Rusty’s Fix for the Economy

First, go read this blog on The Daily Beast about the Disney Philosophy and how it could help create jobs and turn the economy around.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait…

man, you read real slow

Now, what was missing?

I’ll tell you: concrete ideas.

So why don’t we do this?  Let’s look at Walt Disney World and Disneyland and see how they make magic that is profitable and that will create jobs — and let’s do that across the country.

I only have a few ideas, so I’m depending on you to send me new ones.  And better ones.

1.  Create MANY new venues of home entertainment.

Every media conglomerate in the country can do this — but they’re not.

In every depression and recession, people will gladly buy food and necessities, but not many luxury items…unless it’s pure entertainment — entertainment that gets their minds off how bad it all is.

The pulps and comics flourished in the depression and during World War II.  It was the golden age of cinema, and for good reason — they kept churning them out, no matter ROI or profit margin.  People needed to be entertained for a few hours in order to forget the poverty of their lives.

Create new cable channels.  Make low-budget movies that the masses will enjoy.  Really, if SyFy can make Sharktopus movies that people will actually watch, why can’t every media conglomerate start making more shows, more cable channels, more films, more plays, more books, that will not only create perhaps thousands of more jobs, but bring in revenue for everyone?

It takes money to make money.

2.  Create new venues of mass entertainment.

What if every major city had an area that was a mini-Las Vegas?  Not necessarily incorporating the gambling aspect, but an entertainment/recreational district lodged philosophically somewhere between Vegas and the French Quarter?  A Disney’s Pleasure Island-like area — where grown-ups could go to movies, hit a bunch of niche nightclubs, restaurants and bars, shops, music halls and theatres.

Planning.  Construction.  Service and retail.  Hotels.  Jobs and revenue.

3.  Create tourism destinations.

Look to Hay-on-Wye for this inspiration.  One man had the idea to create a Booktown — a single town where people all over the world could come and find used books — perhaps books they had been seeking for years.

Used books are a resource that are found cheaply and sold, in the cheapest cases, for perhaps 300% their cost.

Why aren’t American towns, located off interstates on the way to Florida, on the way to D.C., New York, L.A., Houston, taking advantage of their locations to become a destination, instead of a rest stop?  One town could encourage the growth of bookstores.  Another could concentrate on antiques.  Another could concentrate on art — imagine a place where there’s an art show every weekend.

Stores will be created, restaurants started, gas stations built.  All of that means Planning.  Construction.  Service and retail.  Hotels.  Jobs and revenue..

4.  Theme your potential profit areas.

Take old downtown areas and theme them accordingly.  Creative landscaping and traffic flow is what the current wave of outdoor Town Centres is all about.  Why aren’t our small towns considering #3 above and theming their walking/retail districts accordingly, with consumers in mind?

Make your town a destination — not a drive-thru.

Landscaping jobs will be created initially, leading to new retail venues, job growth, and long-term revenue.

5.  Create a lineup of festivals and concerts all year long.

Make sure you have a draw to your region where people will be entertained, as well as willingly spending their money on food and retail.

The Innsbrook area here in Richmond benefits every summer from a mid-week series of concerts.  People come to the West End/Innsbrook area, some eat, then go to the concert, eat and drink there, then drive out and continue partying at the closest restaurants and bars.

Create places that people want to visit.  It creates jobs, it brings customers and revenue, and consumers will want to come next time.  The value of Top of Mind Awareness is inestimable.

Your turn.  Send me your ideas.  Lets talk.

Tales from some Grim Grinning Ghosts

Everybody who’s ever been to Disneyland or Walt Disney World has a favorite attraction. Mine has always been and will probably always be the Haunted Mansion.

Like the geek I am, I’ve always been interested in the origins of the Mansion, both in terms of its special effects and whatever sources were influences to its designers. I covered most of the FX in two articles I wrote for Storyboard Magazine way back in 1989 (under my real first name, Howard).

Specific influences, however, have been harder to confirm. I guessed years ago that the Hallway of Doors was based on a scene in Robert Wise’s 1960 film, The Haunting. Just this year, one of the Mansion’s designers admitted they studied The Haunting for ideas.

Now I’ve stumbled upon a couple of other possible influences, these from the ’50s, that I never would have guessed. But they make perfect sense, especially to Imagineers who had been pimply-faced comic readers a few years before.

You be the judge:

Madam Leota’s seance:

The caretaker at the graveyard:

Were these the inspirations for the Hitchhiking Ghosts and their mirror alcoves?

The Ghost Host (note the elongated angle and the portraits on each side):