Destination D23 was last weekend, and although I was excited to hear about some of the new ideas being thrown around for areas like Dinoland USA – desperately in need of a makeover – others didn’t find it so impressive. I’m a certified, card-carrying Disney Nerd. There, I admit it, and one of the things that come with that, at times, is some pretty thick rose-colored glasses. While I am not admitting that this is definitively one of those occasions, I am self-aware enough to know that I have a habit of taking a more optimistic view of things that isn’t always feasible.
I enjoy Disney’s Blue Sky approach, even if only to daydream about it as I move through my working week. So I can, with great honesty, say that I was surprised to see the reactions of many when my own excitement was met with disappointment. The argument seems to be that Disney’s Blue Sky dreaming is somewhat an excuse to keep fans interested and excited without making any concrete plans for change. The problem is, the argument isn’t wrong.
Disney has created a habit of making D23 announcements under this whimsical (and slightly watery) heading of Blue Sky, which roughly translates to things we may or may not be thinking about and are even less likely will eventuate. I accept them as such and try to keep my eyes on the bigger picture, embracing any changes that come along. However, for others, I understand this isn’t so easy, and the growing opinion of being frustrated with this style of ‘news‘ definitely has merit.
I’ve started to wonder where the line is. Where is the center point where Disney crosses over from mostly action to mostly inaction when it comes to these updated areas? Dinoland USA has been begging for a reimagined update for several years, in my opinion, and yet still, after two D23 events teasing it, we have no solid expectation of what will (or won’t) be happening. Even I can concede an element of disappointment in that. Some like to compare Disney to its competitors like Universal, though, for several reasons, I think that aspect is flawed. For me, it’s more of a Disney vs. Disney view. I see the international parks opening fantastic new projects like World of Frozen in Hong Kong Disneyland and a Zootopia-themed land in Shanghai. Disneyland Paris is setting its sights on royal accommodations, and Tokyo Disney, well, let’s just say that DisneySea is a whole different article. I watch these projects be announced, followed through and come to fruition, and I can’t help but wonder why the US parks have moved away from this method.
It’s not a matter of timing; if nothing else, how nicely we (sort of) waited for TRON to be finished is proof that we can be patient when needed. The problem is, it’s hard to be patient when you don’t know what you are actually waiting for. Blue Sky ideas are great when added to a sustainable level of change, though currently, it seems we are in a state where Blue Sky has taken the main stage. As someone brilliantly pointed out on Instagram a few days ago, “They get World of Frozen, and we get a new soundtrack for the Country Bears?” And yes, I know it isn’t that simple. I know that the different international Disney Parks are run separately and that there are so many factors involved in each that they aren’t comparable. Still, I want more.
I’m not ready to take off those rose-colored glasses just yet. To be honest, I like them, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with a bit of indulgent daydreaming. But I can admit that I am looking over the top of them on this one and seeing the other side of the argument. I don’t want the sharing of ideas to stop; I love that Disney is involving fans in their thought process, even if they don’t all come full circle. Even so, the balance has shifted too far in the pie-in-the-sky direction, and I want solid plans. What are your thoughts? Has the Blue Sky bit gone too far, or do you think that any notion of innovation is worth exploring and sharing?
Zoë Wood is a travel writer from Sydney, Australia. Since her first visit to Disneyland at the age of 6, she has spent her years frequently visiting Disney Parks and traveling around the world.
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