The fourth episode of the Imagineering Story is based on the conflicted period of the Walt Disney Company, where Michael Eisner struggled following the loss of Frank Wells, resulting in financial managers having more influence than the creative leaders on the Imagineering projects.
Looking first at the misses, this episode doesn’t shy away from showing where the Walt Disney Company was making mistakes, mainly by opening theme parks without the necessary budgets, which was understandable following the massive costs of building Disneyland Paris. We learn about the mistakes that were made in building the Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris, which wasn’t surprising since it’s easily the worst Disney theme park in the world as there is hardly anything in there and has barely any theming. They built it because they had too, not because they wanted to.
We learn about what went into building the California Adventure Park, which suffered from comparisons to Disneyland, though we did get to learn more details about the creation of Soarin, which is one of my favourite attractions. And in the other failure camp, we learn what went wrong for the creation of Hong Kong Disneyland, which I really enjoyed since I, currently on vacation at the resort, so was nice seeing Disney showcasing this park, which is often overlooked.
And then there are the hits, which include the creation of DisneySea in Japan and the Animal Kingdom in Walt Disney World, plus we get a look at the success of the Disney Cruise Line.
DisneySea is one of the greatest Disney theme parks in the world, because Disney weren’t footing the bill for it and the owners of the park wanted the best the Imagineering Division had to offer. Again, having visited the park in the past, it’s been fun learning about the creation of the international parks, as Disney tends to only promote its US parks, so it’s one aspect I love about this series.
Learning how the Animal Kingdom Park was created is also fascinating and looked like Disney was getting back on track following a realisation that they couldn’t build them on the cheap. Hearing the passion from its creator, Joe Rohde, is inspiring as you can tell he loves what he does.
And finally, we get a small insight into the creation of the Disney Cruise Line, which was a little more fluffy, but that’s because this was a successful launch and has been profitable for Disney ever since it took to the seas.
This period within the Imagineering division was all over the place, because the leadership didn’t understand what was needed, they went cheap and it showed in the creation of its parks like Walt Disney Studios and California Adventure. Which they are still trying to repair now.
Another fantastic episode of this documentary series, that doesn’t shy away from the problems at Disney, which is refreshing as it’s not something we are used to seeing from Disney.
Rating – 4 out of 5 Stars