||11-14-2012 06:11 PM
Pete: I really have to take issue with your strident view expressed in the podcast. Not because you aren't entitled to your opinion. But because your opinion appears to be based on an absolute that simply does or will not exist. There is a 60+ page thread on the Theme Parks Board, much of it involving people chasing each other around. I don't want to repeat that here, and instead will simply offer up this essay on logic and evaluative thinking.
The Starbucks situation can unfold in many different ways. But first, let's stake out the end posts that mark the range of possibilities. On the one side, we have the possibility that the Main Street Bakery ("MSB") will not change in any way, shape or form. I'm talking about not a single molecule out of place. The only difference would be that the liquid poured into customers' cups would be Starbucks coffee. On the other side of the equation we have the possibility that Disney brings in a wrecking ball and bulldozer and erects a carbon copy of any ol' Starbucks found in any major city in America. A disgusting green building with stark, non-descript wooden chairs and tables, pretentious CDs sold by the register and hipster nose-pierced barristas pulling the shots.
If we are being honest here, you should have absolutely no quarrel with the first scenario, unless, of course, you simply do not like the liquid poured into your cup. But as nothing else has changed, it would be irrational to view this "change" as Armegeddon. In fact, unless someone told you that the coffee had changed, you'd never even know that there had been any change at all.
Contrast that with the second scenario, which I think it is fair to assume, would not sit well with 95% of all Disney fans and would and should bring about protests, petitions and people chaining themselves to the doors of the MSB.
Now, in reality, I think it is fair to say that what will actually unfold will be something in between. So let's analyze that. Logic dictates that if we start at the first guide post and work our way toward the second, small, incremental changes could be added to the first scenario that would be acceptable to you, and which would still find you in the "this change isn't so bad, and I accept it" camp. For example, the turn of the century motif is retained; the barristas look like clean cut workers in a Marceline soda shop; the furniture is new, but still well within the spectrum of the Disney Main Street Theme; and perhaps new wall paper or paint is applied to the walls. But nothing whatsoever that looks like a Starbucks or evokes the atmosphere of a typical urban coffee shop. Again, small, incremental changes, none of which move you over to the "I hate it" camp. From there, we can imagine still more changes, bringing the MSB closer and closer to the wrecking ball/urban coffee shop scenario. At some point, the changes will cross the proverbial line, pushing you into the "They've gone too far, and this is unacceptable" camp. And that is fine. Everyone is going to have their own opinion as to where that line is, and no one else could credibly debate the validity of that person's opinion. It is wrong, however, to assume at this stage, that the line will be crossed.
The same would hold true if we started at the second guide post and slowly made our way over to the first. Imagine a "pure" Starbucks, and then imagine small incremental changes that would move it into the realm of a turn of the century parlor. Small changes in this regard would not suffice, but if enough of them were compounded, eventually you would get to the point where you would have to concede that what they have done passes muster with you, and you would find the changeover acceptable. Again, opinions will differ in where this line resides.
But here is where I take issue with your rant. You jump off with your argument assuming that the scenario that will unfold is the second one, without a shred of proof of that fact. From the Disney blog press release, we know that the "all in" Starbucks isn't coming to WDW. The locale will remain the MSB, the turn of the century decor and feel will be retained, and much of the food offerings will continue to be sold. Rather than assume that this announcemnet was in response to negative reactions on the internet, I firmly believe (albeit, without proof), that this was always the intent, but that Disney had to clarify the situation because people were pulling their hair out thinking that Disney had opted to allow an urban Starbucks to invade Main Street. I do not believe that was ever the case.
No matter. We have the current information from Disney that should lead us to conclude that the MSB will unfold somewhere along the spectrum falling between "no change at all" and "urban Starbucks". And I think that from the information provided, it will fall far closer in range to the "no change at all". We cannot get up in arms about a fresh coat of paint, some new floor tiles and better furniture, as long as that furniture is not the junk at a typical Starbucks. But there is no reason to take up torches and pitchforks and pound the internet with petitions to stop this from happening based on the unsupported assumption that Starbucks is moving into Main Street lock, stock and barrel.
We have to give Disney more credit than that. Why? Well, for starters, when the MSB opnened, (and I believe the word you used in the podcast was "legacy"), it was a Sara Lee outlet. Somehow, in 1971, Main Street was able to coexist with a corporately sponsored bakery with big signage in full view. But if your retort is: "yes, but the theming was pure Disney", then I would say that I agree. So if Starbucks cuts its ribbon with full Disney theming, shouldn't we give it the same benefit of the doubt that we gave Sara Lee? Or Carnation? Or Nestle? Or Coke? Or Edy's? Or your beloved Dole? It would be beyond hypocritical to think that Starbucks has no place on Main Street when all the corporations named above are or have been there, and we can add Gulf Oil, GAF and Kodak to that list. So corporate sponsorship and signage cannot be the issue. It has to be the theming. So let's let this unfold and see what the theming will be before we conclude that Starbucks has no place on Main Street. I am willing to bet that when they cut the ribbon, you will look at it and say: "You know what? They did a pretty good job here. This isn't bad at all." Any other result would be very, very surprising to me. With all that said, I think you came down far too heavy against this change, and we all owe it to the imagineers to come up with something classy before we start chaining ourselves to the doors.
Thanks for listening.