I Am Not 23

10 Mar

I would’ve forgotten that the new D23 site was due to launch any minute, had I not just read my BFF’s rant calling Bravo Sierra on the whole deal. And whaddya know, a little google brought me to the D23 site itself, online today.

I share my BFF’s irritation with the whole thing, but unlike her I probably won’t soon shell out $75 for a magazine, an unspecified collectible, the chance to buy more merch, and an entry ticket into the D23 online community.

It’s probably a smart move on Disney’s part, creating an exclusive (and expensive) online fan community. My twitterverse tells me the Disney Digerati are thrilled about the new magazine and the exclusive merch, so I expect they’ll have no shortage of immediate subscribers.

The site itself is quite interesting, especially the Walt Disney Archives. If this sort of content remains free even after the “online community” component is fully populated, it will in fact be a service to the Disney fan community and of much interest to people like myself, who’ll enjoy stories like “Bette Davis, a Monumental Actress, Stars in Disney’s “Return From Witch Mountain.”

But of course, as an active participant in the independant Disney fan community (and a curmudeonly one from time to time), I wonder what this spells for some of my old favorite sites. How will Disney handle criticism and dissent in their online community? The D23 Fan Expo will surely feature big, crowd-pleasing names, but will there be room for community involvement in planning and volunteerism? How will the community be shaped by the fact that only those with the $75 to spend will gain entry?

Case in point: One of the most creative things I’ve seen in the Disney online fan community is refrigerator swaps. On one of my favorite message board sites, groups of people staying at the Disney Value Resorts have managed to purchase and share small refrigerators, coordinating this all online. When you check in, you pick up the fridge at luggage services; when you check out, you leave it there for the next person in the swap. The first 7 (or so) people in the swap each pitch in about $10 to buy the fridge in the first place; after that, all the swap participants can use the fridge for free. Fans coming together to connect with other fans, helping other fans.

I’m not sure we’d see this sort of activity coming out of an exclusive community like D23, and I worry that independent sites like the message board above will be squeezed out of the marketplace by this new Disney product. (Can you tell that I’ve spent a little time in the software world, and have seen Microsoft do some damage?)

You can’t provide someone with a community. You can only provide the environment and the tools in which that community can grow. What will we see D23 grow into?

7 Responses to “I Am Not 23”

  1. sambycat March 10, 2009 at 3:08 pm #

    Yeah! What she said!

  2. Elizabeth Caran March 10, 2009 at 5:07 pm #

    Yeah, I agree as well. Part of the joy of an online community is that anyone can join. This feels really… I dunno…

    Don’t they get enough of my money already? I’m 23. I’ve been to a Disney Park/Cruise or whatever at least 23 times. Shoudln’t that count for something?

    $75 is a day in the parks. WAY more value in that.

  3. chris March 10, 2009 at 10:28 pm #

    It’s the kind of thing I might buy once, but not more than that, probably. There’s plenty of information available online for free. I doubt online communities like the one you referenced will be effected at all by this.

    And hey, thanks for the explanation on the fridge swap. I had no idea that’s how it worked.

  4. Geoff Carter March 11, 2009 at 12:51 am #

    Wouldn’t be my cup of tea even if Disney were handing out something I felt I couldn’t live without. Disney’s record of supporting virtual communities – cough VMK cough – ain’t all that great.

    Besides, the number 23 is evil. There was an en-tire Jim Carrey movie about it.

  5. Jennifer March 11, 2009 at 6:41 am #

    Oh wow, I hadn’t even thought of the whole VMK thing…ouch.

  6. Cheryl March 11, 2009 at 11:10 am #

    my fiance wants to join 23. Im not interested, but I have no problem with him joining because I want to see what its about without having to purchase a membership. you know? I know that we will try to attend the Expo thing in September, and discounted tickets might be nice. Ill keep you posted…

  7. TheOtherIntroGuy March 15, 2009 at 11:27 pm #

    $75 for a membership into a Disney community! Ummmm maybe I am just not right in the head, but isn’t there already a ton of FREE disney communites all over the web?

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