28 March 2010

Disney's TRON-O-RAIL Cuts More Dangerous Corners Than A City Bus

Though it's far from news and barely topical,  this is the sort of smokescreen advertising that would embarrass me out of my Mouse Ears and trample them beneath my feet-- if I was still working at Walt Disney World. Thankfully, those E-Ticket days have passed and I'm not there to see Mickey's latest faux-attraction, the Tron Monorail

'Disney Zombies' are a formidable contingent here on the 'sphere, so we're not surprised that many of our blogging kin have been hyping the Mouse's conversion of a Monorail train to a 'Tron-o-rail' as some sort of marketing miracle. It's no secret that we dabblers are looking forward to Tron: Legacy as much as the next guy, but frankly, Ultimate Destroyer of Marvel Comics, we (almost) expected better. 

Only a few blogs (and a fair number of the theme park's guests) have gone so far as to call the single Monorail's makeover blatant advertising - which it is.  It's a one-track commercial, but that's not what really ticks us off.  And we're not that ticked off that the Mouse is trying to disguise and upgrade their blatancy by turning it into an 'attraction', either.  They might not bill it as such, but by giving only one of its eleven trains the Tronorail treatment (to keep it subtle) , by making the train's only route run through 'futuristic' EPCOT Center (to keep it unique), and for the simple fact folks wait in line  for the ride, that's exactly what it is, Mickey Mouse.  In the end, Tronorail is exactly what we'd expect from Disney: just enough  Pixie Dust to misdirect the masses and keep 'em wanting more.
And that's what really ticks us off. 

Michael Crawford, publisher of the Disney news and history devoted blog Progress City USA, said: "...the hard sell has been creeping in [at Disney] further and further. And finally it’s come to Monorails as moving billboards."  Michael, sure it has -- we just thought they'd be good billboards. 

For a company that spent over $4 billion dollars buying Marvel Entertainment last year, pasting Tron decals on both sides of a Monorail to promote a futuristic, high-tech movie seems as obvious as it is cheap. Disneyland introduced the Monorail in 1959 -- over a half-century ago. Mopeds and brick phones are more futuristic.  Hell, we've seen better advertising on BART than Disney's afterthought of a Tron homage.  The only difference is the Pixie Dust.

Like so many other companies, cutting corners on projects and products has become commonplace at Disney.  The Tronorail isn't an idea that's clever or cute or cutting edge; it's a concept that has  all the signs of a lower-level manager taking the initiative on an idea he found at the bottom of a suggestion box in the backstage employee cafeteria.  Disney isn't just cutting corners financially; they're cutting corners creatively, too.

But as we've already said, the vast majority of people, including the transient critics, are happy, snapping photos with disposable Kodak's as the half-assed Tronorail cruises by overhead. It's a testament to modern day mass appeal in America -- and if that doesn't tick you off, it should.

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