[Every Unofficial Guide edition opens with a silly story which purports to tell some behind-the-scenes thing at Disney corporate headquarters. This is my entry for the 2012 book. Hope you enjoy it. – Len]
The Importance of Being Goofy
Disney’s hotel honchos are hunched down over a small architecture model of the Pop Century Resort. The smell of stale pizza and flat soda hangs in the air. The first rays of daylight begin to filter into the room, turning a cloud of all-night cigarette smoke into blue haze. A heated discussion is taking place, one that will choose the themes for the unfinished half of the resort’s buildings covering the years 1900-1949.
Eloise P. Cheesemonger, Disney’s Magical Head of Marketing Magic, stands up from the table. “Okay,” she says, “Tell me again what these decades had going for them.”
“Well, ma’am,” said Wally the intern, “It’s pretty bleak. The first half of the twentieth century is a litany of war, disease and financial catastrophe.”
“That’s not Disney thinking!” shouts Cheesemonger. “It’s all a matter of perspective. What were the headlines from the 1910’s?”
“An influenza epidemic and World War One” says Ian Roundbottom, an outside consultant brought in to tune Disney’s message to the masses. “We’ll hang princess-themed gas masks in the room and have the Seven Dwarfs digging trenches between the buildings.” He adds a sarcastic “It’ll be faaaabulous.”
“The trenches would fill with water during rainy season,” says Wally, “and mosquitoes would spread malaria. That’s more 1940’s Egypt.”
Cheesemonger throws a pizza box at young Wally. “How about the ‘20s?” she asks, “You know, the Charleston, Babe Ruth?”
“Prohibition? The rise of organized crime? The stock market crash?” says Roundbottom. “Most people ended the decade worse off than when it began. Tough message.”
“Nonsense” says Eloise, “We’ll put up words like ‘flapper’ on the outside of the buildings, and … and … someone help me here!”
“How about ‘bathtub gin’? With moonshine stills in the rooms that serve soda pop?” says Wally, his voice fading faster than his career prospects.
Cheesemonger sighs, looking for a glimmer of hope. “The 1930’s? Anyone?”
“The Great Depression. The Hindenburg. Hitler.” says Roundbottom. Hope was not forthcoming.
“The 40’s?” asks Cheesemonger, before answering her own question with “For the love of … Can’t anyone here find a bright side to World War Two?”
Roundbottom, clearly tired from the session, rubs his eyes and says “Why not just bag the idea entirely, throw some oversized characters on the buildings and call it done? If anyone thinks it’s not inventive enough, tell them it’s our tribute to Walt’s cartoon legacy. It’s our history. It’s … it’s …”
“It’s the Art of Animation” said Cheesemonger, coming up with the name of Disney’s newest resort.
And so it goes.