Jan 31, 2012

The Trouble for DCA

Image Courtesy {link}
California Adventure is going to face an interesting problem with the local Disneyland Fan crowd when it debuts this summer. Despite the massive project to completely alter the theme of the park, which they have done so beautifully, the theme hasn't really changed. It is still about California. At least that is how a fair number of the hardcore fans will see it.

I have already begun to see mutterings across fan sites about this. The problem here isn't DCA though, it's Disneyland. You see, Disneyland is generic in it's themes. A turn of the century American town, the old west, a stylized retro-future, the jungle. These could be any town, any jungle, any frontier town, etc.

Disney California Adventure, however, is doing things a little differently. It is still idealized, but it is representing time periods from a real place. Some see this as a failure but I don't. DCA, as newly imagined, is about Walt's Adventure in coming to California and starting his career.

As such, it isn't the real LA, but an idealized one based roughly on when Walt arrived. Those stores didn't exist, but the look and feel did. This is exactly like Main Street USA. None of those stores actually existed, but stores like that did. It could be any Main Street in any small town in America. Similarly, Buena Vista Street could be any street in the growing Los Angeles of the 1920s. All that is happened is that Imagineering has scaled the scope down from Any Town, USA, to Los Angeles, but kept the generic, placeless theme within the story they are telling. The two are identical on different scales.

Comparing DCA to Disneyland on anything but the most basic levels is pointless since they are not supposed to be the same park, yet so many among the fans seem to want another Disneyland. Why? We've already got Disneyland. Some argue that Disneyland takes you places you can't go. Now, DCA will as well. While the physical place of California does exist, the specific locations, and more importantly time periods, are not accessible in the real world.

For me the re-imagined DCA will capture that same spirit and feeling that Disneyland has had for all these years, but only if you let it. The trouble for DCA will be in convincing people to let it charm them.

Jan 26, 2012

Grooming Disney

So Disney has re-thought some of their grooming standards a bit by now allowing full facial hair instead of just the mustache that the 2000 rules revision allowed. I haven't read the actual rules yet, but it is pretty safe to say that they will be clearly defined and fairly conservative. Don't expect your typical biker beard. From things I'm reading around the fan sites, it will be neatly trimmed and have a length requirement and probably won't be allowed to cover mouth, etc. It will also most likely only be allowed if you grow it over a vacation or break from work. You can't have it growing in while working. It is either there or not.

Reactions to this have run the expected gamut from it being a good thing to signaling the demise and downfall of the Disney company. Several statements from people though really have stood out to me as particularly extreme.
I do have something against Disney relaxing their proven standards which have been successful for over 50 years.
How is this a proven standard? Proven in what way? What is the measurement metric for this? And successful for over 50 years at what? Keeping people with beards from working for Disney? How does that make Disney a better park? There are many variants on this statement, one in particular below is kind of insulting.
So, you are saying that Disney doesn't think they need to keep a "family-safe image"
Apparently I am not family-safe as I have a well trimmed and very short goatee. When Disneyland opened, the cultural standard for professionalism and clean-cut was no facial hair. As the hippie counter-culture rose up in the next 2 decades, beards became an anti-establishment political message and as such were still not considered appropriate for professionals. However, by the 80s people had moved on and into the 90s they started becoming acceptable again. Now-a-days, a well groomed beard is perfectly normal in the professional world. There are rules to what a well groomed beard are, but these are readily apparent to anyone with a brain. At lunch today there were 8 men in the restaurant and all 8 had facial hair. All of their beard variations were well trimmed and conservative length.

I truly am at a loss to understand how this signals the downfall of Disney's moral and ethical standards. It isn't about your personal like or dislike, but about the cultural norm of what is professional. Keeping the facial hair rule isn't helping Disney in any way, nor does letting beards in hurt them. This was a wise decision by Disney, especially given how very draconian they are in enforcing their standards. I see little if any abuse of this occurring.

Jan 21, 2012

Going To Disneyland

On my way to the park for a couple days. Hopefully I'll put some pictures up while I'm there. If not, expect a lengthy photo report when I get back home.

Jan 11, 2012

A Mad T Party

It has long been rumored that the replacement for elecTRONica was going to be Alice in Wonderland themed. Well, as of today we have official confirmation and artwork!

So far it seems to be a mix of what worked from Glow Fest and elecTRONica. This is just concept art mind you and this is likely to change a lot between now and this summer when the tea starts flowing. However, I think it's safe to say that the general feeling, the colors and shapes will be there. elecTRONica was fun, but it has definitely overstayed its welcome. As you can see from the first image this will be based off the Tim Burton imagining of the Alice story.

With the success of these street parties, I would guess that Disney will find a way to make the infrastructure necessary to pull them off more permanent, which would also mean making it better hidden for normal daytime operations of the park areas.