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Al Lutz
Archived D-I-G Update

D-I-G Update 3/17/00: New outlet merchandise available at AMS

AMS is a liquidator of merchandise that Disneyland has selected to get rid of over-stock and lesser selling items at several locations around the Southern California area.  They occasionally send out an e-mail detailing the latest arrivals, which also includes a listing of their ever-changing locations they always are moving around to.  You can subscribe to this list by using the information below.

They are usually well worth a visit if you're in the area and just snooping around for stuff, although sometimes prices aren't always as low as they should be, or selection can be incomplete.

Below is their latest e-mail:

New Merchandise and 20% Off Jewelry
From: Disney's Character Warehouse Outlet Store

We have received shipments of new merchandise at all locations!

Also, beginning this Saturday, March 18, and continuing through Friday, March 31, you can take an additional 20% all jewelry items (excluding watches) at our Fullerton location. No minimum purchase is required to receive this additional discount.

Thank you for your time,

AMS Store Team

Our Southern California stores:

Fullerton - Orangefair Mall
233 Orangefair Mall 92832
(714) 870-9342
Harbor Blvd and Orangethorpe off 91 Fwy

Barstow - Tanger Factory Outlets
2796 Tanger Way #212 92311
(760) 253-4376
Off the 15 Fwy at Lynwood Rd

Need driving directions? Try Mapquest or Mapblast

Who is AMS?

Disney's Character Warehouse Outlet Store is solely operated by Asset Management & Sales LLC (AMS) a Limited Liability Company. AMS is not affiliated with Disneyland Park®, The Disney Stores, Disney Catalog, Disney Sports Enterprise, The Walt Disney Company, or any of their affiliated companies.

The merchandise offered for sale in our stores is the same merchandise that was formerly available at Disneyland Park®, The Disney Stores, the Disney Catalog, and the Mighty Ducks Team Store. The great values are available because this merchandise has been discontinued.

Merchandise assortments may vary from location to location, and each store my have local price initiatives, such as "Manager Specials", that may not be available at all locations. Sorry, but no additional discounts, above our all ready discounted prices, are available at our Barstow, CA location.

We hope you truly enjoy the shopping experience, and the values available on the merchandise in our stores.

[E-MAIL] SUBSCRIPTION SERVICES:

To ADD your name to our mailing list send us an E-mail at ams-email-list@home.com with ADD in the subject line.

To REMOVE your name from our mailing list send us an E-mail at ams-email-list@home.com with REMOVE in the subject line.

To CHANGE your E-mail address send an ADD from your NEW Email account, then send a REMOVE from the same account and add your OLD E-mail address in the Subject line.

Example: "Remove OldEmailAddress@Old.com"

Please note: This e-mail ©1999-2000 AMS, All rights reserved

By the way, no more pins are going to be available at the outlets now that the pin trading craze has hit the parks.  More than a few folks had bought them at the outlets at the reduced prices, and then came to the park to swap for more desirable / expensive items.


D-I-G Update 3/11/00: Preview Center closing, ticket booth situation

From a kind soul:

It was confirmed today that the Disneyland Resort Preview Center will be closing for good on Sunday the 19th of this month. I'm pretty sure that it will be open that day and close the next, however that may be it's CLOSURE date, meaning Saturday the 18th is its "last" day. The first of the two concierge booths will start to be staffed probably within a week of the Preview Center's closing.

As for the ticket booths, three windows of one of the new ones were open this morning, selling previously-printed one-day passports only, both for adults, children, and So. Cal residents. The walls on the west side of the Esplanade are supposed to come down Monday, with the first four "super" ticket booths (32 windows total) being fully functional (with new ticket stock!) starting Friday the 17th.

They are moving to have everything in place and tested it seems before spring break.


D-I-G Update 3/10/00: Pirates event date change: May 20th is now the date they are giving out. More details to follow soon. What drama!


D-I-G Update 3/9/00: Another quickie!  Parade fix info / New ticket booths / How to get past those ads on the Tarzan DVD

Parade fixes Pluto!  How swell!

April 14th is the day!

Someone was kind enough to summarize in an e-mail what I had been hearing about what was going on with the parade.  It looks like we now have a date for the fixes: 

You have probably been told already but they officially announced (to the parade cm's) that they were going to make some changes to the parade today. The best news was that they are going to change the music!!! About Time! 

They are also adding some more to the parade... Ballerina Flowers (whatever that is) and some of the characters from the Country Bears Playhouse. There will be an audition during the next few weeks and they start rehearsing the new parade starting March 27. 

The new version begins on April 14. They will be running the current version of the parade through the rehearsals so the parade will not be going down at all. Hope this helps

Yes it does!  And again, thank you for your note.  Once the music gets fixed, I'm sure it will go a long way towards making it a lot more enjoyable for visitors.  Let's see what they come up with!

Those Saturday hour-or-two waits for buying admission tickets may finally be coming to an end... 

The first of the new ticket booths is opening today, [the 9th] but with limited functions is what seems to be the case. Two more are coming up on the 13th.

Tarzan DVD solutions!

One thing I can count my blessings on is just how wonderful the readers of the site are when it comes to sharing helpful information.

The following two folks have suggested ways to get past those horrible hostage-taking non-skipable ads that start each Tarzan DVD:

Reader Steve says: You might want to pass along to your readers that there is a way to skip the endless previews before the Tarzan DVD movie starts. 

Instead of hitting the "Menu" key on your remote when the previews start, hit the "Skip" key instead. That will bring up just the title of the preview. You'll have to hit the "Skip" key several times, but you will finally get to the menu where you can start the film. 

It's a pain to do, but at least you'll not have to suffer through previews, commercials for Interactive Discs, Disney Blast, etc. that must last at least 10 minutes.

SF says: What I've found out about those ads in the beginning of those DVD's is there is some kind of lock out encoded on the disc at the ad portion which cancels out the control panel and remote control of these players. 

By simply pressing stop once but not completely, just the 'Resume Stop' and pressing play again most machines will skip over that ad portion and start at the beginning of the film.

Thanks for those suggestions.  

Now really, how consumer hostile can Disney be sometimes with this kind of stuff?  Do they even consider their customers?  Apparently in the Home Video division they do not.

Enough for today, I need some sleep!  See you all at the park!


D-I-G Update 3/8/00: A quickie!  New Haunts for the Mansion? / DCA ride problems / Survey says, fix the parade! / Burbank cuts back even more / Other rumors / Tarzan DVD holds you hostage 

From a very kind source comes the following really good news about the Haunted Mansion:

The Mansion has just been officially scheduled for a major rehab for the second quarter of fiscal year '02 (spring 2002). WDI and Disneyland have been going back and forth on the budget and scope of this inevitable major rehab for a couple years now, and it is finally official. 

Mansion will be closed for several months and have nearly every animatronic and show effect worked on, much like Pirates received last Fall. The WDI Design Studio is working on the plans now, and will be making presentations to the budgeteers about what extras they may be able to add.

Everything that is there now will be overhauled and/or replaced, but there is also a budget to add a few new things and freshen the show. Think the "World of Motion" figures and new little scenes that have been added to Pirates in the last few years, that's what they are talking about for Mansions big rehab in '02. Marc Davis had several other scenes and characters that weren't installed, and they are looking at those for inspiration. Phantom Manor is also offering inspiration for the 21st century Disneyland Mansion.

Mansion will close for two weeks this April also. Not much will be happening for this one, although it is the rides first real rehab in a few years. They will be ripping out the metal bars in the outside queue in favor of a double wide line made of poles and chains that will then make the entire queue wheelchair accessible. 

The metal bars date back to the days when there were turnstiles on the front porch with a maid or butler standing at the turnstiles to take your E Ticket from your book before you entered the foyer. There's no need for those two separate lines anymore. The chains and poles will also be removable so that they can throw larger dinner parties and receptions on the "terrace".

Cynthia [Harriss, president of Disneyland] has had two private parties at the Mansion this past year. It is one of her favorite rides, and she wants to use it for entertaining more. A useable side terrace without metal queue bars will help with larger groups and expanded entertaining after hours.

They will also be replacing the projectors for the changing portraits in the hallway this April, along with the projectors for the singing busts in the graveyard. The new projectors will allow for a clearer image, and be more reliable. Also expect some general cleaning, or application of new cobwebs and dust as the case may be. 

Then, expect another small rehab in Spring '01 that will work on installing new wiring and refurbishing infrastructure and the elevators in preparation for the big rehab in Spring '02. Good news, huh? Too bad we have to wait 24 months!

Wonderful news!

Now on to less thrilling DCA problems...

I got the following note, [which seems to check out] about problems they are having with the new spinner-type of attractions in California Adventure:

Rumors are that they are having problems with the Zepher and other swing-type rides. In their attempts to increase capacity, they're over accelerating and decelerating them which is causing problems. 

I had wondered how you can get Pirates types of load numbers onto Dumbo types of rides.  No matter what they do to try and speed up loading and operation, you will still have a limited load ride operating here - something that they should have really thought long and hard about.

The good thing is that they do test these attractions with sandbags and such for extended periods of time before opening them. 

BTW - did you realize there is not a single type of high capacity attraction like Pirates at all in the new park?  Everything - due to their wanting to save money over providing quality - runs in cycles [from the spinners to the many movies they are showing]  - there is only one continuous load ride in the whole park [SuperStar Limo - the dark ride].

Fastpass won't help customers with such poor planning as this.

Parade surveys...

Kind reader Mary forwarded this to me, a thank you to her for doing so!

I thought that you might be interested in the following:

As we were leaving tonight in the lovely thunder and lightning storm a CM stopped us under the train tracks to ask us the following questions about the parade:

1. Rate how much you liked the parade on a scale of one to ten
2. What did you like best about the parade
3. What would you change about the parade (The CM admitted that everyone has said it's the music)
4. What specifically about the music would you change 
5. Would you recommend that someone come to DL just for the parade (NO!)

I would just LOVE to see the responses on this survey!  I really hope they are not using this to try and get off from fixing it - the music is just dreadful. Everyone at the park is just sick of diploma jokes.

Meanwhile back in Burbank...

...the situation seems to be getting worse financially.  Due to the studios underperformance [less than 3% of the profits came from films last year, no wonder Roth took a hike] they are slashing budgets left and right.

One very sad casualty of these cut-backs was forwarded to me by kind reader Chris J.:

Here's an interesting comment in a recent interview with film preservationist Robert A. Harris. [Who was a leader in restoring My Fair Lady, Vertigo and Lawrence of Arabia among other films.]

"Disney just shut down their restoration program, so they don't even have one. The company's in financial straits, I guess, because Michael Eisner probably needs to get his salary. So they've literally shut down their restoration-and-preservation department."

For a company that is supposed to be doing well, it looks like there is a lot more going on that what is being said to a lot of folks.

Rumors continue to swirl...

...about possible Disney purchases of other companies.  Heck, if you can't earn your way out of a slump, you just buy your way out huh?

Seagrams [who owns Universal] apparently has talked about selling everything but the beverage business to either Disney or Fox.  Can you imagine Disney owning Universal - both the studio and the parks?

Meanwhile the lovely FABULOUS DISNEY BABE has passed on rumors that one other purchase Eisner may be contemplating is Mattel.  Finally, something Pressler can run without giving people fits!

And remember all the rumors about the Disney Stores being sold?  Well, it looks like the period of sales they had at the time of Lion King was really more like a one-time windfall - sales have been less for each major film event since.  And since the prospect of actually having to advertise and such [like a regular retailer would] seems way too rich for Disney, look for a decision to be made about the future of the chain with the next two major animated film releases.  When Dinosaur and the Emperor's New Groove [yes, that's an awful title] come out, if they don't ignite the retail fires, Sears may finally get their hands on the operation. 

Tarzan DVD headaches...

Many of you have been writing me to complain about the Tarzan DVD's previews - they force you to watch them before the movie starts, unlike just about any other DVD ever made for the consumer.

Here's a toll-free consumer phone number Buena Vista set up for dealing with complaints about the sound problem, but you can also call them up and register a complaint about being held hostage while trying to watch your movie. 1-800-723-4763

Video execs keep telling the press "people like to watch these things" - if they are so confident of that, why do they NOT program it so you can just skip to the next chapter then?


D-I-G Update 3/2/00: DCA June opening? / No more WDI spending as execs rejoice at IOA's "failure"Fastpass will crowd Tomorrowland even more as Innoventions attendance keeps slipping / Haunted Mansion operational info / Indy's Fastpass / Tiki blues / With those Pins, who needs Regis? / Pavers too / Character 45th Promotion takes its toll / New Disneyland Resort logo / Rainforest Cafe tidbitWolfgang Puck tidbit / Costuming building changes, finally! / Parade redo update / Collectors' update

DCA [California Adventure] opens in June...

...if you work for Disney.  Cast member [employee] previews are slated to start early this summer, and will continue through the fall.  Selected public previews, primarily aimed at Disney hotel customers, will follow.  Look for an early fall preview period opening aimed to locals, then a late winter roll-out nationally. 

Why so soon?  They are trying to get all the money flowing as fast as they can.  My own personal guess is that they finished all the Margarita and beer carts early.  ;)

And yes, as previously reviewed here, that disappointing raft ride is totally done.  What you've read about it is all it will ever be, unless Pressler and Eisner move on, or Walt himself haunts the heck out of them one late night.

Carnival booths have been confirmed in the Paradise Pier area by the way - pitch those pennies and win either a hanging Piglet rear view mirror plush toy or Pooh Hundred Acre wood pine tree shaped car deodorizer I guess.  As for myself, I do prefer those jumbo-sized electric-yellow plush Tweety-Birds that both Knott's and Magic Mountain give away as carnival booth prizes.

You have to wonder about Eisner going on and on about the Disney brand in all media chat, while the reality is that he actually turns his back completely from what made it so gold plated in the first place.  Even MOTLEY FOOL has noticed the problems here.

And poor Cynthia.  She has this mess handed off to her, and she has to make it all work somehow.  She has all of my sympathy and none of my envy on this one.  You can't hug away a mistake of that size.

Sometimes gathering material for this column can be, well... depressing.

From someone in the know

Looks like no more E-tickets at Disneyland. Armageddon will be put into California Adventure [DCA], but nothing goes into the main park for at least five years. No new lands, nothing. Maybe Pooh. that's all. 

It seems all the suits are happy over Universal's IOA failure. Happy, happy. Which means no spending, even with attendance at Animal Kingdom in Orlando down, way way down. 

I asked:  Are they just banking on the return of the Electrical Parade for here?  They continued: 

Why bother even with spending even on that? People come anyway. The stock is down, so don't spend. The [DCA adjacent] mall is a draw they feel. The new Tower of Terror at DCA will also be a cut-down version. Half of what they did in Orlando. Why pay for more? Customers won't care. They will come. Things are bad. 

It hurts to even think that, doesn't it?

Oh hell, where's my jumbo-sized electric-yellow plush Tweety Bird when I need it?

Let's chat about Tomorrowland's Autopia, Fastpasses, and Innoventions, shall we?

Team Disney Anaheim [the suits out back, better known as TDA] wants the Tomorrowland managers to work with the troubled Space Mountain Fastpass instead of pulling the plug on it, in addition to offering Fastpass on Autopia this summer.

The concern is that two Fastpass attractions near each other will flood the area with visitors. As the regulars know, it is already congested in Tomorrowland, and Fastpass dumps more people out of the queues looking for things to do.

The crux of the problem seems to lie with the attraction everyone likes to avoid, Innoventions. With its sagging attendance Innoventions is only pulling in a couple thousand people a day during the week, and between 7,000 and 9,000 [tops!] on busy Saturdays.

As a point of reference, Pirates gets 26,000 to 31,000 riders and Pinocchio or Snow White gets 8,000 to 10,000 riders on busy Saturdays. During Christmas vacation, the Country Bear Jamboree had days when it outpaced Innoventions attendance by over a thousand. The Bears only take four Cast members [CM's] to run with both theaters running, while Innoventions mind-numbing exhibits have literally dozens of CM's operating them.

As if that isn't bad enough, Innoventions numbers are going nowhere but down month by month, too. Most Passholders have already been in to see it, and don't return after one lackluster visit. The majority of current Innoventions visitors are out-of-towners who haven't seen it yet, or locals who don't know what they are getting themselves into. Innoventions has very few repeat visitors obviously, something readers may want to note was brought up here as a looming problem many times before.

The Innoventions folks thought that when Space Mountain started putting the "Visit Innoventions" tagline at the bottom of the Fastpasses... 

...that people would head right on over after getting them. Well, that didn't happen. So now Innoventions is trying to get the "Honey I Shrunk the Audience" CM's to give Innoventions a few plugs during their pre-show spiels to their lobby full of waiting visitors.

[And by the way, that may be the reason behind the rumor that Compaq got the sponsorship on the new Fireworks show as a freebie or "make good."  It may be that Disney couldn't deliver the numbers of eyeballs they promised for the Innoventions exhibits Compaq paid so handsomely for.]

Anyway, area managers have been lamenting the fact that there isn't a "real show or attraction" in the Carousel Theater that could soak up the 25,000+ people a day that building was originally designed to handle.

The America Sings / Carousel of Progress revolving theaters used to load 200 visitors every four minutes. If there was some entertaining show in there that could entice people in to spend their Fastpass virtual waiting time there, Tomorrowland could be a much more pleasant place to visit with two big Fastpass rides next to each other.

As it stands now, Innoventions will continue to see it's attendance numbers fall while more and more Fastpass visitors wander around Tomorrowland looking for something fun to do until their boarding time.

If only they had Plectu's Galactic Revue! Or even a chance to win a jumbo-sized electric-yellow plush Tweety Bird!

Speaking of FastPass...

Apparently the goal at Orlando's Magic Kingdom is for each land to have a Fastpass ride.

Tomorrowland has Space, Fantasyland has Pooh, Adventureland now has Jungle Cruise, Frontierland has Splash. That leaves Liberty Square and Toontown. Liberty Square is home to the riverboat, Hall of Presidents and the Haunted Mansion.

The plan is to offer Fastpass on Haunted Mansion, since the other rides aren't conducive to Fastpass. With Fastpass, they would always run two stretching rooms. One stretch room would be for Fastpass, and one for Standby. If the Fastpass line gets too long, they would hold the Standby line for a few minutes and load both stretch rooms with Fastpass. (They are called "ER's" at Disneyland, short for "Elevator Rooms".) 

According to folks out there, they have a problem with "babysitting" the younger CM's who work the Haunted Mansion during the evening shifts. It is possible to leave both sets of doors open at Orlando's stretch rooms, since they are not actually moving anywhere, unlike Disneyland's elevators.

If you get a few immature CM's working together, they simply leave both sets of the stretch room doors open and have the visitors walk right thru the stretch room and ahead to the boarding area. Basically, the CM's don't have to do the spiel, or stand in the room with the screaming ticket holders.

Orlando's parks don't have a large base of Passholders, and many of their visitors don't know better, so people rarely complain at City Hall or say anything about the odd Mansion entrance. Once the Leads were taken in the mid 90's, this new practice began happening. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen. That's what you get when you "empower" people, but don't have a supervisor constantly at the attraction to watch over college kids dressed up like maids and butlers.

Disneyland had problems with controlling irresponsible CM's when the Leads went away too. At Disneyland's Haunted Mansion without Leads, it was easy for the CM's to drop positions or only run one elevator so that they got more breaks but increased the waiting time for visitors.

Due to peer pressure, it only takes one or two rowdy young CM's working the lower seniority evening shifts to wreak havoc on an attractions designed capacity, all for the sake of a few extra breaks. Attractions CM's already enjoy a leisurely break schedule, getting a break or a lunch every one to one and a half hours. But you can never have enough breaks, can you?

Thankfully, Leads returned to the Haunted Mansion last Fall. Visitors can rest assured now that the ride is running at it's full staffing capacity and they won't be subjected to any unnecessary waits.

Indy is still steamrolling ahead for an early April Fastpass opening

Who knows where the standby queue will end up?! It should be interesting.

But Indy Fastpass will definitely increase the patronage of the Jungle Cruise and the Tiki Room. Let's hope they both get a well-deserved and lavish refurbishment with a small chunk of the growing Fastpass profits. Speaking of Tiki as a matter-of-fact...

Tiki Room musings - will it be redone?

...you all remember how we've discussed here that Fastpass has sent visitor spending up-up-up, and that is why Fastpass is going in like gangbusters at all the parks, right?  Money that would hopefully let them get a breather and let them fix things?

Well, the entrance hut to the Tiki Room lanai that rotted away at its foundation and had to be removed after it collapsed onto the juice bar is still just sitting behind the Indy show building. 


The marquee is missing at Tiki Room.

Facilities now says that they don't need to rebuild it and reinstall it because the Enchanted Tiki Room may theoretically be redone some time in the future. [News to all of us isn't it?] And it supposedly also adds an "airier" feel to the lanai without the entrance facade. They just want to construct a simple sign to post above the turnstile.

So, for now, the Tiki Room entrance hut sits there forlornly, rotting away even more. Sad, huh?  I have an idea... why not put in a carnival booth with jumbo-sized electric-yellow plush Tweety Birds!

Why the push on pins...

Regis doesn't have the real answer it seems.  Do you know how much WDW made off of pins once Pin Trading got going in a major way last year? Just over 10 million dollars in pure profit!

Disneyland hopes they can get at least a couple million a year off the Pin Trading craze. There will be a new Merchandise manager and assistant manager position created just to handle Pin Trading.

Once you've got your Fastpass, they want to make sure there's something for everyone to do.

...and now bricks too!

And, have you heard about the "Magical Walk of Memories" brick pavers for sale for the new plaza in-between the two Parks? The cost per paver is $150.  And you get a choice of a medallion on them too.  How nice.

There will be 47,000 pavers available for sale, and they expect to sell them all by 2001. 47,000 brick pavers at one hundred and fifty bucks a pop.

You do the math, readers.

Character push for the 45th takes its toll

Word is coming out about how the new character-heavy 45th promotion is taking a toll on some CMs. 

The "face" characters are not happy. Their set times used to be 30 minutes. Now it is 65 minutes to provide greater coverage during the park's anniversary. It is going to be murder for them come summer.

If Snow snaps at Junior come July, now you now know why. ;)  Maybe she would like a jumbo-sized electric-yellow plush Tweety Bird.

New Disneyland Resort logo on the way 

Some new signage floating around backstage at the park is now sporting a new logo for the Disneyland Resort

It has the word "Disney" in the WDW style Disney signature handwriting, then the word "land" in a very plain and almost Epcot looking modern script. Then the word "Resort" is seen in blocky letters beneath.

It's a bit jarring at first, especially since we're all used to the classic Disneyland logo in use since the 50's. But this isn't the new logo for Disneyland Park, just the logo for the entire Resort.

We knew it was inevitable, didn't we?

Rainforest Cafe tidbit

Also, the hush-hush word being told to CM's given a Downtown Disney preview is that the Rainforest Cafe will sport a giant glass atrium, and have real plants, birds, fish and small mammals in it, in addition to the standard animatronic elephants and apes.

WDI apparently has helped design this location, and wants to make sure that it is light years ahead of the nearby and much more mundane South Coast Plaza branch.

Have you heard the tenant for Paradise Pier's Avalon restaurant?

The not so well kept secret and rampant rumor is that Wolfgang Puck is going to be the restaurateur there. He didn't want to be in Downtown Disney because you miss the lunch crowd out there in the mall.

Wolfgang had been talked about as a Downtown Disney tenant for some time, yet was mysteriously absent from last Fall's announced list of tenants.

He'll have a nice view of the Golden Zephyr instead.  [Better hope that view doesn't include jumbo-sized electric-yellow plush Tweety Birds at the carnival booths.]

A new CM entrance is being built near the new costuming building.

It is going in underneath the Monorail beam and will have security turnstiles like a modern subway station. A fence will be installed under the remaining Monorail beams near the CM entrance.

The entering CM will scan their ID thru the turnstile, the turnstile will then read their ID, clock them in for their shift, and unlock the turnstile to let the CM thru. A Security guard will also be stationed at the new building to check for costumes being taken out by CM's thru the single and easily controlled exit. The CM Shuttle buses will load and unload just past the new building. This will make it much easier to prevent CM's from stealing costumes.

It is still ridiculously easy to leave Park property with any type of costume you can get. Just step up to the window, ask for a costume you are fond of, and walk over and get onto the Shuttle and leave the property.

The Shuttle drivers are employees of Super Shuttle and could care less what you bring onto the bus, just as long as you stand behind the yellow line near the door. The next morning when the Costuming CM asks you if you still have such and such costume, you just say "Oh yeah, I already turned that in." Or "Oh, I threw that in the hamper in the locker room." It's as easy as that.

But this new security entrance building under the Monorail beam is the solution they should have spent the money on before they opened the new costuming building. Instead, they waited six months to put in a permanent fix, and lost untold amounts of valuable costume pieces.

The following items were moved from the contents page to here:

A quick parade update...

Still no date has been set for new music - but it now appears they may take it down for a month or so after the Easter holidays so they can rework it. The complaints at City Hall are continuous it seems, and they are getting the message loud and clear from customers about it.

Things they may do: Rework the score and choreography, and wire the parade units for sound. As mentioned before, the new score may be a mix of all sorts of stuff - more bits and pieces from Fantasia 2000, and a little bit of Tarzan music score too.  It should be interesting!

For you collectors...

It appears that Eric Robison is now working on a Fantasmic lithograph for the Disney Gallery [located upstairs from Pirates]. 

Some quick tidbits and date changes...

The Village Haus will host the Early Entry Breakfast in place of the Tomorrowland Terrace from 2/28--3/9 during the Terrace's refurbishment / The latest estimate for the current phase of the Main Entrance work to be completed (32 ticket windows open, 8 turnstiles open) is March 8th.

That about does it for now, either I will now play with my jumbo-sized electric-yellow plush Tweety-Bird, or I'll see you all at Disneyland!


D-I-G Update 2/22/00 - What's the third park gonna be in Anaheim? / New ticket media coming / More on the Main St. Theater rehab / Pirates event rumors

There's been lots of updates lately - but then again, there's lots of news to pass on.  Here's the latest, with some of the tid-bits brand-spanking new, and a few other items just left out of previous updates due to time / space considerations.  It's a short one - but don't forget / miss yesterday's update too, directly below this one - with the first DCA ride preview.

Atlantis is the theme...

...of what now looks like a water park that going to go up on Harbor Blvd. at the strawberry field.  This should be next on the agenda for the Disneyland Resort if WDI can bring their budget down a bit to please the higher ups, who felt they wanted to do "too much" this time around.  Plans are supposed to be pretty firm on this, once DCA opens is probably when they will target a debut for it.

In the past, Imagineer Tony Baxter has chatted about this when asked, and has almost always said one of the things holding back a water park here in Anaheim has been the weather - it's just not as ideal year-round as it is in Orlando.  My guess here is they have come up with some new concepts that will insure the park will offer a bit more year-round usability.

Of course, Magic Mountain and Knott's now / will have water parks so it would make real sense that Disney feels a bit prodded in this area, and will try to hold on to visitors that may head their direction a bit longer with this.

Granted, it wouldn't be as exciting for some as the all-steel coaster Villains park idea they keep throwing around, but it isn't a sports complex either, thank goodness.

New ticket media...

The Disneyland Line apparently has detailed this, and CM's [cast members] in recent open houses have been chatting this up, here's what they have heard so far:

Disneyland is going to the same type of ticketing system Walt Disney World now uses - plastic-type wallet sized cards - that can be easily swiped in turnstiles as you enter / exit the two parks.  March 6th is the date they are aiming for - when the new ticket booths (or at least half of them) and the old exit turnstiles open up. 

The best thing?  No more hand-stamping, or waiting in line behind some family with multiple five day passes that must all be signed - the new used ticket will have a hold electronically punched through it.  The new ticket booths were designed with TONS of CM feedback, too. The Main Entrance ticket sellers will have many of their current concerns fixed.

More Main St. Cinema news...

There should be a meeting going on today with Eisner and the company who is working on this project.  For myself at least, it's great news this isn't going to be turned into another shop, like what happened in Walt Disney World.

The firm involved is a real leader when it comes to this kind of thing. If things go the way they should, this should be just a terrific job.  A previous effort for Disney from them was the EPCOT Innoventions home theater exhibit.  

Why not take a few moments to visit a site that showcases the work they can do?  We can all dream about having a home theater like these in our own homes.

Pirates merchandise event rumors...

Yes, there apparently will be a Pirates merchandise event, along the lines of the very popular Haunted Mansion and Toad events.  Expect a special limited-edition CD, just like the Mansion one they've done, and lots of really expensive merchandise.  One thing being explored is being able to actually hold the event on the Columbia itself out on the Rivers of America.  

Let's also hope they do something nice in remembrance of Marc Davis, who recently passed away.  He truly was a key player in creating this attraction.

Look for more info soon on this.

That about does it for now, see you all at Disneyland!


D-I-G Update 2/21/00 - Read the first ride review from DCA - and yes, it's a disappointing one / Eisner's reign coming to an end? / The Parade is a mess, but they are working on it / New 45th Merchandise photos / The next Fastpass ride is... / DCA future expansion plans? / Special congrats to a special couple

Here's a quick update for all of that are anywhere but Disneyland this President's Day Weekend.  As a bonus, there are now six photo collages throughout this update of new merchandise items the park put out for the 45th this past weekend.  Lots of nice stuff, and it all says Disneyland on it [finally!].  I'll try and add prices over the next few days.

Notecard set and pen
A boxed note card set and a pen [not sold together].

Da Bear - Da Bore?

Here's the first review of the new Raft ride at Disney's California Adventure [DCA for short] that someone was kind enough to send to me.  

Sadly it seems to be a heck of a lot more Paul Pressler in what it offers than Walt Disney as far as show quality goes... read on.

Yes, there is now water in the flume and they have been testing the station and developing operating guides for the future CM's. 

The ride is extremely basic, pretty much what we've assumed it was going to be all along. It is a re-themed version of Kali River, [the poorly received new ride at Animal Kingdom] but without even Kali's very basic animation or "burning rain forest" show effects.

The ride is roughly four minutes long, give or take ten to fifteen seconds. The first twenty seconds after the raft has been dispatched from the loading station is spent drifting around a bend in the flume and towards the very long lift hill. The lift hill takes about fifty seconds for the raft to make it to the top. Then the raft begins it's very fast moving journey around and down the sides of Grizzly Mountain.

There are two tunnel sections along the flume. There are no show effects, with the exception of growling bear sound effects and some basic lighting, inside these two tunnels. [Just like the Rocket Rods eh?]

There is one drop that sets the raft spinning as it heads down. The thrill in the drop comes not so much from it's modest height, but rather from the spinning effect of the raft. 

Roughly two minutes and thirty seconds after the raft has left the lift hill, the raft is again at the base of the mountain and has twenty to thirty seconds of free floating time before docking back at the unloading area of the station.

So you've got roughly a minute a fifteen seconds spent leaving the station and ascending the lift hill, roughly two-and-half minutes spent splashing thru the flume down and around back to the base of the mountain, and finally an estimated twenty to thirty final seconds of slow moving flume as the raft floats back into the loading area for disembarking. 

There are no animatronics at all in this attraction. There are a few lumber mill-type set pieces around the boarding area, much like the Cider Mill on Tom Sawyer's Island. A few of these set pieces turn and move, and they are the only moving show effects on the whole ride. 

Of course there are some nearby merchandise locations themed like an old lumber mill which match the attraction boarding area buildings. There are no conventional Disney show effects alongside the flume

They have planned to have a geyser area of the flume at the base of the mountain where visitors can insert tokens into machines that set the geysers off, thus soaking the raft passengers. Sea World's new raft ride also has these types of coin operated geysers. They make a lot of money

There is an allusion to some "bears" in the tunnels thru the use of growling sound effects. But there are no grizzly bears, stuffed, animatronic, or otherwise, to be seen anywhere on this ride. The scenery along the flume consists simply of ponderosa pines, shrubs, and convincingly fake rockwork. 

The three real selling points for this ride are simply the picturesque bears head rockwork at the top of the mountain, the flume drop that sets the rafts into a short spin, and the chance to get very wet. That's it. Your basic, four minute long amusement park raft ride

This attraction will have Fastpass on opening day. The rafts, originally designed to seat six, have had the seating rearranged so that eight seats are now squeezed in each raft. This helps increase capacity at what will be marketed as one of DCA's few "Big Rides" that people from around the western USA will be expected to flock to in 2001.

Basically, they took Kali River Rapids and cut out the "Save the Rainforest" storyline and it's modest burning forest show effects. This is a splashy four minute flume ride around a nicely landscaped fake mountain. 

You weren't expecting anything more I hope.

Sadly it fits right into what I had been hearing from day one about entire new park - it truly will be a bare bones effort banking solely on the Disney name to draw them in.

Reading that review, which I am sad to say will probably only be the first of many similar ones, it brings to mind an e-mail that was sent me by reader Greg O., which shows up just what a hypocrite Michael Eisner, who approved and has supported Pressler's vision of this new park, can be nowadays.  Greg writes:

Just by chance I have been rereading the book The Man Behind the Magic - The Story of Walt Disney by Katherine and Richard Greene... ...there is a very interesting quote by Mr. Eisner and I would hope someone would remind him of it. From page 176:

Although Michael Eisner never met Walt, he grew up watching the man on television and yearning to see Disneyland. His background, he says, is about as different from Walt's as anyone's can be. But he shares the founder's respect for quality and his aversion to cutting corners. Does he think about Walt much? "I use him", he said. "If someone wants to make a shortcut or save a little money on this or the other thing, I remind everybody of what our mission is here."

Thank goodness Eisner doesn't have Pinocchio's schnoz problem... he wouldn't be able to turn his head without knocking whole crowds over.  But read on...

Cap, jacket and shirt logos.
New, and very expensive leather embroidered jacket, matching cap, and often used t-shirt / sweatshirt logo.

Eisner leaving this year?

Seems like I'm no longer the only one talking about the problems Eisner is going having with the board this year.  Ted Casablanca [real name Bruce Bibby] is E! On-line's gossip columnist, and has broken many national stories from his regular Thursday perch on the site.  Take a gander at his LATEST COLUMN, it's well worth a read.

Any bets who might be the one they ask Eisner to report to?  I hear he's bald and hangs out with one of the Dreamworks guys in his spare time.

Remember the Main St. Cinema item last update?

Reader David E. kindly sent me the following note:

In regards to your update about Main Street Cinema: I was in the Park on Wednesday and saw some "suits" measuring the area around it. I got curious and stayed around for a while. 

They were measuring from the front of the cinema to the street and really looking at the woodwork around the outside of the front of the theatre. It was hard to tell what was going on so I asked and they would only say they were "just doing some measuring".... well duh!

I hope they keep to the plan mentioned in the previous update below, it would be a nice addition to the area.

Luggage tags, key chains, ornament, mugs and plates.
Clockwise, luggage tags, key chains share medallion design, Christmas ornament disc, matted photo of "Partners" statue at the hub, mugs and plates. 

Parade being worked on...

First things first, yes, they are going to fix it. New music is supposed to be in on Friday, the 25th.

Needless to say, things are in turmoil, Cynthia is livid, and she has everyone scrambling to fix it and / or prevent a flood of bad press and bad word of mouth. 

Some changes already made from the preview performance:  Fluffy cloud bags and footware gone [essentially de-foofing the Dwarfs], the Blue Fairy now leads the parade [where she belongs], and there are some new dance routines that work a bit better.

As I understand it, general 'head in the sand' consensus at TDA since '97 is that Light Magic wasn't a disaster because the concept was flawed, but rather it was the bad press and word of mouth that doomed it's chances for survival. They are scared to death that this is already happening with the new parade. Some really don't think it's quite that bad, but they aren't taking chances. 

Amazing they just do not want to admit the show was bad huh?

Luckily, the fireworks show is wonderful and they will be falling back on that for now. But this parade was budgeted to run three years and they have to make it work somehow. 

Changing the music will mean massive overtime while they re-rehearse the new choreography, staging and timing.  The three year budget for this parade begs the question, "But what about a new night parade in 2001?"  We'll find out soon enough it seems.

Dan S. is one of many people that have been writing and sending me with their own reviews of the parade.  So far the public consensus, despite what the O.C. Register may have said, is very disappointing.  

He's done an even better job than I was able to describe just what is so off and wrong about this show, and has some good thoughts about it too:

I've seen Disneyland's new "45 Years of Magic Parade" - I happened to be at the park when they were doing a practice run on Thursday afternoon. Some of the floats and costumes were very nicely done and definitely show their Mulan parade lineage, but I think they've misnamed this parade. If truth-in-advertising laws applied here, it would have to be called "45 Minutes of the Same Music."

Okay, so I'm exaggerating a little - it's only about 25 minutes long. But I'm not kidding about the music. I really hope you like "Pomp and Circumstance" - because that's the entire score for this parade. Over and over and over. Not just as a main theme with other Disney songs arranged in the same style woven in, as was done in Light Magic. Not variations of same theme and beat, as in the Main Street Electric Parade. No, just "Pomp and Circumstance" for 25 minutes.

To put it another way: Have you ever been to a graduation ceremony where a seemingly endless stream of students file their way up to the podium to get their diplomas, accompanied to repetitive refrain of "Pomp and Circumstance"? That's the effect here.

Of course, the parade than just than its music. But the choice of the music is very telling about the rest of the parade as well, in two ways. First, "Pomp and Circumstance" is one of the segments in the new "Fantasia 2000" movie (which, I'll point out, I haven't seen yet), and the new parade is heavy with elements from both the new and old Fantasia films: tutu-clad dancing hippos and elephants (which were probably the highlight of the parade), flying whales, pink flamingoes, and dancing mushrooms. 

The theme of the parade seems to be more about Fantasia than "45 Years of Magic". In fact, I'm not even sure what the 45 years of Magic has to do with this parade at all - other than the fact it's at Disneyland and features some Disney characters and Disneyland is 45 years old. The parade makes no such connections, unfortunately.

Second, the chosen music is very stately and majestic, and so in fact is the parade. The floats are beautiful and ornate in their style, design and detail, most riding on beautiful cloud bases. It is obvious that quite a lot of time and money went into making these floats look fabulous. The costumes are also all very impressive and some are downright astounding - the sea anemones that precede Ariel's float and the pink flamingoes stick out in my mind.

But the flip side of the parade being stately is that perhaps it is too reserved - there is so little motion or action that it is almost static. The floats almost look as if some of those Living Masterpieces (where actors are made up and set up to look like famous paintings and stand perfectly still) were put on wheels and driven down Main Street. The difference is that, although the parade's floats are very pretty to look at, they are not great works of art. Since you have a minute or two to look at each one as they slowly roll by, more than just their beauty is needed to hold the audience's attention. 

This effect is not helped by the fact that most of the floats look fairly similar - a giant swan as the Cinderella / Snow White / Aurora float, giant golden seahorses pulling Ariel's cloud-based float, Tarzan riding a golden Tantor atop a cloud-based float, giant flying whales pulling Mickey's cloud-based float, etc. By comparison in this regard, the Hercules "Zero-to-Hero" parade was far more entertaining - each float in that parade was unique and each also had a different attention-grabbing action or motion on the floats themselves.

Part of the problem here is the choreography, or lack thereof. Again, the choreography is rather stately and low-key. The walking performers' routines seem to pretty much consist of walk, walk, walk, twirl, walk, repeat. This may be due to the restrictions of the elaborate costumes, but there is a lack of energy given off . I think the performers are trying very hard to keep the parade's energy level up, but the low-key design of the routines defeat their best efforts. The Float Characters have it even worse - their floats are again static, have only minor differences from each other (Ariel is in a fishbowl, Belle's is pulled by butterflies, etc.), and their choreography is to simply sit, smile, and wave. 

The princesses are like museum pieces on display - none of the personality or the story of the characters comes though. The MSEP was a much superior example of this: each float, the routines of its occupants and the choreography of the performers around it all reflected the character and their story. In addition, this new parade has only a few floats and while there are a ton of other characters in this parade, most just walk behind the floats, wave a lot and of course, twirl occasionally.

The parade also has the now-Disney-standard "Guests participate in the parade" feature. It didn't really seem to add much to the parade - some guests hold a balloon near the beginning, some hold banner at the end, and a few get to at least do a brief "dance" with the hippos. Sure, the 50 people a day who get to participate may enjoy it, but it does little or nothing for the thousands watching it. My feeling is that while adding guests to a parade was once unique and different, this is no longer true and has consequently worn out its welcome.

To get back to the big picture, the floats look very nice and are supposedly based on paintings by Botticelli, Bernini and other classic artists. But how many Disneyland guests - particularly those in the 6 - 10 year old range - would know Botticelli if he were dropped on them? Very few, I'd guess. This new parade seems very operatic to me - larger than life, stately, refined, and subtle. Considering the roots of its designer, this isn't overly surprising. But the pageantry of opera isn't particularly popular to the masses in America, and subtlety is not what we expect out of Disney. 

Let me put it this way - if I were Disneyland's marketing department, I wouldn't be counting on this new parade to bring in the summer crowds. I'd emphasis the new fireworks show instead - that sounds much more promising.

To sum up: for me, the "45 Years of Magic Parade" is not the Electric Light Parade. It's more like Parade Lite - it looks great, but it's not particularly satisfying or filling. It's certainly not terrible and I'm not disappointed I saw it. But on the other hand, even with an Annual Passport, I don't think I'll bother to watch it again.

Thanks for that viewpoint Dan, it really sums up very nicely what I've been hearing people say once they've seen it.

The good thing is we have someone like Cynthia Harris in charge, who really wants to make things right.  If Pressler were still in charge, I'd suspect it would run for three years untouched.

Postcards and screen saver.
New gold embossed postcards and a panoramic screen saver share the same artwork for the 45th.

The next Fastpass ride is...

Indy!  It just got the green light for Fastpass. Seems that this was Cynthia's first choice for the next Fastpass attraction, and she got her wish. 

She was very adamant about getting it on Indy. The queue is going to present major challenges though, it could get pretty funky in there. They are still deciding on several different locations for the machines, including the second floor of the Jungle Cruise boathouse, no joke. That's how weird this setup may be.  

The soft opening date for Fastpass on Indy is April 3rd, official opening April 7th, just in time for Spring Break.  More news as it develops.

Boxed t-shirt, litho and plate.
T-shirt in a fancy box, the framed litho and china plate also share the 45th artwork.

Minor correction...

Last update I mentioned an ODV popcorn cart was hit by theft, it turns out it was an ice cream cart from what I now understand.

One other thing not letting CM's take costumes home would accomplish - not having to see them at McDonald's across the street eating and smoking away in full regalia.

One final tidbit about DCA's expansion, among other projects...

Someone recently mentioned to me, and it seemed to check out after asking around a bit, about just what is planned in the future for the new California Adventure park.

Past comments from WDI have included mentions of eventually eliminating the Timon lot, and moving into that area.  But another concept being thrown around is much more ambitious, and frankly surprised even me.

It seems that at some future point DCA will also expand out over Disneyland Dr. / West St. [which will be further buried] and sprawl into the Simba and Disneyland Pacific Hotel areas, with the Pacific to be torn down as a result of this at some future undetermined date.

If that's in the cards, it may help explain why they put in the Mad Mouse and food areas where they did in the carnival area, so they can easily be gotten rid of if the park were to expand out that way.

This expansion would also include some kind of major overhaul of the Disneyland Hotel too - drastic enough to the point it may mean demolition of the towers to rebuild it as a whole new hotel.  

Interesting no?  We'll see what happens on this one.

And if the seemingly approved Disney Villains all steel-coaster park is a success in Orlando, we'll probably get one here too - where the current employee parking and strawberry field is at.  

Thankfully they have cooled to the ESPN park concept they were throwing around it seems.

Now if only Pressler would stop advising Imagineers about their lack of futures at WDI, some may actually stay around to get these things done.

More merch
Notepads, small ceramic of Mickey and set of cloisonné pins have another design motif that differs from the 45th art shown above.

In closing, a special congratulations!

Join me in celebrating happy couple Jeff and Ilene's engagement this past weekend!  Two nicer folks you couldn't meet, and may their upcoming union be a wonderful one for many years to come.

If I'm right this is the fourth marriage now from within the group who first met online and then at the park on Sundays for lunch.  Isn't it interesting how a common interest such as Disneyland can lead to people discovering a common bond in a whole bunch of other things too?

Hmmm, maybe there is something to that Happiest Place on Earthstuff after all...  

That about does it for now, see you all at Disneyland!

Thanks!
 

D-I-G Update 3/8/00: A quickie!  New Haunts for the Mansion? / DCA ride problems / Survey says, fix the parade! / Innoventions again / Fireworks / Burbank cuts back even more / Other rumors / Tarzan DVD holding you hostage

D-I-G Update 3/2/00: DCA June opening? / No more WDI spending as execs rejoice at IOA's "failure"Fastpass will crowd Tomorrowland even more as Innoventions attendance keeps slipping / Haunted Mansion operational info / Indy's Fastpass / Tiki blues / With those Pins, who needs Regis? / Pavers too / Character 45th Promotion takes its toll / New Disneyland Resort logo / Rainforest Cafe tidbitWolfgang Puck tidbit / Costuming building changes, finally! / Parade redo update / Collectors' update

D-I-G Update 2/22/00 - What's the third park gonna be in Anaheim? / New ticket media coming / More on the Main St. Theater rehab / Pirates event rumors

D-I-G Update 2/21/00 - Read the first ride review from DCA - and yes, it's a disappointing one / Eisner's reign coming to an end? / The Parade is a mess, but they are working on it / New 45th Merchandise photos / The next Fastpass ride is... / DCA future expansion plans? / Special congrats to a special couple

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