Daily Figment 66 – What’s That Buzz?

Pop quiz, everybody!What do these two items have in common?

  • Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
  • Celebration 25

Give up? Two words: the Internet.

What we would like to offer for discourse is the idea of living in a glass house–a corporate bubble, so to speak. You see, most companies are living in this bubble today. A bubble of transparency, where every move is under direct scrutiny.

Let’s borrow Lou’s wayback machine and go back to 1997. An article appeared in the Orlando Sentinel describing the shuttering of Mr. Toad to make way for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Shortly after that, Save Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride appeared. Although the movement garnered a lot of grassroots support, it wasn’t enough to stop corporate machinations.

We need to take a look at the state of the Internet way back in the mid-1990’s. It existed as Web 1.0, which can be explained as a static information source with very little interaction. As you can see from the Save Mr. Toad page, there are links to physical addresses of Disney Corporate, but there wasn’t a feedback form, comment spot or forum.

In 2004, the term Web 2.0 was coined. Basically, the 2.0 refers to blogs, wikis and forums. The ability to leave comments and create community is the basis for 2.0. Flickr, MySpace and this blog are examples, as well. As the internet was reborn as an interactive community, the feedback companies like Disney had access to became substantially more sophisticated. It also became more voluminous, as people discovered that the interactive connection to this community was effectively reaching Mouse Ears in the previously impenetrable board rooms of corporate America.

So, fast forward to 2004 and you start to see the development of web forums and blogs dedicated to the study and discussion of Disney minutiae, travel, politics and business practices. Endless discussions, that deeply proselytize the Magic as we know and love it, evolved into loving, open-source suggestions. The Disney execs took notice.

See, this is where the difference begins.

It was published a while back (sometime this year, I believe) that Disney announced that they were actively scouring forums and blogs. Not that they had a person reading all of them, but they hired a company that would scan all of the Disney related forums and aggregate the data. They could then give Disney a detailed report of what people are talking about. There have been reports going way back of Disney chefs reading negative trip reports and contacting the author to rectify the situation.

As recently as the year 2007, the online Disney community began a collective huffing and puffing over the lack of interest the suits had shown in recognizing the 25th anniversary of Epcot. Many bloggers chastised the company for underplaying what many of us considered a hallmark event. As the huffing mutated into a discernible roar, a fury of changes and acknowledgments gushed from the beloved park. Redesigned rides, new old logos, the wand coming down and the rechristening as Epcot Center truly has revitalized and, in some ways satiated, the fervent community. Or so we think…. and wish…..or are we just experiencing wishful thinking?

So, does the online Disney community have a voice? Can the collective sigh of a bored constituency wake the sleeping WED Enterprises? Has the creative side of Disney’s corporate brain existed in a vacuum for too long?

What do you think?

Don’t forget to stop by our site and leave some Disney Geek love!


6 thoughts on “Daily Figment 66 – What’s That Buzz?

  1. There is no doubt in my mind that the internet community’s “stock” is on the rise. Disney is not just monitoring the situation; they’re actively taking the pulse of the community and it’s great because it makes us feel like our opinions matter and for Disney, it’s great because we fans now feel like we can invest more into the product (parks, merchandise, etc) because our feedback matters and we feel as though someone is listening.

  2. Another excellent contribution Andy. You shouldn’t let George hog the mic so much…haha

    It is amazing how far the internet has come and what it is evolving into. I feel sorry for those companies that caught on too late. That is why I was pleasantly surprised when Disney executives came out and said two things:
    1. They are heavily monitoring the communities to gauge how well they are doing.
    2. That they have things to learn from the pirates and what people are pirating. Then they turned around and offered free viewings of past episodes of their popular shows on ABC.com.

    Having a voice is always useful and well received. Nothing is more frustrating than always being drowned out by a louder minority just because your channels are not being tuned into.

  3. Matt–I agree. This is a great time to be a Disney fan. So many cool things are available: information on other parks around the world, great sites and podcasts that help plan better vacations and the online Disney community.

    Don’t always trust the author of the post. This is another great topic that Andy and I tag-teamed!

    Our grade: F+

  4. This is a great time for bloggers. I can absolutely attest to this as I work by day for a law firm that represents numerous big shot corporations and have actually done research on what is called “viral marketing”. Coporations are interested in what the community is saying about about their products and services and the people in the marketplace are finally wielding some power again. And it makes sense. Big companies don’t want their brand being slandered all over the net. And even one blog post can spur a whole frenzy of uproar in the blogging community. Corporations also know that the potential for damage, and for good, is exponential and they have an incentive to listen to what their consumers are saying. As always it’s important to have this system of checks and balances in place – it all works toward the democratic good. We demand that Disney give us a 25th celebration to be proud of and they make boucoup bucks when bloggers and blog readers throng to the park to celebrate. In a way, corporations can’t afford to lose the blogging community – we’re their cheapest advertisers.

  5. Well, great…We all have an active voice…but what, honestly, is anyone doing with that voice.
    Altering vacation futures and visions of an unreal ideal.

    Let’s take that same fervor and change the world. Own your vision and execute accordingly.

    If people loved life and community with the same zeal I see in this blog…might we not effect positive change?

    Don’t get me wrong…I am a Disneyphile myself, but only in the vain by which I can integrate it into other’s spirits.

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