About the Column

Admit it. You do it a lot. You ask yourself: Why Did Disney DO That?!? Maybe you ask others, too. Maybe you gather in groups, gnaw on turkey legs, and ponder what Disney does. But any such gab sessions inevitably lead to confusion and perhaps frustration. Because none of us have the answers. Disney has the answers, but it's not telling. The Mouse justifies its actions either with "it's part of our business plan" or the even more nebulous "it's part of Walt's vision". You deserve better. In his column, Lee Beatens will uncover the truth. Or at least deliver some entertaining rants.

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FROM: Why Did Disney DO That?!? Published As Necessary

Quotable Disney

Lee examines one of Walt Disney's most memorable quotes and what it really means in the context of today.



The Quotable Disney

“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.”

Walt's Quote

Walt Disney spoke those words many years ago, but they still have a weight that can’t be ignored today. When I first read them, a few things came to my mind that I felt I would share here.

First, Walt cited the fact that Disneyland was ‘unique’. In a modern world filled with hundreds of copycats, it may not seem so, but it still is! It still is the first globally successful amusement park, with a long list of subsequent firsts to its credit. And at times, it still does introduce the world to new things first.

So that part of Walt’s words were, and remain, true over the years and during the present day.

Secondly, Walt states that you ‘don’t work for a dollar.’ In his case it’s hard to argue with that. Walt did indeed put creativity and artistic integrity before profit, and kudos to him for that!

History has lost count of how many times Walt brought his company to the edge of ruin just so that he could ‘plus’ something. At times it would involve something as monumental as Snow White, or be as little as changing the color of a ride vehicle. Money was no object if spending it (even if he didn’t have it to spend) meant elevating a good thing to a great thing!

Thirdly, Walt claimed to ‘work to create and have fun.’ Again, it’s hard to argue with that! Never has there been a bigger kid than Walt Disney. In him, I think we saw what would have happened if Peter Pan had grown up!

So are these three things still alive and well in the Disney Corporation? Yes and No.

It’s because we focus on the NO so much that we ask Why Did Disney DO That?!? so often. But it’s also because we focus on the YES so much that we care enough to… well, care, and ask the question!

Perhaps we should go back to the introductory quote and pick up a piece that we skipped over. Walt also said that ‘I want it kept that way.’ He meant unique, but maybe sometimes we think he meant that nothing should change. That his vision should never be plussed itself by successive generations of Imagineers.

But is that reasonable?

I’ve said in other articles that I don’t believe that Walt would, or could, survive in today’s corporate world. The age of dreamers may not be dead. Big things are still being created, but by a process so far removed from the Walt Disney model as to be almost unrecognizable.

‘What would Walt do?’ is another question asked too often in my opinion.

I believe that the only thing that Walt really didn’t want to change was the creative drive to push any medium forward. I think Modern Disney has done this with projects like Fantasia 2000, Tron, and the merger with Pixar, among others.

So Modern Disney isn’t so bad after all. But let’s keep asking Why Did Disney DO that?!? Just to keep them on their toes, and Walt’s words true!



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