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!