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What Would Walt Do? (CM's) EPCOT related


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  • What Would Walt Do? (CM's) EPCOT related

    We here at MiceChat constintly run to the "What Would Walt DO?" argument when we discuss matters related to the park. We can make observations based on what we know about his life and they he ran the company so we draw conclussions and use them to argue our points.

    One observation I have drawn between Walt and some of the arguements is related to his employees. I wonder what Walt would have thought of the way Disneyland CMs are being treated today versus yesterday?

    *Would be he be saddened by the decline of the "hard work ethic" that built the Disney Company?
    *Would he be impressed with the level of customer service?
    *How would Walt react to overworked/underpaid CMs?
    *Bloated management?
    *Board room wars?

    I guess the thought came to me yesterday while thinking about Epcot to which my understanding was that Walt's original vision was designed for his employees in both his parks and production companies. Like Henry Ford's concept of providing housing for his employees, Epcot could have provided all the essentials an honest hard working employee would need for a happy home life. Its that kind of thought that makes me wonder of Walt's perspection of today's Disney work force.

    To be fair I would love to find out the following information to fill in my ideas:

    *What was the average CM or employee paid in 1955? What were his or her job duties? Did they have any perks and or benifits? Finally what was the cost of living then as compared to current standards here in Southern California

    *Note: I am not at ALL discussing presentiasm. This is about the amount an average CM over the cost of living today compared to 50 years ago.

    *If Walt had been around today would he have still dreamt up Epcot? What would it have become if it has been implimented in its original concept here or in Florida? Finally is it a viable concept even today?

  • #2
    Re: What Would Walt Do? (CM's) EPCOT related

    CMs were paid more in the 80s than they are now, from my understanding (counting what it should be like with or without counting inflation etc. I am not sure).

    One must also remember that while Walt ran the parks, CMs were..."beautiful people". It was casting. Only sturdy cute guys ran the Tom Sawyer rafts...only beautiful girls guided the Storybookland Canal Boats. You wouldn't see someone overweight or someone considered "ugly" working inside the park, and if they did, they were pushed behind the scenes, not to be seen by guests.

    This was all part of Walt's "high standards". It wasn't an equal oppertunity-type job back then to become a CM.

    Yet in Walt's defense I will say that from the beginning he called these people Cast Members, hence the nit-picking of appearance.

    Walt wanted the "cream of the crop", and that's what he had. It was a dream job to work at Disneyland...people would come far and wide, and getting a job was very difficult. Pay was nice. The CMs lived nicely.

    So, if Walt was still around, this "casting" might still be implemented to this day, and Walt would possibly be considered by some to be "old-fashioned", "arrogant", etc. Although the casting issue might have changed because of laws...I can't remember.

    In any case, Walt's term was short and sweet. We really don't know what he'd be like if he lived up until today. As society changes, some people change along with it...or they stay the same. You never know. We'd all like to think that Walt would be hip and innovative and kind-hearted until his last breath if he were still alive, but again, we don't know.

    Whatever the case, he certainly left a legacy.


    • #3
      Re: What Would Walt Do? (CM's) EPCOT related

      Would Epcot in its original form be viable today? Well, I think some of its design ideas may have needed to change over time, but in general, the idea of a new type of community planning is as viable as it has always been, in my mind. Traffic congestion, pollution, and noise are something we'd all love to get rid of from our daily lives. Is a grid/vein system the best we can possibly come up with? Out of all the infinite possibilities, is this the best we can do with our cities? Of course not, and Walt was smart enough to have known this. In the end, though, there's just no way to know what can truly work and what can't unless one takes the risk to realize the dream and find out. Walt was one of the few who had enough integrity and boldness to accomplish this, time and time again.

      As for how he would react to today's CM situation: who knows? Things are a lot different nowadays than they were in the 50s and 60s. It's a completely different culture, and that could significantly affect his decisions.


      • #4
        Re: What Would Walt Do? (CM's) EPCOT related

        fyi walt was notorious for low wages at his studio. Actors worked in his movies because it was made to be a priviledge to work in a Disney film, but they got paid alot less than other studios. EVen his animators had to strike for better working conditions. Walt was a visionary for sure but when it came to pay, he and roy were tight with the dollars.


        • #5
          Re: What Would Walt Do? (CM's) EPCOT related

          Originally posted by Cmash95
          fyi walt was notorious for low wages at his studio. Actors worked in his movies because it was made to be a priviledge to work in a Disney film, but they got paid alot less than other studios. EVen his animators had to strike for better working conditions. Walt was a visionary for sure but when it came to pay, he and roy were tight with the dollars.
          Most of that is untrue. Walt paid his top animators top dollar, often times a higher wage than himself. Art Babbitt, for example, was one of the highest paid artists in the field in the early 40s. It is true some of the in-betweeners and background artists weren't being paid much around the time of the strike, but you have to understand the financial crisis the studio was in, in addition to the fact that those were considered entry-level jobs. As for the strike being about better working conditions: that's also untrue. The "working conditions" for Disney's artists at the time were ideal at the Burbank studio. They were getting food from the studio cafeteria at below cost, art classes at Walt's expense, and the studio itself was often described as a "worker's paradise". The strike had to do with the Screen Cartoonists Guild union and the lesser ranked artists' salaries, and in my opinion I really think they were just being greedy at the time, since their wages had at least met industry standards.


          • #6
            Re: What Would Walt Do? (CM's) EPCOT related

            Walt respected his employees. He often asked them how to improve the park. He would stand there listening to what they had to say. Good ideas were adopted. He promoted people who were "go-getters."

            He expected a lot from his employees and was tough as a boss. But he also created in his employees a desire to please him. Talk to those who worked for him. They all loved him. But he would not hesitate to call out someone who was wearing the wrong custom in a land.

            Bottom line: Walt respected his employees so they respected him. Today's management does not respect Cast Member talent or commitment, so Cast Members don't respect management.

            It all starts from the top down. Management's attitude of the value in its employees are reflected in their pay. Attitudes there get reflected up. Change is possible, but it starts with management.
            Jiminy Cricket Fan

            Love Disneyland and Walt Disney World!


            • #7
              Re: What Would Walt Do? (CM's) EPCOT related

              ^^ well said


              • #8
                Re: What Would Walt Do? (CM's) EPCOT related

                If you happen across a member of the 50club and can steal their attention, I would be curious about conditions of CMs during the first few years, pay and management so we can compare to today.


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