How is it possible that the same people who created EPCOT Center, Splash Mountain, Indiana Jones Adventure and Tokyo Disney Seas, also created Disney’s California Adventure, Walt Disney Studios Paris, DinoRama, and Journey into YOUR Imagination? The answer is simple…they didn’t.
At SaveDisney.com Pen name writer Tom Morrow starts a new series of columns on the Decline and Fall of Walt Disney Imagineering and its role in the Walt Disney Company.
The article does have at least one factual error in it. Disneyland’s Fantasmic was not created by WDI alone, they had a role in the technology, but it was largely the baby of Disneyland’s Entertainment Department. In fact, folks at WDI were heard loudly moaning how Fantasmic had ruined the westside of the park at night and how they were forced to come in and redesign the area for better crowd flow ruining much of it the day time charm too (although I think they did a wonderful job, with perhaps a few too many cobblestones!) The fact that Disneyland Entertainment was seen to be able to creative a massive attraction like Fantasmic was one of the early nails in WDI’s coffin. Of course, Light Magic’s complete failure a few years later should have set some alarm bells ringing… but blame for that one was shifted to the annual passholders (who seem to be taking a lot of blame recently).
The article also leaves out some of WDI’s Research and Development function including the ebb and flow of talent in that department. But in general it’s a good primer for what’s wrong with the division that was once both the heart and the brain of the company. There is likely to be a lot more written about the tragedy that has befallen WDI (as well as Walt Disney Feature Animation), but for now we have this series to start putting some answers to the questions.