Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Bad Show

When some elements at Epcot are so perfect, the parts that aren't really stand out.

Word of warning: Mirrors reflect.

There's really no excuse for something like this.

So, it is all upper-case now?

Bear in mind, Disney just spent $4 billion, mostly cash, to buy Marvel. How much do you think a new stage would cost?

They're not even trying to make the disused World Key kiosks look good -- the plywood coverings are unattractive at best.

And don't worry -- in the next update, EPCOT Central will be calling attention to some good show, just to balance things out!


Anonymous said...

Just came back from a week at the world. I was disgusted by the maintenance of all of the parks. Rusted railings, faded paint and basically alot of dirty areas. Having always bragged to friends and family that one of reasons our family goes to Dis every year is because of the cleanliness and superb maintenance, I was very disappointed. I know that the economic downturn has hurt most every business, but I don`t think Walt would approve of cutbacks in maintenance. It was one of the reasons he built Disneyland.

Anonymous said...

Lol, I invite you all to Disneyland Paris. But hey, at least their excuse is that they're nearly bankrupt.

Airamerica said...

To be honest, I went 'looking' for quality issues and couldn't really find too many - I saw the boarded up kiosks for the first time this trip and didn't know what had been there / was coming to this location!

Overall, I don't see a massive drop in the quality of the parks, accepting their age etc. These aren't new venues anymore.

What really gets to me is the state of the monorail cars and the smaller watercraft, used to transport guests. Now most of these need to be replaced or reconditioned.

Trent said...

Airamerica, do a Google Image search for Tokyo Disneyland. That's not a new park, either -- it opened one year after EPCOT Center. And yet it looks like it's BRAND new, as if it opened just yesterday. There is no reason that Disney can't manage the maintenance of its parks to world-class standards, except that it costs money, and Disney's current management (particularly Tom Staggs, its head of finance) has no desire to spend money on something as frivolous as park maintenance when he could be spending money on acquiring companies like Club Penguin, Marvel, etc. Park maintenance is just not a priority for Disney, and it's too bad. Every day, again and again, Oriental Land Company shows Disney how its done. If it took licensing out Disney's US parks to bring them to the level of Tokyo Disney, I'd be ALL for it!

Airamerica said...

Trent, I can't really see from the Google pics how much better Tokyo Disneyland is - sorry! Having said that, do they get as many visitors as the WDW parks? Do they operate the same hours? Is the park as big as the Florida properties?

Honestly, in the 25 (or so) years I've been visiting I haven't seen a dramatic decline in the fabric of any WDW locations.

I accept that in some places things are getting a bit worn but we're talking about huge footfall on a daily basis and that doesn't take into account all the other factors like weathering etc.

From my perspective, when you're in the parks you don't stay in one place long enough to notice areas needing renovation. However, when you are captive on the resort transport (monorail and boats) for 10 - 20 mins the issues are far more clear.

Well they are to me!

Trent said...

Yes -- Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea together make up the most highly trafficked Disney resort in the world. In 2008, 14.2 million people went to Tokyo Disneyland and 12.4 million visited Tokyo DisneySea. The parks are extraordinarily beautiful and impeccably maintained. The concept of peeling paint, worn-down railings or dried gum on the ground is unimaginable at Tokyo Disney. They have a veritable army of janitorial staff, each attraction has its own gorgeous costumes, and guests are SO respectful that there are simply no barriers between the guests and show sets. It is impossible to describe how literally perfect the surroundings at Tokyo Disney are. These parks put any other Disney park to shame.

Here are a couple of good examples:

Maybe photos really don't do it justice. I've been truly blown away every time I've visited. And certainly they bring up the argument that there's really no excuse in the U.S. except that Disney doesn't seem to care as much as OLC about the way its parks are maintained.

Anonymous said...

"The concept of peeling paint, worn-down railings or dried gum on the ground is unimaginable at Tokyo Disney. "

not to defend lax upkeep at the US parks (or to stereotype our own culture here vs. other countries), but...

there certainly is some cultural aspect to the success of non-US parks. Paris DL was a mess before they let Euros run the joint. Tokyo and DisSEA likewise have homegrown talent to run it.

There's a classic story from a friend of mine who's wife left a package on the subway in Tokyo. She notified an attendant who told her to wait at that same station for 58 minutes. she did and the same train returned on time, loaded with riders, and the package... still there untouched.

Point is, their culture generally dictates proper behavior, and demands high standards from business and industry. What all of this means to me is those managing EPCOT and other US parks know they can "get away" with sloppy or less than perfect b/c we'll accept it! sad for us : (

Anonymous said...

But it wasn't always this way. Walt Disney, Card Walker, Dick Nunis, et. al., all demanded perfection. I have pictures of Disneyland from the 1980s and very early 1990s in which it looks pristine. There's a joke in "Honey I Shrunk the Audience" about the "Disney sweeping guys" that most audiences probably don't even understand today. Growing up, Disneyland was held up as the example of perfection, cleanliness and friendliness. And Americans were arguably just as "poorly behaved" then as now. It's just that the Disney theme parks COMPENSATED for this bad behavior.

Now, it's as if what Anonymous said is accepted as basic fact -- "They'll never behave properly, so if they don't appreciate it, we won't bother."

Have you seen the Walk Around the World at WDW or the Promenade at DL? There is so much stuck-on gum, so much wear and tear, that it makes you sad. I mean, I literally was shaking my head last time I got off the Monorail at MK thinking, "This is the first impression some people have of Disney." It used to be that it would take people's breath away with how clean and perfect it was. Now, it's just a slightly cleaner microcosm of our society in general.

Bad show, indeed.

And yet even though the parks charge extra for Halloween events and Christmas events, for taking your photo (come ON!), for just about every imaginable things -- they're taking a cue from the airlines and passing on the benefit of that increased revenue NOT to the customer through improved service but straight to the executives "in charge." Why am I paying so much more than ever for an experience that is, frankly, so much worse than ever?

Anonymous said...

This is off topic, but does anyone know what happened to make Nestle pull out of sponsorship of "The Land"?

Hale said...

No, don't worry. These points are fair.

Anonymous said...

"Now, it's as if what Anonymous said is accepted as basic fact -- 'They'll never behave properly, so if they don't appreciate it, we won't bother.' "

I don't disagree, it certainly wasn't the way it is now - or at least as i remember it. as for behaving badly, that wasn't my point. my point - i think - wasn't that we won't or can't appreciate a high quality effort, it's that we don't demand it. we don't demand it of ourselves, and we don't demand it of our businesses, industries, etc.

what the "it" is? respect? morality? common courtesy? reciprocal kindness? personal/corporate responsibility? i don't know... any or all of these and more perhaps.

not to be too much of a downer, but it does bum me out a bit. if going to WDW (and Epcot in particular) gives me little more than a Six Flags experience then my trips may be fewer. i'm straying off topic a bit, but a few years ago we went to Downtown Dis, the bouncers were waving metal detectors over people going in to House of Blues... seriously, I can get that experience at Great Adventure in NJ.