Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Disney Problem... And Solution!

We're planning a trip to Disneyland for this coming October. Yes, another one. This time though, we are hoping to go with all of Lewis' family. Should be fun!

Saturday last, as we were all gathered at the casa de los Youngs (as opposed to the apartamento de los otros Youngs) (where I live), we were discussing details of the trip. Sammie, my delightful niece, mentioned how lame the Peter Pan ride was. She described how boring it was to just go up like a foot and ride around for a minute or two and then go back down. No fun at all.

As she was describing this, I just stared at her with a look of shock and awe on my face. I couldn't believe that anyone would think the Peter Pan ride as "lame" or "boring" or "stupid." So I told her she had no sense of nostalgia.

And that's when it hit me. She probably doesn't have any nostalgia towards that movie! Me, I grew up on that movie and other movies like it. That's why I love Peter Pan's Flight and Snow White's Scary Adventure and Pinocchio's Daring Journey. They're not thrill rides, they are rides about movies. Movies that I have loved since I was a wee one. That's what Disneyland is all about. Sure, you do have thrill rides like Indiana Jones or Space Mountain or most everything over in California Adventure. But Disney is not just about thrills. They create an attention to detail experience with the characters that the world adores.

But for how long? How long will love for movies like Snow White or Peter Pan be enough? We live in a world where many of the young people have not even had the chance to see these beloved films. The advent of DVDs are partially to blame for this; families who own VHS copies of the movies rarely pull them for their kids. VCRs are obsolete! True, you can find many Disney Animated Features on DVD, but only once every seven to ten years when they come out of the Disney vault. But will that even be a viable marketing campaign in the future when primary DVD purchasers haven't seen the movies in the first place?

To prevent this (love for cherished characters dying off due to lack of movie viewership) from happening, the Imagineers at Disneyland have (possibly inadvertently) developed some solutions. One is to replace old rides/attractions with updates from more recent films. Case in point, the Swiss Family Treehouse was replaced by Tarzan's Treehouse in 1999. But that practice makes a part of me really sad. I mean, it's good to make updates and to continue to expand and whatever. I'm all for brand new rides and replacing stuff that was no good in the first place. But where is the line? How far can that be taken? Will Snow White be replaced by an attraction from a more recent movie? Can you replace Snow White? Is that what Walt Disney would have wanted? I don't know about you, but I would not want a cryogenically frozen Walter Elias Disney after my neck. You've been warned, Imagineers.

I'm getting carried away. There is still an abundance of classic Disney in Disneyland and there are no current plans to alter that.

A second solution would be to create more rides from interesting characters/stories developed specifically for the park. Sometimes the movie comes later like with Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion, but the rides were still there first. I am okay with this as it gives Disneyland a personal stake in people's nostalgia. They have nostalgia for the rides alone, and not necessarily in concert with a movie attached to them. Which definitely makes me keep going back for more!

Neither solution is perfect of course. For example, instead of replacing the old with the new, why doesn't Disneyland just keep adding rides? I don't think anyone would complain about a bigger Disneyland. And if you do, you have no heart. Or soul.

The fact of the matter is today's generation of youths is missing out on a series of classic movies that their parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents grew up on. So here's what I think Disney should do. A few months before they release their movies from that mysterious vault they're always talking about, they should also play them in movie theaters around the country for a limited engagement. That way, parents can take their kids to see for themselves the magic of these animated features, and understand why Peter Pan's Flight really is a great ride. Plus the rest of us would have an excuse to go see the movies from our childhood that we haven't seen since. Disney can do this. They've done it before! I know because my parents wouldn't let me go see Jurassic Park with my older siblings when it was first in theaters and they took me to Snow White instead.

The cynic in me says that this quest would be futile. Most children would probably go into the movies with sky-high expectations and would come out saying it was "lame" or "boring" or "stupid." Psh. Kids these days!


willus said...

My favorite part of this blogpost was me.

willus said...

You made some good points as well though.

Paul Epperson said...

I thought this was going to be just a regular blog post about a random experience. Don't get me wrong - those are great - but this post turned out to be so much more.

I had no idea that some of the more important foundations of my life, like love, Disney, hope, and even the US Constitution, were at stake. If no one takes a stand against that bitter-sweet monster of time, our Disney classics will be gone, and along with them our childhoods and the great lessons they taught us.

Thank you for being active in this battle, Alyssa. I support your efforts.

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