My take on: If Walt Were Alive

This is my reaction to this article, If Walt Were Alive, by David Koenig. I know that it's super-geeky to discuss this, but if you read the article it begs for discussion. So here I go ...

As a twenty-five year old guy, I obviously never had the chance to meet Walt. However, I've xxxxxx for four divisions of the company that he founded - including the vaulted Feature Animation group and the downright horrible Disney Store, Inc. I've also seen the company as a fan - the whole rebirth of the company under Eisner in the 1980s and 1990s - I was there for that. Plus I've read some books.

I'm no expert, really, that's what I'm trying to say.

But I think this article is wrong. I respect the idea, and there were many great points in it, don't misunderstand me. But if Walt was still running the company, and not if he was 100 years old, I think the whole INDUSTRY would be different.

I know, I know, this is a huge leap. As we all know, if Walt Disney was still alive today, Wednesday would have been his one hundredth birthday. But let's just say that he was alive and kicking and still running Disney.

Obviously the whole Florida Project would have turned out differently. Walt's brother Roy O. Disney named it "Walt Disney World" in his brother's memory. So that would be different right there. And Walt originally envisioned EPCOT as a working city, not as the theme park that it is today. There'd be no Disney-MGM Studios or Animal Kingdom, either. For sure no Pleasure Island! Sure, there'd be theme parks, but it would be so very different. If Walt made EPCOT the way he wanted, it'd be huge. Think about it. That city could, right now, rival New York and Los Angeles as a hub of creativity. And I'm not talking Lou Pearlman and boy bands creative. Movie studios, international trade, an instant city - and probably the prototype for many, many other cities. I don't even think we can imagine it.

But beyond Florida the Disney organization would be vastly different. The Burbank Studio would be amazingly so. I doubt there'd be a Touchstone or Hollywood Pictures, and for sure no Miramax either. Most likely the studio would continue to churn out those family friendly movies. Yuck, you say, more Herbies and "Snowball Express"es.

No. I bet Disney would have gotten Star Wars. And Indiana Jones. Imagine that. No LucasFilm. No DreamWorks. Disney would be rolling in the dough. And the entire film industry would be vastly different.

Walt probably wouldn't have made TV Animation, either. Or at least as we know it. No DuckTales, Gummi Bears, Wuzzles, Recess, Pepper Ann, etc. If he did go this route, the quality would be so superior to what it is today.

And no lame sequels. No Return of Jafar. No Enchanted Christmas. Imagine this world. "You can't follow Mermaids with Mermaids ..."

Think about that.

But then what about Feature Animation? Would the new crew have been recruited in the 70s? Would Howard Ashman have been pulled in? Glen Keane? Would Don Bluth have ever left? John Lasseter? Or would Feature Animation have floundered and died like it almost did?

That'd be tragic. No "The Little Mermaid". No "Beauty and the Beast". No "The Hunchback of Notre"-- well, you get my point.

But more than this, who knows what Walt's next project would have been after EPCOT? You can reasonably say that his fickle cycle ran about twenty years - 1920s animation, 1930s Snow White, 1950s Disneyland, 1970s EPCOT. I bet in the mid-1990s he would have a new "thing". Some grand new experiment. Something that is beyond you and me.

Imagine this, a world with Walt. Better, worse, or just different, it's still something to excite the imagination.

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