Parking Lost

by David Koenig, staff writer
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Even as the Disneyland Resort scrambles to hire and train the last of the thousands of new workers needed to handle the crush of summer visitors looking for a first peek at Cars Land, current cast members are considering heading out the door in reaction to changes aimed at dealing with the congestion.

The biggest bone of contention, first alluded to at a series of mandatory cast member briefings last month, is on extra-busy days this summer allowing guests to park in the cast member parking lots and forcing employees to park literally miles off site, as far away as Anaheim Stadium and the Honda Center.

Cast members, suspecting the change will add up to an hour of unpaid travel time to their commute, reportedly have resigned by the dozens (which Disney HR disputes), beseeched their managers and union reps to step in, or merely resigned themselves to grumbling. Personally, I’ve been listening to claims of worsening employee morale for decades. And, granted, in my line of work, I hear from a lot more squeaky wheels than happy campers, but the new off-site parking plan appears to have miffed even the most dedicated Disneylanders.

As one habitually positive cast member opined, “If you are able to get a hold of the Team Talk memo regarding cast parking on June 17 and 24, its wording will tell you why many cast members are outright offended. I love working for Disneyland, but there comes a point…”

The memo he’s referring to—a three-page supplement to the “Disneyland Today” daily tip sheet distributed Saturday June 2—officially announced the parking plan in less-than-sympathetic terms. “On select dates this summer, we anticipate that the Disneyland Resort will be an exceptionally popular destination,” the memo outlined. “To ensure the best experience possible for Guests on peak attendance days, Katella Cast Member Lot (KCML) and Ball Cast Member Lot (BCML) will be used for Guest parking on June 17 and 24. Alternate parking locations will be made available on these dates for Cast who have a permit to park in KCML or BCML, based on their role and shift start time. Cast should use this information to plan their commutes for both days in advance. As a reminder, driving to work and parking in a Cast lot is not expected or required and is just one commuting option available to Cast.”

Alternate parking locations listed were KCML, Gardenwalk, Anaheim Stadium, and Honda Center. Rumor has it that the first two, closest lots may be reserved for salaried cast members only. “We will be assigned a parking lot by our role and shift,” said one employee.

Among the FAQs:

Q: Why do Guests get to park in these locations instead of Cast Members?

A: We are planning to use KCML and BCML to ensure the best experience possible for arriving Guests by providing them with the closest possible parking to the Resort.

Q: What dates will KCML and BCML be used for Guest parking this summer?

A: We are planning to use KCML and BCML for Guest parking on June 17 and 24. There is a possibility that KCML may be used at later dates, which will be communicated in advance.

Q: Is there a chance KCML and BCML will be used for Guest parking in the future?

A: We plan to use KCML and BCML for Guest parking on select peak attendance days only.

Q: Will I get paid more if I park in these alternate locations?

A: No, driving to work and parking in a Cast lot is not expected or required, and is just one option available to our Cast. Please contact Disney Commuter Assistance at 8232-RIDE for more information.

Cast members are supposed to receive further details on June 8. Salaried leaders, along with cast who volunteer for cross-utilization shifts, will get information specifically for them on the same date. The cast member shuttles will continue to run until all vehicles in the lots are gone. Employees who park in Simba Lot (for the hotels) will not be affected.

“Notice,” pointed out one cast member, “how we can be kicked out of KCML any time the resort will have predicted peak attendance days. We got July 4th coming up, then Thanksgiving, and Christmas. And the line, ‘driving to work and parking in a Cast lot is not expected or required and is just one commuting option available to Cast’ is repeated four times. This just shows how ‘valued’ cast members are to the operation of the resort.” (His comment was a thinly veiled swipe at the recorded pronouncements by Disney executives at the recent cast member meetings stressing, over and over, how much they valued the employees and recognized the resort could not function without them. “The lack of applause was deafening,” he recalled.)

Several other changes are also causing their fair share of discontent. First, employees will not be allowed to sign family members into either park this summer. This month, they’ll continue to receive their seasonal allotment of a couple of free tickets for dependents, but that’s it. In addition, to help make up for the labor shortfall, cast members in some departments are being forced to work a mandatory six days a week.

And, the last two employee locker rooms at Disneyland—located above Cash Control in the building that incorporates the railroad’s Primeval World tunnel—are slated to be converted into offices, as were all the other locker rooms before them. Years ago, all uniformed employees were forced to use the locker rooms because Disneyland didn’t allow its costumes to leave the premises. But since the advent of FastTrack, most employees are now taking their costumes home with them. The holdouts, who still prefer to change at work and not walk out onto Harbor Boulevard in their Haunted Mansion butler outfit, may now be left without that option.

Behind the scenes, employees in several departments are discussing the possibility of a massive sick-out to protest the off-site parking and other changes. The last time a large group of cast members organized a successful sick-out came during a late December day that saw interminable lines at every open facility. (It’s a Small World, for instance, was forced to operate with just one line, which reportedly snaked back to Nemo’s Submarine Voyage and peaked at a wait of four hours.)

Yet cast members are rightly nervous, explaining that the last time management caught wind of the possibility of a sick-out, they threatened written disciplinary action against any cast member who called in sick—even if they really were sick.

The two announced dates for off-site parking coincide with the first opportunities for most levels of Annual Passholders to visit Cars Land. Unfortunately, they also coincide with 12:35 p.m. Angels baseball games, ruling out Anaheim Stadium except for its distant “Amtrak lots” and forcing most employees to park even farther away, at the Honda Center, and possibly deal with the baseball game traffic on Katella and surrounding streets. Cast members expect the hassles to result in a lot of late clock-ins, which they consider unlikely to be waived.

To ease the pain, Disney has been urging cast members to consider alternate means of transportation. Cast members who enroll in the resort’s commuter assistance program are entered into a weekly drawing to win an iPad or $1,000.

And, says media relations director Suzi Brown, “On those two days to all cast members, not just those who will be parking remotely, we are offering free meal vouchers. We know it’s going to be busy and we’re excited about it and happy to tackle it.”

Brown could not share any long-term plans to resolve the parking crunch, but does not expect the remote parking plan to become a frequent option. The resort will have a clearer picture “once we work through June.” She says Disney has borrowed spaces from the Anaheim Convention Center in the past and that remains a closer possibility for the future.

The resort has also gone on the offensive to try to prune the ranks of Annual Passholders, which have swelled to 1 million since the resort began allowing guests to pay for APs in monthly installments. The first move to purge APers and return crowds to more manageable levels came two weeks ago, when Disneyland announced the steepest admission price hike in the history of the resort. (Increases ranged from tacking $7 on to the price of a one-day ticket to $150 more for the top-tier annual pass—a 30% jump.)

Bottom line: I know it’s going to get uncomfortably cramped inside the parks this summer, but cut those cast members a little slack. You may be parking in their spot.

Comments

  1. By liquidhavok

    Seems like a huge overreaction, to quit over 2 days of parking relocation. Employee parking at Universal Studios gets relocated to the studio lot many many times throughout the year. The economy must be doing better if salaried employees walk over this....

    Though I do wonder if Disney's intent actually is to thin the AP herd.

  2. By Joysnote

    Quote Originally Posted by MousePlanet AutoPoster View Post
    Parking Lost by David Koenig

    Disneyland cast members are unhappy to give up their spots for guests.

    Read it here!

    >>


    Sad that Disneyland is so fun to visit but does not seem as fun to work at. Why can't employees just be paid on those days when they park if it truly will take an extra hour to get to job from the off site parking lot? Doesn't seem like a big deal to add an hour to pay check?

  3. By olegc

    I know Disney has to tackle one giant project/issue at a time - but it always seems like the cast-member and ops planning is reactionary. To me - that stems from execs in TDA marketing making plans and announcements, and the Ops folks finding out about it through rumors in the media first before they meet together to discuss planning. Imagineering has had this issue for years - Blue Sky all the way until they try to install the thing in the parks and look at actually 16 hours of constant operation. So gradually the CM quality will go even lower since morale will drive them out. And with crowds comes lack of patience, which leads to negative feelings, which leads to sniping and a lack of grace on everyone's part. It may not be pretty...

    On the offices front- don't they have enough? Disneyland is starting to look likes its own 1% vs 99% - TDA and off-stage gets more and on-stage CMs get less. Hmmm... I am sure we've all seen that at companies - where the middle is gone and the top and bottom are pretty large and flat. does not create a very good work environment.

  4. By curtsinore

    Real world parking:
    * My son is working on a major construction project west of Portland, he has to arrive at a parking lot 30 mins early to stand in line to catch a bus that travels 20 mins to the construction site and he needs to walk to his work site before the morning start time. He is not paid for this hour of time.

    *I am a vendor at a collectable show which during the summer is the Largest show in the US. I have to park 40 mins early before the doors open for vendors only. We all park in distant parking lot ( about Arrowhead away in distance), wait in line for a bus to transport us and dropped off to wait another 20 mins before door opens to vendors only. I pay for this travel expense

    *On the weekends at the Oregon STate Fair I tell my afternoon work crew to arrive an hour early then the weekdays because the surface streets become jammed, the parking gate entrance is bumper to bumper and then vehicle movement comes to a crawl when traveling over the grass field to a parking spot flagged by an attendant. They are not paid for that hour of vehicle traveling.

  5. By Rosepins

    Curtsinore: I totally see your point. i used to work for a large shopping center and every year during holiday season, we'd have to navigate congested streets, park off-site and fight holiday shopping crowds just to get to the break room. the whole process took almost an hr extra (if you were lucky). but i have to side w/ the castmembers on this one. i hated that parking program with a fiery passion!

    As an PAP (and probably part of the problem) i would be willing to park waaaay offsite if it means happier castmembers in the park. in fact, other than the 23rd (early morning DCA visit) i'll probably be taking the lovely OCTA "Limo" to and from the park, just do i don't have to deal w/ the parking mess.

  6. By jcruise86

    David, this article is another reason why you are one of my favorite Disneyland writers.
    I've read that theme park ride operators are among America's most "over-qualified" workers
    in that a surprising # have more education than is required to do their jobs.
    If Disney wants to retain and attract "overqualified cast members" who can bring extra magic to their "guests,"
    they will have to treat them well.

    If George K., Thomas Staggs, Bob Iger and John L. care foremost about their short-term
    and (and perhaps in Staggs' case) medium-term compensation,
    then this free meal voucher is absolutely perfect.
    But John L. has no responsibility for this. Exactly.

    Any chance we could get a Mouse Tales 2: The Next Twenty Years (1994-2013)? I'm not sure how this would fit with "More Mouse Tales," which (I think) was published in 2002.

  7. By Drince88

    Quote Originally Posted by curtsinore View Post
    Real world parking:
    * My son is working on a major construction project west of Portland,

    That is a MAJOR construction project! One of my sisters works at that facility, and she said all the Engineers in the facility were geeking out at the super duper huge crane they had for a while.

  8. By Autopia Guy

    Quote Originally Posted by curtsinore View Post
    Real world parking:
    * My son is working on a major construction project west of Portland, he has to arrive at a parking lot 30 mins early to stand in line to catch a bus that travels 20 mins to the construction site and he needs to walk to his work site before the morning start time. He is not paid for this hour of time.
    This was the norm when he got the job, correct? We have to do the same at Disney.

    *I am a vendor at a collectable show which during the summer is the Largest show in the US. I have to park 40 mins early before the doors open for vendors only. We all park in distant parking lot ( about Arrowhead away in distance), wait in line for a bus to transport us and dropped off to wait another 20 mins before door opens to vendors only. I pay for this travel expense
    Again, this is the norm you accepted when you took the job, correct?

    *On the weekends at the Oregon STate Fair I tell my afternoon work crew to arrive an hour early then the weekdays because the surface streets become jammed, the parking gate entrance is bumper to bumper and then vehicle movement comes to a crawl when traveling over the grass field to a parking spot flagged by an attendant. They are not paid for that hour of vehicle traveling.

    We have to do this sometimes at Disney as well. When the NAMM Show is in town, I leave almost an hour earlier to make sure traffic doesn't affect me so much. Same when they have to do weird shuttle routs that use the 5 freeway when the 1/2 marathon is in town.

    I think you missed the whole point here. Disney has taken the norm, thrown it out, and is offering very little to us CMs in exchange. When you become a CM, one of the things you accept is off site parking and getting there about 30 mins early. It is now requiring us to park several miles out, and also reserves the right to do so at any point in the future.

    Also, it appears that the boneheads in TDA didn't look at the schedule for the Anaheim Resort/Platinum Triangle area at all. There are Angels home games very early in the day on both days so far. There is an event at the Honda Center in the evening on the 17th. And the ACC also has events running of both weekends. So on the 17th, where exactly do they plan on us parking if we have shifts starting between 10am and 10pm? The stadium will likely start parking for the game around 10am. It lets out around 4 or 5pm, which is a traffic nightmare for about an hour. And at that same time, people are starting to show up for the show at the Honda Center. Katella around the 57 freeway at that time is going to be a mess. And they want to run shuttles through that... OH. JOY.

  9. By Belgarion42

    Quote Originally Posted by Rosepins View Post
    As an PAP (and probably part of the problem) i would be willing to park waaaay offsite if it means happier castmembers in the park. in fact, other than the 23rd (early morning DCA visit) i'll probably be taking the lovely OCTA "Limo" to and from the park, just do i don't have to deal w/ the parking mess.

    I agree Rosepins. I would park far offsite if necessary for the CM's to have better conditions.

    An additional thought: If they want to prune the ranks of the Annual Passholders, get rid of the monthly payment option! A huge increase in price doesn't have as much of an effect when it amounts to $12.50/month or less.

  10. By AVP

    I remember my first retail management job, and having to park over a mile away for the entire period between Thanksgiving and New Years. They had a shuttle that ran every 20 minutes; if it was full, you waited or you walked. It easily added an hour to my day. Our company offered us a token benefit to make up for the inconvenience - free lunch Fridays or something like that.

    This was news to me, something never explained when I was hired. When I complained to another manager about it during lunch, she shared that her previous mall had NO employee parking whatsoever - you took public transportation, or you paid the daily rate to park in the mall's pay parking lot.

    I get being upset by this, I really honestly and truly do. I don't see quitting your job over it based on the two announced dates. If this becomes a more frequent thing, and Disney doesn't do something to add more employee parking, then I could see where CMs may have a reason to reconsider their employment, especially those who only work 4-5 hour shifts. But labor actions (sick outs) are an overreaction at this point. Most cast members already park "off site," now they're doing it about a mile further away. I won't say "just" a mile, because I know what that mile can look like in traffic, but from some of the responses you would think that Disney has just now created the off-site lots and cast member shuttles.

    Personally, I think Disney should have eliminated the parking add-on for the annual pass during this latest round of price increases as was rumored. If passholders had to pay to park every vehicle they drive to the Resort, I believe there would be a LOT more carpooling, and a lot more space for everyone. My husband and I park for free, so we never worry about bringing two cars if doing so is even slightly more convenient for us. All of our friends have parking on their AP; it's not at all unusual for 10 or more of us to arrive in 10 or more cars. IF we all had to pay every time, I know we'd reconsider our driving plans.

    Adrienne

  11. By katiesue

    I wonder if they could do something similar to what they do here for the Del Mar Fair and the golf tournament at Torrey Pines. You pay for onsite parking but if you choose to park in one of the outer lots with shuttles those are free. One of the lots is fairly close but a couple are a few miles away. I'm not sure how you'd be able to communicate this to guests but it would be a way to free up close spaces for guests without having to take away employee parking.

    And I get that for CM's this just seems to be one more thing piled on. I've had jobs as well where parking for the lower level employees wasn't onsite and we had to pay for it as well. It's sucky.

  12. By houseofmouse

    I can see both sides here. Seems the more DL takes away from CM's, the less they ever get back. Is DL footing the bill for employees to park and ride to work? If not, they should.
    Why isn't DL working with the convention center or Garden walk to provide parking for guests??

    AVP- you should car pool anyway, even with free parking!! Better for your gas bill and others as well and better for California's nasty air issues.

  13. By Spelurker

    Why is June 17th and 24th (both Sundays) suppossed to be any worse than the 15th, 16th or 23rd ?

  14. By herc

    Quote Originally Posted by olegc View Post
    I know Disney has to tackle one giant project/issue at a time - but it always seems like the cast-member and ops planning is reactionary. To me - that stems from execs in TDA marketing making plans and announcements, and the Ops folks finding out about it through rumors in the media first before they meet together to discuss planning. Imagineering has had this issue for years - Blue Sky all the way until they try to install the thing in the parks and look at actually 16 hours of constant operation. So gradually the CM quality will go even lower since morale will drive them out. And with crowds comes lack of patience, which leads to negative feelings, which leads to sniping and a lack of grace on everyone's part. It may not be pretty...

    On the offices front- don't they have enough? Disneyland is starting to look likes its own 1% vs 99% - TDA and off-stage gets more and on-stage CMs get less. Hmmm... I am sure we've all seen that at companies - where the middle is gone and the top and bottom are pretty large and flat. does not create a very good work environment.

    With everything Disneyland is doing right now, couldn't they have worked on another parking garage. I thought one was planned but wouldn't be done for opening of DCA so it was scrapped. Think DL needs to seriously think about that parking addition.
    Back to CM parking, couldn't they give out vouchers at Anaheim Stadium or Honda Center to give to the managers to pay for the time it took them to park? If they usually park close to DL, and are now being forced to park further away taking more time, should DL pay for their time?

  15. By katiesue

    Those Sundays only the Socal Select passes are blocked. All others are open. The Saturday's are blocked to all but Premium. Since cars land is opening they are assuming that all the SoCal and Deluxe pass holders will want to try and get into see it.

  16. By currence

    Quote Originally Posted by AVP View Post
    Personally, I think Disney should have eliminated the parking add-on for the annual pass during this latest round of price increases as was rumored. If passholders had to pay to park every vehicle they drive to the Resort, I believe there would be a LOT more carpooling, and a lot more space for everyone. My husband and I park for free, so we never worry about bringing two cars if doing so is even slightly more convenient for us. All of our friends have parking on their AP; it's not at all unusual for 10 or more of us to arrive in 10 or more cars. IF we all had to pay every time, I know we'd reconsider our driving plans.

    Adrienne

    We only have parking on one of our passes, and our parking situation was "creative" at times when I worked in that area and my husband/kids could drive down to meet me after work for a few hours in the park. I think Disney would see additional problems with their neighbors if more people did this. Also, the Downtown Disney lots would likely be overwhelmed, despite their numerous signs advising that there is only 3 hours of free parking. While 3 hours isn't nearly enough for someone who paid $100ish for a one-day ticket, it is plenty of time for someone coming after work or who can pop in more frequently thanks to their annual pass.

    We had the opportunity to have Magic Mountain annual passes way back before kids. We didn't in large part because they didn't have a parking option. Even though the annual passes cost next to nothing, we calculated that the price after factoring in gas, parking, food, etc. was higher than we were prepared to spend. So we would either never go and thus the AP was a waste, or we would go and it would cost too much money. I think they have now created a pass level that includes parking. I would be very sad if Disney discontinued the parking pass.

    I think Disney needs to bite the bullet and build another parking structure ASAP.

  17. By Toocherie

    My real world experience is very similar to curtisnore's son's. There are MANY working situations where the employee has to PAY to park in or near their place of employment. Most of the shopping centers I work with reserve the right to cause employees to park off-site and shuttle in during the busy holiday season--the bottom line is this: you have to get the customers to the place of business in order for the company owner to make money in order to pay its employees. Would the CMs rather have less people coming to DLR because the customers believe it is too much of a hassle to come to the resort? I can tell you that personally there have been several occasions when I have decided not to come to the resort (even with parking on my pass for free) because the thought of dealing with the parking situation outweighs the desire to be at the parks. (Although having the Toy Story option has made it more palatable--but I still won't come unless I am coming early.) When I was with a big firm down in Newport Beach, several years ago, we were REQUIRED to carpool at least one day a week. Try coordinating attorneys' schedules to come and leave at the same time. Not easy. But we did it while we were required to do so.

  18. By Jimbo996

    "driving to work and parking in a Cast lot is not expected or required, and is just one option"

    I agree this wording is very insulting since it is cryptic and doesn't really make any sense. Exactly, how does someone go to work? It is also very strange that Disney gave the employee parking lots to guests, who don't really know how to access those lots. The guests will have difficulty navigating the employee parking lots and getting to the main entrance.

    Don't salaried employees usually not work on Sundays? Those salaried employee parking lots should be freed up for the hourly CMs to use.

    Instead of making this change, they should encourage the guests to park in the remote locations on an as needed basis. They might not even get the attendance explosion that they anticipate.

  19. By amyuilani

    As a former CM, I totally understand why CM's are so frustrated. They often feel as though management considers them expendable and their happiness is not in any way a priority. Remember, their motto is, "We work while others play." The more you think about it, the more you see how demoralizing that statement really is. They are constantly an after-thought and things like this really continue to drive that point home. And it doesn't matter if it's only listed as these two or three days. Those days will turn into four, then five, then NYE, then all summer. This would not be a big deal if the CM's were given the impression that they matter. Management needs to understand how important it is for the front line team to feel valued, and these things tell them the opposite.

    ETA: If I were managing some of the local hotels with larger lots, like the Hilton on Convention Way, I'd invite CM's to park in our lot for $5, and receive a voucher for a free dessert or something. There is an opportunity to make good to the displaced CM's.

  20. By gbdisney8

    someone mentioned weeding out annual pass holders? If that's the case, why do away with the 6-day park hopper?!? We come for a week every year (live out of state) and were told "even though you only want 6 or 7 days, consider the value in the annual pass..." Yes, DOUBLE the price pretty much. Maybe they are working toward doing away with the parking option but want to increase annual pass holders for those "far away" to keep the revenue while not adding to the regular crowds/parking.

    As for these 2 days... seems like the open-ended "as needed" is more the insult to the injury. Uncertainty in jobs makes people crazy. How often will I have to leave an hour and 1/2 before work, etc.?? Either do away with the lots and provide something that works for the cast members or don't touch it.

  21. By olegc

    Quote Originally Posted by gbdisney8 View Post
    .

    As for these 2 days... seems like the open-ended "as needed" is more the insult to the injury. Uncertainty in jobs makes people crazy. How often will I have to leave an hour and 1/2 before work, etc.?? Either do away with the lots and provide something that works for the cast members or don't touch it.

    not only that - but what if management is caught off guard? I use the OMDD as an example, and of course NOW they have this on their radar, but back then they saw this huge influx and tried to make calls for folks to come in. Was this a CM issue? no - it was a management planning and communication issue - but in a sense the CMs will get the "hurry up" call and be tasked with that immediate response. Will they be held accountable for not making it in time according to their management, even if they had minimal notice? it's another thing that drives you crazy as an employee in any business - that uncertainty as mentioned about what you can and can't do, and what you may or may not be held responsible for - even if you had no initial part in the event in question.

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