Monday, October 22, 2007

Extreme Makeover: Theme Park Edition (Addendum)

Grizzly Peak at DCA I guess I spoke prematurely when I said:

I'm not going to add anything from a news or views standpoint because I've already touched on this topic back when the news first broke in July.

Well, after reading a few of the other posts and the Wall Street Journal Article that contained the announcement, I had some things that I just needed to get off my chest.

I know there are many quotes from Uncle Walt when it comes to quality and here is one I found from a simple Google Search (keywords:  Disney quality quote) and found that I really like:

"I knew if this business was ever to get anywhere, if this business was ever to grow, it could never do it by having to answer to someone unsympathetic to its possibilities, by having to answer to someone with only one thought or interest, namely profits. For my idea of how to make profits has differed greatly from those who generally control businesses such as ours. I have blind faith in the policy that quality, tempered with good judgment and showmanship, will win against all odds." —Walt Disney

(Quote obtained from Disney

I am not completely ignorant and realize that in the 21st Century, corporations answer to stockholders.  But whatever happened to the days when the stockholders would trust the people running the company.  Yes, you need to drop some cash to make a quality product, but I firmly agree with Walt when he puts faith in a quality product rewarding in the long run.

When it came to WestCOT, Mr. Eisner and his advisors lost that blind faith Walt was talking about in the above quote.  This faith shattering event seems to be attributed to what executives were supposing to be inevitable failure of EuroDisney (aka Disneyland Paris).  As we all know, this park is still alive and kicking and happens to be on people's wish list of places to go (see the latest poll on Imaginerding).

I know these decision were made out of a sense of self-preservation.  Let's face it, the theme parks weren't named Eisnerland nor Michael Eisner World.  He was carrying a mantel that could easily (and eventually) removed from him.

But still, I think one of the things that made a Disney theme park a Disney theme park and not another brand was Quality.

I was once told that if you are a man and must wear dress shoes often, that it's much better to buy an expensive pair of well made leather shoes that can be re-soled then it would be to buy a pair of nice leather shoes from Payless Shoes.  In the long run, you'd end up saving money because you bought a quality pair of shoes that could be easily refreshed with a resole as opposed to constantly having to buy new shoes.

They said that it would've cost about 3 billion to create WestCOT.  But instead they spent ~$1 Billion to build Disney's California Adventure.  Then there were other costs associated with adding stuff to draw people to the new gate (A Bug's Life, Tower of Terror, Soarin', a failed attempt at a night time water show, etc.).  Now, we have the $1.1 billion to do this re-imagineering.  If you factor in the money lost over the years that they would've gotten from ticket sales if they had done it right the first time, I firmly believe they would've spent less money if they had built the original concept park instead of Disney's California Adventure.

In my real life, I have seen this happen too.  Whenever you cut corners,for whatever reason, which produces an acceptable product as opposed to a high quality product, those people who are intended to utilize that product will eventually force you to do it right which ALWAYS costs you more money than if you did it the way you knew it should've been done in the first place.

So, as Walt said in the quote above, I firmly believe that quality will always win out.

And with the recent re-Haunting of the WDW Haunted Mansion it appears that the Imagineers and those who get the funds for their budgets are starting to gain that blind faith again.  

Here's hoping the updated Haunted Mansion is truly demonstrating that the powers-that-be are putting quality back on top and want to create a wonderfully Grumptastic experience for us, the loyal park guest

But, I'll have to wait and see how Space Ship Earth turns out to get a better idea of what kind of track they are putting this train onto..


Honor Hunter said...

Hey Grumpy,

Just so ya know...

DCA cost 650 million. The resort expansion cost 1.4 billion, but the other 750 million went for the Grand Californian and Downtown Disney.

Oh, and WestCOT was 2 billion... of course this one in 1991 dollars.

If you'd like to view the articles I have part 1 here and part 2 here. And my favorite, Port Disney here.

The great thing is it seems the Mouse has learned its lesson. Let's hope it sticks this time. If so, we're in for a hell of a ride.

Keep up the good work...

Unknown said...


Thanks for the correction of my numbers. I read several articles and I wasn't sure if part of that original 1 Billion was used to build Downtown Disney and Grand Californian or not.

But if WestCOT truly was slated for 2 billion (instead of the 3 I stated), I still think my assumption was correct that it would've cost less in the long run to have done what they originally planned.