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  1. #1

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    Is Disney finally catching up to TDR?

    I know this is a longshot, but with all the bashing of WDW and Disneyland going on lately- I've noticed a few very small changes in the US Parks in which they seem to be taking some notice of what is going on & working overseas in Japan. These are just a few of my own ideas and opinions and am sure will be debated, but here goes.

    I know they first tried to copy Cinderellabration & then destroyed it in WDW, but I've noticed now with the street parties in both California and Florida, they somehow are adding a third parade, similar to what TDR has been doing with the smaller, sort of more meet and greet, mini parades. Still, they have much work to do since the experience in TDR is far superior to the Celebrate it or Celebrate today shows here. I also think that they shouldn't have too much audience participation since some of the ones they drag out on the street to dance, really shouldn't be.

    A few other things I've noticed as well- it may have been this past Christmas- I recall seeing photos of a dessert you can buy at Disneyland that came with a souvineer cup-it wasn't as nice as the ones from TDR, but it was at least something. Also, when the snowman Mickey and Minnie first began at TDR 2 years ago, this past Christmas both Disneyland and Disneyworld had their own version of the Mickey & Minnie plush- they were almost the same, except for the stiched on eyes- but the quality was so much better once again in TDR. They also had some ornaments and other things fashioned after them as well, yet I don't think they caught on as well as they did in Tokyo.

    The next thing I noticed that Disney is caught up on, not from TDR, but Japan as well- is the whole new Vinylmation- it started up small, but after visiting the WDW Disney Village the other day- they whole line is going to explode into next year and beyond.

    I've seen for years about those vinyl characters painted in different ways and packaged in sealed boxes were very popular in Japan and China. Now Disney decided to mold Mickey and paint him in hundreds of different ways. Some of them are cute, but lets hope they don't kill this market the way they overkilled the beanie and pin markets in the past.

    I still don't think that Disney knows the whole pin trading thing has died off yet. I know I've gone off topic now.

    Anyway, all in all- I think Disney is looking at what is going on in Japan, and is making some small attempt to copy them- they aren't doing a very good job of it yet, but lets hope they someday open up their wallet and give the US parks the love and care they deserve.

    I like the way they are improving California Adventure and some of the other additions to Disneyland, but WDW needs to really do more than they have been doing & get out of their rut that since they are known to be a vacation destination, that people will come. I can only wish that they do more and take the examples of what works to make a great theme park like the OLC has done with TDL and TDS.

  2. #2

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    Re: Is Disney finally catching up to TDR?

    I think if you look for similarities you can find them. However I don't think that the US parks are taking much of any clue from TDR.

    Any similarities between what TDR does and what is being done in the US parks are more coincidence than by design. At best, we can only dream that the US parks are even noticing what TDR is doing.

    If the US parks do want to take some clues from TDR/OLC, the first thing they should do before looking at merchandise, attractions and entertainment, is take note of the TDR CMs and how they approach their jobs. That alone would make a HUGE improvement to the Guests experience at the US parks.

  3. #3

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    Re: Is Disney finally catching up to TDR?

    Roger.. the problem is.. they are not willing to staff the parks properly like TDR does. It's all about running the parks with minimal staffing, which is something unheard of at TDR. As for merchandise, yes, our parks can sell better quality stuff and useful stuff that we can be happy to bring home to, but in regards to TDR.. again, they know their audience and know what the current trends are in Japan.. and that is their strike of genious and reason why their merchandise sells. Here, all they care to do is sell HSM, BBBs, and Hannah Montana. They are selling you advertisement, not trends.

    jedimaster7313,
    Everything you mentioned in your first post, I have already covered and discussed in some other posts in both the DL and WDW sections of Micechat.
    This is not a longshot of coincidence.. there are folks who actually care to read and compare what knowledgeable fans are saying in these and many other sites' boards. All it takes is the right person reading what we are writting and the right person in charge to make some changes, even if those are considered.. testing the waters. Then, there are the limiting budgets and each park's management team's individual business practices.

    When I reviewed the "Celebrate it" show at the MK, first thing I noticed and stated was that this was the closest the MK got to TDL in terms of entertainment that is designed to add to the experience and make guests become a part of the show. I welcomed that and offered kudos for it. The DL folks have been more critical of the same show because they are used to a higher standard of show and quality over what we get at WDW.. so of course, they had to show disappointment. But lets not forget.. whatever TDL have been doing in regards to special event shows and such.. it was a cue they took from DL. Long before TDL became the leader of special event entertainment, it was DL putting on equally huge extravaganzas like "Blast to the Past", "Country Fair", "World According to Goofy" and even the spectacular "Lion King Celebration".. to name a few.
    It was the lousy management teams of the late 90s and early 2000s that have let the US parks' quality and entertainment drop down to abysmal lows... hence WDW's Cinderellabration, which was totally wrong wrong wrong in execution.
    Fast forward to the present.. and take DL's Summer Fantasmic! Here we have a brand new pyro show that uses TDL's 10th annioversary music as it's main theme. The original MSEP at DCA is now played using TDL's Dreamlights score... and even DCA's Mickey's Fun Wheel now sports digital lighting similar to the ones we have been seeing in Japan's many ferris wheels all over the place. These are not coincidences.. some people are listening and watching. The fact that so much of TDL's entertainment and music has been sent to ALL of the other 4 resorts around the World speak volumes of the massive influence and quality of TDR. THEY HAVE SET THE NORM TO WHAT A DISNEY PARK AND RESORT SHOULD BE LIKE. This is a challenge to the other parks and I think, some management people are willing to try to match it with it's limited resources and budgets. That is a good thing.
    I have always stated.. Disney quality should be standard and perfect ALL of the time, regardless of where these parks are located. There is no reason why TDL excels in cleanliness and DLP does not, or why lovely HKDL, DLP, and DLP have cobblestone sidewalks and Main St. and the MK does not, or why one park has great seasonal entertainment and overlays, and some don't. HKDL is one park that sees the possibilities and that is why they are desperate to do things the TDR way...in hopes to replicate the same success TDL has with the local fanbase.
    Those are all good initiatives and I am greatful of them for trying.

  4. #4

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    Re: Is Disney finally catching up to TDR?

    Quote Originally Posted by Roger55 View Post
    If the US parks do want to take some clues from TDR/OLC, the first thing they should do before looking at merchandise, attractions and entertainment, is take note of the TDR CMs and how they approach their jobs. That alone would make a HUGE improvement to the Guests experience at the US parks.
    As I have said, I've never been to the US parks, but I think it would be very difficult if not downright impossible to cultivate the same attitude among American CMs. Americans tend to have a certain cynicism, respect for sarcasm, and disrespect for part-time/non-luxury service labor that taints this goal, especially for working at a place that's trying to hold onto a spirit that many now see as "ridiculous" rather than "magical."

    Finding (young) adult Americans who are genuinely open to a love of the charm and vibe of Disney - not just as entertainment - is a real challenge, I think. All of the CMs that I've known in Tokyo are people who actually live their lives with a lot of positivity and heart. For them, working at Disney is a great opportunity, even if it's just a part-time university gig. As I have said before, Disney is, I think, more fundamentally integrated into the Japanese culture - among both genders and all ages. Here, I think, Disney is not so much an intense megacorporation that uses cuteness and magic as a mask to hide its insatiable hunger for power and dominance, the way so many Americans seem to see Disney when they aren't watching movies with kids (not that this perspective is unfounded). In Japan, Disney is still the idea of artists creating and consumers buying for the sole purpose of joy, and it just happens to be very profitable. There are many more companies - Ghibli, Sanrio, San-X, manga and animation studios... - following this same model. In Japan, there's such a general saturation of the values of cohesion, togetherness, and child-mind. Product solely for the purpose of cute and saccharine sentimentality that could not be considered large, viable all-ages markets in the too-cool-for-school US are defining parts of this economy because of numerous cultural differences. Conflict, so highly valued in our debate-oriented America (which I love and often miss, actually^^) is avoided at all cost in most aspects of Japanese society. Rebellion is seen as dysfunction rather than natural growth. Taking anything too seriously except money, status and entertainment is often perceived as suspicious or "scary."

    The reasons for the differences in CM service in these two countries are far deeper than any training program could ever tackle, I think. It's a lifetime of cultural training and a laundry list of cultural values/differences that make this the way it is. That said, I'm not sure I'd give up American tendencies to question authority, push for individual recognition/power (power, not dominance^^), and take personal responsibility to creatively solve problems whether or not rules have been passed down from "someone on high." It's true that we don't always live up to this, but after so many years overseas, I have come to see clearly that this is what we value, who we really are.

    As an educator, I deeply value America's approach and find Japan often lacking in how it nurtures/challenges its youth. I think, without giving up these principles, and without looking exactly like Japanese CMs, there is a mutual respect, personal pride, and commitment to quality work that can be cultivated in the US. In fact, I think that these are genuinely distinctive American values. There is a better American way than what I often hear described on these forums. I think we've just had too long to take too much for granted. Thanks to us, actually, the Japanese had to start over not too long ago; they aren't so smug...yet.

  5. #5

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    Re: Is Disney finally catching up to TDR?

    Pretty interesting, and thoughtful observation, Duffydad. I think I agree with you, in that I think it would be impossible these days to get the exact CM attitudes from Americans. The "just a job" mentality, combined with Disney's lowered hiring standards, makes for an uphill battle that I'm not sure they could win. It's no longer the status symbol it once was to say you've worked at Disneyland or Walt Disney World. You're right, I don't think the Japanese youth are quite that cynical yet, but sometimes that is in question when you see how they dress. It's funny though, because I think Japanese teenagers want to have the appearance of rebellion, but I don't think their hearts are in it as much as just looking good. I'm sure if you asked them, they are still respectful of their parents and other authority figures. They just like to look the part...

  6. #6

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    Re: Is Disney finally catching up to TDR?

    Sorry for repeating anything TDLFAN, I really don't read much of the Disneyland and Disneyworld threads (gasp!!) at micechat. There's enough of rants and raves all over the internet that I read on a daily basis with pictures of pealing paint and construction walls that's enough to make someone sick. I have been just making mental notes from my visits over the past few years & what I've noticed has been changing in the parks.

    I follow more of the overseas threads, especially Tokyo since I love it so much there and feel like I'm there, even when I'm not, through everyones great photos, trip reports and updates.

    I do realize that TDR took some hints from Disneyland as well in the early days, but Disneyland has taken the steps to focus more on anniversaries, rather than seasonal events- but I'm happy they have brought back Halloweentime and love how they are trying to improve California Adventure and even forming D23-even if it has been ripped apart already.

    TDR seems to have mastered a way of keeping it's guests coming back for more- based on the ever changing shows, parades, events, merchandise and general offerings to its guests. WDW and DL have sort of strayed from that a little. Yes, WDW still has it's seasonal events like Food & Wine, Flower & Garden and Holidays around the world for Epcot & MK still has their hard ticket night events MNSSHP and MVMCP- even Pirates & Princess which has vanished for now. But even so, these events & parties in WDW have lost something thru the years. (I'm tired of playing where did they move the same old topiaries each year at the Flower & Garden festival). Disneyland had lost site of this too for a while, but seems to be having better offerings more recently like the Halloweentime and the upcoming Nighttastic. Now both WDW & DL have to work on better souvineers, which I believe are way better in Tokyo Disney.

    TDR has the little things like the take home cups & plates with desserts and more frequent giveaways at the gate to keep their avid fans and collectors visiting more often. Where WDW seems to be taking things away from their guests like free buttons and photos at the nighttime parties while increasing the costs- even though they still offer killer firework displays. Disneyland follows the pattern of giveaways more often like the pins, ornaments, patches, etc for it's Haunted Mansion Holidays and Pirates at some of its restaurants & like I mentioned earlier- a free cup with dessert offering similar to Tokyo (too bad I missed out on that one). These are just of a few of the little extra added special touches that makes a visit to the parks even more special.

    I'm not just focusing on little trinkets, but entire offerings at the parks are really better in TDR, but seem to be diminishing at the other parks each year who would rather focus on the bottom line than their guest service.

    For the die hard fans like us- we notice when things change. Most of the average one time visitor or family trips every few years, don't notice as much as us frequent visitors do- so from their viewpoint- much of the things are new to them, even if a bit of the quality is slipping. Disney on the whole is a very large company & it's hard to maintain that high standard and quality with a company this size, but it shouldn't be at the cost of losing some of their main fan base.

    Disneyland basically relies more on it's locals and passholders, that's why in the past they needed those events like Blast to the Past, to keep guests coming back. I'm very pleased that they are trying Nighttastic this summer- even though the dragon is not working yet. I hope to get there this summer since I heard it was supposed to last till late August, but possibly has been pushed thru to Sept 7- the day before I arrive mind you!

    WDW basically is known as a resort vacation destination- they seem to know that people will visit based on reputation. I'm sure they have more first time visitors than most of the other parks since WDW is such a big draw. So, other than seasonal & off season events- they don't seem to worry as much about their locals or passholders who visit repeatedly. Sure there are little passholder and local perks here & there, but not much changes from year to year.

    Also which DuffyDad touched on was Japanese work ethic & how they genuinely love their jobs and offer outstanding guest service- where in other parks, you have some who love thier jobs and are willing to help, but others who are just looking forward to a paycheck and what they are going to do after work that day.

    I still love visiting all the parks- except for Hong Kong, which I'll get to someday, but as long as Disney keeps on listening to their guests & focuses more on what works & doesn't at the parks and keeping long term goals rather than short term quick fixes- both Disney and it's guests will both benefit from it. So it's a win win situation. Hopefully someday we won't have to keep viewing photos of peeling paint and run down areas of the parks and more to construction shots and coming soon photos.

    This has gone on way longer than I had expected- let's just keep hope that the future is getting brighter & Disney truly gets back to exceeding guests expecatations-rather than just meeting them.

  7. #7

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    Thumbs up Re: Is Disney finally catching up to TDR?

    Quote Originally Posted by jedimaster7313 View Post
    This has gone on way longer than I had expected- let's just keep hope that the future is getting brighter & Disney truly gets back to exceeding guests expecatations-rather than just meeting them.
    Well said because, thats what disneyland is all about. Exceeding expections rather than meeting them!

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