June 22, 2009

Keeping Secrets

Common sense tells me they must. Business competition demands it. People love to do it. Keeping secrets is just part of what we do individually and collectively.

Now that the total remake of California Adventure's Paradise Pier is in full swing, what is coming next? Sure, the Imagineers have given us a taste by showing some models and pieces of concept art in the Blue Sky Cellar, but you know as well as I do, they are not revealing all of what is happening behind closed doors. John Lasseter is a very smart man and keeps his secrets, sharing them to only a select few.

Who can blame him? I do this all the time- and so do you! We give only the best parts of ourselves to the people we want to impress, and we hide the things that embarrass us from as many people as possible.

There is much speculation on every Disney project- the movies, the cable channel, and especially what is being built or will be considered for the parks. Do you ever notice how once a project is announced, the Walt Disney Company gives very little commentary on what is going on behind the scenes until it is very close to completion? Why? Some ideas materialize and some never do. Just for a moment, think of what we have missed over the years: Tony Baxter's beautiful Discovery Bay for Disneyland, Marc Davis' amazing Western River Expedition and the whole Thunder Mesa complex for Florida's Magic Kingdom, a host of World Showcase attractions for Epcot. A fully realized Space pavilion. A Beauty and the Beast animatronics theater show for Disneyland Paris. An improved thrill version of Pirates of the Caribbean for Hong Kong Disneyland. The list goes on and on. Some plans are just wild rumors and speculation- anyone remember Disneyland Texas?

The thing is, "It all comes out in the wash", as the old timers used to say. In the new world of the internet, what is done and what is built becomes evident very quickly. Photos posted of the construction of California Adventure 1.0 revealed a park built to maximize profits with a minimal investment. Conversely, those posted showing Tokyo Disney Sea under construction helped convince a theme park loving Japanese public that this was going to be an amazing place.

Looking at Disney's history over the last two decades reveals some life lessons for us common folk as well as for the company we love to talk about. Quality work wins out, going cheap and producing less than our best effort does not. Greed diminishes the end result and reveals the core of our motives and nature. Regardless of what we say, our actions speak louder than our verbal hype or explanation. Someone is always watching us. Ultimately, there really are no secrets.

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