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"The Decline and Fall of Disneyland." Analysis from the Weekly Standard in 2001

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  • [Review] "The Decline and Fall of Disneyland." Analysis from the Weekly Standard in 2001

    I was just browsing around, reading about the history of Disneyland when I ran into this article. Its one of the best analysis Ive read and even though it was published quite some time ago, in 2001, I thought I share it with you guys.


    AT THE BASE of the flagpole that marks the beginning of Disneyland's Main Street in Anaheim, California, rests an unobtrusive plaque. It reads: "Disneyland is youth land. Here age relives fond memories of the past and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals and the dreams and the hard facts that have created America with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world. July 17, 1955."

    These are the words with which Walt Disney opened his remarkable experiment in entertainment almost half a century ago. Today it's more than a bit dizzying to turn around and trudge back across the ticket plaza to the new resort Michael Eisner has built in what was the old Disneyland's parking lot. Walt's Magic Kingdom now shares the block with Eisner's California Adventure, and the distance between the two is much further than the seventy yards between them would suggest.
    The Decline and Fall of Disneyland | The Weekly Standard
    "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, Disneyland proudly presents our spectacular festival pageant of nighttime magic and imagination in thousands of sparkling lights and electro-synthe-magnetic musical sounds. The Main Street Electrical Parade!"

  • #2
    Re: "The Decline and Fall of Disneyland." Analysis from the Weekly Standard in 2001

    They can't even get the darn quote right...
    DisneyTwins
    Since May 2003

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: "The Decline and Fall of Disneyland." Analysis from the Weekly Standard in 2001

      Thanks for posting. I agree that it was a good article. Here are some of the things from the article I think make very good points:

      And Disneyland was beautiful. The paint was always fresh, the walks and streets spotless. Disney banned alcohol, in part because it contributed to public disorder but also because he thought it symbolically served to divide parents from their children, and Disneyland was about the unity between generations. Families with children, grandparents, teens out on dates, and even newlyweds all felt at home in Disneyland. And despite the cost (Disneyland was always expensive), I don't think that I ever remember anyone really resenting the expense.
      Or like members of a market niche. It's not quite true that California Adventure tells nobody's story. It--together with the entertainment-merchandising-information behemoth Disney has become--tells the story of a culture obsessed with getting richer through ever-greater market-share and niche exploitation.
      Last edited by Dreamer10; 09-29-2012, 04:26 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: "The Decline and Fall of Disneyland." Analysis from the Weekly Standard in 2001

        Dreamer10, I agree with you on the quotes. especially the second one. Today's culture is more about how much money I can get and how fast instead of how do I provide the best of service to consumers. I personally think that Disney is learning its lesson and that's why you had such an aggressive move to improve DCA. I LOVE the new expansion and facelift, but I don't think that it will ever be a place where you would want to explore it for 2 or 3 days.
        "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, Disneyland proudly presents our spectacular festival pageant of nighttime magic and imagination in thousands of sparkling lights and electro-synthe-magnetic musical sounds. The Main Street Electrical Parade!"

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: "The Decline and Fall of Disneyland." Analysis from the Weekly Standard in 2001

          Originally posted by Dreamer10 View Post
          Thanks for posting. I agree that it was a good article. Here are some of the things from the article I think make very good points:

          And Disneyland was beautiful. The paint was always fresh, the walks and streets spotless. Disney banned alcohol, in part because it contributed to public disorder but also because he thought it symbolically served to divide parents from their children, and Disneyland was about the unity between generations. Families with children, grandparents, teens out on dates, and even newlyweds all felt at home in Disneyland. And despite the cost (Disneyland was always expensive), I don't think that I ever remember anyone really resenting the expense.

          Or like members of a market niche. It's not quite true that California Adventure tells nobody's story. It -- together with the entertainment-merchandising-information behemoth Disney has become -- tells the story of a culture obsessed with getting richer through ever-greater market-share and niche exploitation.


          Sad to say, true 11 years ago and true today.
          "Disneyland is often called a magic kingdom because
          it combines fantasy and history, adventure and learning,
          together with every variety of recreation and fun,
          designed to appeal to everyone."

          - Walt Disney

          "Disneyland is all about turning movies into rides."
          - Michael Eisner

          "It's very symbiotic."
          - Bob Chapek

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: "The Decline and Fall of Disneyland." Analysis from the Weekly Standard in 2001

            ah the good ol' paul pressler period. guy came from merchandise and didn't care about the parks. combined with eisner's penny pinching during the latter years (esp after the disaster that was eurodisney), the parks suffered but with lower costs, profits skyrocketed (well up until 911).

            say what you will about iger (uncreative corporate suit), he has done a stand up job rehabilitating the parks by bringing in real creative talent (lasseter) and not extremely cheaping out like eisner did.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: "The Decline and Fall of Disneyland." Analysis from the Weekly Standard in 2001

              I never thought of the alcohol issue that way, but it makes sense.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: "The Decline and Fall of Disneyland." Analysis from the Weekly Standard in 2001

                Nostalgia. That's all just nostalgia. Nostalgia, I tell you. Nostalgia. Pay no attention.
                Disneyland is not a museum. This is the 21st Century. Get over your n o s t a l g i a. :roll:

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: "The Decline and Fall of Disneyland." Analysis from the Weekly Standard in 2001

                  I love the nostalgiac myself.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: "The Decline and Fall of Disneyland." Analysis from the Weekly Standard in 2001

                    Originally posted by thomaslw View Post
                    say what you will about iger (uncreative corporate suit), he has done a stand up job rehabilitating the parks by bringing in real creative talent (lasseter) and not extremely cheaping out like eisner did.
                    Iger didn't have a choice: with the eyes of the Board of Directors on him after the Eisner debacle, he had to not act like his mentor Michael -- or else.

                    And he didn't "bring in" Lasseter, Lasseter's creative position was demanded and won by Pixar as a condition of its acquisition by Disney -- along with a non-interference clause preventing Iger and his army of Disney suits from giving notes on Pixar movies.

                    It's true Iger hasn't cheaped out in quite the manner that Eisner did, but compared to Disneyland's and WDW's pre-Eisner years he has cheaped out plenty, both passively by continuing many of the policies of his predecessor and aggressively through his Disney Parks management appointees.

                    (Oh, and memo to Disney employees: the traditional Employee Christmas Party at Disneyland is still canceled.)
                    Last edited by Mr Wiggins; 09-29-2012, 09:50 PM.
                    "Disneyland is often called a magic kingdom because
                    it combines fantasy and history, adventure and learning,
                    together with every variety of recreation and fun,
                    designed to appeal to everyone."

                    - Walt Disney

                    "Disneyland is all about turning movies into rides."
                    - Michael Eisner

                    "It's very symbiotic."
                    - Bob Chapek

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: "The Decline and Fall of Disneyland." Analysis from the Weekly Standard in 2001

                      Originally posted by Mr Wiggins View Post
                      It's true Iger hasn't cheaped out in quite the manner that Eisner did, but compared to Disneyland's and WDW's pre-Eisner years he has cheaped out plenty, both passively by continuing many of the policies of his predecessor and aggressively through his Disney Parks management appointees.
                      Exactly! Iger and Eisner may be very different in their business strategies but they're both business men at heart. In the past (and during Walt's time) the park was run with a park centric model (you make the park as good as it can possibly be, and the money will follow...assuming they even thought about the money, which Walt sometimes didn't to Roy's lament). Iger and Eisner however are both out to make money, in ever increasing quantities with very little care to park itself. Iger, admittedly however, has a strategy that seems to emphasize increased quality and prices to make more money where as Eisner seemed to prefer an increase in the quantity of product (expansion of resorts, business outlets, ect.) to make money instead of focusing on increasing the quality of those already existing products.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: "The Decline and Fall of Disneyland." Analysis from the Weekly Standard in 2001

                        Originally posted by Mr Wiggins View Post
                        Iger didn't have a choice: with the eyes of the Board of Directors on him after the Eisner debacle, he had to not act like his mentor Michael -- or else.

                        And he didn't "bring in" Lasseter, Lasseter's creative position was demanded and won by Pixar as a condition of its acquisition by Disney -- along with a non-interference clause preventing Iger and his army of Disney suits from giving notes on Pixar movies.

                        It's true Iger hasn't cheaped out in quite the manner that Eisner did, but compared to Disneyland's and WDW's pre-Eisner years he has cheaped out plenty, both passively by continuing many of the policies of his predecessor and aggressively through his Disney Parks management appointees.

                        (Oh, and memo to Disney employees: the traditional Employee Christmas Party at Disneyland is still canceled.)
                        the only thing demanded by jobs and co was that pixar be left independent with no interference with WD animation features. from what i've read, iger went beyond that and let lasseter also have creative control over the parks (this was not a requirement, just a request). i do credit iger for bringing in lasseter - he recognized his studio sucked and realized that the fastest way was just to acquire pixar and get them to run things. getting that deal done with jobs after the nuclear fallout between eisner/jobs was to put it simply remarkable and he deserves a ton of credit for that.

                        on the second point, i would rate the current iger management about on par with the walker/early-eisner years. you really had to go back to when walt was alive for the nolstagic view many have of the parks. it wasn't until eurodisney that money just wasn't being sent to upkeep the other parks and plan new rides. prior to the first year of that disaster though, you had quite a few top notch e-tickets get constructed or at least designed/planned/funded (tower of terror, splash mountain, star tours, indiana jones). after eurodisney popped up and became an incredible blackhole of money, you saw pretty much nothing new at any of the existing parks, maybe only the aerosmith ride, buzz lightyear (really a d-ticket), and test track. with pressler ruling the roost, things got cut back a ton. and of course you got the incredible joke that was DCA 1.0 and HK disneyland, and the 1998 animal kingdom was kind of iffy. this was a pretty sad 13 year period.

                        the iger years though we already have expedition everest, star tours 2, RSR, toy story mania - 4 very popular e-tickets. there hasn't been an explosion of this many upgrades to the parks since the late 80s/early 90s. also hk disneyland is getting some improvements finally (small world). DCA got a huge overhaul with a whole new land and 3 d-tickets, as well as a decent retheme of others along with world of color. the nemo sub ride too, which is still extremely popular. and of course the new fantasyland project at wdw. all in all, the 7 or 8 years since iger took over have been more than solid imo, and as good as any era since the death of roy disney.
                        Last edited by thomaslw; 09-30-2012, 02:21 AM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: "The Decline and Fall of Disneyland." Analysis from the Weekly Standard in 2001

                          Originally posted by Bob Weaver View Post
                          Nostalgia. That's all just nostalgia. Nostalgia, I tell you. Nostalgia. Pay no attention.
                          Disneyland is not a museum. This is the 21st Century. Get over your n o s t a l g i a. :roll:
                          Basically. Now, I didn't have the opportunity to see the "old" Disneyland, but in every picture and article that I've read, it seems like there is a reason why people have such fond memories and such a great passion for that era of the park. I tend to agree with many of the somewhat older members of the board about its current state. But I suppose I'm just nostalgic in my imagination, fueled by other's over romanticization of the park's past.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: "The Decline and Fall of Disneyland." Analysis from the Weekly Standard in 2001

                            Only since 2001, it's come from this:

                            "At an adult admission fee of $43--the same as for admission to Disneyland--we feel less like guests than rubes."

                            to this:
                            Ages 3 to 9
                            $81.00
                            Ages 10 & Up
                            $87.00
                            http://micechat.com/forums/disneylan...oto-heavy.html
                            http://micechat.com/forums/disneylan...ip-report.html
                            http://micechat.com/forums/disneylan...oto-heavy.html
                            http://micechat.com/forums/disneylan...oto-heavy.html
                            http://micechat.com/forums/disneylan...something.html

                            No matter where you go, there you are.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: "The Decline and Fall of Disneyland." Analysis from the Weekly Standard in 2001

                              Originally posted by sbk1234 View Post
                              Only since 2001, it's come from this:

                              "At an adult admission fee of $43--the same as for admission to Disneyland--we feel less like guests than rubes."

                              to this:
                              Ages 3 to 9
                              $81.00
                              Ages 10 & Up
                              $87.00
                              Hey, someones' gotta pay to make up for the bad decisions of the company.
                              "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, Disneyland proudly presents our spectacular festival pageant of nighttime magic and imagination in thousands of sparkling lights and electro-synthe-magnetic musical sounds. The Main Street Electrical Parade!"

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Re: "The Decline and Fall of Disneyland." Analysis from the Weekly Standard in 2001

                                Originally posted by Mr Wiggins View Post
                                (Oh, and memo to Disney employees: the traditional Employee Christmas Party at Disneyland is still canceled.)
                                Disney made $4.8 billion in net income last year (Source: http://cdn.media.ir.thewaltdisneycom...kwrap-2011.pdf see page 36) and they can't spare a few dollars for an Employee Christmas Party? Talk about cheaping out on the employees. This isn't nostalgia, this supports the statement made by the article that Disney is yet another business that is part of a "culture obsessed with getting richer."

                                Originally posted by rob3gd View Post
                                Hey, someones' gotta pay to make up for the bad decisions of the company.
                                So true.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Re: "The Decline and Fall of Disneyland." Analysis from the Weekly Standard in 2001

                                  Originally posted by Dreamer10 View Post
                                  Disney made $4.8 billion in net income last year (Source: http://cdn.media.ir.thewaltdisneycom...kwrap-2011.pdf see page 36) and they can't spare a few dollars for an Employee Christmas Party? Talk about cheaping out on the employees. This isn't nostalgia, this supports the statement made by the article that Disney is yet another business that is part of a "culture obsessed with getting richer.

                                  So true.

                                  Disney Parks and Disney are two different entities. Not sure what NET income the Disney Parks made last year, but I don't think the lack-of a party has much to do with profits so much as it has to do with politics.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Re: "The Decline and Fall of Disneyland." Analysis from the Weekly Standard in 2001

                                    Originally posted by sbk1234 View Post
                                    Only since 2001, it's come from this:

                                    "At an adult admission fee of $43--the same as for admission to Disneyland--we feel less like guests than rubes."

                                    to this:
                                    Ages 3 to 9
                                    $81.00
                                    Ages 10 & Up
                                    $87.00
                                    Any speculation on how decreasing ticket prices would afffect attendance to the park? I've always been intrigued to see what would happen if tickets were lowered to around half their current price. Do you think that there would be a huge spike in attendance and massive crowds in the parks? The major increase in ticket prices might be one of Disney's most criticized decisions regarding their pursuit of profits, but if lower ticket prices would mean a large increase in crowds, I have to admit that I would be more than willing to pay the current ticket prices (hence my curiousity about how lowering the prices would affect attendance). What frustrates me more than the ever-rising ticket prices is the blatant lack of care and creativity, the decreasing matinence standards, and the over-commercialization that is evident in oh-so-many aspects of the park.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Re: "The Decline and Fall of Disneyland." Analysis from the Weekly Standard in 2001

                                      Originally posted by gatheringrosebuds View Post
                                      Any speculation on how decreasing ticket prices would afffect attendance to the park? I've always been intrigued to see what would happen if tickets were lowered to around half their current price. Do you think that there would be a huge spike in attendance and massive crowds in the parks? The major increase in ticket prices might be one of Disney's most criticized decisions regarding their pursuit of profits, but if lower ticket prices would mean a large increase in crowds, I have to admit that I would be more than willing to pay the current ticket prices (hence my curiousity about how lowering the prices would affect attendance). What frustrates me more than the ever-rising ticket prices is the blatant lack of care and creativity, the decreasing matinence standards, and the over-commercialization that is evident in oh-so-many aspects of the park.
                                      I think you would see a moderate to large jump in crowds at first, but then over the period of a few months I think you would see attendance drop back to current levels or even below what it is now since I suspect if you dropped ticket prices you would see a large drop in AP holders over the course of the year.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Re: "The Decline and Fall of Disneyland." Analysis from the Weekly Standard in 2001

                                        If only we could find out.
                                        http://micechat.com/forums/disneylan...oto-heavy.html
                                        http://micechat.com/forums/disneylan...ip-report.html
                                        http://micechat.com/forums/disneylan...oto-heavy.html
                                        http://micechat.com/forums/disneylan...oto-heavy.html
                                        http://micechat.com/forums/disneylan...something.html

                                        No matter where you go, there you are.

                                        Comment

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