Disney EchoEar Grand Mouseter
Joined: April 1992
||Posted: Sep. 20, 2011, 4:07 pm
Notice that the Disney Parks Blog that Disney itself owns and moderates has Comments after the announcement, and the Comments are mostly glowing. That's because Disney owns and operates that blog, as well as moderates it..... Remember the song "Home, Home on the Range.....where nary is heard, a discouraging word, and the skies are not cloudy all day...." Ahem. "Moderated blog...."
My husband, Disney Echo Site Administrator Rich Koster, ventured out into the world of Twitter, where maybe the words of reaction from other Disney fans in cyberspace and the Twitter-sphere are more discouraged, down, shocked, acronym WTF going on and so forth, and clouds cover their otherwise Pixie Dusted outlooks for the House of Mouse.
Rich told me the news, and at first I didn't believe him. When I did come to belief, my first reaction "I just lost a lot of respect for Disney..."
Even as a non-minutiae detailed oriented Disney fan lately, I can think of a few dilutions of Disney culture as Walt left it after he died in 1966. When Michael Eisner took over as CEO in 1984 the parks were languishing. To goose up enthusiasm and attendance, Eisner called upon then-Hollywood buddies Stephen Spielberg and George Lucas, and behold "Star Tours" and two "Indiana Jones"-themed attractions (one at Orlando, the other at Disneyland) came about. Eventually add another Disney-Spielberg outcome to a successful movie "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" and "Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin" opened in a "new land" at Disneyland, Toon Town.
Years later Disney was distributing Pixar movies in the days before Disney bought Pixar, and there was a lot of "Toy Story" and other movie tie-ins at the parks that literally, at the time, weren't truly "Disney". Of course Disney bought Pixar and they sure are Disney now. But it's overt what I call "Pixarification" of Disney parks..... Lots of Pixar characters, even attractions and shows. Out at Disney's California Adventure, now undergoing refurbishment, there is indeed a "Cars Land" under construction.
Years later Disney bought Marvel Entertainment, the comic books, the movies, the film library, and now even comic book superheroes are every bit as "Disney" as Snow White, Cinderella and The Little Mermaid and Lion King.
Now.... We have a harkening back to the post-1984 near corporate take over of Disney which brought in Michael Eisner at the time. Bringing in non-Disney movie studio and non-Disney-originated characters to have an interactive place in a Disney theme park, James Cameron's "Avatar".
When Rich surveys reaction among Disney fans the level of embracing this news is far lower, and more negative, than that shown on Disney Parks Blog, owned by Disney itself. Fans are shocked, sad, mad, puzzled...... Not really happy.
I think although we've slowly embraced the incursion of non-Disney culture into Disney parks, such as "Star Tours" based on Star Wars, the annual Star Wars Weekends at WDW, Indiana Jones stunt or adventure attractions as the case may be at WDW and Disneyland, and while we all love most of Pixar's movies, stories and characters, and maybe can "buy into" that Marvel he-man super hero comic book characters and movies makes boys happy who'd normally squirm in the presence of Disney Princesses.... That now bringing of all things "Avatar" into Disney parks, when Disney itself didn't create "Avatar"..... Hmmmmm.....
The energy generator turbine that is Walt Disney and his many revered, deceased Imagineers, rotating in their graves, that is kept spinning all the time, and certainly in my mind spinning now.
Walt in his creative vigorous and healthy heyday employed people and kept them hired and creatively challenged to generate unique ideas for him. He didn't have to ask a competing studio or producer or director to please consider letting Disney do a theme park version of one of their hit movies. Walt endeavored to have all that creative talent, movie-making, and expanding on the movies' successes in his theme parks himself. Not out of greed. But out of his own imagination plus a sense of "this idea would work in my park this way..." and capitalizing on his own success. He made some of the greatest animated and live action movies of all time, and movies that appealed to families and kids, and movies that could be translated into theme park attractions that recalled those movies.
Today, I guess the well of creating ideas from scratch is running dry.
I know a lot of people went to see "Avatar" worldwide, in 3-D and IMAX and they just loved it. Being in a world of creatures and habitats like that captures their imagination. I get that.
I also get it that introducing the idea of an "Avatarland" at Animal Kingdom might be doing two things Disney needs:
1. While "Harry Potter" is doing boffo business at Universal Studios, it might still be drawing a lot of people away from Disney World, especially since the final of the "Harry Potter" movies came out this summer. Magic Kingdom at WDW is still refurbishing and installing new elements to their park as a major update, in part to compete in theme park wars with Universal. With news this past week that short term Disney theme park on-site room bookings are sagging in the pending downturn of the economy, announcing this major collaboration with James Cameron to create a "land" about "Avatar" is sure to get people to thinking about Disney World and Disney parks again while construction at Magic Kingdom and Disney's California Adventure (major rehabs going on at both US coast's parks) is still going on. Or public relations-wise, news of an "Avatarland" is shouting to the public "Look at me! Look at Disney!" in general.
2. An attempt specifically to jazz up Animal Kingdom aside from the draw of what Harry Potter may be doing at Universal Studios Florida. Remember the ad campaign for Animal Kingdom several years ago "nahtazu" (not a zoo ) ? Maybe still people shrug off AK as a glorified zoo, why bother, we'd rather go to Epcot or Magic Kingdom....would an "Avatarland" get people like those to buy an admission ticket to visit and check it out?
I found it very challenging to swallow Disney buying Marvel Entertainment, while I could see the points of Disney buying Pixar and The Muppets as much better fits. Now I'm practically choking on Disney having an "Avatarland" plus other "Avatar" tie-ins at other Disney parks.
What think you? Good fit for Disney to work with James Cameron and creating an "Avatarland" based on a competing movie studio's blockbuster movie? Or a bad fit? Should Disney hire creative people internally to come up with original and unique Disney stuff for it's parks, shows, and attractions? Or is the Duffy teddy bear as good as it gets, and Disney needs to contract out for other studio's hit movies 'cause Disney can't come up with hit movies of it's own to base theme park attractions out of any more?
And are John Lasseter (chief of Pixar and named head of Disney Feature Animation and head of Imagineering), and legendary Imagineer Tony Baxter glad or sad about this news? In terms of loving and having a reverence for Walt Disney and Disney parks, Lasseter and Baxter are the two most "What Would Walt Have Done?" Disney fans in power at Disney.... or maybe up 'til now. Probably a lot of Disney fans objecting to this news are "What Would Walt Have Done?"-type fans. Make me wonder if Disney or CEO Robert Iger will "hire out" or "contract out" the imaginative theming elements for this "Avatarland" or if Baxter or Lasseter will be given other, distracting, things to do away from it.
Feel free to discuss. Any new articles with new details? Post them here, too. Thanks.