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  1. #1

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    The difference between Escape and Distraction at Disneyland.

    In PragmaticIdealist's recent In One Word, What Does the Name "Disney" Mean? thread, fo'c's'le swab said the following:

    Quote Originally Posted by fo'c's'le swab View Post
    Disney, and all entertainment media offer one thing to consumers: escape. They are expected to provide an immersive environment in exchange for monetary considerations (whether we are talking about literature, movies, TV, theme parks, or restaurants); an environment that gives sanctuary to those who wish temporary relief from reality.

    In my opinion, Disney has not provided this for consumers as well as it used [to]. Further, I feel Disney now offers mere distraction in lieu of the true escape it was once capable of providing in years past. I doubt I will return to the Park until I am convinced that they can once again tell the difference between the two


    Escape
    I found fo'c's'le swab's post to be interesting and deserving of further exploration.

    In terms of theme park attractoins, what constitutes an escape? Obviously, if done well, fantasy and make-believe can still become an escape. Immersive surroundings, strong theming, and quality can allow even the most cynical guests to suspend their disbelief and escape into another world. Surely attractions like Pirates of the Caribbean, are true Disney escapes - as you enter the attraction, you step into an alternate world. In Pirates of the Caribbean, as you board your bataeux and drift through the bayou you enter a different time and place. And as you approach the waterfall, you enter a different world altogether; the golden age of pirates. With the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, you escaped into the world of the Robinsons - you saw how and where they lived, and as you explored their house, you assumed the role of the family Robinson. Their treehouse became your house. At Indiana Jones Adventure, as you wind your way through the outdoor queue, you are enveloped in the outdoor surroundings of this ancient temple as it would have been in the 1930s, and as you enter the building, you're taken to another world, one of mysterious dieties, ancient cultures, and magical gifts.

    Distraction
    But what about distractions? Distractions are attractions like King Arthur's Carroussel - a carousel in the middle of Fantasyland - charming, but not immersive. Or perhaps attractions like those found in DCA's Paradise Pier - none of them take you anyplace other than a cheaply-themed theme park, not to a classic 1930s board walk as they should be doing. And attractions like the original Matterhorn Bobsleds, where you were taken on a temporary distraction through a network of exposed rafters and support beams, not a escape into a network of ice caverns and abominable snowmen as it is today.


    Escape vs. Distraction
    So what theme park attractions at the Disneyland Resort, or even Walt Disney World are brief escapes and which ones are just mere, temporary distractions? And are recent attractions less immersive or offer less of an opportunity for escapism than Disney's classic attractions?

    How do classic attractions at Disneyland, and Walt Disney World compare to newer attractions? Certainly "newer" attractions like Indiana Jones Adventure offers guests with a true escape into another time and place, into an adventure unlike anything guests can experience elsewhere. But what about attractions like DCA's Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, which is seriously injured by an under-themed outdoor portion, unlike its WDW counterpart which offers a true escape with its expansive outdoor garden queue and more richly detailed facade and lobby. And what about the recent Monsters Inc attractions at DCA and WDW's Magic Kingdom? Neither of these truly immerse us in the world of Pixar's monsters, but rather temporarily distract us in a partial representation of their world.

    What does Disney need to do to re-immerse guests into worlds that can't be found anywhere else? What does Disney need to do so that its paying guests can escape once again and not just be temporarily distracted?


    Do attractions like Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor live up to Disney's traditions of escape? What about the new Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage? Why? Why not?

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  2. #2

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    Re: The difference between Escape and Distraction at Disneyland.

    I think one of the attractions Swab is citing as a mere diversion that does not allow him to truly "escape" is Pirate's Lair. And, he's quite right.

    The bare minimum audiences can expect from a work of art is diversion or entertainment. Disneyland has always offered more. And, one of these things has been the ability to enter a fictitious setting with fictitious characters and be able to suspend disbelief because the fiction made sense and is truly coherent.

    While all storytelling needs to inspire some suspension of disbelief, Disneyland absolutely depends on that believability since so much of the appeal The Magic Kingdom holds is in its ability to immerse audiences in an imaginary world.

    Pirate's Lair, unfortunately, undermines the coherence and believability of that world.
    Last edited by PragmaticIdealist; 07-11-2007 at 04:26 AM.

  3. #3

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    Re: The difference between Escape and Distraction at Disneyland.

    The darkrides and indoor thrill rides and theater attractions are all a part of a Disney parks internally immersive escapism. Where as I would consider externally immersve escapism to include the outdoor thrill rides, course traveling motion rides (subs, autopia, monorail, Disneyland Railroad) flatrides, shows and structures (castle, Matterhorn, etc.).

    While flat rides (Asto Orbitor, carousel, Go Coaster, Storybookland Canl Boats) and small structures (such as Snow Whites wishing well) are considered mere diversions by many, if not by most. Taking a second look at diversions however, the overall ambiance of the big picture would be noticeably remiss or empty minus the nuggets that provide intimacy and simple joy, i.e. the minor attractions (diversions).

    Thus, immersive escapism would be lacking in quality and magic if it were not for the diversions. Little things ..details can be of major importance in the overall scheme of things. Diversions are an inseparable component of Escapism.
    Last edited by Ride Warrior; 07-09-2007 at 02:42 AM.
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    Re: The difference between Escape and Distraction at Disneyland.

    It must be acknowledged that our expectations and requirements to experience "escape" increase as we grow older. We become aware of marketing ploys (which the past year has been particularly rife with) and they often repel us, though they might not if we were children. Which isn't to say that Disneyland is meant to only serve children, quite the opposite in my opinion (judging by who pays), but I do appreciate seeing happy families at the park (especially because I work with delinquent youth). Similarly, I appreciate the distraction from that daily grind Disneyland provides (though, as it's been noted, we should not settle for that).

    For my part, Disneyland is not so much an escape from reality, but an immersion in fantasy, in imagination, in dreams. I don't expect to not notice the seams in a ride's presentation, as much as I wouldn't expect an occassional off-beat in a music performance, but I'm not going to let it affect me to the point that I'll completely deprive myself of the experience until they correct every last little flaw. When I see the mechanical underpinnings in a ride, and rather than feel the urge to run to city hall to complain that my own fragile disconnect from reality was shattered by exposed wires, I marvel at the engineering feats employed within the ride. For example, I know exactly how the rolling ball illusion is created on Indy, but I'll be darned if every time I get on I don't think that I'm about to be crushed. But that's me, and everyone's different.




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    Re: The difference between Escape and Distraction at Disneyland.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ride Warrior View Post
    The darkrides and indoor thrill rides and theater attractions are all a part of a Disney parks internally immersive escapism. Where as I would consider externally immersve escapism to include the outdoor thrill rides, course traveling motion rides (subs, autopia, monorail, Disneyland Railroad) flatrides, shows and structures (castle, Matterhorn, etc.).

    While flat rides (Asto Orbitor, carousel, Go Coaster, Storybookland Canl Boats) and small structures (such as Snow Whites wishing well) are considered mere diversions by many, if not by most. Taking a second look at diversions however, the overall ambiance of the big picture would be noticeably remiss or empty minus the nuggets that provide intimacy and simple joy, i.e. the minor attractions (diversions).

    Thus, immersive escapism would be lacking in quality and magic if it were not for the diversions. Little things ..details can be of major impotance in the overall scheme of things. Diversions are an inseparable component of Escapism.
    You make a good point. But previous Disneyland diversions/distractions were blatant and obviously not intended to be anything more than what they appeared to be. King Arthur Carousel was nothing more than a vintage Carousel that featured artwork depicting scenes from Sleeping Beauty. Storybook Land was never pretended to be anything more than a float-past of nicely detailed miniatures.

    Yet, new attractions like Monsters Inc Laugh Floor, Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island, and Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters have been marketed in ways detailing Disney's knack for rich detail and storytelling, but these attractions seem to fail significantly on many levels - showing that these attractions are more along the lines of simple diversions, rather than detailed escapes as Disney would like us to believe.

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    Re: The difference between Escape and Distraction at Disneyland.

    Quote Originally Posted by MasterGracey View Post
    You make a good point. But previous Disneyland diversions/distractions were blatant and obviously not intended to be anything more than what they appeared to be. King Arthur Carousel was nothing more than a vintage Carousel that featured artwork depicting scenes from Sleeping Beauty. Storybook Land was never pretended to be anything more than a float-past of nicely detailed miniatures.

    Yet, new attractions like Monsters Inc Laugh Floor, Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island, and Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters have been marketed in ways detailing Disney's knack for rich detail and storytelling, but these attractions seem to fail significantly on many levels - showing that these attractions are more along the lines of simple diversions, rather than detailed escapes as Disney would like us to believe.
    You make an excelent comparative point as well. I gather that there are two different types of distraction attractions that add detail to the thematic landscape - those that exist by design and those that exist by coincidence or accident. Based on this your profound observation of yours, I postulate and respectively submit that Diversions remain an inseparable component of Escapism - regardless of whether intended by design, or designed without preconceived intention.
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  7. #7

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    Re: The difference between Escape and Distraction at Disneyland.

    [quote=dpdilla;1931412]It must be acknowledged that our expectations and requirements to experience "escape" increase as we grow older. We become aware of marketing ploys (which the past year has been particularly rife with) and they often repel us, though they might not if we were children. Which isn't to say that Disneyland is meant to only serve children, quite the opposite in my opinion (judging by who pays), but I do appreciate seeing happy families at the park (especially because I work with delinquent youth). Similarly, I appreciate the distraction from that daily grind Disneyland provides (though, as it's been noted, we should not settle for that).

    For my part, Disneyland is not so much an escape from reality, but an immersion in fantasy, in imagination, in dreams. I don't expect to not notice the seams in a ride's presentation, as much as I wouldn't expect an occassional off-beat in a music performance, but I'm not going to let it affect me to the point that I'll completely deprive myself of the experience until they correct every last little flaw. When I see the mechanical underpinnings in a ride, and rather than feel the urge to run to city hall to complain that my own fragile disconnect from reality was shattered by exposed wires, I marvel at the engineering feats employed within the ride. For example, I know exactly how the rolling ball illusion is created on Indy, but I'll be darned if every time I get on I don't think that I'm about to be crushed. But that's me, and everyone's different.[/quot

    Your point is valid in that one can choose whether they consider thematic immersion within the context of an amusement park to be an aggressive escape from reality (complete suspension of disbelief) or a passive brush with fantasy.

    Ones outlook, however, may have a lot to do with ones socio-economic status. Walt Disney was born poor and grappled (along with brother Roy) for everything that he owned or created. Michael Eisner never had to physically work for or earn a damn thing. Riches, power and success were bestowed upon Michael as if he were an economic God that had inherited the Earth.

    It only stands to reason that Walt would be of a humble nature and desire to create an escapest outlet for guests en masse, or the populace at large. Where as Eisner desired to destroy that escapist outlet, and to create a controlling monopoly of entertainment venues, news media, theme parks, and multintional marketing that interfaces with every major industry. He is the type of person that the working class strives to escape from.

    That being saud, it is quite understandable why an upper middle class or independently wealthy person might enjoy a mere brush with fantasy now and then. As for the rest of us, those that have theirs have delt us a living hell on Earth - where freedom is a myth, and hard work, commitment, compassion and honesty are rewarded with jeers and social-economic prejudidice by elitist inheriters, crooks, and combinations thereof.

    Escapism is a necessity for all of us work-a-day sub-humans. Oh well - Blessed are the meek... You know the story.
    Last edited by Ride Warrior; 07-10-2007 at 11:31 PM.
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    Re: The difference between Escape and Distraction at Disneyland.

    I've bristled in the past at the term, "escapism", when it's been applied to such things as Disneyland because I believe the word fails to grasp the true appeal of fantasy.

    That appeal is in the ability for an audience to occupy someone else's brain for a while while he or she conjures the most fantastic things in his or her imagination. The creativity to which one is privy in that communion with an artist is inspiring, joyful, and intellectually-engaging. To dismiss Disneyland as a superficial escape from reality, as many critics have done, is to completely miss the point of art, in general.

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    Re: The difference between Escape and Distraction at Disneyland.

    While I don't think Swab was referring to MasterGracey's interpretation of "escape" and "distraction", I think Gracey's ideas can probably best be organized as the literal versus the stylized.

    Disneyland has a tradition of literal fictions, but there have been a few stylizations, as well.

    The stylizations have, oftentimes, weakened the believability of the fiction, especially in such cases as Dumbo the Flying Elephant, for example. However, I will defend the carrousel in one way, at least. The device actually dates back to medieval times when it was used as a way to train knights for combat. So, Walt Disney was, in a way, reclaiming the carrousel from amusement parks and returning it to its historical origins.

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    Re: The difference between Escape and Distraction at Disneyland.

    The Disney Gallery used to be a nice escape when you were tired or wanted people to stop bumping into you.

    When attractions were original

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    Re: The difference between Escape and Distraction at Disneyland.

    This thread is way too deep for me to respond to while at work. Stay tuned for later (or is that a warning? )

  12. #12

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    Re: The difference between Escape and Distraction at Disneyland.

    Personally, the biggest "distraction" I see in the park is the loss of realism on Main St. I can get over Pirate's Lair, I can look past Monsters Inc, but when I walk down the street and see a "Penny Arcade", I want to go inside and see an ARCADE! Not a candy shop/mass of penny presses/heres a few plushes in the back too conglomoration of stores. I miss a music shop that sold music instead of Pirates board games and I want that patio to be there because there are men who can't follow their ladies into the bra store! Where's my pharmacy!

    I could make this response a lot deeper, but I have to go now and give a tour of Main St. today and tell people how cool it used to be.
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    Re: The difference between Escape and Distraction at Disneyland.

    Quote Originally Posted by RumRunner31 View Post
    I could make this response a lot deeper, but I have to go now and give a tour of Main St. today and tell people how cool it used to be.

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    Re: The difference between Escape and Distraction at Disneyland.

    I think, for a large part, escaping vs. merely being distracted is in the eye of the beholder. Escaping is when you truly feel like you are in another world. I definately feel this way on Indy. From the awesomely themed queue/preshow to the fantastic ride itself. It is a totally immersive adventure. Note how I didn't say ride. A truly great attraction should feel like an adventure.

    Let's take a ride such as Splash Mountain. It has a pretty decent queue and is a good ride. However, it does allow you to see other lands/attractions during the drop. Another example is the Matterhorn. It's a great ride with an ok queue. However, how can you be in the Swiss Alps when Alice in Wonderland is right next door?



    GREAT THREAD, btw!!!

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    Re: The difference between Escape and Distraction at Disneyland.

    Quote Originally Posted by RumRunner31 View Post
    Personally, the biggest "distraction" I see in the park is the loss of realism on Main St.

    ..when I walk down the street and see a "Penny Arcade", I want to go inside and see an ARCADE! Not a candy shop.
    The Penny Arcade is inconsistant with theme and a total let dowm. It definitely distracts from escapism. Just goes to show you that Disney can sometimes turn candy into a bitter pill to take.
    Last edited by Ride Warrior; 07-09-2007 at 04:31 PM.
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