Friday, March 19, 2010

That's What They Call Progress Dear: Part 2


I wasn’t sure where to start with this answer, and then Bree commented on my post. She wrote:

I have always wondered about Walt, and what he would think. Like (I personally have nothing against it) but I don't think he would like his name associated with "Desperate Housewives" and some of the other shows that are "of our time".

Now, it’s relatively hard to speculate what a man with the mind that conceived Disneyland, Mouse Ears, and full length animated films would have thought about today’s shows like Desperate Housewives. But I would like to believe that he would… it. Truth be told, tv is meant to evolve and you can’t really predict what the next step is. All you can do is study the trends, set the bar, and strive to plus everything you do. So when you look at a show like Desperate Housewives, you have to understand that it revolutionized the Soap/Drama into almost a parody of the genre. I think LOST is the same way in that there will never be a SciFi/Drama show anywhere else that’s like it. The now cancelled Pushing Daisies showed a uniqueness in it’s field and which drew a large fan base just as Nathan Fillion’s show Castle is now (I miss Firefly though). I don’t even think I need to explain what ESPN did to the world of sports and how we watch it now and how we will watch it 100 years from now. So do I know what Walt would think about having his name associated with a show like Desperate Housewives? It’s tough to say (maybe it just wouldn’t have been his cup of tea). Though I do believe he would appreciate the contribution it has made to its particular genre. That’s not to say there’s no room for improvement….but that’s not for today.

So now to what this whole thing was about, the parks. And I want to start this with the rollercoaster. You see the way I understand it, Walt wanted a park that everybody could enjoy, from the young to the old (aka the young at heart.). So if you add a rollercoaster, that’s one ride that a good demographic of the guests couldn’t enjoy. The second problem is that Walt was all about story telling there was no conceivable way to tell a story with a rollercoaster. But as Dylan said, “The times, they are a changin.” Walt and his group of mad scientists created the Matterhorn. This rollercoaster was just extreme enough to please the thrill junkies while tame enough that the height limit wasn’t so great that many of the younger kids couldn’t ride…..and best of all, it told a story. And that was progress. We look at where we are today and not only has the Matterhorn stood the test of time, but it paved the way for other story rich coasters such as the Space and Big Thunder Mountains, Rock ’n Rollercoaster, and the grand mac daddy of them all…..Expedition Everest. Eureka….

We can figure everything we need to know about progress in the parks by looking at the Matterhorn next to Expedition Everest. The Materhorn was a first of it’s kind. Sure places like Coney Island had more thrilling coasters, but what they didn’t have were heart….. the Matterhorn had heart. The same thing can be said today, Expedition Everest doesn’t have any fancy loops or super backward ultimate death defying whatevers that you would find at competing parks but it has heart, it has a story……it had the Disney touch. This is why I think if Walt were to walk around Disney World today, he would be grinning the Chesire Cat. Because behind all the techno do-dads and what-cha-ma-call-its, it still has the Disney spirit that knew Snow White and the Seven Dwarves would succeed, that knew people would want to be transported into the world of pirates and princesses, and knew that when you wished upon a star that there’s a good chance your dreams will come true (life lessons taught to us by a Cricket ….imagine that).

We have to tell ourselves that progress is good, progress is good. Progress gave us Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and I enjoyed it Then times changed and so came the Many Adventures of Whinnie the Pooh. While I was upset to see Toad go, I also noticed Pooh gives the new generation the same joy that Toad gave me…..and in the end, that’s what matters. It’s what happened when If You Had Wings eventually led to the Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger spin I enjoy. As I look to conclude this, a quote from LOST comes to mind. As Jacob sat on the beach talking to the Man in Black he says, “It only ends once, the rest is just progress.” And that’s what it is, as long as Disneyland, Disney World, and every other Disney park is around…..let’s make it simple, as long as Disney is around, things will come and go in the name of “progress.” But, based on THEIR track record, I look forward to the progress.

I know this was a long post, but that’s what I think. Also, take a moment to listen to the video (HERE) and because, Fess Parker was just as important to the Disney Company as anybody I can think of. He played Davy Crockett in movies, he basically shaped Frontierland to what it is today, and let’s face it, he made the coon skin a pretty awesome thing. He passed away on Wednesday. So yeah…..

Have a Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah-Day!!!!!!


  1. I love reading these posts, John. They're so insightful :)

  2. John...keep these posts coming...I love your thought process' and they make me think about my own...I love them!

  3. Thanks Bree, your previous comment definetly helped me write this

  4. Loved this post, John!

    I completely agree with everything you said about Disney owning ABC/ESPN and how the parks are constantly changing. Walt knew that Disneyland would never be 'done'.

    Also, nice use of that Jacob quote.

  5. I wrote a super long comment the day you posted this but something happened with my internet and then I had to leave for school and now I don't really remember what I said...

    Let's see:

    I mentioned that Pushing Daisies was an amazing show. The art department for it was just incredible and I was sad to see it go.

    That I couldn't agree more about the Disney touch. That's what really makes the difference between a theme park and an amusement park even if there are other non disney theme parks. Nobody can deny that there are no other parks that do it like Disney. It's all those little details that the imagineers create that make the experience so magical even if most (including myself) don't notice at first.

    Would Walt like everything that is going on in his company these days?
    Well, I doubt he would agree with everything but above all I like to believe he wouldn't love Stitch's Great Escape.
    I love Stitch but his ride... not so much. I'd like to see some "progress" in that corner of Tomorrowland.

    And I agree with Jenn about the Jacob quote.
    Sorry for writing so much. I think the 3 essays I had to write last week got to me.