as the Pressler/90s era.
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  5. #5

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    Re: How Long Do You Think It Will Take to Recover from the Mismanagement of the Mid-9

    Quote Originally Posted by MrLiver View Post
    When DCA first opened, it had some of the best merchandise of any Disney park. Very park specific collectables. It just turns out that this kind of merchandise doesnt' sell well,
    Well, looking at the bigger picture, not many people cared for DCA, in it's "entirety" .. so why would they have cared about it's park-specific merchandise? I went through that park-specific merchandise too, and the only thing I cared about, and purchased was a winter fleece top with the "DCA 1.0" emblem across the chest.

    and each subsequent management team has tried and played around with Merchandising and it just doesn't ever seem to work.
    Here's a question - In the world of retail, is there ever "suppose to be" just one type and kind of merchandise that people will care about for the next 20 years - unchanged? I would think - the retail/merchandise industry changes out styles, types of products all the time, to keep it interesting. From one season .... and on to the next.

    But, if we are suppose to be interested in the same tops, coffee mugs, hats ... from one year to the next, and the year after that, and year after that................. See my point?

    I remember when they were still trying to sell the Tiki Room 45th Anniversay stuff in Frontierland 3 or 4 years later. It just doesn't move. The changeover of the Disney Gallery is also proof of what little market there is in Disney collectables.
    So, creating a homoginized approach to merchandise is suppose to be the final answer for the next 30 years.

    I just think when it comes to retail - Changes should be expected. And have some unique items .. in addition to their bland, homogenized sections!


    And that leads me to the bigger point. There is no such thing as mismanagement really,
    That's a big assumption - That the people running these merchandising divisions are infallible - Never make a mistake.

    Are you forgetting - We're human.

    With that in mind, the "mismanagement" will never stop because the park will always be a reflection of what guests are willing to pay for.
    I just did a horrifying triple-take on that!

    I'd like to give you a bit of a story - Last year at Christmas time, going through the Buena Vista Street shops, I was looking at the usual stream of crappy, boring merchandise. Meanwhile, the Christmas trees had some really beautiful tree decorations. The friends I was with wished the shop was selling them. And a CM came by, and said - "We get asked that." Not to mention other unique theming the stores had, that is only for "store decoration" and not for sell. So, my thinks you are right - "Mismanagment will never stop" because those employees running in those divisions are not exactly completely in touch with their customers! The One Disney/One style merchandising initiative is in full force - Like the Borg!
    MY SIGNATURE:
    Dear Peoplemover Fans, If you want to see a new attraction that at least mimics the 1967 Peoplemover in a future Tomorrowland remodel, you need to write to the powers-that-be, and let them know. If you don't - Then the next time Tomorrowland is remodeled, you will see a land barren of any "Peoplemover" type attraction.

  6. #6

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    Re: How Long Do You Think It Will Take to Recover from the Mismanagement of the Mid-9

    Quote Originally Posted by Tomorrowland_1967 View Post
    It's not just the Eisner/Pressler/Harris years that are the only era of mismanagement to worry about - The current Iger/Pushing Franchises so hard down the throats of all Disney parks. They are leaving no room to create new, original ideas. And that could go on indefinitely. Some balance has to come back, and so far, there are absolutely no signs of it. It's creative laziness being forced by the top. When imagineering is capable of imagining completely new and original ideas. And I'll never forgive altering PotC and Small World to franchises ... There are ways to plus and add to an attraction ... without messing up their delicate themes. (Small World is meant to be the unselfish "One People, under One Golden Sun" - Not a selfish portrayal of various INDIVIDUAL "Disney" personalities competing for your attention. PotC too long to get into right now). But an insistence to change the classics to have a franchise attached to them? Sorry. That's just as "bungle-headed" and the wrong way for DL, as the Pressler/Harris years of mis-management. And something that needs to be addressed, at some point, as well as the Pressler/90s era.
    All of this is not suprising when viewed against a backdrop of an entertainment industry that churns out nothing but reality shows, sequels and remakes because they've long ago run out of ideas.

  7. #7

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    Re: How Long Do You Think It Will Take to Recover from the Mismanagement of the Mid-9

    I suspect it would take the events of Nancy Temple Rodrigue's Hidden Mickey books to come to pass and we get Walt back from his hiding place for things to truly be fixed, and even a revived Walt might have problems because of the shareholders. The sharp pencil boys always argued with Walt in the day, and he showed them up many times, but they are the rulers of the land (not just Disney) now.

    I don't think management does a bad job, but two things I would really like to see:
    - the end of the One Disney management, which would mean banishing "Disney Parks" in favor of specific Disneyland Resort or Disney California Adventure bags in the stores, and
    - the restoration of dignity to the way management treats the employees. No more temp for 20 years nonsense, and a living wage for everyone instead of most people getting little money and senior management living better than most kings in history.

    As for maintenance, they do what they can, but I suspect with a nearly 60 year old facility, there will always be some additional painting to be done, specially when we have such lame paints in California because of AQMD regulations.

  8. #8

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    Re: How Long Do You Think It Will Take to Recover from the Mismanagement of the Mid-9

    I think there's more of a run amok free market business model currently occupying Disney corporation (and other corporation) in place of a good grounded capitalistic business model. The capitalistic theme was even spoken of by then California governor Goodwin at Disneyland's opening day event. This is a reason we've been given One Disney, DCA 1.0, more foreign investments building Disney parks, management personnel who claim never have set foot in a Disney park, etc. Don't know how long the free market stuff will last.

  9. #9

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    Re: How Long Do You Think It Will Take to Recover from the Mismanagement of the Mid-9

    Quote Originally Posted by Tomorrowland_1967 View Post
    ...It's not just the Eisner/Pressler/Harris years that are the only era of mismanagement to worry about - The current Iger/Pushing Franchises so hard down the throats of all Disney parks. They are leaving no room to create new, original ideas. And that could go on indefinitely. Some balance has to come back, and so far, there are absolutely no signs of it. It's creative laziness being forced by the top. When imagineering is capable of imagining completely new and original ideas. And I'll never forgive altering PotC and Small World to franchises ... There are ways to plus and add to an attraction ... without messing up their delicate themes. (Small World is meant to be the unselfish "One People, under One Golden Sun" - Not a selfish portrayal of various INDIVIDUAL "Disney" personalities competing for your attention. PotC too long to get into right now). But an insistence to change the classics to have a franchise attached to them? Sorry. That's just as "bungle-headed" and the wrong way for DL, as the Pressler/Harris years of mis-management. And something that needs to be addressed, at some point, as well as the Pressler/90s era.
    Exactly right. But I doubt that Disney's creative laziness will change, for the simple reason that using the Parks as platforms to promote already-popular franchises is a win-win for Disney Corp management. They don't have to hire and maintain the creative brainpower to innovate new rides, just competent artists and engineers who can follow the paint-by-numbers template provided by whatever movie they're copying (or ride they're cloning from another park). They don't have to sell their branded-lifestyle customers on innovative new rides, just copy a popular movie franchise and the customers will come, cash in hand. They don't have to develop unique merchandise, just copy the merch that the movie generated.

    For a company that was once world-renowned for theme park innovation, ingenuity and originality, but which is now a marketing corporation run by Accountanteers, it's a no-brainer.
    "With the acquisition of Marvel and now of Lucasfilm,
    Disney may have finally found the grail. You don't need
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  10. #10

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    Re: How Long Do You Think It Will Take to Recover from the Mismanagement of the Mid-9

    Unless there is a drastic change in the whole corporate mindset of the US and the world in general, things will never go back to the way they used to be at Disney. I seriously doubt that a single executive at Disney worked their way up from being a front-line cast member. Most of them come from other companies, and will go on to other companies. Disney might be a fun, unique stop for them, but that doesn't mean they're going to completely change the way that business is done just because it's Disney and not Macy's or Verizon. Most businesses in the US are run more or less the same way because all of the people at the top are interchangeable. There are a handful of exceptions such as Steve Jobs and Richard Branson, but for the most part, everyone just copies each other as to how business is done. It doesn't even matter anymore if it's a good idea. If one company institutes a policy, most other business follow suit, even though that particular policy may work well for the first company and be disastrous for the 2nd company. It's just easier when the executives change businesses if everything works the same way.

    There is a lot that I could list here that Disney does wrong, but the biggest problems in my opinion are:

    1. The people at the top never worked in the parks. I understand the value of having some people who come from a different business who might be able to "think outside of the box", but it seems ludicrous to me to have 100% of your people come from anywhere and everywhere BUT Disney. I think a 70-30 split would be ideal, with 70% of the people having worked their way up.

    2. Running everything separately with it's own budget and requiring everything to pull in a profit. I do understand that by doing this, you can make things look more profitable on paper, but it also leads to an awful lot of really stupid decisions, such as not replacing something that is broken on a ride because the attractions budget is gone for the year, even though there is a surplus in the merchandise budget. Of course you need to have limits on how much is spent on everything, but there are some things you have that don't need to make a profit directly that still ultimately improve your bottom line. For example, you don't need to make a profit off of your own employees by charging so much at the cast member restaurants. Happier cast members that aren't stressed out because all of their paycheck goes to gas and the Inn Between (CM restaurant at DL) leads to happier guests, which leads to more money.

    3. Look at the long-term picture. Disney seems to be better at doing this than other companies, but you do still see the "let's just get through this quarter and we'll worry about next quarter when it comes" mentality from time to time. This goes back to the revolving executives. If an executive comes from Apple to Disney, works there for a few years, has a great few years and gets big bonuses, and then leaves, it doesn't matter that the changes they implemented benefited the park in the short term but hurt the park in the long term, because they got their bonuses and now they've moved on to Intel. The only way to fix this is to get rid of bonuses altogether. I understand the logic that people work harder if their pay is directly tied to the success of their job, and there is definitely some truth to that, but I think the corporate bonus system has turned out to do more harm then good. Stock options worked just fine in the past, and encourages people to not only make the company successful, but also not to switch companies every few years.

    But again, I don't think that's a change that Disney can make by themselves. I think it's a change that the whole country / world would need to make, and unfortunately I don't see that happening short of a total financial collapse a la the great depression.
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    Re: How Long Do You Think It Will Take to Recover from the Mismanagement of the Mid-9

    Quote Originally Posted by Big D View Post
    Unless there is a drastic change in the whole corporate mindset of the US and the world in general, things will never go back to the way they used to be at Disney. I seriously doubt that a single executive at Disney worked their way up from being a front-line cast member.
    John Lasseter once manned the Jungle Cruise boats, if that counts.
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    Re: How Long Do You Think It Will Take to Recover from the Mismanagement of the Mid-9

    Good point, I guess there is at least one!!!
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    Re: How Long Do You Think It Will Take to Recover from the Mismanagement of the Mid-9

    I doubt that this would ever happen, but it would be interesting to see Bob Iger go on Undercover Boss. Granted, the show is a reality show, and therefore somewhat scripted, but it is always eye-opening for the CEO. Always. Perhaps there are some items that just don't get addressed at his level - with mid-management thwarting some genuine concerns and not taking care of some issues (like better pay) as to not displease upper-management?

    It's idealistic and I highly doubt Disney would ever go through such a show - but can you imagine if they did?
    "If you can dream it, you can do it." - Walt Disney

  14. #14

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    Re: How Long Do You Think It Will Take to Recover from the Mismanagement of the Mid-9

    The Splash Mountain animatronics have just been a nightmare to begin with, BUT the showboat scene is not Disney's fault. We can thank DOSH for that one.


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    Re: How Long Do You Think It Will Take to Recover from the Mismanagement of the Mid-9

    Fantasyland might be in Disneyland, but Disneyland isn't in Fantasyland.

    The Disneyland that you want doesn't exist. The sad thing is if you take it for what it is, it is pretty good theme park and it stands alone. It is awfully weird to complain about merchandising when it is quite clear on what's selling. You might not like what's in the stores, but some are buying the stuff, while others end up in the clearance racks at the outlet stores.

    Disney has done original. The problem is original doesn't always sell. You can certainly make the case that DCA 1.0 was original, but it was cheaped out. So the BIG moment to prove its case failed in a BIG WAY, but done correctly, it could work as it did in Tokyo DisneySeas. Unfortunately, life is not a Fantasyland with BIG pockets.

    BTW: Franchises like John Carter and The Lone Ranger also BOMBED. You can argue that they aren't true franchises, but many people are familiar with the source material. Their big budgets mean no cheaped out creations, but the audiences didn't like them. Money doesn't buy customers apparently.

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