Monday, September 10, 2012

Disneyland and a Most Disturbing Trend

It may be small but there is a disturbing trend that is beginning to surface around Disneyland and DCA (and other Disney parks) - a trend so disturbing that this week's park updates in both MiceAge/MiceChat (Andy Castro) and MousePlanet (Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix) felt compelled to write about it. When Buena Vista Street opened in June, it was hailed a masterpiece in imagineering and design projecting the bygone era of Hollywood in the 1920's and 30's. Great detail went in to making the architecture and the storefronts really look like something Walt Disney may have seen when he first stepped off the train in southern California. Great care was used installing the window displays for each of the shops on Buena Vista Street. Disney went so far as to post YouTube videos on just how much effort went into finding just the right period pieces for the windows that came from that era. The windows on BVS were works of art.

That is until now.

For Disney, there was a problem. The storefronts and windows on Buena Vista Street have so much detail that they really don't look like Disney retail stores whose primary goal is to sell you things. The window displays looked so good that it possibly couldn't reduced to something like "shopping" for casual park visitors. It doesn't help that Disney wants the doors to the stores closed for a green initiative aimed at energy conservation and costly air conditioning doesn't collide with summertime heat. For casual park visitors, the storefronts look like the fake facades that have existed over in the neighboring Hollywood Backlots area for the last decade. Of course, most people only give a cursory look at Buena Vista Street as the race by on their way to Cars Land. You see, the stores on Buena Vista Street just haven't been raking in the dough that Disney had hoped. So what does Disney do?

They have now taken the artistic windows and began stuffing them with Disney merchandise and not necessarily the good unique collectible type of Disney merchandise but stuff they peddle around a dozen other places in the parks. Beautiful period props have been removed and replaced by displays or shirts, hats, kitchen utensils, and other dreck. 

The windows still look nice because care is taken to display the merchandise creatively but again, the object here is to get you to walk into the store and buy something rather than present the detail that Disney parks are noted for. The same type of thing is going on over in Disneyland where the fun Holloween decorations in the Main St Store windows is being deluded with an ever growing display of retail items.

But it gets worse as being reported by MiceAge/MiceChat's Dateline Disneyland.

You see those soft drink cups at the top of this page - they are cups from Disneyland's 50th Anniversary celebration. What currently is happening is "Disney" logo cups used for soft drinks are in the process of being replaced by the generic red and white Coca-Cola cups that are served up at thousands of other places that don't serve their drinks in Pepsi cups. The new cups don't say Disneyland or Disney Parks or have any references to Disney whatsoever. Things like Disney vended turkey legs and hot dogs are now served in something labeled as a "Hot Food Bag" And to take it a step further, after that $12 Disneyland lunch you may have just enjoyed you now get to wipe off your  face with a plain brown napkin - yep, napkins with Disney Parks printed on them also appears to be a thing of the past. 

So why is the question. Generic cups and napkins are just plain cheaper in the quantities that Disney deals with. Cheaper dispensing items leads to higher profit margins and that seems to be what it is all about these days. Admission and pass holder prices have gone up enormously over the last few years and Disney seems compelled to give less even if the less that is being given is just minor details. Details are what separate a Disney park from the rest of what's out there. The gap may be closing.

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