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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. 


The following fifteen questions were posted on 6/8/00 and again thank you all for your terrific feedback and the many queries you've submitted.  I continue to have a hard time picking from all of them for this update, and am terribly behind, so if I didn't get to your question this time, I may be able to answer it at some point later for you.

Q.

Richard writes: Hi, Al! Your site just keeps getting better and better! Gee, looks like my upcoming trip to DL may be my one and only chance to ride Rocket Rods!

I'm wondering - Has anyone in Imagineering proposed the idea of turning the Rocket Rods into a technically simpler coaster-style ride? Remove the engines from the cars and re-tool them into coasting vehicles on tubular rails. They could be shot through the first section of the ride using a modified version of the Peoplemover's tires- in- the- track method. The outdoor section could use lifts and banked turns to turn it into a truly fun coaster. Heck, they could make Pressler happy and buy all the track off-the-shelf! 

There's nothing wrong with the Rocket Rods' concept - it'd be a shame to see it all just vanish after so short a time.
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A.

Great idea, but right now the accountanteers are just screaming about this ride - and in trying to put a good spin on things the higher ups are declaring this "our flying saucers."

I don't know how they can say that though - weren't the saucers fun to ride?  ;)

Rumors continue to swirl that we may see them gone very VERY soon now.  About the only thing I think I'll miss is the "flash 'n poof" special effect in the last building.  I think the Imagineers were just trying to see if they could blow off Eisner's toupee again like they did in Indy.  ;) 

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Q.

Mark writes: Did you ever really want something, but declined to ask for it just because you thought the answer was more likely to be "no" than "yes"? Well, I'm going to bite the bullet:

So if Rocket Rods were a dud and too expensive to run... AND there's a lack of real attractions in "new" Tomorrowland... Think there's a chance we could get the PeopleMover back? (If not, what's the fate of the extensive track?)

Now for the obligatory "I love you, Al" comments... Thank you so much for the site and the frequent updates, Al! As others have written, it is the one site I'm sure to check every day. I really love getting all the news and the photos. And you do such a smooth job with lay-out that it all looks effortless -- but I know you must put tons of time and thought into it. I really appreciate that. 

I could do without the overly (and seemingly increasing) self- referential comments of the columnists, not to mention their (and sometimes your) tendency to sensationalize. And I understand the concept of being critical because you care about something, but sometimes the balance of your comments is tilted too heavily toward the negative for me. But we all draw the line at different spots, don't we? And even if the writing is sometimes a little too snarky or precious for my tastes, I still love the site, and am still forever grateful to you for it.
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A.

I would have hoped that at least they would try to do here what they did in Florida - update the old PeopleMover so it would zip along the track with a much lower cost mechanism.  But returning an old ride after such an expensive failure would just mean they were wrong, and well, we couldn't have that could we?  ;)  

What will most probably happen, from what some folks say within the company, is that the track will mostly be taken out and the buildings sealed up where the cars zipped through.

Thank you for both the kind words and the criticism in your note - I do read each and every e-mail and trust me, no one is more critical of how negative I can be than myself.  

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Q.

John writes Your site is certainly not the same as it was a few months ago. The expansion efforts have been amazing!

I'm writing concerning your links to other themepark websites. What a helpful idea. I've noticed though, that the only unofficial site you list is for Sea World. I've noticed that the unofficial sites are usually better than the official ones (using Disney's as my only example), and I was wondering if you knew of any good unofficial sites for Universal, Knott's, Magic Mountain, etc? 

I know there must be many, but do any singular sites stick out in your mind? Thank you very much for your time and effort.
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A.

I've been looking, but so far nothing has caught my eye as did Matt's Sea World site.  You can type "Disneyland" in Yahoo and get 50,813 page matches - but Knott's, Sea World and others just get a handful.

Hmmm, that gives me an idea John.  Stay tuned to the site the next couple of weeks and see if it pans out...  ;) 

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Q.

AP writes: My father works at the park. He's been there for over 20 years. He tells me the story about a little old lady who actually owns a small piece of the parking lot (now part of DCA) and how way back in the early days, no matter how much pressure she got from Walt or no matter what he offered, she refused to sell. 

Instead, she LEASES that small chunk of land to Disneyland. Well, you can guess that she's fabulously wealthy. Have you ever heard of this? My dad says he's met her on several occasions and she's constantly traveling and has a huge house, all bought with "Walt's money". Love the site.
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A.

I checked this out, [thanks to some kind souls at NFFC] and yes it appears to be true!  Apparently her lot is now somewhere in the Paradise Pier area [poor thing, the low rent district of DCA!] and she does travel quite extensively thanks to the stipend she collects from Disney year in and year out.  

I also understand that the Disneyland Pacific [soon to be Paradise Pier] Hotel is also leased from the original developers for a pretty penny too. 

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Q.

Sandra writes: Hello. I've been reading your site since '97, it is great! Here is my question for ya, I'm hard of hearing and seldom hear half of the theater type shows (i.e. Honey I Shrunk...). I heard that Disneyland uses the Rear Window Captioning system in the theaters but I am not sure how to ask for them. Do you know if I just have to ask the cast member at the entrance, or go to City Hall for some kind of form? Thanks bunches!
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A.

Tony and Adrienne Phoenix address this and other disabled issues on their wonderful website "TAG: Theme-Park Access Guide"

In most cases you just notify the CM at the attraction you would like to use the device[s] at and they will set you up.  The Disneyland Today guide you get when you come in lists with symbols the attractions that you can find these devices at. 

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Q.

Daniel writes: It is difficult to fathom that over a year has elapsed since I had the opportunity to visit Disneyland. A great deal has changed and I thank you for your updates, your web site is truly fantastic.

Since my visit in March 1999, I have lost over forty pounds and I am quite concerned about eating well. (Before I began a weight  loss / exercise program I was content to eat half of the French Market Café! Not to mention churros, we don't have them here in Calgary, Canada.)

Could you please tell me which grocery store is nearest to Disneyland and where it is located? I'm planning another visit and would like to purchase some provisions for breakfast and lunch. On a similar note, is the area around the park a safe place to do some jogging?
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A.

There are lots of grocery stores just down Harbor Blvd. to the south of the park - I can remember a Ralph's off the top of my head, plus there are also a few major stores such as Target, which also carry a more limited selection of food items at lower prices.  They are all within a mile or two of the Harbor / Katella intersection - many just south of Harbor / Chapman.

As far as jogging - there is one area to STAY AWAY FROM in particular [and I use all caps because I mean it] and that is the area behind the Disney Hotels [west] and also to the north behind the park.  It's kind of sad that in the shadow of this place there are such problematic neighborhoods.

I would suggest jogging south from Disneyland down Harbor Blvd., a major street with plenty of lights which is always pretty busy, as this area is pretty safe all the way down to the 22 Garden Grove [not Newport as I'd said before] Freeway.

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Q.

Ryan writes: Hi Al, I'm addicted to the DIG, I'm a big fan of your site and check it daily.

My question is, during the recent renovation of Tomorrowland they added a expanded indoor queue area for Star Tours. Why isn't this area ever utilized. I always see people in the outdoor queue.
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A.

You know Ryan, if we keep talking about this unused space Pressler may think he needs another shop in there...  let's keep quiet about this, OK?  ;)

[Whispering] They don't use it to save on keeping it up for the most part - but mostly the lines for Star Tours are now usually very short except for the first morning rush.  By the time they get the crowd routed into the indoor queue, the need for it is just about gone.  

It's been my observation at theme parks that people do get tired of ride films / movies pretty quickly - unless they replace them often.  Something they probably should have thought about with the new park come to think about it...

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Q.

Greg writes: Al, your website is great and gets into a lot of Disneyland trivia that I find fascinating. I remember as a child that the new Tomorrowland used to have a pair of Mary Blair's colorful tile murals flanking the old Peoplemover track. Then when Star Tours was installed, one of the murals was covered up by the Star Wars outer space painting. Then when the last Tomorrowland make-over was done, the other mural disappeared. 

Did management simply cover them over or did they ruthlessly tear these tile murals apart? I thought they were great, although better appropriate for It's a Small World?
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A.

Don't worry Greg, the tile murals are still there - just covered up by the steel panels they put in over them for the painted ones.  I don't know how salvageable they are though - since metal rods had to be put in at key points to hold up the metal panels, breaking some of the tiles.

As nice as it is to think they may have been trying to preserve Mary's whimsical works - the real reason for doing it this way may have been that it's just cheaper to cover things up than tear them out and resurface them.  I agree with you, they did seem out of place there - although the replacements just look like faded billboards now.

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Q.

Eric writes: Dear Al- Love your site. Wonderful additions in the last month! I have another book you might like to add to your shopping page. 

It's Chanticleer and the Fox; A Chaucerian Tale. It's a children's book completely illustrated by Marc Davis, his development art work for the never produced feature. Excellent illustrations! You can clearly see the influence for his America Sings / Splash Mountain designs. 

It was published in 1991 by Disney Press but unfortunately, it is now out of print. However, it could possibly be found through Amazon's out- of- print search. Check out this link (hopefully I've linked it correctly): It's a 'must have' for any Marc Davis fan. Keep up the great work.
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A.

Thank you Eric, for both the kind words and the info!  What a wonderful suggestion - hopefully readers can locate this volume via the out-of-print services provided by Amazon. 
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Q.

Jason writes: Dear Mr. Lutz, I wanted to congratulate and thank you for your work on your fantastic site. I've been an avid reader of it for more than 2 years now.

My question is not Disney-related per se but more of to the effect of how you manage your email. I know AOL is not IMAP compatible and while 5.0 has some great mail features it still does not allow you to store "tons" of messages over a period of time. 

My question is ; 1) how are you able to manage this? 2) If you know of any programs out there that can manage the AOL email client?
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A.

Thanks for the kind words Jason.  I use AOL now only because I've been on it for so long, and on-line if you move your e-mail address you are toast.  

Mostly I manage the incoming load [which as you can imagine is considerable] by creating new folders and dumping the new arrivals into the proper subject matter areas.  [For example I have one folder labeled "Ask Al" just for the questions I get for this column.]  

I find if you ask people to properly label the subject area - that goes a long way to helping manage it for now.  Hopefully someone will come up with a utility that can allow you to import PFC files into "real" mail programs such as Outlook or Eudora.

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Q.

Scott writes: I am having problems accessing some areas of your site using Internet Explorer 5.0 on the Macintosh. Whenever I try to view "Cast Place" or "Dual reViews" the browser crashes immediately. All other areas of the site seem to work ok. These pages work fine with IE5 on Windows, and with Netscape on Mac or Windows. I don't think it's machine-specific, as I have tried it on three Macs with the same results. I just thought you'd like to know about this.

Thanks for the great site! I visit often.
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A.

This seems to be an increasing problem with a LOT of sites and IE 5.0 for Mac - I know the rather famous Digital Bits DVD site is one of the ones having the same problems I have.

As close as we can figure, this seems to stem from a bug in the IE 5.0 browser - and not from faulty HTML.  If we could even find out what that pesky bit of HTML is, we'd go ahead and remove it.

Right now, after about a week of fruitless effort on this, we've put our quest on hold until we can find out more.  It's come to a choice between providing new content for you daily, or fixing this one bug [for a very comparatively small part of our readership] and we are focused on the new content for now.

If any of you Mac experts know just what is the problem here, please let us know, and we'll go ahead and make the fixes.  I wish I was better at this, but hey, I try.  :)

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Q.

Marika writes: Dear Al, I just love you web site. I'm ready to go to Disneyland again. It has been 10 years since we've been there on our honeymoon. Now we're going back after the 4th of July with 2 kiddos. How busy will it be midweek after the 4th? Will construction and rehab continue through the busy summer schedule? Any ideas on how it make it the best for our 2 little ones who are both under 6? Keep up the great work!
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A.

Thanks for the kind words.  Sounds like you are going to have a wonderful time.  :)

It will be busy from now until after Labor Day, so prepare for crowds, this is the summer season now.  

Construction should begin to calm down after June, when the new parking structure opens and the major esplanade work is completed between the new parks - although the new mall area will remain a mess for most of the summer. The surrounding streets and freeway should be much closer to completion by the time you arrive too. 

You may want to stop by Adrienne Krock's new column, Parenting in the Parks for tips and hints about taking the little ones to Disneyland, she's done a terrific job on it. 

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Q.

Cast Member "X" writes: Your page sucks.. You are mean to the Disney company.. Its just a theme  park.. Thats it.. Just a park.. Walt wanted to make money.. Happiness? yeah thats a plus too, because people come back and spend more money... Pirates is just a ride.. Its not a legacy, Its just a boat flume ride like the carnival, with just a higher budget... PLEASE RESPOND, I'd like to hear your opinion on the matter..
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A.

Depending on how fast Paul Pressler can touch base with you, you can probably pick what new management job and huge raise you'd like. 

You are truly his kind of guy. :)

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Q.

Ken writes: Man, I haven't talked to you (or any of the old ADDers, for that matter) in nearly forever! (Play along like you remember me.) ; )

I read your 5/18 "Ask Al" column, and you were asked the question "who does the voicework for Disneyland?" Actually, there's been a few, as this job changes hands from time to time, and it's usually kept pretty quiet, from what I understand - not really a position you advertise for, much. Luckily, through my oh- so- nefarious connections, I can tell you that the current "Voice of Disney" (yes, this is his ACTUAL title, as I understand it) is a gentleman by the name of Jim Hall. 

He does the voice work not only for Disneyland, but most of the work for the other parks, as well. As you might guess, this isn't a regular 9-to-5 type job, but from what I gather, he IS kept on the regular payroll, under contract for this type of work.

BTW, I just, after a VERY long absence, got back onto the newsgroups, and started perusing ADD again. Didn't see you around. Leave of absence, or did you finally get fed up with certain people in there? It's a damn shame if that's the case... your posts were always some of the highlights of my readings.

Oh, also BTW, just wanted to say I LOVE all the work with DIG over the last several months - and I thought it was huge before!
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A.

Ken, thank you for the info on the voice of Disney.  What a job and a responsibility - I can't even imagine how careful he must have to be.  Can you imagine?  One errant toe-stubbing and a nearby tape recorder could ruin the poor man's whole career...  ;)

As far as the newsgroups - well, I have been busy with the D-I-G [as you were kind to note with your compliment].  

Who knows what else the future may hold?  :)

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Q.

The ever-so-witty, charming and delightful Gwen writes: Howdy Al, I just took a look over the rather entertaining "Dinosaur Hunt" on the D-I-G... and noticed that one of the more beloved dinosaurs (well, by me) is the T-Rex on Big Thunder. 

Of course, one could also, perhaps, count the petrified wood at the park, too. A stretch, granted.?  
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A.

I'd wondered about that one when Karl put the page together!  We'll add it in the next few days as soon as I can snap a photo of it.  Thank you as always Gwen for your eagle eye.  :) 

As far as the petrified wood - I never imagined that as Dino material.  In my case it just reminds me of certain key park executives each time I walk by it...  ;)
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The following fifteen questions were posted on 5/18/00 and again thank you all for your terrific feedback and the many queries you've submitted.  I continue to have a hard time picking from all of them for this update, and am terribly behind, so if I didn't get to your question this time, I may be able to answer it at some point later for you.

Q.

Adam writes: Great web site! I check it every time I am planning a trip to Disneyland. 

I remember when my parents used to take me to the park in the mid to late eighties. During the summer, the park (all attractions) would be open until 1 a.m. Lately it seems that they only keep the park open until midnight, with Main Street closing one hour later. What is the reasoning for the park closing earlier and are there any chances that they will extend the hours to 1 a.m. once again? Keep up the great work!
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A.

Thanks for the kind words Adam - I remember Disneyland staying open until one AM also - and that actually stopped a few years ago.  

There are quite a few reasons for it, but mostly it has to do with costs [they save an hour of labor during a time of the schedule that over the years has shown the park makes less money than normal], and with upkeep issues - that extra hour is put to good use in the nightly work they have to do to keep things up.

I do think what with all the extended hours they now have in off season weekdays [they now generally close at 8 PM instead of 6 PM like the old days] they have found a pretty good mix of hours that works for them. 

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Q.

The Ireland Family types: We're long time visitors to both Disneyland and your website. We've always been impressed with how current you keep your site, and how you announce all price increases, sneaky or otherwise, to your website visitors in a timely manner.

In planning for our latest trip to DL in June, however, we noticed a price increase on the Disneyland site that was not listed on yours. The prices of the 3-day and 5-day flex passports differ -- your site says $72 for an adult 3-day flex, $99 for a 5-day flex; DL's says the same for a
5-day, but $76 for a 3-day. 

Is this a case of too many price increases, not enough time to keep up with them on your website? Or is this another admission pricing end- around? Also, what do you think about the way DL "publicizes" these admission pricing changes?

Keep up the good work!

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A.

Although the site has expanded quite dramatically over the past few months, much of the data entry is still going through one person for the most part.  It's a tough job for anyone employed by Disneyland as it is to keep track of price changes and such since so much is going on - so you can imagine how much harder it is to do all this unofficially from the outside.

The good thing is that the D-I-G is really what the readers want it to be for the most part - feedback such as yours, with corrections, suggestions and recommendations all gets read - and ends up in one way shape or form on the site to help others if applicable. 

The lovely and charming Sue Kruse [one of the delightful columnists here by the way] has been doing yeoman's duty in helping with updates on merchandise and event info, and many other folks are helping out in other areas too.  

But if you as a reader notice anything that may need a correction or change, please do drop a line to me here at alweho@aol.com - and I'll take a look at incorporating it.  You can help make this a better resource for your next trip that way.  :)

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Q.

Stew writes Al, Love the DIG. It just keeps getting bigger and better! To quote someone "Who Knew!" <vbg!>

In any case, I thought I'd share a recipe. Since I don't get to DL as often as I'd like (maybe once a year now if I am lucky), I sometimes long for some of the taste of DL (like a DL Mint Julep). Here's what I do:

1 Quart Lemonade (Odwalla Fresh is the best!)
1 Quart Limeade (again, I get Odwalla when it's in season)
2 ounces Creme d'Menthe Syrup (available where coffee flavorings are sold -- I got mine at Costco)
1 Liter Ginger Ale

Fill glass with Ice. Pour Mint Julep into glass. Get a straw. 

Now close your eyes and imagine being at The French Market, you hear the sounds of the DLRR ("Your attention please, the Disneyland Limited...."), the blast of the Mark Twain whistle, etc..... <sigh>. 
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A.

Why I feel refreshed just reading that Stew!  Thank you for sharing that with the readers - and if anyone else has a favorite Disneyland recipe they want to share [and it isn't already listed here on the D-I-G] please send it on in.

Again, thanks for the kind words Stew. 

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Q.

Jennifer writes: Just a quick question - I called Disneyland today to ask about ride closures, admission prices etc - we're taking a trip next month - and the gal on the phone told me something very interesting - I asked her about Magic Morning / Early Entry, and she said that anyone could show up early, pay $8.00 extra per ticket and get in at the Early Entry time! Have you heard this?

From what I understand, you can only purchase media with Early Entry through Travel Agents, Disney Store, through reservations with Disney Hotels, etc. Maybe things have changed - could you check this out? LOVE YOUR SITE!.
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A.

This is news to me - and seems a bit strange, but heck, stranger things have happened.  I haven't been able to confirm this yet, but if anyone else has purchased an early entry at the gate, I'd sure like to know.  Readers, here's a chance to help out your fellow site visitors.

I have a feeling what she really may have meant to say was that you can now purchase early entry at your nearby Anaheim Hotel along with your regular or flex pass tickets if you so choose - that's been in effect for quite a while now. 

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Q.

Alan writes: Hi Al, Great Site! The only website I check daily.

I'm curious about when your site began, and what the major expansion points have been. You seem to be sponsored by the GO network, which I find Interesting and a little ironic.?
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A.

The site really began as an FAQ for a Disneyland newsgroup, [because we all got tired of telling everyone when Fantasmic was going to run that weekend] and thanks to Werner "Yesterland" Weiss' kind encouragement [along with Lani Teshima's] about where the web was really going it finally debuted on line April 5th 1996.

I still have those original pages archived somewhere, and I remember how huge a project I thought it all was when I broke up that six / seven part FAQ into the basic contents / chapters format you now see online.  Little did I know...

As far as GO - well I don't think they sponsor or support me - but I don't think they do that for any outside sites either.  ;)

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Q.

Rob writes: Hi Al, My family has used your excellent web site many times over the last several years when planning our roughly annual trips to DL.

Our latest planning started just yesterday on finding that I'll be attending a small conference at Cal Tech in the middle of June. Plan A is to stay at the DL Hotel (our first time) and I'll commute to the college campus while my wife and our two daughters "commute" across the even more treacherous DL parking lot :-)

I haven't had much luck getting the online reservations to work. They seem to keep banker's hours and when I did get through they indicated that no rooms at local ANY hotels were available. By clicking through from your page, I did discover that 15,000 audio / video folks will be at the Anaheim convention center for INFOCOMM 2000 for the last 2 of the 4 nights we were hoping to book at DL.

Checking the INFOCOMM web site does show that they still have rooms available in their own block at the DL Hotel (most of their other hotels are sold out). I even thought about registering for a room through their own booking page at $175 a night.

So - questions:

1) Will a convention of 15,000 make DL (and Katella) unbearable?

2) How does the DL Hotel deal with such conferences? Are they likely to allow such to swamp their entire capacity?

3) Is it otherwise reasonable to expect to be able to book a DL Hotel room six weeks in advance? (We attended an event at WDW with 20,000 other folks a couple of years ago. They have so many rooms that we were able to make bookings all over the onsite resorts and played them against each other. I presume this doesn't work very well at the DL Hotel.)

4) What sort of specials should one typically expect to be able to finagle? Is $175 a steal? At WDW, we stayed at the Wilderness Lodge for less, and could have stayed at the Grand Floridian for just a few bucks more.

5) Any DL Hotel hints or web sites to suggest? Any other (very clean and relatively quiet) hotels to suggest?
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A.

Thanks for the kind words! Here goes:

1] No, the crowds should be fine - for that time of year.  Keep in mind you'll be arriving just as school is letting out.

2] They usually always have other bookings, which thanks to people changing their minds, is always in flux.  Best thing to do is what people do in Orlando, keep calling them to either check, confirm or change your reservation until it suits you.

3] During peak seasons - not always.  Anaheim is a smaller market than Orlando is, and has fewer close-by hotels.  You should almost always be able to find something in the area though, if you can be flexible enough standards / price-wise.

4] What with the current construction going on - and not even the Monorail running full loop until October of this year - I would strongly suggest you may find a better value elsewhere.  

Yes, the Disneyland Hotel / Pacific [soon to be Paradise Pier] Hotels are nice - but what you are paying for is the Disney name, not state of the art rooms, [the Towers at the DL hotel tend to be cramped] and with the way things are going now, not even prime access to the park.

Steve's Walking Distance hotel guide is no longer up - but the City of Anaheim does maintain a listing of hotels in the area and price ranges at this LINK [which is also on the contents page of this site].  As you can see by looking around at the rates, you can choose many hotels in the $99 [or even less] range around the park.

One that does come with many recommendations, but is NOT listed on the above site is the Candy Cane Inn - many readers like the price and quality of rooms offered, not to mention it is within comfortable walking distance from the Disneyland main gate.  The link above will take you to a hotel booking site [Metro Manager], by using the other links listed above the hotel listing, you can compare discounted rates in the area and do a bit of shopping around too.

Hope this helps.

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Q.

Tony writes: Dear Mr Al I love your site but i seen to have trouble finding information about Disneyland in the Asia area (Japan + DisneySea, Hong Kong). As noted, I especially like to find out what are they building at my homeland, are they just going to copy out the American Disneyland style + rides. Please direct me to web site. Seriously, Disneyland is a fun place but building on a small island would ruin the HK's economy and Ocean Park (HK only theme park) will disappear by the MOUSE!
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A.

Right now there isn't much about the Hong Kong park that is firm, but keep checking the FABULOUS DISNEY BABE'S site for any tidbits about this project. [She's already had one or two in her last couple of updates.]

Here's something interesting I just found out about it though - Eisner never expected to be able to build this park.  It was a bit of a surprise to him when the deal was set up, as he hadn't even seen the site.  Imagine that.

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Q.

John writes: Hi, Al. Have a few questions for you.

1. During Spring Break, I took my daughter and a friend to Legoland. While there, I noticed many groups of people wearing Disneyland shirts, hats, etc. I overheard several of these groups, whose children appeared to be between the ages of 6 and 10, comment that they wished that they had gone to Legoland before Disneyland. Are you aware of any studies that discuss this anecdotal information? Are Mikey and the Mouse concerned?

2. Each Christmas season that we are able, we have had a caricature done of my daughter at Goofy's Kitchen (Her birthday is just before Christmas). We hang the framed drawings on the wall to show her changes over the years. Before GK was relocated, the paper used for the caricature had the logo of GK on it. This year, the caricatures were not done as part of GK and were done on plain white paper. Is this another symptom of cost cutting or did we happen to have it done at the wrong time? Have they returned to using GK paper?

3. Is there any word as to when the remodel / replacement of the restaurant next to Big Thunder will be completed? Will it still be a combination Mexican / BBQ restaurant? If a BBQ restaurant, what will happen to the outdoor restaurant behind Big Thunder?
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A.

Hiya John!  Let's see what we can answer here:

1] It seems most folks tend to save or make Disneyland the highlight of their L.A. trip - Disney's the 800 lb. gorilla in the theme park market because they do a better job for the most part than others in meeting or exceeding expectations and giving a bigger bang for the buck.  

The new fireworks show is a good example - it simply blows away many other park's efforts via a combination of a slickly produced audio track and some unique innovations in pyrotechnics.  Add to that the fact they have a library of music to use in it that is unsurpassed in audience recognition, and well you have a crowd pleaser.

I don't think for a minute Disneyland even considers LegoLand any kind of competition - they lack the synergy of the film tie-ins for example - and one look at their more modest entertainment offerings shows that LegoLand isn't really gunning for their business.  If anything Disneyland may welcome more themed entertainment options in our area - as we probably are still not as built out as Orlando is now. Anything that gets folks to stay in the area longer, which could mean an extra day at Disneyland, would be good for them.

2] I looked this past visit at this, and saw the paper was still plain and without a logo.  Usually Disneyland does their own printing in house on most items - so missing something like this kind of detail is unusual for them, the logo does add to the value of the item.  This may just be an aberration, let's see what happens here.

3] Last thing I heard about the Casa Mexicana / Carnation Plaza Gardens rebuild was that it would combine the two locations into one two story building - and allow you to walk through from the hub to Frontierland from the inside.  

It was also supposed to provide a "scatter serve" service situation [Like Plaza Inn and Pizza Port now provide] that would feature three menus - Texas BBQ, Made to Order Burgers and a new Mexican menu.  Also I heard they would cover more of the dining area so there would be more shade / cover.  

As this evolves, I will keep asking about it - I know plans always keep changing, and this one is still a work in progress.

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Q.

Gaohua writes: Dear Sir: I am student who study Hotel & Tourism management in Switzerland. I am doing a project about the marketing of Disneyland. I have already tried to find the book which you recommend on the web, but I losed. So I'd like to ask you give me some suggestion about the marketing strategy and marketing mix of Disneyland. I hope get your reply a.s.a.p. thanks a lot.
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A.

You didn't specify which book you were looking for, but chances are it may have been either Nickel Tour or Inside Disneyland - either of which are detailed [and links to Amazon are provided for] on THIS PAGE of the site.

Best of luck on your career!

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Q.

Randy writes: Dear Al, I found your web site through a link last Friday. My family just returned from Disneyland on a five day flex pass. It was the first trip for my family and second one for me to Disneyland. My parents took me out in 1970. I did read some books about DL, but I wish I had your web site before the trip.

The submarines were there on Wednesday, but we noticed on Thursday
they were gone. I saw some signs of paint peeling and run down buildings which I thought was kind of strange for Disney.

But overall we had a great time and I will be a regular reader from now on to your site.

PS I asked a CM at the Pirates of the Caribbean where the "WD" and "RD" [Walt's and Roy's initials on the railing] was and he didn't know. We kept looking and it was right above him. Do they train the CM on the history of the park?
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A.

Thanks for the kind words Randy.  You can read about what may be happening to the Subs in the UPDATE - it sounds like good news.  [Although any and all things are always subject to change.] 

Most CMs [Cast Members] get a very brief introduction to the park in training, [they focus in on just about everything but history nowadays] but many don't know all the details such as the Disney brother's initials on the railing until they get a few years under their belts.

Usually it's the CMs who've been long time fans of the park, who got a job there, that really impart a lot of this info to their fellow workers.

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Q.

Bruce writes: Dear Al, Five years ago, my bride and I went to Disneyland for our honeymoon. Neither of us had been and we wanted the full Disney experience, but since money was an issue we stayed at the Disney Camp Grounds. It was great! It was cheap, the staff were very nice, we had a shuttle to the park, and full access to all the amenities of the Disneyland Hotel. What happened to it? Thanks for a great site.

Tom also writes: Are there any campgrounds in or around Disneyland? -

A.

Bruce, the campgrounds are now the Pinocchio parking lot / new parking structure.  Lots of people like you keep asking about them, but Disney's focus now is on higher revenue hotels and malls in this more expensive real estate market, so we won't be seeing the return of this concept here in Anaheim.

Tom, there are several RV / campground parks near Disneyland, below I've listed only a few of them, with links where available and e-mail addresses where they can be found.  [Keep in mind I have no way of recommending any of them in particular - my motto has always been that if God wanted you to visit somewhere, he'd have put a Hilton there... ;) ] By the way, all links below open in new windows, so you won't lose your place here:

First of all you may want to visit the following site:

CALIFORNIA TRAVEL PARKS ASSOCIATION

They are an excellent listing of all locations available in California -- some of the parks they list [along with the Anaheim Visitor's Bureau] are: 

Anaheim Harbor RV Park, LP (cmhpmgt@gateway.net)

1009 S. Harbor Blvd., Anaheim, CA, 92805

714/535-6495, fax: 714/535-4239 - Deborah Shea

Closest RV park to Disneyland main entrance. Daily, weekly, and monthly rates. Showers, pool, laundry; 198 sites.

Anaheim Resort RV Park (rvdr@aol.com)

200 W. Midway Dr., Anaheim, 92805

714/774-3860, fax 714/774-5970 - Paul Bostwick

Open all year. Located directly east of Disneyland on the east side of I-5. 150 full hookup sites. Featuring 20-30-50 amp electric and cable TV to all sites; club room. Rates available by day, week or month.

Destiny's Anaheim Vacation Park (avpark@pacbell.net)

311 N. Beach Blvd., Anaheim, 92801

714/821-4311, 800/772-3636

Shuttle service to Disneyland, walking distance to Knott's.

Orangeland RV Park (orangeland@msn.com)

1600 W. Struck Ave. Orange, CA, 92867

714/633-0414, fax: 714/633-9012 - Cindy Wimbish

5 minutes east of Disneyland, extra large spaces for extra large rigs.

Hope this list gets you started!

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Q.

Les writes: This is going to be my first trip in 6 years is their something I can do to enjoy the trip and see things I have not seen? Before when I was younger my family went ever year. I am going the day after my sister graduates for her grad gift. She goes to private school and does not get grad night
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A.

I would suggest making time during your evening to see both the FIREWORKS and FANTASMIC - both of which are detailed here on the site as to how to best see them.  

Don't miss Indy either - make sure you visit late in the evening as the lines are at their shortest for this ride.

You won't regret any of these - trust me!

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Q.

Stephen writes: Hi, I am the author of a new audiobook called FASCINATING WALT DISNEY and I am trying to get the word out. My site is www.hollywoodstories.com if you would like to hear RealAudio samples.
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A.

Thank you for providing the link Stephen - I'm sure the readers of the site would appreciate anything having to do with Walt.  

Best of luck on your project!

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Q.

Daniel writes: Hello, I've been to your site several times now, and I have to say, I can't tell if you're a Disneyland fan or not. So much of what is on there is so negative about the company and the park. I'm not sure why anyone would waste their time creating a site about something only to criticize it. Sorry if I'm getting the wrong impression, however, that's what your site seems to do.
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A.

You must be new Daniel.  :)  

Stick around a bit and catch up on the other parts of the site other than the updates.  You may find we both do share a love of the park - we probably just disagree as to how well it may be run at this time.  ;)

Suggested links on the D-I-G that you may enjoy include the FIREWORKS and FIRE GUIDE pages - the FREE DESKTOP PHOTOS and the DON'T MISS pages.  

You may also enjoy some of the articles I keep in the AL'S ARCHIVES section of the site - in particular the CARNATION FAREWELL DINNER or the GOLDEN HORSESHOE REVUE REUNION

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Q.

Roger writes: Hi Al, I love your website. I have a question for you.
Do you know who the voice of Disneyland is? I know that the voices of the Matterhorn and Parade / Fantasmic announcements are different. I have seen him once in the hub at the waiting time board, but I would like to know who it is?
 
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A.

Here's where all you readers can help Roger out - anyone know the history of all the voices used at the park?  Let us know, and we'll make it a part of the D-I-G [with full credit to you of course] for the readers to enjoy.  Thanks for the kind words Roger.
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The following fifteen questions were posted on 5/12/00 and again thank you all for your terrific feedback and the many queries you've submitted.  I continue to have a hard time picking from all of them for this update, and am terribly behind, so if I didn't get to your question this time, I may be able to answer it at some point later for you.

Q.

Tad writes: First of all, I must say that you are the man! Your site is the best I've seen for the Disneyland Resort, and being an Annual Passholder, I have to say it's almost as if I don't need to visit the Park. But since I do (practically every weekend), there is one question I would like to ask. Do you perhaps know what date is set for the Monorails to travel along the full loop again? I know there's a load of construction along the straight- away through California Adventure, but recently it's looking better and I was just wondering if the full loop is to open up soon. Thanks for your time.
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A.

Thank you for the kind words.  Right now Tad, they are looking at a July 1st date - there's still too much going on around the track in the new park.  

One thing I did notice though is that the view may not be all that great - the track seems to be routed through buildings quite a bit, and doesn't take any kind of view or tour around the park - for example like EPCOT'S Monorail track does.  They didn't move the track to save money - but looking at all those walls isn't going to be very nice for folks, if that's what it appears will happen.  

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Q.

Michael types: Do you happen to know if they are going to rehab the Enchanted Tiki Room soon? I was at Disneyland in March and the thing is really falling apart. Many effects were not working and feathers were falling off birds. I wish they would put the Offenbach sequence back. I betting I already know the answer -- if they are cutting corners, then why would they spend any time or money on this "classic" attraction. Just wanted to know your thoughts. 
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A.

This rehab, along with a few others, have been put off for this year - and maybe longer from what I hear.  With Fastpass pouring in more money - and freeing up bodies now to fill up these classic formerly leaner attended attractions you'd think they'd go ahead and spiff them up - but apparently they don't really care about how bad some of them now look.

I swear, I just get this overpowering urge to dust whenever I ride small world...  ;) 

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Q.

R2D writes: Do you know of any weight or size LIMITS for attractions at Disneyland? I would like to avoid being asked to exit (or be humiliated because I'm stuck) because I am too large for a ride. My particular concern is not that I'm too tall but too wide.
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A.

Glad you asked - I'm a big guy too, and Disneyland is usually quite accommodating when it comes to size - almost always if you can get into the ride unit you can ride it.

If you feel uncomfortable sharing a ride car with someone [like Matterhorn's Bobsleds, or Tomorrowland's DumboJets - er, Astro-Orbitor, which is a tight fit for regular sized people as it is] all you need to do is ask the attendant to let you ride alone and they will count you as one.

Seatbelt extenders are available for Matterhorn, all you need do is ask, and the Cast Members are usually pretty good judges about how many folks to let into a ride unit before it gets overloaded and stuck in an attraction [this can happen in Space Mtn. and small world for example].

I really wouldn't worry about being able to ride anything at the park.  Unlike Ghostrider at Knott's, they seem to take us bigger guys into consideration in the design stage at Disney.

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Q.

David writes: I was in the Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor today, and I noticed a Jade Elephant in the corner on a table. Now, I never really go in there too much, so I don't know how long it has been in there, but does anyone know why it is there? It certainly doesn't fit with the theming of Main Street, and has nothing to do with Ice Cream. Seems like it should be in Adventureland somewhere.
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A.

Ah, the elephant.  You're right - it doesn't belong there, nor was it even intended for this park.  [And it's not Jade either...] 

It's a hand-me-down from Paris that got thrown in our Penny Arcade before it got Presslerized into more of a candy shop.  It's made of of an acrylic resin - and if you look at the foot, it has been dropped and broken once, and repaired.  It was moved to its current spot during the last remodel of that area.

Some employees take great joy in hearing mistaken visitors go on and on about how Walt found the thing and put in the park years and years ago...  now you know the real story.  :)

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Q.

Alan writes: Al, Just a note and question. I just found D-I-G about a week ago and have been surprised by all the information and pictures you are able to collect, very nice job.

Now the Question, I have heard that the music change in the 45th Anniversary parade was the result of the new head of Disneyland, I can't remember her name, but she took over when Paul Pressler was promoted.

It was my understanding that when the parade was in rehearsal the cast members said that the music was all wrong for the parade, when it was first shown there were a lot of complaints about the music, when Michael Eisner saw the parade he LIKED the music and said it would stay.

WELL, as I understand it, the new gal in Charge at Disneyland went head to head with Eisner and told him that she was in charge of the park, and that the music for the parade was wrong and it would be changed. It sounds like something that has not happened for a long time.

I remember Light Magic had a "River Dance" theme to it because Mr. and Mrs. Eisner liked "River Dance". Well I hope those days are over, I think that the New Gal In Charge at Disneyland has a back bone, and will stand up to Eisner and others, to do what is right for the SHOW. Have you heard or seen anything like this or are my contacts wrong?
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A.

I've asked around about this, and heard nothing back.  It certainly sounds like something a concerned Cynthia Harriss might do [and I had heard she hated the parade in its original format].  But with her laying low as Pressler assumes the mantle of running things at the parks, there's no way I can find out for now.

Let's hope someone up besides Cynthia there still has those kinds of concerns.

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Q.

Anastasia writes: Last I was there was during the Christmas holiday. I remember being on the riverboat with my mother and daughter and seeing all the deer and etc. looking terrible. The deer's body on one side while the feet on the other, really obvious!! Everything looked like it really needed attention!!!! The fire wasn't burning in the cabin, the bear scratching his back looked really old as if they hadn't taken care of it in ten years!!

What's Up! I know it's not one of the most popular rides but please, they really need to pay attention to detail, it really was bad. Especially when you're three year old tells you so! Tell me what's going on? Thanks for everything Al!! I'm a long time fan of your site!!

RevV also writes on a similar subject: Next time you're at the park check out the Mansion paint peeling. Maybe the powers that be have decided to let the ghosts take care of the outside after all! (In case you don't get the reference, Walt once said "We'll take care of the outside, the ghosts can take care of the inside.")
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A.

Paul Pressler doesn't think customers such as yourselves will notice that kind of stuff.  He even delights in telling his fellow executives about his cutbacks in these areas - and how he just couldn't understand why past management didn't put them into place sooner. 

But wouldn't you know, I get e-mails like the two above all the time that do notice this kind of thing.  And after a brief period last year when the complaints I got started to decline, they have now begun to increase again.

Let's hope they start paying attention again to the details - it's what made them, and what can eventually break them if they don't watch over them enough.

And thank you both for the kind words about the site.

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Q.

Beth writes: Hello Al and THANKS is not enough!! We have enjoyed your site for a few years now and it sure does help us with each trip we take. We are in the Phoenix area and try to make the journey at least twice a year and are sure without you it would not be as easy or as enjoyed. Please know how very appreciated you and your work are! My questions for you are:

1.) I'm just investing in a new camcorder, can you tell us what we are and are not allowed to film? My main interest is in getting Fantasmic recorded is this do-able?

2.) Is the only locker station the one located on main street? If so do you know why there is no others located throughout the park? It seems there should be a more central area for those who just want to dump the jackets till later but don't want to fight the main street crowd in the evening.

3.) I see that 'Tink" is back for the fireworks show, where is the best place to see her from. My son just loves her and we would like to surprise him with that.

Thanks thanks thanks again! See ya at the park!
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A.

Thanks for the kind words Beth, they mean a lot. Here we go with your answers:  

1] You can film just about anywhere now - so long as you avoid using the camera's night light.  The only attractions I can think of that would be pretty pointless are a) Star Tours & Indy (you'll poke your eye out from all the jostling around!), b) the "Honey I Shrunk" movie, (which will look pretty awful all flattened out like that), and c) Haunted Mansion - IF you have a 0 Lux camcorder (the infrared used to shot in darkness sets off alarms inside). Shoot without the infrared and you'll be fine. Fantasmic should be no problem with the newer model camcorders - they shoot well in low light, just be careful of the mist from the water screens on windy nights.

2] Lockers are also available inside the park right between the bathrooms and the snack stand adjacent to the Fantasyland "WonderBra" Theater.  BUT - if you plan to visit your lockers more than once during the day, you may want to use the new "all day" lockers they've just put in between the new picnic area and the Group Sales windows [outside of the park between the Pinocchio tram area and the entrance].  

The new lockers are either $3, $4, or $5 depending on the size, but if you have to make more than a few trips, they will save you some money.  The only problem is that they require you to remember a code to use them - I can just see frazzled visitors forgetting their numbers at the end of the day.

3] Tink is back - and now she's a major highlight, rather than just a starter, for the new fireworks show.  Karl Buiter has put together a WONDERFUL three page "FireGuide" [Fireworks viewing guide] here on the site that details where best to see her, and has a few tips about where to look for her landing spot.  Visit it HERE and enjoy.

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Q.

Byron writes: First of all, I loved your web site, very informative. I use to work at Disneyland 10 years ago in the parade department. I did the Party Gras parade, 2 electrical parades and two Christmas parades, and I agree with your review of the new parade. I left after the mushrooms came by.

What was up with the Blue Fairies Crown? UGLY is the word that came to mind. Also, the same with Belle's dress, and the stilt walkers with Ariel...UGLY! I was a stilt walker in Party Gras (among other things) and we had some great looking costumes. The parade had no choreography to speak of.

Also, the idea of watching untalented people from the Midwest prance around with cheesy hats on was enough to make me sick. I don't pay buckets of money to see people that have no performance experience lurch down Main Street while they call it a parade. Is the budget cut so drastically that they can't afford entertainers? Most of the parade performers don't have gobs of experience in the entertainment industry, but they do give it there all.

Maybe they've hit the bottom of the barrel and should think about hiring union performers, although, I've always thought it was a shame that the parade performers were the only entertainers in the park that aren't union. We were always treated as if we were expendable. Maybe it was because I was in it, but I still think that Party Gras one of the best parades ever.
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A.

To say this parade is under-whelming, well is being very nice about it.  The performers give it what they can, but it's really just a very expensive character cavalcade.  At least the new music is much nicer to listen to, although the loop is so very short.

They are continuing to take surveys at the park about it - in particular asking about the music, and also if you had come to the park to see the parade specifically, or the fireworks.  In all the surveys I've sort of overheard, not one person had anything really nice to say about it. 

Let's see what happens after the summer, there are rumors [and that's all they are right now] that the continued poor response by the crowds to this parade may end up moving the revamped Electrical Parade's return up by a year or so.

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Q.

Susan writes: (1) ADMISSION ISSUE - We just returned from a 2 week vacation in Orlando. We hit all 4 of the WDW theme parks as well as 4 non-WDW theme parks. They all (WDW and non- WDW) charge "regular" admission for 10 years and up ... and it seems while we were gone DL finally came around to changing their pricing plan in accordance with their rest of their parks.

I must say that I cannot complain; my 10 year old has been enjoying the "big kid" rides for quite some time now (currently measuring 58 inches). But I must agree with many people that if the ability to enjoy the height requirement rides is the prerequisite for the "regular" admission, then those that are not 3-9 years of age but still unable to ride (short adults, those with disabilities that would not allow them to ride, etc.) should also be allowed to pay a discounted admission.

And don't complain too loudly, or maybe they'll up the "regular" admission to match those in Orlando too ($45-$46 per person roughly). And people complain about the prices at DL!!

(2) QUALITY - well, I hate saying it but WDW creams DL, hands down. The most depressing thing though was that I was so looking forward to riding the Skyway there. And guess what, it seems Pressler has worked his magic there as well ... it's being torn out and can no longer be ridden. Big bummer. He'll probably pull the Carousel of Progress next.

We did enjoy a lot of the other stuff, like the ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter, It's Tough to Be a Bug and a lot of the other stuff at Animal Kingdom, Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, their Jungle Cruise & Haunted Mansion (with their subtle differences), The Enchanted Tiki Room Under New Management (what a hoot!), Fantasmic! (1/2 of which is different that what we have at DL), etc.

I'd be real disappointed if they discontinue the Monorail over there. It's one of only two ways to get to the Magic Kingdom from the Ticket & Transportation Center (and the underused ferryboats were the way we went, since the monorail line was so bad). And it was a lifesaver for getting from the Magic Kingdom down to Epcot (where we caught dinner and the Illuminations show before returning to the MK to close the park). 

Of course, some of the non-WDW theme parks have some killer rides that should send Pressler and Disney running back to the drawing boards (Islands of Adventure's Spiderman ride is the ULTIMATE in rides!!!!!). I say "should" although I doubt they are paying attention to anything going on outside of WDW.

(3) PRESSLER - I knew we were in trouble when we could make anti- Pressler cracks in the WDW theme parks, and Cast Members knew who we were talking about!!!!  He's already pulled one foot-saving ride out of the Animal Kingdom. I've come to the conclusion if that man gets his way and most attractions are "walk throughs," I'll never step foot inside another Disney theme park. 

Animal Kingdom and the Disney-MGM Studios have quite a bit in the "walk through" attraction gemre...more than my poor feet could stand. AK especially is low on rides / attractions that save the feet (and what's to save after you've stood in line for 30+ minutes). The only saving grace for that park is the animals....

Enuf said for now...just had to give you my two cents worth.
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A.

It's always interesting to see what other folks think, how much one can agree and disagree with.  

I'll only add a few notes here - the admission issue was a messy one here because of how poorly it was handled.  A "Youth" [10-15 year old] ticket [like they used to have in the old days] with a $5 increase now, and then a few years down the road the elimination of it for the full $10 increase could have saved them a lot of face.  And don't worry, we will be at price parity with Orlando within the next two years as I understand it.

The Carousel of Progress is on the hit list, and they aren't doing anything to keep it alive - expect it to shut down this year, as soon as they can do it.

As far as the comments about Paul getting recognition from the workers out there, Pressler is the lightening pole for the slipping quality that people both in and out of the company are seeing in the parks.  But so long as he keeps getting the numbers Eisner asks for, the complaints don't mean much.  It will have to take a rather huge hit in earnings to make any changes in the current status quo - and with the robust state of the economy right now, and the parks doing well, that won't be this year or next it seems. 

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Q.

Eli writes: I was wondering about a couple of things since the last time I visited Disneyland, and now after reading all sorts of things on your site. 

First of all, the new parking structure is really monstrous. Do you know if they are going to do anything special inside? They could at least do some simple stenciling on some of the walls, or have all the signage be in Main Street style. Or is it just going to be like the parking garage at the local mall  (well, I guess soon Disneyland IS going to be the local mall!) 

I'll never  forget the fun of trying to remember whether we parked at "Owl" or "Pooh", as opposed to just "the purple level, at section C6". And watching the  parking attendants rearranging the cones and organizing the huge parking lot - that was all so much fun. Is anything going to make this new garage special (aside from it's record-breaking size)?

And I was also wondering what is in store for Phase II of DCA. It seems to me that they should have a bunch of different plans, and then decide what to build only after the park has been running for a year or two. That way they can see exactly what the big problems will be (since unfortunately this is not a matter of *whether* there will be problems) and on that basis decide what would be the best way to continue.

Also, I have been noticing that all of the new attractions in the park are looking more and more fake. The rockwork on New Tomorrowland, the AstroOrbitor - they all seem to be missing something, and I couldn't exactly think what. Then I recently visited Tarzan's Treehouse, and there you can really see the difference between the old but realistic looking bamboo railings from ages ago and the new, plastic look of the rooms in the treehouse. Just like the AsroOrbotor, it looked like it didn't really belong - that it had been dropped there by accident. What is happening? Is this because of budget cuts?

And of course, I've got to say thank you so much for devoting so much time to keeping all of us non-Californian APs out here updated about one of the nicest places in the world! It's really appreciated.

Also Lara writes on a similar subject: I've been a fan for a long time now & please forgive me if you have mentioned this somewhere else. Are they going to continue using the Pinocchio parking lot for park guests after they open the structure? Or will they start using it for something else? I have a tiny hope that if you would get there early enough in the day you could escape the great behemoth structure. Or is the structure supposed to be an E-ticket substitute? Thanks for such a great site!
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A.

One of the things I like most about doing this new column is getting letters like the above - the questions are always interesting, the writer is usually very observant - and I learn a little bit about not only the writer, but the park itself sometimes by seeing it through someone's eyes, like in the notes above.

The new parking garage is going to spark a lot of new ways of doing things - starting with the price of parking.  I hear more and more that they may jump the fee to $10 when they open it, supposedly this June.

They keep claiming they will be training people for over a month before opening in how to get cars in and out of it, using as a model the Universal Studios garages in Orlando [not the ones here which are a real mess].  They have some huge problems coming up with them that have already been noted - for example there are only two elevators near the tram loading zone, and a set of escalators that won't allow strollers should make for some major congestion getting in and out. 

They are working on new signage that will utilize the characters somewhat - as before.  The Pinocchio lot will no longer be used for the park, it will serve as a general parking lot for both the hotels and Downtown Disney.  Simba and Timon will only be used on the busiest days as overflow lots - they want to utilize the building as much as possible.

Phase II for DCA is dead now as I understand it - any talk of it is just lip service to keep the troops quiet.  We'll just have to see what comes down the pike - everything they were looking at for the build-up is just recycled stuff from the Orlando parks - nothing like what is going on in Tokyo where they get almost all new stuff.  Read more about all this in the latest UPDATE.

As far as the fake issue - I couldn't agree with you more.  It is all due to budgets too - current management cannot see the difference and will not OK the increases in costs for better quality.

The days of researching rockwork, so that the area around New Orleans Square matches / echoes / reflects the original region they got their inspiration from for example, are pretty much over at Disney.

And thanks both of you for the kind words...

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Q.

Mike writes: Here's a question you may want to add into your next "Ask Al!" column because I'm kinda wondering about it. On your "HOURS" page you originally listed that the "Main Street Cinema" was closing for refurbishing on May 1st. Now however it [is changed]. Any idea on what the status is with this project and what are your thoughts on its supposed rehab?
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A.

It is going ahead, and it looks like it will be a very nice project, thanks to the fact it ties into Mickey and the campaign this year to re-invigorate this character.   The designer for the project is truly first-class, the idea is to present a show with the name of Mickey Mouseworks, and the best thing about it is that it is supposed to remain an attraction, and not be turned into another shop.

We'll know September 29th if it all turns out well.  I'm looking forward to seeing it.

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Q.

Michael writes: This is a question that bugged me in our trip in November, but I totally forgot to ask about it. Doh! We only visit once every five years of so, sadly, but went last year during one of the most busiest times. The Thanksgiving weekend. Straining to see over crowds, we got lost in Fantasyland one night. I kid you not. 

I have known the lay of the land of Disneyland for quite some time, but ended up slipping among the crowds and trying to find something familiar until I made my way back into Fantasyland territory (the dark rides built into the castle, Village Haus, etc)

We were going to see the impressive Christmas lights display at IaSW. However, on the way, suddenly the land around us began to look different. Large towers with Small World architecture were hanging around, and they were quite decorated too, but compared to our last visit (during the opening of Indy), the place didn't "feel" right.

Were the crowds getting to me and I simply panicked, or have things changed quite a bit in the Small World area of DL? I don't visit that part of the park much, so I didn't get to see that section of the park any later during our short trip. It's been sitting and irritating in the back of the brain for a while now, and I want to get it settled with myself now! :)
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A.

What you saw since your last visit was the infrastructure put into place for the failed Light Magic show. 

They had huge light towers put in [blocking the many vistas in the area] and huge projector towers put in too, three of them set further back from the parade route.  At Christmastime they swaddle these units with all sorts of lights to match the small world facade, hence your confusion,

There were plans in motion to remove most of the projector towers, and put in smaller lighting poles set further back from the parade route so you could again see small world down that huge walkway, but alas budget cuts did away with that.

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Q.

TugleyWood writes: One of your readers asked about the state of the Sleeping Beauty Diorama in your 4/26 column.

While I have no idea about the current changes, I wanted to inform the reader that the current display is not the same attraction that debuted at Disneyland in 1957. The original dioramas were highly stylized, painted flats, inspired by Eyvind Earle's designs and executed by Claude Coats and Ken Anderson.

This marvelous attraction disappeared in the mid-to-late-70's to be replaced by the current Main Street Window-style dioramas (some of these materials may have originated from the 1970 MS windows). This is, in my opinion, a far weaker attraction.

One of the original scenes (Aurora's bedchamber) can be seen in 3-D in one of the mid-60's Fantasyland View-Master Packets. Several of Earle's original attraction window designs have been reproduced as limited edition lithos in recent years: the cradle and the bedchamber scenes - - these are often mistaken for pre-production pieces from the film, but can be discerned by the illustrated window frame as being diorama inspirational designs.
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A.

Thanks for updating the readers on this TugleyWood!  At one point we almost lost this little walk through entirely, but thanks to people speaking up it has been kept open.  

Let's hope someday they get back in there and really fix it up the way it should be - little memories of seeing these kinds of things between parents and children is what Disneyland is supposed to be all about.

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Q.

Roger writes: You asked me to drop you a line when I finally finished the Dapper Dans web site. Well it is on-line. I still will be adding more information as it comes in however I had to say "enough" and get it on-line. Please give me your honest opinion about the site. I can take criticism as well as praise.
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A.

It's absolutely WONDERFUL Roger.  What a terrific resource for those who love the sound of pure singing.  Sadly, [for most visitors] the group only performs weekdays on Main St., but I never miss a chance to listen for a little bit whenever I find myself in the park away from my regular weekend visits.

Thanks for putting the site up Roger - that's what I love so much about the web, people get to share terrific things like this with everyone else.

Everything you need to know about this wonderful group is here, recordings, schedules, a history of the four guys and more.  A well-put-together site if you ask me, that Roger has obviously spent many hours on.  

May I place a link to it on my links page?  :)

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Q.

The Thompsons write: First I must commend and thank you for your wonderful site. I have learned a lot of valuable information from you. 

My first trip to Disneyland was summer in 1962, I was 3 years old (Tiki room not even in existence). Disneyland is my favorite place in the whole world. Now I have a 18 month old little boy and I am looking forward to sharing the "Magic Kingdom" with him.  Do you have any special ideas for attractions or activities that will be especially fun for him?

My main question is on a different subject. I was disappointed to find that the Golden Horseshoe is no longer taking reservations but I was even more sad to find that Dixie Hill and the Hillbillies are no longer working there. My wife and I saw them in 1995 twice and loved them. I have to tell you I am not really enthused about this Toy Story thing. Do you know of Dixie Hill and the Hillbillies? And what happened to them? Their show was so much fun. Thanks again.

P.S. please don't tell me that Small World is closed for renovations or something. Thank you.
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A.

Thanks for the kind words.  One of the nicest things you can do with the little ones is attend one of the two storytelling opportunities they offer in the park almost daily now.  

You have a choice of the delightful show in the former Aladdin's Oasis area, or the Princess Storytelling in the Tinkerbell Toy Shop.  Both are a quieter and gentler way of enjoying Disneyland, and the characters interacting with the kids is a real personal touch not seen in other theme parks.  Check the ENTERTAINMENT section of this guide for further information on these little known gems.

Billy Hill and the Hillbillies have moved out of the Golden Horseshoe and over to Big Thunder Ranch, where they play at the BBQ there.  Personally, I feel they fit as an act a whole lot better there than in the Horseshoe [And it seems that we can both do without Woody's Round-Up too.  ;) ]   Again, check the ENTERTAINMENT section of this guide for showtimes and playdates for the Billys.

I hear the guys would love to get back into the theater, but I sure would rather see instead the return of Slue Foot Sue's Golden Horseshoe Revue - now THAT was a show my friend - let's hope someday we may see something like this yet again on that stage.

Thanks!
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