The Board of Directors for the Walt Disney Entertainment Company, Spring 1985:
Ray Watson, Chairman (former head of the Irvine Company)
Ronald “Ron” Miller, CEO
Frank Wells, President and COO
James M. “Jim” Henson, CCO, President, Walt Disney Studios, & Creative Director
Richard “Dick” Nunis, President, Disney Outdoor Entertainment
Roy E. Disney, Vice President, Walt Disney Animation Studios (head of Shamrock Holdings)
Al Gottesman (President, Henson Arts Holdings)
Dianne Disney Miller (Partner, Retlaw Enterprises)
Peter Dailey (former US ambassador to Ireland and Roy Disney’s brother-in-law)
Philip Hawley (Carter Hawley Hale)
Samuel Williamson (senior partner, Hufstedler, Miller, Carson, & Beardsley)
Caroline Ahmanson (head and founder of Caroline Leonetti Ltd.; Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco)
Charles Cobb (CEO of Arvida Corp.; representing the interests of Bass Brothers)
Alfred Attilio “Al” Checchi (representing Marriott International)


Advisory Board Members (non-voting, ad-hoc attendance):
E. Cardon “Card” Walker, Chairman Emeritus
Donn Tatum, Chairman Emeritus
Sid Bass (CEO of Bass Brothers Enterprises)
Steven Spielberg (Partner, Amblin Entertainment)
Steve Jobs (CEO & President of Apple Computer, Inc.)
George Lucas (CEO of Lucasfilm, Ltd.)
J. Willard “Bill” Marriott, Jr. (CEO of Marriott International)


The Disney Executive Committee:
Ronald “Ron” Miller, CEO
Frank Wells, President and COO
James M. “Jim” Henson, CCO and President, Walt Disney Studios
Richard “Dick” Nunis, President, Disney Outdoor Entertainment
Thomas “Tom” Wilhite, President, Hyperion Pictures
Roy E. Disney, Vice President, Walt Disney Animation Studios
If I may suggest some changes, here's how I would trim the fat at the company.

Kick Off: Phillip Hawley, Caroline Ahmanson, Samuel Williamson, and Ray Watson

NOTE: I'd kick off Watson because he feels the most like a liability out of the higher-ranking officials, especially Roy E. and Jim. If there's any objections to kicking out Ray, tell me what he has done by himself while in the company.

Upgrade(Board of Directors):
J. Willard "Bill" Marriott Jr. (Also representing Marriott International)
George Lucas (CEO of Lucasfilm, Ltd.)
Steven Spielberg (Partner, Amblin Entertainment)
Sid Bass(Also representing Bass Brothers Enterprises)

NOTE: Sadly, until a change needs to be made at the company, Steve Jobs will remain in his seat as an Advisory Board Member.

Upgrade(Executive Committee):
Al Gottesman(President, Henson Arts Holdings)
Dianne Disney Miller(Partner, Retlaw Enterprises)

I think that these changes in the positions should also free up some space for new people, if given the opportunity.

So, yeah, those are my changes in the Boards of Directors.
 
Sounds like a more sensible reorg than more Corps go through, and I agree with Henson here- Corporation sounds so clinical fro an Entertainment company.

Finally getting the hotels, tickets and parking sorted out will def help the financial position.

'Mickey's Glove' is soo Henson imho.

I hope Wells does not start eyeballing Henson's allies in a way to sideline Jim's support in a bid to 'tame' Henson.

Are they looking at other Parks yet? Port Disney, Euro Disney? Something in Africa or Australia perhaps?

More please @Geekhis Khan
 
'Mickey's Glove' is soo Henson imho.

I hope Wells does not start eyeballing Henson's allies in a way to sideline Jim's support in a bid to 'tame' Henson.

Are they looking at other Parks yet? Port Disney, Euro Disney? Something in Africa or Australia perhaps?
That it is. Especially with Mickey and Friends getting turned into Muppets and the crowd loving these Muppets as much as Kermit, Piggy, and Gonzo.

I also hope that Wells treats Henson with the respect he deserves.

Maybe they can make new Muppet specials to promote the new parks that come by. I mean, it worked with the first Muppets + Disney special, so why not make a sub-series out of "The Muppets Promoting Disney Parks"?
 
Sun City works, if you don't mind the cultural/ entertainment boycott that many artists did.
Would the Mouse go where Elton John, The Beach Boys and Queen went?

Trouble is, it’s still apartheid South Africa at this point; I doubt Disney wants to associate itself with that nightmare.

What about something in...Kenya, maybe? It may just be too soon for an African park anywhere, unfortunately.
 
Trouble is, it’s still apartheid South Africa at this point; I doubt Disney wants to associate itself with that nightmare.
Of course not, but the '90s are a different story, and not that far away.

(Gah, the board software is so annoying sometimes...I haven't seen any updates in weeks because it decided in its magnificent wisdom to stop alerting me...)
 
I'd like to see Euro-Disney succeed, although the Australian location seems a bit out-of-the-way. Would you want a park in Argentina or Brazil? The potential for a park in India is there, but I think it'd have to wait for a local investment partner before a Disney India park broke ground.
What about something in...Kenya, maybe?
I imagine it would wait for a later date, but the Disney Vacations umbrella might invest in Kenyan wildlife preserves as a destination, rather than as a full-on theme park. It'd get some significant promotion assuming there's also a Lion King in this timeline as well.

Speaking of The Lion King, Disney's long mined traditional fairy tails for animated features, I wonder if they'd start mining the Immortal Bard's work for inspiration in this timeline.
 
I'd like to see Euro-Disney succeed, although the Australian location seems a bit out-of-the-way. Would you want a park in Argentina or Brazil? The potential for a park in India is there, but I think it'd have to wait for a local investment partner before a Disney India park broke ground.
Australia is only out of the way to those outside of Oceania and Southern Asia. I love @Brainbin's idea of have Euro Disney in Barcelona.
A lot of people discussing alternate locations for Euro Disney, which isn't terribly surprising, because according to legend the only reason it's in (well, near) Paris in the first place is because Mrs. Eisner wanted to stay somewhere for free when taking her frequent shopping trips there. There's probably more (a lot more) to it than that, but apart from its central location France doesn't make a whole lot of sense - its labour laws are something you'd expect a soulless mega-corp like Disney to run away screaming from. It does appear that (according to Venerable Wikipedia) the two finalist countries were France and Spain, both of which had ample flat land of the kind needed to support a sprawling theme park. At least one prime Spanish location was allegedly on the beaches near Barcelona, which makes a lot of sense - assuming it opens in 1992 as IOTL that's the same year as the Olympics, the perfect opportunity to piggyback off an event that will put the city on the international map and bring throngs of tourists.
I imagine it would wait for a later date, but the Disney Vacations umbrella might invest in Kenyan wildlife preserves as a destination, rather than as a full-on theme park. It'd get some significant promotion assuming there's also a Lion King in this timeline as well.
It would a good location for one of Disney's Animal Kingdoms.
 
What’s going on with Disney Cruises in this timeframe?

If they are running, then investing and expanding the infrastructure of where they dock would undoubtedly pay off for both Disney and the host country.
 
What’s going on with Disney Cruises in this timeframe?

If they are running, then investing and expanding the infrastructure of where they dock would undoubtedly pay off for both Disney and the host country.

At this point, the Official Disney Cruise Line is Celebrity Cruises. It's not until the Nineties that Disney commissioned its own cruise ships and got into the business under its own name.
 
Change the date to whenever Euro Disney (and maybe some other change) this could work ITTL.
 
Australia has a small population, flat working class skill differentials in wages (until 2005), distant cities, and sends a lot of profit off shore as a semiperiphery.

Why go to Disney Gold Coast when flying to LA is slightly longer and equivalently expensive?
 
Whew, a lot to get through here, so my appologies ahead of time if I miss your post.

Gargoyles and/or Greg Weisman will come up, eventually.

The next Disney park will be mentioned soon.

Akira and GitS will come up relatively soon as will anime in general.

Cruise lines will come up eventually.

Still much on the way, but I aprpeciate the feedback and suggestions as always!
 
Change the date to whenever Euro Disney (and maybe some other change) this could work ITTL.
A Disney down in Barcelona would probably make it a more valid choice to build a Disney park nearer to the Baltic.
 
Whew, a lot to get through here, so my appologies ahead of time if I miss your post.

Gargoyles and/or Greg Weisman will come up, eventually.

The next Disney park will be mentioned soon.

Akira and GitS will come up relatively soon as will anime in general.

Cruise lines will come up eventually.

Still much on the way, but I aprpeciate the feedback and suggestions as always!
It's all well and good that you appreciate all the feedback you get, because, and I can't say this enough, this timeline of yours is flat-out amazing!
 
Worth noting a lot of Australians (and New Zealanders) do visit Tokyo Disneyland, no doubt because of the relatively short distance from the Land Down Under.
 
Comics
Disney Comics in the 1980s
Excerpt from Comics! An Illustrated History, by N. J. Shaner[1]


As the 1980s began, Disney was still in their long-running partnership with Gold Key Comics and maintained a small internal unit at WD Studios that created comics for foreign markets, such as Germany’s Mickey Maus, France’s Le Journal de Mickey, and Italy’s Topolino[2]. Gold Key’s parent company, Western Publishing, also had an existing relationship with Jim Henson, having produced Muppets and Sesame Street books through Golden Books, Big Little Books, and other labels. Thus, when Jim Henson’s Muppets and The Dark Crystal joined the Disney family in 1981 it was natural for these groups to follow on with Henson-themed comics in both domestic and foreign markets. Waggle Rock would follow suit in 1983. The Henson comics proved popular, particularly the Disney-drawn Japanese The Dark Crystal comic line, which took the form of a Manga.


(Image source "Pintrest.com")
However, by 1983 Gold Key was facing financial difficulties. Parent Company Western Publishing had been purchased by Mattel in 1979 for $120.8 million in cash and stock, but was in turn sold to New York City real estate investor Richard A. Bernstein in December of 1983 for $75 million and an assumption of $40 million in debt. Bernstein planned to close down the unprofitable Gold Key, leaving Disney without a clear comics distributer. Henson suggested that they could do the comics in house the way that they did for foreign sales, but with so many new animation projects in high gear they lacked the manpower. Simply hiring the former Gold Key employees proved difficult since they were located across the country in New York and few were interested in a cross-country move. Furthermore, with an impending hostile takeover, Disney had larger concerns at the moment. A new partner was needed.

Once the takeover attempt had been beaten back by the White Knight campaign, the question of comics returned. Producer Bernie Brillstein had a suggestion. In 1983 he’d been approached by Stan Lee of Marvel Comics with plans for a TV Pilot based upon the Daredevil comic book series, which had fallen through with ABC. Brillstein had turned him down too. Brillstein cited the poor critical and audience reception of Superman III, the recent cancellation of The Incredible Hulk, and the titanic flop of Disney’s own Condorman as signs that the superhero craze of the 60s and 70s had largely run its course with popular audiences. However, Brillstein mentioned to the Executive Committee that he could still get them in touch with Lee if they wanted to consider a partnership with Marvel Comics. At this point they requested that he do so.

Disney CCO Jim Henson was a stickler for quality in the products he put his name on, and Marvel was, along with DC, considered one of the top brands in the industry. Stan Lee met with the Executive Committee. The outgoing and enthusiastic Lee got along well with all, particularly Jim Henson[3]. Lee had brought with him some quick sketches of various Disney and Henson characters performing various activities. Henson loved the three-dimensional aspects of them all. President Frank Wells was in turn impressed with hearing about Jim Shooter’s track record for cutting costs and meeting deadlines. Furthermore, Marvel had serendipitously just spun up the new Star Comics[4] line, which was aimed at younger readers. Though some at Disney expressed their long-running concerns over Marvel’s satirical Howard the Duck character, who bore a more than passing resemblance to Donald, the deal felt like a natural fit.


(Image source "mycomicsshop.com)

For Lee, the partnership offered not just a chance to expand into new markets, but the opportunity to shuffle around the company management. While Jim Shooter had done an excellent job in whipping the disorganized company into shape with missed deadlines now a thing of the past, his aggressive (some would say dictatorial) management style was starting to scare away some of the top talent. Perhaps, thought Lee, a new team could be spun up at Star? At Lee’s urging, Shooter arranged a deal with Richard Bernstein to acquire Gold Key, which was located “just up the river” at Poughkeepsie, New York. He was able to secure the former Gold Key artists and editors, notably expanding the size of the Star Comics team. Furthermore, the new deal with Disney provided a boon in Marvel’s ongoing attempts to acquire Harvey Comics. A recent deal had fallen through at the last minute due to an internal disagreement by the surviving Harvey brothers, but with Disney’s vote of confidence in the Star line, the reticent brother was willing to go through with the deal, particularly once Shooter made it a cash-and-stock deal, making the Harveys shareholders.

The sudden influx of Harvey, Disney, and Henson product lines, along with new Star Wars lines for younger readers like Ewaaks and Droids, made Star Comics large enough to become a Department in and of itself. Lee and the Marvel board were able to make Shooter Executive Vice President and Editor in Chief of Star Comics[5], a job that brought with it the special new challenge of managing several Disney and non-Disney lines and editors and integrating the former Harvey and Gold Key employees into the Marvel corporate structure. It was a challenge that suited Shooter’s temperament well. The milder Tom DeFalco, meanwhile, took over as Vice President and Editor in Chief for the Marvel label. Both lines would prove exceedingly popular in the 1980s and saw a noteworthy increase in quarterly earnings. These earnings were passed on to employees through Shooter’s royalty program and also on to Disney, validating the partnership.


- - -​

Not long after the Disney partnership was formed, Jim Shooter received an interesting lesson at the hands of Jim Henson. While visiting Disney in the spring of 1985, he observed the way that Henson worked with his employees, in particular how Henson would subtly steer people in new directions without telling them what to do or how to do it. Shooter saw the way a simple nod or directed question would get Henson what he wanted while in many cases making the employee think that he’d come up with the idea himself. In particular, Shooter witnessed an interaction between Henson and one of the animators. The animator had been working on a sequence for an episode of Muppet Babies and had apparently gone behind Henson’s back to change a sequence. “Didn’t we agree to have Gonzo burst out from the blocks, not drop down from the ceiling?” Henson asked the artist. “Yea,” said the artist, “But I really wanted to try it the other way. Here, check it out.” The artist flipped through the pencil sketches while Jim looked on. “Hmm…that’ll work,” said Henson with a friendly nod, and they walked on.

Shooter asked Jim about the small insubordination and why he let it slide. Henson relayed a story from back in the mid-1970s as they were preparing a pilot for what would eventually become The Muppet Show. Henson had tasked then Muppet designer Don Sahlin to design and develop the Dr. Teeth Muppet. Instead, the naturally contrarian Sahlin spent most of his time working on a Muppet of his own design intended to pull back its lips in a “shit-eating grin”. “I knew Don was working on the other Muppet,” Henson told Shooter.

“But you had a deadline,” replied Shooter. “Why didn’t you discipline him?”

“Because when you have someone as talented as Don was, God rest his soul, you give him his space. I knew he’d finish Dr. Teeth in time, but the grinning Muppet was important to him, so I pretended not to notice[6]. We lost Don not long afterwards, so I’m glad he got to make his grinning Muppet before he passed.”

“I call people like him ‘Big Guns you can’t aim,’” said Shooter.

Henson grunted. “Even the little guns need a bit of space to breath,” he said. “Forgive the mixed metaphor.”

Jim Shooter claimed in later interviews that he took that lesson to heart. Though Lee hadn’t said anything about it, Shooter was well aware of the fact that some of the most talented Marvel artists had fled to DC because of him. From that point forward Shooter worked to strike a good balance between staying engaged enough to keep the talent on track, but also gave them some more creative space and personal creative freedom. “It helped out a lot,” he said. “The new Harvey and Gold Key guys were just the testing ground I needed for the new style, too. I slowly figured out the gentle art of herding cats, and Jim Henson showed me the way.”





[1] Hat tip to @nick_crenshaw82 for some help on the comics front.

[2] Yes, Cars fans, Guido and Luigi’s Italian uncle is Mickey Mouse! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Topolino

[3] Sorry, no Epic Rap Battles here!

[4] Among the Star Comics titles in our timeline: Muppet Babies and Fraggle Rock!

[5] @Ogrebear: as to your “Shooter buys Marvel” suggestion, thanks, but I’d hate to steal Pyro’s thunder.

[6] This anecdote was revealed in an interview with Frank Oz, Bill Barretta, Fran Brill, and Dave Goelz in a promotional for Muppet Guys Talking.
 
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