July 17, 2011

Ten and now

The last birthday that Walt and his greatest dream shared. Disneyland's tencennial celebration was quite a feat back then.

The Magic Kingdom had not only survived, it had succeeded beyond almost anyone's dreams. It had defied the pundits who dubbed Walt's creation "Disney's folly" and stumped the nation's amusement-park owners and operators, who were convinced that without Ferris wheels, baseball throws, and "shoot-the-chutes," the Happiest Place on Earth would never make it.

The "resort," of course, now has all three of those carny mainstays, and more. Even so, "occupancy rates look to be getting incrementally worse, which may prompt DIS to increase promotional activity to sustain attendance momentum," according to Forbes.com. Is the economy to blame for all of that? Or is "franchise" pixie dust somehow less magical than the real thing?

Certainly the ten-year birthday celebration would have a tough time competing for attention with today's lavish entertainment offerings. Here's a look back at it through the lens of an apparently out-of-print DVD. It's a time capsule of what probably seems like terribly primitive stuff by modern standards. But it's got a simple charm that I think comes from working hard at entertainment without trying so hard to create spectacle that you end up with nothing but noise.

Look at how proud Walt was to celebrate the accomplishment and how confident he was that he could make things even better without losing what made those things great. He knew that the first ten years would be a tough act to follow, but he was inspired by the challenge. I think that he would have found the right way to do it. I'd rather be at this Disneyland today. Happy birthday to the genuine magic that's still there.


TokyoMagic! said...

I'd rather be at this Disneyland too!

Connie Moreno said...

Wait...occupancy rates are getting worse? Then why are they complaining so much about all the annual passholders? So much so that they have raised the price of a premium pass to an OBSCENE $499! They blow my mind...