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Jay's Balance

Jay's Balance

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Well, talk about a week that left all us Disney dweebs standing off guard!

All this Pressler/ Rasulo mumbo jumbo kind of left all us Disney watchdogs with a bitter taste in our mouths!!!

Why? Well my friends as someone once said, "talk about me well, talk about me bad...but PLEASE TALK ABOUT ME!!!" and this was exactly what all Disney fans did with Paul! But the way Paul actually left, after years of people praying for that moment to come, kind of left everyone astounded!

See kids, everything you read lately about Paul makes you think Pressler was some sort of anti-Walt, sitting behind his desk, in a comfy office probably hiding behind one of those giant dwarfs at the Team Disney building in Burbank with this giant map of all Disney themeparks and attractions and casually placed a pencil and drew an X on what he (randomly) would decided to close next...or maybe even better...this image of Paul, dressed in his best waiter attire, bringing hot coffee to Eisner and saying "yes my liege even today I closed an astronomically expensive themed ride and placed a top drawer sit down facility in its place".

What is even worse is that Jay Rasulo is now seen as the "knight in shining armour" coming back from the French crusades after having domesticated this huge legendary dragon and who now has been appointed by the king himself to lead all the other knights into another battle.... talk about facing your new job relaxed and without pressure!

Well my friends lets start with a basic fact: BALANCE IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS!!!!

It's a millenary rule as old as the wheel!!! Come on look at the facts; Eisner lost his pixie dust when he had no one to rely on as counter balance.... without Wells the guy had no one to trust who he knew would counter balance each and every decision! It is a well known fact that Michael often toured the parks with a squad of execs and sometimes ordered huge costly additions which, in a matter of minutes (behind his back, but Michael knew this), Frank would stop that executives and say "no wait, he actually meant this..." and provided a logical equilibrium to Mikey's decisions!

Walt himself was not immune from this "balance = success equation"!

Yes, yes, we all know Walt was a genius, and a crazy lunatic on some things....but do you really think the guy would have been more than a half rated cartoonist (I already see you screaming for this expression...but stay with me) without his brother Roy?

Roy was the only one who could stand and reply to Walt! Roy himself would have probably been a provincial bank executive without his brother...as Walt eloquently put it in mid 50's interview: "Roy and I have a guardian angel, only that I don't know if it's Roy's and he doesn't' know if it's mine..."!!!

When Eisner lost Wells the company started its decline, it had lost its balance, it was only creativity without realism behind it, When Roy lost Walt it left the older Disney dealing with the opening of Walt Disney World knowing he didn't have the necessary creativity to step into Walt's shows, therefore Roy relied (and consider that none of "Roy's boy's" had ever stepped into WED before Walt's death) on Sklar, Walker and all those "Walt men" he didn't like but realised he had to trust to step into Walt's (BIGGGGG) shoe's.

Pressler was not the Anti-Walt he was simply a great executive (and being a half decent Manager myself I honestly envy the man's Marketing capabilities) who tilted the balance of things more towards cost cutting then raising the over all value! Rasulo on the other hand is not the holder of the Disney crest, but for sure he can have a go at holding the shield with one hand and the sword in the other!

Having seen James Rasulo in action, having met him, and having assisted to his commotion (visible on that red carpet) the night of the inauguration of the Walt Disney Studios Park I honestly think Jay is the right man to tilt the balance to the other side!

Rasulo's first comments are in fact on the opposite side of the barricade from what most considered "Paul's thought": "I'm certainly not going to be able to turn around a fundamental world trend. Maybe we tilted the balance a little bit toward seeking efficiencies and cost reductions."

Jay is a nurtured and trained Disney executive, but on the contrary to most other execs he has been with the company 17 years, mostly in strategic affairs! See kids, this guy was not sent to Paris by coincidence, Michael knew Jay had the skills to do the most difficult thing for any Disney theme park President: REPOSITION IT!

Jay was sent to Marne la Vallee not only to fix the financial situation, build up the residential/commercial "Vall' D'Europe" area, and open up the second gate, but also to make all Europeans -and the whole world- understand that Euro Disney now was Disneyland Resort Paris, a different experience, a much more European environment, that (unlike most Europeans think) the park was not anymore on the verge of bankruptcy...and that Europe was a very important market for the Walt Disney Company!

Jay is also the man credited for having pretty much returned the Disneyland Park to its 1992 beauty! During his 2-year tenure as CEO of the company he refurbished practically every spot of the park, and added theming elements to the Walt Disney studios (which had been designed prior to his appointment as CEO! He was also the executive who decided to buy a set of Country bears from Disneyland's closed show...no matter where to place them; Jay knew Europeans had to one day see these Marc Davis creatures in action...even in a distant future (and yes the bears will one day pop up in DLRP)!

Of course all this had to come at a cost! You cannot budget the refurbishments of 65% of a theme park and get a brand new E-Ticket at the same time (even Tokyo is only now addressing the Fantasyland and Tomorrowland theming re-dos planned since years ago). Therefore WDS attraction where cancelled (the sound lab housed between Cinemagique and the TV tour and another animation building) for the mean time in order to add theming elements, the Partners statue was delivered to the studios and the carpets where moved from their planned Adventureland location.

See what I'm getting to here gang? Jay is one of those men who sees well beyond the short term results, he knows sacrifices have to be made in order to obtain results in difficult times, he knows (as we Italians like to put it) "your wife drunk and the bottle full"! (Ed note: I'm packing my bags for Italy NOW)

So what to expect from this newly appointed "Disney hero"?

Tough question gang, and for sure I don't have any mental powers to read his mind or the future! But as a Disney watcher and a manager I can place a fairly educated guess.... he won't act without looking at what results will come down the line from his decisions!

Jay is the right man to steer the ship, and the term ship is not chosen by coincidence! Jay has been called upon not only to continue the growth of DLRP, regain confidence in WDW bookings and save DCA...he is also called upon to be the driving force of the future Disney theme parks expansion...way beyond Hong Kong and Shanghai!

As Jim (Hill) eloquently put it on Monday, the WDC is looking at popping HKDL type parks in South America, Australia and Russia...possibly between 2010 and 2020, as well as turning its already existing theme parks into the "Imagineering think tank" which can allow for low cost expansion wherever a Disneyland is needed!

What does this mean for us lovers of existing parks? Well, an educated guess, knowing Jay (a bit), and having some fairly reliable information makes me think Jay will use the existing parks as the first copies and then have to play nice in the others by coping already existing-or well tried- rides!

These reported "Disneyland lites" will feature rides, shows and/or technology already in place in other parks...which for us visitors to existing parks might not actually turn out as a bad thing! In the end Disney will build new rides and try new technology where its financial results are sure...like in Orlando and Anaheim...and therefore will have to try new solutions and provide us with new experiences in order to "feed" the franchised parks!

After all this is the exact same business model which brought Tokyo Disney to it's huge success...that park saw its first "newly developed" technical ride in the form of Pooh's hunny hunt" 18 years after its opening, and TDS itself was built mostly to hold already existing rides and shows (think Journey, Indy, 20K, the Disney sea symphony as a copy of Fantasmic in some way or even the Waterfront area as a place holder for the TOT)!

Jay is the right man to do al this, balancing his love for Disney with huge business capabilities, he surely knows how to stand on his feet, and in some occasions I'm sure he will even be able to face Eisner's decisions and reply as needed!

I don't see an easy rode ahead for him, streamlines, sacrifices and mistakes will be made on the road, as well as rumours of "Rasulo as successor to Eisner" and Disney watchdog criticisms will certainly appear with the first decisions, but I honestly wish you could have all seen Jay standing on that red carpet on the night of March 15th...I swear I saw a tear role down his cheek.... and there is no better man than one which can cry because of his heart's warmth!

See you in the parks...I know that those fireworks will shine brighter from today!

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