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.
That is all! ;o)
Nice work, TH.
Hey Lasseter, box office receipts aside, what do you want your legacy to be?
We'll have to wait and see.
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.
Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
Disney's Animal Kingdom
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Disney California Adventure
Universal's Islands of Adventure
Universal Studios Florida
Universal Studios Hollywood