People Out Loud: Mouse ears – A Disney adventure proves the power of branding – ca-chink!

March 2022 Posted in Opinion / Columnists

I used to think the number one branded company in the world involved Golden Arches or a Swoosh. No more. Not even a close race, like Usain Bolt versus me in the 100 meters. Disney is so far out in front the rest of the pack has been lapped. Twice. 

Having just spent five days in Disneyland and its sister, California Adventures, it became clear to me that this happy place juggernaut has no equal.  When it comes to genius marketing and branding, “Imagineering” and engineering, and ways to make money, Mickey wins hands down. The costume/decoration for a child in a wheelchair, available at several stores, was touching. 

It costs a lot of money just to get in, yet the lines are long and the laughter contagious and comes in every known language. My heart hurts for the ones who can’t pull it off financially. 

Remarkably, the once incredible imagination and engineering genius behind the “Indiana Jones” ride, or shall we say “experience”, is now old hat. The new interactive “Spiderman” is contemporary, exhilarating, and a good form of exercise as your hands are constantly in action taking out dangerous bots. The “IncrediCoaster” is like nothing I have ever experienced. Like a bullet, we raced down the track only to come to an extremely high ascent then deep dive. The wicked corners made me wonder if a large man like me would be the one finally causing nuts and bolts to snap, sending me and my seatmates careening into the Haunted Mansion.  A loop-de-loop was such a tight circle and so fast my life passed before me in a nano-second. 

Seeing this resort through the eyes of my five-year-old and two-year-old granddaughters was magical and a lifetime memory.  To experience the “Teacups” and “Dumbo” rides with them was a thing of joy. Another side benefit? Having no living tissue left in my feet from all the walking. 

Some observations. That place is expensive, so many people bringing their children into the “happiest place on earth” brought in snacks from home and bypassed “Goofy’s Kitchen” buffet at $60 a whack. It also costs extra money to get into the “lightening lane” and bypass long wait lines. It is also extra to get into “Web Slingers”, the Spiderman show and “Galaxy’s Edge”, the Star Wars offering. Ca-Chink.

It is fun for the children to see the “Characters”. Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Snow White… But always from a distance, as two “handlers” kept space between the littles who were born to hug and the stars, who were anxious to avoid Omicron, which is not a ride but a pest. 

My son-in-law is awesome at technology, and that is the name of the game at Mickeyville. There are apps for everything, including how long the wait time is for rides. He is a master of the apps, so even though my wife and I were asked to have “slow moving vehicle” signs on our backsides, we sprinted across the two parks in record time and made it to a plethora of rides. 

My daughter shepherded us and her two darlings across the monstrous theme parks like a fast-footed Sherpa Guide with a two-kid stroller and backpack. Never broke a sweat. And it was so beautiful that while she got her share of fun and rides, her focus was on making those two little girls experience as much as Disney had to offer, age-appropriately. Likewise, my wife was incredible with the two-year-old, who loves her Mommy, Daddy, and “Papa” dearly, but they turn into chopped liver when Grandma Honey is within 50 paces.  She carried her around for what must have been about 3,000 miles. Never complained, despite a once broken shoulder, always interacting with the two little girls, and making sure this trip would be etched into their heads forever. 

It was a memorable trip. The branding stands out, because everywhere we went, including the plane flying to and from Anaheim, there were those darn ears. And those ears are fluent in every language on earth.

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