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Al Lutz
Archived D-I-G Update

D-I-G Quick Update 8/31/00: Maybe holding off that trip until October would be a good idea / Rocket Rods - problems when they run, problems when they don't / Is Pressler finally acknowledging his new Tomorrowland was a failure? / Matterhorn changes / DCA - short for Disney's CONFUSING Adventure / Frontierland rehab information / More new costuming / Credit where credit is due - but people DO notice

 

Maybe holding off that trip until October would be a good idea...

The word Attractions managers are getting is that the budget cuts that have slashed many attractions staffing and ride capacity since late July will continue to last until October 1st. The plan now is to reinstate most of the losses incurred to recent budget cuts once the 2001 fiscal year starts in early October. So when the big Holiday crowds descend later this year, attractions like Space Mountain, Jungle Cruise, Autopia, Storybookland, Canoes, Matterhorn, etc. should be back to historically normal staffing and capacity levels.

My advice if you are planning a visit soon? You may want to hold off your Disneyland visit until October - to save you the aggravation these cutbacks are causing current visitors. With these budgeting problems now making for very long lines even on slower days, you simply will NOT get as much out of your Disneyland day now like you will once staffing is back up to normal. On top of that keep in mind actual operating hours are also being cut - with the park opening later and closing earlier now, instead of waiting to do this until after Labor Day as has been the norm in the past.

Below is an example of just how exasperating these cutbacks can be for the visitor:

Looking east

Same line, two different views (above & below) so you can see how long it is.

Looking west

The line above is for people trying to buy admission tickets at 2 PM last Sunday afternoon. Yes, 2 PM!  They even make you wait forever it seems to give them your money! 

It's easy to say in a memo you have to cut back. It's dumb to give that responsibility to people who don't comprehend what the consequences can be. If I were a stockholder - I'd be furious that Pressler and Eisner's budget cutting mania is so out of touch with what is really going on that it it probably now hindering their ability to make money - which is exactly the one thing they seem to need so badly.

 

Rocket Rods - problems when they run, problems when they don't...

The 9th is now the official last day for the Rods. They are telling people at the park that they will be closed for "at least 7 months."

There has been a constant Rocket Rods date flip-flop the past few weeks. Due to this scheduling for it has been a mess, to put it kindly, as it is a huge hassle to re-staff a ride like that on such short notice. This is a pain in the neck for them, as they have to create five days worth of schedules, and make over a hundred phone calls to CM's to make sure the attraction is sufficiently staffed. (A computer program normally does that task three weeks in advance, and schedules were posted two weeks ahead of time.) 

As a result of all this, all the higher seniority CM's were sent to other rides, leaving mainly the seasonal CM's and student CM's who can't work weekdays now that schools have started back up. There will be some overtime on the Rods because of the sudden date change - again crazy when budgets seem to be so tight that people are being made to wait in artificially long ride lines.

Lots of finger pointing is going on here about the Rods - head of the division Paul Pressler is howling that Imagineering sold him a lemon - WDI is saying that if Pressler hadn't slashed the budgets so many times while they were working on it he wouldn't have such a turkey on his hands. The situation is a political nightmare as you can imagine - and everyone is blameless to hear them talk about it. 

My take on all of this? Shopkeepers are not showmen. But you knew I was going to say that... ;)

So what's the future for the ride? I tend to believe what fellow MousePlaneteer David Koenig has been hearing, that the Rods will probably not return to this park. [For his story on this go HERE.]

This also ties in to some other things I've been hearing...

 

Is Pressler finally acknowledging his new Tomorrowland was a failure?

It seems that lots of new proposals are now being floated around for this part of the park. [Maybe to help counteract / distract from some of the bad buzz expected from DCA's less than thrilling attraction round up?] And it seems in this latest flurry of ideas that the Little Mermaid attraction we mentioned before here is now probably NOT on the list.

What's interesting from what is being pitched is just how much would be replaced - and what specifically they are looking at. Can I talk about it yet? No. Can I tell you that everything new in the last redo may be axed? Yes.

More on this soon as it develops.

 

Matterhorn changes...

The Matterhorn will soon start enforcing a height requirement of 35 inches. Previously, Matterhorn Bobsled riders only needed to be three years old to ride the attraction. This change is not due to an accident, instead, as I understand it, it has been decided that a height requirement is necessary in case there ever is an accident with a small child and the Park is sued for not being proactive with safety policies.

It now also looks like the redesign and re-landscaping of the area to the north of the mountain will be tied into Fastpass installation - how elaborate it would be depending on the timing of it all.

There is one proposal to turn the area surrounding the front of the attraction into an alpine garden environment, with the Matterhorn Standby line winding thru a nicely landscaped queue instead of just simply wrapping around the base of the Mountain like it has for the last 40 years. 

The nicely themed and re-landscaped "deluxe" plan is estimated to cost 2.1 million dollars, and that includes the Fastpass setup. It would dramatically alter that area, and provide a much better "Show" for visitors approaching the Chalet loading area. 

There is also a very simple plan to keep most of the planters and painted pavement already there and just install some Fastpass machines next to a new planter in the area. This plan would cost just under a million dollars, and wouldn't change the bland look of the area too much. 

If they can hold off installing Fastpass until the Matterhorn goes down for a two month rehab in February, then the deluxe version will probably be installed. But, if the Acountaneers win and Fastpass is installed before the busy Christmas season, then the cheaper and more basic area enhancements will go in to the north of the mountain over the course of a few weeks in November. 

Keep your fingers crossed that the 2.1 million dollar enhancements get the green light, because it would be a very nice addition to that area of the Park and greatly enrich the themeing of the Matterhorn Bobsleds.

 

DCA - short for Disney's CONFUSING Adventure...

In addition to the 35 inch height requirement coming soon to Matterhorn, you may also find the following of interest - the following are the height restrictions for DCA's [Disney's California Adventure - the new park] attractions:

Orange Stinger 36" (Spinner)
Soarin' Over California 40" (IMAX ride film)
Jumpin Jellyfish 40" (Chute drop)
Mulholland Madness 42" (Mad Mouse)
Grizzly River Run 42" (Raft ride)
California Screamin' 48" (Loop coaster)
Maliboomer 52" (Space shot)

Some activities in the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail will be limited to those above 40" or 44"

It's interesting to note that it is already a challenge at Disneyland with simply two different height requirements; 46" for Indy and Rocket Rods, and 40" for Splash Mt., Space Mt., Thunder Mt., and Star Tours.

Visitors can get quite upset with the CM's at the height check at Indy and Rocket Rods if their child is tall enough to ride Splash Mountain but too short for Rocket Rods. It will very likely be difficult for people to comprehend a small theme park with at least five different height requirements on seven different attractions. It also means that small (and even mid sized) children will be precluded from many of DCA's already limited amount of attractions.

Worst decision of the above? The chute drop (the Jumpin Jellyfish - a not very tall little ride), with a height requirement restricting it from the smaller fry it seems designed for.

 

Frontierland rehab information...

The Frontierland paving project will now be split into two phases. Phase one will be done just before the busy Thanksgiving weekend, and the construction will take a break for the holidays. Then, after the New Year, Phase two will commence and be completed in March before the busy Easter holiday period. 

In addition, there have been construction delays at the new Frontierland (former Casa Mexicana) restaurant, and it now looks like it will miss its previously announced November opening. It will most likely miss out the entire Holiday period, and may not open until February 2001.

 

More new costuming...

New Main Entrance costumes will debut in mid September. As I understand it, they are tan, red and navy blue, and theme better with the new Esplanade and entrances to both Parks. They also look a bit more professional than the violet shirts and blue shorts that Main Entrance CM's currently wear. 

 

Credit where credit is due...

In this past week's Ask Al™ column I responded to a note someone had sent where they were lamenting a few of the little details they saw and enjoyed so much were no longer working at the park. I went back to check on them Sunday just to see if things were back to normal, and happily one had been fixed...

Dumbo in the circus organ
Dumbo in the circus organ

...as you can see above Dumbo is now popping back out again of the Circus Organ located behind the ride in Fantasyland. :)

 

...but people do notice...

Of course then I got the following note and picture in my mailbox a few days later from a kind reader, (facial blurs in the photo are for privacy):

Spent 4 days at Disneyland in May and had a wonderful time. Did notice a few of the maintenance problems though. 

For example, we rode up in the wheel house of the Mark Twain and took lots of pictures the kids steering, ringing the bell, and blowing the whistle. 

How about some paint Paul?

Unfortunately, the pictures also show peeling paint and rust- stained painted pipe. When showing these to family and friends we always gets comments like, "Gosh, Walt needs to buy a paint brush!"

Pressler's the name - not caring's the game.  ;)

 

The Universal Studios Hollywood Information Guide is now online!

For those of you who only read this part of the site, we just want to let you know we now have a new Universal Studios Hollywood Information Guide online here on MousePlanet - it's the perfect companion to the D-I-G for the L.A. area theme park visitor. 

Todd Regan has done an outstanding job in assembling it, and he's now working on all sorts of great new information he will be adding over the next few weeks - including some wonderful (and, yes, they will be absolutely wonderful, trust me) things Universal is now working on to celebrate the upcoming holiday season. 

Stop by using the link above and take a look won't you?

 

A quick note: Keep in mind the information offered in this update (and also on the rest of the site) is authored and owned by MousePlanet, Inc. and may NOT be re-used, cut and pasted or quoted from in any other medium or forum - either on-line or off - without prior permission as per our legal page. This will be strictly enforced. Thank you for understanding.

 

Normally I'd say see you at the park this weekend - but maybe I'll see you in October instead...


D-I-G Quick Update 8/22/00: Fastpass's Future / Accountanteering wins on the Mansion / Attendance continues to drop / Why Warren Buffet is reducing his stake in Disney / New name for Casa Mexicana / Al's favorite Disney media quote

 

Fastpass's Future

During the first week of September the software for the Park's Fastpass system will be upgraded to allow people to hold two Fastpasses for separate attractions at the same time. Currently, you can only have one Fastpass at a time. If all goes as planned, when the next round of Fastpass attractions come online the limit may be raised to three or more Fastpasses at a time.

As I understand it, you will get the two FastPasses... but only in cases where the return time eclipses the issue time by 2 hours. So, if you get a Fastpass at Splash at 1pm, but can't return until 8 to 9 pm, then you can get a second Fastpass at 3 pm, just two hours after their original issue time. Thus, you can get a second FastPass after their first one expires, or two hours after you get the first one, whichever is earliest. Make sense? No one is sure if you could get 3 FastPasses with this system... that remains to be seen.

Pretty confusing add on for a system that already is hard to understand for most visitors - and not easily explained it seems, judging from the continued hostilities David Koenig recently documented in his column, "When Tourists Attack!"

The installation of Fastpass will begin at the Haunted Mansion the second week of September, and will be finished in mid October. Also in mid September, the Fastpass setup for Splash Mountain will be moved up towards the Briar Patch shop. By late September, installation of Fastpass for Pirates of the Caribbean will begin. 

Big Thunder Mountain will have Fastpass installed during it's 9 week refurbishment. When Thunder Mountain reopens November 11th, it will begin offering Fastpass. Star Tours will also have Fastpass installed during October and November. And Small World Holiday will appear in early November with a seasonal Fastpass operation. The Matterhorn Bobsleds are still in limbo, although TDA [Disneyland management] would very much like to have Fastpass machines at the base of the mighty Matterhorn before the Christmas crowds arrive.

Now fast forward a year or so into the future and glimpse a possible Fastpass scenario...

You have checked into your room at the Grand Californian Hotel, and are planning on spending the next day at DCA. You punch up a Fastpass menu on your interactive TV set in your hotel room. You select from the menu the DCA attractions you'd like to visit tomorrow using Fastpass, and the general order you'd like to visit the attractions in. 

Your TV screen then presents you with a possible schedule of a full day's worth of DCA Fastpasses. There's the big roller coaster at 11:00am, the raft ride at 12:30pm, the hanglider ride at 2:00pm, the Maliboomer at 3:40pm, Tough to be a Bug at 5:00pm, etc. Your tentative schedule looks good to you, and you don't want to change anything. You hit "Accept" and sleep soundly that night knowing there will be plenty of extra time for shopping and big, expensive sit-down meals the next day. And, you will have time to linger at the bread baking exhibit too.

In the morning, you stop by the Fastpass Distribution Desk on your way thru the Grand Californian's lobby and pick up the envelope with your day's Fastpasses all printed up and ready for you to use at the appointed boarding times. While other DCA visitors who are slumming it off property at the Hilton or Hyatt have to fumble for tickets at each attractions Fastpass machines and try to work around the "only 3 Fastpasses at a time" policy, you breeze from one Fastpass ride to the next on your computer generated schedule. You and your fellow Disney property hotel guests have already snapped up the prime afternoon Fastpass boarding times the night before by pre- selecting them from your hotel room, and you're glad you spent the extra money to stay at a Disney- owned hotel.

Burbank is pushing very hard for the above scenario to be available to Disney hotel customers at all Disney Resorts and Parks around the world sometime within the next year or two.

So where does that leave the annual passholders? Not in a pretty spot - considering most arrive during the day once most of the Fastpasses are gone or only available for late in the evening.

Any bets that the price increases due this fall on the annual passes address this in some way shape or form? After all if you have to stay in a pricey Disney owned room to get the full benefit of the Fastpass system, why not offer that same kind of luxury to people willing to pay a premium on their pass for it?

I told you they were working on charging for it...  ;)

 

Accountanteers win on the Mansion

It's now firm, the Christmas redo of the Haunted Mansion won't be happening this year. The budget battles were too fierce. TDA will be putting this spendy project off until Christmas 2001, when they can fold some of the costs into the tentatively approved budget for the big refurbishment the Haunted Mansion will be getting in the winter of 2002.

Let's pray for paint in the budget, shall we? The deterioration documented on the DisneylandBlues page is only getting worse, sad to say. 

To do this re-theme correctly though, it shouldn't be done under a budget cutting cloud. So, it may be for the best that both TDA [park management] and WDI [imagineering] decided to put this off until next year when they can really do it right.

 

Attendance continues to drop -

- so much so that it's hurting budgets even more. Look for even more cutbacks to hit soon.

My nomination for the saddest cutback so far - ever wonder why you never see Monorail Red anymore? It's being cannibalized for parts so the other three trains [purple, orange, blue] can be kept running. There is no budget for replacement parts, period.

Is this *any* way to run Disneyland?  And what confidence does that inspire about everything else?

 

Why Warren Buffett may be reducing his stake in Disney

From an Excite news feed:

During the third quarter of 1999, Buffett shed 4,053,257 shares of entertainment company Walt Disney Co. By Sept. 30, 1999, the investor's holdings of Disney were down to 19,971,142 shares with a value of $519.3 million.

I get several calls a month from financial folks asking me about the updates I post and what I hear about the Disney company - with a focus on how it is being run. Mind you I don't hold any illusions about any importance of what I say to them.  It's usually just a quick discussion to impart my observations, and what I've heard from folks at the company to someone who usually also can offer some additional insight as to what is going on in Burbank. 

On my last chat with one of these people, I mentioned that I found of it interest that the news noted that investor Warren Buffett was cutting back his investment in Disney stock.

The reply and commentary I got back from this person I want to share with you: "He probably sees what we are seeing - continuing damage to the Disney brand name." 

"Do you think that?" I asked. "I know that it seems even casual observers have seen a marked decline in quality of their offerings these last few years, but how seriously do you take all this stuff?"

"Very," he responded, "there really seems to be a total abandonment of brand management [i.e. quality control]. It's pretty clear in the lack of investment in the current parks, the way the new park is being built in California - etc."

"I thought they were taking this route due to you Wall Street types." I responded back. "They always say they have to do these kinds of things to keep stockholders happy."

"Stockholders are happiest when innovation and good management are in play." the person replied. "Right now they seem to be meeting their numbers by cutting back, not growing - as it is so clearly being shown in the parks. The flood of made for video products, and the way the DVD launch of the animated product was a dud also shows a lack of concern about their intellectual properties."

"You saw that horrible Buzz Lightyear made- for- video too!" I joked back. ;)

"Plus," the person continued, staying serious, "Eisner's gotten to the stage where it is clear he no longer cares. One person who spent time with him and Pressler told me about how he's only focused on the bodies being pumped through the resorts for example - and had no patience for questions about attractions or anything else not related to that. They were quite shocked at the change from his actions in the past."

"His successors - what few can be seen as such, like Iger and Pressler [the man refuses to put in any kind of solid management under him] inspire even less confidence. They both [Iger / Pressler] are not seen as innovators - and from what is now being observed, they tend to cost-cut / run things into the ground to generate the profits needed, instead of developing innovative new products and approaches."

"Sounds like my last couple of years of updates," I responded back, "I've always thought these guys in particular were never interested in the long term view."

"That's very apparent" was the response. "And I think a lot of people are seeing that now. Tired management at tired companies does exactly what Eisner is doing now."

"So what do you think will be the future here?" I asked.

"A sale of some sort," he continued, "that's, of course, if they can't get the stock price up. If Eisner wants to cash out now, this would explain a lot."

Take the above conversation as you will...

 

I get e-mail...

You know what really bugs me???? That damn Penny Arcade sign at the back of the Coke Corner patio. It only has about 60% of it's light bulbs burning, and it looks really tacky. It's not on Main Street itself, and is sort of back in a corner, but it still is clearly visible and it looks awful. Either fix the lightbulbs or unplug the damn thing. Sheesh!

Tell me about it.

 

Casa Mexicana replacement...

The tentative opening date for the "Frontierland Food Court" [more than a few people in the park are calling it that] is November 16th. The new name for the location, which hopefully has been fixed by this time is the grammatically incorrect "Ranchero Las Robles Restaurant."

Being half-Mexican, and speaking Spanish before I learned English, I can tell you the correct name should be "Rancho Los Robles."

Learn something every day don't we?

 

Al's favorite Disney media quote

From a recent L.A. Times article:

In fact, "Coyote Ugly," contains no nudity, no raunchy language and no explicit sex--leaving Disney marketing executives grappling with the possibility that young male moviegoers might feel cheated and misled by the movie's more suggestive advertising.

No comment.  ;)

 

See you all at the park...


D-I-G Update 8/14/00: New Go.com logo / Budget cuts continue / Endor Blues / Why all the cutbacks? / Rocket Rods... the saga continues / More rehab adjustments / FastPass Update / Probably no Subs now - but something else may come back instead / Mansion holiday makeover

 

Here's the new Go.com logo...

The old logo went...

They were doing a sales meeting for Go.com at the Disneyland Pacific Hotel and the sign outside presented the above photo opportunity. They'll probably unveil it officially in the next week or so.

I guess if it's a flop, then be sure to make it look Disney, right?  ;)

 

The budget cuts continue around the Park at Attractions

Yep, it looks like Matterhorn has cut a position, and now it is only running 9 bobsleds per track during peak hours instead of the standard 10 bobsleds it had been running. That's a 10% capacity reduction during peak hours, when the line is already at least 30 minutes long.

Space Mountain remains at staffing that only allows them to run 9 rockets during most of the day, instead of the 11 rockets they had been running up until July.

After Labor Day, the Country Bear Jamboree will be going to an 11:00 am to 5:00 pm operation on days when the Park is open from 10:00 am until 8:00 pm. Previously, the Bears had been budgeted to run from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm when the Park was open from 10:00 am until 8:00 pm.

Autopia continues to run only two of the four available tracks during morning and evening hours, even though Fastpass creates a 30+ minute wait into the evening hours. There have been many upset visitors waiting in Standby in the evening, since it is fairly obvious that only two of the four available lanes are operating and a large fleet of empty cars are noticeably parked under the grandstand queue. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the attraction is not running at full capacity, even though the Standby folks are literally just "standing" there and waiting.

 

Endor Blues

A quick update on Star Tours. They have as of Saturday 8/11, gone back to the original staffing on this attraction. That means they will be running all four cabins during peak hours, just as they had in the past up until the middle of July. 

Why the change? It seems a terrible "Mystery Guest" score really scared Tomorrowland managers. Previously, Star Tours would get consistently high scores in the 90's%. And since May, the attraction had received several 100% scores. Employees / Cast members [CM's] were completely demoralized over there, and morale plummeted in just a few short weeks with the budget slashing. 

The worst case scenario of Star Tours has sort of been a rallying cry for many bewildered CM's who don't know what to make of all these bizarre budget cuts that came right as the Park headed into some of the busiest weeks of the summer. Thankfully, they are adding shifts back by hand, day by day, so that the attraction can run at full capacity again for the last few weeks of summer.

The budget cuts remain and continue at the other mentioned attractions. But, for now, Star Tours has been given a reprieve and has returned to regular staffing. Thanks should go to the Attractions Scheduling office staff backstage who are now doing double duty by having to personally call dozens of CM's at home to try and rebuild the daily schedules for the next few weeks at Star Tours.

Why the change of heart when other Attractions are still cutting, you ask? It's because the first "Mystery Guest" score for August came in for Star Tours, and the attraction rated an extremely dismal 54%. Anything below 80% is grounds for nail biting by the management teams. A 54% is absolutely disastrous.

The Mystery Guest scores, which are a Parkwide secret shopper program conducted by an outside firm, are one of the key "measurables" used to determine managers quarterly bonuses. 

High Mystery Guest scores equal extra income every quarter for the Assistant Managers and Managers. A score like 54% is enough to destroy an entire quarters averages, and probably just cost Tomorrowland management a nice chunk of change for Quarter 4. The 54% Mystery Guest score complained that the posted wait time was 60 minutes, yet the line actually took close to 80 minutes. Other guests in line near the mystery guest were complaining loudly about the tedious wait. 

And when the mystery guest finally got to the loading area, the few CM's around seemed frazzled and rushed. There was no one to assign them to specific rows, and the guests had to juggle themselves around while waiting for the doors to open so that families were not split up. At the end of the trip, there was no one to welcome them back and encourage them to step out to their right since the Unload position had been cut completely.

Previously, the mystery guest was supposed to check specifically for positions like "Unload" to ensure that the CM at that position was upholding Disney safety, appearance and courtesy standards. On the 54% score, either the CM at specific positions was "frazzled" and hurried, or was missing from a specific post entirely.

The sudden additions to the Star Tours crew are being handled at the last minute by Attractions Scheduling, since the schedules for the week ending the 19th and 26th have already been created by the scheduling computers and reflect the severely reduced staffing levels which led to the 54% Mystery Guest score. So, schedulers are calling Star Tours CM's by phone and trying to create a more fully staffed attraction by hand for the next few weeks. Star Tours will not return to 100% capacity and all four cabins, but it will be a slight improvement over the last couple weeks.

 

Why all the cutbacks?

There's now another reason - which is added to the mounting problems with cost overruns at California Adventure [DCA] - for the huge cutbacks we are seeing. 

Even though attendance is about the same - it seems suddenly that the price most folks are paying to get in has dropped quite a bit due to a huge discounting program Disneyland is conducting south of the border in Mexico.

I can't confirm the pricing - but it may very well be at the $20 range - which certainly pulls in bodies, but unfortunately that targeted demographic doesn't seem to spend much. [Visit the picnic area outside the gate, or better yet just walk up and down the aisles of the new parking structure to see most of these folks bring their own food.]

Since this has really cut income [along with the beforementioned DCA headaches] - they have effectively cut back entertainment and attraction schedules to make up for it.

 

Rocket Rods - the saga continues

The Rocket Rods are going away, and Tomorrowland CM's haven't been told much. Here are three scenarios for what promise to be the last days of the Rocket Rods.

1.) They may do nothing in regards to a rehab, and let the attraction run itself into the ground over the next few months by stopping the process of buying new tires and replacement parts. The attraction would simply reach the end of the line on it's own, and would be shuttered as soon as it ran out of replacement parts, tires, or maintenance labor hours, whichever comes first.

2.) Increasingly it looks less and less that they may go ahead and spend 2 to 4 million dollars during a quick rehab in September to ensure that the attraction would make it until at least February, 2001 and the opening of DCA.

3.) If someone's ego gets in the way, they [in the most far-fetched scenario] spend millions and millions of dollars in a comprehensive rehab that would start in September and hopefully be done by the two busy weeks surrounding Christmas and New Years. This expensive rehab would theoretically ensure that the attraction could exist for about 2 more years while they figured out what they want to do long-term with the ride track and queue building space. A number bandied about is 40 million - although it does seem a bit steep for such a turkey of an attraction.

So it appears that basically they are trying to weigh the important cost factor with the need for the Park and management out back at Team Disney Anaheim [TDA] to save face on this troubled ride. 

This was the one, big E Ticket attraction of 1998's New Tomorrowland, and it has made the ill-fated Flying Saucers of the 1960's look like a longtime crowd pleaser in comparison. It will be embarrassing for TDA and chairman Paul Pressler to have this ride shuttered after just two years of spotty service to underwhelmed riders.

It is also of note, considering the info above, that the Rocket Rods rehab scheduled to begin September 5th was just cancelled this week. The rehab schedule is tentative, and often changes for many attractions before a date is locked in. But as of mid-August, the Rocket Rods September rehab start date has just been cancelled. Stay tuned, this story is changing by the week.

 

More rehab adjustments

Fantasmic!'s rehab is scheduled to end November 16th, with the show returning for the busy Holiday season on November 17th. The Main Street Cinema is scheduled to close for rehab September 5th, and reopen in late October.

The extremely popular new Magic In The Stars fireworks show is scheduled to run on Fridays and Saturdays at 9:15 pm until mid November, just before Fantasmic! returns for the holidays. The positive comments continue to stream in at City Hall about this show. The few negative remarks come from people who are stuck in the maddening crowds in the Central Plaza now that word has gotten out that the front of the Castle is "center stage" for this impressive display.

 

FastPass update

Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Big Thunder Mountain and Star Tours are all still slated to receive Fastpass in October and November. The Fastpass setup for the Matterhorn is still in a bit of flux, datewise. Small World will get Fastpass again for the Christmas season when the Holiday show returns in early November. The Fastpass setups for Splash Mountain and Space Mountain will be changed around while the other attractions come online with Fastpass. Better signage and simpler traffic patterns will be implemented at Space Mountain. 

At Splash Mountain the entire setup will be moved up the hill towards the Briar Patch shop, across from the entrance to the Hungry Bear Restaurant. This will help with crowding issues down in the dead end of Critter Country. Splash Mountain will be able to continue offering Fastpass during this move, but Space Mountain will have to close it's Fastpass entirely to facilitate the changeover.

The installation of Fastpass at the Mattehorn is being held up by several reasons. One of which is a strong desire by Imagineering to install some rockwork and alpine design elements in the rather bland walkways in front of the Matterhorns queue chalet at the same time Fastpass is installed and overlayed onto a 40 year old queue space.

That area of the Park around the Matterhorn has remained almost unchanged since 1959, and WDI would like to freshen the theming there and create a more dynamic "alpine" environment. The themed design business has advanced a great deal since 1959, and the group of Imagineers assigned to Disneyland are just brimming with clever and exciting ideas to bring some of Disneyland's more lackluster and dated areas to life. A trip to any modern mall or resort area in America is proof that Disneyland no longer has the exclusive on themed entertainment like it did 40 years ago.

The problem with freshening some of Disneyland's tired and lifeless areas lies with execs at TDA and Burbank who simply won't okay the budget for something that doesn't have an immediate impact on the bottom line. Walt was always on the lookout for new ideas and concepts that could "plus" his Park and give his customers a better "Show". An entire "themed design" industry has sprung up in just the last 10 years, but Imagineers not working on Tokyo DisneySea are hampered by ridiculously inadequate budgets that can't even equal the results now regularly achieved at most Las Vegas casinos. The current Disney execs usually refuse to loosen the purse strings for such trivial expenses like "Show" or a better design that would improve the visitor experience.

 

Probably no Subs now - but something else may come back instead

There is a serious push by WDI to bring back the Motorboat Cruise. [The Subs returning to help with capacity issues in Tomorrlwand is now dead again it appears.]

The Motorboat track is still there, the ride vehicles are very inexpensive and simple, and the attraction was always very popular with the 3 to 7 year old set and their keepers. This would be a very simple and cost effective way to add back some ride capacity to that side of the Park since the Fantasyland Autopia no longer exists and the Rocket Rods future is uncertain. It would also help liven up an area of the Park that is now too quiet and not being used effectively, and could tie in with the proposed improvements to the surrounding Matterhorn walkways.

Judson Greene was the exec mainly behind the concept advanced in the 1990's that if a mature Disney Park like Disneyland wanted to add an attraction, then it had to take at least one away. So, with the impressive addition of Indiana Jones, there was the closure of the PeopleMover, and the ToonTown expansion meant the end of the Motorboat Cruise. Judson is no longer with the Company, so WDI wants to see if maybe someone could be convinced to add a few things back. It's worth a rather long shot.

 

Mansion holiday makeover


Still no official word on the holiday "Nightmare Before Christmas" version of the Haunted Mansion. The current hubub among the informed is that it may now be put off until next Christmas. This is all apparently due to "budget battles" going on with TDA. A great idea may have just been accountanteered to death it seems.

 

See you at the park!


D-I-G Update 8/7/00: More cutbacks / More Fastpass / More California Adventure / Misc / "Perceptions" and some personal opinions on the Space Mt. accident

 

More cutbacks

Noticed how the lines suddenly got longer at Star Tours this past week? The cuts got deeper from the last update as they are now only running two of the four cabins during peak hours! That is all they are scheduled for. And, they have dropped the Unload position that would walk up and down the hallway on the Unload side of the cabins and welcome people back from their trip and encourage them to exit the cabins. This position helps speed the unload and subsequent load times, and allows the attraction to run near peak efficiency. So now, they are only running one half of the available cabins, and no longer have an Unload CM to help speed the dispatch intervals on the cabins they have left. Meanwhile, they plan to add Fastpass to Star Tours in November. AMAZING!

At 3:30 pm a recent afternoon, Star Tours had only the two cabins operating, and the wait was posted at 75 minutes! They were running at 50% capacity to save exactly three shifts from the days budget. Star Tours will operate this way for the rest of the summer, and most likely into the busy weekends of September. During mornings and nights, Star Tours is running only one cabin. Previously, they would be running all four cabins by 11:00 am, and continue running all four into the evening. 

Only after the fireworks would they start dropping cabins and decreasing the capacity of the attraction. And they would never drop the Unload position. It was considered a position that was important to the efficiency of the attraction, as well as something that provided what used to be known as "Disney Guest Service". That type of thing used to be important, but frankly it's now of no importance to the folks in charge.

Things are worse with Fantasyland's Storybookland. Remember how we'd written that they had been cut from eight boats to six boats during peak hours? Well, another round of cuts went thru for this past week and they now are only running five boats during peak hours. And, once they drop down to three boats in the evening, they stop staffing the Dock position. So if all three boats are away from the dock and in the Canals, the Storybookland dock is left completely unattended. Visitors are simply standing in the queue by themselves, and any child who happens to stray near the edge of the dock has no one to stop them from falling in. Previously, this was unheard of, and the dock would NEVER be left unattended. But, under the latest budget cuts there is absolutely nothing that is sacred.

A sick joke going around the park has everyone wondering if it will take "another cleat" to wake them back up to how important proper staffing is on rides. Sadly even I have to wonder that myself lately.

 

More FastPass

They are expanding the FastPass program [even as they cut back on staffing] all through the park - even for rides now that don't seem to really need it.

The FastPass setup for Pirates will be contained within the present queue courtyard. Ticket distribution and return will be handled on the east side of the courtyard, and the Standby line will be accommodated on the west side of the courtyard.

The Fastpass setup for Mansion will entail constructing a distribution center on the south side of the Mansion property, alongside the railroad tracks where the train enters the tunnel as it leaves the New Orleans depot. The setup there will be themed as a "secret garden", with wrought iron trellises, flowers, and dogwood trees. 

Now that Pressler has made a commitment to Fastpass at all the Parks, installation budgets have increased and the facilities will be better themed than some of the initial setups. The new Indy Fastpass area is a good example of the level of themeing they are now willing to commit to. It's no longer thought of as being in a "beta test", as it was when it was added to Space or Splash Mountains in late '99. 

 

More on California Adventure

Approximately 30% of Attractions CM's have committed themselves to transfer over to DCA. This low level of commitment from Disneyland CM's is in stark contrast to WDW when it has opened new Park's in the past. 

When Epcot opened in the early 80's, the Magic Kingdom was literally decimated as all of it's best and brightest flocked to the new Park. They learned their lesson from that, and when WDW opened MGM Studios and Animal Kingdom they set up a process where they could select strong CM's to transfer over to the new Park's, while still keeping some quality CM's at Magic Kingdom or Epcot.

With DCA however, the Disneyland Attractions CM's were not exactly fighting for the chance to go be a carnival worker, and there were plenty of DCA openings to go around for Attractions. They will have to fill more openings than they had originally planned with newly hired CM's off the street with no prior Disneyland experience. 

Foods and Merchandise will make their quotas however. Many of the shops and restaurants at DCA will be very nice to work at compared to some of the 25 or 30 year old restaurant and store facilities currently operating at Disneyland.

The original round of Attraction CM's who went over to DCA in the spring to test and adjust the attractions have been filling shifts at Disneyland the past few weeks because so many attractions have either had their testing cancelled due to construction problems or because the attractions simply aren't ready yet. 

The DCA testing CM's who have temporarily returned to Disneyland are not very enthused about the Park or it's attractions. The general consensus is that the hanglider ride will be cool, the coaster will be fun, and all the other attractions will be simple carnival rides, Six Flags knock-offs, or movies.

These CM's are spreading the word amongst the other Attraction CM's that DCA looks to be kind of a dud of a Park. Out of this select group of Attractions CM's, several have recently just quit in the middle of the testing period because they are not at all excited at the prospect of working at DCA. They have decided to jump ship now and get on with their life instead. 

This Test and Adjust crew situation was touted to the applying CM's as being the "chance of a lifetime", yet the buzz about DCA being spread towards the end of summer by these CM's is not very enthusiastic, they have few flattering things to say about the Park, and express their concern that on busy days it will be too overcrowded with too few attractions of any worth and not at all a "Disney" experience.

Ouch.

 

Misc

* Oh, and the latest word about the Rocket Rods? As mentioned here before, ride it now for posterity. The "rehab" that starts in September is very suspicious sounding to the staffers in Tomorrowland. Team Disney Anaheim [management, known as TDA for short] won't tell Attractions managers anything about the rides future or what will be happening during the "rehab". 

* They may have changed their minds about the early closings they were looking at for September - and may go back to 10:00 am to 8:00 pm hours on weekdays.  Fantasmic! is still undecided. It closes September 5th until mid November at the earliest. It will be interesting to see which way they go on this one - that cost is what has them wavering.

* They got the Tiki Room back up and running with a new exit stairway on Saturday. It was closed for four days last week due to the rotted stairs.

* Frontierland finally got it's entrance sign back - and it looks great.

Frontierland finally got it's entrance sign back
Neat

 

Perceptions

Last week, when I had an update about what happened with the Space Mt. accident, I mentioned I was working on a short piece titled "Perceptions." I've distilled it down a bit to fit into this update due to all the news you see above.

Basically what I wanted to comment on was the advanced state of [for lack of a better word here], decay in the park, and how it is now really affecting how people feel about Disneyland.

Case in point, many of you have written me asking if the park is still safe - because you are concerned that if they aren't bothering to maintain the outside of the attractions, that they may also be cutting back on the upkeep inside.

I want to make clear that I have no information [other than a story that ran this weekend in the L.A. Times - CLICK HERE to read it] that things have changed from the past as far what Disney had done to maintain attractions.

But what people are asking me about - and I got several similar calls from the media the day the news got out about Space Mt. - is if they are safe. It comes across to me that the implications of ignoring simple park upkeep are really taking their toll and giving people what may be the wrong perceptions.

One of the basic rules of any public operation is to keep a tidy shop. For example, if you eat in a restaurant that features an open kitchen - you can bet that management is going to make sure that it looks spotless and is kept clean as you look in while the chef whips up your meal promptly.

You shouldn't see dirty floors, overflowing sinks, or peeling paint - and your food should arrive quickly - because that very likely affects what your perceived quality of your meal may be.

At Disneyland they are ignoring the most basic of upkeep - what with peeling paint, cutbacks on upkeep, more trash throughout the park, less frequently maintained bathrooms and facilities, not to mention the lack of concern for visitor comfort in cutting back on ride capacity and staffing.

Here's just two of the hundreds of e-mails I get from readers that sort of crystallizes how difficult it is getting to simply ignore this decline:

Subj: Ask Al !!!!!!!!!!!!
Date: 8/2/2000 
From: BR

I read a blurb in a magazine about a third Disney park being built in Southern California and jumped on the Net to see what I could find. Your page kept me reading for a good 3 hours.

What caught my attention the most was your commentary on the lack of maintenance in Disneyland. I think Walt Disney created a park of pure fantasy designed to let people escape from the real world while he lined his pockets with their money. The man was a business genius. He knew that in order to make the park a part of peoples lives he had to keep the park sparkling clean and have his park employees supply the smiles and the service that would keep customers coming back for more 

Upon my last visit to Disneyland the whole day seemed off. I practically live their and know almost every inch of that park. Everything was even more expensive than usual. The park looked neglected. The staff was horrible. The Disney mirage was cracked. It was really a darn shame. 

The last straw was being lead, and told to sit immediately, into a Matterhorn bobsled covered in vomit. I had to argue with a cast member about whether it was vomit or water from the waterfall. Last time a checked the water wasn't pink. 

I found myself almost getting into a fist fight with the employee, after he tried to forcefully sit me down, when a passenger that had just got off the bobsled came back through the disabled gate and demand[ed] that the park pay for her cleaning bill. I refused to sit down until they brought the next sled into place. I wasn't about to let my family sit in vomit. 

Before we disembarked I noticed that they made no effort to clean the sled and loaded it up with people. I remember just shaking my head and thinking to myself, "What ever happened to the happiest place on earth?", when we exited the ride. 

In the twenty some years I have gone to Disneyland nothing like that had ever happened to me. The park never seemed so unfriendly. Anyway I couldn't quite put all my thoughts together about that day until I read you essay. You caught everything I noticed from the lack of security to the lack of employees right down to the sad ride that the Haunted Mansion has become.

Your absolutely right! The owners of the park need to spend the money to keep it at the excellence that Disneyland was once know for. Disneyland has a core of customers that go their constantly. They think of it as their park. They've spent their summers growing up in it. They have a memory for each land. If Disney doesn't remedy the problems the park is having these people aren't going to come back. 

I personally love the place. Its really a shame to see it slipping.

GREAT WORK AL THANX FOR YOUR TIME.

 

Subj: The VERY Informative Web Site 
Date: 8/2/2000 
From: Mike

Hi Al,

Just wanted to drop you line to say "THANKS" for all the interesting stories you post. I have learned "lots" since I found your web page regarding Disneyland and the Disney corporation. 

Being a passholder, I am becoming very disappointed with the lack of concern for the guest in regards to all the cutbacks. Everything has started to make "sense" now. It's just not like the "good ole days". 

I was a park employee back in 1981. WOW, what a major difference between then and now. You wrote about the fact that the capacity of the attractions is going down thus creating longer wait times in line. I am a first-hand "victim" of the extended wait times. I've often wondered why the "empty" work positions, be it rides, restaurants, or shops, are indeed "empty". 

As a matter of fact, on my last visit to the park, July 28, 2000, I was in line with my niece and cousin at the Matterhorn at approximately 9:00PM. Since the line is limited to one side of the attraction due to the Parade, that in itself creates a longer wait time. AND, when we finally arrived at the turnstile, we had asked to enter the queue on the Fantasyland side. 

The cast member explained to me that the track was being closed for the evening due to lack of riders. REALLY???? Obviously he hadn't just stood in line. I made that point very clear to him as we reluctantly entered the queue on the Submarine Lagoon side.

Mike

As you can see above - these folks, among many other readers that have visited the park recently, wondered what was happening that made their day so awful, and then found this site which allowed them to understand what had happened to them.

If media people call me at home breathlessly wondering if Pressler's and Eisner's increasingly visible cutbacks were responsible for the Space Mt. accident - wouldn't you have to agree with me that Disneyland is starting to have some very serious perception problems?

They'd have to be blind, or purposely ignoring the impressions they are giving, wouldn't you think?

 

Space Mt. accident - my opinion

I'll keep this short. 

I don't personally think, from what I have heard so far about this that it is anything but an isolated incident. Thankfully the ride did what it should in an emergency situation - people were not seriously injured - and there didn't seem to be any reason to think it could have been prevented in any way shape or form.

BUT - I am VERY concerned that apparently the Cast Member in charge did not know what to do, and kept riders sitting in the dark for ten minutes while they tried to figure things out. This is a very similar situation as to what happened in the fatal Columbia accident - due to budget issues employees working the boat were not trained properly, and they were doing things that they should not have been.

If you've ever been in an accident - ten minutes can seem like an eternity, especially in the dark, not knowing if [any] injuries may be serious or what has happened.  I don't think this is excusable in any shape way or form.

It is a shame that current management by their actions lately seems to think it is just fine to allow this.

By the way, Space Mt. is back up and running again - they got it on line Saturday it seems. Let's hope the crew on hand is properly trained, and that the attraction is adequately staffed.

It's what should be expected from Disneyland, right?

 

That's it for today, see you at the park.


Here's what happened on Space Mt.

SPECIAL: 8/3
Thanks to some help from more than a few sources, we now pretty much have a brief rundown on just what did happen on last Monday night at Space Mountain at Disneyland when a car derailed injuring nine visitors. 

Before starting the account below, you may wish to read the L.A. Times article that ran on 8/2 - a follow up they did about an upcoming state inspection on 8/3 - and also Kevin Krock's recent "Ask Doc Krock" column on Space Mountain, as they will both help add some perspective.

Space Mountain at dusk as it faces Tomorrowland - not too long ago.
Space Mountain at dusk as it faces Tomorrowland - not too long ago. [The view in the first shot above this one is from outside the park].

The accident occurred at 10:15 PM, not 10:50 PM as per what the L.A. Times said. Basically the wheel broke on second "rocket" of the two that are joined together to make one ride car [which holds twelve people total]. 

There are four sets of wheels on the trains - wheel set three is the one that broke. The rocket continued on about thirty five feet past the final brake after the wheels broke. [The final brake did close.] 

When the rocket was found, they found that the wheels were turned 90 degrees from normal position to track. The car did derail - it was off the track. At the location of the mishap, there was no visible damage to the track, just the one set of wheels. And there was no visible damage to other wheels.

The car frame bent without the wheels in place, which resulted in the bucket seat of the passenger in front of the woman dropping on her foot [where it was tucked in under it a bit].

Unfortunately after the mishap, the cars were in the dark about ten minutes before the house lights were turned on, and the only sounds heard by the stranded riders was the canned safety spiel. The delay was due to the cast member in charge and on duty who didn't know what to do. 

Maintenance was then called, but it took about fifteen minutes before they showed. The Anaheim police department showed up about thirty minutes after the event.

Early morning view.
Early morning view.

I was told that only one child was in the car at the time of the accident, all other riders were adults. One observer saw the injured woman... "who never spoke German" and her husband "who only yelled how he wanted to sue Disney." The same observer continued, "The hurt wife yelled back at him, "You are not helping things," but the husband apparently saw a payday." I was also told a man in first car had a cut lip, and all the other injuries were minor. 

From what some of the observers had seen, it looks like this is most likely a mechanical failure. One person made a comment that "Normally, would be caught by normal maintenance" ...but it's hard to assess just how this person may or may not know this. Another expressed that "All rockets should be pulled for inspection prior to opening the ride again." This was the first accident to be reported under the new law to OSHA - that was done on Tuesday afternoon.

Ride logo.
Ride logo.

At this time Disneyland is planning to have the ride back in operation sometime between Thursday and Saturday of this week as I understand it. There is no word yet on just what they are doing internally as far as inspections or follow-ups. There is a link above to a Times story where they mention a state inspection will be made.

As we find out more details, we'll pass them on in this forum for you. [A very special thanks to all who assisted with this.]

On Monday, the D-I-G will feature a special commentary titled "Perceptions" - which was actually being worked on before the news above broke. It will discuss the current state of upkeep in the park - and how it reflects upon the Walt Disney company when things, such as the event above, happen. 

We hope you join us then for it.


Will YOU Survive Your Visit to Disneyland?
Special D-I-G Update - 8/1/00

ANOTHER update the day after I just posted one? Well folks, this story is so indicative of just what is now going on at the park that it just couldn't wait.

Imagine this - instead of some distant tropic isle and a bunch of way too bitchy yuppies trying to get rich on network television - that you instead now find yourself at an even more exotic island - Tom Sawyer's as a matter of fact - located in the middle of the Rivers of America at Disneyland.

Normally it's easy to survive your exotic island visit here - as you enjoy seeing the little ones scramble over the rocks and into the Injun Joe caves - and as the rivercraft lazily circle around, their path only occasionally crossed by some way too fat ducks and the more often spotted Coca Cola 20 oz sized bottles and popcorn boxes floating everywhere.

Yes, you've enjoyed your tranquil island sojourn and are ready to return back to New Orleans Square / Frontierland to partake of Disneyland's many other attractions (if they are open that is). You board one of the rafts - which smiling cast members operate for you as they prepare to take you across.

It's a warm, almost humid day - as you take off across the river - wondering if you'll enjoy visiting the rather ratty looking Haunted Mansion - or maybe you'll try and find out how Fastpass works for Splash Mountain... 

...when suddenly... 

...the raft motor dies.  

And as you start to drift - you suddenly wonder - WILL I SURVIVE???  

The thought of eating rats suddenly crosses your mind as you and two hundred other people on the island that day suddenly find out there may NOT BE A WAY OFF!

What could have happened to create this problem? Let's tell you the sorry story about how maintenance cutbacks have decimated the three Tom Sawyer Island river rafts... and how it led to stranding two hundred visitors in their own Disneyland Survival Fantasy.

Basically the rafts are in terrible shape, and Disneyland has only had two of them operating for about two weeks since the one named Tom Sawyer became unusable with a bent propeller. With one raft down, on Sunday the second raft named Injun Joe took on a lot of water in it's engine compartment and the CMs had to abandon it at the dock. 

At that point, they had to close the Island and start evacuating visitors off because they only had one operating raft. As they marshaled the third and last raft, Becky Thatcher, back across the river with the first load of visitors off the island, it died right in the middle of the river with a full load and began to aimlessly drift out towards the Golden Horseshoe. 

A few seconds later the Mark Twain began to depart from its dock and a CM had to frantically radio them and tell them to come to an emergency stop, which they did near the Petrified Tree, thankfully avoiding a collision. Of course, that action subsequently stranded the Columbia while on a rare trip out back by the Cascade Mound and what then happened is that all of this brought the whole river to a stop.

After several minutes of just drifting in the middle of the river, as anxious visitors wondered if CBS was going to tape the whole thing and run it as a 13 episode summer series up against ABC's Millionaire, the raft luckily was pushed by a breeze towards the river wall, and from a video I saw, a CM thankfully snagged the raft with a spare bowline and then dragged it back to the Mainland dock. 

But even after that quick thinking effort, that still left about 200 visitors stranded on the Island - which I'm sure at that point had them wondering if they were going to have to form tribes with names like Rattana and Tagi. 

After about 30 minutes the poor CMs trying to figure out what to do then briefly considered closing the Canoes early and using them and their CM's as a makeshift shuttle system to evacuate the remaining visitors off the Island before they all started voting by themselves on who they were going to throw off on their own next. 

Thankfully just a few minutes later the facilities people were able to coax the Becky Thatcher back to life and the harried CMs used it to finally get the now disappointed [hey, they wanted to be on TV almost naked] visitors off the Island. 

Basically the last ones to come back were stuck on the Island for just over an hour. And as you can imagine, what with the long day having started off for them badly with those long walks from the new parking structure, and the newly increased outdoor vending cart prices, it was a real mess of a situation for them.

Asking around about all this, I found out that rafts have died mid-trip before on occasion, but there have always been two others that could be immediately used to push the broken one back to the dock. 

But in this bizarre situation, which should never happen in the first place since the park is supposed to have 3 working rafts, they would have in theory used the Keel Boats to evacuate the Island. But of course as you all well know, the Keel Boats aren't an option anymore since they are now gone, so those visitors were stuck on the Island for over an hour due to Maintenance budget cuts. 

This of course in the old days would have been inexcusable - but with Paul Pressler [chairman of the resorts], along with Michael Eisner now in charge, they both obviously feel something like this is just par for the course now. 

It was an amazing sight folks, and it had to be a Disneyland first. There were lots of people stopped along the riverbank to watch the drama unfold while the raft drifted aimlessly, while I'm sure they were betting on who would survive this ordeal and they were also wondering if they could then see the interviews on the Morning Show the next day. Never have all 3 rafts been inoperative at the same time, with several dozen people drifting and several hundred more stranded on the Island.

It was a real testament to the many River CM's involved who calmly and intelligently dealt with this bad situation that everyone kept their wits and no one was hurt. 

As I've said before in this forum, they don't pay these people enough in my estimation for the things they have to do due to the amazingly poor decisions [because of budgets in this case] made by their superiors.

 

From one survival saga - to another - 

We also learned a few new things here at the D-I-G today. According to the Scheduling Planner calendar that they send out to the management teams, the Rocket Rods will close for a "Tentative Rehab" on September 5th. The end date of the rehab is September 29th. 

Since rehabs are only being listed thru the end of the fiscal year, [the new fiscal begins October 1st] it's easy to assume that this rehab will last past September. The question everyone is asking about the Rods is - Will it be forever?

By the way, also scheduled for rehab September 5th thru the 29th is Fantasmic! [see the update below] and the Main Street Cinema.

The Frontierland rehab will also kick off in early September. They will be redoing all of the ground treatments in the Land, as they did with the Adventureland repaving when Indy went in in '95. The ground treatments may have to be done in two phases though, with a break for the Christmas holiday weeks.

 

And for those keeping score at home over the course of the last few updates about all these cutbacks...

The operating hours for the Country Bear Playhouse have changed again. While the Park is open from 8:00 am to 12 Midnight, the Bears will now operate from 10:00 am until 8:00 pm. That's another hour delay in opening, in addition to the one hour shaved off of the closing time last week. 

Also, the attraction is now only staffed to operate one theater for the entire day. Up until the middle of July, the Country Bear Playhouse was open from 9:00 am until 9:00 pm, with both theaters operating from 11:00 am
until 6:00 pm. This show has really taken a hit on its labor budget the past few weeks. 

It seems so petty and short-sighted not only to me, but to other observers in the park, to slash the capacity of the Bears by half while simultaneously doubling the waiting time between shows just to eliminate one single CM from the schedule during peak hours.

Sunday at 2:00 pm there were people stacked up outside the turnstiles waiting in the sun for about twenty minutes to go in the lobby because the crowd already in the lobby was going to completely fill the next show. Since only one theater was operating on a busy summer afternoon, they had to wait outside the turnstiles before they could be let in to begin another 20 minute wait in the lobby. 

Amazing, isn't it? Yes, the show is old and it will be torn out anyway soon.  But on a hot summer afternoon, gosh darn it, those air conditioned theater shows with cushioned seats are extremely popular at Disneyland!

But we're forgetting something here - the chairman and president both don't really care much about this kind of stuff, do they?

 

It sadly seems the saga continues - as Al is thankful those people didn't have to eat rats on Tom Sawyer Island before they figured out a way to get them back on shore.  

Maybe they should alert the Bengal BBQ on how to prepare this delicacy just in case though...

...I'll see you at the park... if I don't get stranded somewhere due to another maintenance cutback of course...  ;)

ON THIS PAGE

D-I-G Quick Update 8/31/00: Maybe holding off that trip until October would be a good idea / Rocket Rods - problems when they run, problems when they don't / Is Pressler finally acknowledging his new Tomorrowland was a failure? / Matterhorn changes / DCA - short for Disney's CONFUSING Adventure / Frontierland rehab information / More new costuming / Credit where credit is due - but people DO notice

D-I-G Quick Update 8/22/00: Fastpass's Future / Accountanteering wins on the Mansion / Attendance continues to drop / Why Warren Buffet is reducing his stake in Disney / New name for Casa Mexicana / Al's favorite Disney media quote

D-I-G Update 8/14/00: New Go.com logo / Budget cuts continue / Endor Blues / Why all the cutbacks? / Rocket Rods... the saga continues / More rehab adjustments / FastPass Update / Probably no Subs now - but something else may come back instead / Mansion holiday makeover

D-I-G Update 8/7/00: More cutbacks / More Fastpass / More California Adventure / Misc / "Perceptions" and some personal opinions on the Space Mt. accident

D-I-G Special Update 8/3/00 - Here's what happened on Space Mountain

D-I-G Special Update 8/1/00 - Tom Sawyer Island Survivors

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