Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Why " Walt Disney and the 1964 World’s Fair " is exactly the kind of product they should sell at the D23 store - and not a $314 pen ...

Good news: Walt Disney and the 1964 World’s Fair 5 CD Box Set is finally released on March 24. Great idea, as it is a rare and highly collectible document of Walt Disney Imagineering history that will be released for the first time. Exactly the kind of merchandise the Disney fans are looking for. Not "Executive Pen" at $849.

Once again, i salute the initiative of the new D23 site and magazine. I have not seen yet the magazine, but i'm confident that it is good. No, the two problems that makes the fans screaming on all forums is the membership $74 price - some of them didn't understood that it includes four issues of the D23 magazine and not only a membership card and certificate. However, it's probably the wrong price at the wrong time. And i don't mention the "amazing" shipping price for non-U.S residents, probably due to the fact that Disney use generally DHL for any overseas shipment. Also, D23 is almost described like a "private club for Disney fans", but honestly, i think Disney fans are not sensitive to that. Let me be clear: if any of you could become instantly a member of the legendary Club 33 at Disneyland, i'm sure you will be happy, but the D23 membership - although it has real advantages - is probably seen more like a "virtual" club for Disney fans. In fact, it's even worst: simply nobody - or very very few people - cares anymore about "club and membership". It's the kind of mental image that belongs to the past, except for some super rich people.

To come back to the membership price, personally i think it's probably 30$ too high, but most of all the timing is terrible - did nobody tell them we are in the middle of a world economy crisis? At least probably not to the guy responsible of the D23 merchandise shop - in fact a new section on the Disney shopping web site. T-Shirts at $25 with only "Are you 23?" written on them - and with no disney logo! Pens at $314 or $849 !?! I'm sure the items are beautifully crafted, but the problem is elsewhere - it's simply that Disney fans are expecting other kind of collectibles!

And which kind of collectibles? Well, this "Walt Disney and the 1964 World’s Fair 5 CD Box Set" is EXACTLY the kind of collectible they should sell at the D23 "boutique".
Need another example? Take this gorgeous Mark Twain Riverboat model released last year on Disney Shopping. Don't you think it would be a perfect collectible too for the D23 shop? For the Mark Twain it's too late of course, but they're is PLENTY of good collectible ideas that would be perfect for the D23 shop.

I have a long experience with Disney merchandise departments - specially since i did my Disneyland Paris book, and let me tell you more about it as it will help you to understand where is the problem. You have no idea what fight it has been, back ten years ago, to convince them that guests and fans were looking for this kind of book...even after the book was released they were surprised it sells so well. And since then, thousands copies of the book have been sold!

Do you want to know why you can't find the book at WDW or Disneyland shops? Not because i didn't proposed the book at their mechandise dept. I DID proposed the book to them. And even send them a copy so they can see how it looks. And what was the answer? Well, the answer was: "because the book is talking about Disneyland Paris, it will not interest ANYBODY at WDW or DL" !!! No kidding. It was just like Disney fans didn't exist for them. At least at that time, 7 years ago. But it's still true today, i could give you hundred of other examples, and personally, i arrived at this conclusion: merchandise dept guys (or women) simply don't know AT ALL what kind of products Disney fans are looking for. NO VISION, really. Okay, to be perfectly honest, since the Disneyland 50th Anniversary, and more specifically since the release of Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily 50th Ann collectibles on Disney shopping, Disneyland merchandise finally understood that true-fans collectibles could be profitable. Of course it is when it's well done! And also when it's NOT done in a "cheap" way (i'm thinking about the beautiful Tiki Fountain released last year for the Tiki Room anniversary and which had problems as Disney choose a cheap "pump" system and of course the pump began to stop working after few hours...)

Frankly, there is nothing more simple than to find good ideas for special-fans collectibles. But there is ONE condition for that: you MUST be a fan yourself, that's the trick. If you're not a Disney fan, you can't know how Disney fans are thinking, right? And this is where the problem is: most people at merchandise dept don't think like Disney fans. They think they do, but in fact, deeply, they don't. Believe me.

Now, there are exceptions: i was talking about Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily, well, here are two persons, designing Disney collectible since years and years (and it's always perfect) and who are ALSO Disney hardcore fans. And it's hard to find a collectible they've designed that didn't provoked fan enthusiasm. And i'm sure they're not alone. But Kevin and Jody - and i am NOT their "agent"! - would be, in my opinion, the best people qualified to create D23 collectibles. I mean: collectibles that fans will rush to order. Even expensive one.

Do you remember the famous line from Kevin Costner movie "Fields of Dreams"? : "If you build it, he will come". The line became famous since then, but it's perfect for what we talk about today, and a perfect message to D23 Boutique managers/designers : "If you build them ( the right collectibles) , fans will come". And if you don't know what to do, ask those who knows - i mean, of course, those who are REAL fans.

Photo: copyright Disney


Anonymous said...

Exactly right.

They seem to have the best of intentions, but the execution was a little sloppy.

Fans desire some reasonably priced reproductions of things from the parks and movies that they love. Kevin and Jody's stuff gets it just right.

Love your Paris book by the way, that was made with true fans in mind too.

Tangaroa said...

Well said!

Scott said...

Initially, I thought the 75 bucks was a little high. But really, the 4 issues of the magazine alone -- which I know I want --would cost $60, so the "membership" itself is only $15. That's not bad. I'm gonna try it out for the first year and see how it goes.

Robert/Cologne said...

I will most probably join also but why on earth they dont they want your book.The only reason I can think of is that this is the best book available concerning Disney ,none of there own publications come near to the quality of your book ,perhaps apart from the IMAGINEERING book.
Also I think that not that many fans can visit Anaheim for the Fair so its all up to the magazine and the collectables.

Web Gangsta said...

You said "merchandise dept guys (or women) simply don't know AT ALL what kind of products Disney fans are looking for". I couldn't agree with you more.

I posted about a response I received from Disney Shopping after I asked about the lack of proper character clothing for adults, and their response - while reasonable from their viewpoint - did not address the issue that was asked: there are fans who WANT to spend money on Disney merchandise, but find themselves without anything to spend money on due to bad merchandising decisions. The "Design it" system is not a catch-all for lack of product. Then again, neither is an $800 pen.

As you said, the recent product from Kevin and Jody is phenomenal - only time will tell if D23 will end up being worthwhile in the long run.

Me? I'm hopeful, and if you look beyond the currently offered D23 merchandise to what Disney plans to do with the "community" portion of D23, then that could make the club worthwhile. It's not all about the merchandise, it's about reconnecting with the fans as well. Fans that spent $75 for the privilege, but fans none the less.

Disneyana World said...

I agree 100% with this post. Take the 25th anniversary Figment produced for EPCOT. It had misspelled words and pavilion logos with flaws.

What really bothers me about Disney merchandise is how most new t-shirts are given that cracked and faded look. There are so many shirts I've wanted to buy, but didn't due to the fact it's faded.

My EPCOT Center shirts from the 80s looks better than a new "vintage" Mikey Mouse t-shirt

Destino said...

You are 100% correct. Disney merchandising has no clue. Although things are better now than before. The Kevin Kidney stuff is awesome, and at least now we get some cool attraction merchandise. But can remember in the early nineties not being able to find a PIN or a BUTTON with Disney PArk stuff on it. And I couldn't find a castle sculpture or mini or anything! Now at least we can. But the clothing is HORRIBLE. Is it too much to ask to have attraction T-SHIRTS that feature the attraction more? Or that aren't cracked? Or how about each park has it OWN park T-SHIRT?

And the real shame is D23 Merchandise. How about some club only CDSs? How about some limited edition Imagineering artwork? $800 pens? Stupid. Hopefully they'll learn from the posts online.

And i still can't believe they didn't think people would want your book. I had no interest in DLPARIS because I might never actually see it. But, I just had to have it to complete my collection. And WOW. Best book about Disney Parks ever. This is how they should be done. Disney Merchandising just doesn't get it. The $80O pen says it all.

Capt. Tomorrow said...


Thank you for being a voice of reason. D23 is barely a day old and so many of the Disney fan sites are being overly critical. Admittedly ANY new venture is going to have birthing pains (oh, like maybe that theme park in Anaheim), but eventually it will work out. Admittedly you are correct about the merchandise aspect; Disney doesn't have a clue. But if they are sincere about listening to the fans then they should ASK us what we would like to see produced instead of TELLING us what they are going to make (like a $800 pen). A poll on the D23 site would be a start. Signing on Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily to design the merchandise would be perfect.

Disney World Pictures said...

I have to agree that $75 for D23 is the wrong price at the wrong time. If it were $25 I might jump, but that just seems too high for what is basically a subscription to 4 magazines per year.

Lisadlrpfan said...

I totally agree with what you're saying Alain.
That's why my #1 ambition is to be a member of the Disney marketing and sales service, and have high responsibilities and finally create the right items!!! I'm just a 1st year student at RMS in Reims, but like you, I have a lot of ideas that would obsiously work for Disney Fans.
Being a REAL fan of the company you work for, that's the key to success ;)

Anonymous said...

Well said!

I understand they are trying to tap into the "hard-core" fans, and many of those fans have high disposable income--but the price points leave a lot to be desired. I personally NEVER read magazines. Now $75 and we get a book like yours....then I would bite--books last. really, though, I think the membership should be no more than $40 (no more than $25 without the magazine).

They have the right idea with one item: a reproduction cell from Song of the South. I think this is the perfect place for merchandise based on properties not popular with the general public. The problem here, though, is PRICE. The darn thing is over $1400 (U.S. dollars)!

I'm about as big a fan of the South/Splash Mountain characters as you can find--and it's extremely hard to find collectibles for them--but I am not about to spend that much for a single collectible. They limit it to only 23 copies, thus justifying the pricetag--but how about limiting it to 5,000 and having a price point of more like $200. I--and many others--would have been all over it then.

If the few items they sell ARE things I want, but they're prohibitively priced--the effect is the same. No incentive for me to join, and actually a distaste for the money machine.

Brer Dan

Anonymous said...

I hate to say it but D23 just sounds like another money grabbing effort by a company that continues to lose site of Walt's visions. JMO

SPBrazil said...

Alain, I agree with you and I guess all the comments here can express my opinion and ideas. I just would like to tell you that I have a copy of your book and it is one of my favorite Disney books ever. I wish I could have bought it at WDW. I'm sure it would sell hundreds of copies a month. Unfortunately, it seems that Disney is only focused on getting money from people rather than pleasing their fans. Park merchandising is mostly focused on the same characters, if it's a mug, T-shirt or figurine: Mickey & Co., Tinker Bell, Grumpy and Stitch. I'm quite sure it's the same in DLP. How frustrating when you are a fan and want something different.
I couldn't buy some of the DL 50th Ann collectibles and it's impossible to find them now. They don't have anything to do with the few collectibles you can find in the parks.
Well, as a matter of fact, I bought your book from Brazil, where I live. I visit the US when I can, but I'm sure there are people like me who really wanted to know more about the Disney parks in the other countries.
Think about writing another Disney book!!!

Marco Antonio Garcia said...

I partially agree with you, they mostly do not understand what Disney fans wants, but for me the statue of Walt with Oswald is a great collectible for Disney fans (the only one really worth buying though, besides of some pins). The problem is that I am from Brasil, and I totally agree with you that the freight cost for international customers is astronomical, I've paid more for the freight than for the membership of D23 itself and for me to buy a US$ 20 shirt, I will have to pay a US$ 55 freight, so it is not reasonable, they should really do something better for international fans. About your book, I bought it from you, and it was by far the best book about a Disney theme park I 've ever seen, thank you very much for the pleasure of reading it- At least it was on their list of recommended books about Disney Theme parks.

Anonymous said...

I hate to say it but D23 just sounds like another money grabbing effort by a company that continues to lose site of Walt's visions. JMO

Sorry, but you're wrong and you know that you're wrong!

Stop wasting your time on being cynical and go get a life!!!

Anonymous said...

I also kind of disagree with all these merciless slams against the merchandising department.

Go worry about REAL problems, like the horrible state of our country's economy!