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  1. #1

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    12/8: What Price Branding?

    Are the parks losing out on what made them unique? Discuss it here...

    DIRECT ARTICLE LINK: MiceAge.com - A different look at Disney...
    "Politics is the profession whereby the inevitable is made to seem a great human achievement" - Quentin Crisp

  2. #2

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    Re: 12/8: What Price Branding?

    I don't think Disneyland is losing what's made it unique. Yesterday I watched the opening day video from 1955. I do think it's lost some of Walt's original vision. Frontierland, for example, looked like Fort Apache, and had a more rustic, early-American feel. The park lost a bit of its deep connection to America's history. I do think the "Princess and the Frog", both the Mark Twain jamboree show and the movie, taps that pure source of Disney's original vision. Disneyland has always been about marketing, too. My dad got free passes to Disneyland on opening day, 1955, because he was the "Director of Recreation" at Rohr aircraft, where employees could buy discounted tickets, and they wanted dad to spread the word. I think John Lasseiter (did I spell his name right?) is leading the creative side of the company down the right road. "Tomorrowland", especially, House of the Future, doesn't inspire great expectations like the "1986" version did. It's this aspect of Disney, it's old optimistic outlook for the future, Disney needs to bring back to the park, the country, and to the world. I also think Disney listens to its customers. One frequently sees a Disney management type watching musical acts with a clipboard in hand, writing down observations. One gets hit-up all the time as one enters the park for surveys. My wife even got paid for going on a prescribed path at Disneyland, and writing a report, last year. I think Disney's "World of Color" concept builds on the success of Fantasmic, its fireworks show, its parades, and reaches higher for something, that cosmic something, that Walt Disney would embrace.
    Last edited by whamo; 12-08-2009 at 06:11 AM.

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    Re: 12/8: What Price Branding?

    Here's where many of your "Declining by degrees" columns come into play. I find the the Disney BRAND has declined significantly by degrees in the past 10 years or so. I was previously someone who would gravitate towards anything with that brand, because I was always MORE than satisfied. I always felt the parks gave me more than my money's worth. I felt Disney merchandise was superior. The Disney stores were a pleasure to shop in. Movies produced by Disney were wonderful.

    I now would have to consider myself an EXVERT. I think the Disneyland Resort has help up its promise, in spite of the giant black eye DCA gave it. The Grand Californian and Downtown Disney are very well done. And steps are in process to fix DCA. But, WDW hasn't held up it's promise as well. Pleasure Island-gone with no real replacement in sight, and the tragic loss of the always popular Adventurer's Club. Expensive after closing parties in the parks that offer less and less for your dollars. Small restaurant portions and less of the more expensive items at buffets. Less special holiday events, like this years loss of Lights of Winter at Epcot, and Country Bears Christmas. And as someone else pointed out, less park and attraction SPECIFIC merchandise. The remaining Disney stores don't really carry much that is unique in them, unless you travel to FLA or CA. And overall the brand is becoming generic. I want attraction merchandise to be specific to the attraction in the specific park. We'll spend money, as long as you give us what we want to spend it on. I would have to admit that I haven't really wanted to back to WDW for the last few years. Disneyland Resort, yes. It is sad to find that outside the company, people are doing the brand right, without being part of it. Look at what's been done with the WALT DISNEY FAMILY MUSEUM, or WALT'S BARN at LA Live Steamers. And some of the fine magazines put out by folks on the outside.

    Declining by degrees. That's what has happened to the Disney Brand. The good news is that Disney can easily fix it by not looking for ways to cut costs everywhere. People will pay a bit more for quality. But once they figure out they're being fleeced, it's over.

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    Re: 12/8: What Price Branding?

    Interesting topic Kevin. I agree with the others that the merchandising at the parks is in decline with what is available and wanted. I grew up in So Cal but now live in Colorado and return to So Cal about 3 times a year to visit family and friends so of course, Disneyland is always a destination for my kids. I too think the cross branding of the FL and CA parks is somewhat unacceptable and the Disney is truly missing a big chunk of dollars by omitting the land specific items they used to sell. The uniqueness in merchandising is seemingly going away and maybe it is cheaper for them to mass produce, but as your article alludes to, they may be losing customers rather than gaining. My kids seem to buy something just to buy it when at the parks, and instead of a treasured memory of their trip, the item is tossed aside when deemed 'tired'.

    As for the point of how Disney makes one feel... I think almost everyone would say Disney branding makes them feel like a child. And I would argue that there is a rebellion against feeling like a child for some ages and people. When I was young I couldn't wait for the days to go to Disneyland with my family and or friends. But as I grew into a teenager, I didn't want to hang out with my parents and Disneyland seemed too young for me. My friends and I begged to go to Knott's Berry Farm instead, with faster more exciting rides and (at the time) a better dance area (Studio K) that attracted girls in my age group. I didn't return to Disneyland until I was an adult, when the chaos of Knott's no longer appealed to me.

    My point being that Disney in my opinion is a family brand. Safe, clean and quality fun. Now the joy I have going to Disneyland is not from riding Dumbo a thousandth time, or seeing the Tiki show again, but watching my children gain that joy and new experience. I have come full circle. In a few years when my wife and I aren't cool anymore in the eyes of my kids, the lure of Disneyland will probably lose it's luster to my kids therefore myself too, even though I am a huge Disney fan like most of you. So as the kids mature so do their needs and desires.

    I think Disney still does a great job with almost everything they do. I think when they try to introduce rides or attractions not within their 'family freindly' model, they fall flat because the end result is not a Disney 'idea'. Think Videopolis or even the Pleasure Island. The unfortunate problem not only Disney has, but other forms of entertainment too, is the fact that technology is evolving at such a rapid rate that by the time concepts are reality, they can be obsolete, especially when it comes to rides. Our kids' world is so much different than those of us in our late 30 and 40s when we grew up and they expect better and more elaborate, sophisticated technology. They need instant gratification and sensory stimulation. As we age we try to hold on to our past and nostalgia the parks need to evolve for the interest of kids right now to gain new customers. Change is tough. My kids are loving the newer rides and additions. That's what matters to me. Maybe I don't agree with new changes, but I don't think it takes anything away from the 'feel' of the Disney brand.
    Last edited by jaxbistro; 12-08-2009 at 08:56 AM.

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    Re: 12/8: What Price Branding?

    The Disney brand is beginning to lose its identity to corporate buyouts IMO.

    I can tolerate Star Wars/Indiana Jones being there, to some degree, because they're in the Disney Hollywood Studios section. They're like "guest stars" on a broader Disney stage. But I still don't like it. I think the company that created the Disney original "Space Mountain" can come up with other action-based rides that aren't based on an out-company creation.

    And I've made my feelings clear about the Muppet purchase - I hate it, and it realllyyy didn't help to see Muppets advertising the parks instead of Mickey and company. It all began with a MOUSE, not a FROG created by somebody Walt Disney never even met! Someone who, by the way, once said that Disney has a sugary view of the world he had no interest in contributing to. Yes, Jim Henson said that. I read it in an article years ago. How nice that his characters are now part of the company he once disdained, until his own difficulties compelled him to come to Disney and sell. I shake my head at those who get warm fuzzy feelings from the purchase. They haven't all the facts, to put it mildly. And buying characters is so anethema to what Walt would do...it just boggles the mind.

    And now SPIDEY and co. are part of the corporate stable! Well isn't that great. I can't WAIT to see what THAT will do to the parks. Spidey and Kermit right next to Mickey Mouse...the suits at Disney see profit (yeah, they'll learn) but I see something akin to blasphemy. It reminds me of this billboard I saw a couple of years ago that displayed the Warner Bros. characters. There, right next to Bugs Bunny, was Scooby Doo. Gaaahhh! The stylistic clash alone tortured the eyes. But heck, that's Warner Bros. It has an animated legacy, but it didn't have Walt. And Walt stood for something. HE is Disney's legacy, not the films. But his philosophy is being tossed aside for corporate gain. I don't want to hear that times have changed, and you have to think about the stockholders, blah blah. Walt always said "We'll lick 'em with product", and proceeded to create great ORIGINAL product that stands the test of time. Yes, much of that product was based on works created by others, but they were given the Disney polish and became original Disney works and rightfully became part of the Disney pantheon. Not so with the recent purchases. By not becoming Disney works, they dilute the Disney brand. And that is what's pushing me away from Disney altogether. What IS it anymore? How am I supposed to feel when I see the Disney name? I barely recognize it anymore. What makes it better than Dreamworks or 20th Century Fox?

    That's the question, and I really don't have an answer.
    Last edited by Magenta Panther; 12-08-2009 at 09:17 AM.

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    Re: 12/8: What Price Branding?

    Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Ariel, Peter Pan, Casey Jr., Mr. Toad, Pinoccio, Davy Crockett, Winnie the Pooh, The Sword and the Stone, Beauty and the Beast all purchased or borrowed by Walt Disney himself or the studio... point being, yes the Disney touch was put on them, but the bulk of Fantasyland is not original at all. The newly acquired purchases like Muppets or other do not detract from the Disney brand, but enhance it.

    I have to disagree with the statement "his (Walt Disney) philosophy is being tossed aside for corporate gain" or any form of Walt's ideas being tossed aside. Many times these quotes are incorrect. Walt's philosophy was about bringing families together. How has anything Disney Company has put the Disney name on, not Touchstone or other satellite companies, moved away from that ideal? Muppets, Indy, Star Wars, all enjoyed in a way to bring families together. Maybe YOU didn't like the fact that it isn't an original Disney idea, but did you enjoy the experience? Did your kids (if you have any)? Family time is the glue that holds it together.

    The discussion has been brought up many time in the forum. I can't recall who said it, but some guy noted and you too, that Disney seems to keep the non-Disney stuff separate from Disney stuff... i.e. no Indy or Star Wars or Muppets in parades and stuff. I still have a tough time reading quotes like "Spidey and Kermit right next to Mickey Mouse". It hasn't happened before why do you think it will soon?

    As I said, the Disney brand is about family and quality. Is the Disney product expensive? Yes, but quality comes with a price, as does liability insurance. Really, when you see the name Disney, do you honestly think 'inferior'?
    Last edited by jaxbistro; 12-08-2009 at 10:52 AM.

  7. #7

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    Re: 12/8: What Price Branding?

    An email from reader Jeff:

    In the opening section of your article you said you were unable to find the mission statement on the public site. I did a little looking and found it hidden on the Disney corporate website at the following link: The Walt Disney Company and Affiliated Companies - Who We Are. It states "The mission of The Walt Disney Company is to be one of the world's leading producers and providers of entertainment and information. Using our portfolio of brands to differentiate our content, services and consumer products, we seek to develop the most creative, innovative and profitable entertainment experiences and related products in the world."
    Kevin Yee
    MiceAge Columnist

    I am the author of several Disney books:
    Jason's Disneyland Almanac - a daily history of Disneyland
    Walt Disney World Hidden History - tributes, homages, and ride remnants at WDW
    Your Day at the Magic Kingdom
    Mouse Trap
    Tokyo Disney Made Easy
    101 Things You Never Knew About Disneyland
    Magic Quizdom (The Disneyland Trivia Book)

    “The press [should be] a watchdog. Not an attack dog. Not a lapdog. A watchdog. Now, a watchdog can't be right all the time. He doesn't bark only when he sees or smells something that's dangerous. A good watchdog barks at things that are suspicious.” – Dan Rather

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    Re: 12/8: What Price Branding?

    But at this point, we could reasonably ask just what is meant by the "core audience." Is it families traveling from afar? Locals with annual passes? Honeymooners? Multi-generational families celebrating a young girl's Quinceañera? Or all of the above? (Is it even allowed to be "all of the above"? wouldn't you have to choose one?)
    Yes, it is allowed to be all of the above. The "core audience" is "people who want to go to the parks." Each coast's resort area has a different core audience, though there might be some overlap. Certainly not a massive overlap that the "Disney Parks" branding seems to assume.
    The major difference in the core audience is the average distance an average guest travels. My wild guesses are: 35 miles for DL, 700 miles for WDW.

    Question for Disney's park executive teams (yes, they should be separately run and separately marketed -- Mr Staggs, please change this Rasulo directive) is how to get people who want to go (core audience) to actually go (and more often), and how to get people who don't want to go to actually want to go (i.e., expand the core audience).

    Second question is where do revenues come from? Three general areas:
    1. Park admission.
    2. In-Park spending.
    3. Hotel spending.

    The contribution to revenue of these three areas is very different between the West and East Coast resorts, due to the different make-up of the core audiences. One marketing idea ("brand") will probably not work for both.
    "Here You Leave the World of California Today and Enter the World of, um, er, California Today."

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    Re: 12/8: What Price Branding?

    Quote Originally Posted by jaxbistro View Post
    The newly acquired purchases like Muppets or other do not detract from the Disney brand, but enhance it.
    Well, some detract (Muppets (I love me some Muppets, but I haven't seen a decent thing from them since Jim died), Marvel (would have been better to pick it up earlier, before movies were already made), Ducks and Angels), and some enhance (Pixar, ABC/CapCities).
    It's smart business sense that knows which is which.
    "Here You Leave the World of California Today and Enter the World of, um, er, California Today."

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    Re: 12/8: What Price Branding?

    Quote Originally Posted by sediment View Post
    Well, some detract (Muppets (I love me some Muppets, but I haven't seen a decent thing from them since Jim died), Marvel (would have been better to pick it up earlier, before movies were already made), Ducks and Angels), and some enhance (Pixar, ABC/CapCities).
    It's smart business sense that knows which is which.
    I was referring to the theme parks specifically, since that is where people seem to have the most problems with 'cross-characterizing'. OK I made that word up... I can't think of the word I need right now, hope you get my point.

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    Thumbs up Re: 12/8: What Price Branding?

    Quote Originally Posted by daliseurat View Post
    People will pay a bit more for quality. But once they figure out they're being fleeced, it's over.
    Amen!

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    Re: 12/8: What Price Branding?

    Quote Originally Posted by jaxbistro View Post
    I was referring to the theme parks specifically, since that is where people seem to have the most problems with 'cross-characterizing'. OK I made that word up... I can't think of the word I need right now, hope you get my point.
    Points are rewardified for making up words.

    I get your point, though. that's one of my issues with Kevin's article: it asks about Disney's "brand" but it's focused on the parks, which are a small part of Disney.
    "Here You Leave the World of California Today and Enter the World of, um, er, California Today."

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    Re: 12/8: What Price Branding?

    Quote Originally Posted by daliseurat View Post
    People will pay a bit more for quality. But once they figure out they're being fleeced, it's over.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rob33 View Post
    Amen!
    Yes, this is the case, but for Disneyland specifically, there are too many people not paying enough for quality, while the rest pay too much for the same quality. It is creating a downward "quality spiral" that it might not be able to pull out of.
    "Here You Leave the World of California Today and Enter the World of, um, er, California Today."

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    Re: 12/8: What Price Branding?

    Quote Originally Posted by sediment View Post
    Points are rewardified for making up words.

    I get your point, though. that's one of my issues with Kevin's article: it asks about Disney's "brand" but it's focused on the parks, which are a small part of Disney.
    I'm in complete agreement with you! Disney the company has become so multi-companied and complex, that the brand is getting diluted. But look at what happens... Kevin says Disney and only the Disney Parks and its merchandizing is commented on.

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    Re: 12/8: What Price Branding?

    Quote Originally Posted by sediment View Post
    Points are rewardified for making up words.

    I get your point, though. that's one of my issues with Kevin's article: it asks about Disney's "brand" but it's focused on the parks, which are a small part of Disney.
    My point of departure was trying to be the brand of the parks specifically (which I think is a fair thing to ask). But you are correct that there is brand contamination from the wider Disney brand. "How does Disney make you feel" might be a different answer from "How do the Disney parks make you feel," and it's entirely possible that my own article let the conflation conflatritize. (since we are making up words today)
    Kevin Yee
    MiceAge Columnist

    I am the author of several Disney books:
    Jason's Disneyland Almanac - a daily history of Disneyland
    Walt Disney World Hidden History - tributes, homages, and ride remnants at WDW
    Your Day at the Magic Kingdom
    Mouse Trap
    Tokyo Disney Made Easy
    101 Things You Never Knew About Disneyland
    Magic Quizdom (The Disneyland Trivia Book)

    “The press [should be] a watchdog. Not an attack dog. Not a lapdog. A watchdog. Now, a watchdog can't be right all the time. He doesn't bark only when he sees or smells something that's dangerous. A good watchdog barks at things that are suspicious.” – Dan Rather

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