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Old 01-31-2005, 11:47 AM   #1
petguru
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Not to start a fight or anything ...

...but I just found a site called "Save Disney", and am very confused about what I read. I remember in the past that some of the things Eisner stood for created a rift in upper management of Disney, but didn't realize that it was still going on. According to that website, Disney is "doomed".

Anyone know anything about this? I'm trying to figure out what all the "fuss" is about, but know nothing about it all. Some of the statements made on that site are very extreme, and make me wonder about the validity of the entire site.

Anyone have a balanced view of what's supposedly happening. I just found out that the annual shareholders meeting is being held here in the twin cities, and I'd like to check out some of it, but not if it's going to be a mud fest!

Feel free to PM me if you think posting your comments would be too inflamatory. I'm not looking to start fight, just trying to learn.
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Old 01-31-2005, 12:36 PM   #2
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Re: Not to start a fight or anything ...

I have been reading some of what is going on and here is my personal opinion...

I think there is a lot of stuss foing on we don'y have privy to. I personaly like Eisner. I think he is human like everyone else and has his faults, but on a whole a good guy. Look at his track record with profits and expansion. Many of the things they are argueing about today would not even be an issue if the company hadn't grown in the manner it did.

So who knows.. The one thing I do knwo is that when you want people to support an opinion of yours it is much easier to go the "everything bad route" and feed from other disappointments. That usually gains pretty fast momentum.

Sorry if I rambled.
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Old 01-31-2005, 03:02 PM   #3
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Re: Not to start a fight or anything ...

Roy Disney (Nephew of Walt) has a big problem with the current board of directors. He was a member of the board but guit of items he did not agree with. I have been a Disney fan for 30+ years. At the heart of all the fuss is how Disney is changing the way it does business.

In the beginning Walt believed that he needed very good people and ideas to create what we call Disney. Now it seems that money drives most of the decisons at Disney.

I do not believe Disney is doomed. But I agree that Disney needs to bring the "Good Show" back to the picture.

You can also read: http://www.d-troops.com
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Old 01-31-2005, 03:39 PM   #4
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Re: Not to start a fight or anything ...

I wrote a paper on Walt Disney when I was in college and had the opportunity to fly out to California, to the Burbank studios and interview several people there. I got a very deep sense of what "Disney" meant. When Eisner took over, he did not have that sense and began drving the company for money and profits. Granted, all the Disney stockholders want to see fiscal responsibility and growth, but (IMO) Eisner led the company away from the traditions and foundation that made it great to begin with. There is a lot more to it than "everyman" knows, but it seemed that when they shut down the animation production, the joy seemed to leave the Disney company (along with Roy and Stanley Gold) It is heartbreaking to me to see the company without a Disney family member on the board for the first time. Those who were close to Walt have a deep understanding of what he was trying to do for the American family and now, without anyone of those people left on the board, we can see the evidence of the erosion of the values that Walt worked so hard to instill. I honestly think that "back in the day", just spending a bit of time around the people who were passionate about the work of animation and the importance of family was enough to "infect" me with it, too. I was a changed person when I left the Burbank studios and had a whole new respect for Walt Disney. BTW, if nothing else, I enjoy the quotes from Walt that Save Disney sends out
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Old 01-31-2005, 09:23 PM   #5
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Re: Not to start a fight or anything ...

Perhaps how one feels about what Michael Eisner has done to the Disney company has a certain amount to do with your own personal experiences with Disney over the years. I have seen a real shift from many years ago when guests at Disneyland never really felt like making money was the main emphasis - but that family magic was. For example, I can remember on my first visit to Disneyland in 1968 being blown away by the signs in all the gift shops there which read: "Please touch - no charge for breakage." This was just one example of how guests were put at ease. It's a far cry from the Disney theme parks of today where the majority of attractions exit directly into gift shops so that every single little money-making opportunity for Disney is not overlooked. Of course the Disney corporation is a business and making money is important but I also feel that it will only be by getting back to the basics and worrying about quality first, that Disney will ever enjoy a return to its former glory.

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Old 01-31-2005, 09:55 PM   #6
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Re: Not to start a fight or anything ...

I've looked around at Save Disney and can understand where the site is coming from- but I also agree with people who think Eisner has done wonders for a company that was starting to sag.

I just finished reading "Keys to the Kingdom"- all about how Eisner ended up at Disney, and all the things that he's changed there since. Dry, but interesting.

I see the whole thing like this- when Eisner was hired for the job it was because he was profitable. The man knew how to make a buck and was extremely commercial in his ideas. If an idea worked once, he did it over and over again until it stopped working. This isn't to say that he didn't support creative ideas- he just wouldn't sink money into one he didn't believe would be profitable and he'd beat a great idea to death. When he was hired, Disney needed a commercial edge.. It's profits were none too good. So, in comes Michael to turn the company around.

And, undeniably, he brought profits to areas of the company that had been stagnant- and he brought in people that gave a whole new energy to the company (some good, some bad). And the uber-commercial track has been pretty straight since then. If something makes money (or they think it will) tons of effort goes into it.. If it's just a traditional thing or something that only supports 'show,' it may get a lot less attention. That's how they made a lot of money to begin with in the Eisner era, and that's how they think the money will be made now.

I think the problem is simply this, when Eisner first came in a lot of people were willing to sacrifice a little bit of tradition to really boost up the company, but once the company became hugely profitable again they expected the sacrifice of 'show' quality to stop- and it hasn't. There's a fair amount of the "Greed is Good" vibe going on within everything at Disney that offends a lot of the older guys (And a lot of fans.). It's not that Walt didn't care about making money, and not that Roy doesn't either.. I think it's just that they see the Eisner mode of doing things as being over the top, money at any cost kind of thinking.

Unfortunately, I have a "you made your own monster" feeling about the whole thing (not that I don't feel bad for Roy et al.). And, I don't think Disney is even close to doomed at this point. I think, even with the changes in 'show' around the parks, they're still the Happiest Places on Earth.
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Old 01-31-2005, 10:00 PM   #7
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Re: Not to start a fight or anything ...

I am up in the air about Eisner-- He doesn't keep the Disney way it seems and leans toward mony (sp?), but he got the Walt Disney Company out of corporate take overs, and brought the parks to what they are now-- bigger vacation destinations then Hawaii (that's a fact!), making them the biggest one on the planet. However, it dose seem that when Walt died a ton of things went wrong-- like Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Magic Kingdom became a not as good copy of Disneyland, and Epcot became a theme park, not the great city of tomorrow like Walt dreamed of.
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Old 02-02-2005, 02:50 PM   #8
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Re: Not to start a fight or anything ...

Epcot wasn't finished as an actual community not because of money but because of logistics. It just wasn't possible to create a "city" where people can live and work, as well as have tourists come through to play. If you were going to charge admission to get in, it would be like living in a theme park.

I'm on the fence about Eisner. In the early 90's Disney was still at the top of it's game, eyet I have to admit things were not looking good for advancement. A lot of things were outdated and hadn't been refurbished or updated in any way since the opening of the MK and Epcot. When Eisner came in he completely revamped the entire resort - that's why the 90's are known as the "Disney Decade". I thought it was funny that on VH1 last week they had "I Loe the 90's Part II" and one of the episodes talked a lot about Michael Eianser and how he brought Disney back onto the frntburner when it comes to family vacation destinations. A lot of great things came out of his years of work - MGM, Animal Kingdom, the updated water parks, Disney Quest, DTD, more resorts, etc. There were also a ton of new rides, shows, attractions and character greets springing up all over the place. Disney was once again the top resort in the world.

However, with all that regrowth and refurbishment comes the need for money. Everyone knows Disney is a multi-million dollar company, and that's exactly what they will remain. Just like any business Disney needs to make money to remain at the top of their game. Maybe it was taken a little too far in sme areas, but I really don't think it was as extreme as a lot of people complain about. But that's just me
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Old 02-02-2005, 03:42 PM   #9
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Re: Not to start a fight or anything ...

[ QUOTE ]
Epcot wasn't finished as an actual community not because of money but because of logistics. It just wasn't possible to create a "city" where people can live and work, as well as have tourists come through to play. If you were going to charge admission to get in, it would be like living in a theme park.

[/ QUOTE ]

I have heard that, but if Walt were alive he would find a way... just imagine what would happen he could come back to life? He would fist thing want to see Epcot, and when he got there and saw what it was he would probably die again out of sadness....
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Old 02-02-2005, 05:14 PM   #10
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Re: Not to start a fight or anything ...

I love "If Walt was alive..." threads.

Personally, I think the real issue for Epcot is that a commercial/retail/residential/industrial real estate development project (which is what Walt envisioned) is far from the Disney company's core competency, entertainment. In Walt's absence there was no motivation (other than continuing the legacy) to build a city. Except to the Imagineers, the idea just didn't fit. Meantime, just as Walt couldn't quite predict the popularity of Disneyland and how it would impact real estate development in Anaheim, he also didn't forsee the kind of theme park resort destination that the WDW property became. Did he think, even for a moment, that he could create four or more distinct parks in a single location, and that people would flock to it? No, his vision was closer to, "Let's build another Disneyland and design and build our own neighboring community, rather than leave the development work to outsiders the way it happened in Anaheim."

After Walt was gone, I think the thought process at the company was, "Well, we're not going to build Walt's city, so what are we going to do with all that land?" I suspect the biggest reason the park is named Epcot is because it was built in the space marked "EPCOT" on the map.

As to whether tourism would have been incompatible with the original EPCOT, definitely not. All good communities support tourism, even if its just suburbanites coming into town for dinner and a movie. New York, Paris, London, Chicago, Los Angeles and even Ann Arbor, Michigan are prime examples of cities that thrive on "downtown" tourism. No, they wouldn't have charged admission to enter the city. I surely doubt Walt would have thought of doing that. In his mind, the neighboring theme park would charge admission, and the city center would provide the usual entertainment cities provide - free public plazas and parks, restaurants, hotels, theaters, concert halls, convention centers, etc., a bigger, more comprehensive version of the Downtown Disney concept (again, no admission there, either). There are plenty of ways to collect admission besides selling pay-one-price park tickets (which didn't exist back in those days anyway). In addition to the dining and entertainment venues, they'd also make a few bucks on the parking garages and the transit system token booths.
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Old 02-03-2005, 09:17 AM   #11
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Re: Not to start a fight or anything ...

Walt Disney was a terrible businessman. He cared more about his dreams then money. Roy O. Disney was the financier of the company and Walt was the dreamer. Walt’s thoughts were of what was fun and entertaining NOT what would make money…that was Roy’s job. Even though some of Walt’s ideas weren’t practical to a business minded person Roy was often persuaded to open the purse stings a bit to finance something that normally would have been scoffed at by a profit minded company. For example the idea of Disneyland was unusual and unheard of back in the 50’s. The word theme park was just not in a normal person’s vocabulary back then. Walt & Roy had a heck of a time finding financing for Disneyland. ABC took a risk and help Walt fund his new concept. That is when the show Disneyland (later known as the Wonderful World of Disney).

It is VERY difficult to try to compare Eisner to Walt Disney. There is just very little they have in common. Walt Disney Company was Walt’s dream and as an artist he thought about it night and day. Eisner is a businessman not a dreamer like Walt. Businessmen think of profit margins…in Walt’s day that was Roy O.’s job. I believe Roy E. and Stan Gold are upset because art was being lost in exchange for larger profits. That was NOT what Walt Disney Company was built on. Although I think it is important that the stockholders are happy it is also important that all the guests are happy. That is a very fine line and I don’t think Eisner is doing a very good job balancing on it!
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Old 02-04-2005, 09:38 PM   #12
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Re: Not to start a fight or anything ...

Regarding Epcot as an actual city, I read in one book, don't remember which, that if they had actually done that they would have had to open up voting to the people that lived there which is in the Reedy Creek district that got created, and is essentially just Disney.

They would have lost the ability to control the property development to a democratic government.

As for Eisner, I think that he was fine at first, but you had Frank Wells to guard the "heart and soul" of Disney. When Wells died, and Eisner took complete control is when things started to decline.

And things have declined. When I was a kid and went in the 70's I remember how surprised my parents were that things in the parks weren't more expensive then outside. Like soft drinks etc. were in line with normal prices, not the outrageous charges that we see now. Granted these are standard for all Theme Parks today, but its a difference.

I know that when my wife and I went the first time together, you could practically eat off the ground it was so clean, and although its still pretty good today, its not as good. Although a few years ago it got to be almost bad, it has improved in recent trips.

But maintenance does not seem to be getting the efforts that it once did.

Walt was not perfect, he was a difficult boss, from many reports, but he was a strict believer that the best way to keep customers was to give them exceptional quality for their money. Nothing else would do, he was very serious about this.

I don't think that Disney is doomed, but I do not think that anyone that has gone year after year, can honestly say that they are getting the same value for their money that they used to.
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