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Observations and Analysis of Disney in the News

News from April 30 - May 7, 2001

Disney Theatrical Productions  

Sue Kruse

In the eight years of their existence, Disney Theatrical Productions (DTP) has had uncommon success. With three productions currently running in the United States, Executive Vice President, Stuart Oken and Senior Vice President, Alan Levey recently spoke with Back Stage about DTP's plans for the future.

Since Hunchback of Notre Dame is one of my favorite shows, I was interested to know if the successful German production would be brought to the United States. Disney does need a follow-up to Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and Aida but Oken and Levey said that, "[t]he idea of putting a third piece derived from an animated show on Broadway was not appealing."

Since Matthew Bourne is currently in developing Little Mermaid for DTP, I find that statement perplexing. Is not Little Mermaid an animated show? Beautifully done, Hunchback of Notre Dame has been treated as Disney's bastard child and, for whatever reason, I don't feel that Disney has ever fully supported it. From the accounts I've heard, the German musical is a big success. I can tell you firsthand, I have a CD of the production and the music is beautiful. We in the US, it seems, will continue to be deprived of seeing this musical.


The Lion King plays in New York at the New Amsterdam Theater

At least there is some hope. Although I am not fond of the Little Mermaid story (girl gives up everything she is to get her man; I think that sends a terrible message out to little girls), if anyone can make it work, Matthew Bourne can. He brought us the brilliant all-male Swan Lake and the highly stylized Cinderella. I, for one, can't wait to see what he will do with the Little Mermaid.

You can read the wire story at Yahoo!.


Disney Radio vs. Shrek? 

Brian Bennett

Inside.com reported that radio stations affiliated with Radio Disney have been told to avoid promotions of Dreamworks' soon-to-be-released animated feature, Shrek. The new film reportedly makes fun of some of Disney's most familiar characters as well as poking fun at long guest queues at Disneyland.

Is this an example of Disney being too paranoid about a competitor? I don't think so. Disney does, after all, own Radio Disney. There's no reason why Disney should allow itself to be used to publicize it's competition. I wouldn't expect to see advertisements for Universal Studios Florida or Sea World on the Walt Disney World transportation buses, so there should be no reason to expect Disney to allow affiliated stations to publicize Shrek.

Perhaps, if DreamWorks proposed an entante, both companies could advertise for each other. Frankly, the business case for such an agreement would be pretty positive (as both companies play strongly to the same pre-teen demographics), but the odds of such an agreement ever coming to be are slim to none. I'm sure each company would figure that the other would benefit much more from such a deal.


Universal Studios Put on Hold 

Brian Bennett

According to the L. A. Times, Universal Studios' parent company, France-based Vivendi, will not begin plans to build any new parks until it better understands the results of it's new $1.7-billion park in Osaka, Japan, and the Islands of Adventure (which cost over $2 billion to build), in Orlando.

This shouldn't come as any surprise. Clearly, any company needs to ensure profitability. Vivendi is doing what any prudent enterprise would do -- make sure that investments are paying off, before spending more money in those areas.

Since Universal has been the most prolific technology innovator in the theme park industry over the last several years, I hope that they find that their new attraction technology is, indeed, paying off. That would only help to push the rest of the industry to invest more capital into new attractions and parks as the competition heats up.


The World's Largest Garage Wasn't Enough 

Alex Stroup

As reported by the Orange County Register, the Anaheim City Council approved Disney's request to add 1,701 temporary parking spaces, for up to five years. 1,000 spaces would be built on what used to be the Fujishige strawberry field and another 701 spots would be put into the employee parking lot on Katella.

The reason cited for this was to prepare for peak summer crowds, and if 1,000 spaces prove sufficient Disney will be able to tout their planning and foresight. But have they really planned well? Back in January we had a taste of just how prepared Disneyland Resort is for near-capacity crowds. With nice weather filling Disneyland and Annual Pass previews filling California Adventure, traffic was horrible all around the park. It took some people over an hour to get from the freeway to the Mickey & Friends parking garage.


Traffic for the parking structure last January 28th

Unfortunately, they would finally get there only to be told that needed to use overflow parking at the convention center or Edison Field.

Even more unfortunate is the fact that during peak summer months the convention center is going to have more conventions and Edison Field is going to have baseball games.

The Disneyland Resort currently has 29,700 parking spaces. If both parks fill, there could easily be 80,000-90,000 people on site. Are 1,000 new parking spaces really going to help that much?



ABOUT THIS COLUMN

One of the lesser-known features of MousePlanet is our News headlines in our MousePad discussion forum, where we try to direct you to any important news stories about the entire Disney company.

One thing we can't provide in that resource is an idea as to how those stories, generally about very specific portions of the company, may fit into the larger Disney picture. Towards that end, the Reporter's Notebook provides brief comments on those recent stories that are of interest.

We welcome your questions and comments, but keep in mind that all submissions to the Reporter's Notebook become property of this Web site. They may be edited for length or style and in consideration of a family readership. Questions may also be quoted on other parts of the site.

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2001

• Oct: 15, 30
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