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Eddie Sotto's take on the current state of the parks

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Peter Schaab

New Member
Hmm, I didn't think of it from the perspective of any new attraction should be a franchise vehicle, park-original content or not. And you're right, there is potential there.

On second thought, I probably should further clarify my question to Eddie...

I know there is a transition zone between lands in Animal Kingdom, but to the literal-minded, Asia, Africa, DinoLand, etc. can not physically exist in Florida. Fundamental to the design of a theme park is the idea that guests suspend their disbelief in order to be transported to far away lands and adventures. But imagine if Animal Kingdom was not just a park devoted to humanity's love of animals, but rather framed as a collection of animals and artifacts brought together by a eccentric explorer (think along the lines of the Adventurer's Club). Harambe would be explained as a rebuilt village *from* Africa, not an actual village *in* Africa. Each and every detail of the park and its attractions would support a literal (but fictional) story that is completely believable to children and rational adults. Mind you, I'm not advocating this be done, I'm just using it as an example.

I guess where I'm trying to go with this is: can a theme park exist that doesn't require any suspension of disbelief?
 

ChrisFL

Well-Known Member
Advertisement
The site plan and 3D model files, while a little old and probably in need of some clean-up, are available to anyone if they want.
Ooh!! Ooh!! Me!! Me!! :sohappy:

zandt204, I'm also disappointed to see the detail and depth of the parks lost to some guests...but I always try to reassure myself that there are plenty out there that appreciate it (consciously or subconsciously). One of the most significant problems I see today (at least in Walt Disney World) is the tendency of guests to treat their park experience as a rush from one agenda item to another (e.g. "we --have-- to be at Space Mountain by 4:30 and then Liberty Tree by 5:00"). I know money and vacation time can be short, but I wish more guests would "un-schedule" their days and relax.
Ironically WDW itself breeds this kind of behavior in the way they have set up vacation planning, with Fastpass, DDP, etc. Their target market is the family who plans all of their vacation 6 months in advance. That is why it's a difficult fit for WDW to try to also cater to locals the way DL does.
 

ChrisFL

Well-Known Member
Of course, regardless of him copyrighting this approach, WDI may have proposed something internally that was the same idea prior to this. In any event, you try and avoid becoming a harbor for people to submit ideas without a mutual non disclosure agreement that can mutually protect both parties.
Eddie, can you shed any light on if CM's who work at Disney and propose ideas, is there the same kind of legal difficulty as someone who is outside of the company. I know there's the Disney Inventors program for smaller ideas, but it would be nice to have a more open place for imagineering ideas to come out of the CM's who work there.
 

Eddie Sotto

Premium Member
Eddie, can you shed any light on if CM's who work at Disney and propose ideas, is there the same kind of legal difficulty as someone who is outside of the company. I know there's the Disney Inventors program for smaller ideas, but it would be nice to have a more open place for imagineering ideas to come out of the CM's who work there.
I think they own whatever you think of as a CM, so I'd imagine there is less difficulty. I'm not sure of that. The law continues to evolve as to intellectual property, so I'm not sure of the policy today. As a consultant they want to own everything, that's for sure. They pretty much do not want to look at unsolicited ideas from the outside, period.
 

ChrisFL

Well-Known Member
Peter, thanks for sharing your ideas with the world on your site.

As for the concept itself, I like it. I think it's an interesting idea to give the park a sense of mission. And I wonder if there would be greater potential for finding sponsorship or other financial backing with some of your ideas. That said, my concern is that, in and of itself, I'm not sure it enriches the guest experience in a tangible enough way. To the extent that I feel that Epcot is currently broken, I'm not sure your vision fixes it. In other words, I feel like if Disney were to re-imagine Epcot, there would have to be some expectation that people would say, "Boy, I really want to go to Epcot now because of ..."
I like Peter's concepts though, because I think it takes the idea of what we know as Epcot now and making it more than just a theme park, but a creative center more in tune with what the city plan was going to be about.

To make Epcot a place for both the average tourist to enjoy some things AND a more comprehensive research campus is a great idea and one that should have been implemented from the beginning...however I think one of Epcot's biggest assets at the beginning (Sponsorships being vitally important) has also led to it's biggest problems....issues with competition.

Since HP/Compaq sponsors Misson:Space, we won't see Dell or Apple or whoever presenting their futuristic plans. Since GM sponsors Test Track, we won't see Toyota or Honda or BMW, etc. At least that is what it seems like.

I am not privy to any of the contractual details of the sponsors, but I'm sure there's some kind of clause like this.

With the recent trend of losing major sponsorships, I think Disney should re-consider this setup for Epcot, perhaps they'd be better represented by having many smaller sponsorships in their attractions, more like Innoventions, but that can be placed in the queues/exits, etc. of the attractions. Then if they lose a few sponsors, it's easier to find others with less cost.
 

Mr.EPCOT

Active Member
Peter, you just reminded me of the opening promotion for the Indiana Jones Adventure, in which they said that they disassembled the temple in India and transported it brick-by-brick to Disneyland and reassembled there. They also did kind of same thing for the opening of The Haunted Mansion, saying that they were collecting ghosts from all over the world to bring to Disneyland. So I suppose there is a bit of a limited precedent for it. That on a park-wide scale is an interesting concept.
 

wdwfan94

New Member
Eddie, I have a few questions I have been wanting to ask you. One, at any point while you were in Imagineering did it feel like any regular boring job? Two, exactly how does someone get a job at Imagineering? And three, if someone wants to someday be an Imagineer what colleges or universities would you recommend?
 

Eddie Sotto

Premium Member
Eddie, I have a few questions I have been wanting to ask you. One, at any point while you were in Imagineering did it feel like any regular boring job? Two, exactly how does someone get a job at Imagineering? And three, if someone wants to someday be an Imagineer what colleges or universities would you recommend?
Happy to try and answer them. I've had many regular jobs, but they were never boring, just regular. At times WDI was extremely stressful and discouraging because you want things the way you want them and so you manage your own expectations. So I guess there were times as there are on other jobs I've had where I felt like I was not being utilized to the best of what I could do so you deal with it and try and work harder to make things happen. Part of the territory. But others may have a different experience. As for the other questions, I think this site has the most complete and exhaustive answers, so of which I have provided answers.

www.themedattraction.com
 

Cosmic Commando

Well-Known Member
I guess where I'm trying to go with this is: can a theme park exist that doesn't require any suspension of disbelief?
Look at Mission:Space. I think this very reason is why I don't really care for the ride. Yes, it is set in the future and that is a suspension of disbelief, but the rest of the premise is underwhelming. You're not really going to Mars in the story, you're at the International Space Training Center (I believe? It's been two years) training for a mission to Mars. So my pretend self in the future is just pretending to do something cool. It requires no suspension of disbelief other than the year it takes place. The reason you are in the simulator is because you are... simulating a mission.

Contrast that with Dinosaur, where YOU are "really" transported back 65 million years ago being chased by a "real" dino with "real" danger. To me, the fake dino that's supposed to be real is different from that fake dino that's supposed to be fake. It's the same idea with the set facade on Star Tours. How does it affect our experiences for the rest of the ride when the AT-AT has no backside?

How is someone like Harrison Hightower building a recreated African village for us to explore really that different from a multinational corporation doing it? Putting in an official backstory like that is telling the guests something that they logically already know. REMINDER: This is not real.
 

imagineer boy

Well-Known Member
I agree, while I love M:S the premise is extremely disapointing. Its like going on the HM and the ghost host says "Oh don't worry, the ghosts are just reflections on glass. Its all fake." Kinda ruins the emotional impact and intesity of the experience.
 

Eddie Sotto

Premium Member
I agree, while I love M:S the premise is extremely disapointing. Its like going on the HM and the ghost host says "Oh don't worry, the ghosts are just reflections on glass. Its all fake." Kinda ruins the emotional impact and intesity of the experience.
I see your point. Because we have to tell the guest and show how the ride system works for reasons of liability, we decided to base it on a simulation. We were using real simulation technology so it was very "science fact" in that sense. It could have a been a big "Mission to Mars" type group cabin experience kind of thing, but I think the immersion of being in the craft with the G forces and interactivity was a more unique experience. In my opinion seeing a bunch of other tourists with you in a fake space station, etc. hurts the reality when you say you're really going. Even so, would it have been better if we told you you were really going there? Yes. I agree it would. Would it be a let down if we couldn't let you get out and explore Mars? I think it would. If so, could we pull the surface of Mars off in a convincing way? How do you get back? Big issues to deal with. Even if we could, the budget barely got the ride built. Most guests wanted to sense weightlessness and the thrill of blast off, so we opted to prioritize to that. right or wrong, that's pretty much what happened. I quit during production, so things changed alot, but that's my take.
 

imagineer boy

Well-Known Member
Would it be a let down if we couldn't let you get out and explore Mars? I think it would. If so, could we pull the surface of Mars off in a convincing way? How do you get back? Big issues to deal with.
Very true, those would be big story barricades. I suppose you would have to eliminate the mission to mars story all together and simply make it a round trip tour through space.

Even if we could, the budget barely got the ride built. Most guests wanted to sense weightlessness and the thrill of blast off, so we opted to prioritize to that. right or wrong, that's pretty much what happened. I quit during production, so things changed alot, but that's my take.
Problems aside it is a very thrilling ride. I've never felt such intense G forces in my life! :lol: Weightlessness was disapointing though. Still, its a fun experience.
 

Eddie Sotto

Premium Member
Duffy.

I think it is interesting that they chose to make the story of "Duffy" the cute new plush to have been handmade by Minnie Mouse for Mickey to travel with. So he is not alive, does not act in cartoons or talk, but is just that, a cute object to be dressed up in exotic places and photographed. (is there such thing as a "trophy" bear?) Mickey is well over 80, but it's not how old you are, it's how old you think you are.

http://miceage.micechat.com/suekruse/sk092310a.htm
 

Buried20KLeague

Well-Known Member
I think it is interesting that they chose to make the story of "Duffy" the cute new plush to have been handmade by Minnie Mouse for Mickey to travel with. So he is not alive, does not act in cartoons or talk, but is just that, a cute object to be dressed up in exotic places and photographed. (is there such thing as a "trophy" bear?) Mickey is well over 80, but it's not how old you are, it's how old you think you are.

http://miceage.micechat.com/suekruse/sk092310a.htm
I don't really "get" it... But I've got a pretty strong feeling that my 2 year old won't care if I "get" it, and will want one of these things when we're down there next week.

I suspect I won't be alone in this situation.
 

lazyboy97o

Well-Known Member
I may be proven wrong, but I just do not think Duffy is going to take off like he did in Japan. Duffy is one of these cute character concepts that just screams Japanese culture.
 

KevinYee

Well-Known Member
I don't really "get" it... But I've got a pretty strong feeling that my 2 year old won't care if I "get" it, and will want one of these things when we're down there next week.

I suspect I won't be alone in this situation.
It happened to me at the passholder event. I was about as skeptical as you can get, but my 7 year old wanted one (using his own money) - so he got one. And darned if it isn't the tiniest bit fun to snap photos in different locations.
 

PhilharMagician

Well-Known Member
I don't know if it is just me, but I really don't get this. I can however see my daughter jumping up and down saying she wants one as soon as she see's him.
 

Eddie Sotto

Premium Member
It happened to me at the passholder event. I was about as skeptical as you can get, but my 7 year old wanted one (using his own money) - so he got one. And darned if it isn't the tiniest bit fun to snap photos in different locations.
We proposed this concept many years ago using a Mickey toy with changable clothes, etc as part of a photo safari concept. Teddy Bears are bulletproof in the "cute" department so it makes perfect sense. I wonder if Minnie will make Duffy his own teddy bear?
 

Eddie Sotto

Premium Member
"Vault of Walt" Book

Since we have been discussing story, American History in the parks (i.e. SS Columbia, Liberty or Edison Square), and even the Lafitte meta theme, a new book seems to shed some light on where Walt's head was at. Here's what "Vault of Walt" author Jim Korkis says in an interview about the history of DL's Tom Sawyer's Island.

"Werner: The first chapters that I read were the ones about Disney theme parks. I was fascinated by the early plans for what became Tom Sawyer Island.

Jim: I got to do an extensive interview with Disney Legend Tom Nabbe who was the original Tom Sawyer on the Island and was there at the beginning. You’ll notice his lengthy quotes give a unique perspective. Originally, Walt thought the Island would be Treasure Island and the location for filming episodes of the original Mickey Mouse Club television series. He thought of decorating the beaches with miniature reproductions of historical landmarks for guests on the steamboat to enjoy. To me, the most interesting story was Walt designing the outline of the Island itself in his barn at home and personally naming all the locations"


So I recall Herb Ryman mentioning this idea (as his) of doing historical sites along the "Rivers of America". Interesting that Walt himself would consider Pirate Treasure on that Island, no doubt a movie tie in! Was it really heresey do do Pirates? He did put Andrew Jackson there!

The article is very good and the book seems interesting as well. Let's support Jim and his book.

http://www.yesterland.com/vaultofwalt.html
 

Eddie Sotto

Premium Member
The message

So I was sitting with a boatload of families on the upramp of the Disneyland POTC last week listening to Capt. Sparrow wax on about how great a life of piracy was and that his amassed treasure was well deserved and a tribute to a life of skullduggery, larceny, and other piratical qualities. This is what I was leaving with. Dead Men do tell tales. A pirates life for me. If they only knew that there is a battery of Disney lawyers ready to prosecute anyone who "pirates" videos or music, it's ironic that the same people by means of content and no apology or suggestion of consequence, glamorize and condone larceny to a very young audience and sell them souvenirs to practice with. I had to laugh to myself.

Not to suggest that parents use theme park attractions as the means for which their kids get an education, but since we were talking about the deep impression the attractions made on all of us when we were younger and the call to action they inspired, the messages they carry seemed worthy of consideration, No?

The previous version used the "Dead men tell no Tales" voice over skeletons weighed down with treasure, as a subtle reminder to suggest that in the end, greed and larceny is futile as there is no honor among thieves. (That also allows you to do whatever you want in the ride prior as there are consequences for terrorism and burning cities,etc.)

As a child obsessed from these attractions, I'd be one to vote that they do have an effect on your and how you see things and the moral of the story matters. I realize others would say it's not important that the "Crime does pay better and it's fun" message is fine as it worked great for the 3 movies, so what's the big deal? But do those underlying messages matter at all? Do we sense them on any level, are they valuable? POTC is only one example. Mr. Toad sends you to hell for a DUI level of driving skill so who knows?

Certainly we discussed the subtle message or optimism of EPCOT or Tomorrowland to be stronger (or more consistent) and feel that when it is not there, it just rings hollow. It had that in the beginning as it was more sincere and not searching for an audience yet. I think that is one reason Horizons is sorely missed, in many ways it's content was that optimistic message of the future that the rest of the park was missing or just touched on. The rest of Future World looked back for the most part, and Horizons looked the furthest ahead. No one wants to be preached to, but at the same time you are taking a stand for your values by what you show and demonstrate. To me, one of the differences of Disney and Universal, was that Disney was always looking to appeal to our better nature and nurture it, not our weaker one. Just my two cents.
 
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