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Al Lutz
Archived D-I-G Update

Special D-I-G Update 4-27-00 - Mouse Tales author David Koenig writes the D-I-G about another rather dangerous close call at Disneyland

As you may all know from being regular readers of this site, I had hoped that under new resort president Cynthia Harris things would continue to take a turn for the better at Disneyland.  She got off to a great start year before last with many good and common sense changes that enriched the Disneyland experience not only for us visitors, but improved things for the cast members that are so important and integral to our visits there too.

In the past few months though, as she started her second year in the job, it seems as if this renewal period she brought on is now over, and things are again slipping back to the way they were during the Pressler era.  Sadly not only are things being let go again upkeep-wise throughout the park - but now it seems there are recurring conditions that could lead to more serious problems if allowed to continue unabated.

Some within the company attribute these increasing problems to Judson Green's recent departure [who simply tired of arguing with Eisner about quality I was told], and Paul Pressler's increased bottom line focus - which sadly seem to be taking their toll yet again at Disneyland, and now it appears [thanks to recent news] also at Walt Disney World. 

As you may all remember, one of the saddest legacies of the Pressler era [which happened just as Harriss was taking over] was the Sailing Ship Columbia accident, where [according to a later OSHA investigation] the inadequate training of a Cast Member / employee resulted in an accident with a flying cleat that not only maimed the employee, but also killed a bystander and disfigured his wife.  

Many familiar with park operations noted that the wholesale elimination of training methods used successfully for over forty years in the belief that things could be made more "efficient" or "economical" to meet stringent new budgeting concerns was a major contributor to this horrible mishap.

Author David Koenig [Mouse Tales / More Mouse Tales] was kind enough to give me permission to quote for you the following e-mail he sent me expressing his concerns now that things seem to be heading back the way they were in the past.  It appears that Disneyland may be on track to repeat a very tragic mistake again...

When "More Mouse Tales" went back to the printer last week for another print run, I'd considered adding a few lines about how much things had improved at the park in the last year under Cynthia Harriss. I decided not to, in part based on the renewed cast member grumbling I've heard in recent weeks.

Just over a year ago, newly promoted V.P. of Operations Mike Berry vowed to the Times to correct training and staffing problems that contributed to the Columbia tragedy. The uncharacteristic display of good conscience and admission of fault promptly earned Berry relegation to Eisner's doghouse. Still, management seemed to make good on the promise. As I think you mentioned in an update about a year ago, many of the old attraction training manuals were rewritten and new training requirements were instituted.

Nevertheless, the same middle managers remained. Managers more concerned with numbers than anything else. Managers conditioned to change 40-year-old policies just to show their bosses that they're doing something. And managers who ignore the old rules out of convenience. Increasing turnover and a resultant labor shortage hasn't helped. 

According to one reliable source, managers have been sending brand new, totally inexperienced cast members to be trained as their first attraction on more complicated attractions such as Matterhorn, Columbia, Monorail, Rafts and Space Mountain. "In the old days," he explains, "a new cast member would be trained on the easier attractions -- like the Tiki Room, Skyway, Peter Pan -- before being sent to the more complicated ones. By doing this, the cast member's performance could be appraised, and he or she would gain experience on working at the park."

As a result, he says, close calls are more common -- including a near-disaster last Friday when a new hire nearly lost her thumb on the Rafts to Tom Sawyer Island. Apparently, after six days, she was still having difficulties during training. The accident occurred when she was tying a raft to the island-side dock. As she placed the dock rope onto the raft cleat, her thumb got caught and almost tore off. According to security, paramedics were called and she almost went into shock.

The incident eerily parallels the Columbia tragedy, which occurred 16 months and a few dozen yards away, in which another overwhelmed cast member, due to inexperience, did not follow long-established Standard Operating Procedures and incorrectly tied off a craft--with catastrophic results.

"They (managers) are too concerned on filling shifts than the concern of what a cast member is capable of," grumbled one cast member. "I hope she comes back from her medical, but what a way to start a new job, huh?"

With Pressler now on a cost-cutting spree - encouraged by Eisner at every turn - I can only imagine just what kind of future may lie ahead for all the parks.  Sadly Harriss here has to play the corporate game and apparently has had to step back while this renewed focus on costs, as opposed to quality and safety, has taken hold.

My initial concerns about Disneyland were sparked when Pressler came in and began eliminating things like the Golden Horseshoe show - and then I began to see his disregard for many of the conventions [including major safety issues] that were cast aside to help make his numbers look better.

It was in the news yesterday they fired the Marching Band at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom - and despite what they are telling people, I was told they are not replacing them with other musicians.  It appears now Pressler and Eisner are going to do to that resort what they so sadly did here.  

There are still lots of folks who don't understand the breadth of what may be coming down the line in their blind support of current management polices.  I guess it will take the elimination or neglect of something that they care about to get them to finally understand just what is going to be happening here.

It will not be pretty.

[By the way, David's books are available via the following LINK - do stop by his site and take a look at his work.  Great books, with fascinating stories about the park you'll never see in the official park histories.]


What may be sparking all this now?  Didn't the parks already get a huge round of cuts?

Those are probably the questions you are asking yourselves right now.  Speaking to several people both in and out of the company I got the following three theories that may or may not be at the root of what is going on here.  These people are seasoned observers and their comments were of great interest to me.

One view of what is happening is that Eisner is trying to get the stock back up as high as he can get it - so that he can finally just cash it all out and leave.  People who discussed this with me felt that he wanted to accomplish this by the end of this year.  It should be noted that the way Eisner is so richly compensated by the board there is really no other way for him to accomplish this.

This would help explain for example why the assets of the company are being dumped out into the marketplace at such a huge rate - like the wholesale release of the animated catalog titles onto DVD all in this year.  This mad dash to get the profits up is also why some properties are now suffering from extreme over-exposure [Pooh sales are substantially down as I understand, one of the things holding down Consumer Products from what I was told.]

Another view is quite interesting - that Eisner may be bracing Disney for a major disappointment with the new Dinosaur movie - and he wants all the other arms of the company pumping in as much as they can to cover for the expected shortfall.  

As you may have read here before in the update, the advance word on this project is not all that great - they may have another Godzilla type of mess on their hands.  It should be noted that Godzilla actually ended up making money for Sony - but it came at a huge cost to the studio, and they took a major loss in merchandising revenues when the expected sales did not materialize after the film opened.

A final observation was made by someone else to me - that Disney is very seriously looking at Seagrams [the company behind Universal, the studio and parks, along with a large music business] and they want the balance on the books in the best shape before they purchase or merge with them.  

There was an interesting theory presented in particular about all the parks under that merger / purchase scenario that I found utterly fascinating:  That Disney as a company is keenly interested in the Universal parks to retain / expand their reach to a budget minded consumer.  

It seems they fully are aware that the Disney parks are getting to pricing levels that may be too high for some segments of the public - and by also owning the Universal franchise - they can then market to each income segment and expand their total resort audience.  Interesting huh?

Either way it's just really sad to see the parks being let go again - they are the one arm of the company, through bad movies, poor TV seasons, and expensive vendettas with ex-executives that keeps providing ready cash day in and day out.  Disney has a wonderful asset in them, and the continuing neglect will only come back to hurt them in the long run.

But I guess it's really not about doing things for the long run anymore is it?

That's all for now.  More next week - and here's a teaser:  

What are they now calling internally the "Universal Berry Farm?"  

And why [when really pressed about it] are some people way up there saying "It's basically like a baloney sandwich - at Sirloin prices."  

And why are all the plans for future expansion they keep talking about likely to never happen?

You can probably guess what I'm referring to.  :)

See you at the park!

Special D-I-G Update 4-19-00 - Roger Rabbit ride accident / AAA Discount lets your 10 year-olds be kids again!

As you may have heard by now - a girl dropped something out of her Roger Rabbit ride vehicle last night [4/18/00], got out to get it, and somehow her leg dropped through the slot the vehicles are pulled through the ride from.  She was then caught preventing her from moving away from the oncoming ride vehicles and she suffered an injury.  As I understood it, getting her out of the track did require removal of part of it.  A Yahoo news note mentioned this morning that she was released after a few hours last night from the hospital.

Of note here, on one of the first Annual Passholder parties, they did allow visitors to walk through this attraction - and there were no problems that night with anyone getting caught in the track [we also had Cast Members watching over everyone too].  

As I remember, the "cab" vehicles do not have any kind of door or chain keeping you in, just a bar that holds you down.  A smaller child could slip under this bar if they wanted to get out badly enough.  The ride mechanism itself is quite similar to the Haunted Mansion one [the Omni-Mover system, Disney has a patent on it] - in fact they tested a teacup on that ride to see how it would work spinning around before they went ahead with the ride design for Roger Rabbit.


I want to thank reader Sean "Yoda" Rouse for this terrific tip to help families save a few bucks, a CSAA / AAA (Auto Club) employee alerted him to it:

I figure you can distribute this information so that it will be available to the widest number of interested Disneyphiles. It will be of particular interest to parents of pre-teens:

As you probably know, for ticket prices, Disneyland has redefined child from 3-11 years of age to 3-9 years of age. We've just received word that AAA clubs that sell Disneyland tickets and AAA Disneyland Vacations may continue to sell these items with the age definition of 3-11 years through the end of this year. 

That means that AAA members with children ages 10-11 can save money by purchasing the passports or packages at a AAA office. Beginning in 2001, the prices at AAA offices will realign with the current change. (As you know, CSAA offices sell the Three-day Flex Passport, as well as hotel packages. Members of other AAA clubs should check with their local offices regarding which Disneyland Passports are available for purchase.)

Thank you Sean!  This will be a big help to everyone!

D-I-G Update 4-17-00 - Judson Green quits / The Thousand Dollar jacket / 10 year-old adults / More upkeep delays / Attractions STILL closing early / Dino trouble? / Pressler and Mattel / Monorails history at WDW? / Ticket booth problems / Monorail station - danger? / Innoventions numbers / Construction delays / New off-ramp - Freeway closes / Two jobs offered

Time for an update!  And this one wanders around a bit, not only does it contain news from Disneyland, but also from Walt Disney World and from headquarters out in Burbank...  


Breaking newsJudson Green [who used to be Pressler's boss] has left Disney.

In a press release Monday, Navigation Technologies said Green [currently chairman of Walt Disney Attractions, the theme parks and resorts segment of Walt Disney Co.] is joining closely held Navigation Technologies, as president and chief executive, effective May 8. The company develops digital map information for navigation systems.

I'd wondered why he was so quiet lately.


The Thousand Dollar Jacket

Yep, they have a one thousand dollar jacket they are now selling in both Disneyana and the Gallery at the park.

I'm sure you've heard about this on-line already, but now you can actually see why it costs so much via a short MPEG, just by clicking on the photo below.

$1000 for this?
Click on the photo above to see a short MPEG video of what this jacket does.

My question? How does one clean it without electrocuting one's self I wonder.  Better get your million from Regis first before you go charging it on the Disney credit card.  ;)

And yes, they've sold four of those suckers already this past weekend I understand.


10 year-old adults

Boy are you readers angry about this rather sneaky price increase.  The negative e-mail about it was number one on the lists of things you all wrote to me about all of last week.

From what I could gather - the admission increase was treated as "an emergency" - and was rushed into happening late the week before.  There was a name attached to it, Marilyn Alexander, who was just named chief financial officer and senior vice president of Finance for Disneyland Resort.  As I understand it, she ended up being Byron Pollitt's replacement, since he's now moved up with Pressler to being chief financial officer of Walt Disney Attractions.

Apparently they spotted the pricing inconsistency from Orlando's schedule of pricing, and pushed this into effect as another quick way to meet Eisner's new demands of more price cutting and increased revenues from the parks.  [There's a reason for this, detailed below.  We'll get to it in a bit.]

What was so dumb about all this was how arrogantly it was handled by the park - in mishandling how it was announced, they got all this negative publicity which they should have known would have hit them hard.

Net effect?  The pricing before had already led more than a few folks to try and cheat the system, handling it the way they did only seems [from what a few folks have told me who work Main Gate] to have increased people trying to get by the system.

Anytime you a] anger customers with such a huge increase - and - b] by doing so increase the public's looking into to cheat it - you have to ask if maybe, just maybe, they've gone too far.

They have a standard response now if you write to complain about the increase, which reader Chris was kind enough to forward to me:

Dear Disneyland Guest:

Thank you for your recent correspondence with the Disneyland Resort. We are very appreciative of feedback from our Guests, as it assists us in our ongoing attempts to maintain our high standards and fine reputation.

Please be assured that we do not consider a ten-year-old to be an adult here at Disneyland. We have always sold "Regular" admission passports as well as children's admission Passports. A child, in respects to enjoyment versus value, is a Guest who cannot enjoy every attraction that Disneyland has to offer. However, our Regular Admission Passports are for those who can. Our Guests can enjoy all of our attractions when they reach 46" in height. The average seven-year-old is 48" in height. Therefore, to allow for some variance, we have decided that ages 10 and over qualify for our Regular Admission Passport.

Although your feelings indicate that you believe our sole intent is profit making, nothing could be further from the truth. Obviously, since we are a business, a desire for profits does exist. However, we in the Disneyland family have three main objectives for which we constantly strive to achieve--to provide a positive experience for our Guests and our Cast Members, to provide a quality world class product for our Guests enjoyment and then finally to be financially successful. We are very well aware the three go hand in hand, and having worked here for six years, I feel very strongly that this goal is as strong as ever.

Once again, thank you for taking the time to write. We hope that you will have the opportunity to visit the Magic Kingdom soon and that our attractions and entertainment will delight you in every way.


Ryan Whitman
Guest Communications
Disneyland Resort

As the person who was kind enough to forward the letter said to me in the note attached to it:

...spoken like a true bureaucrat.

And they wonder why they get jumped on by the press.


More upkeep delays / attractions closing early

In one of the Cast Updates a few years ago, Pressler made a big deal about fixing up Disneyland and returning it to a level of quality that it used to keep in the past, in time for the 50th Anniversary.

Apparently the new mandate now is to delay everything that had been planned and just do a minimal job until closer to the 50th.

The wear and tear on the park is starting to show again - not only at Innoventions for example, which I had photos of last update, but in other areas too, such as ToonTown, which after a good start with paint no longer is being maintained.

And speaking of ToonTown, and a few other attractions, like Tiki and Mr Lincoln, there are more and more late openings and early closings on them to save labor bucks.  How do you explain to a kid that something at Disneyland is closed, when there doesn't seem to be any reason for it other than just shuttering it for costs?  When you add to the list dead attractions such as the Subs - it really makes for a substantial amount of things being down.

Yes, there is a lot of spending going on right now - Autopia is going full speed ahead, Tarzan's emergency repairs were done - Fantasmic just got an overhaul, among many other things [such as new construction for Casa Mex].  But it still makes you wonder why they let things get so bad in the first place, so that all it stacks up like this now.


Dino trouble?

I mentioned above that Eisner had told Pressler he wants more cutbacks and increased profits from the parks immediately.  

Well, there may be a good reason for that - it may be that Dinosaur, the movie they were all banking on being a big hit, may not have turned out to be what they were hoping for.  Even after the reputed 200 million they spent on it.

The buzz on the movie had been disconcerting for quite a while - but I hadn't really heard anything solid until some of the people who had worked on it started talking to folks the last few weeks.  When I added those nuggets of information to the few others who'd told me they'd seen it and were not impressed, well let's just say the buzz within the company now [and spreading fast] is that this movie won't be fueling too much of their revenue engine this year.

"It looks great - but the story is awful."

"Jar-Jar was nothing compared to what's in this."

"This reminds me of Tron.  You love looking at it, but the script is pitiful to listen to."

[One of those comments came out of Pixar too.  ;)  ]

The expensive Mission to Mars tanked this year for the studio, and now this one seems like it may be weaker than any of the other previous animated films.  As you read that, keep in mind last year only 3% of the profits of the company came from the film division.  

No wonder they are milking the parks as much as they can.  

Those teats must be raw by now...


Diorama being cleaned

Someone was kind enough to write me about what was going on in the Grand Canyon / Primeval World diorama - basically it is just getting a long-overdue cleaning and overhaul, and at this time that's all it will get, no additions are planned.

Since the train runs through there daily - they felt it was better to do it in sections rather than just shut the whole thing down or black it all out - so they started with the Dino fight and are working their way across the areas until they get to the other side.


Pressler and Mattel

One thing about Pressler that he seems to have learned from Eisner, is that he tells you one thing, and then does something else.  

From Barron's last week [thanks kindly to reader Steve]:

BARBIE BLUES. As a new member of the Mattel board's nominations and corporate-governance committee, Whitworth is also in a favorable position to push for board candidates who share his views. Moreover, Whitworth has been told that ''less than highly regarded board members'' may not be asked to remain on the board much longer, says Teslik. He will also have a say in the selection of a new chief executive, which could happen within the next 90 days. 

At least one top candidate, Walt Disney theme park chief Paul Pressler, is said to have taken himself out of the search, in part due to the unsettled board situation.

You know, if Eisner moves on, whoever comes in / takes over, may have their own ideas about who would need to be running things.

More than a few folks out of Burbank have communicated to me that Pressler is not very well liked by anyone at the company except for Eisner.  He's apparently stepped on way too many toes on his way to the top.  It would be interesting to see what does happen in the next year or so in the executive ranks.

Dinosaur's success or failure could make, or break a lot of situations there.  


WDW monorail system history?

Speaking of Pressler, he apparently now has something else in his sights that he wants to get rid of, thanks to some huge upcoming costs to maintain or upgrade it.

Yep, just like the Subs at Disneyland, he now wants to look seriously into eliminating the Monorails in Orlando.  They've been running a long time, and deferred upkeep [which Eisner has allowed] has caused quite a bit of wear and tear on the system.  The price to get it back up to the way it was is now getting so steep thanks to all that deferred upkeep, that they may just go ahead and close them down.

The alternatives?  More busses [even though they already are at an all time fleet size] and get this - a Tijuana Trolly type light rail system.

I guess for Pressler it's just as nice to stay at a big expensive resort on the Trolly line, as it is to stay at one that has a Monorail.  The time frame for this to happen in is in the next five to ten years.

Why does this shopkeeper not understand why it's really a showman's job, I wonder.


Ticket booth problems

Meanwhile back at Disneyland - California Adventure construction continues, and now there seems to be a problem with the first batch of new ticket booths they just built.

I'd noticed what poor quality they were - compared to what they replaced, and apparently some of this is due to shoddy construction by the contractor.  After spring break, they will probably redo all the exterior stucco on them again, to try and get them looking better.

It's amazing what you overhear just standing somewhere minding your own business sometimes.


Monorail station - danger?

Last update I mentioned the problems with two trees that were placed much too close to the Monorail track in the new picnic area.  It looks like they are going to leave things alone for now - I can only hope no one will get hurt here as a result of just waiting it out.

One of the major problems with the new Monorail station back over by the hotel is poor design, which I've noted on the site before.  Penny pinching has made the overhang on both ends too short to adequately shelter both customers and CM's etc.

Now another problem has surfaced, which a kind reader alerted me to - the crossbars between poles used to stabilize the structure apparently are irresistible to kids who want to climb on them.  They hastily had to throw up some plants up against them to try and keep the kids off.

Dangerous crossbars

You can see below and above how easy it is for kids to climb up these things.

Dangerous crossbars

It's like they never dealt with the public before sometimes...


Meanwhile back at Innoventions...

...they are doing everything they can to get the numbers up.  Kind reader Lawrence forwarded me this note about some of the tricks they now use:

I went to the park Saturday night to watch the fireworks and get some clam chowder. The last time I viewed the Fireworks we watched from Innoventions, definitely the least crowded / best viewing place I could find.

However, I was curious if I could see them better from the Space Mt. 2nd floor deck overlooking the "Honey I Shrunk" queue area. There was no crowd there and the line was short so nobody was around. Unfortunately, they kicked me out of there so I went back to Innoventions. I tried to go through the Exit up the ramp to the 2nd floor, too much Tom Morrow for me, when a CM in a shirt and tie stopped me from entering the exit. I noticed him when I left, I assume he is stationed at the exit to deter people.

Back at the 2nd level there was a small crowd of almost 50 people. I noticed 2 CM's, one from Innoventions and one with a broom, making sure people cleared the aisle for exiting guests. However, neither of them were making us leave the area.

I came to the realization that guests sitting on the 2nd level to watch the fireworks brings higher attendance to Innoventions. I remember seeing the inside packed around 9:15 but deserted right after the fireworks. Obviously, this is why the Special Agent CM was stationed at the exit, they need the guests to go through the turnstiles to register a "visit" to Innoventions. I'll bet none of those guests watching the fireworks did anything more that a quick game of Millionaire when passing through the building. This became obvious when the Special Agent was gone following the fireworks.

Thought you would find that amusing. Keep up the good work, it is much appreciated.

By hook or by crook...  ;)


Construction delays 

They are still playing catch-up with construction around the park, they had wanted the new ticketing gates and the Autopia up and running by last Friday, but have missed the deadline.

The main gate is getting quite a redo - new roofs are being built on raised platforms and then wheeled over to be lowered into place as the work progresses.

Autopia is getting closer to completion, it still is getting cement poured for the roadway areas.  The Fantasyland remodel of the former loading area is almost completed, and should lose the construction fence this week or next.


New off ramp / Freeway closes

For those of you coming south down the I-5 to the park they finally did open a new ramp into the park, Disneyland Drive / Ball Road.  It zips you [after two lights] right into the Pinocchio parking lot in record time.  Once the new parking structure is complete, [they are promising June now] that's the route most everyone will be taking as they arrive.

As nice as that is to have now - those annoying CalTrans folks have again decided to start shutting down the 1-5 northbound freeway completely at about 11 PM each night at the 91 interchange - which affects drivers headed north after spending the night at the park.

Expect delays of up to two hours to get through this mess after 10 PM all through spring break.

You can avoid this by heading South down the 1-5 instead, to the 22 - taking it West until you hit the 405 North.  It may take you a bit out of your way, but save you hours of just sitting on the freeway as everyone gets off to take the detour.

Why they waited until Spring Break to do this, no one will ever know.


A recent Disneyland job listing caught my eye...

[Special thanks to reader Cindy for helping to point it out]: 

Disneyland - DISNEYLAND Resort
Title - Internet Content Manager
Location - Anaheim, CA 92803, USA  

Description - Supervise updates and new additions to existing Disneyland Resort Web site. Act as a liaison with Brand Teams to be sure Brand objectives are being met with Web site. Present current and planned Web site enhancements to various management stakeholders. 

Oversee budget for Internet Content Management. Recommend updates for Disneyland Resort Web site. Partner closely with Disneyland Resort support areas-Guest Communications, Special Events, Travel Company. Coordinate training for Disneyland Resort Cast Members about internet initiatives. 

Outline statistics and tracking needs, from Travel Company, Ticket Services and Oversee maintenance of content database. Supervise schedule and updates to and / or outside vendors. Troubleshoot content database challenges as they arise. Handle special projects, as needed, including integration of new web cameras, screensavers, etc. 

Stay current with internet trends and technologies.  Oversee on-time, on-budget implementation of web maintenance. Maintain overall quality of all content of Disneyland Resort Web site. Maintain accuracy and timeliness of all content on the Disneyland Resort Web site.


* Bachelor's degree in marketing or equivalent
* Minimum 1 year experience with online / internet project management
* Minimum 1 year Disneyland experience
* Demonstrated strong planning and execution skills
* Demonstrated familiarity with processes for producing online materials
* Demonstrated strong team player
* Demonstrated strong verbal and written communication skills
* Demonstrated strong partnering skills
* Proven ability to be detail oriented, creative and results / action oriented
* Demonstrated familiarity with use of database applications supporting web page development
* Demonstrated ability to be a high energy, innovative thinker

My, that's an interesting job.  Think whoever fills it can finally let people looking at know what hotels are near the monorail?  ;)

A quick note for all those that want to apply - it's already been filled from within.


That about covers it for today, see you all at the park!

D-I-G Update 4/6/00 - Pirates of the Caribbean Event Information

Brochure cover
Pirates announcement brochure cover - Artwork © Disney

Finally, they mailed out a brochure detailing this event to be held on May 20th, here's basically what it says:

Tickets are $85 each, $65 for Premium Annual Passholders [discount only available when showing your pass].

Tickets are available starting 4/10:  You can call Disneyland's DelivEARS merchandise line at 800-362-4533 OR you can e-mail them at for information.  DO NOT SEND YOUR CREDIT CARD NUMBER TO THEM VIA E-MAIL FOR OBVIOUS SECURITY REASONS.

The DelivEARS folks will be gathering a "wish list" for leftover merchandise from the event starting on the 10th, but they do not guarantee anything from it.

The first hundred who register for the event will get a chance to spend more on a special offer.  How nice.

There is also a special rate at the Disneyland Pacific Hotel for attendees, you need to call 714-956-6400 and ask for the "Pirates room rate."

The price includes a "limited edition [destined for ebay] commemorative gift."

Here's the schedule that day:

Check-in - 7:30 to 8 PM, Main Entrance of the park

Merchandise preview and sale - 8:30 AM to park closing, Main Street Opera House

Silent Auction - 8:30 AM to 5 PM, Main Street Opera House

Beverage Reception - 7 PM, Fantasyland [WonderBra] Theater

Panel Discussion - 7:45 to 8:45 PM, Fantasyland Theater

The panel includes: Tim O'Day, Moderator / Alice Davis (Costume Designer, artist Marc Davis' widow) / X. Atencio (Songwriter - Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Pirates' Life for Me) / Sam McKim (Artist) / Harriet Burns (former Imagineer) / Kim Irvine-Allison (Imagineer, art director Disneyland Design Studio) / Bob Baranick (former Imagineer and art director Disneyland Design Studio, now a consultant)

Special Ride on Pirates - 11 PM

Although the main focus for the park on these events is on selling merchandise, past wingdings [such as those created for the Haunted Mansion, and Mr. Toad] have had other elements [such as the panel discussions and meeting Imagineer / designer types] that can make it worthwhile for fans of the attractions.

The discount for Premium passholders is a nice touch too.


D-I-G Update 3/29/00 - What's really behind the moustaches? / Major attraction rehabs delayed or canceled / Fastpass problems continue - CM's hurt / More about the Treehouse sudden rehab / Pointe Anaheim stalls / A Disney Stores push for more sales


What's really behind the moustaches?

The leak started Thursday sometime, spread via an Orlando Sentinel story on Friday and Saturday, then hit the national news on Sunday.  Everyone was talking about Disney's theme park employees finally being able to wear moustaches.  While the media breathlessly reported the news, no one really went into detail on the reasons behind it.  And frankly, I myself was a bit baffled by the announcement.  

I mean really, how out of touch could Disney's top brass be with current trends?  They should have fully well known that a relaxation of the grooming standards to allow moustaches still really wouldn't appeal to the core group they appear to be trying so hard to employ right now, with chronic staff shortages plaguing both of the Anaheim and Orlando operations. 

Turn on MTV for goodness sakes, and watch the audience they cover, it's plain to see that current grooming / appearance preferences for younger types steer towards goatees, some type of piercing and tattoos.  We won't even discuss yet how the low wages they pay also contribute to their hiring problems.

It took a few e-mails and phone calls to finally get to why exactly this one particular exception was made to the standards - and it appears that it really came down to an acknowledgement of a cultural situation, which opened up a key labor pool for them.  As hard as it has been for Disney to employ folks at the low wages they pay, there has always been one particular group that was more than willing to work for those rates that was limited somewhat by the moustache policy.  

Apparently Disney wanted to broaden access to the male Latin labor pool - a key demographic that they depend on quite heavily for their service-oriented business.  According to one of the people I spoke to, the new policy "...will finally get rid of the one barrier Disney had when it came to increasing employment of this particular segment."  

The policy appears to target first generation Mexican immigrants that are a large part of the Anaheim work force, and it also helps Orlando as they more aggressively recruit in Puerto Rico.  The source continued "This particular demographic is a key one to fill Disney service jobs that most Americans are not very interested in doing for the lower wages Disney wants to pay."  

With the company really hurting for profits - they have been loathe to increase wages, which if done, could ease many of their current problems in trying to fully staff the resorts on both coasts.  But this one change in grooming standards helps to further open up a specific demographic they can use in the meantime to stave off having to pay those increases a bit longer.

Is this a racist policy?  No, I don't think it can be categorized as such - it comes across more as a situation where the company is trying to recruit a key labor pool they find increasingly essential as they try to keep an even tighter rein in on costs, and they found one barrier to it that could be easily lifted.

But it sure comes across as something that can be seen in that kind of light, doesn't it?


Major attraction rehabs delayed or canceled

You're right in your e-mails to me - it's a small world looks just as borderline in both exterior and interior appearance as ever.  And now the rumors of the Haunted Mansion's rehab cutback are apparently true.

What happened?  Weren't both attractions due for some major spiffing up this year?  Wasn't small world getting a new fountain out front and a newly rehabbed facade?  And wasn't Mansion supposed to gain an outdoor entertaining area for Cynthia Harriss' [President of Disneyland] corporate wingdings, along with some interior work in preparation for an even bigger rehab a few years down the road? 

It now seems that the one champion behind those projects has moved on to a new gig, and the new guy replacing him wants hard to try and please head maintenance guy T. Irby.  So both rehabs have been scaled back, or canceled, while they go ahead and get the Matterhorn back into shape and do other work around the park.

It's too bad, since small world in particular is looking rather ragged lately - and considering just how much traffic it still pulls in, should have been right up there on the list to get a complete overhaul.

And everyone thought T. Irby had turned a corner there...


Fastpass problems continue - CM's hurt

As the park gets ready to put on a major Fastpass campaign [they were filming commercials in the park with all types of demographics covered, including Latin and Asian families] the complaints and problems with the system are beginning to mount - in particular with Splash Mountain.

It seems not only does Yeargin monkey around with the system to try and increase numbers on the Fastpass ticket issuance - but so do other managers, who can access it from other points in the park.  [Remember the entire system is interconnected.]

In order for Fastpass to work best, it has to limit the tickets issued every five minutes to a certain number.  That number is determined by the park and Imagineering as the system is tested, and usually the system functions pretty well if it is kept to.

When managers, in an attempt to increase those numbers, try to inch them up - that's when the Fastpass line gets too many people going through it.  Then the regular line is made to wait until the Fastpass line gets whittled down.  And that's where the problems begin.

I now have some reports that a few Splash Mountain CMs [Cast Members, Disney-speak for employees] now have been either punched or kicked by angry customers in line who have been asked to wait while Fastpass holders get on.  

Most of this is due to the misunderstanding of the system by people in the regular line.  One event was due to a visitor who did not speak English and was not able to understand what was going on, and more than a few of the incidents were just from sheer frustration of seeing a very long line continue to be held up as some people were just waved on.

Right now it seems that Fastpass functions best on weekdays - when attendance stays at about 30,000 - which the park has amazingly been pulling in during the week this year.  The problems start to increase as the gate count exceeds that, which Disneyland will be doing almost daily both this Easter vacation and then this summer, and then the managers start messing around with the numbers of tickets issued.

The key to making Fastpass work lies in limiting the ridership using it - not expanding it.  It's a lesson that still needs to be learned it appears.

In the meantime, I would suggest staying out of the Splash Mountain / Critter Country area - and when Indy gets Fastpass, stay out of Adventureland.  The crowds will be considerable in both those areas, and tempers will be flaring so long as they try to push more people through the system than it was originally intended for.

By the way, Imagineering apparently was never informed about Fastpass being a part of the new Autopia overhaul until they [apparently] read it here.  They feel rather strongly that the current queue configuration will move crowds through fast enough, and they are in particular upset that Fastpass riders apparently will not see the pre-show elements they have worked to incorporate which promote the ride's new sponsor, Chevron.

I wonder if Chevron would get a discount on their sponsorship if a large part of the ridership may not see their pre-show ads?  

Me thinks not.  ;)


More about the Treehouse sudden rehab 

The e-mail quoted below to me detailed it out:

Al, saw your note about the Treehouse rehab.  Basically what happened was that to save costs during the Tarzan remodel, they blew off rebuilding the steps, many of which had been there since the Treehouse first opened.  

The wood rot, termites and elements finally took their toll on the steps, and a visitor went right through one of them the other day, breaking it out, and prompting the closing and emergency repair.

Another Pressler / Eisner decision to save a little bit of money comes back to haunt them later, in a much more expensive way it appears.  

One person I talked with was guessing it was costing twice as much now to try and do the emergency repairs than it would have run to have done them at the time of the original Tarzan transformation.  Oh well, there goes the credibility of that little plug for a cost-effective attraction that was inserted into this year's annual report by Eisner.

One thing about Mike and Paul, at least they are consistent in their short sightedness!  Save a few bucks here, spend a couple of thousand more later to make up for that poor decision.  ;)


Pointe Anaheim stalls

It's been awfully quiet with the Pointe Anaheim folks across the street on Harbor Blvd. - it appears that the proposed mall next door [a competitor to Disneyland's own "Downtown Disney"] is now stalled for the time being, as investment money is slow in coming, and tenants are even slower to sign up.

Needless to say park execs are delighted, but maybe they would be tempered in those feelings a bit if they knew what appears to be the real reason behind the delays of this, and a few hotel projects down the road that are also in a similar situation.

It appears money is slow because many of the lenders aren't too impressed by the California Adventure expansion.  The park itself is not exciting them much, and the rest of the resort isn't exactly what they were hoping Disney would be doing to pull crowds in.

We'll have to see I guess.

Speaking of California Adventure - attendance will be capped daily at 33,000.  Keep in mind that's what Disneyland is pulling in now on weekdays.

Sure hope the ad campaign isn't a big one, it could easily pull in more folks than will be let in it seems.


A Disney Stores push for more sales

I tend to also get a lot of feedback from the very nice Disney Stores folks - and I like to monitor what is going on there in that division because I think they also reflect [along with the parks] a lot of what is passing for "business planning" at the Walt Disney Company right now.

I got the following e-mail, which checked out by the way, from a kind soul who was detailing a lot of the upcoming changes you will be subjected to as you make future visits to the local Mouse House:

Al, I thought I would let you know about a big change in the Disney Stores. They are testing a new "selling system" called Project Go, which will be implemented by all Disney Stores in August. Let me tell you how this horrid systems works. 

We are no longer assigned zones in the store, like adults, cash / wrap, children's etc. Each cast member is given a selling goal which means we have to ring up each guest we have helped. We must follow our guest through the store all the way up to cash / wrap. 

They are also now keeping track of each cast member and how much we are able to sell. We have been told not to talk about the parks, movies or anything that is not related to selling in the store. Also no small talk, just stay focused on selling. 

The team work concept is out the door, and in my store this has made everyone stressed. They are trying to make us like the Gap or some other commission type store, but we receive no commission. 

And to top all this off they got rid of the Disney Trivia in the stores. Now its called the Diz Biz trivia and it is trivia on store procedures like how to process a check. They are really killing the spirit of the stores. 

We are now being referred to as Sales Associates. As you know, we are getting rid of our sweaters and will be wearing denim shirts with black pants and shoes in mid April. Another change is, if you work less than four hours you don't get a break at all, so they have been scheduling us for 3 1/2 hours. 

The only positive thing that has happened is Disney World now accepts Disney Store Cast Member ID's as admission. But Disneyland has said absolutely no. 

I just wanted to close by saying I have never felt like not going to work in the Disney Store until recently. The magic in the store is really dying for me and it makes me sad.

Part of the new policy is something called "3 for 30" - where each employee is instructed to try and increase each sale they make to three items and get a thirty dollar total in the end.  Feedback I got about this mentioned the following:

They just don't understand who they have walking into the stores. When mom, dad, grandpa and grandma come in with the kids, your not going to "convert" each one into a 3/30 sale! 

Granted, some procedures like these are necessary in the retail world - but they are most common in commission situations as a way to weed out the less effective sales help.  Disney Stores are rather unique in pushing these methods and not offering commissions.

From another source:

The really scary part is that we keep hearing about all these little changes, and even those keep changing. There IS a lot of valid, good stuff there combined with the rest you have to wade thru.  But it seems like there really isn't a solid plan - they're just trying things out all over the board.

Another thing that's happening is they want to cut down on management at the stores, one Sales Manager and one Assistant Sales Manager at most, with maybe a full-time and part-time lead.  They're also trying to get us to really beef up loss prevention skills, it seems a lot of stores have been getting hit harder lately.

What I also keep hearing is that the reason sales are down is not so much because of the poor sales techniques - but more due to the fact that the stores increasingly seem to have problems in getting stock that customers want.

It's always easy to blame the help when the sales aren't what they should be, or is desired.  But a closer look by Disney Store management at their product mix is probably more of what they may need now.

After all, look at what more attention to what customers want at Disneyland has done - it has increased merchandise sales for them.  All they had to do was provide more items that were exclusive to the park, which has started to really come in now.

It isn't that hard.


That's it for this time, there is more to come this week, but I do have to get some kind of sleep now.  :)

As always, see you at Disneyland folks!

Special D-I-G photo update 3/27/00 - Danger near the Monorail track? / Innoventions damage / Unscheduled Tarzan Treehouse rehab

The following two photos [taken 3/26/00] show two trees in the new picnic area that are located too close to the Monorail track. 

As much as it should be appreciated that the park has tried to provide shade in this area - it should be noted that these particular types of trees are very easy for children to climb in, and up to, the high voltage monorail track directly above them.

Seeing as how they have difficulty in the park even keeping kids off of the rockwork in Tomorrowland [where there are plenty of CM's (cast members) around] - this situation warrants a serious look by management immediately with the lesser staffed picnic area.  

Let's hope they rectify this as quickly as possible.

Dangerous tree location
Tree number one, located near the fence surrounding the area.

Dangerous tree location
Tree number two, also strong enough for a smaller child to climb up in.


Innoventions damage

While up on the balcony taking photos for the site I noticed the following extensive damage to Innoventions - it looks like it's falling apart already after only a few years.

Rim damage

The picture above shows the paint buckling up, and the elements eating through to the Styrofoam they used to shape everything with, you can see how the damage is eating into the soffit.

Paint damage

As you can see above, the paint all around the top floor exterior area is also at the same time buckling and peeling off - and since this is a multi-textured / paint speckled finish, you just can't put another coat of paint over this.  The entire building would have to be repainted again to do it correctly.


Tarzan Treehouse unscheduled rehab

The quickie, and apparently unscheduled, Tarzan Treehouse rehab now underway appears to have been scheduled so that workmen can rebuild the stairs throughout the attraction.  No official word yet on how long this will take.


D-I-G Update 3/23/00 - New website about theme park safety is up / Regis moving into Innoventions?


New website about theme park safety is up

Stop by a new site about theme park safety, SAFERPARKS.ORG which was created by Kathy Fackler, a citizen activist and mom to Steven (9) and David (7).  

If her name sounds familiar it's because David lost part of his left foot in an accident on Disneyland's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in 1998, which explains her high public profile and keen interest in ride safety. 

This well-organized and thoughtfully-written site is well worth a visit, especially now that Disneyland [along with many other parks] is currently lobbying very hard to keep any kind of oversight of their operations to a minimum, despite a recent California law requiring more involved inspections.

Using the QUIKLINKS™ feature below you can read two articles about this very subject in the 3/23/00 edition of the L.A. Times.


Regis moving into Innoventions?

That's the hot rumor right now.  I guess they noticed the only thing holding visitor's attention inside the whole place was the Millionaire CD-ROM games they have set up in the Compaq area.  The buzz is they may convert the entire first floor into a showcase for the program, to try to lure folks in that way to the corporate exhibits upstairs.

Nothing like riding a hit so hard until they can burn it out huh?  ;)

D-I-G Update 3/22/00 - Dino install? / MKC Surveys / McD's 45th Promotion / New Park-Themed Toy Merchandise / It IS a Blue Bayou / Candy isn't so dandy / Parking problems? / Costuming fixed back the way it was / Eisner speaks / Reader rants: MSEP & Fast Pass / DCA parade info / DCA Carny booths / DCA Mascot, character ban


Dinosaur film promo coming to Disneyland?

The curtains are up on the last scenes in the Primeval World diorama seen off the train, just before you arrive to Main St. from the Tomorrowland station.  

Could it be that tie in to the Dinosaur CGI film Eisner is banking so heavily on?  Let's hope we don't get any smarty-pants monkey chatter on the soundtrack [watch the trailer, it's ONLINE, to see what has me wincing].  

Yes, we all fall asleep from the Grand Canyon on, but this one has me wondering.


Main St. Cinema delay

Yes, they are rehabbing the Main St. Cinema to turn it into a showcase for Mickey shorts - but now the dates seem to be delayed a bit.  The original planned for July 17th opening has been pushed back to fall - mostly what it seems from some re-thinking of how the thing will be set up.

Apparently the original plans were to empty the 40 seat theater after every show into the next door music shop.  Well someone woke up to the fact that a crowd of 40 wouldn't fit very well into this small space, and it would probably increase the theft of the very pocket-able CDs, cassettes and DVDs the place has.  

So now the plan is to build a hallway behind the music shop, that would exit into the Disney Showcase sports merchandise shop.  Of course it is thought that it would also help up the sales numbers a bit at this location, which are the lowest of the entire street.

Geeze, maybe if Eisner didn't think sports was still the in thing - maybe the shop could be re-done as a mouse showcase eh?

I'm just happy we're getting some kind of attraction instead of another shop on Main St., so no complaints from me.


MKC discount structure changing?

One of the most disappointing things Disney has done in the past few years has been the systematic dismantling of the MKC Club discount program, to a mere shell of what it used to be.  Now reader Fred has been kind enough to alert me that a change may be in the works:

PKM Associates are doing surveys for the Magic Kingdom Club. Today I participated in one. They presented about 20 different packages of discounts (almost all of which are now included) with prices varying form $20 to $80 per year.

Sounds like they are looking at doing it the hard way.  

The solution is easy - INCREASE the amounts and types of discounts - and add an affiliate program at a national retailing chain other than the Disney Stores.  That should get those very expensive memberships back up again.

Why does it seem surveys are always done when they don't want to listen to the customers?  ;)


McDonalds / Disneyland 45th co-promotion

Reader Michael was kind enough to tip us off to an upcoming promotion between these two:

About a week ago, at our local McDonald's, when ordering a Super Sized drink, the plastic cup with the wide top and skinny bottom (they save on drink.. I can't stand 'em!) had not the typical Coca-Cola ads painted on it, but a DL 45th logo on it, complete with [the] Mickey firework. 

I live in the SF Bay Area, so I don't think it's just a local promotion. This McDonald's has previously given us promotion-related cups when they've run out of they're typical cup, so this may be an upcoming promotion. So, get ready for a few Extra Value Meals. 

During the last few promotions (I think of a WDW 25th promotion and another Disney tie-in that happened earlier, perhaps last year?) they've sold some nice glass mugs. Hopefully they'll have some nice collectables for the DL [promotion].

I can see those ebay listings going up right now!  Let's hope at least the toys are good, the burgers have always been questionable.  ;)


New Park-Themed Toy Merchandise

One of the nice things about Cynthia Harriss being the President of Disneyland nowadays is the return of the park themed merchandise.  

Unlike her boss's thoughts on the matter [just fill the park with the same merchandise the Disney Stores had to save money], she has apparently been pushing hard to get us more unique merchandise, although not always as successfully as can be done... 

A case in point, the following two toy items:

Nephews in a Teacup!

Huey, Duey and Louie in a ride Teacup, very nice, but...

But where is the backside of water?

This wonderful Jungle Cruise boat [above] boasts it is from Walt Disney World.  

Yes, they save money doing it this way, but people really do look for the Disneyland logo / identification on these things.  Imagine how many more sales they'd get here if they also redid the toy train and monorail sets they now sell to be Disneyland specific?

At least they are getting better about the price points - $6 for the Teacup, $10 for the boat.


It IS a Blue Bayou now

Apparently, all three Blue Bayou managers / assistant managers have been suspended recently. It seems they were attending a restaurateurs' convention (they do these things, and often win awards for the Bayou) and as such they were representing Disneyland, and well... 

...from a kind source comes the rest of the story:

However, their conduct wasn't really up to Disney standards by some accords: they were certainly drinking, and possibly got out of hand (one report talks of dancing on the tables!). It should be stressed that no one at the management level will discuss this, so what information I have comes from a leak somewhere. 

Consequently, other theories for the suspension exist, including one that claims one of the managers was stealing from the location and the others were suspended pending an investigation of
their knowledge of it. 

The Bayou CM's themselves will claim, if you ask them, that they were suspended for abusing the discount privilege (giving to family??), but this strikes me as unlikely to warrant such a response. Currently, the former Casa Mexicana Manager is watching over the location, with some help from the Cafe / French Market managers.


Candy isn't so dandy

The candy dispensers at the Frontierland Candy Shop (formerly Westward Ho) above the jellybeans dispensers are generic, purchased from an out-of-business candy store, it seems. They have large gaudy labels pasted on them, in many cases identifying candy which this Disney shop doesn't sell! 

It's horrible show, not even including the fact that some of these labels were amateurishly ripped off, leaving large white swaths of glued paper still over the dispenser.



Parking problems?

A very kind, and VERY reliable source passed on the following:

The parking structure should be presenting several issues to work out in the first year. It's going to be interesting. The hush-hush rumor is that they will do a test period and request that all CM's park there for a week or two to test the inflow and outflow plans, before they begin parking customers there. 

They would shuttle the CM's around and over to Harbor Blvd. after we've parked. The Katella CM Lot would be unavailable for CM's to use during this "test". This could make some CM's, whose heads are spinning from all the constant change and subsequent backtracking, a bit cranky.

This sounds like a good plan.  But no matter how much they try and work things out in advance, I'm still willing to bet it will take weeks or months to get things running smoothly enough.  That's what happened with the tram situation as you all may remember.


Costuming fixed back the way it was

You all remember the stuff I was running about the massive costuming problems a few updates ago don't you?  Here's the follow-up from another kind soul:

The costuming building will be closed on March 29th for one day for a "rehab". (There are flyers backstage that really do call it a "rehab", just like an attraction or store.)

They will be reorganizing the stock floor and redoing the issue windows. When Costuming reopens on the 30th, the windows and costumes will be rearranged into "Host" windows and "Hostess" windows. This is exactly the same setup they used in the old building! It will be more efficient, and allow for quicker costume retrieval. 

Also, they will be revamping the thousands of "shift lockers" upstairs in the new building that CM's can only use for one day at a time, and making them into permanent lockers that will be issued to CM's for the length of their Disney career.

This is, of course, the same way all the old lockers are handled at Disneyland. The "shift locker" idea is terribly unpopular with the newer CM's unfortunate enough to have been assigned a lowly shift locker. Permanent lockers should help morale, as well as lessen the crowds at Costuming since CM's won't be forced to turn in and check out costumes twice a day.

It seems that the Costuming and locker systems that were created decades ago and that had been in use for over 40 years actually seemed to have worked! Stay tuned for more exciting and riveting details from the Costuming front. ;)

Someone else from Burbank told me this "break it when it isn't broken to save a buck" method that Paul Pressler [defacto head of the parks now that Judson Green is off in China, in more ways than one] uses now is getting its own name:  Doing it Paul's Way.

They call it that because almost every single time he meddles in something to save a few bucks, he ends up losing millions, and finally goes back to the way it was done in the past.  

Common sense would tell you that if something worked for forty years, there was good reason not to mess with it.  The good thing is that Eisner finally appears to be noticing the screw-ups.  Took him long enough.

Where ARE those Mattel recruiters when you need them?  ;)

Speaking of Eisner...


Eisner speaks!

What happens when you get a lot of bad press? [Thanks to a tell-all book that is just out?]  You do a lot of press to show how swell a guy you really are.  

Reader Kathy sent on the following item from USC's Daily Trojan:

Disney CEO to speak at graduation

Michael Eisner chosen for his successful leadership; seniors' feelings divided about selection

By LAIA GRINO, Staff Writer

Graduates will end their time at USC on May 12 with words from Michael Eisner, Walt Disney Co.'s CEO and this year's Commencement speaker. The 58-year-old is a successful yet controversial figure, at times being described in the press as manipulative, deceptive and aloof.

People's reactions tend to reflect both perceptions of Eisner that of a talented businessman who brings children and adults joy through Disney - and that of the head of a company which some said seems to be taking over the world.

When told that Eisner was to be the Commencement speaker, Fabiana Passos, a senior majoring in business, said, "I think that's awesome." Passos, especially as a business major, felt that students could look up to him and admire his success. "It's amazing what he's done," she said, adding that Eisner is someone you can look at and say, "I want to be close to where he is."

Her friend, Fajima Bedran, was not so enthusiastic. "That's awful," said Bedran, a graduate student majoring in sociology. She feels that beneath Disney's image of happiness and success there is "so much negativity" that people do not see. "Walt Disney is a corporation. (They're the) owners of everything," she said, referring to Disney's 1995 acquisition of Capital Cities / ABC, which Eisner oversaw. "(They're) big media people feeding people so much bull," she said.

Eisner was born in 1942 and comes from a well-off background. Before becoming chairman and CEO of Walt Disney Co. on Sept. 24, 1984, Eisner worked at ABC and was president of Paramount Pictures Corporation. In 1996, he ranked No. 5 in Time magazine's Top 10 Most Powerful People.

Under the guidance of Eisner and the now deceased Disney President Frank Wells, Disney's annual revenue increased more than $7 billion in 10 years, beginning in 1984. Eisner's role in the company's growth included dreaming up new projects, overseeing theme park expansion and acting as the company's primary "cheerlead-er," as he described himself. In 1998, his autobiography, Work in Progress, was published.

More recently, The Keys to the Kingdom: How Michael Eisner Lost His Grip, will be published this week, in which Eisner is portrayed as becoming "increasingly Nixonian in his paranoia and isolation."

Nominations for Commencement speakers can come from anyone in the university: students, faculty and staff, said John Callaghan, associate professor of exercise science. Once all names have been received, a slate of possible candidates is made. 

A list of those names found to be suitable is given to an advisory committee made up of members from the Board of Trustees, who must then approve the names on the list and submit them to university President Steven B. Sample. Ultimately, Sample chooses the Commencement speaker after reviewing the list. 

Past speakers have included George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.

Copyright 2000 by the Daily Trojan. All rights reserved. This article was published in Vol. 139, No. 40 (Tuesday, March 21, 2000), beginning on page 1 and ending on page 8.

Who's next -- David Geffen?  ;)


Readers rant about...


OK. I just finished reading the web page and it is 1:13 AM. I can bearly keep my eyes open so bare with me while I get right to my point. I'm 23 and I just have one thing to say. I, along with my girlfriend who have been pass holders for the last 4 years, MISS the electrical parade. We want it back as I am sure everyone else does. This parade along with Fantasmic are the best venues I have ever seen. 

Do something, please. Post some sort of what do you call it......petition type of thingy. Lets get thousands upon thousands of signatures to the higher ups at Disney. Lets let them hear the roar of us sad nastolgic people. I swear, if they do not give us what we want, I will no longer stay behind the yellow line or "permaneser sentado porfavor." GIVE ME BACK THE ELECTRICAL PARADE!

Don't fret, and do get some sleep.  The Electrical Parade is coming back, exactly when is still unclear.  I don't think the new and rather confused 45th / Fantasia 2000 parade is going to last three years as they had wanted.  Sadly though, the days of having two parades, one daytime, another nighttime, appears to be over.


We just went to Disneyland this past week on Wednesday. This was my 14th or 15th time to go, but the first time using the fast pass tickets. I have got to say that the lines were very deceiving. It appeared to us that the stand-by lines were very long, the crowd was lined up out the door (which in a normal line would be quite a wait). We decided to use the fast pass and wasted time looking in the shops for 45 min until it was our time to go. 

We then discovered that the long "line" on the outside of the ride was the only line to stand in! Had we just stood in line to begin with, we would have a 5 min. wait tops! I do understand that when the park is especially busy, that this option would make sense, but it didn't in our situation. We wasted a lot of time - so a word to the wise, check out the stand-by wait time first and see if it's really worth it to get a "fast pass".

Yours is one of many complaint letters I've been getting about Fastpass since the park has been seeing record crowds the past few weeks [due to a combination of nice weather (finally), early spring breaks in some school districts, and the very popular Southern California Discount program].

The person to blame it seems is Paul Yeargin - the guy who runs the attractions for Cynthia Harris.  The Fastpass system is very delicate in that in order for it to function properly, only so many tickets can be issued per hour.  Whenever that percentage is increased, as Yeargin is wont to do on busy days to get his "numbers up" - the system gets overloaded, hence the longer "Fastpass" lines.

From reader [and Disneyland Restaurants page webmaster] Kevin Yee comes the following additional comments about FastPass:

In my continuing diatribe against Fastpass (am I the only "Fastpass bear" out there?), let me submit the following experience to you. 

Sunday March 19, we got a Fastpass for Splash at 1:30 pm and our return window was for 6-7:00 pm. This means that our entire afternoon was tied up with this one FP opportunity; as you know we cannot obtain a second one until such time as the first one is used or until our "window" expires. A busy busy day in the park and no more FP till 7:00?? 

Worse yet, by 7:00 on a day like this, there will be no more FP opportunities that night; they will all have shut down by then. So basically we get this one E-Ticket for the entire day, and have to deal with Standby lines otherwise.

Hah, the standby lines. The Splash Standby line was as long as the Splash line would be on a day pre-fastpass (almost to Harbour Galley). This is the bright future promised by FP? Long standby lines everywhere, alas, and now they don't move very fast because FP-holders have priority. 

The increasing size of the standby lines recently (as well as the longer wait for your window for FP) means, I think, that more locals are figuring out how to use the system. As I've said earlier, FP will not be such a great bargain once people figure out how to use it - the people do not simply disappear. 

FP is not such a deal anymore, and in some ways has become an ordeal in fact (case in point: the maddening and impenetrable crowds in Critter Country). I remain unimpressed.

Have you noticed that the FP tickets do not explicitly state that you must use them on the date issued? The date is there, printed very small on the front side, but realistically this means that the CM's never really bother to check it. Since the colors and layouts are the same, in theory nothing is stopping frequent visitors (200,000 AP's, right?) from simply collecting these to use on later dates. I figure I could stockpile them on days when I'm not interested in riding, and use them on dates when I do want to ride but not bother with lines or the normal FP procedure.

I'm being a bit extreme here - I don't really do this - but there is nothing stopping others from doing it. Is this really fair? Just one more problematic issue to FP.

I have to agree with Kevin, enough so that I may pull the FastPass page if enough of you keep complaining it simply does not work for you.  

Hmmm, I thought this thing was supposed to fix the problems, not make them worse...  maybe if Yeargin didn't keep trying to up his numbers...


DCA Parades and Shows

Reader Martin Mitchell was kind enough to contribute the following for all you readers out there.

The shows and parades are all being built "in-house" by the same people that were behind FANTASMIC! and *hack, cough* Light Magic. Although most of the people who were in charge of Light Magic have left, the same mind-set is behind the DCA projects but with (from what it looks like) better results. 

"Better results?" you ask.....well, from what I've seen the parade looks awesome and the shows are high quality. Of course these things are all in the planning stages and it can change (hopefully for the better). Although I respect Paul Pressler for what he tried to do.......these projects for DCA are much better than Light Magic could have EVER hoped to be because Pressler's cold hand isn't behind them much.

Contrary to popular belief...last I heard a Lagoon show is in the works. Whether it will premiere with the park or not...I don't know. They are planning ahead for it now during construction. First, the lagoon is being lined with cement NOT ONLY FOR A WAVE MACHINE BUT ALSO THE LAGOON SHOW!!

They are also building an enclosure for where the pyrotechnic barges could be stored. But, this is all circumstantial.....they may decide to ditch a lagoon show all together.

Martin has heard what I've heard, let's hope they have some good stuff there for folks.  

Keep in mind this is a park that the minute it rains, [as we found out via the Fabulous Disney Babe] almost all the major attractions will be shut down.  That's a bad sign already.


DCA Beanie Baby blow out

From a self-described [and very kind] "former disgruntled beanie baby salesperson (um, I mean, ODV cast member)" comes this tid-bit,

The reason that Disney is going to have the carnival booths [at California Adventure] is so that they can get rid of all of those beanie babies that ODV has stockpiles of backstage, and use the storage space for new glow products (like the spinner one that says Happy 2000 and only costs $20.00!).

Or maybe they will use it as a lab to invent even more new flavors for churros like the rumored peanut butter and jelly, or perhaps combine it with their artic lemonade to make sour churros. 

Anyway, it won't take much to win one of these things. If you pay to play the game, then they aren't going to care if you win or not, basically, you were tricked into buying a beanie babie (ha. ha.)

That's how carnivals work you know...  ;)


DCA Mascot / Character ban

Old news:  DCA will have a character / mascot all its own.  

Persistent news:  Pressler wants the park to be Disney character-free.

I guess when you don't bother to learn anything about the company you work for, you can make colossal blunders like this.

Listen up Paul:  EPCOT was supposed to be Disney character-free.  That didn't last long, the visitors expected to see the fab five cavorting around for photo opps, no matter what the theme police said.

And as far as park-only specific characters - anyone remember the ones they came up with for the Olympics lately?  Name the one for Atlanta, or the L.A. Olympics?  No one will care about a character that has no history behind it.  The bear idea they are throwing around isn't such a keen one.

Now if it were Humphrey the Bear - who was featured in a bunch of cartoon shorts with the Ranger back in the early 60's - maybe they would have something there.  And the theme would be perfect - Humphrey spent most of running time of the cartoons looking to steal things and not do any work for his food...  what a match to DCA!  ;)

DCA mascot or not, Humphrey rules you know.  He turned non-conformity into an art.  And his picking up the trash dance little butt wiggle is classic you know...  ;)


Thanks... all of you who've written with kind words about some of the new things going on around the site.  

I'm delighted you've found the recent "Walk Around the Berm" to be of interest, as well as the rehab and construction update photos, along with the desktops.  You all seem to really like Jim Hill's new column too, we are lucky to have him helping out around here.  

As always, the one and only genuine original Fab helps keeps everyone on their toes, not only on the site, but in Glendale too, and she has alerted me to get ready for some new features she is working on.  [And we'll continue to disagree about that carnival thing in the parking lot...  ;) ]

Look for more exciting things to come in the very near future.  ;)


Enough already, it's time to head to the park!  See you all there!


Special D-I-G Update 4-19-00 - Roger Rabbit ride accident / AAA Discount lets your 10 year-olds be kids again!

D-I-G Update 4-17-00 - Judson Green quits / The Thousand Dollar jacket / 10 year-old adults / More upkeep delays / Attractions STILL closing early / Dino trouble? / Pressler and Mattel / Monorails history at WDW? / Ticket booth problems / Monorail station - danger? / Innoventions numbers / Construction delays / New off-ramp - Freeway closes / Two jobs offered

D-I-G Update 3/29/00 - What's really behind the moustaches? / Major attraction rehabs delayed or canceled / Fastpass problems continue - CM's hurt / More about the Treehouse sudden rehab / Pointe Anaheim stalls / A Disney Stores push for more sales

Special D-I-G photo update 3/27/00 - Danger near the Monorail track? / Innoventions damage / Unscheduled Tarzan Treehouse rehab

D-I-G Update 3/23/00 - New website about theme park safety is up / Regis moving into Innoventions?

D-I-G Update 3/22/00 - Dino install? / MKC Surveys / McD's 45th Promotion / New Park-Themed Toy Merchandise / It IS a Blue Bayou / Candy isn't so dandy / Parking problems? / Costuming fixed back the way it was / Eisner speaks / Reader rants: MSEP & Fast Pass / DCA parade info / DCA Carny booths / DCA Mascot, character ban


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