Eddie Sotto's take on the current state of the parks (Part II)

jhastings74

Well-Known Member
I, for one, would love to see a Brazilian Pavilion (hey...that rhymes...). Not only would it be a fresh addition to World Showcase, but I think it would serve as a great cross-promotional tool for Americans (and those from other countries visiting Epcot) to become exposed to Brazilian culture, but for Brazilians to feel 'represented' since they are an increasingly large demographic for WDW. I would venture to guess that there are far more people from Brazil coming to WDW for vacations than, say, those from Morocco.
 

alissafalco

Well-Known Member
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Greece Pavilion!!
 

RSoxNo1

Well-Known Member
Ah, how I'd love such a hypothetical Brazil pavilion to have a miniature Foz do Iguacu - these waterfalls go way beyond words. They could make it like the old Disneyland Hotel waterfall area, only even better.
Of course any Brazil pavilion would have to somehow recreate the stock footage of the helicopter flight over the Christ the Redeemer statue that's present in any movie that has even taken place in Brazil.
 

ChrisFL

Premium Member
Eddie,

Are there any classic attractions that you'd enjoy completely starting over with, and modernizing?

For example, I always thought Peter Pan could have a much grander ride experience than we have now (although the existing versions are brilliant).

I'd also be quite happy to re-imagine a Pirates ride..although I know it had been upgraded already a bit in Paris (alas, I have yet to visit that park). I keep hearing rumors about a splash mountain/pirates combination for Shanghai.
 

Eddie Sotto

Premium Member
As always, this thread is exciting for watching a real Imagineer spitball ideas. Every time you trot out such a blue-sky idea, Eddie, I realize that your ideas have a quality that most "armchair Imagineers" (including myself) lack: a to-the-core freshness. In other words, to use my own poor example, having a stunning waterfalls feature is pretty "obvious" when imagining a Brazil pavilion. What you imagined is far less "obvious" in terms of leaping to the mind immediately (this is meant as a compliment).

How critical is it that a designer for theme parks must use this kind of thinking, to deliver not "what is expected" but rather something that makes the whole enterprise something else? Is there any danger to it (such as: the client might dislike it as "too" creative)?
Thank you for the kind words Kevin. I've always been drawn to what's next rather than what is, and being at Disney you are expected by the audience to not just deliver what is expected or wished for, but top it. To try an anticipate what someones deeper wish might be and present that to them. To me, it's "the mind's eye". It's the one sense an experiential designer must address before thinking of the other senses and what to design for them. What do they dream of? When you mentioned the waterfalls, it immediately sent me to want to see more of Brazil, or better yet, stay with a family right there and get to know them! So why not? Why not do all the Pavilions?

It is true that I'm guilty of being too early with some ideas and they don't happen or get embraced because they are ahead of the market. Lots of my online project were that way, same for GPS and wireless. It's hard at times to know far out to shoot. Clients ask for you to give them the big idea and in the end they are too afraid to really do much of anything. Corporations claim they want to innovate, but are scared to death to do mock more than "Double stuff Oreos". I guess it's better to be able to forecast a bit than not to.
 

Eddie Sotto

Premium Member
Eddie,

Are there any classic attractions that you'd enjoy completely starting over with, and modernizing?

For example, I always thought Peter Pan could have a much grander ride experience than we have now (although the existing versions are brilliant).

I'd also be quite happy to re-imagine a Pirates ride..although I know it had been upgraded already a bit in Paris (alas, I have yet to visit that park). I keep hearing rumors about a splash mountain/pirates combination for Shanghai.
Sure, there's always something you'd like to revisit. Others are perfect. At WDI you got the chance to do that to a degree as I did propose (with David Mumford) a whole (unbuilt) enhancement for the 20th anniversary of Pirates. We came really close to getting real fire in the Ship cannons and some new Armory explosion effects. pretty much upgrading the existing show, not adding much in story. Skeletons on the up ramp did eventually get in there to wrap up the "Dead Men" idea. Getting paid to add stuff and knowing you don't want to betray the original was stressy and yet thrilling.

I always (since I was a teen) thought Snow White, being the first big feature, would make for an amazing E ticket attraction. Maybe it starts outdoors with a real cottage and forest? Part of the motivation for doing Pooh in TDL was the idea that the dark rides needed reinvention and we took the ride system to a new level and mixed real sets. We tried it all in that show. To me, that meant an "E" execution of a kid targeted property. Those features are your biggest franchises but because the audience is so young, they only building something "good enough". Jon Georges, who was the producer with me on TDL Pooh, understood that, and is now working on the Snow White Coaster for WDW. I'm sure it will be great to look at and ride. I love the dark rides, but why lean on plywood flats when you can really do more and create those worlds? Mermaid is a grander execution of a feature but could use a breakthrough in stagecraft. As you mention and we covered earlier, "Peter Pan" is an even a better choice, as the hidden desire to "fly" is literally in our dreams. Alice is another, which is to explore the unknown. "Fear minus death equals fun"!.

Worked on some DL redoes in the 1990's that were fun to develop and yet existing constraints made them challenging.

I proposed a new TSI with the whole Jean Lafitte overlay to it. It also overlaid the Mansion. More Pirate adventure and history. Tried to add a talking interactive DLP Dragon to the castle walk thru at DL. Believe it or not, pitched an AA Walt show once for DL. Not using him as you might expect either. Was not afraid to try things that could be sacred. You never know till you draw it. Pitched doing an "Ice Cavern" Restaurant inside the base of the Matterhorn once and add the Olympics to the theme. The Piranha pool did finally get into the JC, but not the Croc attack. Good thing too. Too "Jaws" like and too many little kids love that ride.

There is a simplicity in those black light shows that I do love. There is a simplicity and childlike elegance in DL's Main Street too. Not an ingredient to be overlooked. They are just enough to take you into their world and maybe that's why they work. I thought the Toad of my childhood was perfect and they ruined that train effect later on by adding more effects that light up the room. "More is not always better" my conscience tells me. Design for it's own sake never lasts.

But you never want to take your audience for granted.
 

Corey P

Well-Known Member
You could even pipe in ambient noise and smells.
Might want to skip some real sights, sounds and smells from these places. LOL. I've spent time in Brazil and the whole idea is cool but you really wouldn't get the feel of being there. Which is fine for people who have never and will never go to these places. I do have to say I've been in Spanish forts in the Caribbean and line going into Pirates is very dead on what those places look like. If done right you might be able to pull off a good Brazil also depends what part of Brazil you were trying for. Helicopter flying over very heavy traffic might be one way to get to your room.
 

ob1thx1138

Member
Might want to skip some real sights, sounds and smells from these places. LOL. I've spent time in Brazil and the whole idea is cool but you really wouldn't get the feel of being there. Which is fine for people who have never and will never go to these places. I do have to say I've been in Spanish forts in the Caribbean and line going into Pirates is very dead on what those places look like. If done right you might be able to pull off a good Brazil also depends what part of Brazil you were trying for. Helicopter flying over very heavy traffic might be one way to get to your room.

lol of course the smells I would expect would be on the more savory side lol.
 

Vernonpush

Well-Known Member
Sure, there's always something you'd like to revisit. Others are perfect. At WDI you got the chance to do that to a degree as I did propose (with David Mumford) a whole (unbuilt) enhancement for the 20th anniversary of Pirates. We came really close to getting real fire in the Ship cannons and some new Armory explosion effects. pretty much upgrading the existing show, not adding much in story. Skeletons on the up ramp did eventually get in there to wrap up the "Dead Men" idea. Getting paid to add stuff and knowing you don't want to betray the original was stressy and yet thrilling.

I always (since I was a teen) thought Snow White, being the first big feature, would make for an amazing E ticket attraction. Maybe it starts outdoors with a real cottage and forest? Part of the motivation for doing Pooh in TDL was the idea that the dark rides needed reinvention and we took the ride system to a new level and mixed real sets. We tried it all in that show. To me, that meant an "E" execution of a kid targeted property. Those features are your biggest franchises but because the audience is so young, they only building something "good enough". Jon Georges, who was the producer with me on TDL Pooh, understood that, and is now working on the Snow White Coaster for WDW. I'm sure it will be great to look at and ride. I love the dark rides, but why lean on plywood flats when you can really do more and create those worlds? Mermaid is a grander execution of a feature but could use a breakthrough in stagecraft. As you mention and we covered earlier, "Peter Pan" is an even a better choice, as the hidden desire to "fly" is literally in our dreams. Alice is another, which is to explore the unknown. "Fear minus death equals fun"!.

Worked on some DL redoes in the 1990's that were fun to develop and yet existing constraints made them challenging.

I proposed a new TSI with the whole Jean Lafitte overlay to it. It also overlaid the Mansion. More Pirate adventure and history. Tried to add a talking interactive DLP Dragon to the castle walk thru at DL. Believe it or not, pitched an AA Walt show once for DL. Not using him as you might expect either. Was not afraid to try things that could be sacred. You never know till you draw it. Pitched doing an "Ice Cavern" Restaurant inside the base of the Matterhorn once and add the Olympics to the theme. The Piranha pool did finally get into the JC, but not the Croc attack. Good thing too. Too "Jaws" like and too many little kids love that ride.

There is a simplicity in those black light shows that I do love. There is a simplicity and childlike elegance in DL's Main Street too. Not an ingredient to be overlooked. They are just enough to take you into their world and maybe that's why they work. I thought the Toad of my childhood was perfect and they ruined that train effect later on by adding more effects that light up the room. "More is not always better" my conscience tells me. Design for it's own sake never lasts.

But you never want to take your audience for granted.
I have recently been to DL for the frist time since 1969 and became enamored with the Snow White ride there. The "scene" in the load area is not a flat painted wall but an actual "3D" scene. (I took a few pictures since it was so great.)
I was surprised at the quality difference in the "little things" between the two parks. Main Street in DL had such a different "feel". The facades did not look as "flat" as WDW. They looked like they had each been a seperate building that had been built next to/between the others.
Disneyland had a much more "historic feel" throughout, that "time has passed" in areas and things were destroyed and other things were built in their place. "Layers of civilization". I don't know if there is a specific word/phrase for that.

During our trip to DL, my "other half" and I were invited to tour the Disney Studios by one of his college friends (an Animation Producer). We made a brief stop in the Disney Archives. Were you ever allowed to go through the archives for ideas to bring to the Parks for projects that were devolped but abandonded? If so what were they?
 

Eddie Sotto

Premium Member
During our trip to DL, my "other half" and I were invited to tour the Disney Studios by one of his college friends (an Animation Producer). We made a brief stop in the Disney Archives. Were you ever allowed to go through the archives for ideas to bring to the Parks for projects that were devolped but abandonded? If so what were they?
I used both the WDI Library and the Studio Archives to look at the animated film art (Lady and the Tramp, So Dear to My Heart) and architecture as a basis for what we did in proportion and color for Main Street in Paris. How to make it proportionately Disney. The WDI Art Library has more artwork from the past projects that did not get built. I used to refer to all the old original DL Main Street Renderings many times and look at how the interiors were done, stuff like that. Great sketches.Trying to recapture the color palette, mood and so forth. You end up filling more drawers with your sketches than you do building projects! That's the way it always is.

To your other point, "layering" is the appearance of things changing over time with one layer of remodel peeking out from under the other. We did this in DLP Main Street by using exposed wiring in the buildings as if it had been added over the gas systems. Also did it with facades and interiors.
 

ChrisFL

Premium Member
I used both the WDI Library and the Studio Archives to look at the animated film art (Lady and the Tramp, So Dear to My Heart) and architecture as a basis for what we did in proportion and color for Main Street in Paris. How to make it proportionately Disney. The WDI Art Library has more artwork from the past projects that did not get built. I used to refer to all the old original DL Main Street Renderings many times and look at how the interiors were done, stuff like that. Great sketches.Trying to recapture the color palette, mood and so forth. You end up filling more drawers with your sketches than you do building projects! That's the way it always is.
On this topic, I was a bit surprised when WDW's Main St. Confectionery received a new coat of paint in different colors recently. There was no sponsor changes like we normally see for these kinds of things, so I don't know what prompted them to go to a blue instead of yellow.

Sorry, I don't have pics available of the difference, but it just struck me as odd.
 

Eddie Sotto

Premium Member
On this topic, I was a bit surprised when WDW's Main St. Confectionery received a new coat of paint in different colors recently. There was no sponsor changes like we normally see for these kinds of things, so I don't know what prompted them to go to a blue instead of yellow.

Sorry, I don't have pics available of the difference, but it just struck me as odd.
Sometimes colors just get changed or refreshed. We did that without any other sponsor or other motive. New designers also have their own take on things. I used to change lots of colors.
 

Eddie Sotto

Premium Member
Might want to skip some real sights, sounds and smells from these places. LOL. I've spent time in Brazil and the whole idea is cool but you really wouldn't get the feel of being there. Which is fine for people who have never and will never go to these places. I do have to say I've been in Spanish forts in the Caribbean and line going into Pirates is very dead on what those places look like. If done right you might be able to pull off a good Brazil also depends what part of Brazil you were trying for. Helicopter flying over very heavy traffic might be one way to get to your room.
It's better to romanticize a place than literally copy it. Our memories are what we want to think it was like.
 

jhastings74

Well-Known Member
Thank you for the kind words Kevin. I've always been drawn to what's next rather than what is, and being at Disney you are expected by the audience to not just deliver what is expected or wished for, but top it. To try an anticipate what someones deeper wish might be and present that to them. To me, it's "the mind's eye". It's the one sense an experiential designer must address before thinking of the other senses and what to design for them. What do they dream of? When you mentioned the waterfalls, it immediately sent me to want to see more of Brazil, or better yet, stay with a family right there and get to know them! So why not? Why not do all the Pavilions?

It is true that I'm guilty of being too early with some ideas and they don't happen or get embraced because they are ahead of the market. Lots of my online project were that way, same for GPS and wireless. It's hard at times to know far out to shoot. Clients ask for you to give them the big idea and in the end they are too afraid to really do much of anything. Corporations claim they want to innovate, but are scared to death to do mock more than "Double stuff Oreos". I guess it's better to be able to forecast a bit than not to.

I would imagine another challenge that is always necessary to face as an Imagineer of any kind is the fact that from conception to fruition can be YEARS...plenty of time for something that the public might want one day but not care about by the time it has become reality. Or something that the team may be chomping at the bit to begin, but after a couple of years have lost enthusiasm for.

That brings me to an interesting question: How did/do you, Eddie, stay excited about projects when there is such a large amount of time from Blue Sky to Grand Opening? Have you ever lost interest in an idea (maybe one that wasn't your own but were still working on) after working on it for a while?
 

Eddie Sotto

Premium Member
I would imagine another challenge that is always necessary to face as an Imagineer of any kind is the fact that from conception to fruition can be YEARS...plenty of time for something that the public might want one day but not care about by the time it has become reality. Or something that the team may be chomping at the bit to begin, but after a couple of years have lost enthusiasm for.

That brings me to an interesting question: How did/do you, Eddie, stay excited about projects when there is such a large amount of time from Blue Sky to Grand Opening? Have you ever lost interest in an idea (maybe one that wasn't your own but were still working on) after working on it for a while?
Excellent observation. YES. The whole thought of spending 5 years of my life only replicating a Main Street weighed heavily on me. It was depressing that friends of mine did movies and stuff and they did three things a year, while I was in meetings arguing about how many cash registers the Emporium might have. To a degree, that frustration was what drove me to reinvent so much of the land. I could not just sit there and copy WDW inside and out. Did i lose interest? Yes. So you look for something to love about it. So since I was kinda stuck in this project, I eventually applied myself and decided that this MSUSA was gonna have to be the best one and really raise the bar. So I dove into research and other things to evolve it. Then it became a passion as it was different enough to feel some authorship and ownership. It was not going to be copy, but hopefully a new standard. The whole team felt that and they pulled it off.

But when it was over and the park fell into the shadows of debt, you wonder if it was worth it to spend all those years doing a mall? The Vietnam syndrome. Then you start the process of developing other shows that will take 3 to 5 and then you wonder if you have the will to fight through all the levels it takes to get it right. You really have to be a believer to make it through. Tony put me into the Show Quality Group at DL. A year with the team at DL was great as they live right on the front lines and lots of things happen NOW. I loved being the VP under Tony working with that wonderful WDI Show Quality group. Action and combat every day! We got lots of things made and you were doing versus talking.
 

Eddie Sotto

Premium Member
Perspective conversation.

While glancing at the update over at MiceAge, I noticed some images of the Matterhorn being rehabbed. The one thing that stands out when you see it covered in full scale scaffolding is how small it really is. The forced perspective is well done. Kind of like holding up a full size ruler to the Mountain. Compare that to the almost full scale design of the Carthay Circle building in DCA, now visible in the update.

http://micechat.com/blogs/dateline-disneyland/3297-lunar-new-year-celebration-getting-ready-mardi-gras-cars-land-lights-more.html
 

Eddie Sotto

Premium Member
Living up to our name.

Kevin's article today is on the current state of WDW and so in keeping with the theme of thread I'd give you my brief take. Here's the article.
http://miceage.micechat.com/kevinyee/ky012412a.htm

1. Changing the "Disney look" seems like a slippery slope, as beards and so forth seem hard to control and to me become a graphic distraction from the overall appearance. The park looks clean, will beards and facial had give that scrubbed wholesome impression? I guess I don't want to "read" the individual under the costume as much as I want to sense their supporting role in the themed environment. Beards may become a possible independent or identity tool. In my day as a CM, it was Sunglasses. You use whatever you have to get around the system. The world is different we'll have to see. Maybe they have trouble hiring CM's and need more flexibility.

2. Upkeep. The Splash video is pretty depressing as in my day that many AA's out meant that the ride went down. On Broadway, you pay a similar admission to see a show and the actors are not all dead, they have understudies. The show goes on. there are also other ways to deal with this, like removing the figures. If supporting figures are not there because you have to machine special parts, then pull the figures. Guests will not notice missing figures as much as motionless "dead ones". Common sense.

On the other hand, Kevin mentions lots of rehab tarps everywhere, so I guess they are trying to get a handle on it, which is great and the property is massive, so I don't want to bash them too much. As to the light bulb thing. I recall that decades ago (70's) that they would not replace a bulb at a time, but all of them on a calendar basis, out or not. That way if you did whole signs or facades every 6 months or whatever, then you never had the issues of knit picking the lights. They all cycle more or less together.

Just some thoughts, yours?
 
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