Dear Mr Iger ...Walt Disney World: The Star Wars expansion. No budgets. No limits.
From TH CreativeDear Mr. Iger,
Posted September 27, 2013 at 5:41 PM
This is the second time I have written a senior executive with the Walt Disney Company. Several years ago (before the internet and email) I reached out via the postal service and wrote Mr. Frank Wells. I had compiled a concept for an academic tournament to be hosted at the Walt Disney World property.
I did my homework. I contacted teachers and members of what was once Walt Disney World’s Department of Experiential Education. I provided a detailed plan of how the tournament would be structured and operated. While the concept never became a reality, I did receive a gracious reply from Mr. Wells. I still have the letter.
In this, my second exercise in communicating with a Disney executive, I am choosing to direct attention to the rumored possibility that the company’s Florida property intends to dramatically expand the Star Wars franchise’s footprint at Orlando’s Disney Hollywood Studios theme park. Having acquired ownership of Mr. George Lucas’ remarkable story – one that your company’s namesake would (no doubt) have (or maybe does) adore – I am hoping that the themed entertainment community can be optimistic about your plans.
Star Wars carries forward a mythology that transcends period zeitgeist. It can be said without qualification that this series is an exercise in traditions and characters and plots that emulate great literature -- in that the history of Anakin Skywalker parallels so many other literary characters. And it’s that familiarity with him and with the themes and settings and technologies on display in the films that give Star Wars such an extraordinary level of potential in the themed entertainment industry.
With that in mind, your message to your company and its stockholders must, must, MUST be: “Budgets be DAMNED!” This cannot be an endeavor measured by investment against return. You have the resources to create attractions and experiences that draw the world to Central Florida. To cut corners in an effort to bolster a bottom line is a fool’s errand. Indeed, the folks down the road at Universal Creative have successfully operated their model by embracing the baseball approach to attractions: "Build it and they will come."
Sir, you have announced that you intend to step down as Disney CEO in 2016. If Mr. Disney’s legacy is measured in mice and castles, yours will be measured in Jedi and Siths ... for better or for worse.
May the Force be with you.
P.S. My best to Willow.
Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.
From Oscar MarquezLong Live Bob Iger.
Posted September 27, 2013 at 8:46 PM
From Flavio de SouzaGreat letter!!!
Posted September 28, 2013 at 4:03 AM
From Phil B.You had me at, "The Star Wars expansion. No budgets. No limits."
Posted September 28, 2013 at 1:07 PM
That is all! ;o)
From N B"The Star Wars expansion. No budgets. No spinners."
Posted September 29, 2013 at 1:44 PM
From Apple ButterNo just meet and greets, no star tours 3.0, no cafeteria style cantina tacos and churros.... I and everyone else wants authenticity not some hand me down spinner/small world/little mermaid ride. Like TH said the ones over at universal did it and are building off of its success so Disney has to step things up. Great letter but we'll see if Egor even takes a glance at it.
Posted September 30, 2013 at 5:36 AM
From Daniel EtcheberrySend another letter about Avatar Land, or we will end up with a Camp Naavi meet and greet.
Posted September 30, 2013 at 9:33 AM
From James RaoI think the message going forward for all the major players in the themed entertainment industry is to stop cutting corners and budgets. If you build it right and invest "whatever it takes" then fans, new and old, will come in droves to spend their dough.
Posted October 4, 2013 at 10:56 AM
Nice work, TH.
From TH CreativeI mean, this is STAR WARS! This could become a Mecca for franchise fans. The center of Lucas' Universe. It seems that they need to begin with "what we want to do" and NOT "how much will it cost?"
Posted October 4, 2013 at 12:16 PM
Hey Lasseter, box office receipts aside, what do you want your legacy to be?
From O TGreat letter, I hope they build it for the Star Wars fans. That is what Universal has done with Potter. They made the real shops and didn't build it with theme park sense in mind. That resulted in a lot of fan praise but non fans feel it's right and real and even get it.
Posted October 5, 2013 at 12:07 AM
I'm very afraid about what Disney is going to do. Stuff like the Star Wars dance off is fun but not respectful for the Star Wars franchise. I don't want to see an iconic place like the death star (like Beast castle) and see it transformed in a pizza place.
From Daniel EtcheberryActually, the pizza place is going to be call Pizza the Hutt.
Posted October 5, 2013 at 3:46 PM
From Frank PrshaPlease don't screw up Star Wars Land Disney! This is your chance to counter Universal's Harry Potter, and even be better.
Posted October 6, 2013 at 1:06 PM
From Tim HillmanI don't know THC, the legacy of Darth Eisner and the evil Sith bean counters may doom this project, and leave us with mediocre attractions and long development cycles.
Posted October 7, 2013 at 7:15 AM
We'll have to wait and see.
From TH CreativeThere is a fair share of advantages associated with WDI's new approach to construction project management. The company is embracing an integrated project delivery method of management. This involves a pre-construction phase where Disney, the architect, the general contractor and subcontractors review drawings and identify potential problems. All of these parties coordinate budgets -- as opposed to compiling bids -- and share in the reward when the budgets are met.
Posted October 8, 2013 at 12:18 PM
There are risk/reward scenarios wherein project participants can suggest alternate approaches that save money without compromise the quality of the finished product.
The management approach is being used at Disney Springs, the Poly and Avatar and will also be used at any Star Wars expansion that may be added to WDW.
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