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  • The Demise of the Guidebook and the Beginning of the Dark Times

    When I was a little kid, I used to visit Disneyland about once a year on average. Each time, I looked forward to collecting and saving the souvenir guidebook distributed to guests that year.

    Each one of the books was great and was filled with several pages of pictures, artwork, and information. Every area of Disneyland had its own map, and each attraction, shop, and restaurant had its own description.

    The books served several purposes. Beyond promoting individual shops and restaurants (as well as the institutional patrons and other operating participants), the publications also directed guests to underutilized attractions that often contributed greatly to the guests' overall satisfaction.

    While the guidebooks were presented "compliments of the Eastman Kodak Company", they also gave guests something tangible that added value in the same way a program at a play does.

    The cognitive dissonance that guests might experience after purchasing their admission media was immediately offset by this directory to all that lie in store for when these guests would eventually pass through the gates. Once they did, waiting in queues was made much less unpleasant by being able to peruse the publications.

    After a visit, the guidebook served to encapsulate the day's events while it also showed each guest all the things that he or she may have missed during his or her visit, guaranteeing that said guest would make an effort to return soon.

    Once home, I know that I, at least, would study the guidebooks intently. Since they were physical, they functioned for me like specialty advertising, reminding me to return to Disneyland.

    They also made a convenient aid to use in telling others about my experience at Disneyland and in encouraging them to visit, too.

    The guidebook to me was, in short, an integral part of the Disneyland experience.

    In the early 1990's, I had no idea who Paul Pressler was. I simply visited Disneyland as I had done many times before. But, I noticed that, instead of each guest in my party receiving his or her own guidebook, this day, my entire group would just get one. I also noticed that the guidebook was no longer a book with several pages and a few staples. Now, my party would have to be content sharing a single sheet of paper with an overly simplified map on it.

    Needless to say, I was sorely disappointed. Little did I know, then, though, that this event would only be the start of more than a decade of disillusionment.

    Today, I'd like some version of my guidebooks back. I'd like to be able to plan my day and mark my progress. I'd like to be able to see all the one-of-a-kind shops with all their unique merchandise. I'd like to be able to choose a restaurant and locate it easily. I'd like to be able to take a representation of Disneyland home with me. And, I have a feeling I'm not alone.

  • #2
    Re: The Demise of the Guidebook and the Beginning of the Dark Times

    lol dark times.

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    • #3
      Re: The Demise of the Guidebook and the Beginning of the Dark Times

      I'm right there with ya, buddy. I loved those guidebooks when I was a kid. I saved them, took them home, and in between trips to the park I'd take them out occasionally and daydream.

      One thing those guidebooks could not help you with today, however: "one-of-a-kind shops with all their unique merchandise."

      There are no more one-of-a-kind shops. And no more unique merchandise. The park now sells two things: shirts and pins.
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      • #4
        Re: The Demise of the Guidebook and the Beginning of the Dark Times

        You're not alone.

        I loved the guidebooks. Still have a few of the newer ones (the ones showing trains on the cover, of course); I'd like to get some from the 1970s.

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        • #5
          Re: The Demise of the Guidebook and the Beginning of the Dark Times

          I agree.

          The complimentary and nicely produced souvier guide book...gave added value to the price of admission, and helped make the money you paid seem just that little bit more worth it. Especially with today's admission prices being so high (even taking into account the inflation over the years)...you'd think the complimentary guide book would have more perceived value than ever.

          Originally posted by PragmaticIdealist
          While the guidebooks were presented "compliments of the Eastman Kodak Company", they also gave guests something tangible that added value in the same way a program at a play does.
          FYI...they were at various times also "Compliments of"...Insurance Companies of North America (INA), GAF, Polaroid, and even Disneyland.

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          • #6
            Re: The Demise of the Guidebook and the Beginning of the Dark Times

            The larger format maps were fun because they could put the little descriptions on them. Still not a guidebook, but at least there was something.
            I, for one, wore an old (1990 or something, so old is in the eye of the beholder) guide map completely out.

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            • #7
              Re: The Demise of the Guidebook and the Beginning of the Dark Times

              The last time I visited Disneyland was in 2006, at the tail-end of the 50th. The 'Souvenir Guidebook' was a well-done affair, but it was certainly the exception rather than the rule when compared with 'programs' from the recent past.

              I believe the frequency with which Guests visit the Parks now has diminished both the informational aspect of the 'programs' as well as their sophistication. With the advent of the AP, you have a customer base with virtually unlimited access to the Parks, and encyclopedic knowledge of its attractions and services through constant contact. Since the printing and distribution of these guidebooks are costs that Disney is not directly compensated for, coupled with the fact that Guests, with increasing frequency, rely less and less on this informational tool, is contributing to the 'souvenir guidebook's' journey into obsolesence. I believe this is just one of the many areas that the AP is affecting the Parks negatively, for everyone; Aper and non-APer alike.

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              • #8
                Re: The Demise of the Guidebook and the Beginning of the Dark Times

                I know what you mean. Wonderful books with the unique shopping - Perfumeries,antiques, candles, tobacco, woolen mills, wood carvers.

                Unique dining - the Tahitian Terrace, the Golden Horseshoe Revue, Blue Bayou, Case del Frito, Riverbelle Terrace etc.

                Tips on photography...

                Sadly, with the lack of unique shopping and dining, it is not perceived to be needed, or allows suits to change out merchandise overnight, theme be damned. And it's happening in DL, WDW, and DLP. In fact DL seems to be the last English speaking bastion of uniquity!

                Thankfully I still have mine from the Bicentennial, the 25th Birthday, Opening of the New Fantasyland, 30th Birthday.

                I don't have the same compulsion to want to keep the generic ones of the modern day. More dumbing down of the Disney experience.
                Let's put the Walt back in Disney!




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                • #9
                  Re: The Demise of the Guidebook and the Beginning of the Dark Times

                  Originally posted by Zoe Necrosis View Post

                  One thing those guidebooks could not help you with today, however: "one-of-a-kind shops with all their unique merchandise."

                  There are no more one-of-a-kind shops. And no more unique merchandise. The park now sells two things: shirts and pins.
                  Interestingly, the reason Paul Pressler and the stores people started putting the best-selling merchandise with the highest profit margins in all the shops is because the research at the time was saying the average guest only visits a couple of those shops each day.

                  One has to wonder whether or not the lack of a guidebook with a complete description of each of these unique shops contributed to this phenomenon. One has to also wonder whether or not the appropriate response to this research was to fill the shops with the same merchandise when that strategy only encourages guests to visit fewer and fewer locations.

                  The better strategy is to persuade guests to visit more locations, partly by offering a greater array of merchandise, especially in the age of the ubiquitous annual passport and the pervasive FastPass system.
                  Last edited by PragmaticIdealist; 08-03-2007, 08:06 AM.

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                  • #10
                    Re: The Demise of the Guidebook and the Beginning of the Dark Times

                    I loved those guidebooks too. I poured over them and planned and fantasized my next trip... I also loved those little luustrations/symbols for each ride - - very evocative. They knew how to sell the fantasy so much better - - and without all the dreadful advertising propaganda.

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                    • #11
                      Re: The Demise of the Guidebook and the Beginning of the Dark Times

                      Originally posted by merlinjones View Post
                      I loved those guidebooks too. I poured over them and planned and fantasized my next trip... I also loved those little luustrations/symbols for each ride - - very evocative. They knew how to sell the fantasy so much better - - and without all the dreadful advertising propaganda.
                      Or character/fad overkill infiltration - insert here e.g. Pooh, Princesses, Pirates, Stitch etc.

                      Ironically today something like the JC, Tiki Room, PotC, HM ATIS etc. would never get the green light because it does not have a thrill or synergy with other Disney products.
                      Let's put the Walt back in Disney!




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                      • #12
                        Re: The Demise of the Guidebook and the Beginning of the Dark Times

                        Originally posted by fo'c's'le swab View Post
                        I believe the frequency with which Guests visit the Parks now has diminished both the informational aspect of the 'programs' as well as their sophistication. With the advent of the AP, you have a customer base with virtually unlimited access to the Parks, and encyclopedic knowledge of its attractions and services through constant contact. Since the printing and distribution of these guidebooks are costs that Disney is not directly compensated for, coupled with the fact that Guests, with increasing frequency, rely less and less on this informational tool, is contributing to the 'souvenir guidebook's' journey into obsolesence. I believe this is just one of the many areas that the AP is affecting the Parks negatively, for everyone; Aper and non-APer alike.
                        Oh, I understand the effect of the annual passport, but Disneyland should realize that many of its best customers are those who are travelling from outside southern California and that they need a real guidebook with real information.

                        Even someone who is familiar with Disneyland needs a guidebook, sometimes, just as a reminder. Deciding on a place to eat can be daunting without a directory. Besides, the guidebook is part of an overall presentation. The quality of the writing, especially, was very nice. Much of it actually had a sense of artistry to it, so I thought of it as part of the entertainment inasmuchas Thurl Ravenscroft's narration aboard the Disneyland Railroad was.

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                        • #13
                          Re: The Demise of the Guidebook and the Beginning of the Dark Times

                          I so very loved the guidebooks as well. I would read every letter on every one of those that I've collected, constantly comparing them to the year previous to spot any changes or differences. It was how I went to Disneyland everyday without physically being there.

                          Remember the time when they combined both Disneyland AND DCA maps into one?? That was the low point.

                          I had hoped that for the 50th, they would make a nice retro guidebook similar to the old days but totally new. Just for the 50th.


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                          • #14
                            Re: The Demise of the Guidebook and the Beginning of the Dark Times

                            I don't remember these guide books you speak of. I only know of the simple maps they give out now. They do sound great though.
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                            • #15
                              Re: The Demise of the Guidebook and the Beginning of the Dark Times

                              Originally posted by PragmaticIdealist View Post
                              Oh, I understand the effect of the annual passport, but Disneyland should realize that many of its best customers are those who are travelling from outside southern California and that they need a real guidebook with real information.

                              Even someone who is familiar with Disneyland needs a guidebook, sometimes, just as a reminder. Deciding on a place to eat can be daunting without a directory. Besides, the guidebook is part of an overall presentation. The quality of the writing, especially, was very nice. Much of it actually had a sense of artistry to it, so I thought of it as part of the entertainment inasmuchas Thurl Ravenscroft's narration aboard the Disneyland Railroad was.
                              It would be interesting to see the numbers representing the ratio of Guidebook to Guest. I, over the past five or six years, do not take one as I feel it is not really necessary, and their appeal has greatly diminished with their diminished quality. Someone also mentioned a described 'reluctance' to pass them out to every Guest in a party. Are the numbers of guidebooks distributed/per Guest declining? If so, are they being refused, or merely distributed more 'selectively'?

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