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  1. #16

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    Re: Shanghai DL To Be Outsourced by WDI...

    Your review is right on target - it saddens me to see how this once jewel of the Disney Themepark World is being let to rot.

  2. #17

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    Re: Shanghai DL To Be Outsourced by WDI...

    I don't think that WDI will outsource its talent. They may look to others let go bythem, but htey won't outsource. Would the suits love this? Heck yeah they would. WDI is too smart to do that. However, they may need to bend a little bit with the suits saying "We got to save money so we can get a big bonus. We already underpay our CM's, animation is gone...OH I GOT IT! We can attack the Imagineers!"

    The suits may not realize this, but they need the Imagineers. The parks would suck more than what you think they would if it was true.

    In other words, calm down. This isn't a big deal. I believe blueohanaterror is correct in this sense. Besides, WDI already outsources their AA components. Even at that, they still assemble them, engineer them, and are still programmed by animators. Remember, this is a rumor and only a rumor. Even Mr. Lutz can be innacurate at times. No offense, Mr. Lutz.
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  3. #18

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    Re: Shanghai DL To Be Outsourced by WDI...

    Quote Originally Posted by WDW1974 View Post
    According to a very reputable source, Lee MacDonald of Tales from the LP fanzine, Shanghai DL's design and development work will be outsourced in much the same model as UNI Creative now uses to save money.

    If the park, led by veteran Imagineer Bob Weis, turns out to be successful (and one would expect he'll hire a wide range of former WDI and UNI designers at rock bottom pay scale) you can kiss the WDI you've known since Walt created WED Enterprises a fond goodbye.

    Because that will be the model for the future. And WDI, a magical factory that has employed thousands as one time, will likely have a staff well under 100.
    Definitely sounds like Universal Creative's business model.

    Quote Originally Posted by blueohanaterror View Post
    Overall, and I know this encourages nobody, the paradigm for this is really DCA. A huge amount of DCA was outsourced in design, but the "bones" of the place were really done in house in Glendale. To varying degrees, the most complicated elements were virtually entirely executed by WDI, while other elements and a lot of interior design and finishings, were outsourced to smaller boutique outfits.
    Which means that a Glendale staff of under 100 could have designed and built DCA as easily as a Glendale staff of 1000.

    DCA was built pretty much along the lines of how Universal Creative would have built it.

    Got it.

    Quote Originally Posted by blueohanaterror View Post
    So:
    1) Yes, Shanghai will see the largest outsourcing WDI's ever done for a park. They kind of have to - the distance to the park is prohibitive to make design and fabrication cost-effective.
    Uni Creative model.

    2) No, it will not ALL be done by outsourced vendors. The 'bones' of the place are being strictly overseen by WDI. General codes, show throughlines, quality control supervision, etc, are WDI.
    Uni Creative model.

    3) No, it's not a test run for dismantling WDI in the future or some kind of model for how they can do without Imagineering. Anyone familiar with Iger knows he's got great respect for this division - arguably moreso than Eisner in his heyday.
    Universal did not eliminate Universal Creative. They just downsized it to a staff of less than 100 and began outsourcing most of the work, but not all of it. Just like WDI did with DCA, and is doing with Shanghai.

    4) Layoffs and hiring en masse have happened at WDI in cycles since the 70's, especially after EPCOT Center opened. Since then, it's been a brutal cycle of hiring and massive layoffs as projects have come and gone. They're always looking for ways to trim costs. They've outsourced - to some degree, since the very beginning of MAPO.
    The massive layoffs have pretty much ceased. The slow trickle layoffs, however, continue on. Especially for the old school Imagineers.

    5) Hysteria is fun to chatter about - but that's all this is.
    I highly doubt that, given who Lee MacDonald is, what he does for a living, and which company (hint, hint) he does it for.

    6) You really think John Lasseter would sit still if flatlining WDI were on the table?
    Who said anything about "flatlining WDI"?

    WDW1974's originally wrote, "WDI, a magical factory that has employed thousands as one time, will likely have a staff well under 100."

    Just like Universal Creative, a company still in existence, not flatlining by any means.

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  4. #19

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    Re: Shanghai DL To Be Outsourced by WDI...

    As an architect, I hope I can support some claims while alleviate the fear of others. The amount of work to put a Park together is enormous. Take the MGM City Center; there were more than 10 architecture firms working on that project plus dozens of other engineering firms. So when we consider the size of SDLR, we can assume WDI is parceling out a bunch of the grunt work while WDI is merely acting as the executive--making sure the quality is there. The rest is given out to others so WDI doesn't have to hire a ton of new people.

    And let's face it, the magic from Disney at the park level is mostly by rote now. They're good at it. But what no one else can really match is the R&D as they create new technologies, used in novel ways, that really inspire us.

  5. #20

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    Re: Shanghai DL To Be Outsourced by WDI...

    And by Outsourcing, do you mean that many people will be hired on a project per project basis? Much like they do at Walt Disney Animation Studios?

    Disney has been outsourcing for a very long time then. And if they follow that model, all the artwork will STILL be owned by Disney. And the folks working on the project are all technically still Imagineers. So they still exist. They're just not for sure going to be there once the attraction is completed.

    or.

    Do you mean that Disney will hire a vendor to do a specific job for them... like the Maleficent dragon in Fantasmic 2.0?


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  6. #21

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    Re: Shanghai DL To Be Outsourced by WDI...

    Making comparisons between Uni Creative and WDI is just silly.

    Sure, Lee's a fairly credible source. He's just wrong here. Nothing this drastic is going on with WDI, a LOT of design work has already been accomplished in house, and will continue to be.

    But THIS was under consideration for a long time. Shanghai is just too freaking far away to practically, cost-effectively manage fabrication and control major design execution from Glendale. Add the cultural differences, the micro-managing the Chinese Government inflicts and the complexity of the deal done between Disney and China... This is the plan that makes sense.

    It's not a harbinger of doom. WDI will not be scaled down to 100 people. That's ridiculous. It's silly.

    But people keep saying things like this every few years, it doesn't happen, they forget it was ever said before, and it happens all over again.

    Five years from now, nobody will remember this particular exchange, and Disney will be announcing a major new project, and WDI will be just as up and down with new hires and inevitable layoffs afterward as ever.

  7. #22

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    Re: Shanghai DL To Be Outsourced by WDI...

    Quote Originally Posted by blueohanaterror View Post
    Making comparisons between Uni Creative and WDI is just silly.

    Sure, Lee's a fairly credible source. He's just wrong here. Nothing this drastic is going on with WDI, a LOT of design work has already been accomplished in house, and will continue to be.

    But THIS was under consideration for a long time. Shanghai is just too freaking far away to practically, cost-effectively manage fabrication and control major design execution from Glendale. Add the cultural differences, the micro-managing the Chinese Government inflicts and the complexity of the deal done between Disney and China... This is the plan that makes sense.

    It's not a harbinger of doom. WDI will not be scaled down to 100 people. That's ridiculous. It's silly.

    But people keep saying things like this every few years, it doesn't happen, they forget it was ever said before, and it happens all over again.

    Five years from now, nobody will remember this particular exchange, and Disney will be announcing a major new project, and WDI will be just as up and down with new hires and inevitable layoffs afterward as ever.
    That isn't technically true. The park is still in initial creative development - they haven't got to SD yet. The original park plans by the likes of Joe Rohde etc. have all been benched.

    None of the senior creative development leads are working on Shanghai - not one. They are all on other projects. Yes the blue sky work is being done in-house but once they need to get to SD and subsequently DD all of the creative will be outsourced. At the moment it is just kids working on Shanghai. More interns than you could possibly imagine.

    Shanghai is still a long way from being kick-started. There is just one WDP&R guy on the ground as general manager working with the outside consultants to get the government approval. There is still no indication as to when that will materialize but most reckon next year now.

    All of WDI management have been told of the creative and delivery outsourcing for Shanghai. Most are happy as it means they won't have to work with Weis and can concentrate on other projects like Tokyo's third gate.

    I read Lee's comment - it was a one-liner with no specifics.

  8. #23

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    Re: Shanghai DL To Be Outsourced by WDI...

    Quote Originally Posted by downtownBLUE View Post
    As an architect, I hope I can support some claims while alleviate the fear of others. The amount of work to put a Park together is enormous. Take the MGM City Center; there were more than 10 architecture firms working on that project plus dozens of other engineering firms. So when we consider the size of SDLR, we can assume WDI is parceling out a bunch of the grunt work while WDI is merely acting as the executive--making sure the quality is there. The rest is given out to others so WDI doesn't have to hire a ton of new people.
    The difference though, is that, with the primary exception of Eisner's hotel building boom, Walt Disney Imagineering swelled up and hired on all of those doing the grunt work. It has been a slow process moving from "grunt work" to more involved work, that has the logical end at design work.

    Quote Originally Posted by blueohanaterror View Post
    But people keep saying things like this every few years, it doesn't happen, they forget it was ever said before, and it happens all over again.
    It has not all happened in one fell swoop, but ever year a bit more gets sent off to outsourcing and nothing has yet to be brought back in house.

  9. #24

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    Re: Shanghai DL To Be Outsourced by WDI...

    "Most are happy as it means they won't have to work with Weis and can concentrate on other projects like Tokyo's third gate."
    Where did you hear this? I haven't heard anything about TDR getting a third gate, in fact, they shelved plans for that Disney Entertainment Center that was to be built in another Japanese city.

    While, I'd love to see it happen, in this economy I don't see the OLC putting down that kind of capital.

    A note on Bob Weis, he's a good man and a great Imagineer. If his version of Disney-MGM Studios had built in Paris it would have been amazing. Instead they got the turd that was WDS. I trust that given the right resources, Shanghai Disneyland could turn out to be quite a nice surprise.


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  10. #25

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    Wink Re: Shanghai DL To Be Outsourced by WDI...

    Quote Originally Posted by ImagineerWaryur View Post
    Where did you hear this? I haven't heard anything about TDR getting a third gate, in fact, they shelved plans for that Disney Entertainment Center that was to be built in another Japanese city.

    While, I'd love to see it happen, in this economy I don't see the OLC putting down that kind of capital.

    A note on Bob Weis, he's a good man and a great Imagineer. If his version of Disney-MGM Studios had built in Paris it would have been amazing. Instead they got the turd that was WDS. I trust that given the right resources, Shanghai Disneyland could turn out to be quite a nice surprise.


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  11. #26

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    Re: Shanghai DL To Be Outsourced by WDI...

    nevermind...

  12. #27

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    Re: Shanghai DL To Be Outsourced by WDI...

    Quote Originally Posted by downtownBLUE View Post
    As an architect, I hope I can support some claims while alleviate the fear of others. The amount of work to put a Park together is enormous. Take the MGM City Center; there were more than 10 architecture firms working on that project plus dozens of other engineering firms. So when we consider the size of SDLR, we can assume WDI is parceling out a bunch of the grunt work while WDI is merely acting as the executive--making sure the quality is there. The rest is given out to others so WDI doesn't have to hire a ton of new people.

    And let's face it, the magic from Disney at the park level is mostly by rote now. They're good at it. But what no one else can really match is the R&D as they create new technologies, used in novel ways, that really inspire us.
    Well, that unfortunately has been PROVEN false this year, with Harry Potter at Universal Orlando, and Disney STILL hasn't not responded to IoA's Spiderman, either. It's time for Disney and Imagineering to OWN UP to the fact that they are ALREADY 2nd to Universal. And Nothing since Indy at DL in Anaheim, has imagineering been on top. Then also take a look at the night time parade that Universal Japan introduce a year or two ago! Truely spectacular. All Disney did was add Tinkerbell to the old MSEP, ruin the song, and add additional lights and tinkersounds that added to much "noise", rather than giving the parade a full face lift that was necessary, for the new millenium. The demise of Imagineering is NOT understated.

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    Re: Shanghai DL To Be Outsourced by WDI...

    Quote Originally Posted by 4 Park Central View Post
    If you know anyone that can get into the MAPO building there is a model at the far end of the hall. :-p
    I don't suppose you can divulge more details? If there are plans for a third gate, would it be located off-property like they initially planned with the indoor entertainment center? Unless they reclaim more land, there really isn't sufficient space otherwise at the resort.
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  14. #29

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    Re: Shanghai DL To Be Outsourced by WDI...

    Quote Originally Posted by blueohanaterror View Post
    This is both accurate and wildly inaccurate.
    Not really. But if you are the old blue dog from another place I'm happy to see you here just the same!

    Quote Originally Posted by blueohanaterror View Post
    Yes, a great amount of design and all construction, propping, etc, will be outsourced. But overall design, engineering of infrastructure, the major components, etc, of Shanghai will be overseen by WDI, and have been for sometime.

    Hong Kong presented serious sourcing and budget problems with vendors that were solved gradually by locating artisans and engineers and other companies already proven as capable of providing Disney-level quality in fabrication in Asia. There's a small team responsible for finding and vetting the new vendors for Shanghai, and one of the key guys on this team has been with WDI for decades. I know personally that this is by no means is about deep-sixing WDI. This is about FREEING WDI in the USA and EUROPE to concentrate on stateside projects, of which there's no shortage over the next few years.

    It doesn't make sense for WDI to dismantle itself or outsource itself into oblivion, but Shanghai, unlike Hong Kong, is not being done in a WDI "lull period". So to keep them from overextending (and going even higher in overhead stateside than they regularly do now) this is a practical approach.

    WDI isn't being dismantled overnight, that is true and I never said otherwise. And Shanghai's design oversight will come from WDI/Bob Weis with experienced designers on-board, many former Imagineers likely.

    But this isn't about freeing workers for the USA. Disney is letting WDW largely stagnate, beyond the Fantasyland 'reimagination' ... a project that right now is very up in the air beyond one cloned DCA attraction and one F&B facility. Most of what the fanboi crowd saw starting at D23 (or leaked before actually) last year likely will not be built or not as shown.

    As for DCA, Phase I of its extreme makeover is nearing the half-way point and all design work is done ... the prospects of a Phase II are entirely up in the air. And DL isn't likely to be getting anything of note beyond the new Star Tours and Tron attractions for years.

    The idea for this started with Iger. He has no fondness for creatives, unlike his predecessor. He is a techie geek more interested in how to get folks to download Disney content on their iPhone while walking across DL than anything. His goal is to turn Disney into largely a distribution company. He wants to focus on Disney, ESPN, Marvel and Pixar BRANDS. He has little use for the past.

    If Weis can deliver a successful project of this magnitude using this model, then there will be no need for WDI as it now exists. That doesn't mean it will cease to exist, but it will be a shell of its former self.

    This may be a bad example, but it came to mind ... remember A&P? Great name in American retailing, stretched from coast to coast. Now,it still exists. In about five states.

    WDI will still exist, but it won't be more than largely a management/master planning studio, not the design house it is now.

    Quote Originally Posted by blueohanaterror View Post
    Overall, and I know this encourages nobody, the paradigm for this is really DCA. A huge amount of DCA was outsourced in design, but the "bones" of the place were really done in house in Glendale. To varying degrees, the most complicated elements were virtually entirely executed by WDI, while other elements and a lot of interior design and finishings, were outsourced to smaller boutique outfits.
    No, it doesn't encourage anyone likely but it was a bit different as well ... recall the Disney Design folks taking over for WDI. That worked magically.

    Quote Originally Posted by blueohanaterror View Post
    So:
    1) Yes, Shanghai will see the largest outsourcing WDI's ever done for a park. They kind of have to - the distance to the park is prohibitive to make design and fabrication cost-effective.
    Distance is not an excuse. They're looking to save money. Period.

    You do that by using as many 'outsiders' as possible.

    Quote Originally Posted by blueohanaterror View Post
    2) No, it will not ALL be done by outsourced vendors. The 'bones' of the place are being strictly overseen by WDI. General codes, show throughlines, quality control supervision, etc, are WDI.
    All true. Again, that's what makes this a test case. If it works, and I don't see why it won't, then kiss WDI goodbye much like WDFA.

    Quote Originally Posted by blueohanaterror View Post
    3) No, it's not a test run for dismantling WDI in the future or some kind of model for how they can do without Imagineering. Anyone familiar with Iger knows he's got great respect for this division - arguably moreso than Eisner in his heyday.
    I just totally disagree with this. I got to know Eisner on a personal level and the man had a great zest for what WDI did, especially in his first 15 years with the company. I don't know Iger personally, been in his presence but never had a talk over drinks or flatbread. But the folks I know who do know him don't have much good to say.

    Quote Originally Posted by blueohanaterror View Post
    4) Layoffs and hiring en masse have happened at WDI in cycles since the 70's, especially after EPCOT Center opened. Since then, it's been a brutal cycle of hiring and massive layoffs as projects have come and gone. They're always looking for ways to trim costs. They've outsourced - to some degree, since the very beginning of MAPO.
    The first part is very true. Ebb and flow would be best way of talking about WDI's employment cycles. And cost has always been a factor.

    But nothing like this was ever really pushed in the past. Disney is looking for the 'excuse' to cut 80-90% of WDI's workforce. No, not all at once, but steady and persistent.

    Quote Originally Posted by blueohanaterror View Post
    5) Hysteria is fun to chatter about - but that's all this is.
    I wish it were. This is the model. The typical 21st century American capitalist BS answer about being lean and mean and competitive and saving $$$, while increasing shareholder value pablum.

    You get to a point where the only thing that matters is the price of your stock tomorrow and what Wall Street thinks about your direction for the next quarter or two. ... And eventually, you either don't exist or you're a pale shadow of what you once were.


    Quote Originally Posted by blueohanaterror View Post
    6) You really think John Lasseter would sit still if flatlining WDI were on the table?
    No one said they were flatlining. More like getting a slow but steady morphine drip. And Lasseter's importance can be greatly overstated. He has power, but only to a point ... and only until Pixar actually puts out a film that is a financial disappointment, which may never happen to be fair!

    I strongly doubt The Weatherman had dinner and Lasseter's own wine with the dude and suggested that ''I am hoping the Shanghai plan works because if it does, I really want to be the guy that destroyed WDI.'' And you don't get to be Iger without the ability, as I'm sure you'd agree, to look a top employee in the eyes and lie ... and do so very well.

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  15. #30

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    Re: Shanghai DL To Be Outsourced by WDI...

    In my opinion, domestically and in Europe, WDI has done far more damage than good over the past decade or so.

    Off the top of my head: Sounds Dangerous, Stitch's Great Escape, Laugh Floor, Pooh over Toad, WDSP, Buzz in Discoveryland, DCA, DinoRama, Toy Story Playland, Test Track over WoM, HKDL, Mission Space over Horizons, Imagination redos, Judi Dench narration, Nemo subs, Nemo over Living Seas, total obliteration of Future World & Tomorrowland thematic cohesiveness, The Wand, The Hat, Pirates Lair on TSI, hunting decoys on Rivers of America, Aladdin Carpets, Under New Management, LMA in MGM, etc.

    Whether it is due the bidding of their corporate masters or simply waning ability and vision, I feel that WDI has spent the last decade DOWNGRADING the thematic experience in Paris, Florida and Anaheim. The only thing in that period that has really impressed me is Everest, and they couldn't even get that right.

    I don't care if the WDI that has made so many mis-steps, IMO, since 1999 goes away forever. Maybe they'll outsource to Tim Kirk's company (the creative lead on DisneySea). That's why this outsourcing news doesn't bother me. Today's WDI ain't the WDI that produced EPCOT Center, Disneyland Paris, DisneySea and Animal Kingdom - most of those creatives are long gone.

    That said, right now I'm feeling somewhat optimistic about the direction WDI seems to taking, producing things that I can get genuinely excited about, such as the character-free Mystic Point & Grizzly Peak, a potentially good Star Tours redo and the thematically appropriate and good-looking Fantasyland Expansion.
    Last edited by RandySavage; 08-12-2010 at 11:06 PM.

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