2/25/2005

A Kingdom of Magic



As an ex-Cast Member and lifelong fan of all things Disney, I've tried to keep up with Save Disney, the initiative begun by Roy E. Disney, Walt's nephew (not to be confused with Roy O., Walt's brother) and Stanley Gold, a former attorney and Disney director, in December 2003 "to restore Disney to its position as the preeminent entertainment company in the world."

Roy and Stanley resigned from the Disney board in late 2003. A few days later, they launched Save Disney.com, where they posted their resignation letters and invited the public to email them with thoughts on the company’s future.

That initiative continues to grow. With the recent release of James Stewart's book DisneyWar, and a film called "Dream on, Silly Dreamer", about the demise of Disney animation, 2005 has granted SaveDisney the legitimacy of ubiquity.

Visitors to SaveDisney are invited to write a new mission statement for the company, and peruse articles such as:

  • Where do all these bad ideas come from?
  • The rise and fall of Disney animation
  • Disney sequels: Blanding the Brand
  • Inhuman resources
  • Disney Stores: The Hard-Sell Out!

So what’s wrong with Disney? Roy Disney outlined his views in a letter entitled "The Vision: A Work in Progress", in which he laments, among other things, Disney's sponsorship of the Victoria's Secret lingerie show on ABC. It's not a plea for Puritanism, however. Roy believes that the company has lost its way, set off course in the pursuit of "branding" and dollars, cheating the consumer and the company's namesake in the process.

To fix it, Roy and Stanley insist, Michael Eisner must go. On January 7th of this year, they issued this press statement:

The board's decision to award Michael Eisner a $7.2 million bonus the same year he received a 45 percent no-confidence vote from his shareholders flies in the face of both logic and propriety. However, the real issue is not about the bonus but whether or not Mr. Eisner will be at the company after June 2005.

"Eisner has to go, and soon," Roy said. "This constant cutback of services as a way to profit must stop and be reversed. And the magic must be restored."

At least 28,000 other people agreed strongly enough to sign a petition calling for Eisner's ouster at the SaveDisney site.

Of course, if you're looking for a group of passionate people, look no further than the Disneyphiles. The Cult of the Mouse monitors, and takes very personally, every ride closing and movie release, and most of all, their memorabilia. The most recent shock wave through this community was the revamping of Tomorrowland in California. The hue and cry reverberated throughout the land. SaveDisney chimed in with a compelling photo essay, and the torrent of responses poured in. (But look at the pictures folks. This is the mark of a soulless company.)

Last September, Eisner announced that he would resign his post at the end of his contract, in September 2006.

Roy E. Disney believes that his uncle would have wanted it that way.

For a lot of people, this writer included, that is, always has been, and always should be the company's mission statement, in a nutshell.

Walt used to say that Disneyland would never be finished; that through his creations, future generations will continue to celebrate what he once described as "that precious, ageless something in every human being which makes us play with children's toys and laugh at silly things and sing in the bathtub and dream.

- Roy O. Disney in Reader's Digest, 1969

The American child is a highly intelligent human being—characteristically sensitive, humorous, open-minded, eager to learn, and has a strong sense of excitement, energy and healthy curiosity about the world in which he lives. Lucky indeed is the grown-up who manages to carry these same characteristics over into his adult life. It usually makes for a happy and successful individual.

- Walt Disney

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