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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.


The following ten questions were posted on 10/30/01 and again thank you all for your terrific feedback and the many queries you've submitted.

Q.

Andrew writes: Hello, Al, this isn't going to be a question for you, so much as just letting you know about what the last two shows of "Animazement!" were like. Please post this wherever you think it would fit the most.

I've been a big fan of "Animazement!" for a year now, since I first moved to L.A. and got to see the show. I know some people weren't that fond of it, but the dancing, the wonderful cast, and those wonderful songs always left me feeling better after seeing the show than I did before.

When I heard on MousePlanet that "Animazement!"'s final day of performances was to be Oct. 28, I knew I wanted to be there to "say goodbye."

My friends and I arrived in plenty of time to see the second- to- last show, and even got to sit in our "regular" seats (second row, on the floor, all the way to the right of the theater). I was very happy to see most of my favorite performers in their roles, including Belle, Quasimodo, Pocahontas, Clopin, Hercules, and that beautiful woman who plays a napkin, the eel, a gypsy, and a gazelle.

The energy level of this performance was through the roof, for the performers, and for the audience. And speaking of the audience, there were a large group of former cast members in attendance.

Some of the highlights of the second- to- last show were:

* The Aladdin guard who slipped on the banana peel managed to flip the peel up so that another of the guards could catch it. The catching guard held it up to the audience with a "can you believe I just did that!?" look on his face.

* The woman who gets accosted by Aladdin in the audience and spills her popcorn actually yelled at him this time! Very funny!

* When Ariel said "Sebastian? What do you think they use this for?" and swung Herc's sword around, she smacked the sea turtle right in the shell and dropped the sword!

For the final performance, things were even more special. My friends and I still managed to get CLOSE TO our regular seats, just a few rows farther back than usual. (There were a lot more former "Animazement!" cast members at this show, and they were all given priority seating, which is as it should have been, I thought.)

The energy level was even higher at this performance, and although the entire performance was magical, some of the highlights of the final show were:

* When the spotlight operators came out to take their positions before the show started, they received a loud ovation from the audience!

* There was tremendous applause and cheering after every vocal solo in the show.

* The Aladdin guards were able to pull off the same banana peel trick from the show before.

* When Jafar came rushing through the door to confront Aladdin, HE TRIPPED ON HIS ROBES and hit the floor! Luckily, he was able to recover in time to make his "Congratulations..." cue, and still managed to flash the audience a look that said, "That wasn't funny, and I'd better not hear any of you laughing!" (Of course, I'm still laughing about it...)

* When Ariel got to the end of "Part of Your World," the poor dear almost started to cry. You could hear her voice begin to waver, and it was so sweet and touching.

* The Pocahontas, Hercules and Quasimodo trio got a much-deserved standing ovation at the end of their number.

* When Clopin shouted out, "You all remember last year's king!?" half the people in the audience yelled out "No!" in time with the cast on stage! (The other half of the audience thought this was hysterical!)

* The crew must have wanted to use all the confetti they had left in that finale to "Topsy-Turvey Day," because when the colored creppe paper fell, it fell well into the first part of the "Circle of Life."

* There was another standing ovation for the entire cast at the end of the show.

* Moments after the show ended, the spotlight operators dumped another small amount of confetti, and as the houselights came up, the techs in the booth played the ending to the old Mickey Mouse Club, which was quite touching. And the audience sang along: "Now it's time to say goodbye to all our company... M-I-C... See you real soon... K-E-Y... Why? Because we like you... M-O-U-S-E..."

Those last two performances really felt magical. They were so wonderful, in fact, it was impossible to feel sad that the show was closing. (On Monday morning, however, the loss is starting to sink in...)

I was very glad I was able to be there for this show's final performances. Now, finally, I feel I have some truly magical memories of Disneyland.

-

A.

I ran your note here Andrew, because I thought the readers would enjoy it. Although I wasn't a big fan of the show, I did appreciate all the hard work the performers put into it - many times at Disneyland it's the actors that pull it off when they get left hanging by the creative folks.

Keep your eyes on the site, we have an upcoming article coming soon about the show's ending.

BTW - they are going ahead with the holiday replacement, "Minnie's Christmas Party" which is (as I understand) a spiffed up and slightly enlarged version of the character show Disney puts on for Children's hospitals. Its set for a November 2nd opening.

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Q.

Dave writes Thanx Al for your great column! I thought for a long time that I was the only one who noticed the trashing of Walt's genius legacy.

I note your criticisms of Paul Pressler. I think you're barking up the wrong tree-or at least are focusing only on a branch of the tree and not the trunk. And the trunk is Eisner- Pressler is nothing more than his mindless pawn. So don't blame Pressler. If he goes (as you've suggested) it would make no difference. The next guy would also be under Eisner's thumb as well, and the agenda would be the same. It will only be Eisner's departure that will spell hope for the Disney we all love so much, and for which Eisner has little or no appreciation. What has become of Disney under him is a sad outrage.

 

A.

We'll see what the future holds Dave. I think a lot of people - not just us - are disappointed with where the company has been going lately. It certainly is time for a change at the top I would think.

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Q.

Chris writes: Hey Al, I have been reading your updates (as always) and wonder, what is really up with TOT? Another site (Nameless) says that TOT is not on hold and is fully on the go schedule. Also, I wrote many months back requesting an article or feature [on a favorite subject]. Thanks! Keep up the good work!
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A.

Chris, at this time, with the problems the company is facing, it would be very hard to say anything is concrete right now. Especially when it comes to California Adventure. Both Tower of Terror and Bugs Town are penciled in, but until ground is broken and the checks are issued to the contractors I wouldn't hold my breath. They may go ahead with some smaller prep work in the meantime.

I've been hounding our staff about the article you mentioned - hopefully soon we'll have something for you. The big problem is lack of pictures - which is a driving force for anything we do online.

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Q.

"F" writes: Hey Al, I have a question about the Paradise Pier Hotel. I am a cast member with WDW and am traveling to Anaheim on the first week in December and got a great rate on that hotel, but I'm not too sure about staying there due to misleading transportation info. Other than the private entrance into DCA via Paradise Pier do they have any other transportation to the main entrances of both parks?

I have little ones and I'm afraid it will be too far of a walk, I originally was staying on the other side of Disneyland in a budget hotel for around the same price, but it seemed to be a better location due to it being across from main walkway between the two parks.

Any thoughts on this hotel? Can we get in early into DCA? We will probably still stay there just because it's Disney quality (I hope).
 

A.

There is no transportation between the Disney Hotels and the parks due to the design which funnels you through the Downtown Disney mall - so its a bit of a walk.

If you have a parkhopper, you can enter California Adventure from the Paradise Pier hotel which is just across the street, using it as a short cut to Disneyland if need be. But since that park has no early entry, and usually opens later / closes earlier than Disneyland it doesn't always come in handy. Considering you may have no early entry at all for either park come December - you may want to reconsider staying on the property.

I would call around the Harbor Blvd. hotels, they are just as close to the two park's gates. The Candy Cane Inn in particular rates very high with readers. Depending on your visit though, the Disney Hotels may be hurting enough to give cast members a big enough discount to overcome the distance problems. Keep checking rates, either off or on property you will probably save a few bucks by doing so.

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Q.

Claire writes: Thank you for all you do on MousePlanet. I visit everyday and enjoy all the updates (although most just frustrate me!). I will be at Disneyland Nov. 29 - Dec.3, which is exciting for me as I live in OR and only make it down every 1-2 years, but this year we're going twice. I'm really looking forward to the Believe holiday show and read a review from last year (?), and am wondering if you'll re-review the show, (with a hopefully improved score) before my trip. I would really appreciate it.

I'm also really excited because we usually visit Mon-Fri and miss some great things. We were there two weeks ago, and had to get up at 3 am on a Sunday to fly down, but darn it, we stuck it out all day so that I could see the Electrical Parade. It was the longest day of my life, but watching my three little girls (6, 3 and 10 months) bop to the music, take pictures, and squeal every few minutes was worth every second! And, oh, the overwhelming and powerful wave of nostalgia. Made me feel like crying!

Also, will you explain the snow thing a little too? If you watch the show from the ultimate spot near the hub, do you get the snow effects? I know that will be the most important to my little girl. She's officially the only six year in her school who has been to DL four times! An honor I am so proud of!!!

Thank you for all you do. You make me more excited to visit again and again. Disney owes you a lot. Since I discovered MousePlanet, etc, I've visited DL three times in two years. Being a DL fan my entire life, I always feel it's the mother ship calling me home...
 

A.

Thanks for the kind words Claire - I know the MousePlanet staff appreciates your letting them know how much you enjoy the site. I was especially pleased to read about your daughters enjoying the Electrical Parade, that was neat.

The Believe Holiday show remains the same as last year - I had thought they had changed the music a week into the run, but what they had done over the opening week was to tighten up the fireworks themselves to make for a better show.

If you want to position yourself for the snow - we recommend you aim for somewhere on Main Street - it just works better there each time we saw it last year.  If you'd like to read an article about how the snow is made, you may want to visit this Ask Doc Krock article - Kevin does a wonderful job explaining it.

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Q.

Allen writes: I am sure by now you have heard about Steve Jobs' announcement yesterday (or was it the day before?) that the "Star Wars 2" trailer will be linked to the front of Monsters, Inc. Any comments? Does this indicate some work between Disney and Lucas?
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A.

I was going to discuss this in my update, but I'll break the info now. From my friends in the "know" - if they were helming Disney, they would get the Mouse's act together - NOW.

Eisner seems to have totally forgotten that there is one other person out there who knows how to merchandise and sell just as well as he can, if not better. If Lucas can turn the Episode One sow's ear into a silk merchandising purse, could you imagine what he could do with the good movies Pixar makes?

Also the Hollywood Reporter article saying Disney was offended by THX working with Dreamworks on a Shrek THX trailer may have it wrong. It could well have been Pixar who needed to be pacified as a future alliance could be worked out, not Disney.

Pixar and Lucasfilm working together (yet again) could be the next big story it seems. Neither consulting with either Fox (Lucas) or Disney (Pixar) (today's Variety confirms this) seems to indicate something is up. Using Monsters, Inc. as a promotional vehicle gives some interesting irony to the situation too doesn't it.

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Q.

Kelvin writes: G'day Al, my son and his mate are visiting Disneyland Anaheim in late Nov. / early Dec. this year and I wondered if you could help with a few queries. Is the park operating normally giving these trying times we live in? What are the crowds like at this time of year? What is the normal weather at this time of year? Many thanks and keep up the good work.
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A.

Everything should be operating normally at Disneyland, but continue to expect further cutbacks in hours and events at California Adventure unless the holiday lagoon show turns things around.

Crowds will be busiest on Saturdays, a bit lighter on Sundays, with the lightest numbers mid week. Weather should be pleasant - we've had a cooler than normal season so expect pleasant days and chilly evenings. Hope this helps.

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Q.

Tod writes: Saw this on the Disneyland site on the Multi-Day Park Hopper page:

Tickets expire 13 days after first use or January 6, 2002, whichever comes first.

I think I know when the next price jump will be...
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A.

Smart guy that Tod.  :)

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Q.

Steve writes: Hi Al, I am a recent reader of your column. It is good that someone tries to keep Disney on their toes. Disneyland is very important to me, I'm 50 and have been going there since the year it opened. It was my first amusement park.

My question is, I hope, an easy one. On Space Mountain, the addition of music did so much to improve the ride. I had been told by a friend that you could tell if you would have that enhancement by the red light on the back of the first car in each train. On = music, off = none. This has always seemed to be the case when I'd ride, usually multiple times per visit.

But as I was being loaded last week I commented on this to a Cast Member as I hadn't had music all day. I was told that the light meant nothing and had nothing to do with the soundtrack. Was I lied to by a Cast Member?.
 

A.

Thanks for the kind words. I don't know if you were lied to - but you didn't get the correct answer. ;)  The light on indicates the onboard music is working.

The music on the cars continues to be problematic - reason being they tried to cut the budget on its installation and are now paying the price for the constant upkeep it needs.

Someone wrote me not too long ago that FedEx actually got involved - since they were sick of the ride looking so shabby (they don't keep up the hallways anymore) and the music was always down. I couldn't confirm this though. I think its a shame you and I and FedEx consider the park more important than the Disney company does it seems.

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Q.

Michael writes: Hiya Al - This is the first time I've written, though I've enjoyed your various sites daily for a few years now. Been to Disneyland well over a hundred times in my 38 years, was also at the opening of EuroDisney (+4 visits since), DCA previews (+2 days since) and WDW in it's first year(+6 trips more recently), so I know my Disney parks. Gotta add my voice to those first hand accounts who can swear that Tokyo DisneySea is AWESOME!

I returned from the trip a couple weeks ago, and am still filled with fabulous images from this amazing place. The quality and imagination of each structure is absolutely first rate. Every 'Port' is a completely immersive experience. Several Disney characters are perfectly housed and embedded into this park. This is where Disney should be in terms of park design (well, lacking Walt). Yes, there are a couple of 'flow' issues, but nothing compared to the permanent problems inherent to EPCOT's design; and 'Sea's are few and easily fixable (should they still need it down the road when crowds normalize).

Besides the drop-jaw quality of everything in sight, the most exciting thing is that this (and in JAPAN after all) is totally original new DISNEY theme park! Not a copy, not a cop-out, not another concept done by everyone else and finally disney-fied, but a completely new idea, done SPECTACULARLY well, and in Disney style!

The only thing which was a repeat from anywhere is the Indiana Jones ride, here called Temple of the Crystal Skull and themed to Meso-America, rather than SouthEast-Asia. This attraction also then serves as good example of how to explain the quality level at Tokyo DisneySea park. While the ride's track layout and basic excursion is the same as the impressive original in Anaheim - from the queue forward, this Indy' is actually far MORE elaborate in it's look and detailing; take for instance that first area the cars drive into, after making a sharp right turn out of the loading station - the approach to a door with treasures behind it, which then opens up and allows us to quickly proceed up a ramped hallway showing these treasures, while the forbidden deity looms over the end of the long hall.

In Disneyland these "treasures" along this hallway are Painted onto a Scrim which is then lit to reveal various treasure possibilities....in DisneySea these "treasures" are seen as several large groups of fully formed statues, holding real urns and boxes of gleaming "treasure" effects. The dimensional reality of the scene adds quite a lot to say the least. But also consider the new Blue flame Vortex in the main cave space, or compare the creepily clear image of bugs crawling everywhere in a tight corridor with the vaguely buggy smugges on California's walls; then there is the addition of the Flaming Face, who roars at you, leaving a perfect and gigantic smoke-ring, for the car to steer through! It's just a far richer ride experience, inside and out.

Everything else if off the charts to even try and compare! Mysterious Island! Wow, to think this was land fill, not a real volcano, plus the two amazing rides inside. Perfect Disney creations; thrilling without trying to kill anyone, totally imaginative spaces to discover and explore, definitely next-generation dark attractions, not roller coasters though. Mermaid Lagoon is simply awesome in it's overwhelmingly imaginative ability to take you under-the-sea, to a perfect recreation from many scenes from Ariel's movie. Arabian Coast, also stunning in detail and design, all new things to see here too. It goes on and on like this, but the live entertainment can not be overlooked either, because it is everywhere and of such high quality (yes, that word again), that even a person like me, who isn't into show too much, had to stop and see them all, as they were all GREAT productions... from the various 'ports' costumed characters, to street performers and the several live staged shows, but most especially the two water pageants (one for Day and another for Night)!!! Huge casts, good songs (for a change), and over the top production values, amazing.

Oh, here is another good comparison: the venue at California Adventure for live shows is a painted warehouse with painted scrims again serving as art work, while concealing light towers. At DisneySea the live stage show theater is exactly that, a full scale Broadway theater: marble lobby, carved furnishings, heavy draperies, etc. Nothing in New
York is nicer. Sound and lighting are integrated into the design, not added to it. The show was also of Broadway caliber.

Don't get me started on the fantastic shopping experiences: the many lovely stores, the great stuff to get, the sweet staff people who wrap everything up just so, no matter how crowded it gets, and man, does is it ever! Who would guess there is a recession in Japan, not the thousands packed into these shops! The hotels were just as wonderful and full. I LOVED everything about The Ambassador Hotel at Tokyo Disney Resort. Art Deco is a personal favorite of styles, but it's then done so very well and with Disney woven into it everywhere. It was grand, glam, and easy. Close enough to walk to DisneySea, but I waited for the worlds cutest bus every time and saved the paces.

Oh yeah, there is also a Disneyland next door! What great fun to explore a different version of my old favorite place! Pooh's ride was great, a white Tomorrowland was wonderful to see again, and I certainly did not realize Tokyo had a little New Orleans Square! They have a double hub area with extra Castle sections in it, very wide walkways throughout, and the enclosed Main Street area. A new monorail called the "Resort Line" connects the two theme parks and hotels, to the train stations and parking areas. A true resort then, and whole new world unto itself.

This "world" is most beautifully represented at the entry to DisneySea, which can be seen from the passing Resort Line, by the "Aquasphere"; the huge globe slowly revolves, and is cascading with water; it's set atop a column of water, in the center of a pond, which randomly splashes all around it. Surrounded by the artistry and technological accomplishments of mankind, it's simple shape and gentle motion helps recall our unique place on a special planet. It is accompanied with a 'magical' music...neither sappy, or silly, it is an emotional music, and makes for an emotional space. I enjoy my memories of the place more every day.

To put it succinctly, DCA is hardly worthy of the two hour drive to use my paid-for-pass; while I'll gladly again fly the 16 hours to Tokyo Disney Resort, where they don't even take Disney Club card. It was well worth it, and will be again.

Happy to share more insights about DisneySea and Tokyo Disney Resort.
 

A.

If you only knew Michael just how much email I now get DAILY about this park. I enjoy reading all the notes, and if you want to write more about the park - please send it on. (For those that want to see the park in detail, we suggest you visit our acclaimed Tokyo DisneySea photo tour.) It's a park that even Eisner admits is exceeding expectations for both the Oriental Land and Disney companies.

You know, I'm kind of surprised at how the media seems to have not noticed what a total and complete failure California Adventure is - not only with the visitors - but in the numbers (both attendance / fiscally) it was supposed to pull in for the Disneyland Resort.

Pressler and Eisner basically spent billions to split the attendance between the two parks - and double their overhead while they were at it. That's a big mistake if ever there was one.  And the attacks didn't make the problems worse either - the trends were in place from opening day.


The following ten questions were posted on 10/24/01 and again thank you all for your terrific feedback and the many queries you've submitted.

Q.

Anv writes: Hi Al, I sure wasn't surprised to hear that the Disney stores are in trouble. Considering that there is absolutely nothing to buy there anymore!

We used to delight in spending so much money there, and it was always the first place I would head for in the Mall. I own Eight watches all purchased at our local Disney Store, not to mention all the great clothes I used to be able to get for myself and every family member. Since our youngest is eight years old now, there is no reason to even go in.

Who is making these Marketing decisions anyway? I now spend my money on Ebay, getting things from the past, Because I can't let go of my love for The real Disney Product. I am presently taking travel Marketing classes, and the first thing I plan on doing with my new status as a travel consultant, is book a trip to Tokyo Disneyland!

Meanwhile, I will go on with my trip to DL Anaheim in August, But without early entry, it won't be the same.

Bob also writes: Hello, Al!! Just read your last column and there was a brief mention of the Disney Stores not doing well. I'm wondering what they are planning to do?

And I'm also not surprised, since they have been largely turned into children's stores (which is nice for those with kids, but we don't have any). The adult line is practically gone, except for sleepwear, and what they do come out with isn't very good. I used to buy a lot of clothing there, before they changed the stores.

I wrote them about this a while back and got a lame response (as in "we're sorry, we're taking a new direction," etc.) Do you have any more information on what is going on at the Disney stores? I'm really hoping for a change for the better. Thanks!
-

A.

Thanks to both of you for the kind words. To hear it from the guys at the top, the Disney Stores are suffering from a lot lately - mostly it seems it is the lack of hit movies from the parent company, slow retail due to the attacks, and a general economic downturn.

But they seem to be missing what used to drive people in all the time, quality merchandise with a broad appeal and a unique shopping experience. The new stores look like Targets, and the selection of stuff is aimed squarely at the kiddies. They seem to have forgotten the one thing that keeps the parks afloat - that usually the customer mix is four adults to one child.

Disney's broad based success in the past has been their appeal not only to children, but the child in the adult. The key to it all is that the kids are dependent on the parents to open their wallets. Impress the parents, as well as the kids, and the money flows in.  Heck, many parents are just happy to be a kid again.

There are always rumors they want to sell the chain off (it is a huge drag on earnings) and they have already taken a big step in this direction and handed off the Japanese stores to Oriental Land.

In my humble opinion they need to dump the current management and focus back on what the stores used to do so well before the current suits took over. Paul Pressler left that division at its peak to wreak havoc at the parks, and it has never quite recovered from his departure. Perhaps he should return to what he does best.

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Q.

Eric writes Hi Al , I have been a long time reader of your web site from the DIG days.

My wife and I are AP holders and we enjoy dinning at the many fine establishments at the Disneyland resort at least once a month. This weekend we took a couple of friends of ours to dine with us at Y Arriba, for the first time.

Let me just say the customer service was awful, at 7 pm we were seated, shortly after we were served our first round of cocktails and placed our food order. An hour and a half later my wife had to find a manager and inquire about our food order.

The funny thing is that every table that was being seated around us had been experiencing the exact same kind of service. There was one table next to us that had several different couples seated and then leave after no one came over to serve them. Since this seemed to be happening with every table that was in sight of us, I was wondering if this is a common problem at Y Arriba.

We finally got our food two hours after being seated, and I don't think that I could drag our friends back to Downtown Disney.
 

A.

Eric, I get many complaints about the service at Y Arriba - unlike some of the Downtown Disney restaurants which ebb and flow (only the Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen seems to be almost totally immune to any problems) Y Arriba continues to be problematic.

The best thing you can do is to only patronize the establishments that take proper care of you. Judging from the feedback I have so far, and from what I hear from some of the other managers in the complex, you should have a new dining option in that location in the not too distant future.

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Q.

Brian writes: Dear Al, I was sad to see the Rocket Rods go, but I have not given up hope that they will be returning.

I have E-Mailed the Disney corp. countless times, asking questions about the Rocket Rods and if they would be returning. I got replies like, "They will not be returning in their current form." Which I took as a subtle hint that they would return, repaired to the point where they wouldn't break down so much. I also took the fact that they plopped a Rod in the Hollywood Pictures Backlot area of Disney's California Adventure instead of dismantling it the way that the others were rumored to be.

This rumor I strongly disbelieve, mainly due to the fact that I have seen the Rocket Rods, from the train, sitting in their bay, being welded by Disneyland mechanics. Usually when one is dismantling a ride, they are not welding parts on the ride vehicles. Perhaps some one could explain to me how this would help dismantle a ride.
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A.

Brian, trust me on this one, they are history. What you may be seeing up there in the shed is the cannibalization of the remaining units for parts.

Sadly, the makeover of Tomorrowland that Pressler presided is pretty much considered a total failure by most people in the company. The Rods, as well as Innoventions and the Honey I Shrunk film were supposed to keep bringing in new folks for many years. As you well know, the Rods are now gone, and both Innoventions and Honey I Shrunk are suffering from declining attendance. The only attraction to hold its ground has been the rehabbed Autopia - which continues to be popular with visitors of all ages.

The "Tomorrowland Problem" (Cynthia Harriss's words) is being looked at. The solutions all cost money, lots of it by most accounts, and we all know how the company feels about spending it under current management.

I sure hope Marty Sklar gets what he wants for Disneyland's 50th, it would go a long way to undoing the damage the park has suffered under Mr. Pressler.

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Q.

Coy writes: Al, Great site!! You and all the other MousePlanet people are great. Wonderful, "on the mark" reviews, and great inside information.

I was at Disneyland on 10/21 and took some pics. I'm not sure how interested you might be in these from inside the Haunted Mansion.

The Mansion rehab is great. I hope the locals come in droves to see it. The "bean counters" need to see that when you open the wallet and make an attraction worth seeing, the money spent is worth it.
 

A.

Your photos were neat Coy, and I'm sharing them with the readers here so everyone can see them.

The Mansion makeover has been a huge hit - people have been so happy with it they have been going to file compliments for it at City Hall in record numbers from what I was told. An attraction that used to rarely have a line, now is packed all day long.

There has been a lot of good that has come from this redo, and hopefully it is illustrating to the suits up above that if they present something with quality, customers will respond.

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Q.

Elaine writes: By the stroke of luck, I will be able to visit Disneyland in January, 2002. I am coming from Virginia to visit my folks in Tucson, AZ, and my dad suggested we take their motor home and come for a few days.

We plan on visiting January 2nd & 3rd. How are the crowds usually on those days, and what attractions will be closed? My dad is currently undergoing Chemo treatments, so is it easy to get around, if I rent a wheelchair? I am only interested in visiting Disneyland, not the new park, so what ticket deals would be best? I am a member of the Magic Kingdom Club. Thank- you for your information!
 

A.

Elaine, you picked a great time to visit, crowds should be winding down those two days, and most of the holiday stuff will still be up for that week. As far as rehabs - keep checking this page or my updates - they keep changing their minds constantly. Rumor at this time has that ToonTown may be shutting down for a month for a complete paint job. (Keeping my fingers crossed on that one.)

As far as disabled access - please stop by our TAG section (Theme Park Access Guide) written by Tony and Adrienne Phoenix. You will find all sorts of illustrated info on how best to board and deal with all the Disneyland attractions.

As far as ticket deals - your visiting right after the first may mean that some discounts may be put into effect by then, again come back to the update page on the DIG to see what is on the way. These "after peak season" discounts are usually much better than the Magic Kingdom / Disney Club offerings we've come to find.

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Q.

Calvin writes: Al and Brian, I read, with interest, Brian's [recent] "Notes for the World" column and was curious to find some mention of WDW's Early Entry (Surprise Mornings) policy. You both are probably well aware of this, though I have not seen mention on your site as yet, that EE was discontinued as of October 20th. This announcement was not relayed to CRO or any of the CM's until 5 PM on the night of the 19th. Nice, eh?

Also, it seem that theme park hours have been trimmed back rather dramatically as well. AK will now open at 9 AM, Epcot: Future World will open at 10 AM (and close as 7 PM, with Test Track and the Coral Reef remaining open). Epcot: World Showcase will now open at noon. I'm unsure if there have been changes at MK or Disney Studios, but would be unsurprised if there were.

Also, many show schedules (and this you HAVE mentioned) have been trimmed, and some attractions (such as The Carousel of Progress and the Living Seas Ride portion) have shuttered as well. I think this MASSIVE cost cutting, and complete changing of the WDW resort area merits some coverage on your site... I look forward to reading what you folks have to say on the subject..

Kenncr writes: Al, I just really feel the need to shout and you seem the best person to start with...

I am going to spend twelve days at WDW starting on the Monday after Thanksgiving... There is an upside and a downside to all of this based on the fact that my next door neighbors are coming down for seven days during the time I am going to be there...

The upside is the fact that they have never been there but the downside to me seems to be they aren't going to get the full Disney experience due to current news there.... I made the decision to say nothing to them about the current news we are learning about the efforts to save a nickel wherever one can be found and I hope they won't notice...

What is it going to take to make this entire problem with the parks right? I know that the events of the last several weeks have played into what is going on in relation to the cuts in park hours, etc... But prior to the current problems there were already signs of no one caring about anything these days in regards to the two resorts here in the states... What is it really going to take to turn all of this around or are we at a point and time where Walt's concept and vision might truly die? I have often wondered how big could Disney World get and was there such a thing as being too big for its own good... I am beginning to think that what was built in Florida might become a ghost town...

I have so many questions right now as to what I might expect from our planned trip... We are paying top dollar for rooms (discounted but still high end rooms) and I am wondering now what other things will be cancelled prior to our holiday visit... The current cuts are one thing but how are they going to handle the entire holiday period if the crowds are still low? I really don't know what to make of all this in regards to I was expecting this trip to great and being able to share with another family even more wonderful... Now I am beginning to think I have made a major mistake, not only for myself, but in trying to get the neighbors to go down also...

I guess what I want to say with this note is this, Al, where is this going to end? I can't imagine things can keep going as is for too long without someone stepping forward and admitting there is something going on that is very wrong with the two resorts here in the US... Am I just playing dumb or will this issue get seriously addressed in the near future?

Mr. Pressler hasn't shown the public very much that is positive in regards to the parks here in the US since he has been in control... What else is it going to take for Mr. Eisner to understand he has fully lost touch with the public that loves the Disney brand name?.

Christopher writes: I'm sure you've heard the news about the Carousel of Progress. FYI: I've put up a petition HERE and have registered www.savecop.com and am putting a page up now. I have been a longtime daily reader of MousePlanet and think its the best Disney site on the net.
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A.

Let's answer each writer one at a time here...

Calvin: Thanks to your kind note, and so many others, Brian was able to assemble a page here on MousePlanet detailing all the cutbacks (many of which Disney quite glibly glossed over in their own literature). It took us a bit to do it, so we could properly gather all the info, which still seems to be changing from day to day.

How do I feel about some of the cutbacks they are making? Well, it's pretty obvious none of the people involved have a clue as to why their customers book their trips. To cut out almost all the perks that are the reason to pay premium prices for Disney's on site accommodations (even with some of the discounts they are offering) - that seems awfully dumb to me. With the added inconvenience of reduced resort transportation schedules - there really seems to be no reason to stay on property now is there? Especially when rates are so low just on the other side of the road. A truly competitive company would have increased or sweetened perks to try and make sure they kept rooms filled with people staying on site.

Take a look instead at Disneyland's / America West recent press announcement, where people booking trips are offered incentives such as free kid's park hoppers, extra days on adult park hoppers, and a bonus free day with a booked minimum at the Disney hotels. This is one program where the customer feels like he is being wooed, and not slapped in the face like in Orlando right now. (Although we too out here are losing the Magic Mornings.)  In my humble opinion the company needs more of these kind of value added promotions, and not just another round of customer angering cutbacks.

Kenncr: Thanks for writing us here - I think one of the best things you can do is express your concerns publicly, so others can also see what the problems are with the Disney company at this time.

My advice? I think you can save yourself a lot of concern and money if you switched your accommodations to off property. If enough people do this, it would send a very clear message to the suits in charge that current changes are simply not acceptable to their customers. Be sure when you call in your cancellation (after you have already booked your rooms somewhere else) to let the reservations people know the specific reason why you did this - and request that they put that into your booking file and write a note to their supervisors detailing this.

I think, what with the money you will save, (even with a cancellation fee) you should be able to book a rental car (so you won't need resort transportation and have free run of the resort) and also get some very good quality rooms with an off site hotel that is actively seeking your business. You may even be surprised at what they may throw in to get your business, don't be shy in letting the reservation clerks know you are unhappy with Disney, and are shopping for a good value and are interested in any bonuses, promotions or packages they may have, such as free nights for a certain minimum booked stay, free tickets to local attractions, etc.

With Mr. Pressler's focus solely on his numbers, as opposed to his customers, I couldn't think of a better way to send a message to him and his superiors, make your neighbors happy you've saved them some money, and enjoy a vacation with a larger spending budget (due to the money you didn't sink into an on property room).

You're the customer. You can send them the message. :)

Chris: Thank you for the kind words. I think your site is a great idea - I suggest readers that are interested in making sure this attraction doesn't get shuttered permanently stop by and give you their John Hancock. :)

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Q.

Christine writes: Hi. Hope I'm sending this to the correct person. I have a trip planned to Disneyland / California Adventure for August 2002.

I was wondering if you have any information regarding weight restrictions on any of the attractions. There is a WDW site that has a section listing what the seating type is, if there is a weight restriction and how a "larger" person would fare on each attraction. Being a "larger" person myself, it would be very helpful to have this information about the California attractions before my arrival.
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A.

There is only one attraction at California Adventure you can't ride if you weigh more than 200 lbs - the chain bucket "Orange Stinger." But this is typical for this type of ride at other parks too.

Everything else at both parks in the resort should be no problem - about the only really tight loading situation I've experienced (I'm big too) is the AstroOrbitor at the entry to Tomorrowland - the opening is a bit narrow if you are a bit wide.

By the way, Matterhorn and Splash Mountain have inline seating - of which the Matterhorn's is smaller - but you can request you sit alone to give yourself more room, the cast members are very accommodating.

Disney usually is very good about building attractions that can fit large folks.  After a recent visit to Magic Mountain I can attest to that - although I pretty much got onto what I wanted, it was a pretty tight squeeze for the most part on the vast majority of their rides.

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Q.

Paul writes: I just got back from Walt Disney World and thought you might be amused to hear about the little California Adventure promotion on the resort TV channel. You know those ad campaigns for movies that feature favorable quotes from people you never heard of and publications you never knew existed. Well, that's the ad for DCA that plays on the Resort TV channel about other Disney vacation destinations. Also Paradise Pier is barely shown at all.

When they promote the Japanese Disney destination there is no mention or any picture of DisneySea, only of Tokyo Disneyland and it's website...

Just thought it was interesting in light of your recent observations.

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A.

It's very interesting Paul, my guess here is that they used the recent testimonial ad they ran here locally (quoting a Boston paper primarily). It didn't do much for attendance by the way - numbers continue to decline.

The lack of Tokyo on the channel may be related to actual business matters - like many companies each arm (or in this case the Oriental Land Co.) may have to actually "pay" for their air time on the resort TV system. My guess is that Tokyo didn't feel the need to have to sell their parks to Orlando visitors. As I understand it they can barely accommodate their own current crowds.

See what happens when you open parks people really want to go to?  ;)

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Q.

Andre writes: Hello this is the first time I'm writing you, but I read your site daily, I would like to ask you one question, is their going to be another Disneyland in Budapest, Hungary? My cousin who lives out their is telling me that on a radio station in Budapest called Roxy radio is reporting that Disney will be opening a new park there.

I told her it's not true but she is insisting that what they are saying, she tells me that Disney will open a Disneyland park in Budapest. Would you be able to help me in any way, I believe her when she tells me she heard it but I just can't see it. Maybe you guys can post it up and ask if any one else have heard of this.
 

A.

Andre, all I know about right now is that Disney most likely will open a second park in China - after Hong Kong is completed. With the current situation after the attacks, and the apparent targeting of the entertainment industry here, at this time I don't really see Disney (or any other entertainment companies for that matter) expanding into other parts of the world, in particular Europe or Asia.

Current management at Disney does seem very interested in building more parks - they can be cash cows IF they don't cheap out on them - but I would think there would be other areas, such as South America, that they would look into first.

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Q.

SciFiFan writes: I Found your lack of faith in the film (Star Wars: Episode One - DVD review) disturbing. (Just joking.) Your point of view is common among people I know whom are not into sci-fi or just have a casual knowledge. I always have an interest in what people have to say from outside my personal star wars bubble.

I would like to read more of how you feel about the rest of this genre for example: games, books, and collecting. I would also like to know if you feel if Star Wars should continue to be a part of the Disney parks?

Currently as a die hard fan of Star Wars most people don't realize that any star wars film on DVD is just to hold over fans until the release of all six star wars films in a boxed set in 2006. Whatever content or quality contained in this DVD will not impede any future purchases.

As currently rumored on theforce.net even the special edition trilogy will be tweaked and doctored and have extra scenes added in 2006, possibly even delayed until 2007 for the first films' 30th anniversary. I would like there to be a 25th anniversary DVD this may 2002 of 'A New Hope'.

Most critics see this film (Phantom Menace) as just a special effects movie and it is. but one point of view I have is that this film shows the film industry what LucasFilm can offer if the studios can afford his price.

Lucas: Excellent director? No. Excellent Businessman? Maybe. King of this franchise? Yes! Yes! Yes!
 

A.

I think some folks forget just how old I am SciFiFan - let's just say I was in line for the original many weekends when I was fresh out of high school in San Diego.  ;)

I have a fond memory of the original films - only the very obvious insertion of what seemed to be toys (in Jabba's hangout at the beginning of the third film) dismayed me - overall I really got a kick of how imaginative the original trilogy was. I felt exhilarated, especially after that first film, each time I left the theater. Lucas really did something new and yet old at the same time - movies for me at least became exciting again.

Unfortunately, for me the latest movie was like visiting a very fondly remembered friend, and finding him in deep trouble. It discourages one to plan a return visit to say the least. I suspect many people who really enjoyed the original trilogy felt as I did - the feedback I got from the review seems to indicate this.

In a nutshell here, I think Lucas owed all the fans a bit more than what he delivered as far as the epic myth of the story. There was a reason I've purchased so many versions of the original trilogy as it came out on video - continually upgrading to have the best possible copies. It wasn't like that for me with the new one, I just waited for it to come out on DVD.

Do I believe that Star Wars should continue to be a part of the Disney parks? Yes, I do. But someone better talk to Michael Eisner about this - as with Pixar recently, he seems to be taking a very hard line against some of Lucas's requests - damn the ramifications. Until that impasse is resolved, you won't see a new ride film in Star Tours.

And frankly, why does it even have to be a ride film come to think of it? Look at what they did for Indy. It boggles the mind what could be done if Star Wars was revisited from the ground on up by Imagineering with the current state of the art in technology.


The following ten questions were posted on 10/16/01 and again thank you all for your terrific feedback and the many queries you've submitted.

Q.

Stew writes: Al, Sounds like the DCA Death Spiral has started, full force! In an interesting side note -- our local Credit Union has just issued a new discount sheet. I took especially interesting note of the first few lines:

Regular Price / Credit Union Price

California Adventure (1 day pass -- child) $43* / $21
California Adventure (1 day pass -- adult) $43 / $27

Disneyland (1 day pass -- child) $43* / $29
Disneyland (1 day pass -- adult) $43 / $31

3 day hoppers (Child) $87 / $81
3 day hoppers (Adult) $111 / $103

4 day hoppers (Child) $107 / $100
4 day hoppers (Adult) $137 / $127

*These are the listed prices -- although I know they are not correct

I find it very interesting that:

a. There are separate 1 - day prices / discounts for DL / DCA

b. These are being extended outside of So Cal

It can ACTUALLY be cheaper to buy 3 (or 4) ONE Day Passes, than it is to buy Hoppers (even though you cannot HOP with the one day passes, and you are "stuck" in the park it was purchased for (depending on the Combination and the age of the guest).

As a side note -- I was talking to my little boy the other day about returning to DL after Christmas. I reminded him that our AP's were for DL only, and he looked at me, obviously getting upset over that. I asked him what was wrong, and he said he wanted to back into "California Adventure". I asked him why, and he said he wanted to ride "Superstars" again (we actually liked the ride -- I know -- flame material -- but it was the ONE thing we could all do and enjoy together as a family. So -- we might need to augment our DL Only AP's with a few of these one day DCA Passes...
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A.

Thanks for the update Stew - I'm sure Disney has always known, since day one of DCA as it came to be, that it was a half park at full price. Your credit union discount ticket package now seems to confirm that. I still think if they offered a $20 add on to the Disneyland one day admission they would solve many of their problems, but that would be too obvious, would it.  ;)

As far as Superstar Limo, everything has its fans I guess. Even Light Magic devotees still write me about how great that show was. What I find somewhat interesting is that if I do question them about it many then admit they never did actually see the show, they were saying how good it was because of the music from the Disneyland official album.

I had that almost identical thing happen with Peter Allen's Broadway show - "Legs Diamond" when I worked at RCA Victor. It was a truly awful show, with a really melodic cast album. Allen's music was delightful, but they hung a show around it that could scare people off musicals forever. Poor guy, he was acting like he was DeNiro in a serious gangster role, when all the audience wanted him to do is ride in on a camel and throw Bruce Vilanche one liners out at them.

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Q.

Dan writes Especially good update today, Al. (Even motivated me to send a few bucks in via Amazon... keep up the good work.)

Something that especially intrigued me involved the elimination of the Magic Mornings. As our family has traveled to both the Florida and California parks over the years, that feature has been our very favorite perk. It has been a real plus and based on the comments of the many people who go in with us on those mornings, a real crowd pleaser. At a time when they have finally started to realize that they are in a "real mess," it seems peculiar to start cutting back on the very things that have drawn people to the parks - and the hotels!

Just seems that they are being extremely short sighted. Clearly, it is financially responsible to make cuts where needed in these hard times, but not to the point where people will begin to wonder - as we have - if it makes any sense to spend the money to go to either of the resorts next year.
 

A.

Thank you for sending in that contribution Dan - every little bit helps. So far readers have been pretty good - all we ask is that you contribute as you would to buy a magazine every once in a while or a newspaper. Keeping smaller contributions coming in on a regular basis can help us avoid having to charge for access to the site, which I think is what most readers want.

I agree with you on the Magic Morning issue (which another writer also has concerns about below).

The problem with the parks nowadays basically lies with the guy in charge and works its way down. Paul Pressler is an executive with no real interest in the resorts or how they are run. He tends to throw shallow ideas out when even the most cursory research would give him a better answer. He's not an awful man, just one that doesn't really care about his gig, isn't much inclined to learn (since he feels he is on his way on up the ladder) nor is he particularly imaginative enough. In other words, the perfect executive in today's business culture.

If you or I ran Disneyland, I'd bet we'd be crawling around inside the rides, sitting around back corners listening to customers, and spending time out and about the park watching people interact with it.  We'd both probably be trying very hard to try and make it an even better experience and value for our customers. You know, like Walt Disney himself used to do.

Pressler simply can't be bothered with that kind of stuff. Someday I'll be able to tell you a story about him that would be funny, if it weren't just so pitiful.  He truly is out of his element with what is essentially the world's greatest building block set.  The guy just has no vision.

The sad thing is he got DCA the way he wanted it, and now everyone has to pay the price for its failure.

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Q.

Jeffery writes: Thanks for all your columns - they are truly the most informative of ANY Disney website. A couple of questions for the person who is "always in the know!"

1. Even though you mentioned it briefly before, is "America the Beautiful" coming back? How about putting on the "Lady America" show from the 70's in the Hyperion Theatre. It was Disney's best show (non character) that they ever did and it would get a great response in these times.

2. You also briefly mentioned the redesigning of the parking structure. (I am the one who wrote you previously about the car counts I used to do in the 70's). I still don't understand why they are making you do a complete circle now... What is the reason?

3. I tried to eat at the Golden Vine winery last night; it was booked. I see the menu is still the same . . . do they plan to keep it?

4. Haunted Mansion was great! Wouldn't it be nice if they actually got around to making "E" ticket rides again?
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A.

Thank you for your kind e-mails Jeffery - it's always a pleasure answering them here in the column. Let's see what I can do here today:

1] There is NO reason they cannot bring back the America the Beautiful movie - the theater itself is intact and currently either being used for security meetings or storage. The rumors are it is coming back, but so far there has been no movement at any level to get it back up and running.

I never saw the "Lady America" show - but yours is one of several recent notes mentioning it. Everyone like you pretty much feels now is the time for an encore performance. I wonder just how much of it is still in storage somewhere?

2] We are guessing they make you go around now in the structure to avoid two things:

a] The optimal loading the old way would be to make you drive all the way down to the end of the row at the back of the building - which people just do not want to do once they know how far a walk it is to the escalator. Reversing this solves that problem.

b] This also solves the problem of people trying to park in closer spaces when people from the farther spaces are still walking towards the escalator.

3. The Winery dining room up above is probably history, the deli will remain for now. (This is Disneyland, so that is ALWAYS subject to change.) The latest scuttlebutt is that Mondavi is only staying until they find another partner, or for six months to a year, whichever comes first.

4] Everyone would love more E-tickets. But Paul Pressler and Barry Braverman think movie based attractions are an equal experience. The days of something like Indy ever happening again are pretty much over here in the United States. At least until those two (and the head guy) move on.

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Q.

"PB" writes: I was reading your recent update and was confused by a certain part.

You mentioned that hiring for salary and hourly cast members was frozen immediately.... was that just at DCA? I currently work at Disneyland but I was going to [try] for [another position later] this month and I have been so excited.

Do you have any insight into this? Do you think that [my opportunity] will get canceled?
 

A.

I had to to a little editing on your note so as to not give you away. :)  I got some further information a bit too late for yesterday's update, but it may be of help to you now, so I'll include it here:

- Most salary raises have been canceled for fiscal year 2002. Traditionally, managers and salaried Cast Members were given cost of living and merit raises every January. Those have been canceled, and all salaries for lower and middle management will now remain at the same January, 2001 level until January, 2003.

- Disneyland Resort has no current plans to lay off any salaried Cast Members. Some Foods and Merchandise managers at DCA may be moved to other departments and new Resort businesses, since demand for those services at DCA is now planned to be far less than originally thought a year ago. But layoffs are not part of the current cutback plans.

As I understand it, Cynthia Harriss is hosting a manager meeting and information session in the Hyperion Theater on Wednesday for all Resort managers and salaried CM's. At that time your superiors may obtain information that they can pass on to you. Not knowing Disneyland hiring policies, I would hate to venture any guesses as to what may happen with your particular situation.

It's interesting to me by the way that now that the Steps In Time show is gone, the Hyperion is a perfect place for big resort- wide meetings and gatherings. Somehow I don't think that's quite what the designers had in mind for it however.

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Q.

"J" writes: I don't know what you were expecting on your drive-by, but Disney Studio Lot security has been much tighter there in the past month. MUCH tighter. Previously to get onto the lot all you needed was a parking sticker on your car. Sometimes you could talk your way out of that, even. After the terrorist attacks everyone needs to show IDs, front and back. Everyone in the car. Now, at the end of last week they started physically taking IDs and confirming the identity. "Hello, J. How are you today?" And the like.

No, trunks haven't been searched like Warner's, or have the undercarriage mirrors like Universal been done. But security is heightened. Please don't lead your readers to believe that you could wander onto the Disney lot like you could have two months ago

"M" writes: Al, Noticed your comments on studio security, just wanted to pass things along: At Universal, they have erected a black iron gate (with spikes on top) with concrete barriers (were being painted black today) around the whole front area. [If you visit someone they have to] call in a pass, go to the main gate, show ID, tell where you parked, etc., before you go in.

At Disney, they have some half ton trucks parked around certain gates. One on Alameda is parked in front of a gate that goes behind the Frank Wells Bldg. They had two stakebed trucks parked behind the lot where there is a gate. All this is being done to look "Normal" but remain safe.

At Paramount, they even check your trunk as you drive into the Lemon Grove parking structure. This is where most of the crew members park, as well as extras. If you cross the street and go in the gate, they shake you down and [make you] open things up.

From what I hear, it is a lot better now than in the first two weeks. For example, many makeup people were literally treated like terrorists because of all the stuff they carry. They were questioning the powder they had, why did they have a Swiss army knife, etc. A few of the guards at Paramount have warned visitors "Get use to it. This is gonna be the M.O. for the next few months... at least!"
 

A.

Thanks for the updates folks - I was amazed at Universal's precautions, but they have the double whammy of being a theme park sitting inside a working studio.

I know Disneyland has bomb dogs - the Pluto unit is what they are supposed to be called - but I never have seen them out in public like I did at Uni.

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Q.

John writes: After Disney Seas opening I haven't heard much about the park. How is attendance doing?
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A.

Rain or shine it's been packed. Oriental Land has been smiling all the way to the bank.

And I am wondering (what with all the terrific reviews I get via e-mail from recent visitors) if the scuttlebutt that "the park is poorly designed traffic-wise and people are complaining left and right about the layout" may just be a bunch of disgruntled DCA designers trying to talk it down. 

I guess, come to think of it, that they don't have any traffic problems at DCA do they? ;)

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Q.

Blu writes: Yesterday I was told by a CM in the music store on Main Street that there will not be a Nightmare Haunted Mansion soundtrack made available due to litigation. Do you have any juicy news on that?
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A.

We covered that in last week's update Blu - but here's the short version. Composer Danny Elfman apparently was disappointed that none of his movie music was used in the attraction. (The tune in the graveyard everyone is thinking is his is just a soundalike.) The word is that this had Disneyland scrapping the CD they had already manufactured.

Next year we'll know the rest of the story. My guess here is they may go ahead and work in "Making Christmas" (a tune from the movie) into the soundtrack they already have in the Mansion. That would most likely make Elfman very happy. And would mean a CD could be sold next year.

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Q.

The Downing Family writes: Hi Al, I was just wondering what your opinion is on all of the cutbacks. Won't cutting back on hours, entertainment, Fantasmic and early entry just cause more people to postpone or cancel vacation plans?

It is a thirteen hour trip for me to get my family to the park. We usually go once a year and stay at the Disneyland hotel. We save all of our vacation money to spend at the park. With no early entry privileges the Disneyland hotel expense is less appealing. Shortened hours means a long drive for less entertainment. I imagine I am not alone in rethinking my winter vacation plans.

Then there is the ap group who cannot get to the park before it closes. Don't a lot of those people come to do Christmas shopping?

Maybe I am way off here, but I think that cutting back is just going to discourage people from coming. Then what will they do? Thanks for letting me vent, :).
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A.

I agree with you - many of these moves seem to cut off the nose despite the face it seems. IF (and that is one big IF) attendance continues to do well at Disneyland (which is doing great) that could allow them to restore some of those cutbacks.

But the problem here is what is across the esplanade - DCA is simply the problem that will not go away. If numbers there continue to suffer (and the trends are looking truly awful) you may see even more cutbacks, rather than less.

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Q.

Ryan writes: Hey Al, when you said:

(I also received several other reports that the Walt Disney Travel Company is alerting staff / partners that Fantasmic will most likely not return at all - so a 10th anniversary celebration upgrade that was being looked at is now shelved it appears.)

Does that mean that Fantasmic is done forever? Or does it mean that we won't get the update of the show? Please let me know.
 

A.

Right now Ryan, it truly is up in the air - but I would suggest you make any vacation plans independent of what Disneyland may or may not do.

Officially the show is penciled in to return for next Summer. Unofficially the company is warning people internally and who they work with that it will probably not return.

The 10th Anniversary "refresh" of the show would be great, but that would cost money, and with all the problems they are having with DCA as a long time observer I just cannot see them spending on improving something that a] may not come back, and b] in most of their eyes seems just fine as it is.

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Q.

Keith writes: I am the owner and webmaster for www.mousevr.com. MouseVR allows readers to have a virtual visit to the Disney parks by providing 360 degree views of the park. It also features several fun Flash Animations that have quickly become classics to test audiences. I hope that you take the chance to explore the page and recommend it to your viewers.
 

A.

Great site Keith - I know folks will enjoy it, as you did a terrific job on it.  :)

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