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Heroes of the Haunted Mansion: Marc Davis

Marc Davis is one of Walt’s Nine Old Men, who worked many of the early films designing characters that included animals from Bambi and Maleficent. When Marc Davis came over to WED, he brought his sense of humor with him. He added humorous scenes to the Jungle Cruise and was one of the main designers of the Pirates of the Caribbean.

When he was brought on to the Haunted Mansion project, he had to struggle with Claude Coats and his design preferences. The two men were equals in the office. Coats wanted a scary Mansion; Davis wanted something funnier. A compromise of sorts was reached, and Coats’ influence can be seen at the beginning of the attraction with Davis’ scenes becoming stronger in the end.

“I think that’s the whole thing with creativity is if there’s something new out there, why not give it a try?” said Marc Davis (Disney Family Album). Use Marc Davis as your motivation and give something new a try.

Sources: “The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering a Disney Classic” by Jason Surrell.

“Disney Family Album #17 – Marc Davis” at

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Michigan Lottery’s Fast Cash Commercial and What it Reveals about Creativity

There’s a Michigan Lottery radio commercial that plays during Detroit Piston games and sums up the problem with creativity in a business setting perfectly. The commercial talks about Fast Cash, how good it is and how much people like it. The set up isn’t really important to the point. What is important runs like this:

  • Presumably the boss: “Is there anyway to make Fast Cash better?”
  • Suggestion Lackey 1: “Glow in the dark tickets!”
  • Suggestion Lackey 2: “Lemon-scented tickets!”
  • Presumably the boss: “How about new games?”
  • Lackeys are all-in for those.

The first point is one of time. Of course, a 30-second (or fewer) spot doesn’t allow for the development of new ideas. There just isn’t enough time to be more creative. Time is the most precious resource for all of us, and we need a lot of it to get truly creative.

The second point is the boss doesn’t want creative ideas. He asks the question and immediately jumps to an old idea not even paying any sort of attention to the suggestions from his team. New games in the context of the lottery are not new ideas. They are, at best, recycled ideas.

Businesses do not want new ideas. They do not want creative ideas. They want profitable ideas. That means, proven and/or cheap to produce ideas, in this case, new games.

However, let’s take a moment to imagine that the Michigan Lottery really was looking for new ideas, and it had glow in the dark and lemon scented to work with. Fast Cash tickets range in price from $1 to $20.

Let’s start with “lemon scented.” If the tickets were lemon scented and could be used as car air fresheners, would that be an incentive for people to buy them? The advantage for the buyer would be that he or she actually gets something useful out of the transaction while taking a risk at winning some money. The advantage for the environment is that the ticket would be used for something other than throwing away. The cost of tree air fresheners on Amazon is about 24 for $19 plus whatever shipping would run though they can run over $1 each. Big foot is around $5 as is squirrel in underpants. So, depending on the design of the ticket, people may want to buy them for the air freshening qualities. The disadvantage is maybe the winning tickets would smell up the shop where they were purchased.

“Glow in the dark” is a little more difficult to work with because it tends to be nothing more than a novelty. It’s not like the lottery ticket could be used as night light or emergency flashlight, at least not as the idea stands with just the “glow in the dark” moniker. However, glow in the dark tickets would work great for a Halloween lottery game and possibly for a Santa Claus based lottery game.

The disadvantage of both these ideas is that they are a step beyond what most lotteries are interested in doing. A cheap scratch-it or computer printed ticket will keep more money going toward the state, and people are going to pay for them anyway. Adding scent or glow in the dark is also adding an expense.

Another disadvantage is that people may not go for them. They may not be interested in getting something extra for their lottery dollars. It’s a risk, and it’s riskier than just opting for new games that may be unpopular because of the greater expense. Still, for my money, if I have to choose between a $5 air freshener and a $5 lottery ticket that can be used as an air freshener when I don’t win money, I’m choosing the lottery ticket. I’d be willing to bet so would a lot of other people.

For more on creativity, order “Disneyland Is Creativity.” Get “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.

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‘Unicorn Store’: Embrace Your Creativity

When Kit (Brie Larson) is kicked out of art school and moves in with her parents, she decides, is coerced into, taking a job with a temp agency that palaces her in a PR firm. Kit puts away her childish things and becomes a business women with a suit she borrows from her mom. She meets the VP of the company, and naive about his intentions, she accepts his invitation to work on a Mystic Vacuum account.

She rejects her initial drawings, a Pokémon meets vacuum amalgamation, and tries to go with more traditional representations of women vacuuming, which she draws on graph paper for added grown-upness. These mundane vacuums and their housewives earn her creepy boss’ approval, but they don’t work for Kit.

She finally gets an idea and recruits her work friend and the delivery guy to help her with the presentation. They come in at the end of the sexy woman, baby, selfie vacuum presentation, and pitch Kit’s idea with glitter, magic, creativity, love and enthusiasm. She has an original idea that would sell vacuums through the sheer differentiation factor.

The woman executive who is in charge of the Mystic Vacuum company thinks it’s too much. She likes the sexy woman with the selfie, baby and vacuum – an idea that says women can have it all, and one that is outdated and done to death. All of the other male ad execs express the same sentiment. So, it comes down to the boss, and Kit has hope.

The boss said earlier that the lack of creativity in the work place was killing him. He still chooses the woman, vacuum, baby, selfie by asking to be told more about the lingerie. Kit loses her job.

While the movie itself is whimsical and freeing, this particular commentary on creativity in the workplace is all too real. On average, creative people get fewer promotions and fewer raises than their less creative co-workers. They face ridicule for their ideas and blame when the idea fails while not receiving commensurate rewards when an idea succeeds. No matter what people say about creativity, most times bosses, teachers and coworkers want the comfort of the known and the safe.

For Kit, it’s all for the best. She seeks her own personal unicorn and finds her creative self and the support she needs to continue being creative. For creative people, it’s important to learn that many ideas will be rejected not because they’re bad or they won’t work but because people fear the unknown and failure, and every new idea carries a risk with it. Life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns, but it can be better if you find people who love and support your work, even if they are relative strangers.

For more on creativity, get “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories.” Order “Disneyland Is Creativity.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.