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  1. #16

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    Re: 7/11: The Curse of Expansion

    I can see Kevin's point, but I have to disagree with his article in some ways. With all of that land available in Florida, it makes perfect sense to make it a complete vacation resort destination. They're trying to copy that model in Anaheim and they just don't have the land to pull it off. While EPCOT, AK, and the Studios are closer to "civilization", they're not right off 192. And of course you have that sprawl out there in Kissimmee and on International Drive. Hotel owners are going to put their properties as close to Disney World as they possibly can, that just makes sense. Same with the Crossroads shopping center. But once you get onto Disney property, there seems to be an order to the sprawl. It's a noticeable change, at least from my experience.

    As for the parks, of course there's going to be a focus on the other parks. MK and EPCOT were for the most part fully developed parks when opened. EPCOT has undergone some retooling to add more E tickets, but the Studios and AK were not fully developed when opened, and need to add more attractions to draw guests to those parks. While Buzz and PhilHarmagic are not thrill rides, they are still well done attractions and have made nice additions to the park.

    It makes complete sense to add more attractions to underdeveloped parks like AK and the Studios to draw more visitors to those parks, especially day visitors. I'm not sure how many visitors to WDW buy 1 Day, 1 Park tickets, but I assume a higher percentage would choose MK or EPCOT over the other two parks.

    Personally, I applaud Disney for building wonderfully themed hotels, two great water parks, Downtown Disney where there are things to do at night and outside the parks, the nightclubs at the Boardwalk, mini-golf, and other recreation activities so guests can choose to make it a complete vacation experience if they want. I've been to Islands of Adventure shortly after it opened and enjoyed it...but how many new attractions have they opened? The last couple I can remember (Men in Black and the Mummy) went to their Studios park.

  2. #17

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    Re: 7/11: The Curse of Expansion

    Quote Originally Posted by CMandImagineer
    I often hope that, at the end of a long day, some of the suits at Disney and WDI surf the net...
    I hope so too, but I am pretty sure that the bottom line speaks louder than a bunch of Internet nerds who actually have respect for Walt and an interest in design.

    Despite our complaints, I think the vast majority of visitors just show up, plunk down giant wads of cash, and don't question the arrangement. People don't really care that the Aerosmith coaster isn't properly "themed".

    Sure, Disney could provide a higher quality experience, but that would take work, which is hard, and they don't get the level of reward equivalent to the expenditure. The only thing that would push them to do the right thing is a desire to do the best job they possibly can and personal integrity, which is tough to come by with someone like Eisner in control. (I'm not saying the Imagineers themselves don't try to do the best they can, although I don't really have any knowledge about that either way. If the boss is telling everyone to aim low, that can't possibly help, however.)

    You see the same thing in movies. You can make a great blockbuster movie like Spider-Man 2 or a lousy one like the new Star Wars movies and make the same amount of money either way. There's no motivation for the studio to worry about trifles like good writing and acting. The best we can hope for is that the person in charge of the project is a Raimi and not a Lucas...and, of course, that the money men are willing to give the Raimis of the world the freedom to make something that doesn't suck.

    Quote Originally Posted by neon_cactus
    With all of that land available in Florida, it makes perfect sense to make it a complete vacation resort destination.
    Oh, I think we all agree with that. It's just that if they're going to expand, they shouldn't do it in a way that actually cheapens the existing entertainment.

    I also just don't understand why everything is so spread out at this point. It's sort of nice when everything is spread out when there's decent transportation (that Epcot monorail ride from the TTC is way cool and relaxing), but the bus system is so inconvenient that the sprawl reminds me of my daily commute, which is really not what I need on vacation.

    Also, if you look at a map, you can see that they're really sort of limiting their options at this point by slicing the property up with roads and putting little specks of stuff all over the map. If in the future they want to do something that requires a large amount of contiguous land, they're shooting themselves in the foot with their current nonsensical scattershot methods.

    ...the Studios and AK were not fully developed when opened...
    And whose fault is that? They created their own problem there, so I don't think we should give them a pass just because they decided to slight us in the first place.

    I've been to Islands of Adventure shortly after it opened and enjoyed it...but how many new attractions have they opened?
    When we're comparing Disney to Universal, the battle has already been lost.

  3. #18

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    Re: 7/11: The Curse of Expansion

    Quote Originally Posted by Manganese Nodule
    Despite our complaints, I think the vast majority of visitors just show up, plunk down giant wads of cash, and don't question the arrangement. People don't really care that the Aerosmith coaster isn't properly "themed".
    It does seem, at face value, that a lot of people don't process "good design" on a conscious level and want to have a good time and have fun. But people do respond to their surroundings (mostly sub-consciously) and are only vaguely aware that their emotional state is being influenced by their environment. We talked about this in the hallways when I designed for Disney, and we'd have philosophical discussions over the value of spending perhaps a million or more dollars on a major enhancement in a park that would never generate a penny in hard, measurable return on investment. But, it always came down to the common belief that, if Disney stopped enhancing and trying to improve on what it did, it might take a few years but finally a threshold would be crossed where the average Joe would suddenly wake up and say, "Hey, something's wrong here. This looks bad. I don't like this." And then what would it cost in hard dollars and lost guest confidence to fix it?

    That's why Florida's Downtown Disney is so brutal. Sure, it has fun stuff and good restaurants and venues, but it is poorly designed and frankly, just not attractive to look at or be in. It doesn't begin to meet the caliber of what one expects from a Disney offering, and Anaheim's beautifully-planned Downtown Disney just underscores its failings. I think, while people are enjoying La Nouba and eating at Wolfgang Pucks, they have to also be feeling that somehow, this place just doesn't measure up. And WDW nudges a little closer to that threshold.

    This is trite, but Walt and Company understood this and never talked down or patronized their audience. If they had, they wouldn't have made Fantasia and worked so hard to push the art of animation and filmmaking like they did. Although a lot of people might not get it nor really take the time to see the quality, everyone feels the quality and and that's why Disney parks are still seen as the one's to beat (at least I still think so!)

  4. #19

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    Re: 7/11: The Curse of Expansion

    This is a wonderful discussion thread. I am a huge fan of everything Disney, however too often the various discussion boards are filled with laudatory statements from blindly loyal minions. This discussion strings allow obvious supporters of Disney to voice constructive criticism.

    My specific gripe is unfettered expansion leading to intolerable park conditions. You can’t put 20 pounds of sand into a 5 pound sack. Nor can you continue to add hotels and people to your world without increasing the number of attractions to visit during their stay on the property.

    I recently spent 8 days in WDW and sadly the parks have lost much of their magic for me. Even though I followed the trip strategies and planned my part itinerary around peak hours/traffic patterns, most of the parks (with the exception of Epcot) were unbearably crowded.

    I’ve now reached the saturation point with WDW. I am amazed that people continue to flock from around the globe to fight enormous crowds to see these out dated and poorly maintained attractions. I can no longer visit the Magic Kingdom due to the fact that my experiences of the past are tarnished by the reality of the present. An example of this is the replacement of e-ticket nights with extra magical hours. The folks at Disney have developed a strategy that simply extends the oppressive atmosphere of the day until the wee hours of the morning. I’d gladly pay an addition $10 or $20 per day to return to the pleasant park experience made possible by e-ticket nights. It appears that the Disney managers have taken the patience of their patrons to the brink and allowed them to drop over the edge.

    My only hope is that the laws of economics will prevail.

    As more people come to the conclusion that the Disney of the present is not the Disney of the past they will decide to stay away from this mass of humanity and choose to spend their vacation dollars elsewhere. Once their bottom-line is impacted enough – maybe just maybe – the Disney planners will do something to manage the crowds, or divert/disperse park visitors to other areas of their world enabling us to once again enjoy the “Most Magical Place on the Earth”.

  5. #20

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    Re: 7/11: The Curse of Expansion

    Quote Originally Posted by Nazareno
    I am amazed that people continue to flock from around the globe to fight enormous crowds to see these out dated and poorly maintained attractions.
    I haven't been to WDW in years, and I was a minimum twice-a-year guy for many, many years.

    We're the canaries in the coalmine, but despite our take on this stuff, I really wonder where the breaking point is. I hit mine years ago, but business is still booming and if you check out most run-of-the-mill Disney sites, people are still in love.

    If you look at some of the other threads on this forum (particularly in the Disneyland section), it's apparent that many people are in love with whatever was there when they were growing up. I've even seen posts from young people saying things like "why do they make such a big deal about Walt Disney, it's not like he's done anything for me". They look back wistfully on attractions which I think are horrible insults to the Disney legacy.

    A similar thing happens with our coral reefs. Coral reefs are really cool things that people will fly halfway around the world to check out, but they've been in decline for decades. Older folks complain about the condition of the reefs while younger people are simply amazed by what's there, and they won't be complaining until 20 years from now.

    I'm happy to hear from CMI that the Imagineers do consider intangible "experience" elements, but I also know the suits can look at the numbers for lesser parks (like Universal Studios) and see that they are still incredibly popular and profitable. I almost wish they didn't exist to put ideas in the heads of the execs.

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