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|Observations and Analysis of Disney in the News|
News Commentary from June 19 - June 25
Success too late?
The sudden and unexpected departure of Walt Disney Studios' chairman Peter Schneider was widely reported last week. Schneider, who replaced the popular Joe Roth in January 2000, had been in charge of the Feature Animation division since 1985 until becoming first President, then Chairman of the entire studio. Thus, Schneider represents one of the last executives to preside over Disney's newest golden age, sparked in 1989 with The Little Mermaid, culminating in 1993's The Lion King, and fizzling somewhat in recent years. The other parts of the studio's 1990's - era power triumvirate, Joe Roth and Jeffrey Katzenberg, have long since departed, leaving only executives who either had less exposure and power during the halcyon days or who simply joined in the most recent, leaner times.
Schneider's stated reasons for departing have to do with a new Broadway venture (to be partly owned by Disney) and there appears to be no malice whatsoever in his departure. Still, the drain of experienced executives at Disney has certainly taken its toll, with corporate turnover near an all-time high even apart from the recent layoffs.
What the studio will most miss is likely Schneider's emphasis on family fare Remember the Titans is arguably his biggest hit while ruthlessly pursuing a lean and healthy bottom line financially. Most of the projects greenlit under Schneider's reign as Chairman have not yet been released, so it's fitting to leave his legacy at least partly unwritten.
Dental Hygiene Disney Style
What do you get when you mix The Walt Disney Company with The Gillette Company? Later this year, the answer will be a new line of toothbrushes featuring some of the popular Disney characters.
The two giant companies recently announced they'd entered into an exclusive global agreement to introduce manual, battery, and rechargeable power toothbrushes to families around the world. Each toothbrush will feature the image of Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, Buzz Lightyear, or the Disney Princesses. Sure to appeal to the pre- school and elementary school age set, what better way to get kids started on good brushing practices.
The toothbrushes will be sold under The Gillette Company's Oral-B and Braun Oral-B lines, with specific details on the products being announced in the fall. Many families get their children's toothbrushes from their dentist, as part of the semi-annual teeth cleaning appointment, and since Oral-B is the most popular line used by dental offices hopefully the addition of a Disney character won't price the product out of many dentists' budget.
Globally $4.5 billion dollars is spent on toothbrushes each year no surprise that Disney would want to somehow capture a piece of that!
Viva la differance!
The story on which I am going to comment is slightly stale by this column's standards, but I'm going ahead anyway (editing hath its privileges). Back on June 18th, Salon ran an interesting story titled The Disneyland Disco.
This story was a day-in-the-life of a group of young adults who enjoy hanging around Disneyland and hope that someday they can convince Disney management to let them hold a party inside the park.
That's the story if you remove the adjectives and descriptions. The version that is more likely to incite interest is that these young adults are candy ravers. They like to dance, they love their music, and they wear strange clothes. It is their hope that one day, they will receive official permission to hold a rave inside of Disneyland, perhaps at Carnation Garden.
Perhaps you have seen them at the park. They tend to wear extremely oversized clothing (worse than any sagging you'll see at your local school) and usually have a fair supply of "baby stuff", i.e. rattles, pacifiers, baby bottle, stuffed toys, etc. Over the last couple of years I have noticed groups of them three or four times. Guess what. Despite their clothes and apparent strangeness, on every occasion they have been just as well behaved as any other group you see in the park.
The response I've seen to these people and to the Salon story fall along three lines. The most severe is that these are drug- addled hooligans looking to ruin the day for all other guests in the park. The more tolerant view is that while they may mean no particular disruption, their very difference is a disruption and it would be nice to see Disney go back to a dress code. The most tolerant view seems to be "more power to them, but holding a rave at Disneyland is pretty stupid."
The first point of view, to be blunt, is just so much old-people blather. I don't mean physically old but mentally old. The more extreme behaviors of young people have always produced cries of "rapscallion!" and "Why, in my day we'd never ...!" I'm sure dozens of MousePlanet readers could send me stories of seeing these ravers misbehaving, but I would be very surprised if it was out of proportion with the rest of the guests. If, as a group, they are actively disruptive I imagine Disney would have no problem with ejecting them from the park.
The second point of view is more legitimate. I am amazed by what parents will let their children wear in public. Ultimately, though, what other people are wearing has little affect on my enjoyment of the park. Frankly, I would rather see a guy walking around in fuzzy tiger-print pants that used enough fabric to clothe Akron, Ohio, than a 14-year-old girl wearing a shirt so tight I can count the hair follicles on her back.
Now, is it stupid to want to hold a rave in Disneyland? Yes, but not for the reasons many express. The common perception is that raves are loud, drug-soaked, publicly sexual, and highly dangerous to participants. I've never been to a rave but I have been to Burning Man and seen them from the periphery. All of the above can be true, but they need not be. Cities around the country have found that allowing large, public raves can be a good source of revenue. San Francisco recently allowed a very large rave at Candlestick Park and all remained calm. Music was played, people danced. I'm sure somebody did drugs and someone else had sex but I think it na•ve to say that neither has been done in Disneyland before.
The idea that is stupid is that Disney is going to allow a rave during normal operating hours. Disney is not going to allow a party that would disrupt the other guests, period. However, if the ravers, or a promoter can finance something with the park that would allow the event after hours I can't really think of a reason (other than PR) that Disney shouldn't do it.
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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