Disney Tears the Heart out of Disney WorldThe Dark Herald
The Disney Difference. That was always the big selling point.
That was what made Disneyland better than county carnivals of the 1950s. “Plusing it,” was the term Walt Disney used to describe how his theme park would always go that extra 10%. “Good enough” was never good enough for Walt Disney. His goal was the unattainable goal of perfection. That constant pressure to make everything that was great just a little bit better was what made the Disney Difference.
This drive attracted people who wanted to make the magic happen. It wasn’t the pay because the pay wasn’t that good, it was simply working at a Disney Park that was the goal. The parks were places where you had to work hard just to get your foot in the door as an unpaid intern. Just so you could work a lot harder, “I know it’s ninety-six degrees and you are wearing a forty-five-pound rubber suit. I understand. We’ve all done it. NOW, DANCE MORE SPRITELY, YOU CLOD!!!”
This created a community with self-reinforcing standards. And despite the pay not being the greatest, people were happy to spend their entire lives working at Disney Parks and maintaining this culture of “plusing it.”
But now push has come to shove, and Disney is shoving them out the door. Every week brings more bad news for the Disney Parks Cast Members. The Galaxy’s Edge cast members were some of the oldest in the parks, some had been working there for better than thirty years, BUT when they transferred into Galaxy’s Edge they lost that seniority and were the first to be laid off. The hotels and resort cast members have been hit with a sledgehammer.
This week Disney got rid of virtually all of the live entertainment.
For anybody who loved going to Disney Parks, this is a tragedy. It was a big part of why people went. It was one of the big reasons that a trip to Disney World was so special. There were always going to be street performers in every park, giving it a feeling of place. A genii locorum. A spirit that each park called its own. The performers were the heart of those parks. Some shows have come and gone over the years. In the 1990s, Hollywood Studios had Keystone Cops chasing around crooked 3-Card Monty dealers who hadn’t given them their cut. Or in the 2000s you had PUSH the robot garbage can in Tomorrowland, suddenly striking up conversations with people that tried to their empty soda-cups in him. And orchestrating “spontaneous” marriage proposals.
There were plays like the Lion King and Finding Nemo. The live drum show at Pandora. There was the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue that had been running continuously in Frontierland since 1974, the audience being a huge part of the show.
And now it’s all gone.
Disney could have sold off Marvel while it’s at the peak of its value and saved the parks. Of course, they didn’t because they can’t let themselves see how big a mistake the M-She-U is going to be. Or sold off Star Wars, admittedly, it’s no longer at peak value and either of those actions is tantamount to admitting Bob Iger seriously screwed up. Easiest to do would have been selling off Shanghai Disneyland but that means cutting ties with China and that is a horror beyond imagining. So it’s much easier to fire the park’s cast members
But don’t worry, the multi-million-dollar (proof we’re not racist) reskinning of Splash Mountain is still going forward and the hard-working executives who made these decisions are back to full salary. So, there’s nothing to worry about there.
I’m afraid the truth of it is that the culture that made Disney Parks special is now dead as a door nail.
And the Disney World Difference?
It’s just Six Flags Over Orlando.