Do upgrades and changes always lead to better quality? This question popped into my mind when I visited Disneyland this past weekend. Like most people I have very fond memories of Disneyland from our family vacations there during my childhood. I remember how amazed I was by the singing birds and flowers in the Enchanted Tiki Room and how much fun I had riding Space Mountain. I also love the classic Disney characters like Mickey, Minnie, Snow White and Cinderella. With all these great memories, I got worried that Disneyland might have changed in the 15 years since my last visit and that some of my favorite attractions would have been replaced, or modernized beyond recognition.
Disneyland has a tough job. On one hand, they need to keep pace with the ever changing tastes and likes of their target demographic, young children. On the other hand, they need to keep the magic and nostalgia that the adults and parents treasure. A quality Disney experience for me means all the classic rides, attractions, and shows like Splash Mountain, The Haunted Mansion, and Captain EO. A quality Disney experience for my little nephew would be much different and would probably include rides and characters from Cars and Toy Story.
After this weekend I am happy to say that Disneyland does an excellent job of balancing tradition and history with modernization and change. The resort understands the value of its classic products to retain its loyal, older customers, but also realizes that it must create that same value for the newer, younger generation. I was so happy to re-live all of the great memories I had as a child, but also create some new memories that will keep me going back to Disneyland for years to come.
Quality, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. What one customer appreciates may be seen as a flaw or disappointment for another. Disneyland can teach us all a lesson on balancing tradition and innovation. We should never lose sight of what makes us great and should never change things just for the sake of change. Rather than changes, we need to make improvements. In Disneyland’s case this may be as simple as a little cleaning and maintenance on the Pirates of the Caribbean, or could be a completely new park like California Adventure. In the end, our improvement efforts should always make us more desirable or valuable to our customers.