What’s Really Happened to Imgaineering?

coachb

Active Member
Original Poster
While not everyone agrees on every point, there seems to be a growing consensus that Disney has lost its way to some extent or another in the creative spaces.

I feel like it’s not been able to put the same “heart”, romance (in the classical sense) or even comedic elements into many (not all… I would argue MMRR actually has this) of its new attractions.


My question for this board full of people from different backgrounds which includes some people with deep knowledge of the company is “why?”

What do y’all think has happened?
Is it an over reliance on technology?
 

CastAStone

5th gate? Just build a new resort Bob.
Premium Member
They laid off a bunch of good people, they scared a bunch more off with the planned and later aborted move to Florida, and they’re being micromanaged from above WDI.

Even still I think they’re doing pretty well overall.
 

CastAStone

5th gate? Just build a new resort Bob.
Premium Member
Also I think as you get older it can be hard to feel “the heart” of things the way you did in your teens and twenties.
 

JohnD

Well-Known Member
This seems like more of a general discussion topic. I could tell you what I really think but then my opinion would need to be in the politics thread.
 

coachb

Active Member
Original Poster
Great point about Fantasy Springs! That may be some proves it is actually not a loss of talent, but something to do with the Disney company corporate culture to be a problem there… That does not exist in the Oriental land company!
 

Bocabear

Well-Known Member
The original imagineers all came from the film industry...Set and production designers that understood how to stage and create spaces that were more than the sum of their parts. They understood how to convey the story without having a complicated backstory narration... Everything seems to be so literal now with the designs... And the rest all seems to be about the management and over-management, design-by-committee approach to everything. Like the entire imagineering department has to really understand what the old guard was doing.... and not copy...but learn and understand what they did that made the earlier attractions so good.....
 

MoonRakerSCM

Well-Known Member
The original imagineers all came from the film industry...Set and production designers that understood how to stage and create spaces that were more than the sum of their parts. They understood how to convey the story without having a complicated backstory narration... Everything seems to be so literal now with the designs... And the rest all seems to be about the management and over-management, design-by-committee approach to everything. Like the entire imagineering department has to really understand what the old guard was doing.... and not copy...but learn and understand what they did that made the earlier attractions so good.....
I've seen similar conversations that may apply to this about modern film making and why it is 'bad' compared to the great films we previously had. The overall concept is that previously film makers were 'primarily' raised on books and had to create the worlds in their heads leading to inherent artistic abilities and specialty in creating a scene, an emotion, or overall conveyance of something to the audience. A book spends time explaining a setting, a feeling, character emotions, and how things are playing out... these film makers all grew up with that. Today's film makers 'mostly' grew up with movies and visual media/stimulus. With everything being shown/presented to them in the manner that the creative aspect has already been done for them. So they did not spend as much time growing up thinking about scene settings, formulating ideas and worlds in their heads and thus we now have a much poorer presentation on film (or a medium such as a ride/physical land) due to their inherent lack of creativeness.
 

DisneyHead123

Well-Known Member
I've seen similar conversations that may apply to this about modern film making and why it is 'bad' compared to the great films we previously had. The overall concept is that previously film makers were 'primarily' raised on books and had to create the worlds in their heads leading to inherent artistic abilities and specialty in creating a scene, an emotion, or overall conveyance of something to the audience. A book spends time explaining a setting, a feeling, character emotions, and how things are playing out... these film makers all grew up with that. Today's film makers 'mostly' grew up with movies and visual media/stimulus. With everything being shown/presented to them in the manner that the creative aspect has already been done for them. So they did not spend as much time growing up thinking about scene settings, formulating ideas and worlds in their heads and thus we now have a much poorer presentation on film (or a medium such as a ride/physical land) due to their inherent lack of creativeness.

It seems to me that if you go further back in history, around the vaudeville era, the entertainment on offer probably more closely matched the YouTube / TikTok of today. This is just my theory, but it seems that when entertainment can be made pretty much by anyone at any time, this tends to be the default. Short sketch comedies, Three Stooges style silly visual comedy, concrete actions (things like juggling in the vaudeville era, parkour or whatever the heck the kids are doing these days in the social media era). I think good movies still get made, but possibly a disproportionate amount of the box office goes to things like The Super Mario Bros (not that there was anything wrong with that movie - I haven't seen it - but my impression is that it wasn't meant to be a work of theatrical art or anything.)

To the question in the OP - I actually think Disney is putting out a pretty quality product for the most part. I know, I know, unpopular opinion. But I think for all the talk of how amazing things were in the Good Old Days, people would be surprised at how much the parks have improved if they magically recreated the parks from 10, 20, 30 years ago. (5 years ago might be a different story but that's because of budget cuts, not anything Imagineering did.) When it comes to rides and theme park architecture, standards just keep getting higher and higher. And I don't fault Disney for experimenting and having some misses, like they did with the Starcruiser. They're kind of darned if they do darned if they don't when it comes to experimenting, because people complain if they don't try anything new and then complain if every single experiment isn't an instant hit, which of course they can't all be.

If I have a complaint, though, it's that Disney seems to be leaning more towards "build the big stuff first, fill it in later", when they used to be details people. E-tickets seem to be prioritized over theming, the most expensive newest animatronics seem to be preferenced over filling out scenes more completely, in the case of their newest Cay I think it's actually just not finished in the literal sense of the word, like they're not done building it yet. People can't get the big dopamine hit of going "Wooow! Look at this cool new thing!" if it's introduced in "phases". Like get everything done and put it all out there at once. My guess is that all this comes from budgeting concerns and not from the Imagineers directly though.
 

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