April 12, 2023


Ep. 305 - Bonus - Using Your Imagination: Talking with Former Disney Cruise Line Imagineer Theron Skees

Hosted by

Brian Sam
Ep. 305 - Bonus - Using Your Imagination: Talking with Former Disney Cruise Line Imagineer Theron Skees
DCL Duo Podcast: A Disney Cruise Line Fan Podcast
Ep. 305 - Bonus - Using Your Imagination: Talking with Former Disney Cruise Line Imagineer Theron Skees

Apr 12 2023 | 01:12:00


Show Notes

We're chatting with former Disney Imagineer Theron Skees this week. Theron was the portfolio manager for Disney Cruise Line for five years, overseeing design updates to the existing fleet and Castaway Cay, as well as managing the design of DCL's newest ship, the Wish, and it's newest island destination, Lighthouse Point. We couldn't wait to hear Theron's thoughts on the existing fleet, the design of the Wish, Disney Cruise Line's purchase of the Global Dream, and what it's like designing DCL's famous island destinations. All that and more on this week's episode!

If you want to join the DCL Duo Inaugural Podcast Crusie aboard the Disney Magic for her three-night sailing on June 19, 2024 from Ft. Lauderdale to Nassua and Lighthouse Point, you can head over our to our booking page at My Path Unwinding Travel to secure your room today!! Rooms are going fast and some categories are already sold out.  So, book today to ensure you can join us for all the fun in Summer 2024!!  We've got so many exciting things planned, you won't want to miss this opportunity.

If you are looking to book your next Disney Cruise, have been thinking about sailing concierge, have been eying an Adventures by Disney Trip, or are interested in what other kinds of vacations might be available, then head over to My Path Unwinding Travel so Karen and her team of expert travel professionals can help you find the perfect vacation for you and your family.  Karen and her team are knowledgeable, responsive and welcoming and we are so excited to have them as a sponsor of your show!

If you use Sea Bands to help prevent seasickness and motion sickness, then you need to check out Blisslets (via our affiliate link), a stylish alternative to traditional sea sickness bands designed to fit your lifestyle.

Would you like a little downtime for date night or just some time to reconnect as adults on your next Disney vacation? Be sure to check out Nanny Land!! They've got tons of options from babysitting services, in-park nannies, and even nannies who will come with you on your next DCL vacation.  They cover all of the Disney parks and resorts, world-wide, and are probably much more affordable than you might imagine.  Use our affiliate Crown Code: KING85 to get a discount on your next Nanny Land booking.

The DCLDuo Podcast is a weekly Disney Cruise Line and Disney travel focused podcast.  If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a 5 star review on Apple Podcasts. Our podcast is also available on Pocket Casts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, TuneIn, Amazon Music, and most other major podcast providers. You can also like and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @DCLDuo. You can also join our Facebook Group, and subscribe to our YouTube channel for even more great content. If you'd like to be a guest on the show, you can email us at [email protected]. You can also connect with us and read our blog at our website. Or you can become a supporter of the show over at Patreon. If you want to see even more ways to connect with us, including our Etsy Store, just hit up our LinkTree.

The views in this podcast are our own, and are not those of the Walt Disney family of companies, Disney Cruise Line or the Walt Disney theme parks or resorts. If you have questions about a Disney vacation or any of the Disney offerings discussed in this podcast please contact Disney directly or discuss with your Disney travel agent. Thanks for listening!!

We're also listed alongside some other great Disney podcasts at:  Top 100 Disney Podcasts

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

00:00.45 dclduo Welcome back everybody to this week's episode of the DCL duo podcast brought to you by my path unwinding travel and Sam it doesn't get any more exciting than this around here does it I mean we we actually I was thinking we have actually had 1 other former imagineer on this podcast. 00:18.30 Sam True. 00:19.44 dclduo That's our good friend mikale who worked in Disney Imagineer and universal imagineering for a little bit on Harry Potter world yes that's true that's true universal creative thinking? Um, but we are excited today because we have. 00:23.86 Sam Or whatever they call imagineering it universal they don't call it Im imagineary. But. 00:37.23 dclduo Another former Disney imagineer. But more importantly, a former Disney imagineer who worked on Disney Cruise line one of our favorite favorite topics and so I want to start by welcoming Theron to the show. Welcome Theron. 00:48.94 Theron Hi everybody thanks for having me you've tapped into somebody who loves to talk about story and theme and of course we are huge Disney Cruise line fans ourselves. 01:00.82 dclduo Yes, we are so excited. 01:02.65 Sam Ah, how many times how many times there and have you been on the cruise line as a passenger then. 01:11.53 Theron Probably close to 20 cruises. 01:15.67 Sam Oh wow, you're getting close to pearl status there. 01:16.16 dclduo Okay, well. 01:22.43 Theron Well they yeah we prove so much we there wasn't a pearl status right? ah. 01:26.25 Sam Um, ah. 01:26.56 dclduo Which which ships did you make it on there and. 01:32.50 Theron Um, we've been on every ship except the new one. We haven't been on the wish yet. So my my family gives me post it notes daily about ah book a cruise Dad book a cruise. 01:35.34 dclduo Okay, okay, all right. 01:43.87 Sam I Love that. 01:44.61 dclduo Ah, ah, all right and I want to I want to get and I want to get this right? You were the vp and portfolio I come to get it wrong owner or manager for dcl for 5 years is that right. 01:58.66 Theron That's right? Yeah Im imaginering loves their titles right? So the official title was um, executive Um, no creative portfolio executive. 02:10.94 dclduo Okay, okay. 02:12.58 Theron Basically, it's a creative vice president that kind of partners with the operations team and ah we at the time I was responsible for um, all of the really fun stuff that the Disney Cruise line did that at that time they purchased a New Island destination in the Bahamas lighthouse point. We did lots and lots every year we did ah a dry dock on the ships on the current fleet and of course designing the the 3 new ships so it was it was a really exciting portfolio. Lots going on lots and lots of design work. 02:42.62 Sam That amazing how does 1 sorry Brian I was going to say how to okay. 02:44.75 dclduo Well, we had a ah hold on Sam Louis let me see that one up hold on. Let me see this up because I want hide. So um, so theron one of we we have a we have a group of folks who support the podcasts. Ah, and. We solicit them for some questions and I wanted to start off with one of those questions from one of our Patreon supporters and they asked how'd you get involved with Disney Cruise line as opposed to some of the other areas at Disney. 03:11.73 Theron That's a really great question. Um I'll say that the Disney Cruise line role that I was assigned to was actually the last role that I had with the company so I started as a theme park guy quote unquote. Um, way back in 9091 helping to build ah euro disneyland as it was called in the day and um I came out of film and television. So I was a sculptor and ah a painter and grew into set design and all that stuff and made my way into the the world of theme parks where. 03:27.98 dclduo So. 03:46.20 Theron All the cool stuff you did in film was now permanent. You know it wasn't torn down ah thrown into the dumpster or whatever it was. It was real and permanent. So um I had done attractions and hotels. Um, big resort development projects. Um. All the way through to what we call ourd and e retail dining and entertainment. Um I was a creative executive over the Disney Springs project here in Orlando um spent quite a lot of time overseas again, a tower of terra in Paris parks and that whole land that was built and um, spent 4 years in Hong Kong um which was really fun. So the cruise line was kind of the culmination of all of that. Ah amazing, cool stuff that I got to do in my early career. 04:33.51 dclduo I Thought you were going to jump it. Go see him. 04:35.21 Sam Um, can you tell us you know? Yeah sorry when you transitioned into working on dcl stuff which we know includes Castaway key. It includes the dry docks for the 4 existing ships. Um or the original ships I should say. And then of course the design for the wish and her so 2 sister ships yet to be yet to come the treasure we know and the other ship to be named in the future. Um, you know how did was that transition difficult I imagine it's it's different designing attractions for land. Then it is designing. You know the interior of a ship. Um and you know figuring out what kinds of attractions or experiences are going to be able to fit within the confines of a floating vessel as opposed to an ah an on land. Ah, you know. Disney Park or something like that can you tell us about that. 05:33.30 Theron Absolutely I think it was a natural fit in a sense because the majority of my Disney career. In fact, all of my the new roles that I had every time I had a new role um was something I had never done before um and. And and that kind of suited me my Dna right? because in a sense I was 50% terrified and 50% excited about the role and that caused a level of focus and immediacy of of growth and learning. 05:54.66 Sam A. 06:05.69 Theron That um I don't know for me, it just really worked well immense amount of pressure of course as always and these type of um experience design projects theme design projects are extremely dynamic. Very crossfunctional, lots of different um disciplines and expertise. Um, all have to kind of play together nicely in the sandbox to deliver these kind of incredible experiences. So the discussion about the difference between a theme park type experience and then taking that brand experience uniquely Disney bottling it. And then reproducing it in in a way in a completely different form when you start talking about islands and and ah and a vessel that moves in open water. It's it's a totally different. Um, there's so many different things that you have to consider I think you rightly said. Sam that it's an interior of a ship then of course we all know and love the the style and that sort of golden age ah style of the of the ship and um and that that is representative of the dcl brand. Um, and there are a lot of exterior. Um. 07:06.52 Sam Yep. 07:21.93 Theron Experiences that that guests do but it is primarily an interior experience that you're building and that's the really the exact opposite of a theme park if you think about it and a theme park is even though there are interior experiences crews Um I'm sorry attractions shows. 07:29.43 Sam I. 07:38.65 Theron You know you go inside of buildings. You do things inside of ride vehicles et cetera for the most part. It's a big giant open land. Um, and and you you have that massive scale to play with you can put distance between a guest and a feature. You know, think about um. You think about expedition. Everest for example, right? You've got thousands of yards between the first view of Mount Everest and and the guest you do you never have that on a ship so you you have to take the approach of the design completely different and. 08:00.35 Sam And. 08:07.59 Sam Right. 08:15.78 Theron And you and take into consideration that almost everybody that sails with Disney Cruise line has been in a theme park environment. So um, it it is a challenge but it's one that that I really enjoyed. 08:24.63 Sam Um. 08:28.19 Sam Yeah I imagine it's you know I think about you know cars land. For example, right? You stand at the entrance of cars land and you see down the street and you know that you're in Radiator spring right? and you see Stanley the statue of Stanley down at the end of the street under the street light. 08:28.89 dclduo Do you do you think that. 08:38.59 Theron Right. 08:47.10 Sam And that's an immersive experience right? How how does one create that same. Um I mean we get those feelings when we walk into I don't know let's say I'm going to say Star Wars Cargo Bay On the wish I'm not going to say hyperspace lounge on the wish and I can give you my criticisms as but of hyperspace lounge. 09:00.45 Theron I have. 09:06.17 Sam And ah, maybe another call and another day. But um, you really are in a same similarly immersive experience but in much smaller scale. How does 1 think about what kinds of things you can put in those spaces in order to make them really immersive in the same way that radiator springs and cars land and Disney. Land is. 09:25.63 Theron So well the thing about a ah theme park venue when you start or or water park or or even resort development if you're thinking of it in those terms you you fill that with product. Um I shouldn't say product you fill that with experiences and and because it's Disney branded. Those experiences are ah collectively under 1 overarching story. That's what makes a theme park right? A collection of rides that don't relate to each other in one venue is not a theme park even though many of them are labeled that way. Those are amusement parks those are great I'm a roller coaster and. Enthusiast but that's nobody should be confused that that's not a theme park just get that out of the way. So when you when you're when you have all that land to deal with and all that great open expansive space. You choose stories that benefit from that expansion of of that space. You tend to tell. World based stories like avatar right? like ah Asia you know you're're or or epcot right? You're you're telling these big giant stories that require space and require multiple. Ah, forms of entertainment to enable to accurately communicate that the ship in a sense is an attraction. Designer's dream because in an attraction especially in a legacy brand like Disney or universal is attraction is a building in a ride system that you're literally. 10:57.43 Theron Funneling thousands of people through an hour so the level of intimacy that you can achieve in an attraction from an experience. Design standpoint can only get so intimate right now there there's some that that are not designed to be intimate, but but you know what I'm saying right. The ultimate idea of an experience is an intimate moment with your favorite characters in your favorite scenes being the hero of your favorite story that is a customized personalized experience for the guest and you just can't do a lot of that in the theme park. You can do that on a ship because it's a vessel with a limited number of of passengers that um, you have an intimacy with the passengers over the course of a much longer time period. So there's benefit and there's danger. The benefit is. 11:33.86 Sam Is it. 11:51.31 Theron You get to you We as the as the designers right? The imagineering team as the designers get to think about how to build an environment that is intimate in nature. It doesn't have to be volumous. It doesn't have to be big and the people that you're going to fill that environment. It's a controlled number. 12:06.43 Sam So. 12:08.31 Theron You don't have 35000 people in a park one day and 17000 people in the park. The next day you have a controlled number of people and the ratio of of guests to crew is is is quite high right? You have a a high level of crew to guest ratio. So your service is naturally better. 12:19.48 Sam Okay. 12:26.35 Theron So there's from a Disney branded perspective. The ships always get ranked very high because of those metrics and as experience designers we take into consideration those environments and the mindset of the guest going in to get the most out of those interior spaces I hope that. 12:30.65 dclduo He. 12:44.71 Sam Yeah, no I love that because the cargo Bay is telling this this smaller story about the creatures in this Star Wars World right? versus telling the entire story of batu that you get in Galaxy's edge. So it's It's a really, there's a. 12:46.37 Theron Adequately answered your question. 12:54.11 Theron Right. Exactly. 13:02.13 Sam Big contrast there of telling sort of this micro story versus this macro World Story I Love that? yeah. 13:06.68 Theron And the danger I realized I didn't mention this I'll just jump on this really quick. The danger is that nobody goes to space mountain and spends 7 days right? It's it's and and it wasn't designed for that purpose. But I think all of us would agree that the. 13:07.22 dclduo Sit. 13:24.62 Theron Theme in the design wouldn't stand up to the scrutiny of seven days so the ships in a sense have to withstand the scrutiny of Disney's highest fans. So the materials can't be fake. You know the the inlaid stone has to be marble. It's it's all of those things. 13:27.70 Sam Right. 13:34.35 Sam You. 13:42.76 Theron The experiences have to be a level higher than the theme parks because of that level of of scrutiny and since you're living with the product right. 13:51.80 dclduo So I'm interested one difference that I see 2 in designing a theme park is that you're taking I think I heard you see on another podcast. You know it's the escapism you're taking people out of the reality of their daily life and putting them into a themed land a setting a ride and experience. 14:07.11 Theron Ah. 14:10.47 dclduo How do you think about that we're talking about a cruise ship where folks actually in some cases want a connection to the outside environment that they're in they want to feel that connection to the ocean or the destination in addition to the sort of escapism they're experiencing So how do you think about the balance between. 14:19.30 Theron Right. 14:27.15 dclduo The experience on board and pulling them out of the reality will staying connected to the reality and the environment around them. 14:32.90 Theron Is such a great question because it it. Ah it goes to address the complexity of what of what the ship is ah the Disney ship now the the cruise industry's massive rights been around for decades and decades and for the in in the most general sense people go on a cruise. All of them are similar. 14:42.81 dclduo Yeah. 14:51.39 Theron Ah, some want to just go and get drunk some want to you know escape some want to you know travel the world some you know there's there's varying degrees of why you would do that. The unique thing about disney passengers Disney fans who Cruise with Disney is they not only want. 14:52.56 dclduo Yes. 15:07.46 Theron The benefit of of being on the sea and and have this great escape and you're going to exotic destinations. Um, but you also have all of the trusted brand elements that you would expect from disney and in sense you have them um, distilled in a much more spirited manner right? It's it's not It's it's the it's the um I don't know how to say it. It's the richest form of the Disney brand I would argue because because of all the points that we just made so I think that you have passengers that choose to sail with with Disney because they have a family they want to lean into the brand. They know that they're. There's a high high level of trust for the brand so you know they know their kids are not only going to be taking good care of but their kids are going to have fun at their age levels. It's it's designed specifically for them. Um, the parents are going to enjoy their time. They got their own me time. They've got family time. 15:53.80 dclduo E. 16:05.11 Theron Um, and and and you have the added benefit of going to these exotic locations Again, you can't do that in a land-based resort that is the exotic location and you don't you don't move and so I I think there's the there's the variety of that. There's the surprise and delight of um, why would you book another cruise. 16:14.59 dclduo Yeah, right. 16:24.29 Theron Well, this one's going to Alaska the last one went to arupa then the next one I'm going to is the you know the baltic so and then the the ships take on the flavor and the spirit of the destinations and in many cases and and that just makes some memories that you you can't make any other way. 16:26.43 dclduo Where. 16:40.54 dclduo Yeah I'm I'm curious to this. We're talking about parks and ships and the synergies how much of a feedback loop is there is an outsiders perspective. It's it's interesting I think there's this perception that there's some silos within the business over at Disney but. You see these moments where you know we've got star wars land you know that opens up now. We've got the hotel now we're seeing star wars elements on the ship is there ah is there a sort of feedback loop between the different pieces of Disney to help kind of inform like a consistency in that brand design and thinking. 17:16.79 Theron Um, absolutely um, know that um the company and I parted ways in 2020 so I don't I don't know the details of how everything is managed now and you know the results of of covid on our world and the and the global economy. 17:22.39 dclduo Sure sure. 17:34.37 Theron Um, has shown that things have been reorganized quite a lot. So I'm I'm not speaking to a current condition I can only speak to the way that it was in the twenty plus years when I work there. Um you you cannot get a brand like Disney um, and be as consistent as it is across such a broad. Amount of channels and and not have um ah very talented people who are managing all of this and and synergizing it. Um I know that when I was there especially as a senior ex exact. That's 1 thing that we worked really really hard. To avoid is the formation of silos right? that that's you that's the death of an organization. Um, and especially an organization or a brand like Disney you can't have the the experience that you're designing be independent from the people who operate the experience because they're one and the same. 18:10.57 dclduo Yeah. 18:28.30 Theron I often I do a lot of lecturing at universities and I love teaching the next generation of narrative experience designers and 1 of the things that I say is you know you could spend hundreds of millions or billions of dollars on the coolest physical space and fill in the blank as to what that is a theme park a hotel. Whatever um. If that thing is not populated with frontline employees who understand the story who care about the story and have a really good culture about how to deliver the best service then that thing will be limited because it'll be empty. It'll just be a cool thing that you look at like a museum so I know that Disney. Um, takes that approach and everything not just from a brand perspective but to um, maintain the level of service and and not to erode the brand right? That's the worst possible scenario is road erode your own brand. 19:15.78 dclduo Yeah, yeah. 19:18.83 Sam Right? I mean if you have like a worlds of Marvel restaurant like you do on the wish you don't want to tell a story in that restaurant that then conflicts with what you're doing in the Marvel cinematic universe right? it it doesn't it doesn't have to track you know. 19:31.35 Theron That's right, That's right. 19:34.46 Sam Um, with a particular movie necessarily but you have to have consistency right? like ah ant man can't have different powers on the wish than he has in the movies. For example, right. 19:43.33 dclduo Yeah, yeah. 19:43.43 Theron Right? That's right? Well each one of those intellectual properties um has a brand manager if you will that that works from imagineering with that brand. So no matter how that. Brand that character the you know Marvel universe the Lucas film et cetera how those stories are interpreted from the screen in ah what amounts to a 2 d format gets extrapolated and told in a 3 d living immersive way. There's a lot of translation that takes place and that ah ip owner at Marvel needs to be sure that how that um that ip story is told in a different format and in a sense for a different owner which might be Paris or Shanghai or whatever. They need to make sure that it's represented in ah in a way that's that's super consistent. So yeah, all of those individuals are in place and then the the question that I almost always get is you know why do you close down things like um Mr. Toad's wild ride. You know why? Why do you do that? and and I think it feeds into a little bit of of this question. Is that 1 thing that I I know that um is a challenge with physical locations like the steam parks for example and this is across the board with all legacy brands is how long do you leave that thing in that condition right? Some would suggest if you went to universal studios and you walked into the terminator. 21:05.80 dclduo Me. 21:12.30 Theron It's tired right? It's what are we on terminator 7 or something now it it. So it's tired. It's a story that doesn't necessarily hold up as well as it did when the movies were being released. It was the same thing with Mr Toad right ah ah the disney operations team does daily almost. 21:13.83 dclduo Yeah. 21:31.13 Theron Um, surveys of guests and those experiences that begin to wane in popularity. Um, begin to become a identified as an opportunity for bringing something that is popular and now a show that's streaming on Disney plus um a new. Ah. Ah, character product coming out in 1 of the existing franchises or something and that's an opportunity to bring that in because land let's face it land and you know lands doesn't grow anymore. You know you're you're not growing in lands ni and same with the ships right? You you can't just go scab. Ah a building on the side of the ship. So you're dealing with existing spaces. 22:00.41 dclduo Okay, yeah. 22:09.65 Theron And they have to be um on the in the case of the ship and a dry dog. It has to be um, refurbished in a way that represents the freshest face of the brand as a whole that's why dry dos become so important um is that you you always are keeping that product fresh and new. And relevant to a very what amounts to a very broad demographic I always joke and say that the Disney demo is 4 to 94 right? and you you could have grandpa Grandma the parents the kids you know a multi-generational cruise and everybody on that cruise has to find something. 22:33.19 Sam Right. 22:44.71 Theron That resonates with them on that journey. Otherwise you know Disney's lost you know 22:45.92 Sam Wow! How do you deal with though the die hard the hold on let me ask this 1 question because it follows up on this. How do you deal with the the die hard Disney fan though who says well I want you to give me new things as long as you don't change anything right. 22:48.69 dclduo What what we're talking about the. 23:05.53 Sam So I mean how do you sort of manage a dry dock or a changed. Um you know theme park experience when you've got these sort of loyalists to the Disney brand who who hate when you take away something. They love. 23:05.75 Theron Um, yeah. 23:21.71 Theron Well, ah, that's a great question I'll speak in in more general terms now that I have my own company and I work with businesses all over the world in many different ways. Not actually I don't do theme parks anymore or ships. Um, 1 thing about fans that's fantastic for a brand or for a business is. They're very important you have to keep them as a part of the brand word of mouth the millions of dollars of value in marketing value that comes from a word of mouth is it cannot be replaced but that said and no disrespect to any of your listeners fans can be the most difficult. Part to manage of any brand because they love what the product is but they're also your most discriminating ah ah demographic and in in a sense in that way, you can never do it perfectly as a brand. Um, and I'm I'm just saying that broadly I I don't. 24:01.20 Sam 100 me. 24:15.34 Theron Nobody at Disney that I've ever worked with says that you know we can't do it perfectly as a brand but there's a general knowledge that the fans love it so much and they have such a um, psychological picture of what the characters the stories and the worlds are like that is. Has come alive because they've seen it in a streaming format a film format a Tv format video format game for something they've seen it in some two d digital way. They've visited it in a dimensional way in an immersive way and in a sense that's locked in this vision. This. That now becomes my space. It resonates with me so in a sense you could never do better than what is built in the fan's mind as that universe that they love so much and and that's okay, inadvertently fans may complain about something when you launch it. But they love it anyways, right? They love it. They wish we could do better here and wish we could do better there and and I think that largely Disney addresses that really well I would say obviously there's sometimes that they don't do it? Well obviously there's times when Disney fails and. 25:12.26 Sam Nope. 25:24.63 Theron Don't doesn't do it right out of the gate you know, according to many different sources. But 1 thing I've always said about Disney is that they work hard to come back and make that right look what they did with dcl right? How long I'm sorry not dcl a Dca right? Disney California adventure right it came out largely fans were disappointed. 25:31.93 dclduo Who. 25:44.34 Theron Um, it didn't feel at the same caliber. Well what ended up happening. They came back and spent millions and millions and millions of dollars and and kind of gave it a new face a new level. So I think that's 1 thing that's really cool. Sorry yeah, awesome. 25:52.51 Sam And our favorite park I have to tell you it's ourt Brian and my favorite park now. So yeah, our favorite yeah of of all the the you know if all of the US parks we will both. 26:04.78 Theron Yeah, nice I know I know fans fans don't like to talk about it and guests don't really like to talk about it and imagineers don't really like talk about it. But at the end of the day. It's a business. It's. 26:07.72 Sam Ah, you that Dca is our favorite over Disney Land Park over you know, epcot all of that. So yeah, they did right. 26:21.66 Sam So. 26:24.66 Theron It's a business but what imaginers do isn't art. It's design they use art in the design but design is the whole process is to make money is to solve a problem is to create so a functioning um you know environment. So um Disney will make it right because. It's it's their brand and it and ultimately it equates to you know a financial proposition. 26:48.67 dclduo Yeah I mean it seems like the hazard of what you do or what Disney does I should say what Disney does is create emotional connection through storytelling. So when you rip that emotional connection away from somebody. Some people are going to make a strong connection and when you rip it away that's going to be a hard a hard thing for them. I want I want to ask something which since her time about brand um I heard you on another podcast. You talked very eloquently about the fact that you have to balance these competing interests when you're doing design. You've got the imagineering point of view and that design forward thinking that brand thinking and then you've got the business side thinking. 27:06.50 Theron It's so true. 27:24.63 dclduo And I was curious to get your reaction I know you didn't work on it but we were talking pre-show just ever so slightly about it. It feels like the brand got deprecated a bit with the purchase of the global dream because I heard you on this other podcast again I think I was like oh my gosh 100% agree those ships that we have today. Up through the wish and into the treasure and beyond their're iconic they had their ocean liners their yachts they're they're sailing vessels and I heard you say that you know people come out and we experience this ourselves people come out from the other ships to stand on deck watch them sail in. 27:57.54 Theron Brain. 27:59.26 dclduo You know when you're looking at a Disney ship. The only other ships that even come close are like the canard sort of classic oceanliner ships in my book. Um, and then I look at the global dream and I look at some of the arts that they've put out there with like 6 funnels on top and all this stuff and I'm like that does not look like a Disney ship and. 28:06.91 Theron Um, yeah. 28:16.86 dclduo Is it just a case you think of the business getting ahead of the brand a little bit or the the business interest getting ahead of the the brand a little bit or what what were your thoughts when you saw some of that stuff come out. 28:26.81 Theron Well um, you you just said that I answered something eloquently so I want to make sure and and do that because this is you know this isn't um, ah my I show on my opinion. So um, there and of course I wasn't in the room right? The the worst thing is armchair quarterbacks on Monday morning. 28:34.18 Sam I. 28:36.25 dclduo Yeah, sure sure. 28:44.78 Theron Um, you know I would have and they could have and we should have and nobody nobody but the people in the room who made the decision understand why they did it. But that said, if you don't if you've never been in on on ah on the project team designing the Disney Ships you wouldn't understand how incredibly difficult it is and I mean and I'm not just speaking to for the sake of drama I've designed a lot of thing hundreds of millions of square feet in my career and all kinds of different places all over the world. 29:12.99 dclduo But. 29:19.91 Theron Fitting the program that needed to fit inside of the wish and and that the Triton class was insanely difficult to maintain the profiles of the ship. So the the reason you see cruise ships that look like floating refrigerators is because. 29:29.29 dclduo Who. 29:36.99 Theron It is a shape that allows you to fit the maximum amount of spaces inside when you've got an elegantly curved ah Stern and a very drawn out. Um bow and and very tapered lines that are very very carefully. Constructed and balanced. It is extremely difficult to just you can't just glom stuff on. Um, so that's one of the reasons for the great pride that I have in the team that actually designed um the triton class and I not just mean the things that you see those are. Incredibly cool. The things you experience the ship itself and I ah stand by this toe to toe with anybody I think is the best designed Disney ship in the fleet because and that's not because of the color choices or the theme choices or they chose mojuana and they didn't it's none of that those are all cool. But the core of the ship itself was designed for the business to maximize the business and to maximize the unique way that Disney Cruise line guests interface with the ship and and we spent so much time to get that right? and so I have a huge amount of pride for that. So comments on the new ship that was announced. Um I I was um, completely set aback when that was announced I I cannot imagine the set of circumstances that would ever allow that purchase to happen. 31:13.12 dclduo Okay. 31:13.35 Theron Um, in my mind. Um I even if they got to ship for free I think that it poses such a challenge to the Disney Cruise line brand that I think that in my own mind and this is um in my opinion. Only. That it is irrecoverable from a Disney brand perspective I don't think it can be made in the image of the brand. Um, so you know if if you're going to go that far outside and this is any company in the global economy if you're going to go that far outside of your brand for business reasons or whatever we got a deal. Whatever it is. Then then vary the brand make it a different class make it a different you know, do something different. Um and that way it doesn't have it stand a chance of eroding a twenty plus year old brand that has a huge following again. My opinion only. 32:00.27 dclduo Yeah, yeah, yeah. 32:05.72 Theron The other challenge too I'll just throw out. There is I believe I don't know for a fact I believe it was a ship that was designed for the asian market and we spent a lot of time at Disney Cruise line when I was there talking about the possibility of expanding the business into the asian market. 32:14.18 dclduo Yep. 32:24.50 Theron So we did a fair amount of research with the shipyard and our nautical design team as to what would a ship designed to be in that market. What would it look like what would it need to have and it is very different from the ships. The fleet that exists now just the design very very different. You have to have smoking on board. 32:39.10 dclduo Oh. 32:43.82 Theron You'd have to have a casino you'd have to have several different things that are just completely outside of the Disney brand. So knowing that that ship was designed for an asian market. There's going to have to be some ah lots of blow torches and and and steel saws I'm thinking but again just my. 32:57.30 dclduo Yeah, or or or the answer. Yeah or or the answer to your question right? I mean the answer your question I think the lot of speculation the community that that ship will head Asia expand into Asia and if that's the case. 33:00.73 Sam Yeah. 33:01.33 Theron Outsider's opinion. 33:11.43 dclduo Then maybe the way they preserve the brand is that's the ship that sails in Asia and the other ships and the the ships that follow will sail sail elsewhere to preserve the brand a little bit I want to move us into the want to move us into the wish a little bit that you you sort of you know, highlighted. Um. 33:15.79 Theron Yeah, yeah, but. 33:26.13 dclduo We start we start with this question you mentioned you'd go toe to toe with anyone on the design of that ship and I'm so I'm so curious. Ah you know about some of the spaces on board I don't I don't necessarily want to get into the particulars with you know me said again I don't necessarily get into particulars right away. But I'm sure you've heard the chatter this that the wish has is. Interestingly enough I feel like been one of the most divisive things that Disney has done within the Disney Cruise line community. It is people love it or they hate it and there's not a lot of in-between and I I can't think of too many people who are like I I hate the fantasy they may not love the fantasy but there are a bunch of people who do um. You know you said you design these ships these experiences. Oh we love it. We love it. We love the wish I I a hundred percent agree and canno't wait to hear about some of your your your favorites on board. But I guess what I wanted to ask is you know you mentioned you design these ships. There's there things that people are going to scrutinize and so I think you know we. 34:06.57 Sam We tell him what category where tell him what category we're in right? So ah. 34:12.55 Theron Ah, they shoot. 34:25.26 dclduo You know going in. There's going to be a level of scrutiny on a brand new ship like this but did you expect it to be as divisive as it landed because it's amazing to me the amount of I hate it I hate it I hate it or I love it I Love it I Love it. 34:37.66 Theron Ah, what? what's interesting about your question and it reveals something to me that I don't I don't I haven't tracked any of the chatter I just I Just don't follow it I mean to be completely honest, Um, my. 34:47.16 dclduo Yeah, yeah. 34:53.46 Theron My my world right now is so extremely busy with so many other things on an on the other side of the world that I'm really loving and having fun with I Just haven't gone back and looked at that. Um, but what you say doesn't surprise me um and I'll tell you why? um. 35:10.54 Theron All I can tell you is I can't tell you the way that the ship was finished and the way that she sailed out and the decisions that were made after I left. Um we did under my leadership set a a um, a process and we set up. You know a way to move forward. A lot of decisions and in the the big. 35:14.63 dclduo Yeah, yeah. 35:29.42 Theron Covered lockdown nightmare some of those things may have changed but I know that from our perspective one of the um things that we worked on in the very beginning and the decision that I was a part of was um these we have a big enough fleet of ships. That to duplicate spaces just doesn't make sense. The ships should should stand on their own individually. They should have their not only their own name but they should have their own motif their own design styling I mean we we do that at Walt Disney world right? You got what parks. 35:57.22 dclduo Yeah. 36:03.60 Theron 4 parks you can go to water parks golf courses all these different hotels and everyone is a signature design and experience the ship should be the same thing. Um and why would you sail on the wonder. Well I'll just pick a pick a ship. Well you got a lot of different reasons you have unique show on the one you can't get anywhere else unless they've duplicated it. 36:17.77 dclduo Yeah. 36:22.17 Theron Yeah, have Tiana's right doesn't exist on any place else tiana space. Um the the the the wonder has a unique um itinerary right goes to Alaska it does some interesting work in the gulf it does these things. So now you ah, if you create every ship in the fleet. With a unique identity and and some things are franchises right? Pollos right's there's a there's ah ah, a duplication of effort there. It's a story that's told in many different ways if you could look at it that way and that that's great it. It. It creates a franchise. It creates reliability and that kind of thing. So I think that. 36:52.40 dclduo Um, yeah. 36:57.70 Theron Was a very important distinction in in the triton class and in what we were creating and that each of the 3 ships would have their would go further than the 4 original ships further in saying that the name the motif the um. 37:09.76 dclduo Yeah. 37:16.83 Theron Ah, Stern character and the atrium character would all tie in to the same concept that would all evoke the same spirit of that together where the original fourships don't do that you have a Stern character. You've got a lobby character. You've got you know a design motif. You've got art deco art nouvo and it's cool. It's fun. 37:27.63 Sam The. 37:27.86 dclduo Yeah. 37:34.96 Sam And he. 37:36.56 Theron But they don't tie into each other really so that was a decided difference on the 3 new ships and um, the other reason I'm not surprised to hear you say that is because we grew the ship um by how many 50000 gross tons or something like that. It's got several more decks. 37:52.65 dclduo We. 37:53.40 Sam You. 37:56.28 Theron I think largely the audience feels that it's a bigger ship. Um I think the company was getting some feedback in early days after the ships were announced and some people would say they would so you know stop you in the hall if you knew that you worked with imagineering in the hall of the ship. Um, and they would say we don't want bigger ships. We want smaller ships. You know you can't decommission the wonder and the magic you know because they're at their age when you typically would decommission those ships within the industry I mean Disney takes care of them way better than anybody else in the industry. So. It's not surprising that they're. 38:20.53 dclduo Yeah, yeah. 38:21.23 Sam Right. 38:32.54 Theron You know, not on a beach somewhere getting chopped up. Um it makes sense but but the guests love those 2 ships because of the intimacy because they're so small and there was I I personally witnessed a lot of pushback about the ships being bigger. So I don't know if that's one of the. 38:33.55 dclduo E. 38:50.17 Theron Key things that people complain about or not but that's one that we heard early days and. 38:53.50 dclduo It. It's it's interesting and at least it's so let me it leaves me to my next question. Ah, which is and actually want to come back at some point because I do have a question for you about that point about people loving the intimacy of the small ships but it it leads me to this question which is it. It feels like so. On this other show I listened to you on you mentioned that a lot of what you do when you start this like new class of ship is you really do that like deck layout planning and from there that gets that's design that gets repeated throughout so that you know what you're really doing is altering what fills the space not necessarily the space. Itself and I think one of the big kind of things that people have said about the wish is it's interesting. It's bigger, but it's got a lot of smaller spaces and I wonder at some level hearing you talk about the intimacy if that was kind of an intentional design choice from the standpoint that like we'll create. We'll take the big ship but create. The intimacy onboard the the feedback that we've heard from different people is but making those smaller spaces with so many people sometimes the spaces get really oversubscribed and so they feel too full or too cramped and so I'm just curious I guess maybe 2 questions here one is as you think about that repeatable design across. How much ability. Do you see Disney being able to take to to to respond to some of that guest feedback and say let's figure out a way to kind of reconfigure space or is that really locked and then two was that an intentional design choice to try to marry. 40:24.80 dclduo The intimacy into the larger ship at some level. 40:28.77 Theron Yeah I would say intimacy but also um, some other choices from a business perspective to be able to do that and to allow flexibility and and I can I can describe that um with regard to the process. 1 thing. That's interesting that I learned I didn't know until um, moving into. You know the the whole world of cruise ship design and fabrication in a sense. It's it's ah probably the way that your audience would understand it. The best is if you were are ordering a car from a manufacturer. You know you did the Mercedes Experience you order a Tesla whatever you know you pick the the motors and the wheel type and the interior you pick all those things. But they have a plan to build a car the shipyards the same way so when Disney ah told the shipyard hey we want to build some new ships. They the shipyard and I'm oversimplifying looks through the calendar and says hey we got a ship building window. 41:05.29 Sam Great. 41:19.45 Theron This year and in this year five years from now or whenever because they're they're all stacked up so Disney says great where we'll buy that slot that they don't necessarily buy the ship at that moment they're buying that slot and then they based it on the last ship that the shipyard did which is a fantasy. So now you've got. 41:23.00 dclduo Right. 41:38.24 Theron A basis for your design to start with and you can base all your costing and complexities on and then now you got a time that that can be built so then you structure your team you put the whole thing together and the the format that you're talking about ah ah Brian is called a gla It's um, it's ah ah, no I'm sorry a g I'm thinking about my last project not gross leasing area. It's the general arrangement g so think of that as all the decks are figured out as a floor plan and then on each deck is a box and the box think of it like a shipping container I know that's a dom analogy. 42:14.29 dclduo Oop. 42:15.53 Theron But it's a box and that box is a space. It could be two decks high. It could be 3 decks high. It could be very wide. It could be very long so in a sense. It's a collection of decks and boxes and you have to figure that out now. The decks on top of each other. There's a relationship between them. So there's vertical. 42:32.94 Sam Um. 42:33.91 Theron Ah, circulation deck one relates to deck 2 which relates to deck 3 etc which is extremely different than the theme park or any land-based um space even more different than a hotel. Um, and then there's also horizontal circulation on every deck. 42:48.37 Sam Yes. 42:49.98 Theron So the Ga figures all of that out. It doesn't necessarily say what what each box is ah but you know this is the atrium. These are the room. These are the staterooms etc. So um, we when we had all of that figured out we lock in with the shipyard. 42:56.10 Sam Ah. 43:07.32 Theron Um, what all the ships are going to be built like and then um that the team decides um because you're allowed in the contract a level of change between ships. So you identify the spaces that you want the changes to be able to take place in and you identify the level of changes that. 43:16.89 Sam He. 43:26.64 Theron Are acceptable in each space. So for example, you know that there's a different design motif on every ship I Think that's generally publicly knowledged. So how do you do that right? in the atrium. You're not going to move the staircase to another wall the staircase stays there but the carpet's probably going to be different and maybe you'll choose a different kind of marble. 43:31.20 Sam So right. 43:33.75 dclduo Yeah. 43:46.23 Theron Maybe the hand railing is different the wall coverings et cetera so the chandelier are definitely different and the you know so you the the team identifies with the shipyard what elements change ah between ships now if Disney comes in and says these spaces didn't work. We need to move these boxes around. Absolutely can be done. No problem. It's just a it just comes at a cost. So um, yeah, that's a change order. You might come all way with with 1 or 2 less fingers from that negotiation. but but yeah it can happen. It can happen. 44:05.38 dclduo So question. Yeah yeah. 44:08.61 Sam Right? There's gonna be a change of like in normal construction. A big 1 right here right? Yeah, um. 44:19.24 dclduo Ah. 44:21.91 Sam To that point I imagine and correct me if I'm wrong, but obviously you can't yeah it's going to be a big cost to change the placement of the atrium or the Grand hall as they call it on the wish. Um, but changing maybe a wall or a few walls in. 44:31.27 Theron So. 44:37.95 Sam Spaces that might be let's say adult bar spaces changing the placement of a wall as long as you're not changing the location of the bars and flipping them with where the state rooms are I would imagine that's probably within the scope of of the kinds of changes that can be made from ship to ship is that fair assessment. 44:54.16 Theron Sounds like that would be reasonable the way that you presented it but what you realize is that every single deck structurally is based on the wall placements beneath it. So if you've already met or or on top of it right? So all those decks. 45:05.22 Sam E. 45:11.68 Theron All that weight in everything and the way that it's designed because remember this is a vessel that moves and has to deal with and and and and survive some pretty radical forces at times and that's not a slight on the captain or anything like that. But you know you're you're in the ocean right? I mean. 45:23.94 Sam So. Right. 45:28.56 dclduo Yeah, yeah, yeah. 45:31.19 Theron Can be. It can be a real beast sometimes so you can't just move a wall because there might be plumbing that affects the 4 or five decks. Ah overhead. There might be electrical. There might be structural elements that are in that wall that if you move that it affects 4 other walls. 45:40.14 Sam Ah, so. 45:48.62 Theron Um, and that was the the major major challenge in going from the Baseline fantasy to the wish right? The Triton class was every time you touched a wall every time you move something you spread structure in a different way and impacted things very differently. It very very much is a djanga puzzle. 45:55.19 Sam I. 46:05.79 Sam I. 46:07.68 Theron And it's totally different than land-based construction where you roll into a green field you pour the footers and you start with the walls and and you know Kablam there you are with a with a killer attraction. It just doesn't happen that way in in ships. 46:11.35 dclduo The. 46:14.21 Sam Right. 46:20.49 Sam Yeah, so I have another question that actually came from some of our our patreons are our our most loyal supporters of our podcast I Just want to I want to make sure I ask you a couple of these questions and the first one is are there. 46:23.41 dclduo Um, ah we had a. 46:31.55 Theron Nice. Ah. 46:38.40 Sam Were there elements that ended up in the wish and probably the triton class in general that came based on feedback that you that you received through the company from you know Disney Cruise line cruisers about the prior ships right? like was there something that. People either didn't like or didn't function. Well on let's say the dream or the fantasy or even the magic and the wonder that then was translated into a design element or a change that we then see on the with. 47:11.70 Theron Great question. Um I would say in general the Disney it's been my experience over 20 years that the Disney company listens very intently to all of the guests guests, letters and feedback. Um that Disney Springs project that I led for example. Many of the design criteria that we use to to design that billion dollar project was verbatims from guest. So ah, the Disney Cruise line ah as we went into building starting the the whole triton class and everything the Disney um. Cruise line had already been in operation I think almost twenty years at that time. So there was a fair amount of feedback about things that worked ah you know it was 10 years since the fantasy had come out and those were the fantasy and dream of the 2 newest ships that had quite a lot of changes from the original ships to classic ships. So there was a lot of feedback and 1 story I have to illustrate that is the atrium elevators right? that that midship elevator banks. Um I think the way that it came across to to the imagineering team was that there's a lot of congestion. 48:12.44 Sam And. 48:21.83 Theron In the fantasy and the dream at those midship elevators and um, we would you know in general there's congestion. We identified it as midshippped elevators and um, we need to relieve that. How do we relieve that congestion So when we launched into it. Um, we had We started with a hypothesis. 48:22.37 dclduo No. 48:41.45 Theron And then we went about proving if the hypothesis was was right? You know was going to move the needle or not and I was of the mindset that we should remove the midship elevators and that we should take the forward and aft elevators and move them closer in so the ship. Looks almost like a third a third and a third and um part of the rationale for that was psychological and if there's 1 thing that experienced designers know is the psychology of the guests that they're designing spaces for um and I've experienced this myself right? you walk into the atrium ladies and gentlemen. It's the ski family and everybody claps and the first thing you see is the elevator bank and as human beings we're creatures of habit. That's how I circulate right? So every time on the ship anywhere you walk. That's your elevator because that's the first thing you saw and why I'm having too much fun. So why do I seek out another way. 49:20.60 dclduo Um, ah. 49:35.48 Sam And oh how interesting I just had that I just think that's so interesting I would have never thought of that psychological element of it right? I mean the fact that it is 1 of the first things you see when you enter on the 4 original ships. You really do you see that elevator bank right? there. 49:37.28 Theron So if we remove I'm sorry. 49:54.12 Sam When your family name gets called in. That's like yeah um, you're like blowing my mind in this moment. 49:59.94 Theron That's that's that's what you that's what you think about I mean psychology is very very powerful I mean when you're building and and Brian you said it when we opened. Ah what we do as as narrative experience design is right? Um, in this case, it's called imagineering it. Universal. It's universal creative in other parts of the world. You know that's what we do. We're creating an experience that has an emotional connection with an audience. not a not a group of guests not ah not a group of customers it's an audience audiences can have fans and that's what we're talking about here. There's a psychology attached with building. Emotional connection to a physical experience and that feeds so much into the design process that that that it's hard to teach others to grasp that right? And and um, so that's what was at play in this instance, well we you know you couldn't convince. A business the size of dcl with the complexity of dcl you know it's my gut and I'm telling you. It's psychology where they're like well it makes sense but let's do some studying so we modeled it. We had industrial engineers look at it and did a bunch of circulation studies and everything and what they found out was. I'll be darn. That's really true. We can handle circulation to forward elevator and to aft elevator if we expand them we put we put an extra I think it was an extra 2 elevator shafts. It may have been more than that on each side I think we went to a bank of of 8. 51:29.90 Theron Instead of just 6 I think if I remember correctly and and what that does is it created a really cool circulation pattern on the ship that um, that that actually relieved congestion. so really proud of that fact so what you do in that moment. Is you say hey we've got a space. Available which is impossible on a ship. So one of the biggest um events on any Disney Cruise is the atrium events and and the reason that's really unique on a Disney Cruise because I've I've sailed on so many different other cruise lines. Um, what's unique about Disney is that they have a dining time and a Showtime right early dining late dining early show late show what that does is it creates a traffic pattern within the ship um of those 6000 passengers. Whatever the passenger count is right? that are moving in a very. Um, um, predictable way throughout the ship. Um, they're getting dressed. They're going to dinner. They're dropping off their kids they're doing their own thing. They're going to the kids you know? So. It's a very discernible pattern and one of the things that happens in the atrium as you guys know is the character moments right? There? Yeah, you have basically performances. So when it when we made the decision about the elevator then the team immediately said well what should we put in its place and it was unanimous that we should create a more formal performance environment there a space not just for entertainment and for characters. 53:00.48 Theron Um, but so that you could do a whole lot of things in there building a lot of flexibility from you know where a shore excursion group might meet to get a briefing before they disembark the ship all the way through to you know Jack's diaper dash right? where you got the the little guys racing. Um. So that was really exciting because now you're you've come up with the functional solve that helps the reality of moving people in an efficient way people get cranky when they're not moved in an efficient way and that doesn't matter where you go. It's not just Disney if you go to the mall and you're standing 20 minutes in line to go to the bathroom. 53:24.38 Sam H. 53:30.15 dclduo So. 53:39.19 Theron Somebody didn't design that right? So we made a decision that was functionally right? but then it provided an opportunity to create an experience that reinforced the brand and so anyways, that was a win-win all the way around. 53:39.51 Sam So. 53:53.80 Sam Yeah, so I'll tell you that is one of the controversies. Some people love that and some people hate it meaning the removal of an elevator bank. But um I appreciate the fact that we there actually are more elevators on the wish than there are on the other ships I I don't have a problem with that change I yeah and I love the grand. The grand atrium that we end up or the grand hall that we end up with as the atrium space I think that's a beautiful one One other question I had that's sort of similar or sort of piggybacking on this is if you can tell us was was there similar rationale for changing up the adult. Only spaces on board the wish in this in the way that they are spread throughout more throughout the ship. There are some clusters of adult spaces on I believe it's on deck five um, however, different from the 4 original ships where you've got like you know this. Clear cluster of you know the District Europa um and after hours right? These are spaces where it's all of the adult venues are all clustered together on those ships and we've got ah I would say is fairly significantly different arrangement on the wish. 55:05.90 Theron Yes. 55:07.93 Sam And did that come from the same thought of of this um, relieving congestion or spreading people out in sort of just a practical way. 55:16.40 Theron It was a very purposeful design ah element because design approach because again when you look at the the family groups or the groups of individuals that sail ah with Disney and you examine the way that they move in a traffic pattern. Throughout the ship going from space to space. Um, not a lot of some people explore right? But once you once you've kind of sailed before you really have your your spaces that you go Today. We're going to shop tomorrow. We're going to look at a movie. We're going to go listen to the person in the theater talk about diamonds that we're going to buy. And the next port you know, etc hey there's ah ah you know of a free spa demonstration. So people um, have a pattern at which that they move throughout the ship and to be able to satisfy ah the diversity of the traveling groups. 56:13.40 Theron Um, ah the the company and the the imagine led with them by the imagineering team decided to cluster spaces that featured the most convenient way for those traveling groups to be able to to move so I'll give you an example. Um, you've had a great day ah on on shore excursion. Whatever you've boarded, whatever you're in your cabin. Everybody's getting dressed for dinner right? Dinner's first show second I'll just make it up so everybody's dressed. Ah, you've you've cajoled the kids to come out of of the the kids' room we're having a family dinner tonight. So everybody's together. Right? So you travel down on one of the elevators and the cool thing about the triton is that every single accessible space to every different age group is now accessible by 1 of the elevator banks that does not exist in any of the other ships at all. Um, so you go down to dining together at the end of dining. What. Typically happens is that kids go to kids programming adults go and do something that the adults do they go to a show. They go to a movie. Um, they'll watch a game show that was something like that. So the dining is now condensed in a in a zone together. So as soon as you're done with dining. It's either a very quick elevator trip. We're in the case of of the main dining on deck three. that's ah that's um right by the atrium there. You literally walk out and your kids slide down to kids programming in 2 so now that you are separated from your children. They're having a blast. 57:47.91 Theron You could either a go up a deck to 4 where there are ah plenty of space for game shows for ah bar lounges for comedy clubs for movies or you stay on deck three and you wander into the zone where there is lounge space. There is shopping space, etc. On the other two on dream and fantasy specifically to get to the kids space you had to go all the way back up and all the way down on deck five and then from there you had to go to another deck and all the way aft to the zone and then if you wanted to then gather your kids again and then go to the show. 58:23.70 Sam Yep. 58:26.45 Theron You were reversing that and walking all the way forward to the show. So in the configuration on triton all of that is condensed within a very tight kind of circle. Um, the other thing is is if you wanted to go up and you wanted to have um a cove cafe experience after you drop off the kids literally right there at the aft elevator bam straight up. And your incove cafe you're in someplace private all of the adult area is now accessible by only one elevator where on both dream and fantasy. Even though it says 18 only you've got a public elevator on the forward side and you have families. Going through there all day long that doesn't bother me I've got four kids I get it I even have a grandchild now but some people are like I want my me time and I've got running jumping excited happy families with kids running through a space that I paid a lot for to enjoy 18 only. So I think that that was a fundamental challenge within that design that the the new ships sought to solve. 59:27.28 Sam Yeah I think that's brilliant. My favorite is actually the placement of the kids club I think the placement of the kids club taking it off of deck 5 putting it down on deck to with the slide entrance I mean all of that is brilliant. But I also think the kids. Yeah I think the kids club on the wishes is. 59:40.75 Theron It was a hard sell. 59:47.30 Sam Literally the best kids club I've ever seen in my entire life. So um I know Brian has a question so I'll I'll stop my comments there. Yeah. 59:47.21 dclduo Yeah. 59:49.47 Theron Awesome! Sorry go for it. 59:52.96 dclduo No, no, no so so Theron I want to take us back to something you said earlier in the show I want to rewind us back to the magic class ships for a second you mentioned there are people out there and. Count us among them. We love the wonder the wonders one of our other favorite ships in the fleet, especially if you're just sailing adults I think it's an amazing amazing ship. Um people love the intimacy of those ships and the size of those ships and you you mentioned there they are at end of life for most other cruise lines they would have been sold down market. At this point i. 01:00:09.70 Theron My favorite ship. Yeah. 01:00:24.73 dclduo Totally understand why Disney doesn't get rid of them because of the one amount of love they have but 2 think it'd be hard given the really deep brand design they have in those ships to sell them off to another cruise line like it. It would be really jarring to see that. Yeah, so they got to keep him around for at least a while we know the magic's going into the dry dock here pretty soon. But the. 01:00:33.72 Theron Yeah, there's no way they can do that? Yeah yeah. 01:00:43.93 dclduo The cruise line seems to be marching towards bigger bigger bigger bigger and we've seen you know magic class to dream class to you know Triton class or wish class depending on how they want to describe it today. Do you think there's a possibility that. 01:00:51.23 Theron Yeah, um. 01:01:03.66 dclduo You know as those ships continue to age that Disney might say we need to we need to build a more intimate set of ships to have in the the fleet we can't just do the big big big ships. Do you do you foresee a world in which we get some newer ships out of Disney that are smaller. 01:01:15.85 Theron Um, it's it's a very interesting trend right? because if you at the time that the the team the company was in this design effort and and working on the the new ships. There was something interesting that happened and it happened with one of our design ah firms that that we had hired in to help us with this um was responsible for this design ritz-carlton launched their yacht line right? I think there's 2 or maybe 3 of them. It's very low passenger count and it literally is ah ah like a large yacht. Um I want to say 600 people but that may even be too many. It may only be like 200. It's a very small, very intimate, very chic. Um, ah very luxurious kind of experience and and when that happened I remember quite a lot of discussion in-house that was talking about that right? because there's another trend. That is ah royal caribbeans oasis of the sea right? You've got 10000 people or whatever it is and it's like a gigantic floating mall and a lot of the choices that they made in that ship was to go away from a nautical experience. 01:02:10.79 dclduo Yeah, yeah. 01:02:24.57 Theron Where everything on the Disney Cruise line is nautical right? There's it's always reminding you that even though you may not be able to see the ocean inside this space. Whatever space you're in there there attempts to be some reference to this nautical voyage that you're on because that was the choice that you made others Cruise lines. Ah, have decided not to do that. So it's interesting. There was 2 trends going on bigger and bigger ships pan x class they call them and then smaller and smaller more luxurious ships seaborne crystal cruise um azamaa ah river cruises I mean there's some really great smaller experienced ships that were. Happening. So I know there was quite a lot of discussion about that. Um I don't know if the company's committed to do that or not um, but I think my personal opinion is it would be foolish not to do that. Um, one of the things that was another big trend was luxury in in cruising. 01:03:08.84 dclduo Sure sure. 01:03:23.42 Theron And um, it wasn't just luxury cruise lines where your you know regal cruises. For example, you're dropping 20 grand a person just to sail on those and they still my pet peeve what that was, you're still there with ketchup and mustard squeeze bottles on the outside you know I'm like I pay 20 grand to sail with you. 01:03:38.34 dclduo Ah. 01:03:40.12 Theron I Want to see a little teeny mustard that I crack open with the spoon. What are you? What are you doing here? Um, sorry I digress. So what you're seeing on a lot of cruise lines celebrities done this quite well. Um, even and ncl with their haven class has done this quite well where they've um, they've instituted a luxury class. 01:03:52.81 Sam And you. Right. 01:03:59.85 Theron Disney Cruise line did that they took the walt and Roy suite level and and did that that level then they went up to another level where there was a ah 2 story kind of suite that was there and then the team went even further and did the funnel suite right? Um, if you. 01:04:16.14 Sam And. 01:04:18.49 dclduo Yep. 01:04:19.90 Theron Again, you guys are really familiar with sailing if you if you go to remys you know. For example, you'll see that they offer truffles and they offer wagoo steak and they offer remy martin shots for $1500 and and the reality is that those upgrades they're sold out every single cruise so it was clearly. 01:04:25.90 dclduo And. 01:04:33.66 Sam Oh yeah, con yours is always sold out. Yeah. 01:04:38.33 Theron It's clearly obvious that there's a luxury class that enjoys sailing on a larger ship like that where they can bring their family to um, especially parents of millennials that have kids. Ah, they're probably footing the bill for the whole family. The kids and the grandkids they're going to stay down there but I'm in the you know I'm in the Walton Roy suit kind of thing. And you see that a lot. So I I answer the question by saying I think that the demographics have proven that there is a ah a hundred percent need for a luxury category in the in so in the dcl world and that could easily be accomplished with a much smaller vessel. And you can do a lot with smaller vessels. You can sail the Amazon you know you can do you can do a lot of really neat things. Um from an itinerary perspective that you couldn't do with big ships and and I just say luxury because it's a smaller experience. Undoubtedly it would be more expensive but um, I'm sure Disney would. 01:05:19.88 Sam So. 01:05:36.25 Theron If they were to do something like that would figure out the way to do it so it was accessible by um, as many people as they could I think it's smart by the hundred percent recommend doing that. 01:05:43.36 dclduo Yeah, yeah, what we would be remiss if we didn't talk for a second about the fact that not only does Disney have to design ships but they have to design some ports of call here notably Castaway key and ah and lighthouse point. 01:06:02.43 dclduo Um I will not ask you for particulars around lighthouse point which is coming we expect itineraries imminently and we are Sam and I are both looking forward to trying to get on an early itinerary to lighthouse point to see what that's like what I want to ask about is this that the the the um. 01:06:13.90 Theron Nice. 01:06:20.52 dclduo What is it like designing those land-based experiences because you could imagine a company like Disney saying we got a lot of theme park horsepower behind us. We got 2 ports of call. Let's put. Ah let's put some attractions in there but they went a very different direction. They're very connected into place. They're very understated. Um, they are not perfect day at coke. Okay, and so I'm just curious like what goes into that design thinking what? what? What is like how how do you think about designing those experiences in a way that evokes the Disney brand but I would say is some of the most understated branding that I've seen. 01:06:44.61 Theron Another time and. 01:06:58.29 dclduo You know at Disney. 01:07:00.63 Theron Well I I I would put it in the category of 1 of the the greatest benefits of taking a Disney Cruise is that all those wonderful ports of call. Um I think one of the coolest things that we ever did as a family with Disney Cruise line is to sail internationally. With Disney because you get all of the amazing wonderful destinations like St Petersburg and we flew to Moscow many years ago when we did that and Estonia and the Baltic you get that whole feeling and you get the the real exotic feel of being in those ports of calder in the day but you have the. Safety of the brand and the embrace of of the culture that you're most familiar with when you reboard the ship so that that kind of experience is great and that's synonymous with cruising so Disney I believe took the perspective. These are my words, not not. Not the company's word. But I think they took the perspective of if there's a port of call in any one of the itineraries that we do that we get control of we Disney it should be the most Disney the most cool um the the best port of call that you could go to. Now that said you I want to take you back to the the thing that the point that I mentioned about the psychology it's understanding the psychology of the guests um there's a lot of escapism as a core need for why you would vacation certainly a core need as to why people would cruise because it's. 01:08:33.35 Theron You're not even on land anymore you're in a foreign quote unquote environment that most people don't don't they're not on all day right? You're on water you're in different countries. You're in different cities. So when you go to the castaway key or what what lighthouse point will become. It truly is this tropical. It has to embody the broad imaginations that our 20 you know our twenty first century audience needs to understand or or ah it needs to represent what they believe that is that's all the way from um Rogers and hammersteinsouthpacific all the way through to milwaana. You know it. It has to embody? What are what the Disney guests have psychologically built in their mind as a tropical escape and then you have to overlay that with a light touch of Disney because remember the ship is giving you the heavy lift on the disney brand so when you step off the ship. Really all you want is sand see and fun. You want this adventure. You want the the promise of a safe place for your kids where they have slides and fun activities and things and you want a peaceful lagoon with the most blue water you've ever seen in your life and if you want to just lay there and hear nothing but the wind you've earned that right. And so I think I think that's that's a big part of the Disney Island experience is not to be too commercial. It was really to play up the natural aspects of that um location and let them do the heavy lifting ah before the experience with a light touch. 01:10:08.30 Theron And a reminder that only Disney could deliver it this way. 1 of the coolest things about light house point that I will say because we did ah my team did a lot of the early investigation of the island we work with I don't know if this is widely known but work with Joe Rohodie on the original sort of match or plan and layout of the island a really good friend of mine is doing. 01:10:20.10 dclduo Me. 01:10:26.17 Theron All the art direction work on that now shout out to I won't say his name ah shout out to you but rather good good good work. You're doing um but the coolest features of that space is to me. It feels more like um, something that you'd find in the Mediterranean. 01:10:30.80 dclduo Yeah. 01:10:42.98 Sam I. 01:10:44.48 Theron It it has it has more I know you can you can go look at it now the island if you go to Google earth it has like limestone kind of like cliffs. It. It feels like Malta. It. It doesn't feel to me caribbean and I love that fact that it's such a different natural environment than castaway. But but their their sister experiences in a sense because it's all in the Bahamas um I love that fact, um, and I think that our guests are going to I say our guests I think the Disney guests are going to absolutely love the differentiation of those 2 spaces and being able to kind of enjoy 2 different. Natural settings that have just a kiss of Disney on him. 01:11:23.30 Sam Yeah I mean you can still take a picture with Mickey sorry I was gonna say you can still you can still take a picture with mickey mini. You know the fab ive plus stitch usually on the island if you want to? so. 01:11:23.50 dclduo Well, the only we we talk to a lot of people hold ons you night. 01:11:29.28 Theron Um, yes, right. 01:11:35.20 dclduo Yeah, yeah, it was it I will say we've interviewed a lot of guests on this show who've taken Disney cruises and I have not yet heard from a single guest who said castaway k was off like everyone loves that stop. Everyone looks forward to that stop. So I can only imagine lighthouse point is going to. Is going to be just as great and I know we as I said we're looking forward to sailing there but well Theron. 01:11:55.49 Theron 1 1 of the hardest jobs that that we did on the project just ah and 1 more story quickly was ah we we took a look at Castaway key and master planned it from the perspective of we we basically had to answer the question. What if. We had 2 ships stop there at the same time which is a very real possibility. Um, and and there's a lot of exploration that imagineering does like that for the company all over the world imagineary manages all the property that the company owns worldwide so that was a really fun exploration of thinking of how. That could work how you could master plan the island differently and ultimately the company decided not to go in that direction I'm very thankful ah because that would have gone a long way to kind of ruining some of that piece on the island and I think you mentioned coke okay, it would be a little bit more like that which is totally outside of the Disney brand. 01:12:42.55 dclduo Um, yeah, yeah, well Theron we did not prepare you for what is to now to come but ah we have reached that point in our show. 01:12:46.93 Sam Right? for sure. 01:12:57.67 dclduo I'm going to hand you over to Sam for a segment we call rapid fire which I normally introduce as random questions with a dash of judgment. How do we say this Sam it's a how do we see this random. What's it's 3 things. Okay. 01:13:00.33 Theron Who. 01:13:11.60 Sam You always say with a random question so that dash of does judgment from Sam yeah, that's what you always say. 01:13:17.35 dclduo all right? all right let me do it again. Let me do that again. So I need to hand you over to Sam for for some random questions with a dash of judgment or the round we call rapid fire so sam take it away. 01:13:18.70 Theron Set it up. 01:13:27.41 Sam All right? So I am going to ask you some favorites and you know there might be a little bit of judgment as Brian has has warned you but I want to know your personal favorites. Not you know, somebody else's favorites not the company's favorite. So this is Theron's favorites all right. 01:13:39.60 Theron Sure. 01:13:47.30 Sam Who is your favorite Disney or Pixar character and when I say Disney we're talking the entire Disney universe. 01:13:56.25 Theron Random ah rapid fire I'd say Bob Parr Mr. incredible 01:13:58.80 Sam Oh love it all right? What is your favorite Disney or Pixar or whatever disney property movie. 01:13:58.94 dclduo Oh nice. 01:14:09.87 Theron Ah I'm probably going to default to the incredibles. 01:14:13.39 Sam All right? What is your favorite Disney song. 01:14:14.56 dclduo Nice. 01:14:24.27 Sam Oh fun. Ok so I like it I like it all right? Ok now we're going to move on to the cruise line again your personal favorites So this can't violate any kind of confidentiality. 01:14:24.32 Theron Zip it he do Dom just to wrinkle just to wrinkle some people I'll throw that out there. 01:14:37.99 Theron Sure. 01:14:39.84 Sam Um, what is your favorite Disney Cruise line stage show. 01:14:46.20 Theron Ah, frozen on the wonder. 01:14:46.14 Sam Oh yes, so good. Okay, favorite adult bar space on any of the 4 original ships I only say this because I know you have not sailed as a passenger on the wish. 01:14:49.92 dclduo That's a good one. 01:15:02.90 Theron Um I like the oh I forgot the name of it. Um, the bar that is at the very top on the fantasy between Yes Meridian Thank you so much that Meridian bar. 01:15:11.83 dclduo Oh meridian. 01:15:15.37 Sam Yes, between Pollo and and and remy that's yes, fantastic. Fantastic space. Yes fit. 01:15:19.87 Theron And remy exactly. Yeah, thank you? How favorite if you can't remember the name or maybe that's why it's your favorite exactly. 01:15:21.80 dclduo 1 of our favorites as well. Yeah, well if the drink way I was to say if the drinks are good then the name is you know inconsequential. So yeah, here you go you know where to find it. 01:15:35.36 Sam Um, ah. 01:15:37.35 Theron I Don't know the name of I just know where it's I Just know where it is I know how to get there. 01:15:38.95 Sam And you know how to get there. That's so the important part favorite rotational dining restaurant. 01:15:39.97 dclduo But. 01:15:48.99 Theron Rotational dining restaurant. Um I would have to say te on his place. 01:15:53.30 Sam Yes, that's the right answer you have all you I don't even have to ask you the rest of the questions you've already brought 1 rapid fire all right? But I think I will anyway favorite onboard activity. 01:15:53.26 dclduo Oh yeah. 01:16:12.20 Theron Probably I would have to say spa That's very different than if when my kids were young. It would be a different answer but probably now spa. 01:16:15.48 Sam Yeah,, that's a good one. Yeah, favorite space to relax on the ship not including the spa. Nice favorite port. 01:16:27.69 Theron Yeah, ah cove Cafe for sure. 01:16:29.10 dclduo Nice. 01:16:35.81 Theron Oh my goodness. Um, let's go with Venice favorite port it was between that or maybe de bruvnik but I like Venice. 01:16:39.81 Sam Who That's a good one all right? so. 01:16:42.62 dclduo That's a good one. 01:16:49.36 Sam Remy versus Paulo. 01:16:52.99 Theron Um, ah remy. 01:16:55.92 Sam Aqua Dunk versus aqua duck all right favorite ship. 01:16:58.49 Theron Yeah, ah Aqua Duck favorite rich. That's easy. Um, and and these are jaded because I obviously worked on them but the wonder for me is my favorite ship. Okay, last question is gonna give me. 01:17:11.85 Sam Yeah, okay, now my last question is going to be a little different than what I usually ask our guests because of the unique background you have I want to ask you bucket list imagineering experience meaning if you today could design a space. On a brand new disney ship. What kind of space would you love to design. 01:17:38.38 Theron I would love. Um, it's it's a little bit of a carryover from what we did at Disney Springs I'm a one of my favorite projects in the whole world was Jock Lindsay's hangar bar. It's the coolest thing ever being able to work on the world's only um Indiana Jones themed bar. 01:17:46.27 Sam Oh cool. 01:17:55.00 Theron if if I were to do anything on a ship that I think would be really successful and you could really only do it on a Disney ship because of the story and theme it would be a speakeasy bar. Um, that had secret entrances and um I would I would love that I think that would be so cool. And you could you could theme that in a million and a half different ways and I think there's a a group of guests that would absolutely love that. 01:18:18.60 dclduo Amazing. 01:18:20.19 Sam Yeah, we would be obsessed with that I would also be obsessed with the idea of any kind of like disney themed escape room experience on a ship. Not you know, not ah just a escape room from land and plug it into a a ship but really one that's you know Disney immersive. So. 01:18:31.74 Theron Yeah, yeah, yeah. 01:18:35.76 dclduo You. 01:18:37.56 Sam All right? Well, that's the end of rapid fire. There was not a lot of judgment because I liked really all of your answers. So so as I said congratulations you win. Um, there are no, there are no prizes except. 01:18:46.83 Theron Ah. 01:18:50.00 dclduo It's yes, yes. 01:18:50.25 Theron Um, yay that is prize enough that is prize enough. Ah. 01:18:53.14 Sam Ah, the admiration you get from myself. Ah, but. 01:18:56.69 dclduo Ah, well Theron I just want to thank you so much for coming on the show I know you have actually a Facebook group and it sounds like there's a. Book that you're working on with ah someone else and I wanted to give you a chance to sort of plug both of those things if you care to. 01:19:16.10 Theron Absolutely yeah I have um I don't I don't do a whole lot. Ah on my Facebook page much to my chagron. Ah, just because my consulting business has gotten so so busy um I have a Youtube channel um I have mostly students and. Young professionals that visit that because I do a lot of talking about. Ah how to do a lot of this stuff. Um Instagram and of course Linkedin is probably where I'm the most active if anybody's interested. Um, the website and Facebook it's actually a Facebook group. There's a website that I have it's called ah. How does Disney do that and that's between myself and my partner ah who is ah actually just a fan who reached out to me and we began talking and pretty soon it was like this this could be a fantastic book. So we kind of worked on that he is heading that up and loves. To get stories from guests and and professionals in the field. Um, because that's that's kind of one of those things that that we want to contain in the book. Um, so but thanks for the opportunity to plug that. Um I I have the really great fortune of starting my own company in 2020 that launched and I took all of that knowledge. Working in the Disney Park systems ah and and and imagineering and all of that pixie dust and have a real blast right now consulting with firms and governments and developers and investors all over the world in ah in a wide variety of um business segments. 01:20:48.35 Theron And it's so much fun to talk about building experiences in completely nontraditional environments and helping people to these leaders to understand how their businesses can grow in a very unique way if you think about them as an experience as opposed to. A product and a customer or a service and a customer. So. That's that's been a really fun life after Disney. 01:21:12.29 dclduo Amazing. Well we can't wait to see what comes of your of your book project and we'll be reading it once it comes out for sure. But for now there and I just want to thank you for coming on and spending some time with us and sharing your thoughts with our listeners. We really, really appreciate it. 01:21:27.75 Theron It is my pleasure talking about what you love is a joy So I hope that your listeners learn some new things and if anything that they were super entertained. 01:21:38.72 dclduo Nice all right.

Other Episodes