2010: Disney has a habit of shutting down community sites. They bought Playdom and are now shutting down games that members have spent millions of collective hours and presumably dollars on. I sense a court case will come up sooner or later if they keep doing this….

Bad move: Disney shutting down Virtual Magic Kingdom:

Disney’s Virtual Magic Kingdom to Close Doors

On May 21, Disney is closing down Virtual Magic Kindgom. Launched to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Disneyland in 2005, the virtual attraction saw strong enough numbers to keep it running for three unexpected years, but, as producer Seth “Yavn” Mendelsohn explained in a newsletter earlier this week, “the game has lived well beyond the originally intended time it was planned to run.”

“At Disney we’re still committed to building communities and online virtual worlds – and we’re looking forward to providing you the opportunity to enjoy other exciting new experiences,” Mendelsohn continued.

That was from Virtual World News (hat tip: Ngaire from the wunnerul world of Habbo). Here’s some more from the majorly mistaken Mendelsohn:

That’s readily apparent. Disney plans to invest up to $100 million in 10 new virtual worlds, including one based on Cars to tie in to themed physical park expansions. Likewise, at the same time that Disney launched the virtual world, PIxie Hollow, for the Disney Fairies brand, and an accompanying series of toys, Clickables, it announced a new team dedicated to addressing virtual worlds.

Problem? Well it goes directly to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (look at the second chart) appropos Social Networks – sustainability of identity and trust in the host not to pull the plug after members have invested time and energy into building friends, and content and identity.

So today, as Disney launches a new Tween network (on mobiles) …

Disney set to launch mobile ‘tween’ social network

TORONTO — Walt Disney Co. wants to take “tween” social networking mobile.

When Disney launches its new Prince Caspian video game for the Nintendo DS today, it will also unveil DGamer, a kid-friendly mobile social network that will allow users to create avatars, chat and share high scores with friends over a WiFi connection.

I say one thing. Stay away. Don’t invest your time and energy and make friends, and create content, and become a brand loyalist, and don’t make it your online home, or personalise the space or … because, as you can see, it can be turned off .

Companies, do NOT start a social media “experiment” where you build brand loyalists and then TURN IT OFF. Seriously. What about the car company – Pergeot no? – who got 30,000 members to build racing tracks etc over about six sims in second life then turned it off. Way to go to piss off 30,000 brand evangelists!

Let me leave you with a comment (one of many) from the Disney forum (thanks again Ngaire):

I can’t believe they aren’t offering something else that is at least comparable with this many members who enjoy playing every day. How is this not considered a marketing tool for people to plan trips to the parks? I don’t know what to even tell my kids. Thank goodness they still have Webkinz and epets, but they will miss VMK a lot. (Krystal Rose)

Well Krystal Rose, you tell them that instead of passive advertising on TV during kids shows and Saturday night Disney Hour, they were invited to be participatory social media guinea pigs, making friends online, learning and playing the games, creating content, and being active brand evangelists by telling their little friends at school all about this neat world. And then Disney decided that the experiment was over and thank you for your time and money and commitment. Then point them to a number of new Disney worlds and ask them to do it all over again, with the almost certain outcome that they will be booted from the new social network media sites again, losing friends again, whenever that social media experiment comes to an end.

Virtual Magic Kingdom comes to an end today, May 21st. Rest In Peace VMK.

VIEW Over 20,000 “save our Virtual Magic Kingdom” petition