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The Imagineering Story on Disney+

tirian

Well-Known Member
I suspect people imagine Iger is actually more personally invested in what gets put in the parks than is the case. In terms of the new-style Mickey for Mickey's RR, for example, I would honestly be surprised if Iger is particularly aware of the newer Mickey shorts let alone he was forcing them into the parks as a tribute to himself. He has, though, very clearly set an IP and franchise mandate that is clearly reflected at the parks.

In feeling that, overall, the quality of maintenance and new offerings improved under Iger from where they were when he took over, I wouldn't suggest that is because he has any evident passion for the parks himself. I think it's more that he's realised how valuable they are to the company. In a way, though, that can be a strength. Iger has generally been best when he takes a hands-off approach and lets others run their divisions... as long as he has good people running those divisions. One of the drawbacks of Eisner was that he imagined himself a modern day Walt Disney and his instincts when meddling with things were increasingly bad.

At least people could talk Iger into all those placemaking initiatives at DCA and embarrass him into picking up maintenance at the parks. By the end, Eisner seemed to be in a world of his own, pushing this barrow that they way to run almost every division was to produce low-cost, low-quality spin offs of everything that Disney had made its reputation in for being of the highest quality. Suddenly, Disney's new parks were quite frankly embarrassing. I never saw any sense that Eisner really understood the damage that was being done to Disney's reputation.

I guess my point is that things were grim almost everywhere in the company when Iger took over, so I think some nuance is needed when thinking about his legacy in the parks beyond simply branding him the Great Satan.
I agree, but in the case of MRR, WDI did once state that Iger selected that style because of synergy. Maybe it was just PR spin, but that’s an odd thing to claim.

I do agree with you that real life is much more nuanced and complicated than a synopsis on an Internet forum can convey, because the simplest answer is usually not the whole story! :)
 

tirian

Well-Known Member
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While he still had pet projects, Eisner’s creative involvement decreased following Wells’ death and his heart attack. It is how we get to him dropping f-bombs after riding Journey Into Your Imagination. He became obsessed with making sure he was making the right business decisions, looking for affirmation from the Strategic Planning Group and other senior executives, people who would hold titles like President and COO or CFO. He wasn’t alone in pushing divisions to low-cost, low-quality products and for his last five years he had a chief operating officer in charge of making all of that happen.

While maintenance at Disneyland really declined in the early 00s, that decline at Walt Disney World happened much more after the Happiest Celebration on Earth. The decline in maintenance started with Pressler but continued under Jay Rasulo, ultimately resulting in two deaths at Disneyland. As Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Pressler and Rasulo had the same boss, the same man who would fire Matt Ouimet who, in less than a year, took Disneyland from a place that was literally falling apart to one that sparkled like new just in time for Disneyland’s grand 50th anniversary celebration.

Iger may not have ever decreed the style of Mickey Mouse to be used in Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railroad, he has made it very clear that he would not consider anything else. The shorts are the current franchise and therefore the only style that would be approved. Excepting Jay Rasulo’s stint in Paris, he also has never allowed the parks be run by a person with any prior experience running a theme park.

You say a nuance is needed, but it seems nuance would mean including a look at who was in charge of running Disney when it was so grim under Eisner as well as how much was continued for some time afterwards.
I still can’t believe they ran Ouimet out of the company. THAT is something that would be a deep dive on “Imagineering”!
 

lazyboy97o

Well-Known Member
I still can’t believe they ran Ouimet out of the company. THAT is something that would be a deep dive on “Imagineering”!
I imagine most would agree that being open that your boss should be fired and replaced with you is career suicide type of move, but maybe not when your boss so openly hates his job and his division’s product.
 

tirian

Well-Known Member
@Sir_Cliff

Judging by a few of his statements on episode four of “Imagineering,” Eisner never learned his lesson and still blames everyone except himself: “To me, you have to be more creative when you don’t have an unlimited budget...nobody can say Disney hasn’t been financially successful.”

His remarks have kernels of truth along with heaping spoonfuls of the false reality associated with extremely wealthy lifestyles.

Iger has been the same way with SWGE. According to him, many mainstream (not neckbeard!) fans didn’t like “Last Jedi“ because the neckbeards couldn’t handle strong female leads (despite a history of cinematic blockbusters that prove him wrong)—as if the average moviegoer is actually reading basement-dweller rants on Reddit or RT.

Then when that train slowed down, Iger blamed “oversaturation.” Then he said DL’s SWGE opening didn’t meet expectations because the company did its job too well at warning the public about crowds. He keeps changing his narrative to fit whatever his PR group tells him to claim, while ignoring that people simply want the SW that has existed since 1977.

The real arrogance is thinking you can buy a beloved franchise that’s been around since 1977, ignore its entire legacy because you want your version in the theme parks, and then accuse fans of being wrong. Kennedy, Iger, and their crew have essentially said, “This is our toy now, and we don’t care that you’ve loved it for decades. Since we own it, you should love anything we do with it, because we said so.”

This is the same guy who claimed “Black Panther” was every bit as much a cinematic masterpiece as “The Godfather, Part II.”

I really can’t wait to sit down with popcorn and laugh my way through the “Imagineering” episode on SWGE.
 

Sir_Cliff

Well-Known Member
They're going to position the last decade or so as the end of the "austerity" period but I'm not buying it. WDI may have been given the attention-to-detail greenlight again but at the cost of new attraction offerings.
I would say that the problem now is not that they don't spend enough. It's seems the other way around: they spend like drunken sailors. The question is more whether they're spending it well.
 

Cosmic Commando

Well-Known Member
I would say that the problem now is not that they don't spend enough. It's seems the other way around: they spend like drunken sailors. The question is more whether they're spending it well.
Yup. They're spending a lot and building many things. If fewer new things came at the expense of bulldozing WDW history, the attraction roster would be in great shape.
 

Andrew C

You know what's funny?
Premium Member
Last episode was brutally honest. Every time I saw Pressler, I wanted him to stop talking.
 

MisterPenguin

President of Animal Kingdom
Premium Member
So, the last episode was very pro-OLC for properly investing in their parks and for appreciating WDI.

And Tokyo DL is seen as a premier park duo with top notch rides, imagineering, and high quality.

Oh, and when Tokyo DL wanted a second park, they were emphatic on two points:

  • They wanted a MK 2.0, and,
  • They wanted all the IPs.

At least, that's what the episode said. Don't know how that squares with their development of their own custom IPs (SEA, MM, Duffy).

But, I just thought it funny that so many invested in the parks of the West are dead set against sister parks being more like MK and having chock full of IP, and here's this show saying that OLC, the darling of park connoisseurs, wanted just that.
 

Animaniac93-98

Well-Known Member
So, the last episode was very pro-OLC for properly investing in their parks and for appreciating WDI.

And Tokyo DL is seen as a premier park duo with top notch rides, imagineering, and high quality.

Oh, and when Tokyo DL wanted a second park, they were emphatic on two points:

  • They wanted a MK 2.0, and,
  • They wanted all the IPs.

At least, that's what the episode said. Don't know how that squares with their development of their own custom IPs (SEA, MM, Duffy).

But, I just thought it funny that so many invested in the parks of the West are dead set against sister parks being more like MK and having chock full of IP, and here's this show saying that OLC, the darling of park connoisseurs, wanted just that.
It's a bit of revisionist history. The park had less IP at opening than it does now.

Finding Nemo, Toy Story and the Mickey Mouse stage shows were added later. Obviously, Finding Nemo did not exist yet.

The park was also not interested in just duplicating the movies. Very little in Mysterious Island is actually from the Disney 20,000 Leagues story. Similarly, the Magic Lamp Theater takes place before the events of Aladdin with characters not from the movie. Indiana Jones was in the park at opening, but that was before he was acquired by the company.

Little Mermaid was the big Disney IP at opening. It would have been unthinkable to have a park called "DisneySea" without Ariel.
 
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brb1006

Well-Known Member
I remember the trailer showed a glimpse of the BATB AA's for Tokyo Disneyland. I wonder what episode they will finally discuss that?
 

ChampDisney

Well-Known Member
Can’t wait for the Iger Era installment of The Imagineering Story, where they discuss Iger’s cleaning of Eisner’s DCA mess, John Lasseter’s reign as chief officer, and how WDI successfully turned Downtown Disney into the luxury mall that is Disney Springs today! Woohoo!
 

brb1006

Well-Known Member
Seeing actual HD video is so weird coming off of the last few episodes.

And boy are people gonna pick this episode apart
That's nothing, wait until we get to Episode 6 next week. Especially after seeing the sneak previews which will go over Shanghai Disneyland and Galaxy's Edge.
 

tirian

Well-Known Member
Ugh, “Imagineering” episode five is the first one that feels like straight-up propaganda. We suspected that Iger would be presented as a hero, but this episode also went out of its way to address common criticisms on fan forums...
  • Most notably, Kim Irvine defends the characters in DL’s IASW.
  • Iger is shown giving creative direction exactly one time: to add trees to Carsland. Trees! ;)
  • Mystic Manor is presented as an anomaly because original attractions which aren’t based on cartoon IP are apparently difficult for Imagineers?
  • Except for a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it sentence, the episode suggests Nightmare Before Christmas at HM is part of Iger’s tenure as CEO—but it’s used to demonstrate that WDI knows better than fans who think they’re going to destroy everything. (I thought HMH originated with the entertainment department, not WDI.)
  • Of course the episode ignores Disney’s revolving door of park exec positions, but technically that would be off topic anyway—yet the string of animated theatrical flops is highlighted.
  • Iger purchased Pixar (true).
  • Iger saved Disney by purchasing other media companies (false, although he definitely expanded the company and made it more financially successful).
  • They’re still talking about how Toy Story Midway Mania was needed to combat video games. I almost fell over laughing.
  • Interesting that they didn’t recycle the old POTC excuse about how “Guests kept asking, ‘Where’s Jack Sparrow?’”—a corporate PR line nobody could prove or disprove.
  • Hooray for the changes to POTC’s auction sequence! They saved it from itself! Revisionism strikes again, and society will keep dumbing down as they recraft the past to suit modern tastes.
  • Hooray for the Wonderful Wizard Named Bob!
 

tirian

Well-Known Member
Oh, I’ll add one thing about Kim: she’s one of the last remaining classic Imagineers and the daughter of two legends, and I greatly respect her. From what I’ve heard, she often maintains quality and pushes back on poor executive ideas, and she gets away with it because of her pedigree; and since she uses it the right way, I respect that.

It’s also much too easy for us to post comments from the peanut gallery, which is what Fan Forums honestly are. We don’t know the full story behind any decision WDI makes, or how the good Imagineers fight small battles against corporate mandates.

But wow, this episode went out of its way to say, “Cartoon IPs are good, original attractions are too risky, and fans do more harm than good.”
 
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