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« ABANDONED DISNEY: River Country [Part 2] | Main | Layers of Imagineering »
Thursday
Dec312009

Decades in Review

As we enter a new decade, and in a spirit of reflection, I find myself comparing the things I love about Disneyland and Walt Disney World to the things I love much less.  Although I have a fascination with ‘vintage’ I do love the occasional new attraction that knocks my socks off.  Notice I use the word occasional.  Sadly I find myself less and less impressed as time goes by.

Let’s look at this 55-year progression (or digression).  The above timeline is a visual representation of my opinions.  It’s very simple.  Blue = I like.  Red = Sub-par.

Shocking?  To most of the readers of this blog, this may not be.  To most theme park-goers, probably a bit of a shocker.  The argument arises that Disney’s audiences are ever-changing.  The classic Walt quote inevitably gets thrown at guys like me, “Disneyland will never be completed.  It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.”  Well-said, Uncle Walt.  We do not disagree.  Remember, he used the words imagination and grow.  It seems to me that he’s saying, “Let’s improve and push ourselves to new levels.”  Not: “Let’s ruin things that people already love in an attempt to sell more merchandise.”   Ok ok.  Getting a little bitter, I know. 

But isn’t park attendance always increasing?  Aren’t lines at Test Track still an hour long?  Does that not tell you something?  We need to give the guests what they want.” 

People generally like what is placed in front of them-- especially if they don’t know that something far greater was there a few years before.  Before we know it, Future World will represent a whole lot of non-futuristic nothingness.  Magic Kingdom will be covered in ill-placed, random characters where they should never be.  The latest Disney popcorn flicks will continue to encourage management to pull up the bull-dozers to things we’ve cherished since childhood.  Disneyland and DCA will look like a Disney Channel version of Six Flags. 

Look at the timeline.  Is that where we are headed? Let’s pray this ain’t so.

Happy New Year!

 


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    Response: my review here
    Excellent Site, Maintain the very good job. Regards!

Reader Comments (23)

Depressing. Let's hope this does not continue!

January 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I think the trend will go on forever. I hate to say it but it's true. I think we all have to look at this in a realistic fashion.

Walt Disney was a brilliant man who had the power to overcome the money men and make is ideas real because it was HIS show. From the very second he closed his eyes and passed on, the empire he built started to change. At first, his closest employees tried to keep things in check but by the late 70's it was more than obvious that you can't teach genius. They were on the brink of being sold or closed for good. It only took ten years for things to go down the toilet without Walt. Remember that.

What I'm getting at here is that we just can't expect Walt's vision with the Disney Company these days. We're sort of lucky (or are we?) that we still get to experience a dwindling few true Walt Disney attractions.

Again, you can't teach genius. Horrible people within the company always use the line "we learn about Walt and how he thought". Really? Does that mean you can teach people to think like Albert Einstien? NO! Jerk bags.

This Imagineering Disney post was right on the money. I love it and I love this blog. Many thanks.

-Hoot

January 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHoot Gibson

Future World needs more gift shops. Maybe Mouse Gear will grow until it consumes all of FW.

January 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJAMES ARNOLD

Well said, Hoot. It's a shame. At least we have cool home videos and photos to help us re-live things we can no longer experience first hand. And hooray for blogs like Mesa Verde Times, Yesterland, Widen Your World, etc. And we hope that our blog will bring you great things in 2010. Glad you like.

January 2, 2010 | Registered CommenterAdmin

I can agree with everything on the list up top except a Thumbs Down for Pleasure Island. I thought Pleasure Island was just what WDW needed for the adults and the late night crowd. Back in the late 80's, 90's, and early 2000s it was a great place to go to for nighttime fun. The idea of every night being New Years Eve was great and most of the clubs were fun places to dance, relax, and blow off some steam. It changed over the years an eventually in the 2000's became a place that was outdated and cut back. They started cutting corners and removing thing there little by little. Live music became more and more scarce and Pleasure Island was less engaging.

Disney was designed so the entire family could experience Walt’s dream. Pleasure Island was one of the few places the late crowd and adults could get away for a little while from the kids. Even Walt knew the value of adult friendly places back when he designed WDW. Back then the golf courses were the adult getaways.

The ultimate downfall for Pleasure Island was the management cutting back on things and the location. Being between the Marketplace and Downtown Disney West Side was a real problem. I wish they had decided to keep Pleasure Island and just relocate the entertainment. I think Disney is losing some much needed nighttime attractions for guests as well as locals. The best solution to this would be for Disney to create a new resort. The Disney Pleasure Island Resort would be located close to Interstate 4 so locals could easily get to the clubs and bars. It would be an adult only resort that contained a hotel and nighttime entertainment. It could still offer the same kind of dance clubs and every night could be New Years Eve. Guests could go out and party and then walk to there rooms when they are ready to turn in. Guest rooms at the resort could be sound insulated so the clubs, bars, and fireworks do not disturb the guests who have went to bed early in order to go to the park the following morning. An outdoor pool with a swim up bar and pool side spas could attract guest and people during the day.

As far as the other comments above: I agree 100%. I like this site and Disney just does not get it any longer. Every now and again the execs get it right with a ride or an addition, but 90% of the time they just don’t see the potential of WDW and they don’t understand Walt’s dream. My hope is that between 2010 and 2020 someone in those offices finally wakes up, looks past the stacks of dollar bills sitting on the desks and realizes that returning the luster of WDW can be lucrative as well as exciting for the guests. Disney needs to contact some of the die hard Disney fans from around the world and invite them to sit down and discuss just what we all think Walt would have wanted. They can’t seem to figure it out by themselves.

One last rant! If Walt knew Disney operated the number of Diesel buses that they do and what it does to the air, the environment, and the facts on global warming, he would yank them all off the roads and come up with a better solution. Walt and his team didn’t just come up with smart ideas. They made the impossible happen because it was needed and because it was right. So what if it cost a little more to develop a highway in the sky that ran on electricity instead of gas. It needed to be done and they didn’t care that the technology was not there. They created the technology as they went along and never stopped making those ideas even better around ever corner.

January 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAngrySaint

I think you are way too bias and ignoring too much. Where's Soarin? Where's Expedition Everest? I see you select Pop Century as "Bad" but I don't see Animal Kingdom Lodge, which is just brilliant. So you simply say "Anything old, GOOD, Anything New, BAD.".Horizons and World of Motion were all well and good - but Epcot was full of those dull "Animatronics teach you stuff" rides. It's nice to have some, but the whole park was like Space Ship Earth..I'll take Soarin', Test Track and Mission: Space over those. Mickey's Philharmagic is the best thing that's EVER BEEN in that location. Mr. Toad may be gone, but Winnie The Pooh is a fair substitute, and reaches a broader appeal. (Amongst the masses, who remembers the Wind and the Willows now-a-days.

Yes, we can mourn things that are gone, I miss the OLD Tiki Room every trip, and so wish that 20,000 leagues were still there. But to say that nothing new is any good is ridiculous. We were watching the "Monster's Inc Laugh Floor" show in December, and I thought to myself "Ya know, I kind of miss old 9-eye, but this is WAY more entertaining than the Timekeeper was. Good move by Disney." Some changes are bound to turn out poor choices (Stich anyone?), but they have to TRY less they stagnate.

In an ideal world, they would never take off any old rides, and only add new things...but in the real world, they have limited infrastructure and resources for this. You have my pity, for someone that can only accept things as they were is doomed to misery.

January 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSkier_pete

This is why we post this stuff!

Everest was meant to be on there as a "Thumbs Up", definately.  

For simlicity's sake I did not explain all of my opinions. I did this mostly off the top of my head and didn't intend to include everything. A few things were left off because I don't have strong opinions either way. Mickey's PhilharMagic is indeed pretty good. However in my opinion it doesn't hold a candle to one of it's predicessors, The Mickey Mouse Review.

Mission: Space is decent but in my opinion it is lightyears behind it's predicessor, Horizons.  I happen to be one who loves animatronic-filled rides that try to teach me things. As for Horizons, the entire concept and vision of the ride outperform the physical elements of the ride, which is saying A LOT considering the amazing amount of detail and the incredible design.  We just don't see that combination in Disney rides anymore.

Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor- wrong location. Toy Story Mania isn't on there because I'm on the fence with that one. Just glad it's not at Magic Kingdom or Epcot. Didn't want to include any resorts but Pop and All-Star are just so bad I had to. AK Lodge, Wilderness Lodge, Saratoga Springs, etc.- thumbs up.

Point is, there's been a decline in the past couple decades with a few exceptions. 

January 13, 2010 | Registered CommenterMitch

I agree this list is too selective. However it's pretty close to accurate. You should definitely include the Win of Reflections of Earth - the final good thing Disney has done. Dinosaur is a crapfest compared to Indiana Jones. But I would make Pleasure Island and Disney Quest plusses - while they could have been much better, they were good and at least something new was being tried.

There is hope though, Splash Mountain, the last good ride, was created well after Walt's death. There are still good people out there, but like our government, they aren't generally what floats to the top.

January 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBeef Johnson

I like pooh's playful place! I think it fills a need. that's all.

January 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRosie

It's hard to like Pooh's Playful Spot when you think about what was there before (20K Leagues Under the Sea).

January 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJosef

I agree that this articles IS overly-biased and extremely mean-spirited.

I can't stand people slamming new attractions without thinking.

GO GET A LIFE!

May 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWDWLocal

Thank you, but I have a great life.

I appreciate the feedback but let's remember that this is OPINION. It's a matter of taste. Forming an opinion without thinking is something I can't stand either. We agree on that. But nothing here was slammed without thinking. Trust me, a lot of thought and experience have gone into the things I critique. This visual is meant to simply demonstrate that in my opinion the things that made Disney parks great from the beginning have been slipping away. That's all.

I feel that too often too little thought goes into LOVING things almost unconditionally if Disney made them. Mindless appreciation might be more blissful for some, but I like to look a little deeper at something before forming a strong opinion. That said, I love to experience things for what they are the first few times around before critiquing too much.

May 17, 2010 | Registered CommenterMitch

Thank you so much for posting this because it really does show how Disney is declining. I am only twelve years old and I even know that the attractions don't seem up to Disney standards or at least old standards. When I am able to I going to try to be an Imagineer and my main goal if I get there is to put Disney back into Walt's way of doing things. I know it may seem impossible but isn't that what Disney is all about, doing the impossible.

February 21, 2011 | Unregistered Commenter12yearoldimagineer

Great post! I just read it, since it was linked from the Part 2 Decades in Review (dunno how I missed the first one!!)

I'm gonna go a tad off-topic here and ask what tool did you use to make the Thumbs Up/Down chart in this post?

Thanks!

March 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMike

I am going to basically agree and disagree at the same time. I do not see the future as quite so bleak. When comparing with other theme parks, Disney is miles and miles ahead. Even of Universal with its new Harry Potter. The reason I say this is because the parks are always very clean and the customer service is supurb. At Universal you can still get the snotty employee or see candy wrappers on the ground. Disney parks are always going to be the cream of the crop. I also still see great attractions. California Screamin, Tower of Terror, Mission Space, Everest are great. Even Dinosaur and the Bugs Life movie are great. These are all new. I will say I agree with your point of them dumbing down rides to make a buck. ExterTERRORestrial Encounter was fabulous. That was the ride that showed me what creativity can do. Stitch kind of stinks. I do understand why it was taken out, since it probably scared the hell out of kids (as does the Bug's Life movie), but I do wish it could return. I hate the new announcer for the Tomorrowland Transit Authoity. That seems to be trying to play to the Disney Channel's teen audience while dumping the retro-sci-fi announcer, so I see your point. Jack Sparrow does not annoy me, but if they had changed the Haunted Mansion to add anything from a movie, I would have come unglued. I also see your point that there has not been a revolutionary ride since Haunted Mansion, but I think that is an unfair comparison. I think Everest was somewhat revolutionary for coasters, but I doubt there will ever be a ride so ahead of its time as the mansion. My fifty-year-old sister and my mother-in-law rode it for the first time and was completely blown away compared to the other rides. So, I think the future is going to be fine. Bring on the Seven Dwarf's coaster. Make the music on Space Mountain at WDW like at DL. Enhance but don't replace for the sake of replacing. Finally, I do think the Harry Potter section will spurn them on to create bigger and better rides.

March 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJCHout

Great post, great Blog! I'm 61 and have been enjoying Disneyland since 1965 or so. I watch with delight when they come up with something new, but oftentimes the reality seems to be the quick buck now rather than fun and bringing folks back for generations to come. It's difficult to imagine that Walt would have appreciated many of the changes to his little park.

March 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGreg Hodgkins

Some, I do agree with. I have been a Disney fan from the very beginning. I'm only 16, but I know the history, the mind, and the concept of the Disney Parks like the back of my hand. I agree with you that Disney is headed towards, well, look at Tomorrowland. Here's something I've also noticed, any attraction that is beloved by Disney fans, doesn't get demolished or infiltrated by characters, they get turned into blockbuster movies. Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, next up is Space Mountain or Kilimanjaro Safaris. Now, as far as what you have thumbed up and thumbed down, some I don't agree with. For example, the Allstar Resorts. I have stayed at those resorts everytime I've gone to Disney, and no, they aren't Fort Wilderness Lodge or the Grand Floridian, but guess what? They're comfortable and affordable. It makes Disney accessible, and that's how Walt would have wanted it. He wouldn't want to discourage people from coming to his park because they couldn't afford it. If it wasn't for the Allstar Resorts, I wouldn't be the devoted fan I am today.

March 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSamantha Miker

I agree that the older or original attractions are simply inspiring but there are also wonderful new ideas that are implemented everyday at the parks. I think that through all the destrcution and reconstruction of attractions through the years the parks retain their initial magic when they opened. I can only speak for WDW (which I'm lucky to have been to almost as many times as I am old) but it is still as beautiful as it has ever been. The cast members are still as helpful as ever, the shows as entertaining and the rides as enthralling. I love 'it's a small world' more today than ever (remodel or not ... the governing message of that attraction is spectacular). Being a young adult I still want to go back every year and see what Disney has new for me. Just being in the parks makes me the happiest person there and beaming with a Mickey premium bar in my hand (which sadly now costs $3.50).

As far as the Value Resorts go, I think they're wonderful. For the majority of my trips there (except for a couple stays in the moderate resorts) my family has always stayed in the All Star Resorts and they're perfect for us. We're the type of people who would rather get up early and stay out late at the parks. To us, hotels are to sleep in. And I know it's the same for a lot of people. the value resorts also are convenient to many larger groups like high school bands or teams to stay at without the chaperones having to worry about their kids. As far as the quality of the resorts, you get what you pay for. I've been to nearly every resort at WDW (my family is big into resort hopping,especially for the holidays when they have the ginger bread houses everywhere and decorations about) and for the most part each fits well for certain people. I love the cheesy giant dalmations and beauty and the beast posters, but that's just me. You can't go to Disney world without expected some corn and cheese; you need to see everything with an ounce of magic :)

Also, it has been my dream my entire life to be an Imagineer. I'm currently studying to be a Mechanical Engineer and submitted a project in the Imaginations competition this past year. Our team only made it to be semi-finalists but we're shooting to be finalists next year :) I'm not letting my dream die yet and if I ever get the honor to participate in designing anything for Disney I will make sure it to stick to the heart and soul of Walt's original vision.

I guess to treasure the past but also have a wonderful faith in the future. You have to go to the parks and just appreciate the small things ... like talking drinking fountains when you press the button for water, or chip and dale voices in the trash cans when you throw away a soda. Thanks for the post, the past was great but the future is still bright.

May 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbiz

I am one of the lovers of this article and find it to be incredibly valid. I would, however, love to see full inclusion of attractions, and maybe others for resorts and shows. Would just be cool to get your take!

September 11, 2011 | Unregistered Commenter@ChasonDailey

For the most part I agree with this post. Some of the changes that they have made have been horrendous (Rio del Tiempo and Journey into the Imagination spring immediately to mind). That said I think that Joe Rohde really embodies the spirit of good 'ol imagineering. Everest takes themeing to the next. Everything in that queue and ride are phenomenal, and there is no Disney Character driving the experience. All of that said, I have a three year old, and for him, meeting Mickey and 'Mater were two of the best experiences of his short life (along with Mickey waffles, Safari and Jungle Cruise). The idea of Cars land is one that has him giddy for a trip to CA. Some of the decisions that they are making, while off putting to us, will continue to drive a whole lotta traffic into those parks.

I worked at WDW for four years and am taking my first trip to Disneyland next week while I am there for work. While I am thrilled at the opportunity to see Walt's original park, I do mourn some of the things that are lost, that I will never experience for the sake of "progress". I will also say, that outside of Voyage of the Little Mermaid, I have no intention of visiting DCA. I might even wait for new Fantasyland to experience it, so I can spend two solid days in DL.

February 10, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteritwaswallace

I agree with all of your thumbs up and thumbs down except for one...it never fit into any of the Disney Parks, but was thrilling nonetheless...Alien Encounter. Funny, my college had a theater with a movie about the school and half-way through the movie, the show cuts off and you hear these maintenance guys yelling at each other about how to fix it. At one point, a animatronic leg comes through the ceiling with a loud, "whoops!"--reminded me of A.E...not sure which one came first.

July 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbgeo

I also couldn't disagree with you more in relation to Alien Encounter! It was so much fun. I remember I knew everything that would happen in it, because friends had visited Magic Kingdom the year before I went for the first time. They basically told me everything and I was extremely excited about it. I just really hated the fact the alien monster wasn't the one in the Sigourney Weaver's movies. LOL! In the TV promos, the Alien's silhouette reminded me the one from the movies (find it on youtube and see it for yourself.) My heart sank the day I found out it became Stitch's Great Escape. I should've gone a lot more to Magic Kingdom. Unfortunately I just experienced A.E. twice! Talk about frustration.
But as bgeo pointed out, it never fit into any Disney Parks, and that is the frustrating part. But giving it a second thought, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (great attraction missing in your timeline, Mitch!) is somewhat scary and it fits greatly in Disney Studios! They should've moved A.E. to that park. Also, theme parks have always meant a few scary attractions to me. A.E. could have been reserved to teens and adults since it was too much for little kids. Yes, I know kids are Disney's main target, but please... they gotta deal with every age once in a while. I miss it and I'm so sorry that people will never have the opportunity to experience it again!

October 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

Well, I've only been to WDW once back in 2006 (I live across the great puddle) and I liked it. I can see where you are coming from with some of the rides. But are test track (maybe the revamp) and Mission Space really that out of place or is it more what they replaced?
I can't really compare, as I've never seen World of Motion and Horizons unfortunately.

But I don't think they are screwing it up as badly as Discoveryland in Paris. I have seen the changes there and they feel out of place with the theme. Buzz Lightyear (ride is awesome, it has blasters that are attached by cable to the cars, not bolted down)? Honey I shrunk the audience (now replaced back to Captain Eo, at least last time)? Pizza Planet?

It's not the rides I don't like it's just where they are. Discoveryland had this awesome theme going and it's being invaded. They even swapped Mickey out of the Constellations logo...

I would feel really bad if Discoveryland ended up being a blend of Future World and Tomorrowland. It has it's own identity not found in other parks, and it's a great one.

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRobert

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