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Adrienne Krock, editor
Readers Respond - Measuring Up at Disneyland

My mailbox was burning up with all the traffic it saw after my article about Disneyland testing a new height measurement system. Several CMs indicated that they would not rely solely on the wristbands to allow children to ride various attractions. They will still double check the measurement. One CM had some interesting comments and observations:

Hola. I've been a reader of MousePlanet since its inception and the DIG for a while longer. I write to David Koenig and Al occasionally, but this is a first for me to respond to one of your articles which I have found very interesting and informative.

I'm a DL resort CM…over the past ten months, I've had a great deal of experience with the "height question" in my work at (two attractions that have) a 40" height requirement and CMs are signed-off on the policy. In other words, we are trained on the policy and required to enforce it and if there is some sort of accident, we can be held accountable if the height was an issue.

My two cents on the sonic measuring device? The idea is brilliant and I hope that at least that portion of the scheme works. The wristbands however, are a different matter. I have several reservations regarding the wristbands which I feel are simply a waste of money.

First, regardless of whether or not the child has a colored wristband, it is my responsibility as an attractions host to ensure that the child is of the appropriate height so that he may ride safely - I'm still unsure of the legalities (I've asked management and the union about this), but as far as I can tell, the wristband does not remove my liability nor relieve my conscience. What am I trying to say? I will continue to check anyone's height that I do not feel meets the height requirement and deny them access to the attraction if they do not meet the height. I'm sure that this will enrage guests who don't care about safety just as it always has.... As long as I am responsible, I'll be responsible.

Secondly, now that the wristband has been displayed on the Internet and is in some use at the resort, it will not take enterprising parents long to figure out how to cheat. We see it already with the platform shoes and tall or spiked hairdos! It never ceases to amaze me to see parents so flagrantly disregard safety - I understand that a number of our guests feel that Disneyland is safe for everyone, but nevertheless, an attraction is usually a moving piece of industrial machinery and height requirements are there for a reason.

Third, and this ties somewhat into the second point, the wristband may have a proprietary stamp on it ("Disneyland" and the image of Mickey, etc.), but in a rush of people, all a CM is going to see is the color. By this, I mean to say once again that cheating will be made easier. Also, on a minor note, last Sunday a series of schools had groups come to the park and each school had on a variety of colored wristbands - orange, yellow, red, etc. - there's more confusion for you, not to mention how quite a few venues around orange county use wristbands too. I joked with a lead on that day that if I were following the policy, all those school kids that were probably in the sixth grade and over 40" would not have been able to ride Space Mountain since they were wearing yellow wristbands....

Special thanks to a MousePlanet reader for the above photo - Art  Disney
Special thanks to a MousePlanet reader for the above - Art Disney

Fourth, kids are kids and no matter how difficult and tamper resistant those bands are, kids are still going to be taking them off. That being the case, they will have to be measured again anyway, right? Aside from measuring them again, there will be the inconvenience and cost of getting a new wristband.

Those are my concerns. As far as the issue with consistency between current measuring points is concerned, all I can say is that mistakes happen and that overall, the consistency between them has always been quite good, at least on the Disneyland side of the compass.

Anyway, I hope my comments are of some interest to you. I share the same views with a good deal of the CM that I work with. Some are as committed to safety as I am and some are not. We'll see which heads prevail. Again, I'm very happy about the sonic measuring devices, but hesitant to believe the wristbands will solve anything.

I sent a reply to this CM, asking if Disneyland was listening to feedback about the system. On MousePad, a discussion included a story about a family whose son was mis-measured one day but not checked against the traditional measuring stick. The next day, he was re-measured and this time measured correctly for 47". Here is the CM's reply:

I know I didn't specifically mention this before, but this goes back to one of my core arguments regarding measuring in general. The park is trying to tell us that the new measuring system and the wristbands will make our jobs easier. In reality, it is only transferring the same old complaints to another place and in some cases, adding new complaints (like not being measured again at the cobra for example).

The sonic measuring device is supposed to be the same one developed by NASA for determining space shuttle loads. There seems to be the general perception that the device is infallible. Unfortunately, it is subject to both human and non-human error.

As far as non-human error is concerned, it is a measurement machine, and like any machine, it will need *regular* calibration. Frankly, if the park isn't willing to change a light bulb over the Space Mountain Fast Pass distribution computer or to regularly calibrate the various video monitors found throughout the resort, than why should any of us believe that they will regularly calibrate the sonic measuring device?

As for the human error, if the sound-reflective plate is tilted, the measurement will be incorrect. Now aside from that, the line that quite a few managers and leads are giving the front line cast members is that once someone has a wristband, the cast members should not check their height again. That works both ways for people that are actually shorter than their possible "counterfeit" wristbands and those that may be taller and were incorrectly measured.

Now, as to whether or not concerns will be addressed, I'd say you have a better chance of getting a lifetime pass for your entire family than of having concerns on this issue addressed by the park.... First of all, I've been told that these devices are obscenely expensive, so once the money has been invested, i doubt the likelihood of them being scrapped. Secondly, the word "test" or "pilot-program" is Disney-speak for "we've already committed to this and are just putting in the prototype to see how we have to tweak it to make it work they we want it to." That was true of Fast Pass, of Fast Track, and of costume shopping, not to mention many other projects. Thirdly and lastly, I've been told that the final order for all machines has been placed and is being worked on.

Let's face it, the device will not change the fact that some folks will cheat, that some will argue as to the correctness, that some others will be mis-measured, etc. I do believe that it will be generally a good thing however. Where I have my concerns are the calibration of the unit and the usefulness and legalities surrounding the wristbands....

"A concerned cast member" wrote:

I would like to alert you that your information on the height check stick at the Jumpin Jelly Fish is inaccurate. I have personally checked the height check stick upon installation and again after this article was written and I can assure you that this stick is now and has always been 40". It would be nice if you would publish the correction

Special thanks to a MousePlanet reader for the above photo - Art  Disney
Special thanks to a MousePlanet reader for the above - Art Disney

I stand by the information as I wrote it: Mary measured the stick with a tape measure she had in her purse and it measured 41". I was curious to see how Mary would respond, so I forwarded this to her and here's what she said:

It might be correct *today* but it was NOT correct when I was there in July with the kids. When I went to guest relations in July, I was told that there are some inconsistencies in the measuring sticks (or whatever it's called) and it's regrettable but it happens. They said that they have maintenance working on it all the time, but it still can happen.

Personally, when we've been measured at Jellyfish, I have found the CMs to be ultra-defensive about the exactness of the measurement, which makes me think that there has been/may still be problems with it.

On our last trip, though, Erin was not measured at any time on Jellyfish, but she was checked at Soarin'. Go figure.


Wanted: Your questions and feedback! They will help me plan future columns! Write me at: AdrienneK@mouseplanet.com

Measuring Up at Disneyland

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Adrienne gathered experience taking kids to amusement parks when she worked as a day camp counselor and director. She was an elementary school teacher before she started her favorite job, being Matthew and Spencer's Mom.

Adrienne, Matthew and Spencer visit Disneyland several times a month, usually with Daddy, too.

Besides Matthew & Spencer, Adrienne and her husband Kevin created and maintain The Happiest Potties on Earth website.

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