Monday, November 1, 2010

What is it about Disney?

I was thinking about this over the weekend as we prepare for our upcoming WDW vacation, wondering what it is about Disney that attracts me?

If you've read any of my old posts, you probably know that I've come sort of late to Disney in my life. Not to a love of Disney movies; I've always loved them from the time I was a little kid and 101 Dalmations captured my fancy, along with many others. But the parks - to them I am a late-comer. I went in high school with my HS band, when only the Magic Kingdom was built, and I just don't remember much of it. I mean, I remember having a blast there, riding Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion and Pirates, and the Skyway, but for some reason it didn't register that Disney was doing something more than other, more local "theme" parks were doing. Right around that time, Marriot's Great America (now a Six Flags park) opened, and in hindsight it is obvious that they were trying to connect to the Disney theming, but on a less intricate, less detailed level. With "lands" like Hometown Square, County Fair, Yukon Territory, Yankee Harbor, and a few other America-themed areas, they were sort of trying to tie into that feeling that you get when you walk down Main Street, USA at a Disney MK type park.

But I'm getting off track here. Since we chose to combine a Disney vacation with a professional meeting held in Orlando in 2004, we've been to WDW 4 times (including that first one) and Disneyland twice. And it was really after the second trip that I fell in love with Disney as a destination...not after the first trip. So what was it?

Well, part of it was that my kids were older at that second trip. Not a lot older, but when you're in preschool, two years is a lot. They definitely enjoyed the trip more the second time. My little one wasn't as afraid of different rides and shows. I mean, Hopper's appearance in It's Tough To Be A Bug was still a little frightening, and there were a few loud noises on Pirates that startled him, but generally he did well on most everything. And my older boy was game for some coasters, like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and he was ready for Splash Mountain.

But the other thing that was different was that we went to Epcot for the first time. We didn't make dining reservations; we just took what we could get, and what we were able to get was dinner at the restaurant in Italy and lunch at the Morocco pavilion. But we were bowled over by the dining choices and by the architecture of those pavilions. And we were knocked out by Soarin'! We loved Epcot!

And when I left there that time, I remember thinking, as I would drive to work, that someone, some entertainment company, could do something like Epcot anywhere. You could go to visit Morocco, or France or Italy, any time of the year! Good weather was only part of the equation when most of the attractions were inside show buildings. And good design should make someone able to draw up a place that would have elements that would work well in winter, as well as elements for summer. It started me on a thought experiment that I'm still messing with - designing a "resort" and "theme park" complex somewhere around where I live.

So that's part of it - the idea that I'm sort of studying Disney to further this thought experiment of mine. But there's more to it than that, certainly. Because there is a sort of "magic" that comes with walking through the gates of the Magic Kingdom, or Disneyland, or Epcot, or any Disney park. There's a magic in staying in their hotels, getting excellent customer service, having good dining experiences regularly, with boarding a bus or a monorail and knowing that your destination is somewhere completely different than anywhere else on earth, at least in *my* experience.

What is it about Disney for you? Is it the connection to the well loved films and TV programs? Is it your kids' reactions to the castle and the characters, to the iconic attractions? Is it the look and feel of the place? Is it the hotels? The restaurants? Is there something about Disney that doesn't have to do with "content" per se?

I'd love to hear what other people think about this.



Anonymous said...

Just found your blog via your post on my own.

I like this idea and agree completely that the concept of the World Showcase pavilions could easily be duplicated elsewhere outside of Disney, and probably very well.

One of the reasons we love Disney and continue to go back is the food. I would think some enterprising restaurateur could take the concepts from World Showcase and if nothing else just build mini versions of Epcot in multiple cities. My immediate thoughts are someone like Schussler Creative, the folks behind Rain Forest and T-Rex at Downtown Disney. I could see something like a 4 (or more) restaurant facility where they would have highly themed Mexican, Italian, French, German or maybe Greek or Asian restaurants all in one large location. They could be arranged in a circle or quad with a nice court yard in the middle of them, or perhaps a village-like area where the parking is in the center and all the restaurants are surrounding it.

P.S. If you don't mind, I may steal this idea and expand on it on my blog, I'll be sure to credit you for the original idea though.

Scott said...

Go for it! I'm glad you found me! Thanks for reading and commenting!