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Al Lutz
Ask Al!™
You all responded so favorably to the small Ask Al! section I added to the update, that I thought it would warrant a page of its own.

First, a little background: As you all can imagine, I get so much e-mail about the site, that it's gotten to the point where I can't really respond to it all personally.  But questions keep coming in, and so many of them keep proving interesting, that I thought I'd try this new column so I could respond at least to the ones I feel will have the broadest appeal for the D-I-G readership.

I'll try and update this page about once a week or so - but be patient if I fall behind a bit.  Unlike some sites, the staff around here is basically just me. 


These ten questions were posted on 4/26/00, and again thank you all for your terrific feedback and the many queries you've submitted.  I always have a hard time picking from all of them for this update, if I didn't get to your question this time, I may be able to answer it at some point later for you.

Q.

Mary writes: I just love your site and visit it frequently. My family and I have a season pass and have always parked in the Pinocchio parking lot. Starting last weekend the lot was a zoo! Was it just all of the holiday visitors or is something else going on? Keep up the great work! 
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A.

Thanks for stopping by Mary!  To answer your question, they've opened the new Ball Rd. / Disneyland Dr. / West St. ramp off of the southbound Interstate 5 and it has started to capture traffic that normally would have exited at Harbor and then been steered into the Lion King lots.

Even with this additional load the Pinocchio lot is getting - it's still much more efficient to get in and out of.  The Simba lot is still suffering from major construction work on Katella, which clogs up at the intersection of Disneyland Dr. [West St.] right where it exits.

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Q.

Caleb writes: Al, I was wondering, where I can I find more info on the Golden Horseshoe, and Betty Taylor? She is such a wonderful singer, and has a wonderful voice! I would like to if there is any place out there on the web, or what ever where I can find pictures of her, CD's etc... Has she made a album, record, CD anything with all the songs that she sang in the "Golden Horseshoe?" I think if she hasn't she should! I love all the songs :) Well, thanks fro taking your time to read my questions :)
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A.

I loved the old Golden Horseshoe Revue also Caleb, and was quite delighted for Disneyland's 40th to attend the reunion of some of the original performers, including Betty Taylor, Fulton Burley and Wally Boag at the Gene Autry Museum.  [You can read my trip report about this one time special event in the AL'S ARCHIVES section of this site.]  Betty was in terrific voice, and for a few precious minutes there I was all of ten again and she hadn't aged a day.  And even now she still looks terrific.

There was an album released way back when in 1957 - WDL-3013 "Slue Foot Sue's Golden Horseshoe Revue" - it featured Betty Taylor, Donald Novis, The Mellowmen, The Strawhatters and Wally Boag himself.  The cover had a photo taken of the stage at the park.

Not too long ago Walt Disney Records tried a re-issue series of older recordings, and supposedly this disc was one of the titles they were considering.  Alas, when they started issuing the CDs, they tried to price these older recordings at a premium [when the market for this kind of material usually was released at mid-line] and expected huge sales numbers - which catalog material of this type just doesn't do in the short term.  The series was ended due to poor sales before they got to this title.

Your best bet now of course is ebay where you may find the original vinyl LP - or we can all hope that the folks who do the CD kiosks at the parks would consider adding nostalgic albums such as this for purchase on demand.

By the way, Betty occasionally stops by the piano at Coke Corner in the park and says hello. Although most people are too shy to tell her how wonderful she was, her husband was kind enough to clue us in that she absolutely delights in hearing your compliments and really enjoys all the fuss people make over her.

Woody's little show at the Golden Horseshoe now is OK for the kids, but I know a lot of folks miss the talent that used to work that stage daily - the real singers, dancers, musicians and actors.  They beat a big rubber head show any day.  ;)

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Q.

King writes: Al, I have some questions to ask: 1) Is Indy's FASTPASS finished yet? Did they start putting FASTPASS on the Matterhorn during its latest rehab? Will they install FASTPASS on Peter Pasn's Flight as reported when it goes down for rehab in May? Will the Matterhorn and Peter Pan FASTPASSes be finished before the summer starts?

2) When will the finish the complete Small World overhaul that they planned in January/February, before or after its Christmas changeover later this year? Is the major Haunted Mansion overhaul still scheduled for Spring 2002? Are there any other attractions scheduled on the major overhaul list? When will they rehab the Tiki Room and/or restore and/or rebuild the entrance hut? When will they go back to maintaining Innoventions, Toontown, etc. before the park's 50th Anniversary in 2005?

3) Does Disney's next CEO Robert Iger have ANY intentions of restoring the company to its original glory?

4) Will they fix the choreography in the 45th Anniversary Parade as they originall planned and add even more characters?

Please answer my questions real soon. Thank you very much.
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A.

[Taking deep breath here] 1] No Matterhorn Fastpass is planned. Peter Pan should also have it soon, hopefully by summer.  All is subject to change of course.

2] small world is on hold, as is every other major rehab at the park now.  

I get a LOT of complaints about Tiki Room looking shabby, but they really don't seem to want to clean it up.  Pressler kept promising the park would look "gold standard" by the 50th Anniversary, but my question is why do we have to wait - it's not like we get a discount for a lesser kept up park now do we?  ;)

3] Iger makes Eisner happy.  His job, as well as Pressler's is not to rock the boat.  See my comments about Eisner's increasing isolationism below in the last set of questions I answered.

4] The parade got new music, but that's going to be about it from what I understood.  A new unit may be added - and a few more characters may also join in - but that's about it.

I'll try to get to your next batch of questions that you sent in after that last list when I can.  :)

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Q.

Paula writes: I'm going to Disneyland with my 5 year old daughter this summer. Is there any place decent to see the parade for her, where she won't be blocked out too badly?

Also, I noticed your nice photos of the parade and wanted to comment on the Simba one. The background reminded me very much of the back of St. Peter's church in Rome, Italy (on the wall where St. Peter's chair is hanging). There is the same gold sunray type of design. Maybe they got inspired on a recent trip there. Thanks for all your great info.
 
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A.

The best spot for the little ones to see the parade clearly is along small world way, sitting down on the ground where the brickwork and the cement street surfaces meet [that's the crowd line].  

You can usually pick out a spot about an hour before show time right up close, sit down the whole time with no one in front of you, and the characters always take a few moments to say hello to the kids as they amble by.

Either side of the walkway is fine - choose your location so that you have the best shade and view of the parade.  Keep in mind the first showing comes out of the small world gate, and the second one starts next to the Opera House on Town Square.

I'll have to find a photo of St. Peter's Church that shows that feature - it is quite interesting they chose that imagery for the parade.  I wonder what the Baptists would say?  ;)

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Q.

Gina writes: We have been to Disneyland the past 5 years. We have gone anywhere from the last week in October to the middle of November. We have never seen it decorated for Christmas until last year. We went the first week in November. Why was it decorated then when we have been 2 other times later than this? And we are planning a trip this year Nov 2 till Nov 8, will it be decorated this year? How can we find out? It was so wonderful to see.
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A.

Since Disneyland gave up on doing Halloween Events a few years back, Pressler pushed for doing a longer Christmas campaign, and it has been a huge success.

Christmas at the park now starts November 1st, [one year it even started on Halloween no less!] and runs through at least the first week of January, depending on crowds / logistics.

It is a beautiful time of year at the park - but two months non-stop really is a long time.  If you visit once a year though, it may be just what you would like to see.

Let's hope we get a new Christmas Parade this year - the last one really looked a little tired around the edges this last time.

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Q.

Mike writes: Amazing site... and wonderful photos!!! Just wondering if you know what that reddish metal wall is that's going up around Mullholland Madness. Is there going to be something covering up the superstructure? Any word on theming on the coaster (no matter how minimal)?
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A.

Thanks for the kind words Mike.  

I'm still wondering why the sign in front of that little coaster says "The Mad Mouse."  

As with all California Adventure attractions - theming is not the main thing here.  They have come up with some nifty Disney-type names, but the Paradise Pier rides are all just off the shelf items you can find at any amusement park in the country, albeit with a nicer paint job for the most part.

By the way - here's a bit of info - wondering why the wait for the Raft ride in Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom is so long lately?   It seems that the off-the-shelf rafts this ride uses are falling apart left and right.  I understand they were down to six of them at one point.

Why would I mention this in relation to the new park?  The raft rides are the same vendor in both cases.  Expect a LOT of down time once the Bear Raft ride gets going at DCA.

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Q.

Nancy writes: I really enjoy your updates and pictures. We are avid Disneyland fans! I have a daughter with 'special needs' and find that Disneyland is extremely accommodating. We (my daughter and I) are in desperate need of a Disneyland trip and the sooner the better! 

My daughters favorite ride is Autopia - usually riding it about 3 times a day. I know from your updates that Autopia is closed right now for a complete re-do. All I can get it that it is scheduled to open "Summer 2000". Any date closer to time period between Memorial Day and Labor Day? We need to start planning as we need to get airfare and hotel reservations.
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A.

They are on schedule for a June 23rd opening from what I understand.  They may even open earlier, but it's best to plan for after that.  Look for updates here on the D-I-G as we get closer to that date.

The redo of this ride should be a blast, from what can be seen on the work they are doing. The cars are being re-assembled with new bodies and engines out back.   

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Q.

Jeff writes: Have you heard anything about what is being done with one of the scenes in the Sleeping Beauty Diorama? On my visit to Disneyland on Thursday, April 6th, I found that the window depicting the climactic battle between Prince Phillip and the dragon had been covered with artwork of this scene.

The last time I went through the castle was this past December, at which time the scene was visible. The view through the window looked over the dragon's shoulder down at Prince Phillip. While the dragon was rather large, it had a rotund physique in comparison with the sleek monster portrayed in the film. This observation led me to wonder whether this was perhaps the original figure created for the castle diorama in 1957, almost two years before the film "Sleeping Beauty" was completed. Overall, the dragon seemed rubbery and its animation was minimal.

In 1970, "Sleeping Beauty" was the fifth Disney story to be told in three dimensions for the Emporium windows on Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland, and included among the 13 window displays was an impressive model of Maleficent's dragon. While I doubt that the Emporium's dragon is still in storage somewhere, perhaps the dragon in the Sleeping Beauty Diorama is being upgraded?

Coincidentally, another climactic battle scene in a diorama at Disneyland is currently shrouded by black drapes, namely, the Primeval World's finale portraying the face-off between the stegosaurus and the ferocious Tyrannosaurus rex. The popular assumption is that some sort of promotional tie-in will be unveiled in advance of the May 19th premiere of Disney's "Dinosaurs" film.

In case there is some connection between work on these two dioramas, I hope there are no plans to have Maleficent turn herself into a carnotaurus instead of a dragon. Perhaps the three good fairies (Flora, Fauna and Merryweather) will later be recast as lemurs. After making those alterations, I'm not sure whether Aurora and Phillip would remain mammals or turn into reptiles.

Anyway, if you hear something worth repeating, let me know.
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A.

Thanks for your kind note Jeff - the best questions can also enlighten the readers by just being asked.  

The castle may have undergone some structural changes due to the fact it is now used quite prominently in the new Fireworks show - but I don't think that would affect the dioramas inside.  If anyone out there knows what is really going on, please drop me a note and I'll be happy to update everyone on this.  I'll try and stop by myself to take a look too.

As far as the changes in the Primeval World diorama go - I've heard both ways on this - and a change of any type I think would be welcome here.  [There is lots of other major work that is needed in this area besides just goosing up the last scene with a movie tie-in.]  

Now if they could just get rid of the music in Grand Canyon part of the tunnel, I'd be utterly delighted.  ;) 

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Q.

Ellen writes: We really enjoy your site and check it all the time! Your photos for desktops are great! My daughter is a big fan of "It's A Small World" and she was hoping you could try to add a desktop of it... thanks!
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A.

OK, you twisted my arm.  Click on THIS LINK for a desktop from last year's special Christmas Desktop section to appear in your browser.  When it pops up, just right click the image and select "Set as Wallpaper."

Yes, I know, it's not Christmas, ...but we need a little Christmas, right this very minute, candles on the fireplace, carols on the spinet...  ;)

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Q.

Andy writes: Hi Al! Two quick questions for you: 1) Why, oh why, is the speed limit in the Disneyland parking lots 14 mph? I noticed this during my trip in January and it's been bothering me ever since!

2) How's the new smoking policy working out? My asthmatic fiancé and I are really looking forward to a virtually smoke free park on our next visit. But, we are a bit skeptical considering the complete lack of enforcement of the previous smoking rules. So, is there a noticeable difference?

Even though the bad news tends to outweigh the good news, your site gives me a healthy dose of Disneyland magic several times a week. And for someone who grew up 5 miles from the park, but now lives over 1000 miles away, that's a real treasure! Thanks! :-)
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A.

Thanks for the kind words Andy! 1] The speed limit is 14 MPH for one reason, because you will remember it!  Considering just how you've been pondering that - I'd consider they'd accomplished what they set out to do on that one.  :)

2] The smoking policy is working, but it's an odd situation enforcement-wise - since no Cast Member [CM] really wants to make a scene over it with a visitor.  But even with this lax enforcement the smoking areas, in particular the one at Plaza Pavilion off the hub, are now always packed.

Is there a difference?  Yes, I would say so - and if they remember to spiel the policy for folks on every trip in on the trams - they could increase awareness of it too.  The CMs tend to forget to do that quite a bit.

About your last note there, there is always lots of good news, i.e. the new Fireworks show for example, if you keep reading the guide on a regular basis. But it is important to also discuss the bad stuff here too.  

Like any consumers of any product, we shouldn't hesitate to speak up if things aren't up to the quality we expect.  This is especially true when it comes the Disney company, which over the years built their reputation on it.  :)
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The following eleven questions were posted on 4/21/00.

Q.

Mark writes: Hi Al, I have a question for you - I was at Disneyland the other day making a dinner reservation for Blue Bayou. While I waited to talk to the host, he received a few calls at the podium from people making reservations. I assume that a normal Joe like me can't make a phone reservation, but who exactly can? The observation just made me curious (if not envious).
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A.

There are basically only two types of reservations that can be made this way - 1] the Concierge can do this for you if you stay at that level room either at the Disneyland Hotel or the Disneyland Pacific - and 2] Disney company / park executives, their guests or cronies

Here's a tip [unless you are locked into a very popular lunch or dinner time - noon or 6/7 PM]:  Since they keep an equal number of tables open for both the reservations and walk up visitors, chances are very good that if you do a walk up at any time except a key dining period, you will get seated rather quickly.

We've spent less than fifteen minutes in line to get in just walking up on most Sundays at 12:30 PM for lunch.

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Q.

Megan's so nice, she writes twice: First, though you might be sick of it, I want to commend you on your wonderful site! I check it at least once a day.

I do want to comment on Disneyland Employment. I attend Arizona State University, where the Walt Disney Company posts job listings frequently. These posters indicate that you can have a wonderful job working at Disneyland. To see if you would have a chance to "Work Magic" you must go to to the meeting. I haven't gone to any of these meetings, but have thought about it whenever I see one. 

I did happen to pick up the information they give out at these sessions. Reading through it, I noticed that minimum wage for a job there is $6.00 an hour. You must pay $117.00 a week for a hotel room. You must also have a car because of undependable bus schedules. I'm sorry, but when you figure out what you will be making each week, I wonder how will you eat. Another thing, if you must provide transportation, even if you carpool, you will not have a lot of gas money. 

I am sorry again, because this has not pushed me to work magic, as they have said. This must be the reason for a lot of other potential cast members because I notice new employment posters at least once every two weeks. They are honest in saying that this job is basically for experience, but the company will be lucky if anyone comes to them (at least from a college). The only college students who are apt to come are those who attend a close college or who have a close relative. From a Former Potential Cast Member...

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A.

It's only going to get worse Megan!  They continue to refuse to pay more than minimum, and they can't even staff Disneyland properly, much less a whole new park, hotel and mall.

My mother used to have a saying when we had to deal with any company that had less than stellar employees due to low wages:

Pay peanuts, get monkeys.

I have a feeling in the next year or two until Disney gets the message, that we may need a lot of bananas to tip the help with.  ;)

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Q.

Janice writes: LOVED the sites you recommended last time, are there any more we should visit?
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A.

Glad you asked - I did forget one very important site that a good friend has put together. Lani Teshima [a frequent contributor and helper to this site] maintains a wonderful site of her own "Travelite."  

But instead of me singing the praises for what she's done, (or trying to explain what she offers that is so valuable on her site) let me quote some of her visitors here:

"You are providing such a valuable service. Keep it up!" John McManus, president of Magellan's (travel-related mail-order catalog firm).

"I enjoyed your web site. As a long-time, firm believer of the 'if you can't carry it don't bring it' concept of travel I certainly could empathize with your suggestions." Tony Leto of Lavi Industries (manufacturer of airline luggage sizers).

"This is the best traveling light FAQ I've ever seen--and that's impressive because I still haven't mastered it." Helen Trillian Rose, primary moderator for misc.transportation.air-industry.

"The best Internet-accessible information resource that conforms to the (pack light) philosophy espoused here is Lani Teshima's superb Travelite FAQ... In addition to a great deal of useful information and philosophy, it contains an abundance of links to other Internet resources. The only thing I dislike about this document is that Lani wrote it before I did! I try to console myself with the thought that she also has to maintain it. :-)" Doug Dyment, fellow pea-in-the-pod traveliter and self-described "compleat carry-on traveler," on his web site.

"I'm adding your Travelite page to the 3rd edition of my book, The Internet Kids and Family Yellow Pages (from Osborne McGraw-Hill), which will be out next September 1998 if all goes well. I don't know if you do awards or not, but you get the 'Net-mom Approved' slice o' pie. Congratulations!" Jean Armour Polly from netmom.com.

There are literally tons more kudos - and she has earned them all with her delightfully informative and very well written information.

Just think, with all her help, you can now finally make room in your luggage for even MORE stuff you can buy at the park!  ;)

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Q.

Vicky writes: This summer my family is coming for a visit. Do you have any pamphlets, magazines etc that you could send us? Oh, I only want FREE info! Well thank-you VERY much for your help. I will be awaiting your reply. 
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A.

Here's a phone number you can call, and an automated voice will take your order for some free Disneyland brochures.  BEFORE CALLING, IF YOU ARE UNDER AGE PLEASE ASK YOUR PARENTS FOR AN OK TO CALL THIS NUMBER.  Now I feel better.  :)  

Here's the number: (800) 225-2057

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Q.

Stew writes: Although I have a million questions, I will try to limit this to one of my top ones at this moment. For the *rumored* upcoming Star Tours update, it is rumored that:

a) All of the simulators will be upgraded

b) We will "reach our destination."

First off, how will they have us reach our destination? Will there be some massive rehab on the exit that makes it appear that we are now on some other planet? Then, how will we get back? Inquiring minds would like to know!

Why upgrade all of the simulators (of course I know why -- supply and demand). What I am thinking is that since each simulator is essentially an entity unto itself, in theory you could have "X" number of scenarios / destinations. Basically you change the program / film that is running (of course if the "film" was to have a digital source, this would become a moot point) and voila, you have a new programmed destination. 

So, maybe not this go-around, but perhaps sometime in the future, each simulator could have it's own destination (and what the heck, with 100% digital source (here I'm dreaming a little bit!) --- each TRIP could be different (or at least cycle through a series of destinations, say equal to the number of "cabins" --- that way you would only be (at worst) a few minutes away from the destination / scenario of your choosing. 

Talk about potential for re-riding! WOW! It could be like Indy on steroids... each trip could be a completely different experience (ok, I'm starting to go off the deep end a little here... but I'll come down for a landing soon enough!)

(ps - GREAT Website --- love the new (almost) Daily updates)
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A.

What you've been thinking about could happen.  The idea of a simulator that could change the show randomly thanks to special programming and digital image sources is a very real possibility for Star Tours.  And the fact they can do the image needed for this on less expensive computers now, instead of film, makes it a very attractive possibility.

But sadly, with things the way they are right now between Lucas and Disney, we will continue to only see the current ride film for a long time to come. 

In a nutshell, Lucas feels taken advantage of by the current deal he has with Disney and is so busy with his current project [Episode II] that anything like this is on a very distant back burner.  And since Disney can't go ahead on anything without his involvement - well that makes for a stalemate.

One of the problems with Eisner being the only one in charge now [since Frank Wells passed on] is that he tends to lock horns with more and more people as time goes on.  Once he takes a stand [right OR wrong - he's made some good stands on behalf of the company as well as bad ones] that's it, people stop working with him.  And then it costs the company - in either lost opportunities, or worse yet, huge payments they have to make to settle things up for him.

Right now, most people in the know feel very strongly that until things change in the executive suite there will be no changes in the attraction, or the rather chilly relationship between the two companies.

Myself?  I like the idea of installing a new version of Alien Encounter in place of Star Tours, with one major change in the show to theme it properly... the substituting of Jar-Jar Binks for Skippy.

The lines for that attraction would be endless I would imagine...  ;)

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Q.

Jillian writes: Hi Al just a quick question; how tall do you have to be to ride on the rides at Disneyland??? Thank you
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A.

Now now Jillian, we MUST read the D-I-G more carefully.  ;)  The info you need is on the site HERE.  

Next time you come visit, make sure you scroll down the contents page a bit more - many of the questions people ask me can be quickly answered if they would only take a quick look at the listing of what is already offered here.

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Q.

Scott writes: Hi Al- Can you possibly answer these 3 questions?

1) Why did they take away the Skyway—the real reason? Was it a handicapped issue?

2) Do you know what is to become of the mountain to the left of Big Thunder? The ol' Mine Train would go around it's banks. It seems last time I was at the park, they were doing something to it.

3) Why did they take away Cap'n Hook's Pirate Ship?
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A.

1] Money.  It would have cost a lot to keep it going and upgrade it.  Pressler in particular, decided that if the money this would have cost was spent on a new attraction, it would pull in more attendance.  In a way he is right, he can't advertise a newly refurbished skyway and pull in the numbers Indy did for example.

But in not spending that money there, he was supposed to spend it somewhere else on a major new attraction.  Personally I think they just lost it out there somewhere in that giant parking lot...  ;)

2] That was Cascade Peak - a waterfall / hidden river filter that was deemed "unsafe" [since it was built out of chicken wire and plaster / cement, and had rotting woodwork] and torn down. 

Again the money they saved here was supposed to be spent on better things for us... but you get the drift...  ;)

3] Tony Baxter tried to save the Pirate Ship when they moved everything around in Fantasyland, since basically Dumbo moved into the space for it and Skull Rock. But it was too just fragile and rotted out to make the move.  They were thinking of relocating it to where the motorboats used to be. 

[In case you were wondering, the Carousel was moved back a bit, Dumbo then was moved behind it -- opening up the Big Thunder Walkway -- and this allowed the teacups to move over closer to the front of Alice.  Could you imagine trying to do this Fantasyland type of redo now under Pressler?  I can't, he'd never approve it.]

If you want to pay your respects to the old ship, don't worry, the parts of it that could be saved were incorporated into the Peter Pan attraction, and you can glide over them the next time you take a flight with Peter.  :)  

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Q.

Churro [yes, an alias] writes: In response to [a past] question about estimated attendance for the day, you might add that even though there is an expected attendance for each day, often times you just never know. Lately, the attendance has been unusually high, but generally, you can mention that the best times to go to Disneyland is mid-January, through mid-March, then, from October to mid-November. 

Generally, if the park is open from 10-8, they are expecting less than 25,000 people that day, if it 9-9, less than 35,000, and anything else, more than 35,000. If it is open till 2 or 3 am, it is either July 4 or Dec 31. Trust me, and DON'T GO! It is not worth it at all. I have had to spend the past three years being in the park on those dates (working), and nobody has any fun at all. They just want to say that they were there.
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A.

Great advice Churro!  I'll try and add it to the D-I-G somewhere in the next few days.  As far as the rest of that kind e-mail you sent... let's chat when you get a chance.  ;)
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Q.

Michelle writes: Dear Al, I just read your recent update and it appalls me how there have been so many cost cuts at the Disneyland Resort to increase profits in the company. 

I can understand why those in charge want to make profits to ensure the happiness of the stockholders, but there is some things you don't mess with. It's a Small World and Haunted Mansion need to have a rehab and there should be a ride where the submarines used to be (before the Loch Ness monster moves in). 

And all the cost cuts I've read on your site and others about California Adventure seems to deter the true meaning of why Disneyland was created. I get so frustrated that I think that Walt Disney would never let this happen. 

Disneyland was his first park, his baby he nurtured into a wonderful place for all those to escape to. I would like to think that Walt wouldn't have let the Treehouse get so dilapidated that a guest has there foot go through a step. Enough of my venting, I'll get to the point.

So with all this frustration brewing in my mind, I was thinking about how successful your Promote Paul Pressler site was. Even though he does have a more powerful job in the company, at least there seems to be someone there now that cares about the welfare of the park.

Well I thought maybe you could start up a web page called, "Cut Back Eisner's Salary". I can't understand why a man with such a huge salary, and all the money he made with the stocks in the company, will do with it. I would think after about ten million dollars your life is set. So why can't he at least reinvest some of those millions he earns every year to make Disneyland a better place; one that Walt would still be proud of. 

I would think that Walt would take a salary cut just to make the park better for all of us. Even a million dollars a year cut from Eisner's salary could make all the difference. But I know truly that this could never happen until Eisner gets rid of all of his friends that sit on Disney's Board of Directors. I just thought I would share this pipe dream with you. 

Thank you very much for spending all the time keeping all of us informed about our favorite place on earth. Your readers here out in Internetland are very grateful. Thanks again for reading my suggestion.
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A.

I have to be careful what I wish for Michelle - look what happened the last time.  ;)

Sadly it now appears that the problems we see now will only get worse as time continues. Personally [after talking with more than a few folks] I feel we may see less and less of truly great things like the new fireworks show and the Mulan parade at the parks, and much more like the dreadful Light Magic, the depressing Rocket Rods, and the new lackluster parade.

The problem is very simple, with the theme park division we simply have a shopkeeper doing a showman's job.  Pressler just does not understand why things are done in a certain way that produces something called "Disney Quality," he only sees the bottom line and in his quest to move up the ladder at the company has simply has no qualms about throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

As far as Eisner goes - he used to have people around that would be able to discuss rather strongly with him many of these kinds of issues, and help give him additional insights.  The late Frank Wells was one of those people who could talk to him, even argue with him, as was Jeffery Katzenberg.  But now that both are gone, there simply is no one at the company who is capable of sparring with him at his level to get him to think out of his box.

I've spent most of my working life in the music business - and I've seen this syndrome before.  Michael Jackson got hit with it hard, and so have countless others in both the entertainment and business worlds.  

You can become so successful, that you literally can afford to eliminate any trace of argument or stress in your life.  As you surround yourself with staff and friends who depend on you for their livelihood - they really don't want to alienate you since their jobs depend on keeping you happy.  Soon enough, instead of a circle of good friends who will tell you when an idea you get is bad or crazy, you have an entourage and employees catering to your every whim who don't want to upset you and agree everything you say is brilliant.

It's no secret that after a while you lose touch and [as in Jackson's case] you start to think that it's a just a peachy idea to go ahead own the Elephant Man's bones.  You make weird pronouncements like this because you're totally surrounded by people who will do as you wish, and are incapable of really sitting down with you and telling you how dumb an idea this really is.

Look at the executives Eisner has surrounded himself with.  [And the ones he has been forcing out.]  Not one will spar with him.  It's a sad waste of a good mind if you ask me, since in the past he's really done some amazing things that basically kept the doors open at Disney.

Sorry to ramble Michelle - but I'm glad your note got me thinking again.  :)

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Q.

Darrin writes: First Al, what an awesome guide you have created--I have been visiting for well over a year and always look forward to your updates. 

I occasionally participate on message boards on other sites, but boy -- don't make any negative comments about DCA! While I love Disney as much as anyone, I don't love everything Disney does -- DCA being the most perfect example. 

Anyway, the folks that respond with blind faith that DCA will turn out wonderful really don't like the criticism (like mine) that is occasionally posted. In fact, its gotten more heated than I would like, so I am no longer going to post any comments about DCA at those boards. Nonetheless, your continuing effort to fairly analyze the affairs at Disneyland is much appreciated, and I am glad that you continue to monitor the unflattering progress of DCA. 

Before he passed away a few years ago, I got to know Herb Ryman quite well. One conversation I had with Herb sticks with me: he was describing some of the attractions that never came off quite right, but he said that at least they tried their best and never stooped so low as to add carnival rides just to fill in space. 

Now, he was laughing when he got to the carnival ride part because that was so absurd to Herbie -- since 1953 he and Walt had been dedicated to creating story-telling experiences, something carnies and spinners can never do. 

God it kills me to think how confident Herbie was that Disney theme parks (let alone the original theme park, Disneyland) would never get that cheap, unimaginative or lazy. But its happened, and its not just the obvious aspect of Paradise Pier, but the whole thing that betrays the amazing brilliance of people like Herb Ryman. 

So it goes, and if DCA is widely accepted by the folks that just love anything with the Disney label, I shudder to think what awaits WDW. I still love Disney, but I am a worried guy right now. I sure hope things turn out alright, but I have a sinking feeling that we are seeing a very bad turn for the worse. Again, keep up the great work on DIG.  
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A.

I have a feeling Disney's California Adventure [DCA] will probably do very well the first year it opens.  Depending on how quickly they ramp up the next phases, it may also do well in years two and three.

But I don't think over the course of time that this park that will remain in the future what it currently has been designed to be.

If management changes at the company - maybe, just maybe - depending on who takes over - eventually this project may morph into something else more along the lines of what lies across from it.

We'll see I guess.  Thank you for the kind words.

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Q.

Amber writes: Al, I was looking at your DCA Construction pictures and I noticed it said "Grand Californian parking lot". Are they really going to have the parking lot in the actual park?

It just seems really strange to me, not only that but it would also be kind of tacky. I can't imagine walking around a Disney amusement park and coming across a billion cars just sitting there. What's up with that?
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A.

Don't worry, you won't see the cars, there will be a big cinderbrick wall in the way.  ;)

But yes, I am amazed also that they have taken so much space in that area and have given it over to the mall, hotel and parking.  That's all space that could have given us more theme park area.

But then what's a margarita or beer cart pull in compared to shops and hotels? Other than those carts there are only 22 attractions opening in DCA, many of them just movies.

We'll see come opening day.
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These ten questions were posted on 4/7/00, again thank you all for your terrific feedback and the many queries you've submitted.  I had a hard time picking from them for this update.

Q.

Trudy writes: Are there any other sites you recommend we visit before our trip to the park?
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A.

There are lots of Disneyland sites on the web, but I'll clue you in on some favorites of mine that have all just been recently updated. These sites in particular are very useful on planning your Disneyland trip, especially if you have special needs in your party.  

The first is the award-winning HAPPIEST POTTIES ON EARTH site that Adrienne and Kevin Krock maintain.

What may seem like a bit of a joke to some folks, actually turns out to be quite a useful site - in particular if you have kids who constantly need to go, or as in Adrienne's case [which inspired the site in the first place] you're expecting and you need to go more often than normal.  You'll find on a stressful enough day, trying to see as much as you can, knowing where all the bathrooms are can make your visit that much more efficient and pleasant. [I understand even Disneyland is quite pleased with how complete the site is, and how people do care about how much work they put into keeping those restrooms so clean despite the heavy use they can get.]

Another recently updated site is very important if you have disabled folks involved in your visit.  Tony and Adrienne Phoenix have complied a wonderful site, the DISNEYLAND DISABLED GUESTS FAQ which gives you a very comprehensive overview of what the park does [and in some cases, does not] for these special visitors.

Every land is listed, every attraction is reviewed, and now they also have photos of some of the more unique things the park does, such as the special wheelchair boat that is available for it's a small world.  Even if you are not in immediate need of the information for your party, it is still a fascinating read nonetheless.

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Q.

Jeff writes: I saw on some pages you mention the Fantasyland "Wonder Bra" Theater. Could you tell me the story behind this name?
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A.

It's a long story, but let's make it short: 

The name stuck during some rather spirited newsgroup discussions about just how inexpensive / poorly designed this new tent roof to the theater was.  Thanks to its ungainly size, not to mention its stark white look, [and despite some rather poor attempts to disguise it somewhat with blue tarps] the thing quite simply looks like a giant bra.  The name is now used internally at the park too it seems.

Sadly, these kinds of poorly designed, much-too-budget-conscious projects are something that we'll see more and more of in Disney parks now, as folks with a short term view of things take over.

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Q.

Chris writes: Love your site. I check it every day as we are planning our trip to Disneyland.

I have a question about the unscheduled Tarzan rehab. Has this rehab shut down the tree house completely or is [it] still open? 
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A.

It's back up now.  The work was done very quickly and well too.
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Q.

John writes: Hi Everybody, I’m John, and I’m a “DIG-aholic.” You get the picture! Thank you for giving so much time and energy to such a great service. I find myself checking daily to see if you’ve added any new little tidbits of information about Disneyland. You are truly doing a labor of love. And, it is appreciated.

In your UPDATE recently, you mentioned how hard it is to predict crowd sizes these days. You commented that weekday’s are often pulling in 30,000 during times that traditionally would have had less.

Is there a way to let us know what expected line waits will be, based on crowd size? For example, if the crowd is 30,000, the wait at Splash Mountain will be an hour and a half and an hour at Indiana Jones, etc, etc. It would be great to have a ballpark figure of what kind of wait to expect at major attractions based on different crowd sizes.

Thank you for any thoughts about this!. 
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A.

Thanks for the kind words John, what you asked for is something I've been looking into for a long time.

The only thing holding it back somewhat is that Disneyland guards only one thing more closely to it's heart than your wallet, and that's their attendance figures.

We have some rough ideas, we know more or less just about what size crowds hit when, but it's tough to lock it down when they make it so hard on you to find out exact numbers.  

And really when it comes to it, they probably are guessing just as much as we are, judging just by how many times these past few weeks the park has actually been underestimating crowds and running out of things such as pretzels and chicken drumsticks.

But never fear, there may be a way we can present some general ideas to you as to wait times, very soon.  Keep your eyes on the site is all I can say now.

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Q.

Christopher writes: We are planning our first visit. The day we arrive is my son's 5th birthday. We will be a party of six Mom, Dad, Son (5), Daughter (3), Aunt, Uncle. We are staying at one of the Good Neighbor Hotels. 

As I understand it the birthday parties / dinner with Disney characters are at Goofy's Kitchen in Disneyland Hotel. Can you advise me on any other suggestions to have a magical Disney birthday? We don't plan on entering the park till the next day. Thanks, great site.
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A.

On your actual day of celebration for your son, Goofy's is your best bet if you want the Disney characters involved.  [There is also a breakfast at the Disneyland Pacific Hotel that includes characters and small skits / shows - but that may be too early for you.]  

You'll really enjoy the fact that the characters here in Anaheim are much freer to interact with your party - unlike in Walt Disney World, where most of them are behind ropes and you have to wait in line to visit with them.

As far as the next day at the park, be sure to get a Happy Birthday sticker for your son at City Hall when you enter.  This lets all the Cast Members [CM's] and characters know it's a special day for your child, and they'll make a little bit of an extra fuss over him all day long.  It's one of the nice things the park does that most folks don't know about.

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Q.

Angela writes: First off I wanted to tell you that you have the most wonderful for Disney updates and I am a faithful reader, though sometimes I get a bit depressed about what is going on there.

Anyway, am making a trip there this year and was wondering about something I thought I heard. Are they removing the little restaurant that makes the mint juleps? This is my boyfriend and I's favorite drink. We love to get one and then go sit down, relax and people / train watch. They are the greatest on a hot summer day.

Oh, I also wanted to put my 2 cents in about missing the overhead tram [Sky] ride. That was another one of our favorites. We loved getting on it at night and watching the fireworks. I guess those days are gone, at least I have my memories.

Thanks a lot and keep up the good work, P.S. - I hope DL doesn't do what WDW did to the tiki room. I was there last fall and the show was horrible!!!!
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A.

Thank you for the kind words Angela, and don't get depressed - there's a lot of good going on at the park these days [compared to the past] and things are getting better.  

Sometimes it's hard to write about things that need to be improved - but I know now after all the years I've been working on this site that people do appreciate knowing both good and bad, as it really does help them plan their visit much better.

The little restaurant [actually a series of serving windows] that you're referring to is the Mint Julep Bar, which is adjacent to the French Market Restaurant.  It's still operational, and yes, is still serving up those Mint Juleps you like so much.

What has been closed is La Petite Patisserie [located on the same little walkway the Cristal d' Orleans (the glassblower) and jewelry shop is at, near the main entrance to the French Market] - which never really was paid much attention to, and used to serve up some wonderful candy / chocolate drizzled waffles on a stick that were so good.  [They also had Mai-Tai flavored non-alcoholic slushies too, which I REALLY liked on those hot summer days.]

And yes, I do miss the Skyway too!  And make sure you catch the new fireworks show, it really is wonderful.  [And don't worry, NO one at Disney likes the new Tiki show in Orlando, so we won't see it here it looks like.]

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Q.

Michael writes: I went to Disneyland, and I noticed that the Frontierland sign was gone, the wood one, and, a banner was in its place. It had the same font as the Woody's Roundup sign. I haven't gone to Disneyland since February, and I do know they didn't have the banner then, how long have they had it? And will they put the old one back?
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A.

I've been asking around about this, and all I get back are some educated guesses, which I will share here with you.

It seems that the original sign, and the pole it cantilevered from, were built so that it could pivot out towards the hub, to be able to drive taller equipment through that area after the park was closed.  

Either a] the swinging arm type of apparatus was damaged by someone plowing into it not knowing how high the sign actually was, or b] it finally wore out and they just cut it away until they could replace it.

Let's hope they put the old sign back into place - although lately they seem to be tightening the purse strings again when it comes to projects like this, i.e. witness the permanent loss of the Tiki Room entrance hut.

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Q.

Tony writes: Hi Al I am an annual passholder and have read and enjoyed your site for a long time now. I had a question about the 2nd floor of Starcade. I remember before the major Tomorrowland rehad both floors were opened and now the second floor remains untouched and looks like the Tomorrowland of the 80's. Are they ever going to open second floor again? 
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A.

At this time, probably not.  Rumors continue that they want to move the entire arcade up to that floor, and expand the adjacent Star Trader shop into that area, but nothing has come of that.

The other rumor, which doesn't hold much credence apparently, is that the entire area could host a slightly smaller version of the Buzz Lightyear ride from Walt Disney World, but I just can't see them a] making an already crowded area more so, b] even caring to spend the money, and c] even THINKING of losing all the revenue the arcade brings in.

If anything happens on this, it will be noted in the regular update.

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Q.

Edwin writes: I have been attending Disneyland since the late 1970's when I was a child and have always thought of it as a magical place that one can escape to. 

Until recently....

My recent visits to the park did somewhat resemble the fun I had in the late 70's and 80's, but it always seemed be missing something. I soon realized that it was TOMORROWLAND that had been lacking. 

I found out that Tomorrowland went over major renovation in '98 and decided to get rid of many so-called  "outdated" attractions and replace them with "new" ones (if you consider an attraction that still resembles the old one except with different name and color "new") and give the paint and theme a puke-brown / green color. I've always felt the white and blue colors of the old Tomorrowland gave the place a sense of optimism, purity, innovation, and promise of what tomorrow might be like. Attractions like The Peoplemover, Mission to Mars, Disneyland Monorail, The Rocket Jets, and Captain EO helped contributed to the theme.

I've read that the "New" Tomorrowland was made as an attempt to duplicate what WDI in Paris had accomplished. They presumed that a "land of tomorrow" would be impossible to build before tomorrow becomes today. Hello? Weren't the Monorail and Peoplemover the first transportation concepts of its time? I believe WDI is missing the whole point. To make a world of tomorrow presented the challenge to think of what the future might hold. WDI decided to turn their backs to this challenge and take the easy way out by making a "Tomorrow that Never Was."

I know that change is good, but remember when Disneyland would build truly "new" attractions? The last new attraction I can remember that was not just some renovated ride was Indy. I don't consider remodeled rides such as Rocket Rods (which is basically a fast Peoplemover that has no chance of real-world use) and Autopia 2000 (isn't gasoline engines a invention of the 19th century?), and Tarzan's Treehouse (no comment necessary ; ) ) new attractions by any means.

Do you know if Disney has received a negative response from the New Tomorrowland? If so, do they have any plans on correcting it?

When can we expect a truly "new" attraction worthy of bearing the Disney name?
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A.

1. As I understand it, Tomorrowland's redo hasn't been all that exciting for visitors, the main complaints concern the Rocket Rods [still getting an 80% negative rating] the closed Subs [people want to ride them since they are still so visible], and the less than stunning Innoventions, where yesterday's technology is nosily heralded as tomorrow's, and people avoid like the plague.

Sadly under Paul Pressler's "leadership" [on Michael Eisner's watch] "just good enough" is the motto of the day.  Except for the Autopia redo, don't expect much change in Tomorrowland until both of them move on.

2.  Right now all the money is being poured into the new park, and Disneyland will not be getting any "E" types of attractions [such as Indy or Mansion] for many years to come.  

Keep in mind that this isn't all that bad, since the park in the past didn't open these types of attractions each year one after the other, it did take some time between each of them.  But there will be an especially long time now before we see anything the caliber of Indy again.

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Q.

Julie writes: Hi Al, first I want to say that I LOVE your site! I check it once a week to read all the updates (you must be a very busy man).

I had a two part question: Why don't you have any desktop photos of the actual rides? I recently read that photography is prohibited on all rides, is that true? 

I went to DL about 3 years ago and I took some photos in both Pirates and Roger Rabbits cartoon spin. I swear not one person ever said a thing to me about taking the pictures and if I knew they weren't allowed, I wouldn't have. 

Keep up all the great work, my family and I are going to DL end of September and we are SO excited!
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A.

Thanks for the kind words Julie, they are appreciated.

First of all, there really are no restrictions on taking photos in rides, only that you not take flash pictures, which do disturb other visitors.  [Star Tours CM's sometimes do ask that no camcorders be used, but this is more about not jabbing your eye with the camera than trying to prohibit you from filming.]  So long as you don't bother others, avoid the flash, and the photos are for your own personal use, you should be fine in this area.

As for not having pictures from inside the rides, there are a few reasons why I don't offer them [besides just how dark things are in the attractions, and the inability of the digital camera that I use to take good shots in low light].

First of all, Disney does maintain a copyright on all their characters, no matter what the medium, audio-animatronic or animated.  And although they don't really crack down on people posting photos on line from the rides, it's a gray area that I'd just like to avoid for now.  [Yes, you will find some character photos on the D-I-G to illustrate stories and such, but they should fall pretty clearly under what is considered a "fair use" situation.]

Second, the landscapes and vistas are usually more of what readers seem to want - judging from the downloads the shots get.  

Hope this helps.
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The following questions were posted 3/30/00, and sadly you'd think the theme was about cutbacks, but honest folks, it wasn't: 

Q.

Michael writes: I truly enjoy reading your site and appreciate all of the hard work you put into it. I can tell it is a true labor of love.

I have been watching the developments of The California Adventure project for some time. I can't tell you how sad I felt when I saw your photos of the Disneyland hotel and how they demolished all of my favorite parts of it. One of my fondest memories was watching the monorail go by our room as we stayed in the Monorail bungalow area on the second floor by the old Travelport. 

I know change is good but I have to wonder is Disneyland regressing instead of progressing? Looking over many of the attractions in CA they look like nothing more than cheesy re-themed county fair attractions! I thought that these types of rides were the very reason that Disneyland was built in the first place!

Is there going to be any truly Imagineered rides in this new park? I was excited about the prospect of a 21st Disneyland and all of the technology with it. Now all I have to do is look forward to some type of Buena Vista State Fair.
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A.

Thank you for the kind words Michael, they mean a lot.

It's been no secret via my own online writings how I feel about what Pressler and Eisner have built over in the parking lot. Increasingly I keep seeing more and more e-mails like yours as people finally begin to understand the rather different nature of this park, compared to previous Disney efforts.

UPDATED: 4/11/00 - You may want to visit Jim Hill's site / column here on the D-I-G, he now has a five-part article up on just why we got the park we got.  Once you begin to understand the process as Jim has detailed it, it will let you better understand why we're getting something out there that is lower level Disney quality.

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Q.

Two questions: 1. Why don't you ever do any major reports about ODV? / 2. WHAT does ODV stand for?
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A.

1. Well I don't think churros merit too many photo essays around here...  ;) ...but if you have any specific suggestions, do send them in, and we'll see if they would be of interest to the readers. / 2. ODV is short for Outdoor Vending - the department at the park that runs the countless carts you see all over the place selling hot dogs, pins, churros, popcorn and glow items, among others.
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Q.

Doug writes: Hello Al, I just wanted to say hi and tell you about a great job you are doing. My wife and I look forward to your updates. And we like all the behind the scenes stuff that you write about. 

We went to the park on 3/19 to 3/22. and we had a great time! I live in Napa California (North Cal) so I try to get down there at least two times a year. We have 3 kids, a five year old girl and twin boys age 2. But I can honestly say I get more excited then them when we go. 

When we went to the park there some things that I was impressed with. The character breakfast at the park was great. All the characters spent more then enough time with my kids and they had a blast. Something nice like that will stick with my kids forever. 

Also we got a surprise on the 3/20 they shot off fireworks and they stayed open two hours later. Is this something they do from time to time? (Being that it was a Monday Night)..

There were some things that I have questions about - One being the submarine ride. It has been shut done for a long time [and] is a borderline eyesore. [Are] there any plans in the near future for this ride. Let's hope! 

One more thing is that I hope with the DCA coming that the prices can be some what reasonable. Well keep up the good work and I look forward to see your page.
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A.

1. You lucked out on the fireworks, Eisner was in the park that day for meetings, and they planned a special show for him.  Too bad he didn't want to wait around to see it once they had a twenty minute delay [due to the wind conditions] - and when he left all the other executives [who were also supposed to see the show] took off too. So basically, you got the benefit of the show, even if the Disney execs didn't care about it. Great fireworks huh?  :)

2. They keep talking about a new Atlantis ride for this area of the park, but at this time everything appears, just as the subs do now, dead in the water. With Eisner's newly mandated cuts and demand for profit increases, which Paul Pressler is just delighted to push forward, it may be years before anything is done in this area.

3. Prices for the new California Adventure park aren't set yet - but count on single day admission prices to match Disneyland's.  Any discounts [as in Florida] will come from buying multi-day combination passes to both parks.  As you can probably guess, those new combo passes will end up costing a bit more than just a one day admission does now...

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Q.

Jack writes: My wife and I took our 2 and 4 year old girls to DL last Thanksgiving and are returning this September. I'd never been to DL in my life, so I had the added bonus of seeing it for the first time through the eyes of my wonder struck little girls. 

We get on your site all the time and really enjoy the variety of information you supply. My two year old LOVES the Teacups, so you made her day with the Teacups wallpaper. Thank you very much.

P.S. When will the Rainforest Cafe be completed?
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A.

Thanks for the kind words Jack, the teacups are among the most popular of the desktops. There will be more photos coming soon, and a few will be retired at the same time.

You're right, seeing the park with younger visitors in tow is a wonderful way to experience Disneyland all over again, it never ceases to amaze me just how much wonder the little ones see in it.

Right now they are pushing hard to have Rainforest Cafe open early, along with the rest of DownTown Disney, because they will all start generating revenue for the company.  If rumor holds, we may see it open by mid-Summer.

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Q.

Amber writes: My boyfriend and I recently went to Disneyland for President's Day weekend and are planning to go back for our two year anniversary in April. My question is about the Tiki room, it now has Iago and Zazu outside but have they actually changed the show? Please say it ain't so, the original was a classic!
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A.

No changes, yet.  Plenty of things have been rumored over the years, but with the current tight-fisted way of doing things, I wouldn't expect any changes for quite a while.

The last change was made a few years ago, when one of the songs in the last part of the show was cut, the Offenbach number. It helped keep the MTV generation [with its more limited attention span] much more interested in the show, and even I [an old coot] thought it tightened things up quite a bit. The good thing is that attendance for the show is up, and that helps keep it open.

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Q.

Lloyd writes: After reading all of the negative comments about Fastpass, I wondered if those people were in the same park I visited last weekend. Note that I am an AP from Phoenix, AZ, who visits about once a month.

Fastpass is a blessing. Users should follow some basic rules, however. Don't spend your Fastpass waiting period loitering in a shop. Use the time to go ride something else (if the Fastpass begins in 45 minutes, it won't end for 105 minutes). Also, check the delay time before committing to a Fastpass. If the period is too long (Splash Mountain wait times build quickly), decide how important the ride is.

The goal (and I think it is a noble goal) is to ensure that everyone who wants to ride will be able to, and to allow customers to avoid those lines that have always quickly exceeded one hour in length.
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A.

You are right Lloyd, when Fastpass works as it should, it is a very good thing!  And your suggestions are all right on the money too.

The problems begin to creep in when the system is monkeyed around with, and that's what seems to be at the root of the feedback I've seen so far.  

Hopefully in the future they will keep the meddling to a minimum, and let the system function as it properly should.  Read more about this in the latest UPDATE.

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Q.

Jeff writes: Hi Al, from what I understand the Lilly Belle Parlor Car is suffering from dry rot and neglect. I also understand that it is supposed to be restored but the maintenance keeps getting delayed. I would be sad to see this historical treasure neglected indefinitely. If you could mention this on your web site perhaps others would know of this and together we could help in some way.
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A.

Sadly Jeff, there seems to be a new round of maintenance cut-backs that are creeping into the park, some of which I detailed in my last UPDATE. Apparently they seem to feel they need to squeeze even more blood out of rocks again, and they hope folks won't notice.

I'd love to see the Lilly Belle returned to its proper place on the track, and hopefully any notes you can write to the park, or any comment forms you can fill out at City Hall on your next visit will let them know there are other people out there who'd like to see it back too.

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Q.

Joe writes: Are the Keelboats ever coming back?
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A.

Your timing was perfect on this question! I had left this same subject out of the last update this week due to time.

Cynthia Harriss [president of Disneyland] really does want them to return.  But they both have to be rehabbed, and there is just no money in the budget at this time. [I still find myself not believing that - not with all the cash they rake in at the place all the time!]

At least we can thank her for the canoes - they would have been axed if it weren't for her personal interest in them.  Let's hope she can find a way to also bring the Keel Boats back to really get that river traffic going again.

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Q.

Steve writes: Is there an updated site / calendar that lists the expected crowds for this year? When I go to Monica's crowd site, it only has info for 1999. My family is planning a trip to Disneyland on May 17, and I would like to have some idea of what to expect.
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A.

I've been looking at how to do this for quite some time - the problem lies in the increasing unpredictability of the crowds the park now gets.

It used to be that there was a set formula in the old days, holidays and school breaks were all pretty much standardized nationwide, and year-round schools were unheard of.

But with the relentless promotion the park now gets, two months of Christmas, resident salute seasonal discounts, spring breaks varying by as much as two months in many school districts, and those year-round schools, the traditional blocks of heavy attendance are now more evenly distributed on the calendar.

Keep in mind the following very generalized information though, and it may help you out a bit:  

If possible try at all costs to avoid Saturdays - that is the peak day for attendance year-round at the park.  If you must visit on a weekend, make it a Sunday, it's about half to two thirds the crowd of the day before.  If you can make it during the week, keep in mind Mondays and Fridays seem to be busier than Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Get there early! Most of the crowd for the day comes in from about 10:30 AM to about 1 PM, and you can get a lot done in the quieter 8 / 9 AM to 11 AM time period.  After that, you can take it easy and enjoy a long leisurely lunch around the noon hour while the crowds are forming those long lines.

And try to avoid those three-day holiday weekends - they can double the attendance overall on them.

Hope this helps!

Thanks!
Ask Al™:

Submitting a question is easy, just write to me at alweho@aol.com and put the following in the subject header: Ask Al!  That way I know to be on the lookout for them.

When making a submission, try to keep in mind what other readers may find of interest, and also see if you can keep it to subject matter of Disneyland. The questions / letters with the broadest appeal and best relation to this site's subject matter will be the ones highest on the list to answer.  Do also read though the questions already submitted, so you won't repeat anything.

Not all questions may be responded to, but all will be read [as I always have in the past] so I can have an idea of what you all think out there.

Keep in mind all questions submitted to the Ask Al! column become property of this site. They may be edited for length or style and for a family readership. Questions may also be quoted on other parts of the site too.


These past Ask Al! questions were from when the column was on the UPDATES page:

Q: Are the Indian canoes open every day?

A: Just about, weather permitting - thanks to Cynthia Harris. Now, how about getting the Keel Boats back, please?


Q: Now that Fantasmic is down for awhile, are they running the Mark Twain at night?

A: No, they still close it at 5:45 PM. Silly, isn't it?

Q: Are they really getting rid of hand-stamps?

A: I think the kind person who passed on the info that they were history may have been a little too enthusiastic about all the changes.  :)

It does appear they will keep hand-stamps for exit / re-entry of the parks now.

Q: In response to [your comments about the hotels no longer being monorail close] I'd like to point out that none of the main structures (towers) containing accommodations at either the Disneyland Hotel or Disneyland Pacific have been moved an inch, and the new monorail station stands in the exact same place as the old one.

So, in fact, the hotels are just as close to the monorail as they have always been.

A: You seem to forget something here. The original Disneyland Hotel bungalows were totally demolished - they used to butt up against the old monorail station, as did the old pool, and other hotel facilities. The hotel as it used to be was not just the towers.


Now you will have to walk around a 12-screen movie theater, an ESPN Zone, a House of Blues and the Rainforest Cafe before you even reach the Disneyland Hotel.

Like I said, let's hope they don't sell the hotel as being "monorail close" anymore. Not an unreasonable request I would think considering.

Q: Jumbo-sized electric-yellow plush Tweety-Birds???

A: Yeah. Wanna make something of that - kiddo?

Q: Will you still be able to crash into each other on the new Autopia?

A: And you'll still be yelled at for doing it too.

Q: They're not using the old skyway buckets on the DCA [wonder] wheel are they????

A: They aren't THAT cheap...  ;)

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