I recently had an opportunity to talk with Thomas Tryon who serves as a Show Producer for Special Events and Projects at Walt Disney World.
Tryon was given the task of bringing the Block Party Bash Parade from Disneyland’s California Adventure Theme Park to Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios Theme Park.
The parade debuted in California on April 5th, 2005 and just three years later it is ready to take the East Coast by storm.
Of course moving a parade of this magnitude from California to Florida involved looking into the logistics of such a move.
The first order of business was to decide where the parade should land.
Right from the start there was no question that the Block Party Bash Parade’s new address would be the Hollywood Studios. After all it is a Pixar-based parade and don’t we find most Disney/Pixar characters in the studios theme park? I don’t expect that Disney’s Animal Kingdom or EPCOT or The Magic Kingdom had a shot at hosting this parade.
From a parade organizer’s viewpoint however, there’s much more to consider.
Once the Studios was deemed the appropriate new home for the parade, the next order of business involved the parade route itself.
Actually a complete assessment of the theme park’s parade readiness for the parade was necessary.
When you think of a Disney themed parade you think of the floats, the characters, the music, the dancing, the fanfare, and everything else that you see and hear during the course of the parade.
Keep in mind that when the Disney creative forces designed this parade they did so with Disney’s California Adventure theme park in mind, Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios theme park was not on their radar.
We’re talking two completely different animals here.
Everyone involved realized that they just couldn’t say, “Okay let’s just pack up everything and move to Orlando.”
There were so many things to consider.
The primary concern was the parade route.
The parade route for the Block Party Bash Parade had to have two important features. The first is that the parade route had to be able to accommodate the parade floats. Size and width was a consideration and with that comes the importance of maneuverability. The Hollywood Studios was far from being ready for this particular parade’s floats.
Some adjustments in the area of concrete had to be made along the parade route.
For those of you who have been visiting Hollywood Studios over the last year and a half you may have noticed some changes along Hollywood Blvd. and other portions of the Studios parade route. Changes have been somewhat subtle but importantly they have been parade-friendly.
It was important to alter the route so that the sides of the route would allow the floats to move through the route with ease with special considerations for turning corners.
The next time you are in the Studios stroll along the parade route and see if you notice where these changes were made, especially in front of Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat.
Now this is just for the parade route. There were other issues that had to be resolved.
Are there adequate spots along such a route in which the floats could stop and entertain guests?
Because of the nature and personality of this parade, specifically the highly specialized floats and their interactivity with the guests, the parade route had to offer some very convenient parade stops in which both the parade performers and the guests would be able to safely enjoy the “party” portion of the parade.
Stop points had to be focused on for safety concerns as well and adjustments in the concrete topography had to be made along the route where these stops would best take place.
So are you with me so far?
There are two more major concerns that had to be addressed.
The first concern was in regards to the garaging of the parade floats. Was there ample space to house these huge floats?
In a word, no!
Tryon noted that expansion of the current parade building was needed so that there was a proper storage facility for the parade vehicles. So that piece of business was added into the overall project for moving the parade east.
There was yet another consideration that I had not thought of.
Think of this, a parade is made up of floats and performers.
A storage facility for the floats was needed and how many of us would ever think that along with the floats there is the matter of parade costumes?
Parade performers wear parade costumes specifically designed for that parade and it appeared that the Studios did not have an adequate or as Tryon put it “proper” costuming facility to handle the additional costumes that came with this parade.
A decision was made to build a new costuming facility that would be able to handle all the anticipated costuming needs once the parade arrived.
Now think about all this stuff”¦.changes in the parade route”¦expansion of the parade building”¦construction of a new costuming facility”¦all these issues had to be addressed just because a parade was moving from one theme park to another.
Because of these issues the actual original planned move was delayed one year.
So the obvious question that came to mind was “Why?”
I asked Thomas if there was ever any consideration to just altering the parade instead of going through all the trouble and expense of altering the route, expanding current buildings, and putting up a new building.
It was his answer that reminded me as to why Disney is Disney.
In so many words Thomas said that we all have to remember that what sets a Disney theme park aside from all the rest is that Disney has cornered the market on storytelling.
Be it attractions, fireworks, or parades, the important thing is the storytelling and most noteworthy, the creative process.
He mentioned how Disney values the creative process and once the creative process has generated something worthy of Disney quality it’s basically “hands off.”
When he mentioned this to me I was reminded as to why the name Disney always seems to be synonymous with quality.
Why change something that has already been proven as being something loved by the guests?
Why tamper with success?
It says quite a lot when a company is more concerned with the quality of its products than the bottom line. And when you think of it, aren’t the returns greater when you put a premium on quality?
It also makes sense to make the venue fit the product rather than the product fit the venue.
Thus the original creative content for the parade was meticulously maintained.
Oh, and about the actual physical move from the west coast to the east coast”¦.
“¦it took 15 semi-tractor trailers to haul the parade from California to Florida.
So the next time you are in Hollywood Studios and you get a chance to enjoy this parade with the other guests you can relish in the fact that now you know”¦
“¦the rest of the story.