The answer is simple. Walt Disney himself answered that same question when talking about Disneyland when he said, “Disneyland is not just another amusement park. It’s unique, and I want it kept that way. Besides, you don’t work for a dollar- you work to create and have fun.” The Disney parks are different because when The Walt Disney Company lives by the ideals that Walt Disney himself set forward the parks can accomplish something no other theme park has the ability to. The Disney parks only fail when they stray too far from Walt’s vision. I went through some quotes that Walt Disney had when talking about Disneyland, and then I compared them to the parks today. I was amazed how relevant his quotes are today as they pertain to the parks.
Ever wonder why the Disney parks are so much cleaner than other theme parks? Well that is because Walt wanted most trash cans no more that 30 steps apart from each other. He determined that this would prevent guests from just throwing their trash on the ground. When Walt Disney told his wife Lillian Disney that he wanted to open a theme park she questioned his decision saying, “But why?…They’re so dirty.” Walt responded, “That was just the point – mine wouldn’t be.” The bathrooms still have a bad reputation of being a little dirty, but overall there is no denying that the Disney parks are much cleaner than your average theme park. This standard has separated Disney parks from your average theme park for over 60 years.
When the Disney parks make a big change there is sometimes a negative reaction toward it. This is natural, as a lot of people love what they know, and can get scared of uncertain changes. Walt Disney warned us to not be so cautious of these changes saying, “Disneyland is a thing that I can keep molding and shaping.” Essentially Disneyland, and the other Disney parks, are not a museum. The parks are meant to evolve and change. In particular, some Disney park fans are concerned that Pandora – The World of Avatar won’t be “Disney” enough, or that that Star Wars Land in Disneyland won’t fit well with the rest of the park. I’d guess if Walt were alive today he’d be on board for these changes.
Recently the Disney parks have gotten a lot of criticism for having too many add-ons. Essentially special events, dinner packages, etc. that have an additional cost on top of the cost of the park ticket. Some guests love these add-ons, but others feel like Disney is trying to nickel and dime them on every little thing. Walt Disney himself was worried about Disneyland nickel-and-diming his guests so, saying, “Although various sections will have the fun and flavor of a carnival or amusement park, there will be none of the ‘pitches,’ game wheels, sharp practices, and devices designed to milk the visitor’s pocketbook.” So as much as many guests enjoy add-on experiences, Disney may be playing with fire with what is a fun additional experience, and what can feel like money grubbing.
It’s clear that Walt Disney knew exactly what he wanted, and expected, from Disneyland and those ideas still remain true for the Disney parks today.