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Discussion in 'Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai' started by loaloa, Apr 7, 2009.
We need more Imagineers like him.
Under Sea Grand Prix would of been awesome! It just feels like something an old school WED guy would have cooked up - like Marc Davis.
Ok Tom, I'm just going to go ahead and ask. No pressure. Lol. What are your thoughts on the GOTG:MB overlay to the Tower of Terror at DCA? I would love to know how a respected imagineer and creative person like yourself feels about it. (Not to mention currently not employed by Disney and unbiased)
Ironic that the current OLC management are now replacing the serious-toned Stormrider with Finding Nemo, where you ride in a very kawaii mechanical fish... I much prefer your style of art direction for an undersea simulator.
Haaaaaaa Oh Lord...I guess I have to be honest since I am on the spot here...LOL! Well let me say, first off, this is only MY opinion...for whatever value it has. Likely not much worth...but perhaps a pirate coin. Here it is...
There are times when the Entertainment industry today...be it a film or an attraction, feels changing a classic will make it "better". The BIG driving force that has totally dominating the creation of an attraction more than ever now is "I.P" (intellectual property).
Most any idea I am asked to develop as a consultant these days is just taking a popular movie or cartoon and "making a ride out of it". This bores the living hell out of me...as an "idea guy"..and concept designer. When I first started doing concept design SOME was I.P driven..and some was just a story and characters I made up to fit a certain ride technology or a "land" at Disney. SOOOOO much more rewarding and challenging than just making a ride or show out of a popular movie. After all...some of the GREATEST rides and attractions EVER ...NEVER started with a film or existing I.P. Like.."The Pirates of the Caribbean", the "haunted Mansion", to name a few.
Though "Tower of Terror" was loosely based on the "Twilight Zone"...it was representing a classic "notion". It had the potential to be...timeless...in the storyline. How many generations STILL are re-discovering the series made some almost 50 years ago today. So I would ask myself first, does the current theme replacing it have this same rank of classic appeal? Did it really need to change...yet? I tell you...I cannot find a single person I know...younger or older who was the least bit happy to see the "T of T" go! Most were really very dismayed. Sad even.
Personally, just to look at the facade of this new attraction is not something appealing to me. It's just confusing. For me, it doesn't feel "Disney" at all. There is a very very particular..and I will say the word..."magic" that a real, classic, soulful Disney attraction has always had...and should have. Even something scary or dramatic....should give you this feeling in a Disney park. You know it when you feel it...you all know what I mean. It just "feels" right. It connects to you...and you are allured and enchanted. I ask the question back at you...Do you feel what I describe when you look at this new show building?
Walt always said that Disnyland would forever be in a state of evolving and change. But I think that current leadership at Disney gets hung up on I.P usage and popularity gambling odds based on popular existing "stuff" over really going back and doing what they did as I heard it from the old imagineers I knew....creating something really really NEW and spectacular! Something that would BECOME it's own "I.P"..and inspire a movie AFTERwards! Just like Pirates did!
Also..."Guardians of the Galaxy" to me is Marvel I.P that can bounce all over from Universal to Disney, back again..and onward to whoever pays for it. Who cares..... This is DISNEY! Who needs Marvel in my opinion to foothold a great attraction? Let an imagineer with a limitless mind and a team of highly creative tech guys get together after telling them to just come up with the coolest damn freaking experience the world could ever hope for...white sheet of paper!! No I.P!! I GUARANTEE you....the outcome would be beyond anything you see here being attached to this ride hardware before us now. NO QUESTION. Well...that's pretty much...my answer...for the worth of a Pirate stamped slug coin. (I love those!) LOL! ~~~
LOL...THANK YOU for the response. IMO it's worth more than a Pirate stamped slug coin. I agree with everything you said and have been repeating most of it on these boards since the rumor was first announced over a year ago. TOT was classic and appealed to multiple generations. Aside from TOT, a haunted hotel is just a timeless concept and appeals to just about everyone. To lose this for the flavor of the month IP is SAD. I think if the mandate that came from Chapek was to get Marvel IP in the park ASAP, they should have made this a temporary overlay until Marvel Land was ready.
It was bad enough to hear that TOT was going to go for GOTG. But then they unveiled the concept art and things got worse fast. To answer your question, I am just as confused as you are. I don't want to be reminded of oil refineries when I'm at a Disney park. There is nothing magical about that. The fact that it is being referred to as a museum/ warehouse/ power plant shows there is no solid vision for this project. For the life of me I cannot understand why they went with such an eyesore of a design. How could they take such liberties with a 20 story structure that can be seen from all over the resort?
To be clear I blame Chapek for the overlay. However, it's just hard for me to believe that the imagineers working on this project could not have made it work in a more organic way that blends with DCA. Surely, there had be 100 better ideas than a 20 story eclectic Alien oil refinery.
Well said Mick! LOL! Well said! The reality from what my friends still at WDI tell me (no names) is that decisions and the process is far far different now days than when I was there in the 90's . I could still kinna feel Walt there when I was there. lol! Creative guys and gals still felt very "powerful". Old timers used to tell me that the entire reason Walt put his gang he was calling "Imagineers" in this little old brick building on Flower St....away from the studio..was very intentional. Here, he wanted to let the most creative minds he had...be insulated from the B.S of corporate formulation, middle management and "practical" process....so that in this very, very special place...the real magic could be allowed to be born. Like a hot house for orchids in a deep cold winter...allowed to bloom and be nourished and cherished. This was true "Imagineering" at its purest. Something I sure hope one day...returns. That would sure be pretty darn...."magical"~~
Wow. Walt definitely knew what he was doing. How things have changed. Do you think it will ever go back to the way it was? Where not everything has to be synergistic and marketing guys aren't calling the shots at the parks?
That anecdote is great! Classic, put the CEO in the box and hope for the best. Imagineering never was for the faint of heart!
As an aside, I have maybe the foggiest recollection of Sea Base Alpha, but mostly it's a blank. It was gone before I could ever really appreciate it. Bringing back that concept, totally reborn, was something that really excited me. I had no idea the terravators existed, so that was a delight. The tone shifts markedly after you go through. It's one of my favorite Disney Pre shows, and no word needs to be spoken.
The process you described, "every rock formation... telling a story," just fascinates me. The subtle progression. People can feel it, but they often can't explain it. This art form is all about anticipating and curating people's feelings all without being too over bearing, too complicated, too simplistic, too predictable, etc.
Stricking that balance between respecting a guest's intelligence, while also being clear enough for everyone to follow along.
Journey to the Center of the Earth strikes the right chord.
That's excellent! One of the neat things about themed entertainment's interdisciplinary nature is the ability to refocus your interest.
Just do what you love!
I hope someday the subs will be redeemed. All the bones are there. It could be really really great. Nemo was a clever stopgap. Live to fight another day...
I am not sure, honestly. Our world in general is changed and driven much more by formulation than by the "heart"...yah? I see this. I tend to be a more "free spirit"...and this is a blessing and a curse at times.
I think everyone means well at Disney..or I hope so. But the classic Imagineers I knew personally were all driven by the "heart" ...not the $. They just were motivated by different things. They were true artists.
One amazing woman I had the privilege to know the last 5 or 6 years of her life was Leota Tombs. You all know her as the "lady in the original crystal ball" in Haunted Mansion..and the ghost bride at the end. "Madame Leota". Lea and I became dear friends shortly after she was let go from Disney in the mid 80's. SHe was like another Mom to me. I was recently graduated from Pasadena Art Center College of Design. She and I worked together at the company Bob Gurr was at creating King Kong for Universal Studios. Lea was in EVERY sense of the word...real magic. She told me so many heart felt stories of her friendship with Walt. I need to tell some of these stories in a new thread. They are wonderful! They will bring tears to the eyes and inspire you no matter who you are!
Anyway, Lea was one who used to say....just watch, Tom...the "pendulum will change direction again"! She saw the changes that didn't reflect what Walt would have embraced at Imagineering, in her opinion..and she herself fell victim to no longer being at Disney because of it. But she never lost her endearing and innocent genius though. Her laugh...you had to hear it! It just was something that made everything in the world fun and wonderful! She was REAL...a real "Imagineer"...forever! No one could take that from her. She worked for Walt....and the "dream". I miss her always....but she forever inspired me. She embodied the spirit of that " Disney magic" you can't get by just working there and wearing a badge with your first name alone. I cannot say enough wonderful things about her. So...I guess if you believe Lea...you get your answer. LOL Watch the pendulum!
Hello there Tom, and thank you for stopping by to share some of your insights into creating some of these would-be Attraction experiences!
The one above I quoted is of particular interest to me having heard Tony talk about it several times, and I am really glad to hear your insights regarding it.
I've heard about this concept over the years, and how absolutely awesome it could have been.
I'm really dissapointed they decided to go the 'safe' cute route with cartoon fish instead of something more worthy of the fantastic and Tomorrowland.
Such a shame.
Whenever people bring up the topic of the Disneyland Submarines and the Pixar overlay, I like to talk about the proposed 'Atlantis' concept.
Wish it happened....it would have become one of the top Attraction experiences in the Park I'm sure!
Thank you for sharing these stories! And please get that thread going! Lol
I would like to think it would have, "Figments friend"!! I know one thing for sure....it would have made a hell of a "splash" in that lagoon!!! The poor Monorail would have had to wash its windows often!!! LOL!!
The above, times 1000.
Completely agree, and perfectly stated.
It's so refreshing to see this in print...!
The above two statements sum up exactly how I feel about this 'Guardians' project, and some of the unessesary IP overlaid Attractions that have seemed to have been the company's focus over the last few years.
I was just saying this in another thread - the fact that they focus so much now on doing shallow IP overlays means that both Guests and the designers as artists are being shortchanged creatively.
Just think of all the truly incredible, unique, and outright awesome experiences we COULD be having in the Parks instead of just a 'book report' or obvious marketing tie in.
The most famous successes that people tend to associate with the Disney Theme Park experience were all for the most part cutting edge for their time or thematically rich creative efforts.
And most of them were 100% 'Real Disney'...not acquired property through a buyout.
It bothers me that the desire to actively push envelopes creatively in a original direction at the Theme Parks is often impacted by the current desire to seemingly want to tie everything into a 'outside' IP now.
Marvel, Star Wars, and Pixar are not 'Disney' to me. Never will be.
Some of the very best experiences ever, as you had mentioned, were completely self contained and created in house specifically for a particular Attraction....and went off to become famous IPs in their own right.
It seems that today, due to several reasons ( a few valid ones ) that originality is being sacrificed for the 'proven investment' of a successful movie or comic book IP.
There have been a few exceptions ( Expedition Everest, Mystic Manor, etc. ) but I for one am hoping at some point the pengelum swings back towards the 'creatively original' direction.
I want to ride that Sub ride. Holy crap.
100% agree and I am just so thankful this isn't happening in Florida where we have the best Tower that maybe only Tokyo's could compete with.
At the same time though I'd be lying if I said I don't want any IP based stuff at all. Pandora looks incredible and I can't wait for Star Wars. Then, obviously, Nintendo. I've been waiting a looooooooong time for that one and I can't believe it's finally going to happen!!!
But yeah, especially in a park like Epcot, the "blank sheet of paper" strategy should win hands down
It's easy to picture what we already know. Pandora and Star Wars are familiar, and therefore within our realm of imagination. The type of original thinking that has all but been abandoned is more difficult to grasp.
What are we giving up by spending 1 Billion on a Star Wars Land? What could have been built if not Cars Land? What concepts were lost because of Avatar?
With IP attractions, we have a fairly decent understanding of the experience that will unfold. Original concepts are limitless in potential and scope.
How many Journey to the Center of the Earths have been scrapped for the familiar? Imagine the Harambes that have never materialized because of an IP. Consider the potential of attractions in the tradition of Pirates of the Caribbean that failed to pass the IP test.
IPs allow for laziness and shortcuts. IPs are predictable and rarely shock. IPs break thematic and story integrity.
They also send exactly the wrong message to creatives. The connotation is "you're too stupid to come up with something, so the boys from the movie studio will show you how it's done." Amazingly, the company also thinks that the studio is too stupid to come up with original content too. How's that for a content creator?
I'm extremely excited about the potential for Star Wars Experience and Pandora. These land's attractions and spaces should be insanely captivating, even with my dismay on their placement. Despite my enthusiasm, I still can't ignore the unseen cost of these IP lands. So many original concepts killed on the alter of synergy.
There are concepts that will be snuffed out for the familiar. Do any of you think Tower of Terror or Pirates of the Carribean would be built today?
I wouldn't be surprised if there were morale problems at WDI and Universal Creative. It's got to be enormously frustrating...
Can I point out Tom here had James Cameron beat by a whole 8 years! He was busy creating immersive, integrated, and lifelike bioluminescent environments nearly a decade before Avatar ever appeared. The link in the OP talks about some of the detail that this single ride took in presenting a science anchored fictional world to explore. This care was all for a single impactful show scene. The obvious route was careless eye candy, but instead a whole mythology was created explaining the logic behind this bioluminescent world. All for one stinkin show scene.
Remind me again why we need James Cameron?
Walt was the creative executive, so visionary that he had to insist to his own design team at WED on doing things a certain way or adding expense and detail in places they even didn't fully understand. Roy was the money man. But walt ultimately led Imagineering, had veto power / last word on everything, and Imagineering was the newest, edgiest, most secretive, most multi-disciplinary division of the company. Disneyland and Epcot were his babies later in life.
Eisner came along as the creative exec while frank wells was the CTO. Again, you had a split. Eisner really did inject a ton of capital and creativity and made edgy again the Disney Parks, but he also wasn't scared to let the Imagineers do their jobs. He respected the legacy. He made walt disney world what it is and pushed for greatness at Disneyland Paris. When Frank Wells died though and he had to juggle the hat of also being the man who worried about the pocketbook, and Disneyland Paris' financial troubles gave him some cold feet, he changed. He took for granted what he'd help grow, the legacy he had previously appreciated. Rather than spending no money at all he'd spend a little bit of money to create half day parks and mediocrity. He was so powerful he created a culture of fear around himself, nobody could get through to him. He introduced the use of more pop culture, with Captain EO, Star Tours, Indy, and those were successful projects obviously. But he definitely planted the IP seed alongside the neutering of WDI. What we have now is a corporate that can live up to its legacy of creating great IP projects with its roots in Eisner's 80s, but not the one that Walt created. With Parks and Resorts, he really under-appreciated the body of knowledge that operations possessed, and started swapping out leadership with consumer products people, completely taking for granted the learning curve. This is how we got Pressler... why we now have Chapek.
Now, the architecture and organizational psychology tell another story altogether; Imagineering is not in a remote warehouse free to do whatever they want, staffed by the best and brightest from around the world who would rather work no place else, for a company that admires them and a CEO that defends them and trusts their decision-making. They no longer have the veto power over operations and the financiers that they had when Walt ran Disneyland. Now, the Imagineering office is aged, sad, dwarfed by the sexy new Consumer Products campus next door. That speaks volumes. They are literally looking down upon Imagineering. People at CP and now P+R really do think they are geniuses, and that imagineering exists just to push whatever junk animated IP they need to sell more merchandise of. Parks and resorts despite its massiveness has become their self-conscious little punching bag, and imagineering needs a leader in the chairman/ceo role of the walt disney company to shake up this class distinction that they helped create. You see it everywhere; I remember when Iger was on CNBC or some other financial news network last year, the hosts were shocked at the size of Parks and Resorts, that it was responsible for x percentage of the company's revenue. Completely shocked. Yet the host could NOT muster a single interesting question about this industry/division of the company and could not stop talking about ESPN. People do not respect theme parks, and mediocre theme parks are the reason why. Until Disney blows people away again, that won't change. By the way, people on the west coast are really excited about Pandora. Disney's fan base seems lukewarm about it, but I think its catching the eye of southern Californians, who are a more left of center urban folk than the rest of the country so the subtext of the film resonates with them, appreciative of the outdoors/road trips/nature/national parks, and they are more technologists, so these could have something to do with being impressed by the floating mountains etc. But the less they do the unexpected, the more predictable they come by shoving children's movie IPs into EPCOT etc, the less people will pay attention. Its [almost] too late to turn back and restore that former glory. So much competition in a vastly different world. But then I look at Universal and how they've basically doubled their audience in a decade, and I know it can be done.
I think back to last year when some CP VP came over to the Disneyland resort and she was going to head up the renovations of Downtown Disney. Mall managers all over the globe are complete dorks. They are property managers that deal with operations, leasing, events, shipping/receiving, maintenance, permits for store construction, etc. all of the banality that exists behind the scenes. They aren't designing store interiors or clothes or designing malls themselves. Why on earth did Disney undermine its most creative division, handing over the keys then to people from one of the least creative industries imaginable? Disneyland today (or at the very least, when DCA opened until DCA 2.0) is what happens when you let a mall manager design a theme park. Would you ever let a mall manager direct a film? No? Then wake up. These people are not creative, and they've infiltrated the resorts, becoming the demanding client with veto power over better, more creative, ideas. They shouldn't be deciding what projects go into bluesky or development. They should be completely oblivious to what is brewing at and receptive to the advice of Imagineering. I think its hilarious that there are so many non-creatives working in P+R corporate... You can literally survive on half the advertising budget if you make a good product that sells itself. Instead, they allocate money away from the PRODUCT toward people in charge of selling said product in the hopes that we will blindly book vacations.
Animal kingdom has become the strongest of the Orlando Parks. Pretty soon, the name of the parks won't even matter anymore, because they'll all be pushing the same experiences. How is a tourist supposed to remember that Buzz lightyear is at magic kingdom in Tomorrowland but Toy story mania is at the studios park? Etc etc etc, when every park is soulless and becomes a hodgepodge of fading movie lands/rides. Why would somebody justify an extended stay at the parks to fit into their schedule a park they've yet to visit? When a park is completely experientially different, they may see the value; but when they've just spent 3 days hopping from pixar-movie-from-the-nineties-land to pixar-movie-from-the-nineties-land and they're all the same, they'll go someplace else. Walt Disney World... the world's largest K.B. Toys.
Now you're just depressing me...
Any creative getting a job at Universal should know what they're in for. Unlike Disney they were always about IP. It's kind of their thing.
This is one of the best posts I have ever read!
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