03 July 2009

Explosion of innovation

Over the past several months, there have been quite a number of dramatic changes to the Walt Disney World website. Almost everything, from Park Hours calendars to the new online dining reservation system, has been upgraded, tweaked, or revamped. One thing that has gone relatively unnoticed, however, is the manner in which Disney has been presenting upcoming attractions and experiences on the website.

Recent additions to the website, specifically The Pirates League and Stitch’s SuperSonic Celebration, have included their experience descriptions, location, and detailed information, such as phone numbers or disability accommodations, just like every attraction page on the website. Unlike every other attraction, however, these attraction pages have included a piece of concept art rather than a photograph of the attraction. While this may seem like a minor change, I think it signals a dramatic shift in the way Walt Disney World looks at its attractions and the parks’ enthusiasts.For the attractions themselves, this means that Walt Disney World is giving potential guests who are perusing the website a chance to see what is coming down the line, potential during the window they are looking at for a trip. In the past, coming attractions rarely had a page on the website prior to their openings. For the attractions that did have pages, a stock press photograph was the norm, if there was any picture at all. By including artwork and producing these pages earlier it can be assumed that Disney has learned that by increasing the lead time that guests know about an attraction, the more buzz and excitement that can be generated.

As for the Walt Disney World enthusiasts out there, these pieces of concept art are something we used to have to go to great lengths to view or obtain. While we are well aware that there isn’t just one piece of artwork created for each attraction, Disney appears to be taking the one piece that most closely resembles the final product and giving us a taste of not only the experience, but also the styling and imagination that went into the planning of an attraction. With books like The Art of Walt Disney World and these concept glimpses on the website, Disney appears to be taking the gathering of dedicated admirers more seriously and has begun speaking to our needs.In addition to these tweaks, Walt Disney World’s website has also become timelier in its removal of content. There were days in the past when an all but extinct attraction, say Body Wars, would remain on the website for months and years after it had been shuttered. Today, however, attractions are being removed as they are closed. Stitch’s SuperSonic Celebration gave its last performance last Saturday, but a quick glance around the Walt Disney World website first thing Saturday morning showed that the show’s page had already been removed.

Disney’s site, like any decent website, is a constant work-in-progress. The feedback they receive helps shape future designs of the site, and the more they include interactive features, like the online dining reservations, and peeks into the future of the parks, the more positive feedback they are going to receive. For those of us who treasure the glimpses into the widely unknown elements of the parks’ tomorrows, Disney has definitely begun to work towards a brighter, albeit unassuming, view of the future of their attractions, shows, and experiences.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can agree with you on this article.

One thing worth mentioning on this subject is the fact that disneyworld.com's Country Bear Jamboree page still hints at the Xmas show in one paragraph, further indicating (to me, at least) that this version will indeed return in the near future.