WWEWDW: Remembering Marty Sklar

I wrote this blog separately from DillosDiz in 2013 following reading Marty Sklar’s book today. I was amazed by how many of his ideals I truly value – and may be why I continue to watch pro wrestling!

Most of the links and images have since been removed – enjoy!

Over the past 24 hours, I have completed renowned Walt Disney Imagineer Marty Sklar’s book ‘Dream It! Do It! My Half Century of Creating Disney’s Magic Kingdoms’ and have been disappointed by my third WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) pay per view in the past two months. The disappointment of the latter led into my thoughts abut the former and how these two entities – Disney & professional wrestling/sports entertainment/rasslin’ have consumed a large portion of my life.

Seriously. You would be horrified if I showed you a pie chart.

The pay per view was the Survivor Series. When I was a kid, this was a Thanksgiving tradition – a rare opportunity to see superstars fight other superstars in rare 5 of 5 elimination style match-ups. The past 15 years of cable televised wrestling, initiated by the mid-90’s competition resulting in WWE buying out its rival WCW, have diluted this format. There are very few matches that feel fresh or unique and the challenge the company is facing in creating compelling storylines for, um, renewed rivalries is quite evident.

Last night, the best match on the card was the one that paid homage to the days of yore: the 5 on 5 elimination style matchup. And it made me long for the simplicity. It made me want to say to whomever in Stamford, Connecticut may listen – keep it simple, stupid.

So, it was quite interesting this morning as I finished Mr. Sklar’s book that he references the k.i.s.s. – It made me flip back to his creation, ‘Mickey’s Ten Commandments’ (there are actually 40, but he started with 10) to see if I could draw parallels betwixt the world of Disney Parks and the world of the WWE to see why the struggles are the way they are.

1. Know your audience.

Now, if you read the internet about wrestling (and SO MANY of you reading this blog right now do…), the collective fists have been shaking in the air for about 3 months regarding the use of Daniel Bryan. He’s not a giant. He’s not a powerlifter. He’s not the leading man type. Daniel Bryan is an underdog who became the most exciting entertainer in the WWE during the Summer of 2013. The audience reaction grew, intensified, with their responsive chants of ‘YES! YES! YES!

When the face of the company, John Cena, needed surgery and a few months off, it was clear who should take the ball and run with it for that period of time. The audience dictated it.

Instead, they demeaned Bryan on television. Pointing out the flaws. We’re all led to believe these are just villainous things to do, but audiences are not stupid. They could sense it. They knew this story was not going to end well. For four consecutive pay per view events, where the audience pays $55 to watch at home – the WWE stripped their audience of a happy ending.

The audience is still waiting. And sitting on their hands for the current main events taking place.

Know your audience – which you may be thinking about me and my blog as I write about pro wrestling/sports entertainment.

2. Wear your guests’ shoes.

Critics will also say that the WWE never thinks about the audience’s perspective. That the company will run gags and gimmicks that amuse themselves more than what the millions of Twitter followers think.

This, honestly, has been going on for years. What the company seems to be failing at is taking the time and patience for the audience to accept the gags and gimmicks (the ones that work) before the company changes direction, or trying to force feed corporate methodology when we accept them too quickly. This has made the audience complacent.

3. Organize the flow of people and ideas.

“Make sure there is a logic and sequence in your stories and in the way guests experience them.”

Last night was the first staredown between the storyline driven ‘face of the company’ Randy Orton & the ACTUAL face of the company since 2005, John Cena. Cena returned from injury last month – why would we want to follow a storyline about the evil ‘Authority’ (Owner Vince McMahon’s daughter Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley and, her husband, multiple time champion Triple H) wanting Orton as the face of the company when the face of the company has been back for a month? And we all know he’s the face of the company without question?*

*this opinion is subject to change based on the direction of this developing storyline

4. Create a visual magnet.

Well, there’s a ring – so, bravo!

5. Communicate with visual literacy (color, shape, form, texture – all nonverbal ways of communication)

Whether it’s the mood lighting for Sin Cara….

Or, structures, like the Hell in the Cell…

Or, the awesome new entrance of The Wyatt Family.

WWE plays with these forms more than we realize, which is, in part, why we keep watching. It’s visually appealing.

6. Avoid overload – create turn-ons.

“Resist the temptation to overload your audience with too much information…”

I’m looking at you broadcast team. You want to promote the main event during a lower level match, that’s one thing. Having a completely off topic conversation or engaging in bad word play while a match is taking place? Channel flipping worthy.

7. Tell one story at a time.

WWE has 50+ wrestlers/sports entertainers that they are trying to get on television every week, so there are multiple stories. Let’s just take a look at a couple:

The Miz: he just became a bad guy (I think..) last week after a a year long dalliance as a good guy… are we going to find out why? Does this character have an objective? You know, like characters do in stories.

Big Show: he was fired by the McMahon-HHH ‘Authority’ because he wouldn’t do what he was told, then rehired after filing a lawsuit. Then, he was rehired and demanded a title match at the Survivor Series pay per view. Who’s the protagonist and who’s the antagonist in this scenario? Because, when he lost his match to Randy Orton…

Ok, that’s all I got.

8. Avoid contradictions – maintain identity.

There are characters who maintain their identity despite the many changes that is weekly episodic television. John Cena, he who is WWE’s Superman, is loved by half the audience and absolutely loathed by the other half. He has had a longer run at the top of the company than Hulk Hogan did in the 1980’s prime of Rock ‘n’ Wrestling. That’s the first problem – burn out – and a stark refusal by some, or all, of the players involved to adapt and change with the times. The second problem is when Cena should be emotionally phased by a storyline occurrence- he isn’t, and when he is – he shouldn’t be. Despite the countless times he has lost titles or just his matches, we have never seen John Cena’s kryptonite, or believed that it was kryptonite if it was staring us in our Metropolized faces. His Wrestlemania 29 match against Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson was the climax of a story for Cena, where he struggled for 12 months following his loss to Rocky at WM 28…

Except he beat Brock Lesnar a month after that loss. You know, Brock Lesnar from UFC? After Lesnar destroyed him for 20 minutes.

Nobody bought into this redemptive storyline.

Identity? Yes. Contradictions? Aplenty.

9. For every ounce of treatment, provide a ton of treat.

I think the argument by many would be that they are getting an ounce of treat because there is no treatment.

10. Keep it up! (maintain it!)

Here’s the last one. For three months, WWE has been maintaining mediocrity (and I’m being nice). This is unfortunate due to the amount of excitement brewing within their roster: The Shield, The Wyatts, Cesaro and his giant swings, the Rhodes’ Brothers, Bryan, CM Punk, The Usos (if used properly), the AJ/Kaitlyn feud that sadly went off the rails because there’s a WWE Divas show on E!

And I get that the WWE is not a theme park, but the similarities are there – why else would I be drawn to both the way I am?

The WWE is on its fourth decade of being my guilty pleasured addiction. The potential is always there and that’s what really gets me.

What is potential if there is no follow through?

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Moa-mmy MomentsĀ 

I’ve recently been watching Moana with my 2 year old son. Truth be told I have yet to make it to the end since we’ve been watching leading up to bedtime. So far I like what I see: the music, the look and the fact that it makes me want to stay at the Polynesian (as if I don’t want to do that everyday anyway). But – this isn’t a blog to review the movie.
I’m having a mommy moment. I’m watching a new Disney movie with my kids (my younger one is almost 8 weeks old so she’s not watching, just in the room). Aside from Pixar, this is the first Disney movie my 2 year old has been sitting through. It’s all crazy to me. Crazy that I’m at this stage of my life. Crazy to see my son act out scenes. Crazy to be able to see the Disney DNA running through his veins.

Sidenote: Not that I don’t enjoy hearing well known celebrities behind many animated films, but it wasn’t like that in my day. I’m happy that Moana is played by 16 year old Auli’i Cravalho in her acting debut. By having an unknown talent, it brings back that feeling that anyone can be a Disney princess and they’re not reserved to famous actresses. The same feeling girls felt while singing ‘Part of Your World’ during recess…um or so I’d assume. 

So far this movie is providing an ode to some of the older Disney movies mixed with a feel of the Polynesian and of course the modern music of Lin-Manuel Miranda. This all equates to major points in my book. 

I love the fact that I get to enjoy Disney movies with my kids, it’s a new level of awesome. 

Sister Dillo

Polynesian Happenstance


The blog has returned!

Brother Dillo here to do a week’s worth of short blogs about his weekend trip to The Diz! 

For my daughter’s first birthday, we spent two nights at the Polynesian Village. It was my first stay since I was a kid. The breakdown of WDW stays looks like this:

Early Childhood: Polynesian and additional MK resort stays.

Adolescence: Beach Club & other EPCOT resorts.

Adult: All Stars & whatever I could afford.

We’ll do a full breakdown of what makes the Polynesian so special later this week. But this place is special. It was the first resort I stayed in on my very first visit in 1981. Now, 36 years later, my daughter’s first visit was here.

On Friday afternoon, when I checked in and learned that my room was 1942. I knew this was close to the number of the room I first stayed in. I called home to get confirmation.

When I arrived to the Tokelau longhouse, I knew that the possibility that this was the same longhouse was possible. But, alas, my room’s patio was (tongue in check) sadly facing the pool.


A couple of hours later I revived word from home that the original room was 1936. I was convinced that this was the same longhouse, but have the numbers changed over the years? Tokelau was previously Oahu.

When I left the room for the first time I noticed the room number across the hall.


I walked out of the building and went to the opposite side of Tokelau to look at the view from the patio of 1936.

It was the same.

The view from the patio of 1936 was the (year)1985 expansion of Moorea and Pago Pago.

36 years ago, as evidenced by this video, there was only palm trees, crab grass hills, and the monorail and ferry heading towards the Transportation & Ticket Center.

This was the building. My daughter’s first visit would be based in the room directly across the hall from mine.

Happenstance?

Disney Magic?

Either way, this was the start of a special weekend.

Finale Parading 20 Years Later


This summer marks twenty years since a seminal time in my life.

For ’twas my first one spent working as a Walt Disney World cast member.

Now, I don’t really ever get into specifics regarding what I did – I often answer that I was in entertainment or that I was a parade performer. The stories of my summer at the Disney-MGM (not Hollywood or whatever they call it next) Studios, while Cinderella’s Castle was being painted pink, are still so vivid. The impression was and is indelible.

At the month of May, I was trained for a role in the Toy Story Parade that in many ways changed who I was in terms of presence. Sure, what I had been trained for previously – both in the Parade and in other areas of the park – required to me to be ‘larger than life’… But this was the finale float of the parade! All eyes on that float! Thousands of fanatics waving over a seven cycle loop, sometimes twice a day, in a very high level of heat.

It was going to be awesome!

There was a routine to learn. And then there were moments where you were free to act on your own. I loved the routine, but I loved the improvised moments more. Sometimes it was connecting with someone in the crowd. Sometimes it was adding a little something extra you picked up the day before from watching a clip of the movie. Sometimes it was creating your own choreography (as if I was qualified to do such a thing). 

Every parade was different. No Insanity workout could match it. 

The day that you have a pack of high school teenage cheerleaders run from the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular to follow your float and cheer you on – that changes you. It makes you feel like a star – if only until your backstage and the audio stops.

May 1996 was the start of a fantastic summer. A fantastically sweaty summer.

Brother Dillo

An Earful


On Sunday, May 1st, the Disney-MGM (we won’t call it Hollywood) Studios celebrated its 27th birthday/anniversary. Just prior to that over the weekend, one of Walt Disney World’s premier identifiers, The Earfell Tower, was removed to make way for the expansion that is the Star Wars & Toy Story themed areas.

130 feet tall and not really a water tower, the punny Earfell Tower was MGM’s true original landmark, trumping replica Chinese Theater and definitely not the Sorcerer’s hat. You could see it on your trip in from I-4 to World Drive long before The Tower of Tweeor made its ominous presence felt on the horizon. It was the button of every episode in the early seasons of the All New Mickey Mouse Club. It was a sign to all of us at home that things were really happening at the Park.

But I won’t shake my fist at its loss the way I might some of the Streetmosphere characters or Osborner Christmas lights. The park is nowhere near its original purpose anymore and hasn’t been for years. The removal of the tower is the official symbol of that. 

Just remember that while it’s not good to live in the past, nostalgia is very real element of the Disney Parks. It’s a delicate line for the Diz to walk and serve all generations.

Brother Dillo

Publicly No Longer Working

This no blogging for 5 months thing really needs to stop!

We at DillosDiz are long time admirers of the Citizens of Hollywood, aka Streetmosphere, aka Streetmo, aka the reason why Brother Dillo became an interactive theater performer:

Earlier this year, Disney took a machete to their live entertainment budget and hacked into Streetmo. Some say it’s because of Shanghai. Some say it’s because of the the Studios’ expansion into ‘Star Wars’ & ‘Toy Story’ lands. Either way, a great portion of what provided that Disney impression upon entering Studios, and what makes their parks so different from any other themes attraction in the world, has now been diminished. The old time Hollywood Boulevard just past the turnstiles (oops, no more turnstiles) now inhabits fewer citizens.

The big blow to the guests of the Studios is the elimination of the Hollywood Public Works. Perhaps the most identifiable in all of Streetmosphere, this trio of (assumed) union workers drove their truck into comedy gold multiple times a day for a quarter of a century. In the style of The Three Stooges or any other vaudevillian combo you can think of, their work was a lesson, not only in comedy, but in timing & rhythm.

I’ve been lucky to get to know some of the performers who donned the overalls over the years (two of whom appear in the video below). It’s sad to know that their legacy will no longer live on. 

The only question I can feasibly ask now that the truck has been parked is —- who’s going to check the water?!?!

Brother Dillo

Beach Club at 25: What’s in a Color

This three part series just became four parts!

A question I always pose to myself when daydreaming of being poolside at Disney’s Beach Club Resort (I’m not about to go throwing the Vacation Club moniker in there) is… If I stayed in the Yacht Club first, would I love the Yacht Club more than the Beach Club?

No.

Why not?

Because the Yacht Club is grey and the Beach Club in the brightest of light blue. A light blue that accentuates the cream colors of the lobby and the chlorinated water. Walking from Yacht to Beach is like unto walking from Kansas to Oz – and the shipwreck in Stormalong Bay was from a tornado…

Wait, was that part of the design? Did I hear that some place before?

Is that an Imagineering choice?

::Googles::

No immediate luck (that’s to be continued).

There is something about that New England Cape Codian blue that to this day defines the Beach Club and sets it a part from every single resort in WDW. Every. Single. One.

The Polynesian is hidden within the lush tropics. The Grand Floridian looks out of your league. The Contemporary is an icon. Wilderness Lodge appears to be in a nook. The Boardwalk wants to be a theme park.

The Beach Club is inviting.

That light blue calls to you.

I have to go back!!!