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|Observations and Analysis of Disney in the News|
News Commentary from May 8 - May 14
Atlanis version PG-13?
The Walt Disney Company recently announced plans to launch a new video game which will be unlike the typical warm and fuzzy Disney games suitable for even the youngest of children. Realizing that older kids and teens are seeking a more action-packed experience, the new game - Atlantis: Trial by Fire lets the player control a virtual weapon which is used to shoot the obligatory bad guys. Disney has stated their game will not include the graphic violence found in other games, including limbs being torn off, blood and guts, etc - which has got to leave them wondering if some teens will continue to dismiss this new game as being too lame.
They‚re riding the fence on this one - they risk losing some of the traditionalists who will insist Disney should stick with entertainment suitable for even young children, yet will undoubtedly not capture some of the market they‚re going after because this game will still be very tame by video game standards. Time will tell if they‚ll be able to carve out a niche for themselves - with games that older children and young teens, as well as adults who are not entertained by graphic violence can enjoy.
Putting the "Walt" in Disney World
The Orlando Sentinel recently reported the details of Walt Disney World's planned celebrations that mark the 100th anniversary of Walt Disney's birth. In the works in Florida are new parades for each park, as well as exhibits and a resort- wide focus on Walt's contributions to society and the company. The promotion will run for a year beginning this October.
Such celebrations are nothing new for Disney, who have a knack for making anniversary years into must- see events at the theme parks, such as WDW experienced for their 25th anniversary. It has even worked with seemingly non- Disney subjects such as State Fair or Circus Fantasy at Disneyland. However, not every attempt at a resort- wide promotion has a guaranteed home run in the past, particularly if the parks do not offer a new ride or compelling reason to visit again. And now, in the midst of an apparent economic downturn with bookings down at both coasts, WDW will attempt to use Walt Disney's name itself as the draw.
The irony, of course, is that Walt died five years before the first Orlando theme park opened. Many West coast fans insist that the smaller Disneyland in California contains traces of Walt's touch throughout, but that WDW lacks such warmth and intimacy because Walt was not a part of its creation. Still, this promotion is a worthwhile effort, if for no other reason than to infuse into WDW precisely the "little bit of Walt" that some claim is currently lacking. And I, for one, am looking forward to the new parades.
Will We See Hunchback After All?
Last week in this space, Sue Kruse lamented the fact that by all appearances we are not going to see the stage version of Hunchback of Notre Dame here in the United States. No, that hasn't changed, but last week Disney announced that a live- action version would be developed and aired on Wonderful World of Disney.
Is that going to be good enough for Sue? I can't really say. I do know, however, that musicals almost never play as well on the screen as they do on the stage. With the involvement of Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz I'm sure the television production will very much resemble the Berlin show, but I am still going to join Sue in hoping that we eventually get to see Hunchback on stage without going to Berlin (Hey, Al! Wanna send me to Berlin?).
That isn't really what I wanted to bring up, though. In the Reuters article outlining this announcement, Disney goes to great lengths to defend this decision as just another logical decision to use their properties in as many arenas as possible. The word "synergy" wasn't used but its aura was definitely present.
My feeling here is that Disney is trying to defend itself against the charge of misusing their "icons". I would like to assure Disney that this is a futile effort, because fans use this charge irrationally. If Disney does a quality job reusing an "icon" (the stage version of The Lion King, Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, or Toy Story 2) then all is forgiven. However, if Disney does the exact same thing in a shoddy manner (The Little Mermaid II or 102 Dalmations) the cries that Disney ravaged American icons in pursuit of the almighty dollar will never end.
My point is that we fans don't really care how or where or how often Disney reuses a "product," we just want to see our fandom respected with quality effort.
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark
As California residents cringe at their energy bills and brace for the hotter months ahead, Disneyland and the City of Anaheim's public relations machines have been working full tilt to convince summer vacationers that Anaheim will be an oasis of light in a desert of blackouts. What they don't tell you, according to a May 13 Orange County Register article, is that Anaheim Public Utilities may very well have to participate in rolling blackouts depending on what happens with Southern California Edison, the primary utility.
These rolling blackouts usually only last an hour or two, and usually happen during the day while it's light out. So while you might not be able to continue enjoying park rides during blackouts, you better believe those generators aren't going to be keeping the churros warm for you. Be prepared to be shown the exit (hopefully with a free return ticket) or shuffled off to some controlled area of the parks.
Don't let these blackouts scare you away from a Disneyland vacation. However, do be prepared for it and don't let Disney marketing fool you. Bring flashlight keychains, and for goodness sakes, insist on a lower-level floor for your hotel room lest you have to walk up and down 15 flights of stairs. Oomph!
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.
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