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Al Lutz
Ask Al!™
You all responded so favorably to the small Ask Al! section I'd 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 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 ten questions were posted on 7/25/00 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.

Debbie writes: What is the best day to visit the magic kingdom in Anaheim. The slowest day that is - people wise. 
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A.

During the summer, every day is busy. Saturdays are the most packed - Sundays are actually quite nice from opening until about noon when the mobs arrive. Weekdays are a bit less - but still crowded compared to the rest of the year.

In the off season Wednesday seems to be one of the lighter days of the week - you don't have much spill over from the weekend on either end it appears.

Another good light day you can look forward to is the Sunday the week AFTER a major holiday - for example the Sunday after Labor Day has always been very light as fellow MousePlaneteer Andy Dannelly has noticed. 

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Q.

Laura writes: Hi Al, Although my daughter and I love Disneyland [DL for short from here on], I have found the costs getting more and more prohibitive and the lack of maintenance in the park kind of scary. Face it, if they can't afford to paint it, what else are they skimping on?

We used to have annual passes, but at just under $400 for both of us, I decided not to renew them. My daughter had been begging me to go to somewhere for the summer, so, when my employer offered a discount to Knotts, I decided to try it out. (Hey at $14 per person, I could afford to be disappointed) and I thought I would let you know how it was.

First of all, we went on a Monday, hoping to avoid the crowds, and we did. Even with bus loads of kids being dropped off, the lines were very short.

Let me start off by saying how clean this park is. There were people all over the place picking up trash/sweeping up throughout the park. The last time I was at DL, the amount of garbage (paper, crushed cups, wrappers, etc.) that stayed on the paths was amazing. 

Secondly, since the 'look' of DL has been under much discussion as of late, I turned a critical eye to their buildings and attractions. Guess what? Everything looked really nice. The one restaurant that was closed to be painted on that day, still looked good, I couldn't figure out why they were painting it! 

How about the bathrooms? As a female and a mom, dirty bathrooms make me nuts. I had two young girls with me, and we were drinking tons of water due to the heat. Believe me, I think we hit every bathroom in that park!! I did not find one that was not clean, and well stocked. The last time we were at DL mid-week, the bathrooms were just plain grubby by mid-afternoon and got worse. Never found that at any time at Knotts. Park attendants were all cheerful and helpful.

What Knotts does better than DL:

The only ride that broke down while we were there was the Steam locomotive, and they had it back up within 2 hours. The ride queues ran very smoothly and they seemed to be fully staffed for their rides, despite the fact that it was a 'slow/light' day. It was obvious that there was not one person doing the job of two, causing a slow down in load and unload times. 

Knotts also has a better variety of rides for kids of all ages. There were rides for the little kids (like Fantasyland) and then at least 6 rides for the kids who were too big for the little kid rides, but didn't want to have mom and dad go with them (read mom and dad needed a break and wanted to tire the kids out!!) 

The rest of the older kids / adult rides that I took the girls on (they are both 7.5 yrs old) are definitely more in the 'thrill ride' category, but they loved all but one which left us with a headache from banging our heads around. 

The landscaping at this park is also beautiful. Flowers and trees galore and plenty of seating in shady areas where you can take a rest and regroup. The seating for all of the food areas was either covered and / or had umbrella tables that provided shade. There was also a ton of seating at each food stand.

What DL does better than Knotts:

The theming at DL is better than Knotts. In Knotts one area flows into another without any definitive breaks between. This can be a little confusing the first couple of times through especially when you are looking for a scenery change to let you know you are headed in the right direction. DL also does a better job of having signs up that pointing you in the right direction, and the DL map is easier to read and labels all of the rides, not just big ones. 

Also, despite the fact that we all love to complain about the number of carts selling food / drinks / merchanise in the park, at least at DL you don't have to go to three different places trying to find water instead of soda. Also, quite a few of the carts ran out of certain items and were not being restocked in a timely fashion. One thing Disney does know how to do is make sure they have enough of what ever it is people want to buy, whether it is water or stuffed animals!! 

Also, Knotts has two big rides that can not offer continuous loading and unloading. These rides go forward and then backwards back to the station. While this is very cool, on a weekend the waits must be unreal since you can not run more than one train / group of cars at a time.

Things that are the same:

Price for food was about the same, although Knotts does offer three different drink sizes instead of just two. And the large at Knotts, really is a large drink (32 oz). I would say that the food we had was better than average, tasted fresh and was piping hot. 

By the way, Knotts has a Dinosaur themed ride, and guess what they were selling in the "Dinostore" next door? Lots and lots of DISNEY Dinosaur movie toys. Key chains, animals, coin purses, etc. Most of the price tags were placed to try and cover up the Disney logo, but it didn't work. 

Value for the dollar:

With a theme park is it hard to quantify what you are getting for the money. However, for my money, I have a hard time beating Knotts, just on price alone. We had a great time, similar to DL, but without going broke just to walk in the door. Also, despite the fact that the 7 years olds were tall enough for ALL of the rides, Knotts still considers kids as being under twelve. 

Knotts also has a Joe Cool Club Card, similar to MK Club Card that gets you a discount on the admission. For $183 at Knotts, I can get myself and my daughter unlimited park passes for a year (they are only closed on Christmas) including parking. This gets us both in for less than what it would cost for one of us at DL. 

We had friends down from Washington who will return to Knotts, and not to DL just because of the prices. They come down every summer, and felt that this was their 'one trip' to DL while the kids were young, because the couldn't afford to do it again for several more years, but were already planning a trip back to Knotts because we can get discount tickets all year long.

What will I do? I will probably end up getting annual passes for Knotts and buy 3 day passes through AutoClub for DL.

Why do I think you will care about this? Frankly, it appears that you are a thorn in the side of several powers that be at DL and they really hate it when you point out in black and white, and digital color photography, what is wrong. 

If DL was being run properly with an eye towards customer satisfaction and detail I really wouldn't look at the costs that much. Disney has been taking it's passholders and frequent guests for granted for several years now, and now they are taking their park for granted. Who wants to fork over money for some of the highest admission prices in the country to look at a park that is getting run down and is losing a lot of it's visual charm due to budget cut backs?

Apparently they can not afford to paint, do pretty landscaping instead of low maintenance, run rides (rocket rods, submarines), operate rides during the entire operating hours of the park, or fix rides in a timely fashion when they break down. 

If Disney wants to up attendance and get people back into the park they need to fix their prices and bring back the "look" that was Disneyland. They are losing their local customers and their tourist customers because Disneyland is no longer being viewed as an annual adventure by the average tourist, or a continuing weekend destination by the So Cal natives. 

I think Disney has reached beyond what the market will continue to bear on their prices and value. I am afraid to think what the annual and daily passes will go up to when DCA opens, but I am sure it will be something outrageous that Eisner and Pressler will feel are totally justified for the 'Disney experience' (and I used to think you had to get sent to prison for that experience!!!)

Oh well, this is probably way too long as it is now, so I will sign off.

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A.

First of all Laura, thank you for taking the time to write all that. It's always interesting to hear what others think, and you certainly have some terrific and valid observations there.  [Your kind words are also noted, thank you.]

As we watch the saga unfold at Disneyland, we will have to see how many more people will come to feel as you do - eventually it seems to me that if things continue along the same lines, it will make for some kind of impact to the bottom line.

Personally I don't think you can do as much as they have recently to alter the basic foundation of what made this place what it is without some kind of groundswell against it from the customers.

We'll see what happens I guess, as I for one see more and more e-mails like yours arrive here, and I'm pretty sure it's not unique to just the site.

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Q.

Jake writes: Thanks for the great flowing stream of info you provide us with! Your site's great! I loved the "Stalked By Cynthia" story.

Anyway the reason I am writing you is that I had a question about budget cuts. It seems clear to me that the company has no idea as how to operate theme parks, (Made obvious by the declining state of the parks and high prices) and they care nothing about the customers. 

But if the Disney parks are doing so well right now (Attendance that is) and they are not using any of this money to maintain the facilities, what's going to happen when attendance dips in the future. If they have a lot of revenue from attendance now, and they might not later, how low can they get the facilities budgets? I am really starting to get concerned. 

Right now it's peeling paint. But this place is getting old! 45 years! Like what happened with the Tiki room sign (Rotting and eventually collapsing), I am starting to get concerned about the guest's safety. Maybe not now, but in the future! Thank you for your time!
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A.

Thanks for the kind words about the Cynthia story - until I did the Rude Tourists item [which generated literally thousands of e-mails] it was one of the more popular things that had run on the site.

To get to the second part of your note, Paul Pressler's and Michael Eisner's future solution to the kinds of problems you bring up will be simple - prices will continue to go on up and things will continue to be cut back.  Upkeep is something they simply do not care to deal with - they both feel they are doing just fine.

This summer at Disneyland is a perfect example. Yes, they are making lots of money, but not enough of it apparently to satisfy either of them. So, for an increased admission price this year, you get LESS than you did just a few years ago.

How you may ask?

Remember when we had TWO different parades - night and day?  And TWO shows? [Hunchback and Pocahontas] And Fantasmic usually did a third performance on busy Saturday nights? Plus remember when we had a brass band corps in Tomorrowland - and a "real" show in the Golden Horseshoe?  Not to mention the upkeep was still at that point pretty good?

This year, we get one parade, one show - and new mid- summer cutbacks in entertainment such as the Woody's Round-up show and the Mickey Matterhorn climb. Prices have gone up twice this year on food and outdoor vending items - and they no longer paint or maintain the place like they used to. Even this year's birthday events were nothing - all to save on budgets of course.

Both of these execs feel they can do this because people will not notice. But I think people do - judging from feedback I get [such as the note above] and comments I overhear at the park while walking around.

Will things get any better? Not at anytime soon with the current mindset in place.

By the way, Annual Passes are going up in price this October I just heard. With the way they run things now, I wonder what cutbacks that will next entail?  ;)

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Q.

Tugley Wood writes: Thanks for the continuing DIG updates! In [a] recent [one], you allude to some wonderful new ideas underway for Disneyland's next five years. Care to share with the rest of the class?
 
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A.

If you've been reading the past few updates, you've gotten wind of more than a few of those items.

But, as things are going right now - what with DCA and the plans for the new third gate - I wouldn't expect too much to happen to poor old Disneyland itself in the near term.  The ideas are there - it's the gatekeepers that are the problems.

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Q.

Don and Stephanie write: Hello! My wife and I are avid Disney fans, became annual pass holders two years ago and enjoy your site very much. 

I was reading Brian Bennett's article about the tour "Walk In Walt's Footsteps" and noticed one of his disappointments was not being able to go up into the Firehouse apartment. (Thanks for the desktop of the apartment, by the way.) Are you aware of any way that mere mortals are able to get a look at Walt's on-site residence?
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A.

They did try at one time to let Passholders see the place [before Pressler decided they were persona non grata] - as part of a failed promotion where you had to buy a set amount of merchandise tokens that you would spend in the park. 

By buying huge number of these tokens you could choose premiums, such as the visit to the apartment or a meal at Club 33. But, alas, the die- hards made it almost impossible for the regular Joes to ever get this premium - as they snapped it up faster than a dropped ten dollar bill on a New York sidewalk. The fact this promotion was only tried once tells you how problematic it was.

As of now, only park or company invited guests can go up there - and usually under very controlled circumstances. Eisner himself rarely uses the place as I understand, to his credit he does like to walk around the park, [unlike Pressler] but much less so than he used to in the past. 

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Q.

Anonymous writes: Hey Al of The DIG. From: [a] confused Disney fan. well Disneyland is the funnest place for me to visit, but lately a lot of things run into my mind on what the heck are the Disney imagineers drinking! I think on entertainment shows Disney is 2-for-2 on their Disney shows / parades.

I start on Fantasmic, its the greatest and best show on earth everything is perfect- settings, effects and the fireworks run smoothly with all the action. MSEP was also another Disney success, but Disney screwed up when they took it out, why? that was their worst move ever. 

now on the losing side, yes Light magic was horrible, it hardly lasted and characters weren't relevant to anything in Disney. 

then you have the 45th anniversary firework show: Believe.. there's magic in the stars" That firework show is a total waste of money, the opening production sounds scary like the 6th sense tone of voice. i had a very bad first experience, running to the show after Fantasmic was a waste, my group of people we literally walked and stumbled over people to get out of the crowd. the fireworks aren't in sync with the music... which now I came up with a new name for that show.. "Misbelieve.. There's No Magic in the Stars" The fantasy in the sky was a better show, good entertaining music, it had a mixture of sounds, like of Indiana Jones, and famous songs of other characters and the patriotic music gave it a wonderful ending.

so what is Disney really smoking, that's something that I wanna know! So hope to hear a response from you Al, and hopefully you have some clue what's going on at Disney

from a very confused Disney fan

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A.

You should read the archives and catch up on some of my updates if you really want to know what's been happening!  [Sadly I don't know what they have been smoking though... ') ]

I have to disagree with you about the new fireworks presentation - they did a great job I think in making them into a real show, as opposed to just firing off rockets for ten minutes. Give them another chance when you next visit - you may find that it may help to not just walk in on them starting up.

But don't fret about the Electrical Parade, it's coming back and I now have a date I was told - June 6th of next year.

It's going to be the same thing all over again, minus the Pinocchio section to make it shorter - and they aren't even updating the music - all to save as much money as possible. [I guess they forgot how deserted the second showings were nightly the year before they announced it was leaving "forever."]

Now how are they going to explain that forever is really only a few years, and one possible turkey of a new park, later?  ;)

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Q.

Cathy writes: Hi Al, As always, I was perusing and enjoying your site when I decided to check out your offered wallpapers. I don't often change my wallpaper, but your teacups caught my eye.

Anyway, when I got to the Rocket Rods picture I realized that it was not a picture of the Rods at all (???, you might ask) but a great picture of the Radio Disney broadcasting studio! My daughter is a major Mark and Zippy fan. Good mother that I am, I changed my wallpaper. She just shrieked when she turned on our computer the next day! Couldn't have been happier. You even managed to include the little table at which we always sit whilst passing the time listening to Radio Disney live. 

Just wanted to thank you and remind you that you never really know what unintended place or thing in your pictures might strike someone's fancy! :-)
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A.

Aw, thanks for letting me know about that! It's a delight to read notes from folks about things like this - I am always impressed how the park means a lot to so many people.  Everyone has a special memory attached to something it seems - something I hope they continue to keep in mind as they continue to change things there under this current management.

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Q.

Simon writes: Have you seen Jim Hill's story at the Orlando Weekly? If so, have you given permission for it? It seems to be darn near word for word from the DIG story.

BTW, I love all the new content on the DIG. Great job. Also, what is MousePlanet? Is it your company, or did you sell the DIG to them? Check out the possible copyright violation, and keep up the good work! (Oh, and have a Disney Day!)
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A.

Jim's story was picked up by both the OC Weekly and the Orlando Weekly - with his permission and ours. They both ran a condensed version of it, the full version you can still read on his part of the site.

As you may know by now, MousePlanet is the new home for the DIG, Brian Bennett's, and a number of other sites. Everyone has come together to create this company which will allow us to do even more in the future for readers.

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Q.

Mike writes: Al, I love your site. I live in NorCal & we visit Disneyland every spring. What can I do or who can I write to complain about the sad shape of DL. I want to help! 
 
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A.

Your best bet is to file a complaint at City Hall when you visit - make sure you fill out the written form they provide you.

As I understand in the past, Pressler used to ignore these, but Cynthia Harriss [current President of the resort] does read them and does what she can considering who she works for.

It's just sad people have to complain to get things done though. 

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Q.

Alex writes: Hi Al, My friend and I were the only ones in the front cab on our monorail trip yesterday, so we had a private audience with our driver to ask all sorts of probing questions...

Q: So...can I take 'er for a spin?
A: Sorry, no; but I can let you blow the horn.

Q: When are the monorails going to resume their
round-trips?
A: Originally scheduled for July; unfortunately some heavy equipment in the DCA construction area crashed into the beamway and did significant damage to the tune of $6 million, now it will probably be November before it's repaired and round-trips can resume.

Q: Did you ever run over a bird?
A: No, we're supposed to stop for them if they are on
the beamway; to run over them would really gum up the
works.

hope this is interesting, ps: yes, she did let me blow the horn! It was awesome! 
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A.

I love riding up front also on the Monorail - something about swooping around Disneyland up in the air looking out of a big picture window always makes my day.

The driver may have been pulling your leg a bit though, I'd heard the beamway damage was not as severe as that - apparently a driver pulled back too far from the new station out over DCA and had the train go off the power bar - which was supposed to have cost around $15,000 or so to fix. [And it got the Cast Member a suspension too I heard.]

The real reason they don't want them running through the new park is due to the construction - it's easier to get things done around the track without having to worry about trains coming by.

You aren't missing much anyway either - there are now so many walls up along the DCA route, you might as well be traveling in a concrete subway tube as I understand.
 


The following ten questions were posted on 6/28/00 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.

Joey writes: I don't understand it. Pressler is Eisner's sinister little assistant. They both are (or have) driven the Disney company into the ground. They took the old policy of spending a few extra bucks to produce quality, getting a return bigger than they could ever imagine, and threw it out the window. And now it's spend as little money as possible, slap guests in the face, charge them an arm and a leg, and do a half-@** job on everything. 

I understand that they lack the intelligence to comprehend the concept that people like quality, but why did you make a site called Promote Paul Pressler. From what I understand, you disapprove of almost everything he and Eisner does. (Not that I blame you, I agree). Please explain! Love the site!
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A.

For you, and other new readers to this site - Promote Paul Presser was started when I read a post made in a Disney newsgroup that made a rather threatening remark about him. As upset as people may have been with the many poor decisions he was making and the very sad direction the park was taking under his reign, no one deserves to be threatened in that manner.

After reading that post I thought it would be best to make up a site where we would try to express our displeasure - but do so in a more creative and positive manner. Hence Promote Paul Pressler was born - to try and "promote" this mis-placed executive into another job far away from the theme parks division. At one time the site had an extensive library of criticism from concerned park-goers and spanned several pages.

[Alas, one should always be careful what they wish for, since Pressler was rewarded for his customer hostile ways by being promoted from Disneyland president to the head of all the parks and Imagineering too. A fine example of the Peter Principle at work here if you ask me.]

We can keep hoping he will find a more suitable job somewhere else of course - the Promote Paul site recently did prompt an executive headhunter to call me about him, as there was apparently some interest in him from Mattel. As you can imagine, I extolled his virtues and had nothing but the highest praise for his skills as a toy company executive. ;) 

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Q.

Larry writes: Hey Al! Love the site! I'm 35 years old and have been attending DL every year since the "Haunted Mansion" opened back in 1969. My wife and I now have annual passes and can't stop going. I'm a special f/x buff and am always studying "behind the scenes" for movies and what not. About 25 years ago I purchased a book from DL about the making of "Pirates of the Caribbean." I have yet to find one for the "Haunted Mansion." 

My question is, are there any web sites and / or employees of DL that have published "the making of" books on DL's attractions? I've always wanted to know about what goes on "after hours" at the park with all of the maintenance and what not. I'd like to see the rides with the lights on. Knowing how things are done doesn't ruin the magic for me, it just makes me more in awe at the genius behind the illusions.

Thanks and look forward to more DL info,

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A.

For park fans there is always a great debate about revealing many of the secrets of the attractions - in a way this reminds me of the uproar a TV special caused a few years ago that "exposed" magician's tricks. There's also the question of ruining the illusion for the younger ones too.

But there is one terrific web site out there you may enjoy that has a LOT of the behind the scenes stuff on Haunted Mansion you may be looking for: doombuggies.com 

Now you younger whippersnappers, forget you saw that, OK?

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Q.

Justin writes: I wanted to see what kind of information you have on the Disneyland College Program, what have you heard about it? Do the students like it? How do you apply for it? What makes it a college program?

James also writes A guy came into my work the other day (I work at F.A.O. Schwarz) and recommended me (he said I was the Disney type) to work at the WDW resort next summer in their college program. I looked at their website and I must say I am very interested. 

I was wondering what you thought of it and if you have any views on it. If you can let me know, that would be great. Thanks a million and keep up the FANTASTIC work!!!
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A.

Having Disney on your resume is great. The problems you may run into are the low pay you will get and rather poor living conditions for program participants. If you can afford a summer with little or no money [and have some cash stashed away for any spending you may want to do there] I'd say look into it.

Many participants that write me afterwards tell me about the wonderful people they get to work with, but usually don't have much else to discuss about it.

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Q.

Kurt writes: I read on your Ask Al page that the Mary Blair tiles we covered over, but I remember reading in some Euro (at the time) Disney guidebook that there is a restaurant or something there that has a wall coved with the chipped tiles of the mural that was replaced by the Star Tours one. Do you know anything about this?
 
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A.

Yes, some of the tiles were crushed and used in a Disneyland Paris location - but most remain up underneath the current paintings. 

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Q.

Dan writes: I was looking at the list of attractions in Disney's California Adventure in your update (of 6/5/00), and I saw a bunch of "attractions" that I haven't heard about yet. For example:

- Back to Neverland
- Beast's Library
- Drawn to Animation
- Enchanted Books
- Magic Mirror Realm
- Ursula's Magic Voices

Any idea what these are? Are these going to be "real" attractions? Or are they going to be more like Snow White's Grotto in Disneyland (which is listed as an attraction)? Enquiring minds want to know!
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A.

Mostly they are simple things - a few are just displays. As soon as I get more information on each of them, I will detail them in the preview site. 

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Q.

Jeff writes: Just thought I would ask: Do you know the significance of the sign posted at Disneyland's cast member entrance on Harbor Boulevard which says, "Welcome to DCA East"? I first noticed this in early May, but I have no idea what it means. 

The eastern portion of Disney's California Adventure would be the Studio District, which is the smallest side of the new park. Is there another cast member entrance for "DCA West" off of Disneyland Drive? 

Also, if management wants everyone to develop the habit of referring to the park by its proper name, why does this sign use the acronym "DCA" instead of "Disney's California Adventure"?
-

A.

Disneyland is also referred to internally as East and West, so it sounds like they are just continuing the trend with these designations. The main entrance to DCA appears to be via the tunnel under the east tram area - which connects both backstage areas together. 

The Disneyland side will be providing much of the backstage services needed for both parks - this was done both to save money and to save space in DCA since it was so limited. [Those pesky hotels and malls are so big you know.]

As far as using the acronym DCA - well, it's also done for two reasons - time and money. It's faster to call it that, and you don't need to paint so much on a sign.

I have the funny feeling the public will also use this acronym too because the name is so ungainly - they just made a very poor choice this time. 

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Q.

Jason writes: As I was reading the new articles today on Kevin Yee's Cast Place, Jim Hill's A View from the Hill, and FAB's page, I was thinking to myself "how can I get a page on the DIG website?" I know it is getting a little overcrowded, but I have a very good concept for a page. So once you tell me how (or if) I can get one, I'll tell you my concept. It's very original and cool.
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A.

We're getting a LOT of e-mails such as yours - and we are looking at all of them. We cannot guarantee anything at this time though.

As the time comes, we'll let folks know more of what we will be doing.

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Q.

Robert writes: We went to DL yesterday with our 7 year old handicapped child. We were helped on the Pirates of the Caribbean by some very nice people. 

As we tried to get on Small World... We were told we would have to wait until all the other people got on first, so we might as well go get in their line. Our child is subject to seizures so we were very concerned about the time it took to get on the rides and how much he could see before we had to leave. My question is: What is the purpose of having a wheelchair or handicap line if it was selective?
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A.

It all depends on the amount of people using the disabled access at one time. For additional information on this  [and some wonderful advice about how to best utilize the disables services the park provides] you may want to visit the TAG site - ThemePark Access Guide.

Tony and Adrienne Phoenix maintain this terrific resource, and they have done a stellar job with not only telling you about what to look forward to, but have also included many illustrations of what you will be dealing with. 

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Q.

NFS writes: Hey Al! Love your site! Thank you so much! If Pressler's excuse now for Disneyland's poor paint job is "The place is 45 years old", when it's obvious it's just that he doesn't want to spend money. Do you suppose that when DCA's paint starts chipping that he will claim "It's supposed to represent California! All of it! Including the ghetto's and to give you the real carnival experience"?

I also have one more question... I don't think that DCA will be a success. I am a Disney stock holder, and I don't know if I want it to be a success or a failure. If it fails Eisner will need to cut more costs to cover it (Which is bad), but if it is a success, he will then believe that they can just build all their parks like crap. Do you believe it will be a success? What are you hoping for?
 
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A.

There is a wonderful new Disney park being built - but it's not here in Anaheim, it's all the way over in Tokyo.

I think the customers will let Disney know exactly how they feel about the new California Adventure park once they plunk down their $40 plus. If I were Paul Pressler I'd listen to all they will say.

But I'm not Paul Pressler.

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Q.

Scott writes: A quick note on (a different) Scott's difficulties viewing "Cast Place" and "Dual reViews" with IE 5.0 on a Mac (mentioned in the 6/8/00 "Ask Al" column). Have you fixed the issue? I, too, use Mac IE 5.0, but have never had a crash with these or any other DIG pages. I put IE 5.0 through its paces and could not get a crash, no matter how many options I changed.

A suggestion I read on MacFixIt.com for Mac IE 5.0 problems that I followed on installing it that seemed to help some other problems I encountered, is to do a clean install of IE 5.0 by removing old IE libraries that 5.0 doesn't need but fails to delete. You can find instructions for doing so here: IE 5.0 will 'self-heal' when you next launch it, so it will automatically restore the ones it needs.

(The explanation is that pre-5.0 versions of IE leave libraries in other locations in the system folder that don't get deleted when 5.0 is installed, and these old libraries destabilize the new version.)

I hope this helps your readers if you haven't already been able to find the glitch. I have experienced some IE 5.0 glitches and freezes with certain pages, so I know they're out there, but none at the DIG, so I don't know where this problem lies.

But before I go, a word of thanks: I have been reading the DIG for at least a year now, and I come back as often as I can. Your site has first-rate layout, fabulous content, great variety, and so many updates that it is always a pleasure to return. Congratulations, thank you, and keep up the great work!
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A.

I want to thank EVERYONE who responded on the issue of the mysterious page crashes on Mac IE 5 over the last few weeks. [I never knew there were so many experts out there who read the site.] Your suggestions for the re-install Scott are very good, and should also help folks out.

We did locate the problem finally with all the e-mail sent in that had all sorts of tips, tricks and help - it appears that Internet Explorer can NOT handle improper nesting of tags [the Link Exchange banners we were using on some pages had the tags in the incorrect order]. As we are in the process of removing these banners anyway from the site over time, this problem should be fixed by now on the major pages, and the minor ones soon.

Also, thank you for the kind words Scott - it always makes our day around here when notes such as yours arrive.
 


The following fifteen questions were posted on 6/22/00 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.

Sandy writes: Thanks so much for recommending the Disney Gallery for viewing Fantasmic! My husband and I took our two children, Emma (6) and Gretchen (3). This was Gretchen's first trip to Disneyland. Our experience at the Gallery buffet was extraordinary. What a great view.

Just a note about how early to arrive to purchase tickets for this event. My husband arrived at 5:45 am on Sunday for a 8 am opening. He was third in line!!! The first person bought 16 tickets to the 9 pm show. The second person bought the remaining 4 tickets for the show. That left us attending the 10:30 pm show. We went ahead with the late show and my girls were troopers -- thank goodness for chocolate cake and cokes!! Thanks for all your efforts on the site.
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A.

Glad this worked out for you! And thank you for the advice about how early you need to line up for tickets. The almost always sell this thing out - even with the prices they now charge, amazing isn't it?

But I agree, it's kind of nice to be above the huddled masses below and enjoy the less crowded space the Gallery offers. 

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Q.

Scott writes: I was wondering if the monorail will have a station inside of the Grand Californian or is it just passing through the hotel for looks?
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A.

Unbelievably they decided NOT to stop the monorail at the new hotel - the station remains in the same place on the other side of West Street [now renamed Disneyland Drive], now surrounded by the new mall.

Ostensibly they did this to make the stop equal in distance from the mall and the other two hotels - but the reality was that they didn't want to spend a penny to move the monorail track. Apparently they didn't want to repeat the expense involved in the Indy show building monorail track redo.

Another hard to believe thing is just how many walls you will now see as the monorail goes across the new California Adventure park - most of the route now is a cement corridor, with very few views out over DCA. Another case of very poor planning - all due again to the overriding budget concerns. 

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Q.

Brian writes Dear Al, I have recently come across your website and I must say it is wonderful! You and the other contributors to the DIG do a fantastic job. Well now on to the meat of my message.....

Recently I have noticed everyone on the website talking about the maintenance of Disneyland as of recent (or lack thereof). I too have noticed the decline in upkeep and am very saddened as I visit at least once a week. 

Yesterday, as I was viewing the photos of the peeling paint on the Haunted Mansion and other attractions I got this idea; Since Disney officials don't have the "budget" to maintain areas of the park, why not have an "Adopt -An-Attraction" similar to the Adopt-A-Highway program for the freeways? 

The way I see it, people could donate money and / or time to insure that the Magic Kingdom stays "Magic". Who could I contact at Disney to pitch this idea? Also, if you could bounce the idea off of the other folks in the DIG just to see what kind of a response it gets I would greatly appreciate it. I would like to get some feel for the idea before I go to the Disney execs. 

Please respond as soon as possible (I know you get a lot of mail) and give me any information or feedback you can. Keep up the good work and thank you for your assistance.
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A.

Thank you for the kind words about the site Brian! I'm in a sad way appalled that people seem to feel a need to raise funds to fix up the park again [yours is one of several similar letters I've gotten in the last few weeks] - especially when we are talking about a company that has no shortage of cash or income at this time.

The real neglect at the park you now see going on is not because Disney is having hard times - but is solely due to the fact that executives under Paul Pressler's lead have been told not to spend money on upkeep or perform maintenance at the levels that were established in the past. Pressler, and now apparently Eisner, feel that you [and the rest of the customers] will not notice the deterioration. 

Since attendance keeps going up - and any complaints that people try to make are usually "bought off" before they can be written up [with the offer of a giveaway, dinner coupon, or the like] the execs don't see much feedback and assume everyone is OK with the current state of things.

If you really want to make some kind of effort on this - either on your next visit [or now] - what you have to do is write a note and explain how you do see there are some serious problems in upkeep at the park. Only when feedback increases on this issue, and people specifically request to file written complaints at City Hall in the park [and refuse any makegoods offered to encourage you not to file the report] can they even begin to get an idea of just how many of you out there really do see this is an increasing problem.

Basically they don't need our charity, they need us to speak up.

And I thought you should know, I did share your note with some folks who are involved with Imagineering - they thought your concern was very heartfelt and rather touching. 

It goes to show you just how very special this place can be to folks, and why it has the pull it still does for them. Too bad the people now in charge are totally blind to this.  

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Q.

Debbie writes: Hi, enjoy your site!!!! we have a family of 6 (kids ages 16-20) going to Disneyland this month for the first time. Is there anyway to cut the cost of admission 39.00 per person at the Disneyland in Calif.?
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A.

Right now just about your only bet [since we are entering a peak summer season] is to see if your employer offers the Magic Kingdom Card. This can give you a small discount on admission. 

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Q.

Mike writes: Hey Al... Hope you are doing well. Glad you didn't get caught up in the "Pirates" Fiasco that happened. It was a good time but very poorly planned out for merchandise staffing.

Anyway, the question I have for you is simply, it appears that Disneyland is going into their "Summer Schedule" starting on 6/16 (which are starting with 9:00am-Midnight. *HOWEVER*, if you take a look at the posted hours for Thursday, June 22nd on Disneyland's website, they list the days hours as *8:00am - 9:00pm*.

Any idea on what they're doing that day to facilitate closing early? I wonder if they're doing one of those "mix" private parties where as long as you get in by the 'public' closing time you can remain in the park until the 'private' party ends. However, those types of parties usually has the park close at 6:00pm or 7:00pm.

Any idea on what's going on that day???
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A.

Grad Nights! This year they spread them out over several weeks - to be held on Thursdays only. It seemed to work really well for them, and helped keep the park open till midnight on six days of the week for regular visitors. 

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Q.

"Zoe" writes: To whom it may concern, I've been looking for a place to put a suggestion but got a cramp in my "mouse clicking finger" so I'll just start here and maybe you can point me in the right direction. 

My suggestion is one that concerns Disneyland and how it is being run. I know I'm not a big shot in a business suit running a multi million dollar business but my family and I do contribute to the pot that pays their bills. 

We take a trip to Anaheim one a year to go to the famous park and we have all been noticing the decline of care the park gets even though the amount of visitors increases. "It's a small world" is a classic ride but for some reason it looks as though it has been ignored. The paint is faded and chipped, like many places in the park, the animatronics look as though they are ready to blow, and the water is growing mold. "The Pirates of the Caribbean" is always having "technical difficulties" along with the "haunted house". 

I understand these rides run many times in a day and are bound to have problems once in a while but they are always broken down. 
Now lets get to the lines. Everyone knows to expect lines, you would be crazy not to but what's with the 2hr. lines and these ridiculous things called FAST PASSES? The passes are not fair to the rest of the line and what happens after everyone catches on? That fast pass won't be so fast. 

For those who so not know what I'm talking about, a fast pass is a ticket you can get at certain popular rides for a scheduled time to get on but what happens is that the other people who wait for 2hrs. in line have to let the fast passers on first which makes the line even slower! Everyone in line gets mad and the poor kids running the rides catch the arguments by the visitors. It would seem easier to start at the front gates, only let a set number of people in then give the others a time to come back. People will still get mad but I'm sure there are more details that could be thought up along the way. 

I'm sorry if I got the wrong person to write to but I feel much better knowing that somebody has read this, even if you don't care. Thank you from Northern California
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A.

Zoe, as I mentioned in a previous answer above - your best bet is to write the park and let them know you noticed these problems.

As I said before - they are lowering standards right now because they feel people will not notice these things.

My e-mail increasingly indicates people do. 

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Q.

Jason writes: Hi Al! I've been looking through your site quite a bit lately and I must say the amount of information is amazing! I found the site several months ago, but couldn't look through much of it. I was leaving for the WDW College Program at about the same time, so I haven't had much Internet access. 

Anyway, I wanted to ask you something. Do you know if February 8 is the definite date that DCA opens? I want to be there opening day, but I don't want to make travel plans and then have the date change. Also, do you know if it will only be a press event or if the general public is allowed?

I know it may be too early to know any of that yet, but I thought I would ask anyway. Thanks in advance for any info you might have!
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A.

Disney, like many large companies I know of, usually doesn't even begin to lock down something like this opening until about a month or two ahead of time [someday I will tell everyone stories about how the planning for ToonTown's opening was literally coming together at the last minute].

Although a great deal of the day will be spent in hoopla for the new place [bet ABC covers it wall to wall ;) ] the public should be let in in limited numbers for some of what will be going on. Something tells me that Grand Californian Hotel customers will probably get first dibs on everything that day - since the hotel borders the park.

Go ahead and plan your visit - and maybe plan for a few days before and after to be spent there too, so you can also visit Disneyland and maybe take advantage of some soft openings. 

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Q.

Ali writes: Dear Al, I've decided to start a webpage based on the storylines of the Haunted Mansion, how they all weave together, and just have the whole thing out there once and for all. I'm planning on using references from a couple other sites as well.

My questions are what do I need to say for the legal stuff, who do I ask permission to use things, and how do I copyright? Or can I copyright if I use references from other sites? Is it okay if I get a commission from banner ads that may appear over my site if it becomes popular?

Overall, how do I prevent my site from getting shut down?

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter, and I look forward to hearing from you, soon.
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A.

You face some real problems there Ali - everything from asking permission from other site owners for use of their materials to the very real threat of getting shut down by Disney [which has been going after sites lately] especially if they see use of any of their materials bringing you some kind of profit.

My suggestion?  Keep your content original. Make it refer to, rather than actually use any Disney owned materials.

And ALWAYS ask for permission from any other site owners if you need to use something.

Short of hiring a law firm, that's about what you can do to stay out in the clear at this point. 

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Q.

Toni writes: Great job on the Disneyland blues pictures and comments. I thought of you this week end at the park and noticed one thing I had hoped you would get a picture of. Over at Fowlers harbor where the Columbia is dock, an entire board on the dock is missing. 

But the funny part or sad part is that rather than replace it, they got a paddle from the canoes, stuck it in the hole and put caution tape on the paddle and tied it to a bush. It looks very weird to see a canoe paddle sticking up there. One can only hope it gets fixed soon or we may be paddling the canoes with our hands since all the paddles will be gone and used to replace broken boards!
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A.

Thanks for noticing that Toni!  I'll head over to the dock on the next visit and try to catch that for you - what a sad state of things for the park now. 

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Q.

Tom writes: Hey Al, I was at the park on Saturday for a couple of hours for lunch and shopping and two things really ticked me off, one I feel might have to be placed on you "Blues" page.

Space Mountain's music was off! I wish they would fix this already.

And when walking from TL to ToonTown, I noticed the nice clear beautiful, but still Sub-less lagoon was looking good again, but as I passed the old motor boat pond I was attracted to it by a strong stench. That pond is so run down with green stagnant water that there are now tadpoles growing in it. It was really bad show for the guests who chose to sit there and eat or rest. Just another example of the lack of maintenance.
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A.

I'd noticed that too Tom, especially after I got a good look at Autopia last week. 

You may think I am selecting letters this time around only to focus on the upkeep issues as you mention in your note - but this what is my e-mail looks like now. People do notice the lack of upkeep. 

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Q.

Jason writes: OK, I work for Chevron, but that isn't relevant.

I was wondering why the Autopia cars are NOT the Chevron cars? I thought that was the whole deal behind the sponsorship. The cars are more cartoony, but do not have the mouth and eyes of the Nick Park designed Chevron Cars. Was there a licensing issue? 
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A.

Two issues as I understand it - the primary one is that Disneyland would like an attraction that at the end of the sponsorship can revert to another sponsor [if need be] with a minimum of fuss. Having to redo all the cars if Mobil for some reason came in next is a bit much for them to do. It's an economic issue, as well as an aesthetic one [believe it or not they want to keep ads within the park on a somewhat minimal scale].

The second issue is minor, but does figure from what I was told. Yes, apparently Nick Park's Dreamworks association didn't help things here either.

One comment if I may here - The new Autopia has spawned a whole new range of merchandise specifically themed to it - BRAVO from me and other park fans. You can buy all sorts of stuff now, from mugs to license plate frames to T-shirts - and Chevron has even made toy cars for Disneyland of the three new models and the classic old one too, complete with metallic paint and riders with mouse ears on.

I'm so glad they have apparently listened to the customers who were pleading for this kind of stuff with past merchandising regimes. I'll try to have some photos up soon.

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Q.

Domenic writes: Here's a good question for you.... with the new park the walk in on Harbor was moved up the block. will that remain the walk in area on Harbor after the new park and parking lot open. 

and if it stays are they going to put a well needed pedestrian overpass over Harbor. Harbor as you know is not the most pedestrian friendly blvd.
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A.

Someone once told me they cannot build anything over Harbor because it is designated as a special route for emergencies where anything that could be built over it could block it if damaged.

My guess is that nothing will change from what you currently see now - the whole area bordering Harbor near the Timon lot now is short term parking - where people can park for up to 15 minutes while rushing in to pick up some tickets or their kids.  

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Q.

Phulid writes: Speaking of the painting on the Haunted Mansion... might I also point out that Walt Disney said "We will take care of the outside, while the ghosts take care of the inside" or something to that extent.. 

Is Disney living up to what the creator of the park once said? Maybe something to point out on your next DIG Update..
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A.

Thanks for writing about that - who knew this installment of Ask Al™ would be so laser focused on one this particular issue. 

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Q.

"S" writes: My husband and I love your page and check it daily. Thanks for all the info!

I was very concerned about your comment in the last update that the future of Billy Hill is "less than certain". Ever since my family and I discovered them, they have become a favorite part of each trip. Even though the act is the same every time, we still laugh just as hard. 

Do you really think they might go away? When they played in the Golden Horseshoe, the place was always packed and everyone seemed to enjoy them. Is there someplace we can write to express our desire for them to stay?
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A.

Thank you for the kind words about the site.

If you really enjoy something at the park, try to do what you also do when you encounter a problem - go to City Hall and write up a report on it. Enough of these reports come in, and they will take a serious look what sparked you to write.

Right now the boys will keep right on playing for the foreseeable future - but filing compliments right now wouldn't hurt. 

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Q.

Jim writes: congratulations again Al, the new desktop photos are amazing!! 

I've GOT to know how you took the new Matterhorn From Above photo. where were you?!?! how'd you do it?

as always, thanks for being my lifeline to The Park when I can't be there.
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A.

Thanks for the kind words Jim. I'd taken that photo a while back - and didn't put it up for a while since I didn't think it was that good. Little did I know the reaction it would get - all of it like yours.

It isn't TOO hard to figure where I took the shot from. Just picture the resort layout in your mind for a bit. Keep in mind I have a terrific 14x zoom on the camera too.

I'd tell everyone where, but then I may have to face a crowd the next time I head to that spot. ;)
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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.

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