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  1. #1

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    Disney and the business of exceeding expectations.

    "I'm doing this because I want to do it better."
    - Walt Disney


    Walt Disney strove to improve his product every chance he got. So much so, that when Disneyland became too small, Walt decided to re-build it and to make it bigger, and better than before in Florida.

    Even still, Disneyland was always intended to be a work-in-progress. Never-Finished Land. A breathing, living, and constantly-evolving place for Walt to enhance, add to, or recreate whenever he wanted.


    "It's something that will never be finished.
    Something that I can keep developing...and adding to."
    - Walt Disney


    And to this day, Disneyland is still evolving, still being added-to and still a living, breathing thing that can be enhance, add to, or recreated whenever needed.

    But with Walt Disney's passing, his words became champions for change that, in the past, probably wouldn't have happened. One could deduce that, for Walt, the closing of an attraction meant that an attraction no longer met expectations and a replacement that was inherently better than its predecessor was implimented.

    In recent times, this has not always been the case, and if a replacement attraction is better than its predecessor, it's not exceedingly better by any stretch - a goal that Walt-era WED Imagineering would strive to achieve.

    Of course, this is all subjective, however many would agree that attractions like The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, "Honey, I Shrunk the Audience," Innoventions, Princess Fantasy Faire, or Monsters Inc - Mike and Sulley to the Rescue! are all instances where replacement attractions are questionably less impressive than their predecessors, even if their predecessors had seen better days at the time of their removal, or if the attraction is better than its predecessor, its not by much.

    Areas like Big Thunder Ranch, the Festival of Fools Arena, Hollywood & Dine, Who Wants to Be A Millionaire - Play It!, Lucky Fortune Cookery, or the Motorboat Cruise areas have been left closed with no replacement, except in some cases, seasonal entertainment. The lack of replacement attractions and proper utilization of unused space at the Disneyland Resort is the antithesis of Walt Disney's mantra of constantly improving Disneyland.

    Likewise, adding new attractions that do not match the quality or entertainment value of its predecessor is directly violating the mission statements of Walt Disney.


    So I wonder, is the Walt Disney Company no longer in the business of exceeding expectations? Is it no longer in the business of offering an entertainment experience that intentionally, purposefully, and carefully exceeds its own quality standards and that of its competitors? Or is the Walt Disney Company only in the business of keeping ahead of competitors instead of keeping ahead of itself and blowing competitors out of the water?


    I think it's time that the Company once again gets serious about its product. No more mediocrity. No more cookie-cutter or duplicate attractions. No more force-theming. More plussing. More replacement attractions that flat out WOW its guests instead of merely entertaining them. More quality.

    You can't say you're the best, unless you truly are the best.

    Disney needs to show us once again that it IS the best. Hands-down, no competition. The best.

    Where to start? How about revisiting Walt sometime:

    Whenever I go on a ride, I’m always thinking of what’s wrong
    with the thing and how it can be improved.”

    - Walt Disney

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  2. #2

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    Re: Disney and the business of exceeding expectations.

    Great points... but what is it going to take for Disney to feel that they HAVE to implement all those ideas? I agree with everything you said, and I believe they must exceed expectations, but to Disney, they may be doing everything right in their own opinion.

    Let me focus on California. The Disneyland Resort is clearly thriving, and it is not suffering from cookie cutter attractions and mediocrity...yet. California Adventure is definitely going to be plussed by the one billion dollars being invested in it. So Disney is not feeling any pressure to move away from their current dominance over other competitors. Knotts, Six Flags, Sea World, and Legoland do not hold a chance against the DLR.

    Therefore, I believe Disney is only in the business to staying ahead of its competitors, currently.
    "You tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try." ~ Homer Simpson

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  3. #3

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    Re: Disney and the business of exceeding expectations.

    I've been pondering this for a while as well...I hate saying things like, "If only Walt were still here", because I obviously didn't know the man, but I know that he always strove to achieve what was "impossible" at the time. Always tried to push that wow factor, even when his Imagineers were losing their minds, contemplating just how they would please Walt. But they did it, and well.

    But since Walt's death, it seems to me that the ultimate priority is money, and often looked at in the short-term of things. Not the obvious thought processes such as, "Quality is what the people want." No, it's, "Well, it's better than Six Flags."

    It's infuriating, it's an insult to all the hard work that has gone into Disneyland to give it the reverence it has. I still enjoy Disneyland...I love Disneyland...I love it so much that seeing the injustice done to it, it's customers, it's cast members, everyone...it creates a huge knot in my stomach.

    Creativity and innovation made Disneyland what it is, or heck, Disney in general. Walt didn't say, "Let's just follow the norm and it will be enough." Do we really want to strive for "enough", in anything that we do? I think striving for the best is a concept that everyone was raised with.

    The worst thing though is that Disney is still marketed as "the best", in a perfect Disney world. I'd agree that it's the best out of any other theme park out there, but by a lot? I'm not so sure about that.

    Walt was crazy about adding attractions, too. He wouldn't sit for a decade without anything amazing coming to his park. Heck, something new was around the corner just about every year.


    Disney, you have the money. You'll make even more if you give us the quality products that we know you're capable of. Stop thinking about the short-term and start thinking about the long-term growth. Disneyland is over 50 years old...that in itself should show that thinking long-term isn't a ridiculous idea.

  4. #4

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    Re: Disney and the business of exceeding expectations.

    That article will certainly piss off the Defenders of Mediocrity

  5. #5

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    Re: Disney and the business of exceeding expectations.

    I know I might have trashcans and bricks thrown at me for saying this, but maybe the way to improve the level of quality at disneyland is maybe less lucas/spielberg stuff and more disneyesque attractions???

    why not extend fronteirland, fantasyland, new orleans square and add the following to each land:
    fronteirland-------a full sized replica of the hacienda from zorro
    fantasyland-------either of the following:
    --------a replica of the notre dame cathedral from The Hunchback Of Notre Dame and bring back the quasimodo/esmeralda/frodo characters
    --------belle's(and beast) castle
    --------a disney themed restaurant:full service, family fare restaurant
    OR..... ALL THREE
    new orleans square------a ratatoulle themed restaurant.

  6. #6

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    Re: Disney and the business of exceeding expectations.

    Just a few hours ago, I grumbled about someone complaining about the park's many "issues," but I'm not feeling inclined to do that here because you've brought up very good points and emphasized how good Disneyland is capable of being, and how good it still is despite its shortcomings. I agree wholeheartedly--Disney has the money to step it up and really launch itself lightyears ahead of the competition, instead of simply sitting a few feet ahead of the competition. Actually, I still think Disneyland is irrevocably lightyears ahead of the competition...but anyway...

    I understand that WDI can't simply throw all the money it's got at producing out-of-this-world attractions up the wazoo. It's not that simple, considering how huge a corporation Disney is. But...I can't help think of the guy who started the freaking place in major debt, minus a house, and with everyone thinking he was crazy. Maybe sacrifices or gambles like that are necessary from time to time. Maybe Disney really ought to just take a moment to stop playing it safe and trust that any colossal positive changes they make will indeed pay for themselves eventually. If not this year, then the next. Or maybe five years from now. Or ten. But if they really try, they can produce a quality product that will keep Disneyland (and its kin) ahead of the competition without a doubt.

    Maybe it's time to show people what they should expect from a theme park, not what they've ended up expecting as time has passed.

    ::goes back to loving Disneyland exactly as it is:: :P

    EDIT:

    why not extend fronteirland, fantasyland, new orleans square and add the following to each land:
    fronteirland-------a full sized replica of the hacienda from zorro
    fantasyland-------either of the following:
    --------a replica of the notre dame cathedral from The Hunchback Of Notre Dame and bring back the quasimodo/esmeralda/frodo characters
    --------belle's(and beast) castle
    --------a disney themed restaurant:full service, family fare restaurant
    OR..... ALL THREE
    new orleans square------a ratatoulle themed restaurant.
    I'm sorry to bring this up as I do every time someone starts armchair Imagineering...but where are you going to put all this? And how are you going to make Notre Dame impressive enough without overwhelming the castle? Same goes for Belle's crib. And how does a French restaurant fit into NOS? I understand that the French influenced New Orleans and thus New Orleans Square....but that doesn't mean that France itself should be imported into that area of the park. If anything, a Ratatouille-themed restaurant would belong in Fantasyland. I hope I'm not offending you, but none of these ideas strike me as both feasible and appropriate.
    Last edited by Datameister; 10-09-2007 at 11:40 PM.


  7. #7

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    Re: Disney and the business of exceeding expectations.

    Quote Originally Posted by MasterGracey View Post
    Likewise, adding new attractions that do not match the quality or entertainment value of its predecessor is directly violating the mission statements of Walt Disney.
    I think above all else, Walt wanted a place where children and adults could have fun together. The only real objective way we have of determining how much fun people are having, but how many times they come to the park, and what they do while they are there.

    You may say, for instance, that you believe The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is an inferior product to the Country Bears, and that quality was being sacrificed when Pooh replaced the bears. But when you look at the situation objectively, you would see that the Country Bears had very few guests, while Pooh has many more.

    You may say that an empty space in the park is doing the guests a disservice, but the truth is that folks have enough to do in a day at Disneyland that they can feel satisfied with spending 60 bucks to spend 16 hours in the park.

    I think it's time that the Company once again gets serious about its product. No more mediocrity. [...] You can't say you're the best, unless you truly are the best. Disney needs to show us once again that it IS the best. Hands-down, no competition. The best.
    Disney is the best. I don't understand why you have such a hard time seeing that. Disney is hands down the best in the industry with more visitors than the rest of the American parks. Somehow though, you seem to have trouble seeing that.

    Maybe if you see mediocrity where so many others see enjoyment, then maybe it's time to ask yourself if maybe your tastes have changed or if you haven't outgrown your fascination with Disney? It just sounds more and more like folks are trying to seek validation for their change in heart by writing long essays on the lack of quality, but the truth is that millions of people still enjoy going to Disneyland, and just don't see the same thing.

  8. #8

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    Re: Disney and the business of exceeding expectations.

    Quote Originally Posted by pineapplewhipaddict View Post
    It's infuriating, it's an insult to all the hard work that has gone into Disneyland to give it the reverence it has. I still enjoy Disneyland...I love Disneyland...I love it so much that seeing the injustice done to it, it's customers, it's cast members, everyone...it creates a huge knot in my stomach.
    Are you seeking counseling for this? It sounds serious.

  9. #9

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    Re: Disney and the business of exceeding expectations.

    Quote Originally Posted by disneyfan07 View Post
    I know I might have trashcans and bricks thrown at me for saying this, but maybe the way to improve the level of quality at disneyland is maybe less lucas/spielberg stuff and more disneyesque attractions???

    why not extend fronteirland, fantasyland, new orleans square and add the following to each land:
    fronteirland-------a full sized replica of the hacienda from zorro
    fantasyland-------either of the following:
    --------a replica of the notre dame cathedral from The Hunchback Of Notre Dame and bring back the quasimodo/esmeralda/frodo characters
    --------belle's(and beast) castle
    --------a disney themed restaurant:full service, family fare restaurant
    OR..... ALL THREE
    new orleans square------a ratatoulle themed restaurant.

    Certainly, space is an issue that cannot be overlooked. I think the severe lack of all-new E-Tickets since Indiana Jones Adventure is due mostly because of a lack of space at Disneyland. The only real remaining expansion area is Big Thunder Ranch, but its been long-believed that western is a dead genre. Hopefully somebody will step up and realize that, like pirates, cowboys aren't dead.

    I think your Frontierland idea could potentially be realised on some level, but also offer a truly unique and quality experience.

    Quote Originally Posted by MrLiver View Post
    I think above all else, Walt wanted a place where children and adults could have fun together. The only real objective way we have of determining how much fun people are having, but how many times they come to the park, and what they do while they are there.

    You may say, for instance, that you believe The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is an inferior product to the Country Bears, and that quality was being sacrificed when Pooh replaced the bears. But when you look at the situation objectively, you would see that the Country Bears had very few guests, while Pooh has many more.
    10 is many more than 5, but both numbers are still quite small. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh may be drawing more people than the Country Bears did, but from what I've deduced from witnessing the wait times at the attraction, its still a low number.


    Quote Originally Posted by MrLiver View Post
    You may say that an empty space in the park is doing the guests a disservice, but the truth is that folks have enough to do in a day at Disneyland that they can feel satisfied with spending 60 bucks to spend 16 hours in the park.
    You're right. Disneyland most certainly does fill a days worth of entertainment. However, wouldn't it be in Disney's best interest to keep adding more, which would give guests the incentive to stay longer and spend more?

    Empty space is not only doing guests a disservice, but it's doing Disney a disservice as well.



    Quote Originally Posted by MrLiver View Post
    Disney is the best. I don't understand why you have such a hard time seeing that. Disney is hands down the best in the industry with more visitors than the rest of the American parks. Somehow though, you seem to have trouble seeing that.

    Maybe if you see mediocrity where so many others see enjoyment, then maybe it's time to ask yourself if maybe your tastes have changed or if you haven't outgrown your fascination with Disney? It just sounds more and more like folks are trying to seek validation for their change in heart by writing long essays on the lack of quality, but the truth is that millions of people still enjoy going to Disneyland, and just don't see the same thing.
    I didn't say that Disney wasn't the best. What I said is that Disney needs to step up and blow the competition out of the water. It needs to ensure it is the best and that the competition isn't competition at all.

    If I've outgrown my fascination with Disneyland, then I don't think I'd be making posts like these.


    Quote Originally Posted by MrLiver View Post
    Are you seeking counseling for this? It sounds serious.
    Personally, I don't like Al Lutz's "Defenders of Mediocrity" label. I think it's silly and somewhat childish. But at the same time, I can't find words that describe your posts any better. Your silly put-downs and mockeries don't cover up the fact that you're willing to accept bottom-of-the-barrel crap from Disney from time to time.

    Photos, news, and commentary every week from Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom!

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  10. #10

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    Re: Disney and the business of exceeding expectations.

    Quote Originally Posted by MrLiver View Post
    But when you look at the situation objectively, you would see that the Country Bears had very few guests, while Pooh has many more.
    Pooh is the only attraction I know of that actually puts "2 minutes" as its wait time. I once sat on a bench two hours before closing for a good ten minutes and maybe 5 people went on it. Even small world, as aging as it is, still brings in a steady trickle of people up until midnight and it's in the back of the park. The Fantasyland dark rides still had healthy lines near midnight. Everything still had people on it, EXCEPT for Pooh. During the day it might see a 20 minute wait at the most.

    You're right, nobody was going to see the Country Bears. But nobody is going to see Pooh either.

    However, people are queuing up for 3 hours for Pooh's Hunny Hunt in Tokyo. It has Fastpass that runs out by noon. I think the difference is astounding.

  11. #11

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    Re: Disney and the business of exceeding expectations.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pressler69 View Post
    Pooh is the only attraction I know of that actually puts "2 minutes" as its wait time. I once sat on a bench two hours before closing for a good ten minutes and maybe 5 people went on it. Even small world, as aging as it is, still brings in a steady trickle of people up until midnight and it's in the back of the park. The Fantasyland dark rides still had healthy lines near midnight. Everything still had people on it, EXCEPT for Pooh. During the day it might see a 20 minute wait at the most.

    You're right, nobody was going to see the Country Bears. But nobody is going to see Pooh either.

    However, people are queuing up for 3 hours for Pooh's Hunny Hunt in Tokyo. It has Fastpass that runs out by noon. I think the difference is astounding.
    Astounding, indeed. Pooh is in the top-tier of popular Disney characters, and yet, his ride can't even maintain a 5 minute wait time during most days. That speaks volumes about the quality of the attraction - that guests wont line up for it even though Pooh is one of Disney's most profitable and most beloved properties.

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  12. #12

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    Re: Disney and the business of exceeding expectations.

    The problem with the polarized views that I see presented in this forum everyday is that both "sides" are over simplifying the issue. WDI is still capable of tremendous work, wow factor, attention to detail and theme (See Tokyo DisneySEA). That will cost money unfortunately and lots of it. Disney as a company has to turn a profit greater than the year before. That is simple economics...they have share holders to answer to, and a stock price to concern themselves with, not just profit margins exclusively. It's a matter of too many cooks in the kitchen. Since Walt's death there has been no real leader. There isn't one person who is standing out in front making giving the orders. Everything is political, everything is a battle, everything is a game of financial Risk...hell, it's an all out war trying to get things moving in the right direction in the parks.

    Now, with park attendence being what it has been in Anaheim since the 50th they have had to increase costs just to run a daily operation, and maintain it. I am so thankful that we have seen our way clear of the Pressler era that it's hard for me to be too critical of the direction the park is heading in. The double edged sword here is that if you want Disneyland to plus up as it were and really wow us again then you are going to have to live with the increased ticket prices. I know it's hard to see that the recent increase could just be the boost they need to move forward on the proposals that could fix a lot of what's broken. It could also just be a way to line the pockets of the evil powers that be. I am trying not to be cynical though.

    The fact of the matter is that DLR will never be as grand as WDW or any of it's sisters across the ocean, but it's charm and simple elegance will take it a long way...IF...the park is maintained and forward thinking individuals fight for it's betterment. It will always be an uphill battle...against the lack of real estate, the share holders, the figureheads, the grandstanders, the business minded suits...etc, etc. I'me really not trying to be an apologist here, I just think the issues are far too complicated to remain polarized in our opinions. I have high hopes that quality will out, but will be ready to speak out against mediocre and sloppy changes.

  13. #13

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    Re: Disney and the business of exceeding expectations.

    Quote Originally Posted by MasterGracey View Post
    I think the severe lack of all-new E-Tickets since Indiana Jones Adventure is due mostly because of a lack of space at Disneyland.
    Actually it's due to the fact that Disneyland has reached it's saturation point. Attendance at Disneyland is not going to go any higher and from here on out, it's all about replacing aging attractions to keep attendance up.

    10 is many more than 5, but both numbers are still quite small. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh may be drawing more people than the Country Bears did, but from what I've witnessed at the attraction, its still a low number.
    If more people like it, than it must be higher quality than Country Bears.

    That's exactly my point. Just because you don't like something, or it doesn't meet your expectations, that doesn't mean it is not a quality attraction and it is not serving it's purpose.

    And remember as a fan your perception of what is quality is biased toward older attractions, where as the public at large tends to not like those old dusty Walt Disney classics.

    You're right. Disneyland most certainly does fill a days worth of entertainment. However, wouldn't it be in Disney's best interest to keep adding more, which would give guests the incentive to stay longer and spend more?
    That's why they built DCA. Disneyland is not going to expand anymore. You think a night on Main Street is bad with 60,000 people in the park, try 80,000, or 100,000. Significant attendance gains are not going to come by cramming more people into Disneyland.

    I didn't say that Disney wasn't the best. What I said is that Disney needs to step up and blow the competition out of the water. It needs to ensure it is the best and that the competition isn't competition at all.
    I think they do blow the competition out of the water. Have you been to Knott's? Have you been to Six Flags?

    Your silly put-downs and mockeries don't cover up the fact that you're willing to accept bottom-of-the-barrel crap from Disney from time to time.
    Who cares what I'm willing to accept or not? Yes it's true that I can go to the park, and enjoy myself and have fun - what a crime. I definitely wish that more people could just relax and enjoy what Disney has to offer instead of constantly criticizing it, but different strokes for different folks I guess.

    I've seen the Disney fan community evolve for the last ten years and I have to say that at no other time than today have I ever looked at this community as becoming a stereotypical Internet fan group. At this point these rants about quality and showmanship are nothing more than a group of fans who set their expectations far too high, and then blame the company for their own disappointment. It's almost like watching a bunch of Star Wars fans complain about the lack of quality writing in the newer movies...

    It would be far easier to acknowledge a lack of quality if people weren't still lining up at the gates en mass every morning. But they do. From an empirical standpoint, there is no lack of quality or showmanship at Disneyland - those are all emotions that you feel when you go to the parks. To borrow a page from the Dr. Phil book: you need to take responsibility for your own emotions.

    If Disneyland really gives you the sense of lowered standards and lack of quality, than you need to ask yourself why you feel that way, when many others do not, and not suppose that the lack of quality is a factual trait that is universally seen by everyone.

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    Re: Disney and the business of exceeding expectations.

    Quote Originally Posted by bluejake01 View Post
    The double edged sword here is that if you want Disneyland to plus up as it were and really wow us again then you are going to have to live with the increased ticket prices.
    I am probably one of the few who were more than happy with the ticket price increase. There have been so many improvements over the Pressler/Harris era that I think justify the increase in both daily passports and annual passports.

    I remember when Lutz used to post pictures of Main St's burnt out lightbulbs. You don't see that kind of thing anymore. I counted one tonight.

    There's still room for improvement. Tomorrowland needs to be fixed for example. It isn't time for them to start resting on their laurels.

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    Re: Disney and the business of exceeding expectations.

    Quote Originally Posted by MrLiver View Post
    It's almost like watching a bunch of Star Wars fans complain about the lack of quality writing in the newer movies...
    In all fairness the prequels were terrible, and it was more than just bad writing. I have several friends at ILM, in fact ILM is one of our biggest clients. I am not a name dropper by nature, so let's just say that even people that worked on them knew they were terrible while they were making them. For me it was the fact that they just didn't have the sense of fun that they should have. Empire had a sense of fun and adventure even with it's darker themes.

    But that is throwing us way off topic. So...uhm...yeah...I love Disneyland!

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