Article from The Advocate (Baton Rouge) - December 1, 2005
Disney Quarter holds lessons

As New Orleans struggles to recover from Hurricane Katrina, the French Quarter is spotlessly clean, in perfect repair, and attracting throngs of families by the busload. We are not talking about the French Quarter in New Orleans, but the attractive replica of it at Walt Disney World's Port Orleans French Quarter resort in Orlando, Fla.


"Bring your carnival attitude to this lively quarter of the Big Easy and 'let the good times roll,' " Disney beckons travelers from all over the world in its promotional literature. "Stroll cobblestone walks and gaze down ornate iron railings as you imagine a jazz backdrop and the sweet smell of magnolia blossoms in the air. Have a rollicking good time among the colorful characters, relish wonderful food, and enjoy some watery fun at Doubloon Lagoon."


It can seem surreal to visit Disney's diligently cheerful version of the Quarter in the wake of Katrina, a storm that has brought anything but good cheer to the original French Quarter. Even so, the success of Disney's Port Orleans French Quarter Resort is a testament to the legendary appeal of the Crescent City's most-famous district.
But there is nothing particularly appealing or expressive of unique local culture in the stench of stale beer and sidewalks littered with trash. In matters of basic upkeep, the New Orleans French Quarter could benefit by imitating its imitation at Disney World. Another model of success is Charleston, S.C., where city fathers don't regard local charm and stringent sanitation as mutually exclusive.
New Orleans also might benefit from studying Disney's transportation grid.
The company offers efficient, easily available shuttles throughout its complex of parks and resorts, and the ease of movement gives visitors quick access to more places, which means that they spend more money. As New Orleans rebuilds, it would do well to consider quality public transportation as a linchpin of economic development.