Well, the best of Disney 2012 may be behind us, but that does not mean my “bottom 10” list must be all negative. I am always a fan of constructive criticism, and that is how I will deliver the most unfortunate aspects of Disney for 2012. Blame only serves one purpose, but offering ideas and reasonable solutions accomplish another.
So without further ado, continue reading to see my “least favorite” things within Disney in 2012.
10. Disney drops the ball on Henry Selick flick
Disappointingly, the famed stop-motion director Henry Selick had his once-planned October 2013 feature pulled at Disney. Apparently the movie wasn’t far enough along in the process, and I suppose some other undisclosed factors contributed to its cancellation. I had a feeling something was wrong when nearly 16 months out from its projected release date, no title had been given. At least Selick and Disney still appear to have a fine working relationship, as he is developing an adaptation of The Graveyard Book. Selick has previously directed for Disney, most notably for Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. A clip from the film is featured below.
Suggestion: Possibly Disney could have extended out the release date to give Selick more time, but then again, finances and other titles may have interfered. I would encourage Disney to be more cautious in announcing major films if many of them end up on the chopping block. Yet I know that’s easier said than done. Remember how the Disney Double Dare You label with Guillermo del Toro turned out?
9. Disney Interactive struggles with releases and layoffs
Every division has its difficulties during various periods, and sadly Disney Interactive is experiencing that currently. Their titles have not resonated with mass audiences, and losing revenue has accounted for laying off dozens of employees. I have no doubt that things will turn around in time, but as this Business Insider article indicates, the releases are not catching the public’s attention – or at least the right audience.
Suggestion: Without a doubt many older teens and young adults do not play Disney games. Nonetheless, if Disney can broaden its scope and develop some more diverse options appealing to this age group – say a less violent, Disney-themed version of Uncharted – something could click. Even using current brands like Tron and Lone Ranger may work. The point, don’t stay limited to only E10-rated “family-friendly” titles and take a gamble with a new formula.
8. Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade holds too much cheese
Did you watch this parade? I did, but I cringed most of the time. For years engaging personalities like Regis Philbin, Kelly Ripa, and even Ryan Seacrest somehow worked with the at-times cheesy script. In the hands of Nick Cannon, Mario Lopez, and Maria Menounos, cheese is all that exists. I like the Samantha Brown traveling-around-Disney-destination segments and the characters are fun to watch, but the hosts’ material lacks Disney magic.
Suggestion: Whether the problem falls on the hosts is debatable, but I think bringing in entertainers like Neil Patrick Harris or even the Good Morning America anchors may be a welcomed change. If that’s not feasible, why not have Cannon, Lopez, and Menounos improvise? That would make the experience much more bearable.
7. Disney plans unnecessary sequel to Life-Size
Did you hear this news? Do you even know what Life-Size is? Basically, think of a live-action Toy Story with Tyra Banks. A doll comes to life. There you have it. Sure, this was a cute film that aired on The Wonderful World of Disney in 2000 to great ratings, and still plays on Disney Channel every now and then, but why would this story warrant a sequel? I liked the sweet movie (a spunky song from Life-Size is posted below), with then-adolescent Lindsay Lohan, but who only knows why this is substantiating Hollywood’s trend of not originating any new ideas.
Suggestion: Since canceling this project is not in the cards, at least hire some smart writers. I don’t discount Banks’ passion for the film, and I seriously hope she can pull this off, since she will play a big role on the team (as a performer and executive producer). I encourage them to think “outside of the box” in approaching this recycled concept.
6. D23 events continue to sell out too quickly
I am just repeating an issue that populates Disney message boards and fan communities, but the all-too-repetitive pattern of the D23 events selling out in mere minutes is a huge problem. Very big, considering D23 is reaching its four-year anniversary and this problem persists. I love belonging to D23 and feel the annual fee is a deal, but I cannot overlook this irritating issue.
Suggestion: D23 has improved some facets, like offering some events or tours multiple times, but they need to create a more efficient and less frustrating system for members engaging in the sign-up process. They could even make a fun game out of the process, such as enlisting members to answer a piece of Disney trivia in order to ensure a spot. On the other hand, that could dissuade some, but adding some creativity would be greatly appreciated.
5. Disney theme parks continue to consolidate merchandise
Over the past several years, the Disney merchandising machine has formed into one that embraces uniformity. In other words, many theme park products contain the bland “DisneyParks” slogan. I speak on behalf of countless Disney fans, and many other online bloggers who have already voiced this issue even more pointedly than me. This is unacceptable. So many of the stores in the different lands, once known for unique goods and novelty finds, carry the same generic products found on Main Street.
Suggestion: If Disney can possess several cool, specialty stores in locations like Downtown Disney, why can’t they carry that model into the parks? I know visions and finances play into this newer dynamic, but the value of Disney’s merchandise has been in its unique merchandise, not standard fare.
4. Disney Blu-rays skimp out in providing new bonus features to old films
I praise Disney for looking back into the vault and re-releasing some often forgotten entries on the Blu-ray format. But when those releases lack anything new in bonus content, we home video purchasers feel short-changed. There are some exceptions, as in the plethora of features for 1995 Ben Stiller film Heavyweightsmentioned in this review, but as a whole, the emptiness of these titles disappoints. May I add that slapping on an “anniversary” edition title means nothing, unless there is truly something special to plus up the disc?
Suggestion: Sometimes cost restricts bringing in talent for retrospectives. However, if Disney can devote the same resources to this as they do with creating the frequent and seemingly low-budget, but quality-filled YouTube videos on their various channels, I think we have a solution.
3. Disney’s marketing and subsequent write-off of John Carter
Don’t get me started on this. John Carter will be a point of discussion during a future edition of Disney In Depth, but I cannot overlook the elephant in the room. Disney failed big time in how they presented Andrew Stanton’s film to the public, especially disappointing because most of their other releases in 2012 year were marketed so effectively. Sadly, we cannot change the past, nor the approximately $200 million write-off that followed just weeks after the film’s premiere.
Suggestion: Along those lines, focusing more on utilizing social media to build buzz – which Carter significantly suffered from – is a must for all future films. They have to be delivered in an accurate, exciting manner. Disney, view John Carter as a learning experience and hopefully this marketing scenario will not be repeated.
Every year we see prices rise at the parks, and that is to be expected. I just feel dismayed that more recently the cost increase does not always reflect the value to being at the park. Take Disneyland, which saw no new attractions, save for a few varied entertainment offerings. Now it costs upward of $650 for a Disneyland Resort annual pass, an increase of over 30 percent from its previous cost, according to this piece. A one-day, one-park adult ticket is $87. Ridiculous. I love the parks, but this is a tough pill to swallow.
Suggestion: Since this comes down to money, I guess nothing I may offer is all that reasonable. In spite of that, I think consumers would be able to take this news more easily if they felt they were getting more for their money. Why not offer more “affordable” experiences like “Year of a Million Dreams,” where Guests would randomly receive little treats and surprises? That worked. Why not repeat that, or build upon that platform, to help compensate for the additional cost?
1. Walt Disney World attractions decay with age
I was most happy to find MiceAge’s Jeff Heimbuch’s recent critique of withering Disney attractions, because this has to stop. Now. Magic Kingdom’s Splash Mountain and Carousel of Progress were paid close attention in his piece, and importantly so, because these classics are falling apart. Just look at those photos and think of how a place known for its picturesque settings can look like run-down structures – in plain sight, no less.
Suggestion: Simple. Close down these places for extensive refurbishments. How hard is that? Yes, that requires time, effort and money, but I doubt Disney wants to continue to showcase these attractions in disarray.
Thus concludes this special Disney In Depth. If anyone at Disney is reading this, I sincerely hope you take these comments as potential solutions and feedback, in order to prevent future disappointment. Readers, I hope you found this enlightening as well. I encourage you to share your thoughts on my entries – in addition to what you think should have made this list – via comments and social media.
This is Brett Nachman, signing off. Remember to follow me on Twitter for updates of new editions of Disney In Depth, Thursdays on Geeks of Doom!