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Turning the Ship Around

Turning the Ship Around

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Having recently read Jim's article about DCA's "X Games Xperience" I was pleased to hear that Disney is continuing to tinker with this troubled theme park. That the Mouse is still striving to change this "not-very-appealing-to-locals" place into something that will appeal both to Southern Californians as well as out-of-state tourists.

Because -- let's face facts, folks -- Disney's first battle plan for California Adventure pretty much blew up in their face. After all, almost no one embraced the company's original concept for the park. Which was to recreate the very best of the Golden State all in one place.

Ah, but now the Mouse is moving away from that failed concept at warp speed. As part of their on-going effort to change DCA into something that the public WILL embrace, Disneyland Resort officials quickly okayed construction of a brand new kiddie area ("A Bug's Land"), threw a major Broadway type theatre production ("Aladdin - A Musical Spectacular") into the Hyperion Theater as well as staging numerous special events that are strictly designed to lure in the locals (EX: DCA's recent "Super Soap Weekends" as well as the still on-going "X Games Xperience"). And let's not forget about that multi-million dollar thrill ride that's currently under construction ("Twilight Zone Tower of Terror") as well as the other big budget behemoth that's reportedly waiting in the wings ("Rock n Roller Coaster").

All of these new rides and shows were quickly added to California Adventure just so that Disney's marketing staff would be able pass along this new, improved message about the park to Southern Californians: DCA finally is a fun place to visit now. If you've been here before and were disappointed ... well, there are so many exciting new shows and attractions now. So why not give Disney's California Adventure another try?"

Which -- when you think about it -- is pretty damned different from the original hook Disney had hoped to use in order to lure Orange County residents into sampling DCA: "The very best of California. Right here in your backyard."

Sure, it's embarrassing for Walt Disney Company officials to have to do this. No doubt there are executives who continue to mutter "We'd have had a lot easier time selling a second gate at Disneyland if Eisner and Pressler had just stuck with the original theme for that park. Westcot. The very best of the world all in one spot."

But let's not stress the negative, shall we? At least Disney is showing signs that it can -- in fact -- learn from its mistakes. I mean, look what recently happened at Epcot. That awful "Journey into Imagination" redo got junked in favor of "Journey into your Imagination with Figment." The Walt Disney Company actually realized that it made a horrible mistake in changing out that much beloved Future World ride, then quickly made an effort to fix their mistake.

I mean, it's not like Disney Company officials hasn't done this before. How many of you recall when then-Disney Productions CEO Card Walker decreed that there would be no walk-around Disney characters inside of EPCOT Center. As soon as Michael Eisner came on board at the Mouse House in the Fall of 1984 and saw all those WDW guest complaints about the lack-of-characters in Epcot, he ordered that Mickey & Co. be put in the park. Which is how we ended up with all those space suited and rainbow marked Mickey, Minnie and Donald walking around Communicore.

But -- until just recently -- Eisner seemed reluctant to admit that he himself could make an error. This Disney CEO preferred to bury his mistakes ("Light Magic," anyone?) rather than to ever own up to screwing up.

But those days may finally be in the past. If you look carefully, there are encouraging signs in all sorts of directions.

Joe Rohde getting the go-ahead to add "Expedition Everest" to Disney's Animal Kingdom. A bold new thrill ride which admittedly isn't "Beastly Kingdom." But -- hey -- it's a start.

Tom Morris and Paul Osterhout continue to try and improve the Walt Disney Studios theme park outside of Paris around by "plussing" that park. Continually adding new props, improving the over-all theming of that park ... while also pushing to be allowed to go-ahead with new rides & shows (Maybe even a whole new land) which can be added to WDS in the not-so-distant future.

Now I know that there are other Disneyana websites out where all they talk about is doom and gloom. How awful the Disney theme parks have become. How there's absolutely no hope for the future for these places.

That's why I like reading (and writing for) JimHillMedia.com. Jim doesn't see things as being quite that bleak. He acknowledges that the Mouse does make mistakes ... but he also points out the encouraging signs too. How something like the "X Games Xperience" may be a step in the right direction for DCA, for example.

The only trouble is ... turning about a troubled theme park and/or corporation is a lot like turning an ocean liner. It can take a lot of time and energy. And - if you're not exactly sure of what you're doing - it can all still end in disaster.

So let's all hope that the ship that Mickey and Co. are currently trying to turn around turns out to be called the "Disney Magic." NOT the "Titanic."



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