Group: Disney EchoEar Grand Mouseter/AdministratEAR
Joined: Aug. 2001
||Posted: April 12, 2003 6:54 am/pm
On February 3, 2003 we polled the Disney EchoEars with this question:
Mission Space is scheduled to open this year in Epcot's Future World. In light of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, what do you think Disney should do with that attraction?
The poll is now closed. Here's how the voting went:
- 72.41% - Open Mission Space and include a tribute to all astronauts who died in NASA tragedies (including the Space Shuttle Columbia astronauts)
- 13.79% - Open Mission Space exactly as planned
- 10.34% - Open Mission Space and include a tribute to the Space Shuttle Columbia astronauts
- 3.45% - Postpone Mission Space's opening until next year because the subject is too sensitive right now
- 0% - Cancel Mission Space's opening permanently
Here are the comments about the poll:
I think a tasteful tribute to all astronauts (and cosmonauts, too, for that matter... all who died in the pursuit of the exploration of space no matter what country they are from) should be included in the post-show area of Mission Space.
This should be done in a way that pays tribute to their bravery and courage, but should not be presented in any way that would be seen as being opportunistic. It would accomplish honoring these brave space explorers and in addtion would remind Guests of the seriousness and risks of space travel at this time.
I don't want to sound like an echo here, and I also don't want Disney to look like they are exploiting the event, but I agree that there should not be any delay in opening this exhibit. An area honoring all of the individuals who have traveled in space and also those who lost their lives attempting space flight would be appropriate. Knowing only what I have read about the attraction from various web sites, the only reason I could see for delaying the attraction opening is if somewhere in the story line, while you are "in space" a "system problem" arose causing you to abort and return to earth. That might seem inappropriate to some visitors.
main street magic
Good point. I hadn't thought of that. Let's hope there wasn't anything like that in the original production (and if so, that they revise it before the attraction opens).
An article by Mike Schneider with the headline Experts: Disney must act with sensitivity in marketing new space ride was just posted hours ago, days after this poll was started. It brings up many issues that this poll touches on and I think you'll enjoy reading it.
The article is posted here for historical archive purposes:
|Posted on Thu, Feb. 06, 2003 |
Experts: Disney must act with sensitivity in marketing new space ride
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - When Walt Disney World announced plans to build a spaceflight simulator three years ago, it seemed like savvy timing. The first crew was getting ready to go up to the International Space Station, and Disney was in a position to capitalize on interest in the space program and its proximity to the Kennedy Space Center 70 miles away.
Now, following the space shuttle Columbia disaster, Disney finds itself facing a potential public relations minefield with the opening of the Mission: Space ride just months away.
If Disney handles the ride's opening with sensitivity to the Columbia disaster and markets it as an homage to the space program, it could escape any fallout, theme park consultants said. If Disney isn't careful and sells the ride as a thrill-seeking experience, it could backfire, they note.
Disney's Mission: Space web site, for instance, asked visitors in a poll Thursday, "Do you think space travel is dangerous?"
"They're thinking, 'Really bad timing' from the viewpoint of the ride opening," said Dennis Spiegel, president of International Theme Park Services Inc., a Cincinnati-based consulting firm. "When you have a catastrophic tragedy like this, it doesn't bode well for you."
When it comes to opening a new ride, Disney isn't the first theme park to have tragedy collide with its fantasy world. Universal Studios in Orlando, out of respect for victims, delayed for a couple of months the opening of its "Twister" ride in 1998 following tornadoes that killed 42 people in central Florida.
"This certainly changes the way you market the attraction," said Robert Niles, editor of themeparkinsider.com, an online newsletter about theme parks.
If Disney officials "ignore what happened here and make it perceived to be a frivolous thrill ride, then that can peeve a lot of people off," he said. "But this is a company that thinks, rethinks and triple thinks everything when it comes to public relations."
Mission: Space is still under construction. When it opens, visitors will board a four-person simulator where they will be flat on their backs for liftoff. Using hydraulic lifts, the ride will give visitors the feeling of intense G-forces as a spacecraft escapes Earth's atmosphere.
Disney has a lot riding on the $150 million Mission: Space, as it is only one of two new attractions opening this year at the resort. The other new attraction, Mickey's PhilHarmagic, is a 3-D film and much less ambitious than Mission: Space.
The resort, like Orlando's other theme parks, relies on new attractions to lure tourists back, especially when a tepid economy and fears of a war are discouraging people from visiting. Last year, attendance was down between 4 percent and 8 percent at Disney's four Florida theme parks, according to Amusement Business, a trade publication.
Since its inception, Disney has been promoting effusively the space ride at its Epcot park. During the ride's announcement three years ago, Disney officials touted the ride's sponsorship by the computer company, Compaq, which has since merged with Hewlett-Packard, and bragged that the ride was getting technical advice from former NASA scientists and astronauts, such as Story Musgrave.
The company has one advantage in that it hasn't set an official opening date, only saying sometime in 2003, and can be flexible.
Disney spokeswoman Jacquee Polack said Thursday that it was inappropriate to comment on the attraction out of respect for the seven astronauts killed when Columbia re-entered the atmosphere last Saturday.
"Our hearts go out to the families involved in this tragedy and this isn't the time for us to be talking about our attraction," Polack said.
But Bill Warren, another Disney spokesman, said discussions on how to market the ride haven't even begun so marketing executives aren't even considering at this point how the Columbia tragedy will affect their plans.
The company will likely play down the thrill-ride aspect of the attraction and play up reverence for the space program and the beauty and majesty of space travel, Spiegel said.
The fact that the ride is at the Epcot park, which has several educational attractions on science and technology, may allow Disney take a more instructional tone with the ride, said Steve Baker, an Orlando-based theme park consultant.
The attention to the space program following the Columbia tragedy may actually raise the profile of Mission: Space, said Bill Coan, who runs a theme-park design company in Orlando.
"I believe events like this add to the eventual excitement of an attraction like that," said Coan whose company, ITEC, worked on the ride. "The last thing they want to do is appear to leverage this ... but it doesn't hurt them a bit to show there is still an interest in space exploration."
ON THE NET
We know that Disney has been building Mission Space for the past three years. We've been lamenting the lack of knowledge of when its going to open and the lack of details about the ride itself.
However, to people who aren't Disney fanatics, do they know Disney is in the process of building a space ride? When Disney opens this, are people going to say, "Hmph, Disney is just capitalizing on all the attention that the space program is getting in order to make money."
In that light, Disney does need to be careful in their opening procedures. Perhaps make it a quiet opening?
I remember Challenger so clearly. It devastated me, and I was just in 5th grade. It still holds a special place to me. There are still smells I associate with finding out about challenger. In his video of "The Dance," Garth Brooks has footage of the Challenger astronauts. I think of that image anytime I hear that song. I remember the year after Challenger, being interviewed for the local paper about student reflections a year later. On 9/11/01, Challenger is the first thing I thought of. When I went to the Space Center, I spent a lot of time at the memorial.
Maybe 9-11 has callused me. When Mom told me Colombia had exploded, my first thought was a terrorist attack. When I knew that wasn't the case, I changed the channel to something else. It didn't rock me and move me. The loss of any life is horrible, but I guess after losing 1000's of civilians, the loss of 7 people in a risky field...*shrug* this is hard to put into words. Maybe it's because it happened on the weekend. The only time I got a little chocked up was seeing flags at half-mast, but that always makes me tear up.
I did tell make the comment that it seems like every time that space travel seems to become commonplace, we are reminded how dangerous it is. In Challenger, the first civilian was going up. I'm not a science teacher, but a geography. I think I would still jump at the chance to go. Was it just last year that Lance Bass was trying to buy a trip on the space shuttle. Seems like there was another guy, too.
Does Disney need to do a memorial to the astronauts as part of Mission Space? If Colombia had not exploded, would we be thinking they needed a memorial? No. I don't think so. If they had had one, would I still go looking for Christa McAuliffe's name? Yes. I'm rambling. If we didn't think a memorial was necessary before Colombia, then I don't think one is necessary now. I like what somebody said, that anything they would do would pale to the wall at KSC. However, I think the general public is going to view Disney in poor taste if they don't make some mention of it.
Boy, I didn't make any conclusive observations, did I?
Let the flaming begin...
I found your poll question extremely interesting. I had to pause for a second before I choose my answer. I seriously thought about the memorial idea, but upon further thought I think a themepark is the wrong place to memorialize people just for the sake of a memorial. I mean if they were to work a clip into the Golden Dreams sequence in the American Adventure that would make sense since it is park of history. But I am not sure exactly how it would fit with the storyline of Mission Space. My understanding is the ride is not a tribute to space travel or even the history of it but more an "out of this world" experience where teams try to complete a mission.
Kennedy Space Center will have additions made to their memorial (which is done extremely well I think) and that is the proper way of doing things in my mind.
Just my two cents,
Screamscape.com is reporting that Disney is now pondering how to promote their new NASA shuttle themed attraction as well as taking guest surveys to see if they should “delay” the opening of the ride out of respect for Columbia’s crew.
Just wanted to append my response from above... I was at Disneyland Friday night and they added a small memorial in the American Space Experience for the Columbia crew. I think it was a great addition and nicely done and it fits with the area. If your interested in seeing the pictures & quote check out my Feb. 14th Disneyland Update (,http://www.disneygeek.net - its around page 15 I think).
WDWMagic.com has two Mission: Space things for you to check out.
First, take a look at interior photos of the Mission: Space capsules (ride vehicles).
Then read Local6.com's update which talks about WDWMagic.com's photos.
RichKoster, Disney Echo modEARator