|Discussion Boards | Reviews | News | Trip Planning | Shop | Travel | Site Map|
D-I-G Update 2/15/00 - Yes, the new Fireworks show is getting good buzz... ...but, the new parade is well, ugh... and is the Electrical Parade coming back sooner than anyone may think? / Main St. Cinema buzz / Pressler's O.C. Register comments / Fastpass info / What other parks have found out about DCA, and how execs skew research for it / ODV news / Smoking policy problems / Sub lagoon and Autopia info / Thanking KOST radio
The very first public showing of the new 45th Anniversary fireworks show was performed 2/14, at 8:15 PM [after park closing] and again Tuesday the 15th at 8:15. I was lucky enough to see it on the 15th, and there is now a review up HERE about it. It's all and more the buzz was promising it would be, a really wonderful show.
Sadly the same can not be said about the new parade - which as of yesterday is undergoing extensive overhauls. [If you want to see what debuted last Sunday, visit the 45th Anniversary Parade Page.]
As I understand it, Disneyland's entertainment division is going to try and take over the project from former French Opera director Jean-Luc Choplin. Performances were canceled until rehearsals that were called for 2/15. All this for a parade that was budgeted to last two to three years!
From what several sources seem to be saying - the park's Entertainment department will try its best to stand up to Jean-Luc and protect its already damaged reputation, as they want to be given back the ability to run the division. The root of the problem seems to be Jean-Luc's relationship with Eisner, which made for no one at the park [Pressler in particular as I understand] standing up to him as the thing increasingly became problematic.
Never before have the floats not had lights, sound, or animation - or has the parade route never had gels on the lights. [One person told me it looks like Anaheim Stadium at night.] Cast members in the parade are disappointed, but no one is surprised at the outcome. They too feel badly when something is so misguided, and they have a lot of work ahead of them to try and get the show into some kind of shape.
Apparently Paul Pressler and Cynthia Harrris did not watch it the night they were suppose to while it was in rehearsals... from what I understand Harriss has been quietly dismayed at the situation, and people throughout the company are commenting on how Pressler did not seem to learn his lesson from the last time. [He didn't bother with Light Magic rehearsals until the now legendary, disastrous AP preview night.]
The replacement music has been ready since day one, some of the people involved have been talking to anyone within earshot it was recorded and done as a back up the moment that Eisner and Pressler approved the Elgar piece. Bruce Healy and Don Dorsey [who have done many other entertainment projects, including the Electrical Parade and some of the more memorable entertainment offerings of the past were both spotted during rehearsals working out what may be needed.
Come Friday we'll see what they have planned - if the weather holds. Anything is better at this time than what came down the route last Sunday.
LATE NEWS 2/15: I got a cryptic note late this evening from a kind soul, with only the following words:
The French guy won.
Looks like the customers may have been the real losers here on this one.
No wonder Pressler and Harriss are pushing the Firworks show in all the ads, and dropping the parade from any coverage.
Again, let's see what debuts on Friday.
Rumor has it we may see the Electrical Parade return much sooner than anyone thinks. It won't be the old MSEP as I understand, but it will be a new nighttime pageant, with self-lighted floats to coincide with the opening of DCA.
Could it be seen as insurance if the new park gets tepid reviews? More about DCA below.
Main St. Cinema News!
Someone was kind enough to let me know [and it appears to check out] that it looks like there are plans in the very near future to close the Main Street Cinema for a rehab. There are no plans to let anyone know this is any different from a standard facility redo.
Plans are to create a forty seat theater that will showcase animated shorts from the new Mickey Mouseworks cartoon series. the redo is to also include an exit into the 20th Century Music Co. shop next door. This is good news indeed, at Walt Disney World they lost their Main St. Cinema to a shop.
Pressler's O.C. Register comments
If you've been a regular reader, I'm sure you noted how there has been some coverage here about the problems at local toy maker Mattel, and in particular you may have read about a rather misplaced recruiter's call to me asking about Paul Pressler's suitability for the job. It seems his name has been thrown around in El Segundo as a replacement president.
The O.C. Register finally tracked down Pressler who commented [after the writer had noted what a critic I'd been of his tenure at the company and how I didn't disguise how pleased Disneyland customers may be at his departure on my site]:
Apparently this provoked endless gales of laughter from within the company - to quote a kindly source in Burbank:
Why would I be surprised? Mattel would be a wonderful place for him. Let's hope they make him an offer he'd be a fool to refuse. Barbie needs him! :)
Apparently Matterhorn Fastpass is still cancelled, and no word yet on Indy. In fact, Fastpass at Disneyland is now in limbo and there is no real direction for the next Fastpass installation.
It changes almost daily which ride will get it before summer. Indy? Thunder? Perhaps not another Fastpass ride until the new Autopia opens in July or August? Things are very indefinite right now. It's an interesting subject with many different angles. Meanwhile, with no immediate successor, Space Mountain will keep it's Fastpass for the foreseeable future.
Visitors, once they figure it out, love Fastpass, and they want it on more rides. However, the easiest rides have already been "Fastpassed." The remaining Fastpass candidates will be significantly more challenging to accomplish.
By the way, someone did write me about Indy's current loading situation:
Nine cars? Ouch, that IS a long line to wait in when they cut it back to that.
Visitors booking trips to the park through the Walt Disney Travel Company will receive a voucher for an exclusive "45 Years of Magic" Commemorative Coin, redeemable only at the Premiere Shop in Tomorrowland. These new coins, an incentive for booking with Disney, must be purchased in advance in conjunction with a vacation package, and are not for sale to regular park visitors.
Visitors can now purchase and trade collectible pins in a new resort-wide pin trading program. About twelve new pins will become available each month, which people can purchase and collect, or trade at four pin trading stations.
Initially, selected on-stage CM's will be trained to trade pins with visitors, as well as share stories behind each pin.
Reader Scott kindly writes:
I have to agree, it's really been looking wonderful again. Kudos to the landscaping department. What colors and scents!
Now what would an update be without something about DCA, er, Disney's California Adventure park?
Some CM's have gone over and started testing a few of the rides at DCA. There's a little rule they all have to abide by though. The CM's that have gone over all must call the new Park "Disney's California Adventure" instead of simply saying "DCA."
It is felt in upper management that "DCA" is too derogatory, not respectful enough, and is associated too closely with the Park's Internet critics. [Gosh, who could those be?]
If you are caught saying "DCA" instead of "Disney's California Adventure", you have to put 25 cents in a jar. It seems the jar is filling up with Quarters rather quickly because "DCA" is already a common phrase among the CM's, and the alternative, "Disney's California Adventure", is a real mouth-full when you are constantly using it in meetings and casual work conversations.
No word yet on whether this new policy will be expanded to include TDA,
er, "Team Disney Anaheim". And what about "Main Street USA"? Does "Main Street United States of America"
flow off the lips a bit better?
I know. Why do you think so many people love reading these updates? ;)
Research, and how to skew it.
Speaking of DCA, er um, heck forget it, it seems that two other theme park concerns have been doing a bit of their own visitor quizzing about Disney's parking lot carnival.
In two different conversations I heard pretty much the same story about initial visitor impressions of what is going on. Surveys were performed with visitors by these companies on their own property, they were first asked if they had been to Disneyland during their current visit before the questions were popped.
Both sources seem to find the following, very similar, impressions:
Needless to say these surveys have helped both companies do some solid planning for their venues once the DCA opens.
It's interesting to remember that both Pressler and Eisner have commented that Disney has done surveys that predict the new park will be a big hit. But some people familiar with what little work was actually done, and who I chatted with again, gave the following background about them:
This was the same commentary I heard about Disneyland's own in-park surveys in the past, and talked about on this forum, among others, before.
I have a feeling they will be very surprised at what people end up thinking about the finished DCA "product." It may well be that they didn't learn from past mistakes.
Darrin writes about the DCA site:
There's a good reason I don't use Disney's names for the rides, because very simply they just don't describe what the rides actually do. Unlike Pirates of the Caribbean or Haunted Mansion for example at the main park, the new descriptions do little to tell visitors about what they are.
Considering just how mundane some of the carnival stuff really is, I guess I can't blame Disney wanting to give fancy names to them.
New photo guide books...
They finally updated the souvenir guide book for the 45th Anniversary. While it is nice to have it updated, the printing quality is rather poor, and most of the photos are either blurry or grainy.
A hardbound book that also duplicates much of the same content of the above has just been made available too - but it suffers from the same poor quality printing problems the other does.
Let's hope the coming wall maps will be of better quality.
I get e-mail.
Speaking of ODV:
We have Pressler to thank for this one it seems.
Apparently a few weeks ago an ODV person went to work his shift at a popcorn cart in Tomorrowland. He arrived to find that the cart was abandoned, and all the cash in the drawer was gone.
Turns out with all the take-home costuming, someone came into the park in ODV threads, breezed on by security, walked up to the cart in the park pretending he worked there, and sent off the legit worker on an early break. This allowed said person to clean out the cash drawer and walk right on out again.
Nice going Paul. Save a few cents on laundry, lose big money on theft.
What is going on in the Sub lagoon?
They are building an elevator to the second boarding level for the Monorail, and the line for that ride is being moved from around the lagoon to under the platform using the old Submarine queue.
I wonder where they are going to put the lines for the Atlantis ride, if and when that one finally gets the OK?
Autopia is ahead of schedule...
...but there is concern from Imagineering that not having anyone on site to watch over it may lead to some problems further on down the line with it.
Another Pressler cost-saving move I understand.
The good thing is Autopia may open later this Spring if things keep going well.
New no-smoking policy is erratically enforced...
...because it seems park management didn't understand the people who most need to be warned about it speak / read only Japanese, Spanish, French and German it appears.
They keep forgetting the park is an international destination - for example they still need to do parade announcements in other languages than just English.
Fab Four news...
Ardy Sarraf [Paul] from the FAB FOUR [the wonderful Beatles tribute band that plays the Tomorrowland Terrace occasionally] was kind enough to drop me an e-mail and let me know they have a new website - www.thefabfour.net - where you can stop by to see when they have their next shows scheduled at the park. [You can also re-visit the page I did about them, now at AL'S ARCHIVES.]
Don't miss them if you get a chance to be there when they are, as they put on a great show.
A special thanks to KOST radio here locally...
They have been mentioning this site on-air mornings. Thanks guys, it means a lot that you would do so.
That about does it for now, see you all at Disneyland!
You know you strike a nerve with folks when the e-mail starts pouring in after an update, and Disneyland's cast members let me know in droves just how bad it had gotten in costuming over the holidays. They not only confirmed the problems noted in the last update, but detailed many more of their own experiences in a barrage of e-mails and phone calls.
Here's one chat that I can share with you that gives you an idea of what an ordeal this had become for them:
The good news is that costuming has gotten better during January. Cynthia inevitably found
out about the nightmare that CM's were enduring and she was "furious", to quote a senior
operations manager. Casting stopped sending all the
new CM's inside the berm, and costuming began training honest to goodness new-hires this past week. They were simply short dozens of
people over the holidays.
As it is now, they take inventory by simply eye-balling the racks of clothing on a slow day when not much is checked out and saying "Well, it looks like we need more Rafts shorts in the middle sizes, and more French Market busboy aprons, and some Indy spats, and some... etc., etc." They had been using that simple reordering system for decades, but with the modern budget constraints it is now horribly inefficient.
There are also tentative plans to offer new CM's the luxury of keeping a personal locker on-property. The new costume building has thousands of "shift lockers" that must be cleared out by the CM at the end of their shift. Any CM who has hired in since September only receives a lock to be used on a shift locker. They have to bring their work shoes, lock and any personal care items to and from work with them every day.
They must wait in line for a costume at the beginning of their shift, and they
must return the costume at the end of their shift. They can keep nothing on property.
And by the way, those silly and useless "land" signs above the issue windows have never returned and CM's are still waiting in the bank teller line set up with temporary poles and rope. Costuming is also now open 3 hours past park closing, instead of the prior 2 hours.
The question now is, where will an additional locker facility be located for Disney's California Adventure [the new park, DCA for short] Cast Members [CMs]?
What is disturbing is the lack of rack space in the new costuming building. There is very little or no space left for any DCA costumes. The building was supposed to be big enough to hold both Parks' costumes. There were going to be 3 long rows of costume racks left empty to wait for DCA costumes in 2001. However, right now there are *no* rows left open for DCA costumes.
DCA's costume menu has been expanded in the last year to 52 separate costumes. They have no idea right now where they are going to put them when it comes time to start issuing DCA costumes in a year.
Disneyland's Safety Department came out and did a study after several Costuming CM's complained about work conditions in the new building. They found that the costuming CM's now walk more than the CM's in custodial! And the height of the racks is dangerous for the shorter CM's.
The new building is large, with men's and women's costumes all together. Oftentimes a costuming CM will disappear into the racks for up to 5 minutes before returning with a costume because they have to wander all over the first floor.
Previously in the old building, there were 19 windows for men and women
split into department and work description. For instance, a Merchandise Hostess used to go to her window and the
costuming CM would have all the
possible costumes for that hostess just behind them in 2 or 3 short rows. Now the costumes are spread all over the place in one large
stockroom and it's up to the Costuming CM's to hunt high and low for over a hundred costuming combinations. It is very inefficient.
As anyone who has moved into a new house can tell you, the contracted movers messed many things up. There are a lot of costume
pieces that have simply disappeared or are lost in mislabeled packing boxes. It was quite a nightmare the first month, and it still creates
many headaches for costuming.
Cash registers, order windows, and Attraction positions went unfilled for periods of time during the Holiday afternoons while
the CM's were delayed at costuming. Money was lost that it seems the
Disney Company so badly needs right now.
And many costume pieces never made the move to the new building in the first place. Remember the lacy little maid hats with the bat on them that the girls at the Haunted Mansion used to wear? Those were called "Bat Hats", and you will be hard pressed to find a Haunted Mansion CM wearing them now. The box they were packed into by the professional movers disappeared and costuming no longer is able to issue them to Haunted Mansion hostesses. It's another little detail lost, and it's sad.
People keep asking - why did they have to break something that was
working so well? Sadly that's the Pressler way - he first has to break it,
then finally end up returning to the way it was done after thousands /
millions of dollars are wasted showing that 45 years of doing something
was pretty much on the money in the first place.
Matterhorn Fastpass has been scrapped for now, due to relatively short waits anyway. Space Mountain is definitely up in the air. It may lose its Fastpass as soon as a couple more major rides offer it. Autopia is still a go to offer Fastpass at least during it's initial opening phase.
Splash Mountain will have it's ticket machines moved away from the entrance barn in Critter Country. They are seriously considering placing them at the entrance to Critter Country near the Haunted Mansion exit.
The Splash Fastpass was very popular, however it creates big traffic jams on very busy days. On one busy day just before Christmas, Critter Country had to be closed off to visitor access for over an hour because there were too many people milling around instead of waiting in line.
It was complete gridlock for a time, and City Hall recorded over 20 complaints due to the congested situation. City dwellers could probably deal with it, but if were a tourist from a small town it would have been scary for you.
The next day, several CM's were posted in Critter Country to help keep traffic moving. They remained thru New
With Fastpass nearby, the Country Bears were extremely popular, but no one wanted to see the summer Vacation show. So, huge lines formed outside the full lobby and extended over the covered bridge, blocking traffic even more.
Meanwhile, the Vacation show automatically played to a theater that had 10 or 20 people at most in it for each show, while the lobby was full to capacity with Guests waiting for the popular Christmas show in the adjoining theater. Several times a day the Vacation show would play to a completely empty theater while the lobby was full of Guests in a holiday mood who only wanted to see the Christmas show.
Country Bear CM's had grumbled about this blatant cheap-out for the last three years, but
Fastpass at Splash Mountain finally forced the issue. Plans are already afoot so that next year a few extra thousand dollars can be found to
redress the second Bears theater for the Christmas show.
Adventureland is already crowded on even moderate attendance days. What
will happen when you stream hundreds of extra visitors into Adventureland that would have been waiting in
line? If Fastpass does come to Indy (and Cynthia wants it there very badly) it will mean the savior of the Tiki
Room and a fully staffed Jungle Cruise for the time being. Fastpass has already saved the Country Bear Christmas show for next year. Perhaps a
rumored Holiday version of the Tiki Room with "Mele' Kalikemaka" and some Beach
Boys style Christmas songs isn't out of the question?
They have gone back to the drawing board for DCA queues, pre-shows and waiting
areas, and Fastpass will feel right at home there however.
When they investigated they found that the wood supports had simply rotted away and the structure had collapsed against the juice bar and turnstile overnight. The Tiki Room was closed for the day and several CM's and barricades were set up around it. The next day the show was reopened, but Guests were brought in thru the exit. Finally, the structure was removed overnight.
Facilities has promised Adventureland attractions that it will be rebuilt and reinstalled. Let's hope they don't let it just sit around until most people forget about it or give up hope. You know if there had been Santa Ana winds, it may have easily collapsed during the day when the Tiki Room lanai was full of people waiting for the next show!
It should be noted that Tiki Room attendance figures are 10 - 12% above previous year figures since Adventureland managers separated the Tiki Room from the Jungle Cruise break rotation - and put the Tiki Hosts and Hostesses back in the flowered dresses and hula shirts and positioned them at the turnstile so they may bid "Aloha" to passing visitors. It's funny how a little detail like that can make a big difference in attendance. Maybe even saving an attraction.
Plans are being made to refurbish Splash Mountain and update the lighting in the
attraction. Disneyland's lighting is much dimmer and murkier than
Orlando's version. An updated lighting package would better highlight the many
animatronics that easily go unnoticed presently.
Now lots of hand railings have been replaced, the barrel bridge has been repaired, and they had Injun Joes cave closed the last few weeks for painting, cleaning and re-lamping. They will also be getting two new rafts later this Spring.
No word yet on the burning cabin or the suspension bridge though. It does appear that WDI's plans for the Island have been changed, and it may remain the same for a while now.
Someone asked and I did find out that Paul Yeargin [head attractions guy] and other senior managers are aware of this site. Although it's blocked from Disneyland workstation computers, perhaps they have it unblocked, or maybe they are just reading it at home?
Interestingly, while this site cannot be accessed, everyone can easily pull up the X-rated "Flash Mountain" website.
Nothing like getting the priorities straight there eh? ;)
The four designated smoking areas have changed. They now are:
The Tomorrowland Train Station is no longer a smoking area.
All foreign guide maps, generic, and dated English guide maps will have a "At Your Service" blurb with the new policy, and the dated guide maps will have a symbol at the four spots that smoking is OK. There will also be signage at the Main Entrance, at the Tram Drop-Off areas, and at the four locations themselves.
The new wording of the new smoking policy in the Disneyland Today handout is as follows:
See you at the park everyone...
D-I-G Update 1/17/00 - Resident Salute has another ticket available / A not so happy new year - for both the park and some Disney employees in other parts of the company / Frequent Mousing Miles? / Worst Corporate Board in America - Business Week makes it two years in a row / Costuming problems continue / 45th Anniversary a bit of a let down?
A quick note before getting started here:
I was truly saddened to hear about Imagineer / Animator Marc Davis passing away last week. [For those of you who didn't know who he was, here's a link to a Yahoo / Business Wire obit on him for you, a photo is also included below.]
Marc was one of Walt's "nine old men" who at his urging branched out from animation into the parks, and in a long stellar career he not only gave us the very memorable Tinkerbell and Cruella, but also dreamed up a Caribbean seaside town full of party hearty Pirates too, among many other adventures at Disneyland.
In recent years he was quite outspoken about how the parks were run under the Pressler / Greene / Eisner regime, and he never held back from letting go a pointed barb or two about how they could restore some quality back to things.
The loss of Marc makes for one less voice on the customer's behalf to remind the folks in charge now about how important the upkeep of quality is to the Disneyland experience.
My deepest condolences go out to Alice, his life and work partner, on this sad loss.
Another Resident salute discount ticket is available:
A heads up about another discount available to local residents was kindly provided by reader Cathy A. from San Diego:
Thanks Cathy! I know the D-I-G readers will appreciate that info too.
Finally, let's get to an update shall we?
I know, it took me long enough - but as you know from past comments I've made, I've been pretty busy on a major project. Hopefully soon it will be on its way.
The new year has finally settled in - and the power is still on, our ATM cards still work and everywhere you look there are fire sale prices on electrical generators and canned food.
Welcome to the year 2000 everyone, and despite all the predictions, it turns out that it's just like 1999. Well, except for the cost of living, which keeps going up. Rest assured that Disneyland is doing its part to see the new year in not only with higher ducats, but with more increases on the way soon in other areas of the park, such as food and merchandise.
The company is suffering from even more severe profit problems, which will be detailed later, and they are continuing to squeeze those cash cow parks to produce even more. No wonder those merchandise events keep getting more and more expensive...
New Year's was a bit of a fizzle most places it seems, even at Disneyland...
A common lament now being heard in the tourism industry is how Y2K turned out to be a disappointment for most businesses. Expensively lavish concerts, trips and parties were canceled left and right world-wide as people decided to celebrate the new year by staying home with friends and family.
Apparently the tourism industry as a whole forgot the 1984 L. A. Olympics - an event that was so over-hyped / priced that pretty much everyone decided to avoid the crowds and save a few bucks - leaving only the locals to show up.
The park honchos pretty much knew they weren't exempt from that general mood this year when they found attendance New Year's eve at noon was less than 45,000 people - thankfully swelling up to around 70,000 as the midnight hour approached. [They were nowhere near the numbers for the last Electrical Parade as an example.]
As a result, people were allowed in and out of the park all day with no re-entry problems, and there was plenty of parking. Head dynamo Cynthia Harriss was also spotted all over the place - both day and night - making sure things ran smoothly. Good for her, unlike Pressler's few playtime forays into the park when he was in charge, Cynthia is always seen working the crowds and doing the company business. She's a good person to have in charge there.
The one big problem the park did run into with the crowd staying within the berm all day [concerned about re-admission] was the overwhelming of all the food facilities. Park honchos clearly saw that lots of folks do eat out of the park on a normal day [to save a few bucks if nothing else] with the increased business they got that day.
Hmm, maybe, just maybe, they can look and learn from this a bit, and try to find a way to keep more visitors in house by offering broader pricing, in particular with a renewed focus on the lower end of scale cost-wise? I can dream, can't I?
It came to my attention that more than a few people noticed as midnight came close that Anaheim Police SWAT-like teams were patrolling around the roofs of Main St. overlooking the biggest crowd in the hub area - just in case anything may have happened. It seems that the park in the week before had apparently gotten more than the normal number of firebrand kooks calling with threats leading up to the evening and they thankfully took no chances.
Disneyland visitors on New Years Eve were given a special "glow stick" with their party hat and horn that night. They made a park wide announcement just before midnight and everyone was instructed to activate their glow stick and make a special Millennium wish.
To the visitor it seemed designed to be a typically Disney park wide emotional "Millennium Moment." But, the thousands of glow sticks were also to come in handy at 12:01 AM if the power went out, all heck broke loose, and the Park would have been evacuated. Clever thinking, huh?
Most of the glow sticks ended up floating in the Rivers of America - with Fantasmic crews worried about them getting in the way of the show. They went ahead anyway - the only concession being they didn't do the Monstro tale splashes. It was felt that the bubbling up of the gas for the flames would move most of the sticks away from the fire effects.
Here's an interesting comment from someone about something new the park was trying out during the holidays:
Kudos to park management for coming up with that one. Someone
must have stopped by the local Wal-Mart and got the idea from them.
The signage at the entrance is confusing and inadequate, and the flow of Standby and Fastpass lines was very congested and easily overwhelmed. If the old Speed-ramps hadn't been taken out for the New Tomorrowland and Cosmic Waves, Fastpass could probably have worked much better at Space Mountain.
But the way it was set up during the holidays, Fastpass at Space Mountain is most likely doomed. The rumors of its demise vary from now, to when the Matterhorn gets Fastpass later in the Spring.
More about Fastpass later on in this update...
Here's something interesting, from what I understand hotel bookings suffered all throughout the Anaheim resort area, but the Disneyland Hotel / Pacific had a rather unusual problem - lots of customers with paid up [and non-refundable] reservations just didn't bother to show up. It even prompted a few offers of free stays to some top customers since the rooms weren't going to be used anyway.
But as unusually low as New Year's attendance was - the park more than made up for it with the very successful Christmas promotion drawing record crowds in two months leading up to, and the few days after, New Year's.
As many of you found out from your own visits and wrote me rather unhappily - what normally used to be a slow attendance period for the park, [in particular the two weeks before Christmas], was turned into a rather busy period with some weekends rivaling the numbers normally pulled only in the actual week between Christmas and New Years.
Pressler was right, with a savvy ad campaign and lots of effort in park, they got to own Christmas just like he wanted. And unlike Knott's three week-long Halloween promotion, Disneyland gets two months out of it.
What's next? The less than fresh Christmas parade may be retired and a new edition may be dreamed up, and there have been murmurs of another attraction getting a holiday makeover.
Rumors of Pirates getting some holiday elements notwithstanding, the most likely candidate seems to be the Tiki Room, [as Fab has mentioned on her own site] once they get it overhauled a bit. Most likely one of the other lands will also get the deluxe holiday decor, such as ToonTown and New Orleans Square did this past year. Any bets on if it will be Fantasyland or Tomorrowland?
Hopefully they won't go too overboard with Christmas decor and end up with a park that will give Jan and Paul Crouch's [the host of Trinity Broadcast Network] Christmas City in Irvine a run for the money. ;)
Biggest complaints heard from the D-I-G readers this holiday season: "All the merchandise events are getting too expensive. Why won't they do some cheaper ones every once in a while?" and "The park was way too crowded this year!"
The first one Cynthia Harriss can address rather easily with a few $25 and $50 priced events every once in a while. They don't have to be as elaborate as the expensive ones - and they can offer some lower priced event specific merchandise too. One cheaper one for every five or so deluxe events would go a long way to make amends with the consumer base.
The second complaint Paul Pressler and Michael Eisner are working hard to make sure gets ignored. And don't think Fastpass [which they are pitching as the solution for all those crowds] will remain free - the ultimate goal is to eventually make it only available with a deluxe priced ticket. That's why the scanning of the tickets is key element as to how it will work.
Imagineer Tony Baxter has sort of danced around this subject a bit in his talks - what he's been basically saying is that the thinking at Disney now is to try and offer more variety in pricing with different perks and privileges kicking in at different cost levels. This kind of pricing will allow them to get even higher admission prices more frequently depending on what new perks they can come up with.
In the next couple of years it may work out something like this:
The above is just some educated guesswork on my part - for now at least.
Travel agents / business partners disappointed with the 45th promotion?
Disneyland has started promoting the 45th Anniversary, with a character-based campaign left over from the 40th - which they had switched at last minute to the 40 Years of Adventure theme to take advantage of the then new Indy ride.
Disney makes life hard and cheap for travel agents as it is - but this year especially they don't have anything new to talk about since they've been cutting back on the leading edge attractions.
"It's the same old story - my clients want to know what's new, and a parade and an anniversary theme just doesn't cut it." one quipped to me in an e-mail.
News people, despite a lovely press kit the park has issued, feel pretty much the same way. "Disney used to give away cars [for the 35th]. Now they just push merchandising events" one local news personality said. Referring to the very sad Bob Hope Christmas launch - "Is some other way too old personality again going to cut a ribbon for this, so we can watch them drool again on the late news? Nah. No story there."
I've been holding back on writing about the anniversary myself because I've been less than overwhelmed by what they've been promising so far.
We get Mickey back on the Matterhorn - Great, he used to do that before, and yes I am glad it's back. We get fireworks earlier in the year. Yes, we used to get that before. We get tons of merchandise events. Great.
But where's the new E-ticket attraction? Why do we only get one parade this year, instead of the two we got before? These are questions a lot of folks are asking this season.
One four-fingered glove gives while the other takes away...
If you live in the L.A. area you've probably heard the huge radio ad campaign Disneyland is running right now. No, not the one announcing the anniversary and the Resident Salute discount, it's the even bigger effort aggressively trying to recruit new employees for the resort.
Thanks to some of the lowest wages offered by a major employer in the Orange County marketplace, and a Byzantine work scheduling process that gives way too many employees much too few wage hours to live on, in a tight labor market Disneyland is begging to fill jobs. It's expected to get worse as the new park comes on line in the next year too, as even most McDonalds pay more and provide steadier schedules than Disney does.
Here's an interesting view of what's been going on with all this:
While the park goes begging for bodies, up the freeway in Burbank they continue to slash jobs. Disney Interactive is the latest unit to cut positions this past week - laying off some people who just started working there less than ninety days ago. More cuts are expected in the film division [among others] as Peter Schneider takes over the reins from the uber-frustrated Joe Roth who finally just threw in the towel trying to cope with Eisner's shenanigans. [More about all this is discussed a few paragraphs below also.]
With Schneider now in charge of the filmed output, and also overseeing the theatrical division, people are wondering if he's just walked away from the one area of oversight he practically threw fits [he can be a hot head] to get, in-park entertainment. The new upcoming 45th Anniversary parade should tell the story here, which we will see.
Here's an interesting tidbit from today's Yahoo / Reuter's news feed:
Visit this link for the rest of the story, which details that the company has had two consecutive years of declining earnings, and that in the past year they dropped 22% - with four of Disney's five main business segments having down or flat years. [Parks is the only one up.] It also mentioned that they plan to issue wallet-size cards for customers / members to present to get credit for a purchase. [Think Vons / Ralph's Supermarket Club Cards here folks.] More credit will be offered for feedback on surveys and such.
Geeze didn't we all discuss this same subject in a newsgroup over two years ago? How sad that the company continues to a] let things get so bad they have to put in place a loyalty program, and b] they allow it to be seen by the media and public as an effort to try and pump up a sagging business. Sigh.
But what do you expect from a CEO who says publicly about the new Anaheim park [quoted from the Annual Report, bold type is my emphasis]:
One need only look at the carnival that has risen in the old parking lot to see how painfully true the above statement is. It's so lackluster that even fellow theme park industry brethren generally acknowledge that California Adventure comes across as "an all-time low, almost shockingly so, for Disney" - but Eisner is probably right that most people will buy into it lock, stock and barrel because it's got the Disney name plastered all over it.
Another story comes to mind here, Business Week's latest issue about the Best and Worst corporate boards in American business Disney yet again rates the worst, for the second year in a row. The quote below is what was said in the main article about the company [again the bold type is mine] :
For more on this, you can visit Business Week online - although sadly only subscribers can access the entire article. But if you have AOL - Business Week content is free to you and you can use the following AOL ONLY link to get to it if you are reading this site on their software: 01/24/00 The Best and Worst Corporate Boards
Also the Reuters / Yahoo News article which quotes quite a bit of the Business Week story, and also does contain the actual rankings can be accessed via this link without any restrictions for now.
So are there more layoffs looming in Burbank?
Quite simply, yes. The money is not flowing in as they had hoped for. For example, results are in for DVD sales this holiday season, [something Eisner had touted as a major new revenue stream] and retailers report they aren't selling in the numbers Disney expected.
Did they glut the market with so many titles all at once this past holiday season? People at retailers such as Blockbuster think so. Adding insult to injury on the product was the total lack of special features offered on the discs - it was the number one complaint from the customers that did buy them.
Meanwhile Walt Disney World management types are grumbling over two price hikes in admission media in less than nine months. "They make us look desperate with those kinds of moves" one said. "And customers do notice, no matter what Eisner thinks."
The costuming problems continue...
The following note arrived during the holidays:
And let's not even discuss the fact that at night, if you position yourself outside the building [which borders the Timon / Simba Tram and public transportation loading areas] and look up you can see reflections of all the CMs changing their clothes clear as day.
As I was told recently, some enterprising souls have already posted some images from this unintended peep show online on some "Spy-Cam" voyeur sites.
I get phone calls...
Speaking. Who are you?
Why, um... [slightly confused now] yes. It's a bit redundant now... as you know from reading the site he did get a promotion. Why, may I ask, are you calling about it?
[A light bulb goes off over my head...]
What impressed me was that he's a great executive, with a long track record of being laser focused on the bottom line. Is there someone you are calling on behalf of that he can fill the bill for?
I won't ask if maybe Mattel needs someone then...
[I can sense with the tone of voice from the other side at this point I may have hit the nail on the head and she no longer may think this is such a good call to make.]
I can't really comment on that. But I think Mr. Pressler would be a sterling asset to any company he worked for. Did you know he did the Care Bears Movie? That was his baby. They Disney Stores did quite well under him too when he ran them.
I would think so also. I wish you, and him luck.
No problem. [end of call]
I wonder if Pressler knows that Eisner has pretty much told the board of directors that there isn't anyone who could succeed him now working within the company, and that he may have to recruit from outside?
I also wonder how much longer Mattel can go on under its current, rather problematic, leadership.
Hey, I did my part... ;)
They finally are demolishing the Casa Mexicana building - they had to wait until the custodial department backstage moved into the old costuming building before they could go at it.
Ride testing is supposed to start soon at DCA. Some employees will start to move over to the Paradise Pier and Raft Ride areas soon, maybe in a few weeks.
Want to make a Disneyland Hotel food manager furious? Show them the following flyer they now have to keep in a tourist brochure rack in the lobby:
With the new Hook's Pointe turning out to be such a bust for them - they are offering discounted breakfasts now and lunch and dinner is way under projections - this kind of cross promotion is sort of the last thing they need, right?
That should cover bases for now folks, much more stuff is on the way soon, see you at Disneyland!
D-I-G Update 1/17/00 - Resident Salute has another ticket available / A not so happy new year - for both the park and some Disney employees in other parts of the company / Frequent Mousing Miles? / Worst Corporate Board in America - Business Week makes it two years in a row / Costuming problems continue / 45th Anniversary a bit of a let down?
|-TOP | SECTION CONTENTS | MOUSEPLANET MAIN PAGE|