I have heard this question before, and I think, really, what does it matter what Walt would think? Frankly, I doubt if Walt would have the chops to handle the current entertainment business. It is unfortunate, but the dang business has become so controlled by money, that I think poor ol' Walt would be out smoking and drinking Jack Daniels 24 hours a day.
Walt would probably have liked a lot of things the company is doing; anything innovative, such as the Pixar techniques, the interactive things, the continued emphasis on detail. But he also would have preferred a more "True to theme" rendering of the different lands in the theme parks. MILaughFactory and Stitch would have never seen the light of day. DCA would probably never have been built, and that is coming from someone who actually likes DCA. I just think Walt would have found a more defined theme to go with, instead of a park about California in California. If by some crazy freak of nature he did approve the basic concept, DCA would have been far more diverse and tightly planned.
But as for marketing, I am not too sure things would have been the way we have seen them. Marketing these days requires a more "In your face" approach, to get people to come out and experience something they did before without some new attraction. Disneyland, under Walt, was constantly changing. If something failed, it was ripped out and replaced immediately. It would not have sat empty for years, like the Subs or the Carousel of Progress Building
As for the films, I think a lot of things would be different. Fewer sequels, better use of the stable characters, etc.
But, as I said before, it really doesn't matter, because, well, Walt wasn't the only one to have good ideas, and frankly, I think there are an awful lot of good things going on now that probably would not have happened under WD. The entire EPCOT/WDW concept is cool, but nothing like WD imagined. DL Resort is a great place to go.
Under WD, things would certainly been widely different... but who knows? Would the Disney company be the Giant Mega-Entertainment business it is today? Tough call, and impossible for any of us to really say.
Since Disney is still remaining a powerhouse in the Entertainment industry, I'd say they are doing an awful lot of stuff right, and the right people were in place at the right time. Without Eisner, the entire company would have died. Now Iger is doing a credible job. The right people, at the right time.
So really, Walt is gone. Why does it matter what he would have thought? No one lasts forever, and their memory should not be an obstacle to progress. Sure the new guys make mistakes here and there. But they are still keeping Disney the best family entertainment company out there.
“Well, I think by this time my staff, my young group of executives, and everything else, are convinced that Walt is right. That quality will out. And so I think they’re going to stay with that policy because it’s proved that it’s a good business policy. Give the people everything you can give them. Keep the place as clean as you can keep it. Keep it friendly, you know. Make it a real fun place to be. I think they’re convinced and I think they’ll hang on after… as you say… well… after Disney.”
I am sure this is a book somewhere, but I think the essential management philosophies of Walt Disney might be somewhat interesting, albeit some would be Macheavallian. (sp?). Basically, those guidelines are;
1. Know what you want. Define specifically what you want to see, and do not settle for less. This may mean that you will have to keep a tight reign on your staff expectations, but when you are certain your vision is worthy, stick to it.
2. Look at your product with a wide scope. A product target that is limited to a single age group is, by definition, limited. There is no reason that something aimed at a child cannot also be geared to hold the interest of an adult. After all, it is the adult that controls the purse strings. Make it attractive to all.
3. People and ideas are separate things; any idea is worth consideration, but don't be threatened if the idea is rejected. "Quit throwing the good stuff out," Walt used to say, when he would peruse the trash cans of his artists after hours. A good idea can come from anywhere... give it a chance.
4. Lead the customer. Make the path clear, and easy to take. You do not have to jar sense into a customer. You can make their decision to support you easy, by providing thought to the details (transitions from land to land), and consistant product quality. Once you gain their confidence, thru quality, they will be willing to return again and again.
5. There is no such thing as a "Money Problem;" only "Idea Problems." If an idea is a good one, money will come. Money flows to good ideas; you just have to let the money know what the idea is. There is always a way; it may not be the way you first envisioned it, but consider options, and be willing to adapt, if the adaptation is a better idea.
This is just a first pass at it. I doubt if Walt would have defined it like this (lots will try to tell you they know, but really, no one knows what went on in his brain), but it is the way the company was originally structured. There are certainly many other management philosophies, and the current guys have their own.