Vote of the week: Was Jay Rasulo a success or failure at the Disney theme parks?
Following yesterday's news that Thomas Staggs would replace Jay Rasulo
as head of the Walt Disney Company's theme parks, it's time to evaluate the job that Jay did during his time. (Rasulo will take Staggs' old job as Disney's Chief Financial Officer, so he's not leaving the company.)
Ultimately, this is a question about how the Disney theme parks, overall, did over the past four years. I see three criteria:
Financial performance: Did the theme parks make money for their corporate parent, and its shareholders?
Market share: Did the parks provide enough value - entertainment and customer service at a fair price - to keep and win over a growing number of visitors?
Creativity: Theme parks are, ultimately, a performing art. Did the Walt Disney theme parks serve and advance that art over the past four years? Yes, that's ultimately Imagineering's responsibility, but as Imagineering's "customer," if you will, Rasulo ultimately determined what Imagineering would be enabled to do in the parks. Remember as well, we're judging Rasulo's tenure as much for what as ordered as what was installed under his watch.
You might have your own criteria - ignoring some of mine, or adding others. Regardless, please tell us in the comments why you voted the way you did.
And, yes, I'm pushing the leaners here. No wishy, washy, "well, he was okay in this, but not in that" answers. Success or failure. You tell us.
Have a great weekend, and thanks again for reading Theme Park Insider!
I would be in the middle. I only see failure perhaps in the theme park sphere, but I see it more as everybody catching up for Disney. So, for the most part, he was fine. Yes, I am wishy washy.
I am probably wrong but Toy Story Mania is the only major attraction I can think of that was started and completed during his time. I guess some would consider American Idol too...
Jay was way out of Touch with the Parks especially the domestic ones. I hope Tom will be more in touch and the "disney Parks" branding will end. All the the Disney parks are unique in their own and should be marketed that way. The comsumer should want to visit all of the parks (cause they are all different)and not be led to believe they are all the same.
During a difficult economy when their competitors were experiencing substantial drops in attendance, the Disney parks endured only a minor drop in their audience. The fact that the folks keep showing up is something of an indication that there was no great need for expensive investments in gate-crasher attractions.
For the first time or occasional visitor everything seem great. But for the frequent visitor you see all the cutbacks. In the past four years, there were a lot.
Mr. Schroeder writes: "But for the frequent visitor you see all the cutbacks. In the past four years, there were a lot."
Anonymous writes: "All the the Disney parks are unique in their own and should be marketed that way."
My vote was for success. I think what he has brought forth is a variety. Granted I am one who would love to see a new E ticket ride each year, I understand that one needs to diversify for the massses. I mean we have seen something new pretty much every year, whether it be a show like AI or a new ride such as Toy Story. People still came and are still coming. And from one of the comments above: Epedition Everst opened in 2006. I was there right after it opened and thought it was amazing (of course the Yeti was in great shape and moving).
Simply put: There is no way anyone could regard Mr. Rasulo as a liability. He was no Paul Pressler ... thank goodness!
While working as a CM in TDA's finance department during Rasulo's time in charge of the parks, I experienced decision-making that went a little like this:
I'll take my hat off to anyone who can keep attendance at that level during one of the worst economic downturns in modern history.
Rasulo was a step up from Pressler but that's not saying much. The new rides under his tenure have been underwhelming to say the least. Monster Laugh Factory... ugh... Nemo subs... boring.... Toy Story Mania... okay... The vastly under priced Annual Pass in DLR has made the best and original Disney park unbearably crowded. The queue just for parking in the Mickey and Friends structure now goes out to the bridge on Ball Rd. Jack the prices please so there's less of a mess in the parks. More guests through the turnstiles doesn't mean more spending in the parks as the numbers confirm.
Jay Rasulo became King of Disney on September 29, 2002. Whether responsible or not, he was the man in charge when Stitch’s Great Escape was added in 2004 and the AIE was added in 2009. For those fiascoes alone he gets two thumbs down.
TH wrote: I mean, please explain how the marketing strategy employed by Disney has been lacking. Again, compared to other parks, Disney attendance has been solid.
Wow what a cross section of ideas! Having been doing the Disney thing for years..as a Cast member, a guest, and pass holder..Ill anwser a simple question "Disney Magic". From a theme park junkies point of view is lost. Had been for years. The hosts and hostess no longer go thru a long trainning period.. "Traditions" step one in the grooming a cast member has been cut to 1 day not three like when Robert and I were there. Phase 2 "Day of Discovery" cut to 1/2 a day. And trainning reduced to a barebones session. And while most at the upper levels say it doesnt count in the over all quest experince..it does...
He essentially tried to strip the domestic parks of their unique identities, rebranding everything as "DisneyParks" and constantly cloning attractions between the two resorts. He is also responsible for Pixar's increased presence in the park. Sadly, under him the parks were financially successful, which I'm sure means we will continue to see a further blurring of the lines between the WDW and DLR with a constant cloning of attractions using unoriginal ideas shoehorned into any space they fit.
Mr. Boerger writes: "How can marketing the Disney parks as one big homogenous "product" ultimately result in positive outcomes for Disney?"
Mr. Kirby writes: "On the east coast, we're not so luckily and the parks will continue to decline by degrees certainly."
I think there's not enough paint going on the railings at the monorail station.
The fact that the president of a publicly traded company wants to make money for his shareholders should not be a surprise to anyone. I don't think Jay Rasulo cornered the market on greed by any means. Furthermore, in looking at the Disney parks today, I think for the most part they are better off than they were in 2002 when Rasulo took charge. And looking down the line, I think they will be better still. Granted, Jay was no Walt Disney, but then who is? John Lasseter probably comes closest, but he is spread a little thin right now and maybe wearing a few too many hats to completely take over park operations.
I love Toy Story Mania. It's so much fun. I could probably ride it for hours and have a blast. If, if was a small crowd day. It should be interesting with the new boss. With Little Mermaid, Star Tours 2(heard it was being filmed now) and Cars Lands already in the planning stages, he has a good start. I hope he does well. I'm a huge disneyland fan.
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