Monday, May 16, 2011

Review of Destination D - The Florida Project

Destination D - The Florida Project is now history. It was an amazing weekend hearing about the history of Walt Disney World, what it was, what it could be, what it has been, and what it might be. Along the way, we get to appreciate a lot more what Walt, Roy, and all those pioneers did and accomplished in building this resort from the swamp and jungle that it was. So in that sense, this D23 event certainly succeeded.

However, in other sense, it disappoints. There is a sense that this was done ON THE CHEAP! There were no banners, decorations, etc. at the convention area other than the standard signs directing foot traffic, i.e. there were no theming! There's nothing much to do beyond sitting in the convention hall. The archive exhibit was a joke - a small room with a few pieces of history and memorabilia.

And of course, the fiasco of the merchandise sale on Friday. They started the sale ahead of the stated time, they had very too few people working the area, some cast members were still being instructed on what to do (right in front of us), they didn't print the whole list of available merchandise, and of course, the slow-moving line that is the result of all this. It is not that we are surprised that this is happening, it is just that we are surprised that this is happening at WDW, considering that they, of all people, should KNOW how to deal with large crowds. They hold events all the time. One would think that holding the annual Pin Celebration alone would give them a clue on what to expect. But of course, this would require that those organizing the D23 event, headquartered in Glendale, CA, would actually consult with those who organize the Pin Celebration event headquartered here in Orlando. What are the odds?

So yes, while I enjoyed and fully expected the sessions in the convention hall, I was truly disappointed with the lack of other activities surrounding it. I expected more for what I paid for. There wasn't even a character meet-and-greet. I also expected more "gifts" with my attendance. A booklet on the history of WDW is nice, but it is rather paltry.

In the end, I don't think I got my money's worth in terms of overall experience.



Anonymous said...

The event was definitely not done on the cheap. The bulk of the cost was most certainly flying and putting up all of the staff/Imagineers, etc. and renting the conference center. D23 doesn't have a huge budget, what would you cut out to pay for extra theming? The talk by Tony Baxter?

Anonymous said...

Oh - and WDW didn't put it on. Destination D did, and it's a small group that mostly is from California. It was held at WDW, yes - but not a WDW event.

ZapperZ said...

Anonymous 1: I said that there is a SENSE that it was done on the cheap. You claim that it wasn't, but then you indicated that D23 doesn't have a huge budget. Those two seem contradictory. You have to remember that whenever something like this is done, there will ALWAYS be comparison to other Disney-sanctioned events. The lack of theming is very glaring, and the lack of other "activities" is another one. It may not be cheap to put up something like this, but it LOOKS like it was done cheaply based on what we got.

And I wasn't the only one. If you had spent some time in listening to people talking in line during the merchandise sale on that Friday, you would have heard similar grumblings. In fact, I heard several horror stories about the long lines and inefficient service at the last Expo in Anaheim. It appeared that all the unhappiness about how things were run resurfaced rather easily when they saw the same thing happening to this event.

It is ironic that in at least a couple of the sessions, an emphasis on "attention to detail" was proudly mentioned. Such attention to detail is what appears to be missing here. So yes, I'm guilty of holding anything Disney does to a higher standard, because Disney sets these high standards for itself as an organization.

Anonymous 2: A while back, when WDW management wanted to outsource baggage handling at the resorts, the strongest point made by many cast members that I heard from was that guests would not know that they are dealing directly with a non-Disney employee. All they know is that they are on Disney property and that someone is handling their luggage and interacting with them. Most of us guests don't CARE nor do we want to know who is doing what. All we know is that everyone doing their jobs on Disney property is representing Disney. In fact, this is true for any businesses that outsource a task that has any direct contact with the customers. We don't care whether they are direct employees or not. All we know is that someone representing that company is the person we are dealing with.

Whether WDW put this on or not, it was done AT WDW and it was done under the Disney name. To me, it is the same, and I think as a company, everyone knows that what they do reflect directly on the company.