Stop reading this right now and go read the first page of The Re-Imagineering Blog, then come back and we’ll talk about.
Back? This is a blog maintained by folks at Disney and Pixar – the “Imagineers” who put the magic in the Magic Kingdom. If you’ve ever been through a Disney park and said to yourself, “That was INCREDIBLE” you can thank an Imagineer.
Unfortunately, as time has progressed and the need to maintain profitability has overshadowed the creative process, some of the magic has died. Clearly, this has not gone unnoticed within the company and is actually mourned by the folks who bring the creative spark to the Disney experience. Hence this blog.
Not that this thing is not hosted on the Disney servers. It is, instead, hosted on Blogger. Something tells me that the higher-ups in the Disney corporation are none too thrilled about their employees publicly ripping apart their parks. Take this gem about Epcot’s Imagination Pavilion:
… Epcot’s current Imagination Pavilion is a failure on nearly every level. The ride inside is an embarrassment. It’s boring, slow, disjointed, unclear, unimaginative and often just plain ugly. (And that’s coming from someone who worked on it, although my involvement was a few versions ago.)
Now, here’s the big thing about this – they’re not just ripping on the parks, they’re publicly discussing ways to improve upon them and pointing out what works and what doesn’t. Most corporations would no doubt feel that this type of brutal honesty is best kept behind closed doors, but, in the words of one author on the blog when discussing the failure of California Adventure, “Please, no more fancy executive brainstorming retreats, that’s what got us into trouble in the first place.”
These imagineers have invited us into their conversation. Comments are open and available. If I think DCA (which, by the way, I’ve never visited) is actually quite a great park, I can point out right there why I feel this way. I’m talking directly to the guys and gals who actually make the decisions that make these things work and the chances are good that they’ll listen to what I have to say. This is phenomenal.
So, yeah, it also sucks that Disney employees are ripping on the parks, especially employees so highly regarded. That doesn’t do too much to help Disney’s image. This, however, is a short-term problem provided they actually do something about it. There’s really nothing like the Disney experience anywhere in the world, but even the most diehard fans have witnessed a decline in recent years. Everyone has a stake in bringing back the magic – the Disney folks want to make money, the fans want to be wowed. Involving everyone in this process, opening it up so that all of the stakeholders – employees, owners and customers – can have their say is only going to help improve the situation provided, again, that Disney listens.
So, will the Disney execs do the right thing and watch and learn from this exchange? Or will they try to clamp this experiment down? It seems to me that, lately, the Disney/Pixar folks have been making some smart moves by involving the intensely creative Pixar folks in more of the end-user experience. History holds that they’ll shut this sucker down. Hopefully, with the new blood in the company, they’ll learn to move past their history.