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Old 08-08-2002, 08:37 PM   #16
wdw4us2
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Peter,

I agree that if Walt had lived, he would have built or attempted his version of EPCOT.

However, I also believe the MK would have been built because Roy would have convinced Walt they needed the $$ from the MK to fund EPCOT.

I still stand by my earlier statements regarding some current situations as they pertain to the parks.

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Old 08-08-2002, 08:50 PM   #17
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Walt very much wanted to build the city of EPCOT. He truly did. It’s also fair to say that he was the only one that really wanted to build it. The project died when Walt did although the people that followed him thought they really would get around to it one day. Card Walker and folks lacked the confidence to try and pull something like this off, but their attitude was that “if this is what Walt wanted, well who are we to say no”. And the plan all along (even in Walt's time) was to build the Magic Kingdom, the hotels and the recreation areas first and get them successful and only then start on EPCOT.

By the time the Florida Project was contemplated, Walt was somewhat getting bored with theme parks. He’d already mastered that and he was willing to try new things. He was also at a point in his life when he was worried if he had accomplished anything worthwhile. It’s a very typical Hollywood disease. People can become rich and famous for making movies – but it’s only making movies. They don’t have a lasting impact on the world (that’s why so many flaky actors get involved with politics). EPCOT was Walt’s way of taking what he learned from the parks and applying it to real life. It was to be his “big and lasting contribution” to the world.

Remember, this is the mid sixties we were taking about. A time when everything started going to hell. In the middle of the Cold War, racial problems, Vietnam, a sour economy and growing discontent. Someone presenting a hopeful and workable view of the future was an extremely radical thing. Sure, EPCOT might not have ever worked, but it would have been fascinating to watch. Certainly much more interesting than the yuppie strip mall development that Celebration is turning into or the stagnate art form that theme parks have become.

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Old 08-08-2002, 08:59 PM   #18
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Well said, AV.

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Old 08-09-2002, 04:50 PM   #19
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First a couple of little things.

Mr. Head writes:
Quote:
The Disney "empire" as you refer to it mostly benefited a few high-end stockholders at the expense of a ton of guests. I say screw the Disney empire.
Oh frozen one!!! Why don’t you tell us what you really think!!!

But you know I’m only kidding!! I kneel before you!! And agree with every single word you say (unless it’s to the Pirate!! The Pirate and I go back a while, ya know! )

To Lisa who says:
Quote:
I don't think it's realistic for anyone to expect The Disney Co. to live up to standards established during Walt's lifetime.
I have to ask: Why not??!!


OK! That’s taken care of. And now the prelude!!!

There certainly can’t be a thread with this title that won’t have an essay from me somewhere within. So here it is. And in order to “do it right”, I’ve gone back to the original question and, for the most part, avoided the side issues.

Maintaining the Walt Standard The introduction!

Quote:
But what exactly would Walt have done?
You have brought up a real poser, Mr. Kidds. But fortunately it is one that I have thought about for quite some time now. I believe that Peter is 100% correct when he says that Walt would have built EPCOT or died trying. Which, in my humble opinion, makes Scoop’s assertion 100% wrong. And it very well could have changed the modern model of urban development. Or, what is more likely, (personal belief only) it would have ruined the company to a point that Walt would have realized that he was in the theme park business, like it or not. Some really tough times, and the realization that he couldn’t run Disneyland the way he wanted anymore, might (and I stress “might” because Walt was hardheaded) have lead him pretty much in the direction of the present day WDW. It would definitely NOT lead him to change his philosophy, but would perhaps led to a change in property (real estate usage) concept and development. Does that make sense?

But I don’t think you’re asking that. Are you? I think we need to take the EPCOT aspect out of the equation. We need to level the playing field and compare apples to apples. Right? So, my take on you’re question is not, “What would Walt have done if he lived through the years to the present?” but instead, “What would Walt DO, given the same conditions, circumstances and property GOALS (as opposed to company goals), that Ei$ner has had?” Is that more what you had in mind? I will assume, for the purposes of this piece anyway, that it is.

To me that is almost a ridiculous premise and a question with such an apparent answer that it need never be posed in the first place. It’s like asking, “Is water wet?” Or, “Is Florida hot, humid and crowded in the summer?” (Thus the reason for midnight closings!! I had to slip it in there somewhere!!) The answer is self-evident. Obvious. But, then again, two years ago I thought EVERYONE would see the dramatic change in philosophy at WDW as I did. WOW!! Was I wrong!! So maybe we shouldn’t ask, “Is water wet?” but instead ask, “Why is water wet?” or “What is the difference between wet and dry?”

Maintaining the Walt Standard The body of the text!

OK, finally I get to the point!! My take on a Walt Disney World (with the EPCOT angle excised):

First, there would be much more development around the MK. The master plan, most of which was knowingly approved by Walt, called for it, and I see no reason in the world why that would have changed. Walt liked it and his staff developed it. It was set in granite (as much as anything in planning could be)!! So the resort count goes up to five at least and probably more, but who knows. Anyway, we are NOT stuck with only three resorts (and a campgrounds) for all of eternity!!!

I believe that Walt would have approved a plan for an EPCOT type park. It was radically different from other theme parks, and had concepts and goals that I think he would have happily approved. Now, here’s where we get a little sticky. The details would have been vastly different. Walt had a lot of input into these things, so while I think the overall concept would be pretty much what we see today, I don’t think the particulars would be the same.

There would be no Swan or Dolphin. PERIOD!! If he lost the case he would have made some other concession. Even it cost him or the company much more money. I don’t think he would have let ANYONE in on his land. And especially located where they are now!! He approved the Hotel corridor, but made sure it was squeezed into a little corner of the world, far from his main “stuff”. And the compromise with Tishman would have been no different. There’s not a chance in hell that he’d let someone build in the middle of the property, within the sight lines of EPCOT!!!

There would be growth in the World Showcase. New countries would be added and/or replaced using any and all incentives or strong arm tactics he could employ. I believe he would have considered it a failure NOT to add anything in 15 or twenty years. I really think he would have taken it personally. The same, though not as imperative, goes for Future World and, by extension, the Magic Kingdom itself!! We would have seen a SPACE Pavilion and a Film/Arts Pavilion years ago, and who knows what would be on the drawing board for next year!!! And you could bet that they would be true, knock your socks off, PAVILIONS, and not just a ride!!

We would see hotels around the EPCOT-like theme park. But these resorts would have matched the theme of World Showcase. They would NOT be themed to Western Hemisphere, American motifs. Imagine walking through Morocco to get to the Moroccan Suites. Or walking through Norway to the “Norwegian Bed and Breakfasts”!! And that’s just what my pea-sized brain can come up with. Imagine Walt and a fully operational WDI working on it!!! WOW!!!!

Transportation would still have to include buses, but very, very, very minimally. Monorails and especially the Peoplemover concept would be prevalent throughout the complex. This was very important to the Disney company at one time because it was very important to Walt!! Alternative modes of transportation would be explored constantly. Some winners. And some losers. But experimentation and cutting edge, “state-of-the-art” technology would be employed at all times. Of this I AM SURE!!!!

Now, for a touchy subject and one upon which I have written volumes. I will try to keep it to a paragraph!! RESORTS WOULD HAVE ONE SET STANDARD AND ONE SET PRICE RANGE. I know this sounds ludicrous, but hear me out. I have thought long and hard about the subject. The logic I use is what I’ve read, heard and seen in the guy named Walt Disney. How he looked at money, business, and most importantly the SHOW! He wasn’t about money. He wasn’t about maximizing profits. And he wasn’t about business. He WAS about quality. In everything he did, quality was the watchword. I firmly believe that he NEVER compromised quality for cost and more importantly for price. If we accept this basic premise, and I see NO reason to doubt it, then this very concept would preclude the existence of the All Stars and the Floridian!! Heck, it would also cancel out the moderates!!! ALL resorts would be similar in nature to what is represented in the Poly and the Contemporary, but they would have vastly different and exotic themes. And the price would NOT be set by the market or the hotel industry, but would instead be set by Walt, who NEVER gouged and in fact took great pains to make the experience as affordable as possible!!! (THERE MR. KIDDS!! A thumbnail sketch of the caste system of resorts. If you understand nothing else about Walt, please understand this very basic philosophical concept!!! Not many do!!)

There would be no Studios and no Animal Kingdom!! Yep! No theme parks trying to play catch up with the joints down the street!! What we would see is something completely and wonderfully different!! Something that no one had thought of. Something that would WOW(!!) us. Thrill us. And at the same time, MAKE A TON OF MONEY!!!!

Maintaining the Walt Standard Summation!

All of the above is just a guess though. But as thoughtful a ‘guess’ as I could give it. If EPCOT failed he may have retired. He may have grown bored with the whole thing. I really don’t know. But I think that the above also highlights the ‘philosophical’ tenets and doctrine of the old Disney. And it was Ei$ner’s to carry on if he chose to do so. Card Walker and Ron Miller tried to and to a certain extent succeeded, but as we can see, in retrospect, lacked something in the implementation.

To me, it all boils down to quality and the conscience effort NOT to gouge or out price your guests. Niche marketing and “capturing certain demographics” was not something that was widely practiced in Disney and I really think that this business model is the cornerstone to Walt’s philosophy. Remember Walt is the guy who wanted NO admission cost at all for his park. It was one of the few battles that Roy actually won. Walt wanted to build a park, free for all to use. He’d charge for the rides. And he’d charge for the pop corn and soda (he wasn’t stupid, after all!!). But his park, the landscaping, the architecture and the ambience, were to be free for all to enjoy. Roy insisted that they charge a token amount to keep the riff-raff out! (GOOD THINKING ROY!!)

But this was Walt’s way. It is this business philosophy that drew me to Disney in the first place. Isn’t it what drew all of us?
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Old 08-09-2002, 11:23 PM   #20
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There certainly can’t be a thread with this title that won’t have an essay from me somewhere within.
I was counting on it .

Quote:
But fortunately it is one that I have thought about for quite some time now.
I was counting on it .

Quote:
Or, what is more likely, (personal belief only) it would have ruined the company to a point that Walt would have realized that he was in the theme park business, like it or not. Some really tough times, and the realization that he couldn’t run Disneyland the way he wanted anymore, might (and I stress “might” because Walt was hardheaded) have lead him pretty much in the direction of the present day WDW.
And quite an interesting start I might add, thoughts I have to say I agree with.

Now if only I had the time to disect - but it is off to lovely Victorian Cape May in a few hours - but trust me, I'll be back.
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Old 08-10-2002, 05:36 PM   #21
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Just to put Walt's philosophy in the simplist of terms of I think it was just to follow the Golden Rule.

"...Walt would have built EPCOT or died trying."
Maybe he did.
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Old 08-11-2002, 02:58 AM   #22
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Gentleman and gentleladies, I believe in my heart of hearts that Walt would have loved to one day see his dream of E.P.C.O.T. come to life
Then why bring up all that other nonsense which is conjecture at best and may not be anything but a wild a** guess on your part. The question was “What would WALT do?" It was NOT, “What did Walt’s successors do to screw his dream over?”

Now, do some good and tell us your thoughts on the real question. Just what does Scoop think “Walt would do!?” And excise the EPCOT thing. That just muddies the waters and does not address the spirit of the question.
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Old 08-11-2002, 05:31 AM   #23
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Well said, Baron!

Sometimes I think it presumptious of me to congratulate you on your well-thought-out posts, but I'll do it anyway.
So often I am thinking along the same lines but just don't have the words to put it "down on paper".
Thanks again for making the point(s) so well.
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Old 08-11-2002, 09:44 PM   #24
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Sandy Fisher!! Thank you!!
Quote:
Sometimes I think it presumptuous of me to congratulate you on your well-thought-out posts, but I'll do it anyway.
NO!! Please!!! Keep it coming!! I need the support. And so do the others, in ALL the cars. If you think about it, the only ones we hear from are the ones we disagree with! It’s nice to know that I’m making sense to someone!! Cause I sure ain’t moving Scoop’s world!!

Which brings us to…
Quote:
Baron, I'm not sure what question you are specifically referring to but with the tone and mood of your last post, you and I better just move along on this one...
Come on Scoop!! I’m trying to be conversational and you’re making it real hard!! All I was saying is that we should forget the EPCOT (city) thing and try to answer what Mr. Kidds asked. Let me point out the salient section to refresh your memory (did I do that right? Like a witness?)

Quote:
But what exactly would Walt have done? While Walts 'ideals' may have been the basis for everything that WDW was, Walt never managed WDW a day in his life, which sadly ended long before the Orlando dream was realized. Walt built an empire that thrived under his 'standards'. But keep in mind, some of his other actions driven by those 'standards' had him near penniless at times. So, would Walt have changed his 'standards' throughout the years had he been alive to run WDW? Would that have represented a compromising of his 'standards'? Could WDW be all that it has been if all those 'standards' had been strictly adhered to?
Now do remember? So, all I was asking you, was to get off the EPCOT (city) thing and play nice with Mr. Kidds’ question. Cause I really wanted to know.

I put out quite a long piece. I was hoping to see something from you. And every time I saw that you had replied to this thread I was anxious to get to it. Only to have my hopes dashed (OK!! A little hyperbole) to see you were still on that same old EPCOT was a red herring thing.

Scoop, don’t you ever put out a post or a question which can be answered by the general masses, but it’s really only a couple posters you want to know about. Mr. Kidds did that with me this time. YoHo did it recently and even put my name in the title!! I’ve done it to Peter and he has with me. That’s all I was trying to do. Elicit a response from you. But not any response. I wanted to know your take on the question that was raised.

Anyway, though I’m quickly growing indifferent, I’m still curious as to your take of the question at hand. If you feel like it, write it. If you don’t feel like, then don’t write it.

And I hope this answers your PM as well. I was not being dismissive and my attitude was supposed to come off as friendly (which I thought we were) and conversational. I was simply very, very curious to know what YOU, and you in particular, thought about the subject and I wanted to see if you and I agreed on anything. I thought it would be fun to discuss it. Just you and I. Getting down to philosophies. I pretty much know what AV and the Frozen one would say. For that matter Peter and I have been round and round on similar subjects. And I knew Mr. Kidds would answer when he had a chance (I was the one he was asking!!). But it was YOU that I wanted to talk to. Can’t you understand that? DISMISSIVE!!!??? I did everything I could but call your mom and ask if you could come out and play!!!

GEEZE!!! It’s like walking on eggs!!!!! CHILL!!!
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Old 08-14-2002, 04:12 PM   #25
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I'm baaack............

First of all - scoop and Baron - get along! This is supposed to be fun. You guys are going around too much on too many threads. I hate to seem my friends fighting .

OK - no to dance with you my lord Baron.

Quote:
But I don’t think you’re asking that. Are you? I think we need to take the EPCOT aspect out of the equation. We need to level the playing field and compare apples to apples. Right? So, my take on you’re question is not, “What would Walt have done if he lived through the years to the present?” but instead, “What would Walt DO, given the same conditions, circumstances and property GOALS (as opposed to company goals), that Ei$ner has had?” Is that more what you had in mind? I will assume, for the purposes of this piece anyway, that it is.
The 'that' you refer to is part of what I was getting at, but your take is a logical follow on. An initial question, however - doe this observation...

Quote:
Or, what is more likely, (personal belief only) it would have ruined the company to a point that Walt would have realized that he was in the theme park business, like it or not. Some really tough times, and the realization that he couldn’t run Disneyland the way he wanted anymore, might (and I stress “might” because Walt was hardheaded) have lead him pretty much in the direction of the present day WDW.
conflict in any way with any of the things you outline in what Walt would have done? Perhaps if you are saying that only the 'Walts Epcot' issue would have precipitaded these outcomes I could let it go - but the tough times, DL realizations would have been independant of the Epcot issue. Or is what you list more like what Walt would have liked to have done? It appears you agree that strict adherence to the original Walt standards might not have been possible. I guess you are saying that Walt would have done things differently that differed from his original ideas, but still maintained his standards. So lets look at your thoughts on what the man would have done.

I'm with you on Epcot.
I'm with you on S/D.

Your thoughts on theming and integration of hotels is interesting and could have happened. Walt was one to see things that were cutting edge and a future staple of an industry. Same with innovation and 'state of the art' stuff. Just thinking of sound and color integrated into animated shorts - both of which Walt pushed for even though it hurt the Disney Studios financially for some time (remember this - we'll get back to it) makes me believe he would have gone for it - or pushed darn hard.

Now to tip toe around that caste system.

Quote:
RESORTS WOULD HAVE ONE SET STANDARD AND ONE SET PRICE RANGE. I know this sounds ludicrous, but hear me out. I have thought long and hard about the subject. The logic I use is what I’ve read, heard and seen in the guy named Walt Disney. How he looked at money, business, and most importantly the SHOW! He wasn’t about money. He wasn’t about maximizing profits. And he wasn’t about business. He WAS about quality. In everything he did, quality was the watchword. I firmly believe that he NEVER compromised quality for cost and more importantly for price. If we accept this basic premise, and I see NO reason to doubt it, then this very concept would preclude the existence of the All Stars and the Floridian!!
I just don't know that I agree with what Walt would have accomplished in this regard. You are right - he was not about money, he didn't sacrifice quality - but how far could he take that. Think of all the money he lost on the Mickeys and Silly Symphonies. He kept uping the quality while UA kept the pay below cost. Only though the merchandising of Mickey Mouse (can anyone say Plush?) was the company able to survive that. Granted, much of those losses were really investment in the future as it set a standard - but would the same apply to hotels? I don't think so. Walt was on the forefront and did things before the competition - heck, he did it while the competition was aware and thought he was crazy (an animated feature? - you must be crazy! - Disney's Folly - $8 mil later who was laughing?) Walt could not have pulled off the pay one price hotel scenario. He could not have survived the 'give them Poly quality at a price everyone can afford' thinking. I think he would have done 'less expensive' resorts, but found a way to do them better than the AS and PC. The moderates with a Walt touch would have been a reality IMHO. All deluxe hotels all the time at a working mans price would have been a loss generator, and not the type of investment that his other cutting edge ideas represented. It simply gets back to your earlier thoughts I quoted above.

Quote:
There would be no Studios and no Animal Kingdom!! Yep! No theme parks trying to play catch up with the joints down the street!! What we would see is something completely and wonderfully different!! Something that no one had thought of. Something that would WOW(!!) us. Thrill us. And at the same time, MAKE A TON OF MONEY!!!!
No Studios or AK - very possible. Something different and WOW - very possible. MAKE A TON OF MONEY!!!. Given Walts record on a lot of things I don't know - at least not if he didn't evolve the way he chose to implement his standards. Joking about paying people with potatoes in the 30's might have been cute - but not in the 70's and beyond.

What do I think Walt would have done. I do think he would have evolved his thinking. Just how I am not sure. Let me educate myself a bit more before I take that on.
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Old 08-14-2002, 06:14 PM   #26
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Every time I try to get out - - They pull me back in!!

OK, Caste system you want – Caste system you got!!!

Quote:
Walt could not have pulled off the pay one-price hotel scenario.
I couldn’t disagree more!!
Quote:
He could not have survived the 'give them Poly quality at a price everyone can afford' thinking.
I really don’t understand why not. That is EXACTLY what he did his entire life! That is the very principle upon which Disneyland was founded. Remember at the time what type of amusement venues were out there. The tunnel of Love ride was the dark ride of the moment. For fifty cents you hopped aboard a boat that ran through rat infested waters with cheap cutouts (usually weather-worn with chipped paint). At Disney, for ninety cents you ‘experienced’ Small World or Pirates!! More expensive? You bet! But was the expense commensurate with the experience and what was common throughout the industry at the time? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!!

The same concept guided the theme and price of the original resorts that WDW had and the future resorts on the drawing boards. They were the moderates!! Heck, you could even call them “value” for all the theme they gave you (very unique at the time). And there were some ‘industry standards” that Disney did not provide, and many “extras” that comparably price hotels simply didn’t even consider. The plain fact was that they were Disney Resorts. Built, operated and priced according to the Disney standard!!

And it is that Standard that decides whether or not something is Disney. You slap a Disney ® sticker on a Six Flags type roller coaster and that still doesn’t make it Disney. The Designers at WDI could have built it from scratch (not off the shelf) and that still doesn’t make it Disney. Ei$ner could issue a press release saying that this roller coaster is the best Disney ride Disney ever invented and that still doesn’t make it Disney!! You can even move that roller coaster into the middle of the Magic Kingdom and that STILL doesn’t make it a Disney “Attraction”. Why? Because it does not live up to the standard!! Pretty simple isn’t it?

Why, in the whole wide world, do you think that this principle, this very basic philosophical concept, something that Walt lived and breathed his entire live, would not apply to “Disney” resorts? I don’t get it.

Quote:
I think he would have done 'less expensive' resorts, but found a way to do them better than the AS and PC.
What possible evidence do you have to back that up? What did Walt EVER do, to make you think he would undercut is philosophical “QUALITY” to do something “less expensive”? Did he EVER do that with his short features? Did he EVER do that in his full-length motion pictures? Did he EVER do that in his personal life? Did he EVER do that in Disneyland? And the men who first took over, who lived by the: What Would Walt Want, watchword, did they EVER do that in the building and operation of WDW? Did they EVER do that in the building and operation of EPCOT? Why do you think he would start with the resorts? Again, I don’t get it.
Quote:
All deluxe hotels all the time at a working mans price would have been a loss generator
Kind of like Pirates or Small World is a loss generator compared to the Coney Island or Riverview ‘Tunnel of Love”, eh?
Quote:
The moderates with a Walt touch would have been a reality IMHO
Moderates and ‘Walt’s touch’ cannot be in the same sentence. It doesn’t make sense. Moderate prices? YES!!! Of course!! Value? YES!! Definitely!! But you’re saying he’d have lowered his standard for price. In order to capture a market segment. Nah! I don’t see ANYTHING he ever did to back that up. Do you?
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Old 08-14-2002, 11:23 PM   #27
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Ok Mr. Property Magnate - the short answer to your question.....

Quote:
What possible evidence do you have to back that up? What did Walt EVER do, to make you think he would undercut is philosophical “QUALITY” to do something “less expensive”? Did he EVER do that with his short features? Did he EVER do that in his full-length motion pictures?
...is yes. The long answer is .... yes - but I will flesh that out as I continue my education on the man who started it all.

As for that short answer, we can first look to his animated features. Perhaps we can even relate them to the WDW hotels he planned and envisioned.

The first animated feature was Snow White. Humor me, and equate Snow White with the Contemporary. Despite the roadblocks thrown up and the $1.5 mil spent with no guaranteed return, Snow White went on to be a landmark, and an $8 mil success. However, that was his last profitable bit of animation for some time. Likewise, the Contemporary was unique and visionary. No hotel had ever been themed like it.

The second animated feature - Pinocchio. We'll call this one the Polynesian, if you will. $2.6 mil and a huge loss later, Disney had another great animated feature in Pinocchio. Boy was Walt making a name and establishing a rep with the quality and innovation.

The third - Fantasia. Perhaps we can call that the GF. I know you don't like that hotel, but it is one of the big three by the MK. The film and the hotel are very sophisticated. So, $2.28 mil later you have an even bigger loss than Pinocchio, but another landmark incorporating classical music and never before seen animation technique. The sky is the limit, right? What can we do to top the quality of these films? Walt was not a man to look back, as you know. So you say Bambi - another great film. However, lets not forget the two films that were released while Bambi was in production.

The Reluctant Dragon and Dumbo. It is recognized that after the wonderful acclaim, but significant losses, that existed after Fantasia Walt recognized that he needed to find a way to produce features that actually made money. Dragon didn't make it, but Dumbo did. Even the distributors criticized these films. Dragon was actually a compilation of three shorts that were tied together in a feature. Some felt it lacked the animation quality of his previous works. Dumbo was a sixty three minute version of what had been intended to be a thirty minute featurette. The distributor wanted another ten minutes, but Walt refused because he couldn't afford the $500k those ten minutes would cost and he saw it complete as it was at sixty three.

So what happened there? Simple as the nose on your face. Walt put out shorter, cheaper films in order to bring in some cash so production of Bambi could continue and the Walt Disney Studios could continue to grow. Boy, if someone did that today..........

We'll - lets just call Dragon and Dumbo the Carribean Beach and Dixie Landings. Did Walt compromise his standards in those two films? Not really. They were still quality animation that had good story. Dumbo is one of the most loved films. But these films were a departure from the multi million dollar budget feature. Walt evolved his thinking and changed his modus operendi in order to respond to a business need and the prevailing economic environment.

So I say the moderate hotels are a cheaper and perhaps more profitable version of WDW hotel. Did those hotels live up to the Walt standards? Perhaps not. A view of the parking lot might be bad Show. But getting to my point.......

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The moderates with a Walt touch would have been a reality IMHO
.... I think Walt would have evolved his thinking regarding hotels as well. He would have found a way to make a cheaper hotel with good Show. Just because it was not a deluxe doesn't mean he wouldn't have done it. Dragon was not a deluxe film in the scheme of things either.

We can find other instances where Walt compromised - such as the Prince in Snow White whose animation was less than perfect in the final scene and Walt passed on fixing it due to cost - but I hope to explore those later in the long version of my answers to you.

Yes - that was the short answer.

Bottom line is, while Walt may not have been the greatest of business men, he was not oblivious to the need to turn a profit. All too often he said screw it. Hence the failures and losses. Shortly after Dumbo Disney was in the hole $4 mil to the bankers. However, most of the time it was to be cutting edge. As I said before - those losses represented an investment. As you point out, he survived such thinking for most of his life. That principle provided a platform. That principle had him ahead of the curve, using sound, color, multi plane cameras, etc, before the rest of the animation world.

If Walt continued to put out deluxe hotels and priced them as you suggest, he would have been looking at losses, just like Pinocchio and Fantasia. However, what platform would these have provided? A dozen deluxe hotels affordably priced and generating losses wouldn't have done much for the hotel aspect. Without exploring different options for hotels Walt would have fallen behind the curve as someone else would have done the quality, affordable moderate hotel before Walt. It wasn't Walts style to let that happen.

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Moderates and ‘Walt’s touch’ cannot be in the same sentence.
This is where I believe you are wrong, my friend. Walt had a unique way of doing things. You admit he may have been swayed by events and looked down the path that WDW eventually followed in some respects. I think he would have gone down that path in his own way and given us 'moderate' resorts that you would have felt were good Show. Would he have done it just to capture a market segment? No. Because it was good business and necessary? Yes. Remember, Walt wanted his parks to be free to get in. He wanted to produce a place where families could go and have fun, quality time. If a lower priced hotel done with his flare, by his standards, afforded more people the opportunity he would have made it happen, and helped the business as well.

That is my view on the hotels - and I don't know that I see having different priced resorts as a caste system, per se. Just options - one of those things you are so fond of. Are the current levels of hotel all done to Walt standards - no. Could they have been - yes. Would Walt have - I think so. But as you point out it is all conjecture. However, do you think Walt ever envisioned WDW being the size and scope of what it is today?
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Old 08-15-2002, 01:00 AM   #28
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The third - Fantasia. Perhaps we can call that the GF. I know you don't like that hotel, but it is one of the big three by the MK.
My liking it has nothing whatsoever to do with it!! IT IS NOT DISNEY!! Yes! For as one can strip away amenities and theme to lower the standard so that it is no longer “Disney”, one can also get carried away at the other end of the spectrum and make a resort just too high faluting to be “Disney”. Don’t you get that? Look at the Poly and Contemporary. THOSE are the Disney standard. NOT the Floridian and NOT the Sports!! Opposite ends of the spectrum and they BOTH miss the Disney mark.

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If Walt continued to put out deluxe hotels and priced them as you suggest, he would have been looking at losses, just like Pinocchio and Fantasia.
You keep referring to them as “Deluxe”!! They are not!! They are simply Disney!! See! Ei$ner’s got you brainwashed too. Don’t you get it? The original two resorts were the VALUE resorts of the time. They were not Deluxe, moderate or economy! They gave you a ridiculously magical experience, for relatively little money (remember they were priced like a moderate or even a little less)!! In other words VALUE!!!

(get ready here comes the caste system but)

But labeling these resorts as “Deluxe” and by radically raising the “price” of these once VALUE resorts they created a vacuum within that price range recently vacated. Which they filled with a very much lesser product. Which they slowly raised prices on, outdistancing inflation, until that “low end” vacuum appeared once again and they filled that need with yet LESS product. Or in other words a caste system was developed in which only the truly blessed got the real deal Disney (because there is only one standard!). Everyone else got a poor substitute diminishing down the line, depending on what you could pay for. (perhaps not a true caste system, but close enough and I liked the way it looked in print the first time I thought of it!! )

It’s funny you said that:
Quote:
If Walt continued to put out deluxe hotels and priced them as you suggest, he would have been looking at losses, just like Pinocchio and Fantasia.
Why funny? Because for the first 16 years or so they turned a tidy profit and they were booked SOLID two year (or more) out!

There is no question that they made money. Now! The question you should be asking is, “did they make as much profit as their potential indicated.” In other words, did they maximize profits? Why were they the laughing stock of the hotel industry? Why did the rest of the industry think that gave away too much and charged far to little? If I grant you all those questions (and I do) it would seem to indicate that Ei$ner was right on track when he radically raised the rates to support 80% occupancy (the industry standard) instead of 100% (Disney’s standard).

But that’s where Card Walker and Ron Miller (learning from Walt) knew what they were selling and Ei$ner didn’t. Ei$ner, and perhaps you, think they are selling hotel rooms. They think they are selling a place to stay when vacationing to WDW. And they price it at the very upper edge of what the market can bear. And then they have to offer discount and incentive (read EE and E-Ticket nights) in order to fill those rooms. That is a practice that was unheard of in pre-Ei$ner days. And they pay travel agents and ADVERTISE!! Two more things that the old Disney would never even consider!! Ei$ner turned the resorts into a commodity. He has a funny habit of doing that, doesn’t he?

The old guard, however, knew their product was NOT a resort room. Or even the resort itself. It was a “DISNEY” resort experience at a tremendous VALUE!! That was their product. And since day one, way back in 1971, with NO advertising and NO rate reductions and NO incentives they enjoyed as near to 100% occupancy as can be had in the resort business.

No. The Walker/Miller problem was that they didn’t build any more resorts. The same type of resorts that they had already built. They should have stuck to their original plan and did all five or six of them. As designed. Chances are if they had and they would have opened the film vault, they wouldn’t have been ripe for take over and Ei$ner would never had had the chance to cheapen the Disney Resort Experience!! I find that really sad!! Too bad they got cold feet and let others bully them out of the master 5 year plan!!

Quote:
Without exploring different options for hotels Walt would have fallen behind the curve as someone else would have done the quality, affordable moderate hotel before Walt.
Come on! Fallen behind the curve!! Since when did Walt worry about the curve! He was so far out in front that he didn’t see a curve. No! I don’t think he would have care at all. It was the experience that was all important. Not the profit margin. And As I said, the way he had them priced, they were making a profit. Just not as much as possible. But that was more than made up for with the good feelings, the positive word of mouth, and the pixie dust that was spread out all over the land for all to enjoy!! In a system with no CASTE!! Hurray!!
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Old 08-15-2002, 09:10 AM   #29
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Baron - you should know Walt well enough to know that he would, indeed, have explore new ideas and options. Out of a desire to give something more, out of necessity to bring in some money, because it was an idea he fixated on, for any number of reasons. We can go back and forth and I can point out how I think you too narrowly define and constrict the Walt Disney 'standard', but we will never really know.

I see how you conveniently ignore my animation 'proof' that Walt would changed his thinking without compromising the standard, go to a smaller scale, do something less expensive. Likewise, he might have done similarly with hotels, or perhaps decided to offer up something like the GF in time. A grand hotel like none other - a chance to give something more than he originally envisioned. Perhaps not - but you never know. However, he would have done all that his way, maintaining his 'standard' - a 'standard' that was capable of accepting evolving thinking, so long as a certain level of quality was maintained. I believe it is you that is too caught up on 'deluxe', 'moderate' and 'value'. I use those terms to simply describe the three different offerings. Yes, the original (I will use that instead of 'deluxe') hotels were a value. I think they still are today - given what you get for your dollar. But why couldn't there be something different offered?

You are right - these original hotels are simply 'Disney'. But that does not preclude other hotels done differently from being 'Disney'. Walt never said 'do it this way and only this way forever more'. He thought, he collaborated, he came up with ideas, he did things that would become industry standard before the industry had an inkling. That is how he was ahead of the curve. You are right - he never worried about falling behind that curve and I didn't say he ever did. He was too far ahead. Evolving his thinking in regard to hotels like he did with animation would have kept him so far ahead that the curve would never have been in sight. That was his way.

As to the original resorts making a profit - I can neither confirm or deny. I am curious how much a room at the Contemporary went for in 1972.

Quote:
The old guard, however, knew their product was NOT a resort room. Or even the resort itself. It was a “DISNEY” resort experience at a tremendous VALUE!! That was their product.
Agreed. I am not talking about recent management and their motivations for varying types of hotels. They may have lost sight of this product. However, Walt would not have - and he still could have found a way to make that product, developed to his standards, available to more families. If that meant a 'cheaper' hotel that would cost the public less but still give the Disney experience then so be it. That is part of what he was about - providing something that as many families as possible could enjoy.

Quote:
Or in other words a caste system was developed in which only the truly blessed got the real deal Disney (because there is only one standard!).
Maybe your vacuum theory would hold up with respect to the way current management views things. I might give you that. Other than that, only the Kirby man might be interested in those theories. Remember, I am talking about what Walt would have done. He most certainly could have created more Disney experience for more people if he saw a need. The 'only one standard' can be applied to a lot of different things. But just because you implement those ideals in a different setting does not make those settings non-Disney. So Walt would have left the original hotels priced as they were, climbing in price by only the rate of inflation. That would make you happy, no? I would say that might put those hotels around two bills a night now. Wow - I can get that now. But even if Walt did that, why would he not have made another hotel that he could charge half as much for, thereby opening that experience up to more families, so long as he didn't compromise his standards? If anyone could do it, Walt could give the real deal to everyone, not just the blessed. Are you saying he couldn't have? If you are I think you underestimate the man.

I applaud your strong belief and conviction in the standard. There should be more of that. However, I believe your thoughts on that standard and it's application are too set in stone and I don't agree. Just as Walt put together his 'package' pictures and had them be 'Disney' (btw - even he wasn't entirely pleased with all those pictures), just as he could stretch a 30 minute featurette into a 63 minute feature and have it be 'Disney', so could he have found a way to make more hotel concepts work if that is what he believed the public needed (even if they didn't know it) or was what the business required.

An interesting quote from Walt himself....

"I knew that I must diversify. I knew the diversifying of the business would be the salvation of it."

Interesting, huh?
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Old 08-15-2002, 06:35 PM   #30
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Mr. Kidds. You are interesting. You come very close to “Getting It”, and then suddenly – WHOA!! A left turn out of nowhere!!! And all because of some lousy compilation Walt was forced to do ONCE!! You know, he even tried a sequel once too. But he learned from it. And he NEVER repeated it. (You can’t top pigs with pigs!!) Is that justification for the glut of Ei$ner’s sequels?

And as far as him not being satisfied with the Prince Sequence, well I think he wasn’t satisfied with Tomorrowland when Disneyland opened. But guess what? The well had run dry. And tough choices have to be made. Hmmm. Buy a crystal chandelier for Frontierland and thus doing three-quarters of the place “right” and postpone Tomorrowland until it could be done right, too or cheapening the whole joint so it would be affordable? I think he choose wisely. And it sounds very reasonable to me!!

And what about the prince? Hmmm. Put out the picture as is or never put it out (cause there ain’t no more money folks!) and just play the existing footage at home for my wife and kids. And maybe Roy!! Again, a tough choice, but I think he made the right one. Don’t you?
Quote:
Baron - you should know Walt well enough to know that he would, indeed, have explore new ideas and options.
But never at the expense of his all encompassing QUALITY!!
Quote:
I see how you conveniently ignore my animation 'proof' that Walt would changed his thinking without compromising the standard, go to a smaller scale, do something less expensive. Likewise, he might have done similarly with hotels, or perhaps decided to offer up something like the GF in time. A grand hotel like none other - a chance to give something more than he originally envisioned. Perhaps not - but you never know.
Well of course we’ll never know!! That’s the whole point of this exercise, isn’t it? Conjecture and opinion. You don’t know and I don’t know. All I can do is look and observe, examine and study what he built and how he ran it! And there is nothing, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING that he ever built and/or priced that would lead me to the conclusion that he would condone the existence of the moderates, the economies or the ultra deluxe resorts and sanction them as “Disney”.
Quote:
However, he would have done all that his way, maintaining his 'standard'
How? How would it be possible to reduce those standards commiserate with price and yet maintain the same standard? How is that possible? You’ve got me baffled! I can’t see it how that could happen. It’s either a Standard or it isn’t!!
Quote:
I think they still are today - given what you get for your dollar.
Ahhh! But much, much, much better back then!! Before the price hikes “made” them “deluxe” resorts. About a year ago we went round and round on this and found that (and I can’t remember the actual figure but…) since Ei$ner took over the price increases nearly doubled inflation!! YES!!! Ask YoHo (if he’s still here)!!! I would be very, very happy if they had merely kept up with inflation. Paying a little below “moderate” prices for the DISNEY STANDARD!! Now that’s “VALUE”!!!
Quote:
But even if Walt did that, why would he not have made another hotel that he could charge half as much for, thereby opening that experience up to more families, so long as he didn't compromise his standards?
A very good question!! And I have to ask it as well!! So let’s ask together!

“Hey Walt!! There were very extensive plans for Walt Disney World!! Remember? Marvin Davis's original master plan!? The “official” ones that were a five and ten year plan and included a COMPLETE Magic Kingdom resort complex detailed down to the last hotel location and monorail rail!! It laid out a far-reaching plan for a total of seven resorts and a campground. SO!!! WHERE ARE THE MODERATES IN THIS COMPLETE PLAN??!!”

Listen to the silence! I guess it’s a question that Walt never considered either. Because it would have reduced his (and mine) all-important quality!!! And that was the guidepost. NOT how many people could cram onto his property!!
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