“Relevant” and “change” seem to be the hottest buzz words with current Disneyland management.
What I’m curious about in this thread are not the dictionary definitions, but how MiceChatters define these words for themselves, and whether or not they think Disney is being accurate when they use them.
When they say “relevant,” I believe they actually mean “fashionable at the moment.” In a literal sense, how are pirates relevant to children’s lives today? The lives of contemporary American children are nothing like the lives of 17th century pirates. And yet, pirates are popular – and they weren’t, just a few short years ago, before a movie based upon an ORIGINAL THEME PARK ATTRACTION was released.
But even the popularity argument seems like just an excuse.
Originality, surprises, a sense of adventure and magic, richly detailed, immersive theming taking you to fascinating settings -
Are these things really passé?
Has some great cultural shift actually happened that makes people not like or not understand these things anymore?
The “average guests” may not be experts on all the time periods depicted in DL. I know I’m not. But most of them probably have a vauge idea of the turn of the 20th century, or the old west, or the future, and you can tell when something feels authentic. Nobody would suggest that Johnny Depp do the next Pirates movie in a t-shirt and jeans – but why not, since period theming isn’t relevant to people anymore?
Some posters criticize the purists for being “unable to handle change,” that they just want what they’re used to. Yet the rationale for many of these changes is that the “average guests” – particularly the children of the “current generation” - can’t handle attractions that aren’t based on franchises they’re already familiar with outside the parks. Franchises that are sometimes decades old, yet manage to retain their "relevance."
I think that that’s an excuse as well though. The only ones in this situation who really can’t seem to handle change are certain Disney executives who are too afraid to take a risk on new ideas or finance a ride that doesn’t function as an advertisement.
The more Disneyland changes these days, the more some of its parts become the same. Once there was a pirate ride and a Tom Sawyer Island. Now there’s a pirate ride and a pirate island. Once, there was a ride about all the different Disney classics (Storybookland) and a ride about “The Happiest Cruise to Ever Sail the World.” Soon there may be two rides about all the Disney classics.
The idea that every new creative idea – every “change” - has to be based entirely on what the public already wants in order for it to wind up being relevant/popular/fashionable is completely contrary to the company’s history. Yes, give the public what they want – but don’t just give them that alone:
THE WORLD: “We don’t know you, and we don’t know your mouse.”
WALT produces the first sound cartoon “Steamboat Willie”. It’s a huge hit.
THE WORLD: “More mice! More mice! More mice!”
WALT produces “more mice,” but he also produces the experimental anthology “Silly Symphonies” series, including the huge hit “The Three Little Pigs”
THE WORLD: “More pigs! More pigs! More pigs!”
WALT: “You can’t top pigs with pigs.”
WALT does produce two “Pigs” sequel cartoons, but he also begin work on “Snow White”
THE WORLD: “People won’t sit through an hour of color! They’ll run out of the theater screaming!”
“Snow White” is released and is a huge hit.
THE WORLD: “More Snow White! More Snow White! More Snow White!”
WALT produces “Pinnochio”, “Fantasia”, “Dumbo” and “Bambi”. Admittedly, “Dumbo” is the only immediate “hit” with the public, but all go on to become very successful classics.
It was another princess movie, “Cinderella”, that saved the studio from dire financial straits. But “Cinderella” is still not “More Snow White.”
WALT later decides to build Disneyland.
THE WORLD: “Disneyland will be a Hollywood spectacular – a spectacular failure.”
LILLIAN: “Amusement parks are dirty, Walt…”
ART LINKLETTER’S THOUGHTS: *Who’s going to drive all the way out here to throw balls at targets?*
Disneyland opens, and, after a few bumps, is a huge success.
THE WORLD: “More Disneyland! More Disneyland! More Disneyland! Build one here, too!”
WALT goes ahead with plans to build an East Coast Disneyland, but his real plan is to build a city of the future – EPCOT. Unfortunately, Walt dies before it’s built.
Cut to the mid-1990’s
“…a lot of people said it couldn’t be done – no one would watch it. It’s cold. No one would sit through it. But we were convinced that the film is about the story and the characters, not about the technology. We perservered. And ‘Toy Story’ became the number one movie of 1995.”
- JOHN LASSETER, quoted in “Inside the Dream: The Personal Story of Walt Disney”
THE WORLD: “More CGI! More CGI! More CGI!”