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Al Lutz
Archived D-I-G Update
5/22 Update - Good Tiki Room News / Matterhorn rehab may be extended / New Mansion costuming / Pooh, No Pooh, Pooh, No Pooh / You asked to see it... / Sad Grad Nites? / Continuing Training Problems? / DCA news / Guest Columnists: Todd Regan & Coaster Matt

Good Tiki Room News

Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room has finally received the new roof thatching that was mentioned in a previous update. Also, almost unbelievably, the show inside has also had a modest cleaning and freshening.

Tiki

These photos (above and below) show the new thatching going in - note no new paint though.

Tiki

According to Park planners, a possible replacement for the 1963 show has been shelved for now. Apparently the recent visit by Dole executives got Disney's "Participant Relations" department in hot water over the obvious neglect that the attraction was showing. Emails from concerned park visitors didn't hurt either it appears.

Some of the push behind this may have begun in April, when head Imagineer honcho Marty Sklar paid a surprise visit to the Enchanted Tiki Room, and was visibly furious as he stood on the Tiki Room lanai and asked the CM's working at the Dole juice bar and inside the show why so many things were inoperative or in such bad shape.

Before going in to see the show, Sklar spent a good 20 minutes on the lanai inspecting decayed show effects and decrepit decorations, muttering to himself and looking very perturbed. Due to those two high profile visits, plus some very unflattering online coverage, (well, we had to do something!) Disneyland's Facilities Department has now done a modest job of cleaning up the Tiki Room with its tail between it's legs. And again, it looks like Disneyland keeps the original 1963 show for at least the first few years of the 21st century.

Plaza Pavillion

One thing Sklar may have missed is the vinyl coverings around and over the wood railings on the patio of the Plaza Pavilion (shown above). The wood was so rotted and decayed, and lines of AP's were standing there just staring at it, that the decision was made to cover it up instead of replace and repaint the rotted railings. Interesting approach, don't you think?

Hey Marty - can you get them to fix this too?

 

Matterhorn rehab may be extended

The Matterhorn refurbishment, which was already extended through June 30th, may now take even longer. The mountain is having its emergency evacuation routes reworked in order to comply with the new state theme park safety legislation. The crumbling concrete and rusty handrails that used to comprise the evacuation routes are being rebuilt, and it's (from what we hear) a daunting task.

The suits know that not having the Matterhorn open during the busier months of May and June will be a huge disappointment for many visitors, and they are racing against the clock so that the overwhelming refurbishment doesn't stretch into July.

 

New Mansion costuming

On your next visit, you may want to check out the new Hostess costumes for the Haunted Mansion. They are the newer WDW version that are made of lighter material and much more comfortable. But they are much better looking too! This is part of the FastTrack initiative, but the silver lining is that the park gets rid of those sad sack green polyester things from the 60's, and gets the updated WDW costumes instead. Most of the girls are already wearing them. They are newer and much fresher looking, in addition to being a better looking costume in general.

 

Pooh, No Pooh, Pooh, No Pooh

Meetings amongst Disneyland managers and executives about the upcoming Winnie The Pooh attraction continue in Anaheim. As you can imagine, the poor performance of California Adventure (DCA) has thrown the previously established "5 Year Plan" a curve ball, but for now Pooh moves slowly forward.

The current (on again) plan is to close the Country Bear Playhouse later this year, although a date still hasn't been agreed upon and one last year of the Christmas Special could be performed. By 2002 the Fastpass distribution area for Splash Mountain would be moved to the current location of the smoking area adjacent to the Haunted Mansion exit. The Winnie The Pooh Fastpass area would take over the current Splash Mountain Fastpass machines when the attraction opens in Spring 2003.

The moderate re- theme of the Critter Country area mentioned in an earlier update on this site would take place during the Fall of 2002. And yes, the Pooh attraction is still planned as a basic dark ride, with Superstar Limo sized vehicles and modest show scenes. Expect a capacity in the 1400 per hour range, which is similar to Splash Mountain, and a few hundred more per hour than WDW's Pooh.

The Pooh attraction would take up the entire twin- theater building of the current Country Bear Playhouse, making the online rumor that one Bears theater would remain in operation alongside a new Pooh attraction simply wishful thinking.

As previously mentioned on this site, there are tentative plans to move one set of the main "Bear Band" characters to a small stage at a revamped Hungry Bear Restaurant, to play to the diners a la' Chuck E. Cheese pizza parlors. The Pooh attraction will need every square foot it can get out of the current show building, so much so that there is currently no room in the plans for even a Cast Member break area or small office space for the new attraction.

Cast Members working the Winnie The Pooh attraction will need to share a break room with the giant Winnie The Pooh store that will be expanded into the Brer Bar and Swingin' Arcade space. Money will be saved by using the circa 1972 Bears building as it now stands, with no major modifications to the building shell itself. The one big splurge may come if they install a new roof on the building, since the present roof was installed 10 years ago with an estimated 20 year life span.

 

You asked to see it...

It would be funny if it weren't so sad...

Above is a photo of Paul Pressler's un- numbered brick out in the esplanade between the two parks (taken last Sunday). It's sad to note it's the only brick so defaced, in a sea of rather pristine ones. People sure are showing how they feel aren't they?

Personally I think it's bad form - e-mails to corporate sponsors about their neglected attractions seems like a much better idea, don't you think?

 

Sad Grad Nites?

Grad Nites at Disneyland have been dramatically scaled back and slimmed down from previous years. The live, big name bands and pop stars disappeared in the mid 90's, and were replaced by cheaper DJ's. But Grad Nite 2001 almost has an amateur feel to it this year.

Gone are the go-go girls and area entertainment that used to cavort on the dancefloors with the grads. The popular "party bus", a Main Street Omnibus converted into a rolling dance club with onboard DJ and dancing girls, was also cut from this year's budget. The special laser effects in Tomorrowland and on the sides of the Matterhorn have also disappeared. The roving area Characters and "Streetmosphere" performers in Tomorrowland, Frontierland and Adventureland are also gone.

2001 has also lost the special "Grad Countdowns" held at the Castle three times per night that culminated with low level fireworks being shot off Sleeping Beauty's Castle. Also gone is the Mark Twain party cruise, complete with frontier can- can dancers and a booming sound system that used to ply the Rivers of America. Even the disco lighting set up from the Fantasmic! light towers is missing this year.

Even something as basic as the specially printed souvenir Grad Nite Guidemaps on glossy cardstock that were passed out in recent years have now been replaced by simple photocopied information sheets on regular copy paper that look like they were made at the local Kinko's. Long gone are the days when the souvenir Grad Nite Guidemaps would have a stirring message from Walt Disney about using the enthusiasm of youth to make the world a better place.

There just did not seem to be any extra effort made for the class of 2001. Grad Nite 2001 is simply a night in Disneyland, with most E and D Ticket attractions operating, the A through C Ticket attractions shuttered, a few food and merchandise locations open, and 4 DJ'ed dancefloors set up around the Park. There are still several Character meet n' greets set up, and the Grad Nite ticket entitles each grad to one picture taken with the Character of their choice. That offering appears to be the one and only nicety left from what used to be a very special event when Disneyland went all out for the grads.

This year's slimmed down Grad Nites are so noticeably devoid of special entertainment, that many CM's felt sorry for the grads who are still paying over 40 dollars per ticket for the special event, not including bus transportation, food, and trinkets. Grads and chaperones who attended Grad Nites as recently as 1999 and 2000 have noticed the cutbacks and lack of effort on behalf of Disneyland. And now that the once strict Grad Nite dress code has been completely abandoned, anyone who attended a Grad Nite from 1961 to 1998 would gawk in amazement at the teenagers roaming Disneyland for their "special night" in shorts, jeans, sandals, tanktops and sweatshirts. The only real dress requirement now is that gang attire and school emblems be left at home or on the bus.

It's now a different world at Disneyland for graduating seniors, and you have to wonder how long schools will continue to bus their students in from Northern California, Baja California, and neighboring southwest States if the offerings stay as slim as 2001. Of course, under current management, unashamedly the price of Grad Nite admission still gets higher every year.

 

Continuing training problems?

I am getting an increasing amount of e-mail complaining about what seems to be some lax loading procedures at Disneyland attractions. Besides the Space Mt. incident reported here not too long ago, I also got the following information, which is paraphrased here to keep things quick:

I understand just a few days ago a large family, with five or so kids (three of them in adult's arms) tried to board a small world boat when it took a good long lurch forward.

The visitor hollered, but there was no response from the CMs. To me this seems like it could have easily been a repeat of a recent Pirates incident if anyone in the party had a foot in the boat at that time.

The rider complained that they couldn't even make eye contact with anyone - even after pointedly looking at the controller.

What's important to remember here is to NOT stay quiet about these kinds of mishaps if they happen to you - since apparently they seem to be going on more often.

If a ride starts without you being properly boarded, make a stink, locate the Cast Member in charge, and ask them to escort you to City Hall to help you in filing a report on it.

 

DCA news

Below are some items that we've gathered together about California Adventure (DCA) all in one spot for you:

* Attendance is still sub par - although they had a bump for Mother's Day. The managers have been trying to cut off the numbers - making for all sorts of havoc for the most basic operations. They can't even order hot dogs reliably now - since the lower level managers have to guess at attendance without having a chart to work from.

What's especially galling is that the numbers are only up slightly, even with a huge (and ultra expensive) ad campaign. They need to fix the park first, then draw the crowds - if not lots more bad word of mouth will make things even worse.

* Due to the poor attendance, the Soap Opera Bistro breakfast and the Eureka Parade Buffet (both described in a recent update) have been cancelled. It's due to this kind of daily change we've been holding off on writing the definitive on line guide for you. It's anybody's guess - especially resorts honcho Paul Pressler's - what this park will turn out to be.

* DCA will be tweaking it's summer operating hours to accommodate two nightly performances of Disney's Electrical Parade (DEP). (Even the name sounds wrong.) DCA will now be open from 9 am until 11 pm starting July 4th and running through August. That's a change from the previously announced 8 am until 10 pm operating hours. The first DEP will begin at 8:45 pm, and the second DEP of the night will step off at 10:30 pm.

Due to the design of the DCA backstage infrastructure, both DEP's will step off from the Hollywood Backlot gates, just like the Eureka! parade. There will still be (if attendance creeps up) two Eureka! parades in the afternoon this summer.

Nightly entertainment at Disneyland will stick with it's usual timetable; Fantasmic! at 9 pm and 10:30 pm, and Believe fireworks at 9:30 pm. By the way, since the 4th of July is on a Wednesday this year, Disneyland will only be open until 12 Midnight on the night of the 4th. In previous years, Disneyland stayed open until 2 am on Independence Day.

* From a kind soul:

During the very haughty Entertainment presentations at the DCA Cast Blast Preview last Fall, the Entertainment execs were very clear that DCA did not have a lowly "parade route" like Disneyland. Instead, it had a 21st century "Performance Corridor", since DCA entertainment and the trendy Eureka! were going to be so much cooler than mere parades. Now that DCA is desperately hosting "Disney's Electrical Parade", an event that is the epitome of a squeaky clean 20th century Disneyland parade, can they cut the attitude and call it a "parade route" instead of clinging to "Performance Corridor"?

Isn't it ironic that the hip, edgy and LOUD "Lights, Camera, Chaos (Cancelled?)". show has been canned after a few short months, and been replaced with..... Magic Music Days performances! Now that the oh-so-cool Entertainment Department offering fell flat with Guests, another staple of squeaky clean Disneyland has swooped in to prevent tumbleweeds from rolling through the Hollywood district. Jr. High chorale groups doing patriotic medleys, community center cloggers, and High School orchestra's performing Broadway show tunes have taken the place of some of the "hip and edgy" in-your-face Entertainment that DCA unfortunately opened with. Magic Music Days?!? Bitterly ironic!

Unfortunately for the young people performing, and their parents madly videotaping every step and note to play for friends and family back home, the DCA Magic Music Days are presented on an unchanged "Lights, Camera, Chaos" stage. That location has the appearance, and all the charm, of a Costco warehouse. Luckily, the much more gracious and attractive Carnation Plaza Gardens stage at Disneyland is still used for the popular Magic Music Days series. But for some Magic Music Days school groups, DCA is their destination instead of Disneyland, and they are stuck performing on cement slabs in front of sheet metal and steel I-beams. For paying DCA Guests however, the entertainment being offered may be better than what preceded it.

* Millionaire's new home will be located between the MuppetVision Theater and SuperStar Limo - below is a shot for those that asked. Yes, the Monorail will run right over the entryway to it.

RegisVille




Guest Columnists

Sometimes I get so much information - it has me wondering if maybe the occasional guest contribution to this column may not be a bad idea. Today I'd like to present two such contributions for you:

 

Todd Regan normally runs our Universal Studios section - but his latest update that he sent in contains more information about the Disneyland Resort. So we've included it here for you as a result:

Well, things are starting to change over at DCA. Entertainment is getting ready to cast for a new "show" in Paradise Pier. The show will feature the Fab Five Disney characters (possibly without Pluto) and is intended to give kids something to do in this more adult section of the park.

Rumor in the Entertainment Department also has it that the awful show (Steps in Time) on the Hyperion stage may be on its last legs. Some are claiming that a possible replacement could be on the stage by July! I wouldn't hold your breath on that one, I just don't see them throwing more money at the Hyperion when what the park really needs is more attractions, but you never know.

Over at Disneyland, there are a number of interesting little items. Many in the know at Disneyland are disappointed that the Electrical Parade is going over to DCA. Seems that the speeded up return of MSEP nixed plans of updating both the parade units and the soundtrack when they were to return to Disneyland at a later date. However, work is still underway on possibly returning the parade to Disneyland after a short run at DCA. Look for an enhanced version if it ever returns to Disneyland Park. (We won't even discuss the new $25 million dollar updated edition for Tokyo Disneyland shall we?)

On the Fantasmic front, we all know that the Ursula unit was damaged during its rehab last year and never returned to service. However, the real reason that it hasn't been fixed since then may be quite simple... not enough people have complained. That's right, Disney was waiting to see what the reaction to a scaled down version of Fantasmic would be. Not enough people seemed to know or care that a major segment of the show was suddenly missing. As it is now, the show regularly runs short staffed or without all barges, floats, etc. It is quite sad to see this great show being slowly picked apart. Your voice (or lack of it) really does make a difference, perhaps we still have some time make our opinions known.

One little note of Irony on the recent downsizing of staff at Team Disney Anaheim (TDA). While Disney attempts to get rid of jobs that pay the highest wages, their aren't enough folks willing to interface with the guests at the lowest wages. When you think of Disneyland, Mickey, Goofy and a whole host of walkaround characters come to mind. But, with the opening of a whole new park and hotel, characters are in short supply. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that characters are hired in at poverty wages, making it tough to fill all the needed shifts. In order to keep up with demand, Disney is paying a fortune in overtime to those willing to walk the hard cement with a rubber head all day long only to be sent over to one of the hotel restaurants for the dinner crowds as well. Now, that is one tough work day!

Over at Knott's Berry Farm, news is even worse. The park appears to continue to fall further and further into disrepair as its new owners (Cedar Fair, L.P.) apparently focus on new thrills at the expense of the "theme" aspect of the park and general upkeep. The Haunted Shack in Ghost Town is the most recent victim as it was leveled to give way to an enormous set of towers which will allow you to swing across the park in a harness. All for what was an extra fee on top of your admission of course. Sad, very very sad. Sadder still was that after they demolished the Shack, they found out that they couldn't build the attraction anyway! Seems that the contracts for the attraction include a clause protecting the park installing it from having another park within so many miles nearby. I guess Magic Mountain is too close to allow construction. Shouldn't have they checked into that first?

Meanwhile, still at Knott's, crowds are really lining up to ride Knott's Kingdom of the Dinosaurs. However, the lines are due to a horrid new loading practice! This dark ride used to operate like the Haunted mansion at Disneyland, with cars that ran parallel to a moving ramp at the entrance / exit. Under the new loading / unloading procedure cars have been attached together in long trains that stop at the station.

What makes this truly asinine is that no more than two or three trains are run at a time causing waits not only in line but on the ride itself. When a train stops for unloading / loading guests, the trains already in the attraction stop as well for up to several minutes at a time. To ensure that all guests remain seated, employees are seated in the rear car and walk the entire length of the train reminding guests to remain seated. About half the old cars now sit unused behind the show building. With half the capacity and twice the original ride length, what used to be a cute little animatronic dino ride is now an unbearable mess!!!! We can only assume that this change has been made for safety reasons, but certainly something else could have been done. Mind you the ride's days are numbered - a new coaster is rumored to have it's loading area in the same spot, as it glides over the street behind the building into the lot behind it.

It is truly a shame to watch Cedar Fair turn the once charming Knott's Berry Farm into yet another coaster / thrill park. It is a sad time in the amusement park business.

As has been noted before on the site, Universal Studios now offers free transportation from Disneyland to Universal Studios Hollywood for those who purchase a full- priced admission by calling 1- 800- UNIVERSAL. This is a really great idea for tourists who either don't have a car or don't want to deal with LA traffic. The busses run four times each day. Guess DCA can't keep them in Anaheim, eh?

Well, that's it for now. More to come soon on the new Cirque Du Soleil inspired show coming to Sea World San Diego, Universal Studios Hollywood guide updates, and whatever else pops up that is fun in the LA sun. Happy Traveling!

Thanks Todd. :)

 

Coaster Matt has been a friend of MousePlanet for a long time, and will now be offering some of his insight into this area for us. I'd like to welcome him and his lovely companion Rose today:

Hello everyone!

The S&S tower ride (similar to DCA's Maliboomer) at Six Flags Mexico injured one guest when a tension cable snapped recently. The guest was not aboard the ride, but was in the queue line. This type of incident has happened on both Supreme Scream at Knott's and Power Tower at Cedar Point, in both of those cases, nobody was injured. Six Flags temporarily closed all S&S towers at it's other parks, apparently the issue has been resolved, as the tower at Six Flags New England was reopened shortly afterwards.

A Panda Express location is coming to Magic Mountain, in of all places, Baja Ridge. The location is just to the right of the new bridge that leads to X. Hopefully this'll work out better than the horrible McDonald's that was at the back of the park for a bit.

Deja Vu at Magic Mountain will NOT be ready for Memorial Day weekend, and thus the press/ACE event that was scheduled has been postponed as well.

Let's hope the exiting "X" coaster will still be on track for later this summer as originally planned.

Well, that about wraps up this update. Special thanks to the two guest columnists today for their help. Hopefully we can offer more info on L.A. area parks here on a regular basis.

 

Right about now I'd just love to sit back and have a lovely batch of fresh Caramel Corn. And guess what? Last Sunday, for the first time since I found they had this offering at DCA, they actually had some for me to buy.

Will wonders never cease?


5/14 Quick Update - First, a welcome to new readers / A tree falls in Disneyland / Walt's Offices - one goes, one stays / Entertainment decimated, custodial reorganized - employee buyouts / A few tidbits from a kind soul / Nice things the park is doing / Incorrect flyer / Shrek's theme park humor / Ray Gomez update

 

First, a welcome to new readers

Thanks to an unprecedented amount of press coverage this past weekend (and also probably some upcoming presentations which have yet to air as of this writing) we've been overwhelmed with a huge amount of new readers. Let me take a moment here to welcome you all to MousePlanet - and offer two links below which may be of help to you as you begin to discover this site.

This first link is to our site UPDATES page - which has a listing of all of our daily updates. Take a few moments to browse around there and discover our many columns and contributors.

The second link is to the ARCHIVES page - where you will find past updates of this particular page, plus other major events the site hosts such as MouseAdventure. Disneyland's story is always a fascinating one - and the Disneyland Info Guide (DIG for short) updates give you the unofficial peek into what makes this place tick, or not tick, as the case may be.

 

A tree falls in Disneyland

Disneyland's Horticulture department has speeded up a plan to remove older trees around the Park, after the Frontierland tree accident the first of the Month. This means you can say goodbye to some of the large, older trees in Adventureland and around the western side of the Central Plaza, as they will be removed and replaced over the next month. These trees were planned to be removed next fiscal year, but emergency money was freed up to take care of it now, before another embarrassing accident hits the media.

The two major trees that fell along the Rivers Of America in the last eight months, previous to the Frontierland accident last weekend, were not covered by the mainstream media, although it was mentioned on- line. But if Disneyland were to have another tree accident involving dozens of injured visitors, the media would most likely have a field day with the story.

 

Walt's Offices - one goes, one stays

Walt Disney's "Working Office" has been cleared out of the Walt Disney Story attraction in the Main Street Opera House. All that's left is the carpeting, the faux window at the back, and the bare walls. This was the office located on the right hand side of the display (where the crowd is at in the photo above).

Many Californians never noticed it, but the working office featured a circa 1966 aerial view of the future Walt Disney World (WDW) Florida property that had just been purchased. Our guess is that the office will be played up as a "this is where Walt planned WDW" type of thing when it gets installed at WDW's MGM Studios.

Hopefully, we'll get to keep the larger and more posh "Formal Office" that was located on the left hand side of the display. It hasn't been touched, and is still intact as of May 13th. The stage in the Lincoln theater itself has been ripped apart, and work seems to be speeding up in the auditorium.

Still no sign of Mr. Lincoln himself, as the stage sits empty now. However, with the work lights on it's easy to see how very tired and worn the 35 year old Mr. Lincoln theater is. Let's hope there's money in the budget for new seats, carpeting, and general polishing.

 

Entertainment decimated, custodial reorganized - employee buyouts

Word got out over the weekend that the entertainment department has essentially been decimated (combined into show services) and that custodial has been put under the wing of T. "won't paint" Irby, the czar of (non) maintenance for the Disneyland Resort.

The entertainment reshuffle may be due to lots of long timers taking the severance package recently offered, the custodial move appears to be yet another way to dump a department that makes no money (a sin at Disney now) into someone else's lap.

Through the park salaried CM's (Cast Members - Disney speak for "employees") are now buzzing about who took the modest severance package, and who didn't. Morale is sinking very quickly in every department, unfortunately. Even the most supportive Disneyland managers bristle at the expense of the upcoming Pearl Harbor movie premiere in Honolulu, and the 20 Million dollars that Tiger Woods just received for the new Disney "spokesman" gig.

(We won't even talk about the money being thrown at the California Adventure ad campaign - which according to one insider said "Makes Pearl Harbor's aircraft carrier premiere look like a kid's birthday party." The source continued: "Attendance is up just a bit by the way, but the costs to pull those heads in is staggering. The media could have a field day which how much per ticket sale this helter skelter campaign is costing the company.")

In Anaheim, there seems to be a broad range of CM's who signed up for the severance package, from thirty year Park veterans to brand new, white collar TDA dwellers who count their seniority in months and have no emotional ties to Disneyland or all that it represents. The fallout of what this big layoff means exactly has yet to be announced. In Cynthia's presentations to all CM's affected, she pledged that the process would be over and done with by June 1st.

It should be noted that Cynthia earned general praise for hosting the series of dozens of information sessions with all 2,000 salaried Disneyland CM's who received a severance offer. The information could have been handled on the departmental level, or by simply sending out letters and setting up an information hotline. But Cynthia insisted that she host and present each and every session hastily held over a one week period in early April. By the final two days of sessions, she was hoarse and admittedly a bit worn out. But impressed CM's are still mentioning that "she didn't have to do that".

Stay tuned through May for what the layoffs, and inevitable reorganization, could mean to Disneyland, DCA, and their visitors.

 

A few tidbits from a kind soul

The death scene in California Adventure's Golden Dreams movie (they have so MANY movies in that park) has been re-done. Now instead of blowing up they look up, and turn gray, and then it fades out, fades back up into smoke. Really ruins the tone of the rest of the show and the nice flow of transitions they had going.

Did you know Space Mountain's photo system was first installed over the drop mid ride? The problem with the location was that the flash lit up the whole mountain. Instead of spending money on a "night vision" camera they used the excess money to buy marble "eggs" which are now in the planters next to the queue, and the camera was moved to the ride's finale.

The name of the new Tomorrowland show is "Club Buzz", or at least that's the working title.

Thanks as always. :)

 

Nice things the park is doing

The painting in ToonTown crawls along:

Mickey's house

As you can see above, the hills behind Mickey's house are almost done, they've also started on a few railings in the center of the land...

Meanwhile, in Carnation Plaza Gardens they've added shade umbrellas to the formerly shadeless seating area...

Carnation Plaza Gardens

Nice. Visitors will appreciate that.

 

Incorrect flyer

The "ticket options" flyer now being handed out to Disneyland Resort visitors as they pay their parking (which is pushing the three and four day tickets) incorrectly states that with your purchase you can "choose one theme park per day."

Of course you can now park hop (as of the recent change).

Isn't the new park having enough of a tough time as it is without misinforming the customers with these flyers?

 

Shrek's theme park humor

While Disney's new Atlantis movie continues to suffer from poor buzz (we won't know much about it until it opens - but the test screenings have apparently been of concern enough to put the kibosh on any theme park tie-ins or attractions) DreamWorks' Shrek (opening May 18th) is garnering wonderful advance notices.

I had the pleasure of being invited to an advance screening this past weekend, and although I won't detail much (until I finish writing a more complete review, which we'll have on the site this week) I can tell you that the movie does take a few very funny swipes at the Disney parks in it.

Below are two of the toys McFarland (which is famous for Spawn figures) has made of the theme park gags in the movie:

Shrek characters  and  2001 DreamWorks L.L.C.
This 6" "rubberhead" figure and sign may look awfully familiar to Disney park visitors...
Shrek characters  and  2001 DreamWorks L.L.C.
...besides including a smaller version of the queue and "rubberhead" above, "it's a small world" fans may be very interested in what's inside the blue "information booth" shown above as part of that playset.

All Shrek characters shown above are and 2001 DreamWorks L.L.C.

Even with all the toys now out there (in preparation for the movie release) I had a tough time finding the above two items, as they may be in shorter supply than the rest of the line. If the movie hits like I think it will - it could lead to a repeat of the situation Pixar and Disney went through when Toy Story opened - the merchandise flew off the shelves once the audience saw the picture.

Without spoiling too much here, I think I can say that DreamWorks may have finally found their style / niche with this movie - really setting themselves apart from the rest of the animation crowd. Think Looney Toons mixed up with Princess Bride - and a bit of eight- year- old- boy gross- out humor - and you may have a inkling of what is going on in this film.

Along with the upcoming traditionally animated horse saga "Spirit" (which they feel very strongly about, and is being described as their "Lion King" - the artwork I saw at the animation campus last week was breathtaking) they may have finally established their own presence and identity. It's great that not just Disney can mount this type and size of production if you ask me.

By the way, here are some links you may find of interest, the Shrek Product Guide and the Shrek Official Site.

 

Ray Gomez update

WOW did you guys respond. And we will try our best to see if we will be able to present Ray's comments to you. How it can be done (taking into account our family readership), we'll see. We'll keep updating you on how it goes.

By the way, thanks to everyone who took the time out to send a line - I'm still buried in e-mail. I especially want to thank the many press and media folks who took the time to share their own Ray stories with me.  :)

 

Donkey: "Wow, look at the size of that castle!" Shrek: "Well, you know what they say, it could be he may be trying to make up for something that's not so big..."


5/8 Special Update - Robbing Peter to pay for Paul - Regis to DCA's rescue / DCA Fireworks? / Buzz & Pooh canceled / New Fantasyland Theater Show / New Tomorrowland Terrace Show / The "ruins" at Hollywood Backlot in DCA / A few corrections to the Lincoln comments from yesterday / Please come to the new park - even if it's two years from now... / An IM conversation / Wanna try out for it? / It's good to be the king...

Remember what I wrote about what would happen if the crowds didn't show for the new park? That they would start spending like crazy to fix things - and cripple Disneyland's attraction budgets to do it? Robbing Peter so to say, to pay for Paul?

Well, it's begun folks, here's a wealth of new information on what is going on in addition to yesterday's update:

 

Regis to DCA's rescue

(Cue the much too dramatic music and lighting please... now read the following much too breathlessly...)

Question: You have a brand spanking new, 1.4 billion dollar theme park that to your horror, few people seem interested in. To try and get some bodies in the door you...

A] Listen to customer's complaints about nothing for kids to do and put in more attractions geared for children
B] Listen to customer's complaints that there isn't much value offered at the current price and build more "E" ticket rides and reduce the quantity of movies passed off as attractions
C] Listen to customer's complaints that the costs are too high on admission and dining and adjust prices accordingly
D] Put in something fast and cheap that was designed for another park and hope it saves the summer for you

Is "D" your final answer? It's Pressler's and Eisner's I can tell you.

In the mad scramble to try and salvage something of what is appearing to be a rather bleak summer season ahead for the new park, Pressler and Eisner first put the round peg Electrical Parade in the square DCA hole, and now they are installing the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire - Play It" show from the Disney MGM Studios.

Look for it to be open mid- August. Entertainment is spearheading the project and partnering with WDI. They are also looking for Regis to pop in occasionally and do the show from there, hopefully promoting the park in the process.

Millionaire will be located between the Muppet Movie and Superstar Limo attractions at DCA in the Hollywood Backlot area (Where Armageddon - a variation on Universal's Backdraft attraction - was supposed to go.) It will be inside a new "tent" (actually it is a temporary soundstage structure and will be about as temporary as Videopolis was), and will be a direct lift from Florida.

The tent currently there, which was set up for opening day press events, was supposed to have stayed a bit longer for corporate picnic sales, but not too many of those were on the horizon.

Could there be a problem though with this project that they may not see? One wonders how will this game will work with the vastly different visitor mix the Anaheim park has compared to its Orlando cousins. Keep in mind Walt Disney World's locals only account for up to 40% of the mix, keeping attractions fresher longer - and helping keep repeat contestants to a minimum. Disneyland's / California Adventure mix will be 60% locals. Making for a LOT of repeat audiences.

One thing about Pressler, he always forgets the two resorts have differing attendance bases - this can mean that things don't always translate here, especially if they are shows.  But at least his daughter can play the game here now. Funny how she always gets on stage in the Orlando edition, leaving one less spot for the paying public.

By the way - the show's title is misleading as far as a park attraction. You don't win money, or even anything of value approaching a million. You play for points and can redeem them for t-shirts or baseball caps for the most part. Maybe you can even win some free tickets to DCA?  ;)

 

DCA Fireworks?

While everyone was panicking about the fallen tree in Frontierland last Friday, few people noticed the test fireworks that were shot off from the Pumbaa parking lot (former site of the Grand Hotel) during the second Fantasmic show that same night.

The one rocket that was seen was fired off in a "sunburst" type of pattern - which would theme in to California Adventure pretty well I would think.

Let's see, the Electrical Parade, Millionaire, Fireworks - goodness that's a lot of last minute emergency money being thrown at this park. To think they could have avoided this if they had just asked their customers what they wanted before they built it, instead of trying to force their whims on them.

What a breathtakingly expensive example of just how out of touch these executives are, no?

So... now where do you think the cash for these fixes is coming from?

 

Buzz & Pooh canceled

You guessed it - Disneyland proper pays the price for the problems at DCA. Word is now that both Pooh and Buzz Lightyear (both scheduled in the next two years) have been shelved.

Pooh may have already had a foot in the grave due to the concern the upcoming Country Bears movie may actually benefit from having the ride OPEN in the park for when it finally comes out. Why didn't Pressler see this one coming everyone asks? All the money that was wasted developing it up to now... sheesh.

Why not put it back in Fantasyland where it belongs instead? A little work in the former Motor Boat lagoon could accommodate this rather well wouldn't you think?

The real sad story here of course is the loss of the Buzz attraction - which for once was going to be something from the other park that would be offered in an improved version. They know they have to replace the departed Rods with something else, but now are looking at even cheaper alternatives.

Why is it that Tomorrowland always gets the budget shaft?

 

New Tomorrowland Terrace Show

In the meantime, they are working on a Buzz Lightyear rubber head show for the Tomorrowland Terrace stage - that actually would be a very good idea. Look for more on this soon.

 

New Fantasyland Theater Show

Animazement in the Fantasyland Theater - the show everyone loves or hates (no middle ground on this one) - should finally be retired come February of next year. (Barring any more emergency funding for DCA projects.)

Anne "Love ya babe" Hamburger has installed Michael Mayer as director, he did Thoroughly Modern Millie down in San Diego last year, and also directed the recent revival of You're A Good Man Charlie Brown on Broadway.

Let's keep our fingers crossed on this one.

Meanwhile Ms. Hamburger has been given five million dollars to "fix" the atmosphere entertainment at DCA - the original budget before she started was two million. No more shrill Fairy Godmothers and dumb stories (like you shoehorned onto Steps in Time) Anne, OK?

A note on her budgets from someone who is working with her currently:

Yea, only a small percentage gets "on stage" - she hires a lot of expensive creative talent. I can only imagine what the Dramaturge got paid for Steps in Time

 

The "ruins" at Hollywood Backlot

Someone was kind enough to fill me in on the following:

The oil stains and "ruins" at the Hollywood Backlot area stage (where Lights, Camera, Chaos played) are absolutely put there on purpose (and at great cost). The "backstory" for the whole area is that the area is a prop and set storage yard for the "studio."

The foundation ruins and floor tile patterns are set treatment samples and "old" sets for movies, long since shot. The foundations were actually put in the concrete, and jackhammerd out. The floor tiles and paint treatment were laid new and aged.

Yes, others are right, it is just about where the tram service station used to be, but you are right, it was all demolished to allow grading and utility placement.

 

A few corrections to the Lincoln comments from yesterday

From a kind soul:

There wasn't any new paint for the "Walt Disney Naturalist" area (with the owl); I think it's actually being removed. The display case is indeed empty, but does NOT have new velvet inside... as of today it's still the same old blue! The model is not the White House, but the Capitol building.

The stanchions and ropes are still around the Electric Car, and all the pictures and text are still hanging there (including the incredibly old Hall of Presidents picture). The projection booth isn't quite empty; all that's been removed is the slide projector. The stage is indeed barren... just a wood flooring there right now. And again, it's the Capitol behind Lincoln, not the White House. (You need to teach your source some American history! ;) )

 

Please come to the new park - even if it's two years from now...

From another kind soul:

All 3 and 4 tickets sold at the Disneyland Resort Main Entrance now have a 2 YEAR expiration from the day of first use (when in the past it was a 14 day period).

Seems very desperate to me.

 

An IM conversation

Source: There seems to be a lot of disconnect right now, not only is there no clear course set, but I don't think they can even find the river.

Sure they may make a few bucks this summer, what with the Electrical Parade and maybe Millionaire. But with DCA's small capacity, how much more would they have made if they waited and brought the parade back to Disneyland as they had originally planned.

Al: I can see the problems this expansion is giving them. It will be a tough summer. If gas prices go up to three bucks a gallon, even the locals won't show up.

Source: It's not the expansion, its the poor choices and misunderstanding of what the public wants that is causing the problems [Along with the] complete chokehold [financial head] Byron Politt has on the company. He is REALLY the guy running the show.

Pressler is not interested in the welfare of the company, only himself, Harriss while well meaning, is a yes man to Paul. They need a new management in place. Some folks who UNDERSTAND the product and for whom it's not all about the ego trip.

The parks are not a store you know.

 

Wanna try out for it?

Flyer art  Disney
Flyer art Disney

In case you find the above graphic hard to read:

The Spark After Dark is back! Come be a part of this magical parade as it returns home to California. We will be casting dancers and character performers.

Wear comfortable clothing that won't restrict movement, such as shorts, t-shirts, sweats and leotards. Shoes are required. Storage for personal belongings is not available, so please do not bring valuables.

The auditions will last from two to eight hours. We suggest you bring snacks or money for vending machines.

Audition dates and times:

Men - Saturday May 19 - 9 AM

Women - Sunday May 20 - 9 AM

All who audition must be at least 18 years of age by June 11, 2001, and available for rehearsals from June 11 through July 3, 2001. The parade begins nightly performances July 4, 2001.

Location: 700 West Ball Road, Anaheim CA 92803

Disneyland Entertainment Rehearsal Hall

Park in the parking structure located off Cast Place and Ball Road

For more information call (714) 781-0111

Disney Entertainment Productions, creating magic through diversity

Note the new logo. Sure looks empty without the words "The Main Street" before "Electrical Parade" doesn't it?

 

It's good to be the king...

And from the file of the completely ludicrous, get this - there is now a Vice President of Fast Pass! From yet another kind soul:

We are laying off people, yet we can make a new Vice President of FastPass. I'm not sure who it is, but is sure gets a laugh from everyone in TDA and WDI.

 

I don't know if I should laugh or cry myself when I do these updates...  ;)  See you at Disneyland.


5/7 Update - The DCA discounting begins... / DCA numbers continue to flounder / The Ray Gomez tape... / Painting ToonTown??? / Fantasmic Dessert Buffet expands / Tiki Troubles / A peek inside Mr. Lincoln's Opera House digs / Innoventions changes / Is Disneyland turning into a war zone? / Space Mt. Ride Photos set up / Reader Letters

Quick Note: In case you missed it, MousePlanet (we take pride in saying) had the most compete coverage of the falling tree accident that happened last Friday afternoon.

Visit our news page for the exclusive account of the incident, along with some exclusive photos. (You may have to scroll down a bit.) Special thanks to all the folks who worked so hard in putting all the info together.

Below are two shots of how the fallen tree's planter looked on Sunday - you'd never know what happened:

5/7 Update

Above - The view into the planter (the bushes are new) with the river behind you. Below - the view is looking towards Rancho del Zocalo (formerly the Casa Mexicana)

5/7 Update

 

The DCA discounting begins...

"When you **** up, you discount!" I was just told by an old timer - and I wonder if that is resorts head Paul Pressler's new mantra?

The new signs went up on Saturday
The new signs went up on Saturday

Effective last Saturday, all 3 and 4 day Passports sold to the general public at the Esplanade ticket booths were Park Hoppers. (In addition to the Good Neighbor hotels flex passes now being converted also.) This sudden change is another in a string of reactions to the very disappointing turnout at DCA.

For those of you that keep asking, there are still no One Day Park Hoppers available... yet. The introduction of a One Day Park Hopper admission media will be uncharted ground for Disney, so that could take a while. If it does show up, it could be in the form of a very gimmicky ticket promotion. (Probably a $20 Monday through Thursday only Disneyland ticket add on.) But now anyone can purchase a 3 or 4 day Park Hopper ticket, without staying at a Disney hotel property. That's a MAJOR change folks.

Also, in response to the market it seems, they have instituted an earlier than normal Annual Passholder ticket discount this year. These types of discounts normally pop in around the last two weeks of August, to help make up for some schools starting early - it looks like DCA's problems have them trying for a quick boost before the Electrical Parade kicks in:

Basically the "Bring a Friend" offer allows APs to bring in up to four people at $33 a head through June 24th. If you are a single (Disneyland) park pass holder, you can only bring them into that park, if you are a two park passholder, you can bring friends to either park (but not hop). (Passports must be used same day they are purchased, no other offers / discounts can be combined / applied. Applicable blockout dates still apply - although they seem to note that if you go ahead and buy the $25 blockout passport, you will be able to also purchase the "Bring a Friend" tickets.

Funny, Knott's, Universal, Sea World and Six Flags Magic Mountain have all been ahead of the curve with all sorts of discounts this year - making Disneyland Resort very non-competitive it seems. Their attendance numbers have been outstanding, and well Disney's have been, well... um, er.... see the next item below for further details.

There is also a rumor running rampant (and so far, they all have been panning out) that they may, as a "gift" to single park passholders, allow them to visit DCA for a few weeks (up to a month) in early summer without having to upgrade.

That's one "gift" that will be sure to bring on all sorts of customer headaches - especially for those people who upgraded to the premium 2 park annual passes way back when before things got so lonely at DCA. Rest assured, if this "gift" is given, I will be the first one in line to see how they will credit or discount my premium annual pass to make up for this cheapening of their value. 

 

DCA numbers continue to flounder

All this rather drastic discounting action lately is because they continue to miss some major target numbers they had for attendance for the new park. As numbers remain at levels way below projections, even sometimes dipping even further below previous weeks (with had worse weather no less!), they are beginning to hemorrhage some major cash here.

The Mad Mouse (Mulholland Madness) at DCA remained closed - two coaster company executives were supposed to be examining it this week
The Mad Mouse (Mulholland Madness) at DCA remained closed - two coaster company executives were supposed to be examining it this week

From someone who knows, (and all the numbers check out by the way):

So DCA (Disney's California Adventure) opened in February, and no one showed up. All the DCA cheerleaders said "Well, it's because it's February and it's cold and rainy! Wait until it warms up!"

Well, this past weekend it was a beautiful May Saturday, with bright blue skies, warm temps around 80 degrees, and a delightful southerly breeze just strong enough to shut down the Golden Zephyr for the day. And you know what?

DCA attendance still under performed horrendously!

They have shortened DCA operating hours for all 7 days of the week, and it's still a nightmare. And it is becoming painfully obvious that it is just draining off numbers from the historical Disneyland attendance figures.

Saturday, May 5th, DCA had barely 14,000 visitors. Disneyland had 45,000. The original estimates for that day was 33,000 for DCA, and 49,000 for Disneyland. Do you know how many Disneyland alone had on May 5th, 2000 (last year)? 61,000!

Add both Disneyland's and DCA's totals together, and you get 59,000. That's a decrease of 2,000 from last year with just one Park. Amazing!

It's a perfect example of DCA skimming off some from the Disneyland daily attendance total, while not adding anything of any substance on it's own. DCA is very simply leeching off of Disneyland's numbers, and not giving anything back. DCA is like a tape worm, sucking the lifeblood out of Disneyland Park, in the name of an expanded Disneyland Resort. But at what cost?!

At first it was shocking and alarming, but as week after week of beautiful Spring weather passes and DCA's attendance figures remain dismal (or even slide a bit from their previous lows like this past weekend), it is becoming very scary.

Where are the DCA cheerleaders now? Will any of them admit that the Park is fundamentally flawed, and that Eisner and Pressler are on the completely wrong track when it comes to product development for the Parks and Resorts? Blech.

A proposal is being floated to keep DCA open until 11 pm instead of 10 pm every day this summer, once the Electrical Parade opens. If the parade is as successful as hoped, and desperately needed at this point, they could run two Electrical Parades per night.

If the Electrical Parade gimmick fails to pack in the crowds, which judging from initial customer feedback could be a very real possibility, DCA will close at the previously scheduled 10 pm and just run one Electrical Parade per night, after one showing of the afternoon Eureka! parade.

Previously, DCA was scheduled to operate on extended hours from the Grand Opening through Spring. DCA was supposed to stay open until Midnight every Friday and Saturday until mid-June. In summer, DCA was supposed to operate from 8 am to 10 pm daily.

The thinking was that DCA was going to be packed with locals throughout the Spring who were eager to see the new Disney Park next to Disneyland. Obviously, that didn't happen. By Summer, the assumption was that most of the local population would have gotten in a visit to DCA, and the slightly smaller crowds of summer tourists on multi-day flex passes would make up the bulk of daily DCA visitors.

Since local residents don't seem to be particularly interested in visiting DCA in it's current form, they may bombard the place once the Electrical Parade returns. That is the desperate hope, at least. Stay tuned to this evolving story, since TDA (Team Disney Anaheim - resort management) is making this one up as it goes along.

The note continued:

The expanded Resort is not without its success stories. Downtown Disney has done tremendous business, and exceeded expectations for almost every tenant. It was a home run right out of the box, and needs very little tweaking. If anything, expansion plans must be fast tracked to keep up with the over-capacity crowds Downtown Disney draws on weekends and holidays. Now that the warm evening weather of our long California summers has arrived, the Date Night crowds at Downtown Disney will grow even larger.

The Wetzel's Pretzel's and Haagen-Dazs locations at Downtown Disney have quickly become the highest grossing units in both of those companies franchise chains. No other store, for either company, has higher average daily sales than the Anaheim Downtown Disney stores. The lines that almost regularly snake out the door at those two locations, while full crews crank out the transactions behind the counters, are testaments to the success of Downtown Disney as a whole.

The transformation of West St., Harbor Blvd., and Katella is also a nice success story. The lush vegetation and landscaping planted by Anaheim and Disney already looks great, and many of the trees and shrubs are still just saplings. Within a year or two, after a full growing season, the area will look even more beautiful and pleasant. 5 years from now, Disneyland Drive will literally look like a forested greenbelt.

But DCA, as we now know it, is just a cancer on the Resort. Unless the Electrical Parade blows the doors off of DCA immediately after it debuts, things are going to get very, very tight at both Parks by the second week of July. It may not even compare to the whole "Close The Gap" belt tightening last summer.

It will get very bad Al.

What I hate about all this is the suits blunder, Pressler in particular, and the customers suffer for it.

Ain't it a bitch?

 

The Ray Gomez tape...

It seems Disneyland PR flack Ray Gomez's expletive laden voice mail response to Channel 2's recent story reporting DCA's dismal attendance may soon see the light of day.

Apparently (from what I found out asking around) he is quite the foul mouthed bully when it comes to local reporters - almost driving one to tears not to long ago. The expletives are apparently par for the course - as local reporters have traded war stories (even before the Columbia mishap) about how, well..., um... "un-Disney" the guy has been when it comes to dealing with them.

Now I think we all understand that his job can be compared in a way to what the poor press guy in the Clinton White House during Monicagate had to deal with. He has to baldface say one thing to the press, when clearly something else is going on. (How's that for diplomatic?  ;) )

And maybe Michael Eisner, who disdains the Press as much as he abhors under-performing executives, likes the guy reading the riot act to the local reporters and even encourages him.

But this is Disneyland he's representing right? What if that tape goes public? It sure would make that Happy Hearts public relations mess from a few years ago look like kid stuff wouldn't it? Maybe Ray needs a change of job to something a little less stressful? (And maybe I should stop asking so many questions?)

By the way, what do you readers think? Would you like us to post a sound file of that phone call should it become public? Let me know via e-mail. I do warn you all in advance, should this be possible, (and there is no guarantee it can happen) that the profanity you would hear would be rather extreme...

 

And, now on to other park and resort news...

 

Painting ToonTown???

Have they actually begun to paint in the faded ToonTown? See the following two shots taken a few days apart this past week - it looks like they started with the hills behind Mickey's house:

5/7 Update

5/7 Update

Let's hope this is just the start.

 

Fantasmic Dessert Buffet expands

The concept of the Fantasmic! Dessert Buffet will be expanding, in an effort to squeeze more profits out of the Fantasmic! showings. Later in May, Disneyland Guest Relations will begin taking reservations for an expanded Dessert Buffet section for Fantasmic! shows.

The terraced area above the raft dock, on the western side of the Fantasmic! viewing area, will be set up with tables and chairs for approximately 100 people. Food Operations Cast Members will be on hand to help set up, serve, and assist with the coffee and dessert food service, just like they do at the more intimate Disney Gallery Balcony reserved seating.

The cost of the new reserved seating area has not been determined yet, but expect it to be slightly less than the balcony seating.

 

Tiki Troubles

Morale amongst Enchanted Tiki Room CM's has fallen considerably now that the signature Tiki Room costumes have been replaced by the nondescript khaki Adventureland "Area Costumes". There was a core group of Tiki Room CM's who regularly pulled shifts at that attraction, who were proud to work at such a historical and quintessentially "Walt" attraction, and were very intent on increasing attendance counts at the aging show.

They loved wearing the loud Hawaiian shirts and muumuu's, and would always actively spiel to the passing Adventureland crowds about the next show time and the wonders that awaited Tiki Room visitors inside the show.

In just the week since the Tiki Room costumes were packed away in a cost cutting move by the trouble plagued Disneyland Costuming Department, the attendance counts have fallen by 7% to 10%. Many CM's who regularly work at that location, are speaking with their schedulers to try and now get out of their Tiki Room shifts.

It's interesting how a simple thing like taking away a loud and fun costume can negatively impact the working environment for CM's who had just recently been so proud of their jobs.

 

A peek inside Mr. Lincoln's Opera House digs

The offices are 100% intact (so far), and both are being professionally cleaned piece by piece. Lots of specialized cleaning stuff was in both offices. The brass railings in the entire waiting area were polished and wrapped in a semi clear plastic. The wise old owl was not present but the classroom had been given a facelift (new paint). The tall wooden display case to the right of the owl's area was empty and has new green velvet inside. The floor of the room was partially covered with drop cloths because the ceiling was being repainted over the model of the Whitehouse. the model was also covered with plastic.

Walt's electric car was in the corner uncovered and without ropes and stanchions around it. None of the large pictures that were on the walls were present. The black and white pictures of the park being built are still there. Sitting on a bench were new schematics and a lighting plot for the new / remodeled attraction. Inside the theatre was interesting too.

All of the show lighting equipment had been removed. The projection booth was empty also. The stage was empty except for the painted backdrop of the Whitehouse. All of the speakers had been removed and where they were, there were large holes. Lincoln and his chair was missing. The stage surface had it's trap doors opened and work lights on underneath.

 

Innoventions changes

Honeywell's exhibit on the second floor of Innoventions will soon slip into the pages of Yesterland. Honeywell will pack up its mundane display of thermostats, wall insulation, and air conditioning filters to make way for a new exhibit sponsored by Pioneer Electronics.

A major update is also planned for the upstairs AT&T exhibit, as well as some tweaking at the Kaiser- Permanente, General Motors, and Compaq computer displays on both levels of the building.

 

Is Disneyland turning into a war zone?

Is the Happiest Place on Earth also the Scariest Place on Earth? 

Where is OSHA when you need them? Oh yeah, I forgot, they ONLY investigate if an employee actually gets HURT. (I guess near misses don't count):

* What people thought was a trash can that exploded last Thursday at around 10:40 AM was actually a Co2 canister back in the ODV (Outdoor Vending) warehouse building behind the Haunted Mansion. It shot off like a rocket. This was one of the "Red Team's" Co2 tanks - which when it went up it caused a few more to explode. Pieces were found as far away as the Haunted Mansion show building's roof.

There were no injuries but the walls of the office and nearby storage sheds have some holes caused by flying debris. Control and Security had "quarantined" the area for about 30 minutes after that trapping vendors inside the office, keeping them from their wagons and also keeping other vendors from reaching the office to check in. Eventually they allowed the CMs to use the far entrance of the building to get out on stage and push the pushcarts around Indy and through the Firehouse gate.

* The night they took the poor tree squished Popcorn Wagon back to building 500 for more investigation photos and evaluation, it was shelled by a firework. "Poor Popcorn 3!" is what one person said.

* Someone else offered: "I think the trees are after Vendors! Another tree fell late Saturday morning from the Jungle Cruise. It fell in the path of CM's, including Vendors, in the backstage area behind Group Sales."

* Also, there was a CM in the Scheduling office that went "postal" this weekend, Security and the nurses had to be called to the Attraction Scheduling office to deal with this nutcase.

Funny thing is that he was the Innoventions scheduler. What could go so wrong with Innoventions???? Maybe someone called sick for their Thermostat Hall Of Fame shift at the last minute?

 

Space Mt. Ride Photos set up

Here are some quick shots of the new ride photo (and shop) sales area at the exit of Space Mt. 

Space Mt. Ride Photos

As you exit the ride, you see some changing photos - which are detailed below. Looks like Aliens have also been riding. (Note the unfinished flooring and walls in the shot above.)

Space Mt. Ride Photos

Of course your ride photos are on the next wall (below). The shot appears to be taken just before you hit the re-entry tunnel at the end.

Space Mt. Ride Photos

Not only do they sell photos, but - astonishingly enough - they sell other Space Mt. stuff! (What will they think of next?) The space appears to be carved into the "Honey I Shrunk" theater space.

Space Mt. Ride Photos

I've never seen people allowed to walk through an unfinished construction area before. Couldn't have people have tripped or fallen on that unfinished floor? Guess those ride photos make a lot of money, and they have to be up and running... NOW!!!

 

Reader Letters

Some letters I wanted to share with the readers today:

Thomas writes:

Hi Al!!!

I first got introduce to your website in February of this year and enjoy it very much. It appears you, as well as many of the other writers and readers, respond to the 'deterioration' of Disney and its employees. There is no doubt that the upkeep of Disneyland and its attractions is sliding. Most notable to me though is the employees also.

I realize the work environment is not the best at this time. One thing that has been making angry lately while attending either park (most noticeably DCA), is CM's using their cell phones on stage. I have twice been forced to wait at food carts while a CM finished their phone call. Other times, I just observe them using them on stage.

Second, is the amount of CM's conversing with each other and having to finish their conversations before acknowledging a guest and offering to help them.

I spent a short time working for Disneyland and 5 years working for USH (Universal). Guest service was always a priority and personal conversations and cell phones were strictly prohibited while in view of the guests.

Complaining at City Hall will do no good, so I hope writing you will help a little. Anyone else have a similar experience?

Thank you for the kind note. Most CMs at Disneyland Resort do a good job - I've been in particular impressed with the crew at DCA, who perform well despite the many problems they deal with.

But when you run into a situation like you describe, yes I have to agree with you, it is very annoying. Maybe in running this letter we can also ask what kind of policy they have about Cell phones on stage? Most companies I know (especially in retail or foods) prohibit them.

 

David writes:

I've been a loyal reader of your site since 1996 back before MousePlanet and a constant lurker in the newsgroups. I want to start by giving you a huge thumbs up for your site and all that it has evolved to.

Now on with my question...

I've looked over your site today and I have found no mention about the July 4th return of the Main Street Electrical Parade. I was down in Los Angeles a week ago and visited DCA. That night i went home early (since I got most of the park done due to the low attendance) and on the news is a story about the return of MSEP. They stated that it was returning on July 4th but that, to my huge surprise, It would be running at California Adventure, NOT Disneyland....

Can you get us more information on this?

David, first thanks for the kind words. As MousePlanet expands, sometimes in order to get more things covered, other writers on the site may take on a subject you may expect to see me normally handle. MousePlanet's strength to the readers is in its teamwork - we have a lot of great writers covering a lot of different areas, or taking over certain subjects.

In this particular case, Mouse Tales author David Koenig had an excellent article on the Electrical Parade's return, and what happened behind the scenes. You can pull it up by hitting this LINK.

The reason I suspect you may have missed it, is because like more than a few readers, you may only have this DIG update page bookmarked, instead of coming into the MousePlanet site's main page.

Unlike other sites, we make it a point to update daily on MousePlanet Monday through Friday, with weekend updates as the situation demands. You can always check our main page for the newest content, plus look at our updates page listing, where everything we add to the site on a daily basis is listed for you in one easy to find place.

 

A nameless soul writes:

I just wanted to state how difficult it is to be a Guest Relations Host. Backing the decisions our company makes is not easy. We are steeped in the heritage and traditions of the Walt Disney Company. It is the essence of who we are. It hurts most of the Guest Relations Cast to see the park crumbling or decaying. We hate to see painters in the park during park hours. We believe in preserving the Disney "Magic".

Our hearts are in the same place as all of the Annual Passholders that come in to complain about everything. The same Passholders that seem to believe that THEY run the place. They do not. Nor do I. I have a job to do. And, there is nothing I can say about the decay of the Haunted Mansion. Peeling paint, build-up of dust. It is all out of MY hands. So please do not ask ME about it. If you ask me, you WILL get a "Disney" response. I am on the job. So, if you complain about these things to me, you must be satisfied with a response like, "It's an old mansion. It is supposed to look that way."

We all KNOW the truth. I can not do ANYTHING about it. (except agree with you in my head)

If anyone wants their voices to be heard, then make your comments in writing to the Guest Letters department. This is the only way the executives will hear your complaint.

Thank You. Please help make my low-salaried job as stress- free as possible.

I sort of have no comment on this one - but I'm sure many of you readers do.  ;)

 

Lord, paint in ToonTown. Sheesh - could it mean if they get serious about finally doing some upkeep I'd have nothing to write about?

Nah...  ;)

ON THIS PAGE

Update May 22nd

5/22 Update - Good Tiki Room News / Matterhorn rehab may be extended / New Mansion costuming / Pooh, No Pooh, Pooh, No Pooh / You asked to see it... / Sad Grad Nites? / Continuing Training Problems? / DCA news / Guest Columnists: Todd Regan & Coaster Matt

Shrek characters  and  2001 DreamWorks L.L.C.
Shrek characters and 2001 DreamWorks L.L.C.

5/14 Quick Update - First, a welcome to new readers / A tree falls in Disneyland / Walt's Offices - one goes, one stays / Entertainment decimated, custodial reorganized - employee buyouts / A few tidbits from a kind soul / Nice things the park is doing / Incorrect flyer / Shrek's theme park humor / Ray Gomez update

Promotional art  Disney
Promotional art Disney

5/8 Special Update - Robbing Peter to pay for Paul - Regis to DCA's rescue / DCA Fireworks? / Buzz & Pooh canceled / New Fantasyland Theater Show / New Tomorrowland Terrace Show / The "ruins" at Hollywood Backlot in DCA / A few corrections to the Lincoln comments from yesterday / Please come to the new park - even if it's two years from now... / An IM conversation / Wanna try out for it? / It's good to be the king...

5/7 Update - The DCA discounting begins... / DCA numbers continue to flounder / The Ray Gomez tape... / Painting ToonTown??? / Fantasmic Dessert Buffet expands / Tiki Troubles / A peek inside Mr. Lincoln's Opera House digs / Innoventions changes / Is Disneyland turning into a war zone? / Space Mt. Ride Photos set up / Reader Letters

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