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Old 04-06-2013, 10:43 PM   #1
Rumors Rocks
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Article: A Call For Change In The Theme Park Industry



Truth be told, most of the people that work in this industry are not ravenous theme park enthusiasts, nor do many of them spend a great deal of time “in the field” checking out new attractions in person for inspiration and personal/professional understanding and knowledge. I’m not saying that everyone involved should be as extreme as I am with annual passes to every SoCal park, visiting one of them at least once a week. But what I feel is necessary for everyone in this industry to succeed in the long run, is a firm, constantly updated understanding of what’s going on in the field and to at least make an effort to keep current in some way or another, whether it be visiting in person, reading articles online or watching videos on YouTube. As of now, there are practically no measures in place anywhere to motivate staffs to do this. Sure, companies such as Walt Disney Imagineering give their employees complimentary access to the Disney theme parks as well as free tickets. There is however, no structured or corporate program in place that has Imagineers actually going to the parks on a regular basis as a part of their expected scope of work. Many WDI folks I know and have known rarely visit the parks, and often simply give their tickets away to other family members and friends. So, while a nice and expected gesture, free entry to the Disney parks for Imagineers is not mandatory or deemed necessary most of the time. Therein lies the very problem that is plaguing our industry. No one appears to feel full enrichment and true understanding from a first-hand perspective is of any critical value to the production team, as long as they can draw and meet deadlines set by clients or executives.

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Old 04-08-2013, 04:33 PM   #2
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Interesting article, but there are two other issues that are vital for that sentiment to gain any traction:

1. The powers that be at Disney must couple the desire to be "cutting edge" in their parks must not be limited to the conventional notion of a theme park. Going into Disney with the notion of "what makes theme parks" cool is a fail before the first suggestion is taken. The real question is, or should be, "What makes Disney's theme parks the ones everyone else aspires to emulate?

2. The powers that be at Disney must get back to "protecting the brand." Disney isn't just a theme park. There are lots of theme parks. And the reason Disney Imagineers aren't exercising that free-ticket perk more often is perhaps they realize that moreso than recent Disney leadership. The guest experience at Disney must be Disney-quality from the moment that guest first touches a Disney resource (be it the Disney website, or calling a CM to inquire about reservations, or calling to book a restaurant) until the time they leave, and wishing they didn't have to. I think Disney is losing its edge on this. It isn't just about fun experiences in the park, its about that being one critical element of the broader Disney vacation! It can't just be mini-golf, it needs to be Disney mini-golf; it can't just be a hotel, it needs to be a Disney hotel, and so on. Right down to the maintenance and presentation of the grounds, the buses, the restaurants, and the parks themselves. It is an incredibly high standard. And Disney set it.
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Old 04-09-2013, 11:28 AM   #3
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I don't disagree with any of the above, but I think there's also value-added in visiting the parks/attractions/resorts, as well as the competitors', with a critical eye open to "what is being done right (or wrong)?" and "what's innovative?" Those observations then need to be taken back to the office, discussed with other designers and operations folks, and see what can be learned and folded into an integrated experience.

A Disney vacation has to be about the total experience, because if it's just about the rides and attractions, then there's little point taking a long and costly trip to Orlando or Anaheim when a regional theme park will do the job almost as well and for a lot less money. Yes, the rides still need to be there, and keeping up with state of the industry should be important, but only as far as it extends to the entire experience.
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Old 04-09-2013, 09:26 PM   #4
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THIS is the reason that one does not put a accountant in charge of a entertainment company. The imagineers know that any idea they have for improving the Disney experience will be immediately shot down by the beancounters.

DW and I were at GF a couple years ago admiring the gingerbread house in the lobby. I said look it's a "Disney Gingerbread house because it has 4 cash registers", The pair of young CM's nearly choked they were laughing so hard they were both in the College Program.

What's not funny about this is the current symbol of Disney is not Mickey or Walt but a IBM cash register and the CM's know it.

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Old 04-09-2013, 10:57 PM   #5
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I did notice some CM's who seemed grumpy or not focused on truly upholding the Disney way of interacting with guests. However, there were more CM's who were amazing and really found ways to interact with us. Additionally, I decided to spread some magic pixie dust myself this trip as one of my "30 Magical Moments in my 30th year" I made up little thank you cards and gave the to those CM's who I felt took time to make my time special. It really seemed to mean a lot to those I gave it to, and I was surprised more often than not at how many times then did something even more magical.
I think part of the mentality also comes from the guests. When it's crowded and hot, the kids are tired of waiting inline and we just want todo ________. It an be really hard to find that magical place to spread magic. I highly suggest that when you are there, to try to take a moment and really thank a CM. it will brighten their day, and in turn yours too!
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