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  • DL's 'Man Behind the Curtain'

    Disneyland and its creator's enduring legacy can be summed up quite well with this phrase:



    "PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN!!!"

    Years and years of artful camoflauge and skillful creative misdirection have given us what we see as 'Disneyland', and who we see as 'Walt Disney'.

    What we think of as Disneyland bears no real resemblance to an actual working business, and yet it is just that--with financial quotas, and economic concerns to address.

    Who we think of as Walt Disney bears no real resemblance to any mere mortal, with frailties, uncertainties, biases, pressures, and faults.

    Is it wise to ignore the "Man Behind the Curtain"? It is comforting to see Disneyland as a magical place, untouched and unsullied by the pettiness, inequities and injustices of this outside world, isn't it? And isn't it equally as comforting to see Walt Disney as some altruistic and cuddly, all-knowing, all-powerful benevolent diety ruling with wisdom and compassion?

    It is certainly comforting, but is it wise? Is it realistic? Is it a responsible viewpoint?

    IMO, this lionization of both WD and Disneyland itself is harmful if one is expected to maintain a satisfactory standard for 'improvement'. The wholesale enthusiastic approval sometimes seen by Disney fans is alarming to me, as it appears it is taking less and less to satisfy (due in part, IMO, to this unconditional love for all things Disney). Do we disregard the realities of DL and WD and cling to the fantasy by choice, or by clever design?

    Walt's status as creative genius has been inflated to Olympian proportion, lifting him above the frailties and faults found in all mankind. Walt's Word is Law, and his Will unquestionable. We excuse, I believe, serious errors in judgment by shrugging and saying (in essence) "Walt moves in mysterious ways...".

    It is this failure to discern the reality from the legend, the fact from the myth, the truth from the 'spin' that weakens our ability to tolerate valid criticism concerning WD and Disneyland, and therefore inhibits the ability to openly and freely criticize constructively.

    Would it diminish Disneyland that much for us to see it as the business it is? To see Walt as a businessman who created Disneyland with the intent to make money and explore his own passions, exposing all to his vision of fun?

    Would it hurt our own perceptions to look behind the curtain, and see the Great and Powerful Oz as he truly is? Do we need the fantasy to still be fans?

  • #2
    Re: DL's 'Man Behind the Curtain'

    I thought you were talking about Abe Lincoln!

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    • #3
      Re: DL's 'Man Behind the Curtain'

      Originally posted by Neverlandtink View Post
      I thought you were talking about Abe Lincoln!
      No, that would be the 'Naked Boxed Man Behind the Curtain'.

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      • #4
        Re: DL's 'Man Behind the Curtain'

        Originally posted by fo'c's'le swab View Post

        Would it diminish Disneyland that much for us to see it as the business it is? To see Walt as a businessman who created Disneyland with the intent to make money and explore his own passions, exposing all to his vision of fun?

        isn't there a quote that says something like they didn't create Disneyland with the intent of making money?

        that being said... I don't want to see Disneyland as a Business. I want to see it as an escape from reality.

        Walt surrounded himself with really creative people and they played a huge role in what Disneyland is today.

        to be quite honest.. I almost never think of "Walt" while I'm there but instead I get lost in the magic of just being there.
        All your dreams can come true if you have the courage to pursue them. - Walt Disney

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        • #5
          Re: DL's 'Man Behind the Curtain'

          Originally posted by Junthor View Post
          isn't there a quote that says something like they didn't create Disneyland with the intent of making money?
          Yes, and this is exactly what this thread is asking: is this a hard truth (seems unlikely--realistically speaking) or a convenient 'story'.
          that being said... I don't want to see Disneyland as a Business. I want to see it as an escape from reality.
          You're not alone, but is this asking for disappointment ultimately? How does this affect your objective opinion of your own satisfaction with DL? Is it even truly possible to be objective when one only chooses to see 'half' the picture?


          to be quite honest.. I almost never think of "Walt" while I'm there but instead I get lost in the magic of just being there
          I find this to be the case with me as well. But when discussing Walt Disney's life, do we have the rose-colored glasses surgically grafted to our little skulls, or are we able to remove them as Disney fans, for glimpses of the nuts and bolts and hard truths that are in equal proportions to 'Disney Magic'?

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          • #6
            Re: DL's 'Man Behind the Curtain'

            A little bit of both.

            When we're complaining about things on Mice Chat we should see the business and its relations to the guests and their experience.

            But when we're walking through the turnstiles we should ignore the man behind the curtain.


            I especially liked all the capital double-ewes (dubayas) in your post.
            Disney FAQ#275: What is DCA?
            DCA stands for Disney Construction Area. All the Cast Members are themed with hard hats and steel toed boots.

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            • #7
              Re: DL's 'Man Behind the Curtain'

              Originally posted by monotonehell View Post
              A little bit of both.

              When we're complaining about things on Mice Chat we should see the business and its relations to the guests and their experience.
              We should, I agree, but do we? There are an overwhelming number of Guests who like all things Disney because they are Disney, and therefore good. The online Disney fan community is a pitifully small minority, and ceratinly can't be looked upon as any sort of 'watch-dog'. Even on MiceChat itself, there are few real objective critics of the Park, or Walt.

              But when we're walking through the turnstiles we should ignore the man behind the curtain.
              I agree that one should have fun in DL, and take advantage of the escape it is designed to provide. Otherwise, why go at all? It is Disneyland's blessing and curse, however, that its charm is able to transcend its physical boundaries. Are we buying Disney, or are we selling ourselves?
              I especially liked all the capital double-ewes (dubayas) in your post.
              Weally? Well....Wonderful!!

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              • #8
                Re: DL's 'Man Behind the Curtain'

                I understand the point Swab is making I think. I agree that in keeping that "child like" nievety (sp?) in our attitudes about the park it helps make us (props to Steve G) Frogs in a pond that is getting warmer and warmer.

                It is very hard though. The resort itself was built on legend and theme "magic" and many of us literally grew up visiting the place regularly. To cast away the rosey lenses and see the machine behind the magic and the business behind the playtime is not only difficult, it is a permanent step. Once you have done it, you don't get to go back and see it like you did before. That fact (I opinionate) makes some cling desperately (even in adulthood) to the enthroned and gilded Walt persona and his temple like creation.

                Ultimately I agree that it is a bad thing and possibly one of the very things that will tear down the temple walls so to speak. The more easily the "poor ideas" and theme destruction are accepted (due to this D can do no wrong attitude) the more of the old real creativity is chipped away, perhaps for ever.

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                • #9
                  Re: DL's 'Man Behind the Curtain'

                  Walt the legend might be worth too much money for Disney to ever admit that he was anything but perfect in every way. Even his errors, such as failing to add designated queues to the park prior to opening is brushed aside by trumpeting how well and fast the problem was fixed.

                  There is a downside to the lionization of Walt. Many great animators never received the credit they were do for their work on the animated classics. Hardly anyone knows who Ubbe Iwerks is and Arthur Babbitt is a name best not spoken at Disney.

                  As to Disneyland not being built with profit in mind, well there is just too much evidence in contradiction to that idea that I am really not sure how that myth survives.
                  Originally posted by SummerInFL
                  Jesus, even I wouldn't eat that.

                  Originally posted by Wanda Woman
                  Turtle, the dorks are going to take upskirt robot pics.

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                  • #10
                    Re: DL's 'Man Behind the Curtain'

                    It is a sad bunch of munchkins from Oz if they still consider the decisions made by the company since 1966 to be part of Walt's park. The man behind the curtain hasn't been Walt for over 40 years

                    Is it wrong to look to the founders of our nation as guides to what the constitution meant to them? While they couldn't see today, the ideas behind what they were trying to create are still relevant to the challenges we face today. There is no point in throwing out the constitution because we face problems that are more modern but at the core the same as they were facing. It is the same with the idea of Walt. The ideas he set in motion are great guidelines, the problem is interpreting them in new business models and a changing landscape. Ideas of quality and showmanship will need to be reinterpreted by each generation.
                    VISIT my sketchblog: M54

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                    • #11
                      Re: DL's 'Man Behind the Curtain'

                      Originally posted by fo'c's'le swab View Post
                      Even on MiceChat itself, there are few real objective critics of the Park, or Walt.
                      I think that's true of pretty much everything. Not many people get past their emotive response to something and objectively look at it. "That sucked" or "That was great" is about as far as most people get.

                      Where would we be if everybody took the time to deconstruct every experience they had? I can't decide if that would be good or bad. Probably bad for the consumer economy.
                      Disney FAQ#275: What is DCA?
                      DCA stands for Disney Construction Area. All the Cast Members are themed with hard hats and steel toed boots.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: DL's 'Man Behind the Curtain'

                        Originally posted by monotonehell View Post
                        Where would we be if everybody took the time to deconstruct every experience they had?
                        We would be at one of my Family Reunions.

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                        • #13
                          Re: DL's 'Man Behind the Curtain'

                          Originally posted by Yendorb View Post
                          It is a sad bunch of munchkins from Oz if they still consider the decisions made by the company since 1966 to be part of Walt's park. The man behind the curtain hasn't been Walt for over 40 years

                          Is it wrong to look to the founders of our nation as guides to what the constitution meant to them? While they couldn't see today, the ideas behind what they were trying to create are still relevant to the challenges we face today. There is no point in throwing out the constitution because we face problems that are more modern but at the core the same as they were facing. It is the same with the idea of Walt. The ideas he set in motion are great guidelines, the problem is interpreting them in new business models and a changing landscape. Ideas of quality and showmanship will need to be reinterpreted by each generation.
                          Well written, and well said. At the same time people need to understand the individual in order to understand the decisions. Understanding the individual is easier said then done. Everyone has a motive behind their actions, even if it isn't obvious.

                          As to the money comment... I just can't picture Walt saying publicly "We built Disneyland to suck a crapload of money out of the average Joe's wallet" even if that is what it has done since 1955!
                          "Happiness is a Low Water Level"

                          sigpic

                          "Creating magical memories and making Managers cry since 1955!"

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                          • #14
                            Re: DL's 'Man Behind the Curtain'

                            Originally posted by Yendorb View Post
                            It is a sad bunch of munchkins from Oz if they still consider the decisions made by the company since 1966 to be part of Walt's park. The man behind the curtain hasn't been Walt for over 40 years
                            Because Walt's name is also the brand, the distinction between pre- and post-Walt is not as easy to discern and appreciate for the average Guest, IMO--and this is where the worship of Disney (man and brand) is potentially harmful. As you mention, interpretation of intent is the key; but also the need to seperate man from ideal.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: DL's 'Man Behind the Curtain'

                              Originally posted by fo'c's'le swab View Post
                              We would be at one of my Family Reunions.
                              Why does that not surprise me?

                              I think there's two kinds of Disney fan; one who views Disneyland as a container for a load of unrelated attractions; and the other who looks at the holistic experience and places value on that.

                              You and I are type two. We generally look for consistency in theme, integrity across the Lands, and less cynical marketeering-driven short-term crowd magnets. We do realise that Disney is a business and must make money, but we would rather they did it without destroying the whole show.
                              Disney FAQ#275: What is DCA?
                              DCA stands for Disney Construction Area. All the Cast Members are themed with hard hats and steel toed boots.

                              Comment

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