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Al Lutz
Archived D-I-G Update
2/20 Update - California Adventure attendance problems continue / Early DCA food closings / Some cast members' "pasts" catch up with them / From someone in the know... / A fellow MousePlaneteer's observations

A deserted Paradise Pier at 10 PM Sunday night
A deserted Paradise Pier at 10 PM Sunday night

California Adventure attendance problems continue

The numbers are in for most of Presidents Day weekend (no Monday numbers as of press time), and things are looking even worse attendance-wise for the new California Adventure park:

Friday, Feb. 16th:

Disneyland operating hours 9 am - 10 pm
estimate - 33K
actual - 36K

DCA operating hours 8 am - 12 midnight
estimate - 35K
actual - 17K

Saturday, Feb. 17th:

Disneyland operating hours 8 am - 12 midnight
estimate - 43K
actual - 43K

DCA operating hours 8 am - 12 midnight
estimate - 35K
actual - 19K

Sunday, Feb 18th:

Disneyland operating hours 8 am - 12 midnight
estimate - 45K
actual - 43K

DCA operating hours 8 am - 12 midnight
estimate - 35K
actual - 17K

(Keep in mind they had decreased the estimate numbers for Disneyland itself a bit - to take the new park into account.)

What is fascinating is that when you look at the past numbers for this holiday weekend, Disneyland has had attendance in the 55K to 58K range for Saturday and Sunday. Presidents Day weekend had been a major holiday weekend for decades, because it's the first big, full blast weekend after Christmas and New Years.

The 43K Disneyland got on Saturday was very light for this weekend - even keeping in mind the weather. Looking at the tepid numbers, it appears that DCA seems to simply be siphoning off a chunk of the Disneyland attendance, while not attracting much on it's own to make up for the cannibalism.

Sunday was much slower at both Parks due to the scattered rain showers in the morning. Friday was sunny and mild, and Saturday was partly cloudy and mild. Monday was damp and quiet (for which we don't have numbers yet) quite a bit less from Friday's numbers from what I understand.

Something to take into account is that the numbers for DCA also include visitors who are using Park Hopper tickets or APs. So, if a person enters DCA in the morning and then goes over to Disneyland in the afternoon, or vice versa, it adds to the total daily attendance at both Parks. Since Disneyland operated for 3 fewer hours than DCA on Friday (as well as Monday), Park Hopping was increased on those days in particular. It's kind of misleading in a way, since it tends to inflate numbers quite a bit.

Apparently (judging from the many memos and e-mails starting to circulate all over Anaheim and Burbank this morning) operations management and the executives are starting to worry that something may be seriously wrong. Plainly, the hourly CMs are joking about it, and DCA is now commonly referred to as "DOA" in break rooms around the Resort. As you all well know, it wasn't supposed to be like this. (All while the Downtown Disney mall is doing very good business, and the Grand Californian Hotel seems to be selling out quite a bit.)

There is supposed to be a list floating around as of last week that details some of the reasons the park may be not pulling in the numbers. Some of them include:

- the lack of any kind of focus in the marketing for kids, (hard to easily fix since they basically blew that segment off in the design for the park)

- the inability to sell this park as its own admission (some research indicates people still do not understand it is a separate ducat, one need only listen to the conversations at the ticket booths to figure that one out)

- the turndown in the economy (which doesn't begin to explain why Disneyland itself still meets projections both in attendance and sales, and the new hotel and mall are doing well)

- the bad advance buzz (of which the negative experiences the massive crowds had in the preview days - and yes, even the Internet itself and some key websites - are being blamed.)

A long time observer noted:

I have a feeling the two Parks of the new Disneyland Resort are simply taking the conventional attendance for just Disneyland, adding only 5% or 10% due to a major media campaign, and then splitting it between two Parks instead of one.

A Saturday like this weekend at any time in the last couple of years would have had an attendance at Disneyland in the 53K to 60K range. Add the two Parks attendance together and you get 62K, not much more than Disneyland normally does on big Holiday weekend Saturdays anyway.

Fireworks can pretty much only be seen through DCA's main gate
The Believe fireworks can pretty much only be seen through DCA's main gate

Although the crowds were manageable this weekend, DCA Guest Relations had some trouble in the evenings. When the Believe fireworks go off at Disneyland, it's clearly visible at DCA (in particular from the hub "sun court" area). But, it's also obvious to the DCA visitors that those Disneyland fireworks aren't for them, the viewing is poor, and there is no soundtrack to go with it, etc. They want to know why there is no nighttime entertainment at DCA like at Disneyland.

Right now DCA has two Eureka parades in the afternoon, and several Steps In Time shows during the day. But Disneyland on a weekend in February has two parades, Animazement shows in the Fantasyland Theater, Believe fireworks, Fantasmic!, several bands in New Orleans square, the Disneyland Band, and even dancing to swing bands and rock and roll at Plaza Gardens and Tomorrowland Terrace.

DCA, besides what is listed above, has the "Lights, Camera, Chaos!" (formerly "Get a Grip") show, the weed lady (too complicated to explain here, but a crowd pleaser), Storytelling in the one playground, the a cappella group in Condor Flats and two bands that play on the parade route on a mobile platform. Most of which (except for the mobile bands) is finished for the day by 7 or 8 PM.

Customers are aware that both Parks cost the same 43 dollars, and the lack of any major night entertainment had DCA's Guest Relations Lobby jumping the past few evenings with disgruntled visitors upset with the dearth of anything to see. When the Believe fireworks go off, many of them are saying "Hey, wait a minute. How come there aren't any fireworks or night entertainment here? We paid the same money as the people in Disneyland!" DCA has been getting extremely quiet after the dinner hours, as there is nothing special going on in the Park after dark.

What's also interesting is what Guest Relations is doing with disgruntled DCA attendees. If you have children and your concern is the lack of attractions and activities for those under 42 inches, Guest Relations will escort you across the Esplanade and comp you into Disneyland for the rest of the day. If your admission media has been stamped at the DCA entrance within an hour of your complaint at Guest Relations, there are no questions asked. (Guest Relations is even staffing extra CMs now to help with this specific service.) However, if you have been in DCA for several hours with your children, then you may not receive the same courtesy. The longer you stay at DCA, the less chance you have of receiving sympathy and a trip to Disneyland from Guest Relations. It looks like right now that they have decided to draw the line at about the one-hour-mark.

There are also DCA visitors without children who are complaining about the lack of activities, but they are not being comped into Disneyland as a rule anymore. After the first few days of those types of complaints, Guest Relations realized that they would have to set up an Esplanade shuttle service to handle the flow of Guests over to Disneyland on busy days. So, the decision was made to simply placate those types of complaints at the DCA Guest Relations Lobby, without resorting to a free escort into Disneyland. Free meals or snacks, and a backdoor pass or two, are being used to try and calm down the angry DCA customers who are simply upset with the small attractions roster. Many ask to be allowed into Disneyland for the remainder of the day, but an executive decision was made this week to stand firm with those visitors and instead try and cheer them up with freebies and keep them at DCA.

Meanwhile personally, I still don't think we have a complete picture yet of just what the problems really are. The rain this past weekend could have affected things - although the tepid weekday numbers (during normal weather) continue to be of major concern. One observer noted to me "All the parks get big numbers on holidays and summer - it's how they perform the rest of the time that makes them success or failures."

My thought is we may have to wait until Spring Break to really see if this is a real trend. We'll continue to observe, but it does NOT look good.

By the way, Eisner is apparently furious with the attendance numbers, his anger started during opening weekend it seems. One person related to me that he was staying at the Grand Californian, and as the numbers came in, he increasingly got to the point where hotel cast members were told to: a] not make any eye contact in any dealings with him and b] get in and out of the suite as fast as possible to avoid any problems.

Geeze, is it that bad?  ;)


Early DCA food closings

Now mind you - even if people do stay at DCA - the pickings become ultra slim if you want something to eat past 6 PM.

Want an ice cream in DCA after 9 PM? Forget about it. Bur-r-Bank Ice Cream in DCA's central plaza is closed at that time. Catch-a-Flav at Paradise Pier closes at 6 PM, and Sam Andreas Shakes has yet to match a schedule they set, and are usually closed early nightly.

How about a chicken bowl from the Lucky Fortune Cookery? Every visit I have made since previews has found this location closed. The Mondavi Deli is catch as catch can - many nights closing early.

No one has ever eaten at the Bountiful Valley Farmers Market that I know of, as we cannot ever find this location open. Likewise with Malibu-Ritos and Strips, Dips n' Chips (both at Paradise Pier), and Schmoozies (in the Hollywood Backlot area).

Even if a cast member tells you something will be open (according to their cast member schedule sheet) the foods department will close it early no matter what the attendance is because of too few sales or lack of staff.

It's a vicious cycle in a way - by closing things early - they shoo away the customers - by keeping them open as they should they probably would lose quite a bit of money. I have a feeling that they simply compound the problem by closing everything in such a hurry.

Avalon Cove is one of the few places open late
Avalon Cove is one of the few places open late

What's usually open? The expensive joints of course - Avalon Cove by Wolfgang Puck, ABC Soap Opera Bistro and Mondavi's Vineyard Room.

After you get sticker shock in those places, only some of the low end stuff is left, McDonald's (no way I'm paying almost $8 for a Big Mac meal, apparently even McDonald's itself agrees and has asked for a reconsideration of the prices charged), Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill (with their skimpy flavorless nachos), Taste Pilots' Grill (greasy), Pacific Wharf Cafe (soup in bread bowls and salads and that's IT - how utterly DUMB to NOT to offer sandwiches in this bakery annex!!!), Pizza Oom Mow Mow (dreadful cardboard tasting stuff), Award Weiners, and Hollywood & Dine (very limited menus in each section - and $8 for a tuna sandwich is sheer lunacy). Can you tell this customer is frustrated?

In speaking to some of the cast members (in trying to find something open other than Hollywood & Dine one night this past weekend) they relate that they constantly keep hearing similar complaints. I have to compliment them for a] trying to find us something open by phoning around and b] for trying to suggest other alternatives (one poor CM even suggested going to McDonald's across the street on Harbor to save some money and get some food!)

(Overall the cast members are doing a terrific job in dealing with the many complaints this new park is getting. Eisner, Pressler, and Braverman should thank their lucky stars their crew is doing what they can to defuse the sometimes tense situations out there.)

Paradise Pier at night, pretty, but empty
Paradise Pier at night, pretty, but empty

Of course, yours truly and a few friends have found a great way to take advantage of all this early flight. The park basically empties out after 9 PM. So at about that time we show up at the Avalon Cove bar, which has a great view of the Paradise Pier area. We order cocktails, (maybe splurge on a $6 ice cream sundae or a $4 order of fries, yes, outrageous) and then just sit back and watch the Pier area empty on out (and see the Screamin' coaster break down at least once). Then at about 11 PM we head off to the coaster, ride it a few times without any lines, then head over to Soarin', and ride that a few times without any lines until closing.

Nice for us, but awful for the park I guess.

By the way - rumor has it that Wolfgang Puck is apparently so disappointed that Disney may give him another location in the Downtown Disney mall, either at a discount or free as a "make good" - possibly due to the terrible attendance numbers they are getting in the park.


Some cast members' "pasts" catch up with them

There have been a huge number of cast member terminations recently. The background checks for the CMs hired during the seemingly desperate Job Fairs in November and December are now coming in en masse. It appears that there have been many who falsified information about criminal history, or have current warrants.

From what I could gather, there have been several CMs taken away in handcuffs this past weekend, due to outstanding warrants in many categories of crimes. These types of people simply never used to be part of the employee mix at Disneyland, it just never used to even be an option. But, since the background checks are so behind the curve of endless new-hires, not only are these people being hired, but they have been working at the parks for weeks interacting with the paying public.

It could well be that your Storybookland Hostess may now have a few felonies in her background, and may be leaving work at the end of her shift in a police cruiser. Many veteran CMs are simply in awe and disgusted at this turn of events. It's shocking to any Disneyland CM who has been there more than 2 years. We won't even get into just what some of those problems may have been - as I don't have enough information at this time, and the fact the parks core audience can consist of a great deal of children concerns myself as well as many other people.


From someone in the know...

The following note offers a peek into the company from inside of Imagineering (WDI) - it's interesting how the insiders see things and how they are going:

Disney is headed for major turmoil. Infighting and power struggles are developing because of the continued slipping of Disney focus and quality. Those creative people who are the last bastion of hope for any future Disney may be able to achieve, are struggling against forces of finance and management. There are those who want control but have no inclination how to benefit from the creative talent thatís available and therefore consider them an unneeded burden that can easily be outsourced. So, they are willing to sacrifice any potential that the company might achieve in order to maintain their position.

In Pressler's case, he has learned a lot since his initial position with the Disney stores. When he took over Disneyland, he was Eisnerís wonder boy. He did whatever it took to maintain Eisnerís faith, even if it meant sacrificing the park. But, through the years, he has been exposed to differing tactics and their results. He has experienced first hand that taking shortcuts isn't always the best strategy long-term. He has learned that there are people he can count on in the company to provide good advice that can benefit him and the company. But he has to balance that with the pressure he gets from those who are politically motivated and only trying to establish their dominance.

So, now, the shoe is on the other foot. He has the ability of stabilizing the theme park divisions and making sure that those with the ability of keeping Disney on top are recognized and given the power and respect they deserve. If not, and he is swayed by the political influences trying to engulf him, Disney parks will just continue their downward trend.

Currently, whether the situation at Imagineering is any more critical than in other divisions, is hard to say. Each of them is being thrashed by posturing and power struggles. Unfortunately, recent goals have pushed the various divisions to make numerous faulty mistakes that will cost them in the long run.

ABC's problems are increasing. They finally dumped The Ducks and Angels were buried in the annual report in order to keep attention off of them. The Disney Stores haven't made much of an improvement, and the deal with K-Mart and Penny's doesnít instill the feeling of high quality people have gotten used to. (Peter) Schneider is angering talent in Hollywood, and Disney is increasingly being left out when it comes to scripts and actors needed to make their movies.

There is so much in the company that is fluctuating and whether the company will be able to retain those who will be able to sustain the Disney quality is unknown. It will take a great leap of faith by those making the decisions to prevent Disney from sinking into the great sinkhole of mediocrity.

Sort of cheers ya up huh? I agree with the writer, the Kmart and Penny's deals in particular seem rather desperate, (even some financial analysts have said so) especially when they claim they are trying to shore up the Disney Stores. (You don't do that kind of stuff if you want to control or improve the brand.) The comment about Schneider is very interesting, since it came to me this past week from several different sources.

Why don't they just put Paul Pressler in charge of consumer products? Talk about fitting the man to the job - that would fix half of the problems. The other half? Well, Eisner still doesn't seem to want to leave...  ;)


A fellow MousePlaneteer's observations

Karl Buiter (MousePlanet's CEO and frequent contributor) also had a few observations about the current attendance problems at California Adventure:

We talk about the weather, the off-season, the quality of shows and attractions, the Internet and other reasons California Adventure is under performing its attendance goals... Here are a few other reasons I have heard while talking to good friends and from direct experience.

Local's Lockout -

The number for Disneyland is around 60% local, and no doubt higher in the current off-season. Annual Passholders come to the park after work. They come to the park to socialize on weekends with friends and family. California Adventure has many offerings that cater to this crowd.

On Annual Passholder weekend, the park made the defensive move of suspending the sale of Annual Pass upgrades and sales. With nearly 60,000 Annual Passholder attendees who were waiting to see the new park before committing, and many others who were waiting to around park open to budget an upgrade, this was a major cut in potential sales and attendance. For the brains up at Team Disney Anaheim, they should know that they not only killed this segment, they also cut out many who had upgraded but had friends and family who had not.

I know of several groups, including the groups I socialize with, who would have been at California Adventure this past weekend had all members been able to go in. Broken Families, Broken Groups. Does Disney know their audience?

Kiddy Park Marketing -

Lets face it, much of California Adventure's offerings work well with the adult crowd. Its a nice date park. The Golden State area is a baby boomer's playground - what with Mondavi, the Sourdough bread factory and relaxed pace. There is not much at this time for small kids relative to the the Fantasylands and super-attractions of Disneyland.

So how do they market it? The Buzz Lightyear advertising campaign message partly works - California Adventure is an all new park next to Disneyland. Good. Except we have all the Disney characters explaining it. To the casual television viewer, this sounds like another Kiddy Park.

Let's talk about enjoying a night out on the town. Let's talk about going to Hollywood, Soarin over California, and having a sharing a glass of wine with your significant other. They have a good message - going to the wrong audience. In reality, this is a date park.

Interesting no? Rumor has it we may see those AP sales resumed rather quickly.

I myself feel Disney so got caught up in selling to the out of towners (who are booking the new hotel solidly) that they forgot about the locals, which day in and day out are still 60% of the attendance. The locals may just see this "California" theme as something they can catch at their local county fair.

Let's face it, every ad and commercial shot shows the standard issue Paradise Pier carnival rides. Pretty they may be with all the lights, but they are certainly not of the Disney quality the public has come to expect from the company.


Well, I guess I'll see you at Disneyland, since apparently not many folks are showing up at DCA...  ;)

2/12 Update - Where was everyone? / Beer trucks roll out at DCA / Unhappy campers / San Francisco Property Check - Hosted by Rice-A-Roni? / California Adventure's next attractions / Mansion - Nightmare dates locked down - other Disneyland rehab news / Fastpass problems


Where was everyone?

It was pretty lonely at California Adventure this past opening weekend, both shots below show the crowds at 10 AM this past Sunday (although to be fair here, attendance did increase quite a bit later on).


Above, the walkway between Paradise Pier and the San Francisco areas. Below the walkway between the hub area and the winery.


Here are some numbers for you, from opening weekend for California Adventure:

Thursday, February 8th

DCA: 8:00 am - 12:00 pm
Estimated Attendance - 38,000
Actual Attendance - 14,000

Disneyland: 10:00 am - 8:00 pm
Estimated Attendance - 17,000
Actual Attendance - 17,000 (made its estimate)

Friday, February 9th

DCA: 8:00 am - 12:00 pm
Estimated Attendance - 38,000
Actual Attendance - 11,000

Disneyland: 10:00 am - 10:00 pm
Estimated Attendance - 27,000
Actual Attendance - 18,000

Saturday, February 10th

DCA: 8:00 am - 12:00 pm
Estimated Attendance - 38,000
Actual Attendance - 10,000

Disneyland : 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Estimated Attendance - 38,000
Actual Attendance - 27,000

Aren't the numbers fascinating? The numbers for Sunday weren't out yet when I got those. But, the estimates for Sunday were; DCA - 38,000 and Disneyland - 35,000. My guess here is that they did about 10,000 at Disneyland, and about 10,000 to 15,000 at DCA.

Saturdays in January and February, unless it's pouring down rain all day, have always been in the 37K to 45K range. No one can remember the last time a Saturday at Disneyland had only 28K.

For the first big weekend of the newly expanded Disneyland Resort, it appears that the single day attendance estimates for Disneyland were simply split between two Parks, instead of just going to one. The upcoming Presidents Day weekend will be the big test, barring any major winter storms. If attendance for both Parks is simply another split of the original Disneyland Park estimate, then that could be the sign of trouble. It will be worth watching, for sure.

When the In-park attendance for DCA fizzled into the single digits on Thursday, the buzz amongst high ranking managers, directors and vice presidents in Operations was "Well, the media scared them away today. Wait until tomorrow, it will pick up. And then Saturday will be a real zoo, and we'll be slammed!"

On Saturday, when even fewer people showed up, the backstage buzz turned into a deafening silence. No one really knew what to make of it. Was it the media? Is it the chilly weather? Did the local marketing campaign need tweaking? Did the overcrowded Preview weekends create bad word of mouth among locals? Are the APs boycotting because of the suspended AP sales? A combination of all those possibilities? No one seemed to know.

The very low weekend attendance could be a fluke, and in the following weekends DCA may rebound to its originally estimated attendances. But for the Grand Opening weekend at least, DCA seemed to not pull any extra visitors to the Resort, and instead it appeared to have only cannibalized a few thousand off the Disneyland attendance, providing two un-crowded theme parks and a bizarre opening weekend.

On Friday, they started canceling the previously scheduled plan to have Disneyland managers from Attractions, Foods, and Merchandise go over and work at DCA all weekend instead of Disneyland. There was no need for them, and they were closing some food locations down early all weekend, and reducing the capacity of some attractions like the Jumpin' Jellyfish and the Maliboomer to send CMs home before Sunday. Foods was running massive overtime all weekend to staff at full capacity. They shut stuff down fast when the bodies didn't show, to save on the tons of overtime. It was particularly bad for the Foods department. For people in scheduling, it was just a nightmare.

It's interesting that for the most part, the trend was that Disneyland got much larger numbers with fewer operating hours per day. Disneyland also came closer to its goals over most of the weekend, despite the chilly weather through the weekend, and threats of rain on Saturday and Sunday.

The estimates for the remainder of the week are in the mid-teens for both parks. Next weekend DCA goes back up to 38K, and Disneyland heads towards 50K for Saturday and Sunday, due to the holiday. The estimate of 38K is the highest DCA will ever be pegged at, because there's really no way they could sell more tickets than that with an In Park cap of 28K. A 38K at DCA is supposed to be like a 70K New Years Eve or 4th of July at Disneyland.

Keep in mind the often quoted figure of "7 million visitors during the first year of operation" is dependent of having reached their estimates of 35K to 38K during most weekends and major vacation periods.

Let's see what Spring Break brings - it's a fascinating story.


Beer trucks roll out at DCA

As we mentioned here before - the liquor rolled out at DCA AFTER the press went home. Below are two photos of the beer trucks at Pacific Wharf (first two photos - including a cash register readout photo) and (third shot) across from the Hollywood & Dine areas.




This fourth shot (below) is of the liquor license taped to the front windows of each. By the way, Rita's Baja Blenders in the Pacific Wharf area will revert back to Rita's Margaritas shortly too.



Unhappy campers

By the way, I'd heard that on the the big Passholder Preview weekend they called in reinforcements from City Hall, preprinted comp tickets, and were just passing them out by the hundreds with no questions asked.

On Sunday, someone with our group noticed a few families being walked across the esplanade from DCA to Disneyland - and the Guest Relations CM explaining to the Disneyland ticket takers that the families were being comped into Disneyland due to their complaints about the new park.

One survey taker was rather blunt when we talked with them (while being surveyed about our day at DCA) - it didn't take more than a few comments to prompt them to let us know they were getting a lot of disappointed people, and that many concerns we had were also expressed all day long by other visitors also.

Biggest complaints? Not enough to do. Burnt coffee smell near the entryway, and lots of diatribes about the food pricing. Being opening weekend, these may have been a greater sampling of full price customers.


San Francisco Property Check - Hosted by Rice-A-Roni?

Remember the unused San Francisco buildings at DCA? They are right across from the Golden Dreams entryway. The interior of that building is completely unfinished, wood beams, not sheetrocked yet, and industrial lighting plugged in.

They've turned them into "lockers." A CM stands there at a card table, with black duvatine covering the doorway so you cant see the unfinished inside. You check in your items, pay a few bucks, and then they put them in a bag, tag it, and throw it on the floor inside.


California Adventure's next attractions

There will be a new Dumbo/Astro Orbiter style attraction placed in the sand dunes of the eastern turnaround for Screamin' (shown below). Design work has already started, and onsite prep work could start soon since the budget was approved.


It will be a version of the Aladdin's Magic Carpet ride currently being built in WDW's Adventureland. This one will have an octopus theme, most likely Ursula from The Little Mermaid. The vehicles will seat four, with the front row controlling the pitch of the vehicle, and the back row controlling the side tilt. There won't be a height requirement, thankfully.


The location currently used by the very temporary looking "fun photo" shop next to Maliburito's on Paradise Pier (shown above) was initially designed to be the entry way for an additional attraction. At first we heard a Flying Saucer version of bumper cars, or a dark ride, could be placed on the empty pad behind this entrance if Imagineering is given the money to do it. Now the rumor is that a Monsters, Inc. themed dark ride will move in.


Mansion - Nightmare dates locked down - other Disneyland rehab news

We do have some confirmations here: The Mansion closes September 10th and reopens October 5th. The Nightmare Before Christmas overlay will run until January 6th, 2002, and then the Mansion will be closed for another 2 weeks to take the overlay down. There will be a Mansion press event (and maybe the park will repeat a merchandising event also?) on October 4th.

I haven't heard a peep about Rocket Rods. And its getting to the point (according to folks who know) where if they are going to reopen, that Scheduling needs to know about it because cast members (CMs) need to be retrained on that attraction after this long of a downtime. But, there hasn't been a peep about scheduling training in March and April. Let's see if the Buzz Lightyear rumors come to be.

Meanwhile, Splash Mountain will be closed Labor Day through Halloween, and during the upcoming Pirates rehab (right about that same time) they are replacing the scrim in the hurricane scene. (Hey guys, how about replacing the scrims at the Mansion too?) With both major attractions down at the same time on the west side though, they would be loath to also rehab the Tiki Room at the same time. So, chances are good it will continue to decay and rot. It's really getting bad now what with all the recent wet weather too.

I was told that the future of Tom Sawyer Island is not good. The recent accident (where the little girl lost part of her finger) has indicated that it's time to either fish or cut bait with it. New rumors have started about some kind of attraction incorporating the Island yet again - but let's not hold our breaths.

I also found out that the Ursula inflatable has been cut from Fantasmic because the structure that supports her rotted away and there was no rehab budget to rebuild it. Keep in mind Fantasmic was just supposed to be a temporary show, that would run about five years. Its not a labor cut, its just they just don't want to rebuild the wood and metal framing that supports the balloon. The inaction of course adds fuel to the rumor that the show will shortly switch to a less frequent schedule - or possibly be retired for a period.

Over in Fantasyland there were some hopes that after the last holiday makeover for it's a small world they would finally fix the facade, which is looking really shabby now. But they seem to have delayed it yet again. But they did redo the Polynesia room in the ride.

I still just want to go in and dust the damn thing.


Fastpass problems

Fastpass is great on busy days, or in places like Walt Disney World, where the visitor mix is tilted away from locals. But does running it full time here at Disneyland where the mix is quite different make sense?

Did you know that Big Thunder Fastpass gave out 30 tickets on Saturday? They had nine CMs working there for that Fastpass on that day, and the machines issued 30 tickets. Nine CMs! Keep in mind that they could have used two of those CM's to pick up the fourth or fifth train, reduce the five minute wait to zero minutes, and still be ahead by seven CMs salaries.

On moderate days, Pirates, Thunder, Mansion, and Star Tours basically have no need for Fastpass. On slow days, or any weekday, maybe only Splash and Indy need Fastpass. Pirates and Mansion are giving out just a few dozen Fastpasses for an entire day during the week. And only a fraction of those actually come back. Mostly they are just free souvenirs for visitors with the attraction logo on them. People blow off returning for their set time since the lines always look so short.

The Fastpass for Bugs and Muppets over at DCA seems especially redundant. Even on the packed Preview days, no one used it. Bugs is a theater show that seats 400 every 15 minutes, and Muppets seats 500 every 20 minutes.

People in attractions keep asking if maybe they should go seasonal with them - in order to better utilize labor costs and save the company a few bucks. The answer back to them is always "it's a Guest Service that we are advertising, so we have to offer it at all times."


One of the best times to visit the new park may be this week - what with weekday crowds and the threat of rain all weeklong. You may be able to enjoy it pretty much to yourself!


2/20 Update - California Adventure attendance problems continue / Early DCA food closings / Some cast members "pasts" catch up with them / From someone in the know... / A fellow MousePlaneteer's observations

2/12 Update - Where was everyone? / Beer trucks roll out at DCA / Unhappy campers / San Francisco Property Check - Hosted by Rice-A-Roni? / California Adventure's next attractions / Mansion - Nightmare dates locked down - other Disneyland rehab news / Fastpass problems

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