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  1. #1

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    The Definitions of Disney's Buzzwords, "Relevant" and "Change"



    “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!”
    "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):
    Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7mC-...feature=relmfu
    Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoUie...feature=relmfu
    Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3Vea...feature=relmfu


    Visit my site: http://www.vividgroovy.com



    Pratfall the albatross superheroine visits the Carthay Circle Theatre.

  2. #2

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    Re: The Definitions of Disney's Buzzwords, "Relevant" and "Change"

    It appears to me that Disney-Co has decided that "relevant" now means "something that is currently a fad and/or popular and thus profitable, especially in the area of merchandising."

  3. #3

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    Re: The Definitions of Disney's Buzzwords, "Relevant" and "Change"

    Love your post. That was well thought out and worded. The quotes at the end tell an awesome story and it really made me smile. The secret to this whole thing is in those quotes.

    Quote Originally Posted by animagusurreal View Post
    Some posters criticize the purists for being “unable to handle change,” that they just want what they’re used to.


    Purists love change actually. Change that moves things forward, not backwards. Change that has a purpose and that doesn't simply serve "to fix a problem" that does not really exist.

    Quote Originally Posted by animagusurreal View Post
    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.


    Boy isn't that the gospel truth!

    Quote Originally Posted by animagusurreal View Post
    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.
    Disney used to decide what people wanted. Your little quote story above shows that very plainly. Disney never really did what people wanted him to do. He went somewhere new and blazed a trail so that people could come and see the amazing NEW sights. He provided them with more Mickey, and more pigs, but he started immediately working on the next new big thing that people didn't know they wanted yet.

    This gets echoed in our frequent calls for Disney to come up with something new, something fresh, something totally original. Something that we don't even know we want yet. Show us what we don't know yet. We know pirates and princesses, Pixar and the past 70 years of characters.

    Our revels now are ended. These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits and Are melted into air, into thin air: And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, The solemn temples, the great globe itself, Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep. mycroft16 on Twitter

  4. #4

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    Re: The Definitions of Disney's Buzzwords, "Relevant" and "Change"

    Quote Originally Posted by mycroft16 View Post
    Love your post. That was well thought out and worded. The quotes at the end tell an awesome story and it really made me smile. The secret to this whole thing is in those quotes.
    Agreed. Great post, animagusurreal!! A well-composed, thoughtful thread. I like an opening post that grabs you.


    Purists love change actually. Change that moves things forward, not backwards. Change that has a purpose and that doesn't simply serve "to fix a problem" that does not really exist.
    Agreed, again.

    My only real contribution to the thoughtfully-presented offering would be this: change for change's sake is IMO rarely a change that endures, or is apporpriate.

    Additionally, when one considers the lead time needed to 'enhance'/construct attractions, capitalizing on a trend after it has already become one, is too late.

  5. #5

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    Re: The Definitions of Disney's Buzzwords, "Relevant" and "Change"

    This is a fantasic thread! Here's hoping the current regime can look back and create what people want rather then only catering to what they request.

  6. #6

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    Re: The Definitions of Disney's Buzzwords, "Relevant" and "Change"

    I think everyone is hitting the head on the nail with what they mean by "relevant." Unfortunately creativity is run more by the bottom line than any actual creativity. There isn't a Walt anymore but more college educated managers and money people that look at graphs and the what not and figure out what they can peddle to the customer to make money right now. In corporate thinking that's how it goes.

    I don't know it just seems like Disney is in constant conflict with what it was and how business is run now a days.

  7. #7

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    Re: The Definitions of Disney's Buzzwords, "Relevant" and "Change"

    Why is it that movies are allowed to be "creative" but the parks are not? Pixar is able to create movies about Monsters, living toys, superheros, cooking rats and talking Cars. Why do the theme parks always have to ride the coat tails of the latest hit movie?

    Maybe the minds used to create the movies are given much more leeway than the WDI people.

  8. #8

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    Re: The Definitions of Disney's Buzzwords, "Relevant" and "Change"

    Quote Originally Posted by Goofy Daddy View Post
    It appears to me that Disney-Co has decided that "relevant" now means "something that is currently a fad and/or popular and thus profitable, especially in the area of merchandising."
    AKA "Revenuelant."
    "Here You Leave the World of California Today and Enter the World of, um, er, California Today."

  9. #9

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    Re: The Definitions of Disney's Buzzwords, "Relevant" and "Change"

    Quote Originally Posted by sediment View Post
    AKA "Revenuelant."
    lol!

    Classic Mixed-up word.

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    Re: The Definitions of Disney's Buzzwords, "Relevant" and "Change"

    I think Revenuelant is my new favorite word. That's awesome sediment and really captures the feeling.

    Our revels now are ended. These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits and Are melted into air, into thin air: And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, The solemn temples, the great globe itself, Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep. mycroft16 on Twitter

  11. #11

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    Re: The Definitions of Disney's Buzzwords, "Relevant" and "Change"

    Quote Originally Posted by sediment View Post
    AKA "Revenuelant."
    that's excellent!

  12. #12

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    Re: The Definitions of Disney's Buzzwords, "Relevant" and "Change"

    Quote Originally Posted by mycroft16 View Post
    Disney used to decide what people wanted. Your little quote story above shows that very plainly. Disney never really did what people wanted him to do. He went somewhere new and blazed a trail so that people could come and see the amazing NEW sights. He provided them with more Mickey, and more pigs, but he started immediately working on the next new big thing that people didn't know they wanted yet.

    This gets echoed in our frequent calls for Disney to come up with something new, something fresh, something totally original. Something that we don't even know we want yet. Show us what we don't know yet. We know pirates and princesses, Pixar and the past 70 years of characters.
    Nice post. I do agree that Disney himself really never wanted to make sequels. He never really wanted to walk down the the well trotted path, but make his own. The problem with that though, especially in the early years, is that the more he did it the closer he came to bankrupting his company. Now of course we all know what actually happened with all of those new fangaled ideas -- some of which at the time of their release were considered failures.

    Jump forward to today and to a company whose primary responsibility is to the shareholders, stated by Bob Iger himself in the CM Disney Traditions video at Disneyland, taking those new fangled ideas and turning them into stellar attractions is risky business. Building new attractions based off "tried and true" brands keeps the shareholders happy -- which means bigger profits in a shorter period of time.

    So whatever relevant (i.e. most profitable) brand is available to turn into a theme park attraction, well, you can bet Disney wants to do it. In short, I highly doubt that very many NEW and ORIGINAL theme park attractions will exist in the future. Why? Because those darn Pirates and Princesses make too much money to ignore.

    As for change -- I feel that if Walt was still alive Disneyland would be so ridiculously different some of us would probably be jaw-jacked. He was all about change, but change in a moving forward direction. Stepping backwards or even sideways (as TWDC tends to do the most) isn't how the Company turned into the second largest media empire in the world.
    Class of 2005...

  13. #13

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    Re: The Definitions of Disney's Buzzwords, "Relevant" and "Change"

    Quote Originally Posted by animagusurreal View Post
    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!”
    Great post!!
    "With the acquisition of Marvel and now of Lucasfilm,
    Disney may have finally found the grail. You don't need
    imagination or art. All you need is a brand."

    - Neil Gabler


  14. #14

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    Re: The Definitions of Disney's Buzzwords, "Relevant" and "Change"

    I just want to take a moment to say you can either follow a trend, or set one, you can't do both at the same time. I feel that for many years Disneyland set the trend for others to follow. Now it is merely a glorified Universal Studios, bringing their next big hit to life.

    The other part I wish to address is creativity. As I and many others have pointed out in other threads, there is plenty of room for creativity both in concept and in budget. It is merely accepting what limitations are presented to you, then thinking outside the box and implementing them in manners people have never seen or never thought of. I really feel WDI is being let off easy. People talk about how cheap an attraction feels, or how it is overly tied into a movie. Then they say "Well WDI had a better plan but the budget was cut!" The ironic part is that EVERYONE knew the budget would be cut. WDI knew the budget would be cut, they just didn't bother to plan for it! I do not feel that you can fully blame any department without blaming WDI first for not doing what they were originially designed to do... think outside the box and be creative with what you have!

    Walt wanted vines on Jungle but didn't have enough left to get any. Bill Evans noticed all these trees lying around and planted some upside down... instant vines! Not exactly rocket science here people... that is what JPL is for!
    Last edited by techskip; 04-16-2008 at 06:24 PM.
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  15. #15

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    Re: The Definitions of Disney's Buzzwords, "Relevant" and "Change"

    Quote Originally Posted by techskip View Post
    I just want to take a moment to say you can either follow a trend, or set one, you can't do both at the same time. I feel that for many years Disneyland set the trend for others to follow. Now it is merely a glorified Universal Studios, bringing their next big hit to life.

    The other part I wish to address is creativity. As I and many others have pointed out in other threads, there is plenty of room for creativity both in concept and in budget. It is merely accepting what limitations are presented to you, then thinking outside the box and implementing them in manners people have never seen or never thought of. I really feel WDI is being let off easy. People talk about how cheap an attraction feels, or how it is overly tied into a movie. Then they say "Well WDI had a better plan but the budget was cut!" The ironic part is that EVERYONE knew the budget would be cut. WDI knew the budget would be cut, they just didn't bother to plan for it! I do not feel that you can fully blame any department without blaming WDI first for not doing what they were originially designed to do... think outside the box and be creative with what you have!

    Walt wanted vines on Jungle but didn't have enough left to get any. Bill Evans noticed all these trees lying around and planted some upside down... instant vines! Not exactly rocket science here people... that is what JPL is for!
    Slamdunk, skip.
    *stands & applauds this post*
    "With the acquisition of Marvel and now of Lucasfilm,
    Disney may have finally found the grail. You don't need
    imagination or art. All you need is a brand."

    - Neil Gabler


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