Robert Niles’s article, “Why do Disneyland fans complain so much?” has recently been spread around a lot of Disney fan communities. In the article, Niles writes that [hardcore] Disney fans hate seeing the parks change and then goes on to question why these fans continue to go to Disneyland if it angers so much. Another thing Niles discusses is that the changes has no effect on Disney so they don’t care about fan opinion. The author also tells these fans to just go to Universal Studios if these changes upset them so much. This is all complete nonsense.
According to Niles, these Disney fans hate change. Niles lists some examples of this hated with the change from Aladdin to Frozen and Tower of Terror to Guardians of the Galaxy. While there are the undeniable purists who think a parking lot is better than Disney California Adventure or that Disney serving Starbucks coffee ruins theme, this is not what most Disney fans believe. I’ve found that with most of the Disney fans that “hate change” don’t actually have a problem with change in Disneyland. The reason so many Disney fans get angry about these changes isn’t because they want Disneyland to stay the same forever, but because the changes aren’t good.
While we can only predict what Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission Breakout will be like, expectations are low. As for the change from Aladdin to Frozen in the Hyperion, we can look at that. Aladdin was highly praised throughout its run as a show of Broadway caliber. Naturally, that’s hard to beat. Nonetheless, when Frozen was announced, I was one of the few people cheering on the change. Aladdin had been running for 13 years at the time and had already escaped eviction once. Unlike with Tower of Terror’s change, it was perfectly understandable for the removal of Aladdin and I figured Disney wouldn’t remove one of their greatest shows for something mediocre. And yet, I was wrong.
When Frozen opened at Disney California Adventure, it was welcomed with less than positive reviews. It ran too long, the costumes were generic, there were no sets just a giant movie screen, it was a direct retelling of the film with nothing new, etc. For everything Aladdin did right, Frozen did the opposite. While some of the hatred for this change stemmed from the Frozen hate crowd, the majority of people were looking just at the quality of the show and it was a massive step down.
This step down in quality is undeniable and that’s really what Disney fans hate so much about a lot of these changes. People complain about Aladdin to Frozen, and Country Bear Jamboree to Winnie the Pooh, and People Mover to Rocket Rods to nothing, and Soarin’ over California to Soarin’ Around the World, not because they hate change, but because the changes being made are bad. That’s why there’s never an outcry about changes such as Superstar Limo to Monsters Inc.; it’s a change from a bad attraction to something (in this case, slightly) better. To put this into perspective for those who do not understand, imagine if Pirates of the Caribbean was replaced with Superstar Limo or Sleeping Beauty Castle was torn down and replaced with a Festivus pole. Bad, right? You’d be outraged, I’d hope. This is because the changes are a step down rather than an improvement.
To justify changes like this, Disney apologists tend to use the famous quote “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world,” from Walt Disney. Although it’s not brought up in this particular article, it is the same mentality he is using, more or less. What this argument fails to realize, however, is that changes from Tower of Terror to Mission Breakout lack the key ingredient: imagination. That lack of imagination only creates more anger in Disneyland fans.
On top of that, using the quote implies that these are the sort of changes Walt himself would be alright with. Now, neither me, you, or Niles know what Walt would want to be done with Disneyland today, but we do know that Walt never removed an attraction to replace it with a product of lesser quality. Whether that be the Flying Saucers or the Viewliner, whatever Walt replaced, the new attraction was better. These actions of Walt are part of why Disney fans get so angry when a new attraction isn’t superior to its predecessor because they know it isn’t what Walt would have done.
As Niles asks, if Disney fans hate these changes so much, why do they keep going? In all honesty, it’s a very stupid question. The answer is actually the same as to why Disney fans do constantly complain, and that’s because Disney fans love the park. It’s their love for Disneyland that keeps them going and it’s their love for Disneyland that makes them complain. It’s the simple truth that when you love something, you want what’s best for it. Just like you would never want to see your teenage daughter get herself hurt by making poor decisions, you don’t want to see the same thing happen to Disneyland. Just like your teenage daughter, however, Disneyland also doesn’t care what you think.
Niles himself addresses it, and the reality of the matter is, Disneyland is doing fine. To Disney management, if a bunch of “Disney park elitists” don’t like a change, it makes no difference to them. Whether these rabid fans are complaining or not, Disney is bringing in money for Disney. But for how long? Disney has gotten its name recognition because of their quality storytelling and immersive worlds being so much better than the competition. By letting the quality in attractions dip, people won’t be enjoying the park anymore. Eventually, when everything in Disneyland is so reliant on screens rather than practical effects, it will feel cheap, and it will feel like Universal Studios. At that point, what separates the two? People will stop going to Disney Parks once they realize they’re no better than anyone else like they once were.
This brings me to my final point. Niles suggests that Disney fans, if unhappy with Disneyland, should just go to Universal Studios. Now I’m not here to knock Universal, if you like it, good for you, but from what I know about recent additions, in both Orlando and Hollywood, is that their attractions are all screen based. While Potter and Spider-Man are praised, Transformers, Despicable Me, and especially Kong have all been criticized for their overabundance of screen usage. Universal has also been criticized for taking out their classic attractions, such as Back to the Future, and replacing them with these subpar movie rides based on the flavor of the month. If you go to look at complaints regarding Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout!, you’ll see the same fears around it that people criticize Universal for. What these Disney fans that Niles criticize fear is for Disneyland to become like Universal with low quality screen rides that will be replaced every five to ten years. To suggest that Disney fans go to Universal Studios as a replacement for Disneyland when it’s so clear that they don’t want what Universal offers, it simply makes no sense.
These hardcore Disneyland fans that are being attacked in this article do not hate change because they never want anything to be different, but because they expect quality storytelling and immersion that only Disney has ever been able to provide. Niles has no grasp on the people who he is talking about, and once you break it down, the entire article makes simply no sense.