Friday, March 23, 2007

This Is Getting Ridiculous

Here we go again.

First, it was the world-renowned, groundbreaking, must-visit Disney's Wide World of Sports that received publicity attention for its all-important 10th anniversary.

Then, Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean gets special in-park signage and a limited merchandise collection for its 40th anniversary.

Now, Disneyland Paris -- the most beautiful yet most financially troubled park Disney has ever conceived -- is getting a massive marketing blitz for its 15th annivesary. And we all know how important 15th anniversaries are, right? They must be very important -- much more so than silly 25th anniversaries.

Why do I think that? Because, as Matt points out in the comments section, even ... I kid you not ... the Disney Vacation Club gets commemorative merchandise for its 15th year!

Come on.

No doubt some of you reading this are DVC members, and you may already know my feeling about Disney's timeshare concept. (It's not enough that we pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to visit a Disney theme park; nowadays we're not considered "special" by Disney unless we cough up tens of thousands to buy in to the resorts.) But no matter whether you think DVC is great or the ultimate con, a timeshare concept is hardly unique ... is it really more worthy of new merchandise and special mention in press releases, while the genuinely revolutionary EPCOT Center gets nothing?

Is EPCOT's VP, Brad Rex, still saying that all Disney will be doing to mark the Silver Anniversary of the most groundbreaking theme park ever created is to have some private, backstage observances for cast members? So far, I've heard no official comment that indicates anything different at all.

So, at this point, it's clear: Disney really couldn't care less about EPCOT.

Why should they? That's an article I'm working on for the very near future.

In the meantime, read it and weep, folks ... Disney has announced yet another theme-park anniversary event, but it ain't for EPCOT. No, folks, 25 years of EPCOT just isn't good enough for our friends in Burbank and Lake Buena Vista. Sad.

(Oh, and if all this gets you as irate as I have become, you might want to consider sending a nicely worded and rational e-mail to Brad Rex letting him know you think EPCOT's anniversary deserves at least as much respect as, say, the Wide World of Sports complex or the timeshares.)


Matt Novak said...

You forgot to mention the Disney Vacation Club anniversary I recently saw signs for on Disney property. It's ridiculous that they can't give Epcot a bare minimum amount of recognition.

Anonymous said...

I'll just not taking my family down this year, I guess. That is sad that that is the point it's gotten to.

Anonymous said...

A few points

I think they are not celebrating the anniversary because they are scared to death that they may be embarrassed by the comparisons to classic EPCOT. What if NBC news (just for the fun of giving the finger to ABC which is owned by Disney) decides to do a big story contrasting the hope and promise of Epcot with its current state? I think they decided the safest thing to do was to play it down.

I’ve read Eisner’s book. The funniest part is the end where he talks about totally dominating the information age with the GO portal they spent millions on. Basically the last chapter lists all these new ideas that subsequently bombed. Disney’s overvalued stock then hits a many year wall that leads to Roy’s insurrection, and Eisner leaving.

Still the book is invaluable for understanding the company, and the parks. I remember a section where he laid out the plans (WDW expansion) to some very large stockholders who told him they agreed with it and would hold their shares for at least five years. Essentially they (the owners) were agreeing that he was using their assets in the best way.

I read a Walt quote at Re-imagineering about not gouging your guest. Of course publicly traded companies must use their assets to make the most return, or someone else will take them over to see if they can do better. This is the root of the “please spend more money to be more special” message that applies to a lot more than DVC.

One last point. DVC is so important to Disney. It is a way they can get their biggest fans to commit to a yearly return to WDW. Without it those people might buy a timeshare down the street, but they would be more likely to spend time at universal or sea world. They would also be more likely to trade their week for another vacation destination. DVC’ers are more likely to go to WDW every year and that guaranteed revenue for the parks is a big deal.

Anonymous said...

It used to be companies "thanked" their biggest fans by giving them perks that showed them how valuable they were, and by listening to their feedback -- sometimes more intensely and carefully than that of "average" fans.

But Disney today "thanks" its biggest fans by charging them tens of thousands of dollars for a "privilege"? Seems weird to me, and pretty cynical on Disney's behalf.

un mec bien said...

Something you seem don't know is the fact that the 15th year celebration at disneyland paris is just the (first?) marketing buzz to make the resort relieve. This is the begining of the plan to get out of the financial troubles.
So don't be "jalous" or angry, there is NO comparison between the cases of epcot and dlp's anniversaries.

Guillume, Belgium.

Anonymous said...

Epcot needs 2 celebrate the 25th b-day of my fave park!!!!!!!! what gives???? they celebrated Disneyland's 50th b-day why not Epcot's? Is it not important to celebrate Epcot's b-day too?

Josh said...

Since you posted his email address - something I'd have liked to have had when Deb Wills broke the story on All Ears - I went ahead and sent Mr. Rex an email. Whether he will read it or not, I don't know, but I feel better for having taken the opportunity to make my point.

One thing I'm sure causes headaches to the EPCOT team is how to organize an anniversary celebration around annual big money-making events like the Flower & Garden Festival and the International Food & Wine Festival without confusing guests or making guests feel overwhelmed. I'm certain it can be done, but it's probably a bigger headache to do it than it might be at another park.

EPCOT certainly deserves her own celebration for this significant milestone. I hope she gets it.

Unknown said...

I remember when I was a kid at the 15th Anniversary Celebration for the Magic Kingdom. I still get that song stuck in my head to this day (Fifteen Years! Yeah, We're having a party!).
Wouldn't it be great if I could take my daughter and have her remember a similar song for EPCOT Center, sorry, Epcot when she is in her thirties. Wouldn't it also be great for her to remember it with the joy and wonder that I felt at EPCOT Center when I was her age, instead of the cynicism and disappointment that I feel now when I visit WDW as a whole.

Anonymous said...

I think it's absolutely pathetic that Disney can't be bother to celebrate EPCOT Center's 25th birthday, but I truly feel that it's because they've completely turned their backs on the EPCOT concept and instead want MK 2.0. After watching FutureCar and 2057 on Discovery, it's clear to me that the EPCOT concept is alive and well in the world, but Disney just doesn't seem to care anymore. It's a shame too, the world really could use a place to sell the message of a bright tomorrow once again - we seem to be entering a really dark time, and we could sure you someplace to give us hope...

Anonymous said...

Why not have an EPCOT Year of Festivals to celebrate the 25th? Imagine an entire year of series of non-stop festivals, some brand new, some returning favorites, that would celebrate not only the park's milestone but also food and wine, plans and flowers, technology, transportation, art, music, world cultures, etc. It would certainly go a long way in recapturing that World's Fair vibe that is missing from EPCOT these days.

And, Chris, ditto on that "15 Years" song. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one still singing that stupid (and awesome) song. "…gonna party all year long!"