The Decline of An Institution

1-disneyland_castleOnce upon a time there was a theme park. A theme park that worked. A theme park that set new standards of excellence for cleanliness, customer service and creativity; a place that CELEBRATED imagination. A place that families could go to and have fun and be educated at the same time. A place that was so unique in its conception and execution of entertainment that it actually became an important element of United States foreign policy.
This place was called Disneyland. It’s founding father, Walt Disney, was a creative genius who embraced the past but was fascinated by the future. He wanted Disneyland to be a place where visitors could be immersed in his movies, explore exotic lands, see the hope and possibilities of the future, and visit the past. In short, to have an experience that could not be duplicated anywhere else.
And for the longest time, it worked.
Then Walt died. Once he died and the family no longer had any say in the park, then the suits who look only at the bottom line took over, and the creativity and imagination started a catastrophic trip down the drain.
And it has now come to this. Disneyland is no longer the place it once was. The Walt Disney company in its present form has made it a crass, money-grubbing tourist trap. The creativity and imagination that it once celebrated is dead. The wonder of learning and thinking that once was a hallmark of the park is now just a series of tacky movie tie-ins, uncontrollable crowds, and spiraling prices, and now, reduced number of attractions for a year.
Per Se;
• When the studio let the animation department go to pot, they solved the problem by BUYING Pixar. Of course, the park cashed in on that with Monsters Inc. and Cars Land.
• Took a classic attraction that Walt himself had a hand in and completely changed it into a ridiculous movie tie in by putting Jack Sparrow at every corner, removing original characters. This was supposed to be an attraction for guests to experience what is was like to be in the Caribbean during the days when piracy was at it’s peak; not a movie comedy show.
• Took another attraction that Walt had a hand in, ie; It’s a Small World, an attraction made to celebrate the innocence of wonder of children and childhood, and strategically placed movie characters in that.
• Took one of the most iconic attractions, the Haunted Mansion and tied THAT to what was really a pretty bad movie on it’s own
• Could not think of a new attraction for Adventureland, so they simply BOUGHT the Indiana Jones franchise and plopped a ride in there. It was my understanding that Adventureland was supposed to expose guests to exotic areas of the world by replicating areas unique to those lands, not become part of a sci-fi movie.
• When they did try and think of something original for a new gate, they came up with the disaster called DCA (version 1)
• Now, and perhaps the worst of all, when they decide to build a new land at Disneyland, they can’t think of anything on their own. They take a franchise they never had anything to do with previously with the exception of one attraction in Tomorrowland. They take the easy way and BUY the Star Wars franchise and decided to build an entire new land for it. And to do that they are amputating part of Walt’s beloved Frontierland; that is, shutting it down for a year, REROUTING the Rivers of America and the Disneyland RR, and slashing out the Big Thunder area adjacent to the Big Thunder coaster. (I wonder what kind of transition they will put there, a time machine found inside one of the Big Thunder mines?) At the same time, they are jacking up the prices of, and eliminating the old annual passports. So basically, you are getting less but paying way more.
In the meantime, while the imagination and creativity was dying, prices were increasing, crowds were becoming unmanageable, and Annual Passport kept changing.
This is what Disneyland has turned into; a typical tourist trap that has lost its way.
Walt’s dream is no more.
The Disney management team should go to Forest Lawn in Glendale, kneel before Walt’s niche, and humbly apologize and beg for forgiveness. Of course, as long as the park is a cash cow, that won’t happen.
Rest In Peace Disneyland, or as it should now be known as “Six Flags over Anaheim” or “Cedar Fair-Disney”.