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Al Lutz
Archived D-I-G Update
D-I-G [Disneyland Info Guide] Update 2/20/99

Catch the DAY on fire?

Whoever was handling the Fantasmic rehab forgot something on 2/16.

There are several sets of lights that dot the mainland, just above the river, on the riverside of the railing. They are contained in wooden boxes. When they are preparing for the show, they are opened manually and closed manually after the show. These lights illuminate the tip of the island during the lead-up to the show.

Well, the lights were on during the day, but the doors of the wood boxes they were in were closed. The lights literally burned the wood, sending up smoke in front of visitors.

Fortunately, someone discovered it. The fire crew took care of most of the other doors before they started smoking, but some of the boxes are totally ruined. They are on the mainland shore, right above the surface of the water. The most damaged one is the one closest to the Twain dock, people could just see the headlines if something big happened.

I don't really know what is going on the Facilities division [when I see this kind of stuff]. I just know that, for some time, Custodial leads are doing a lot of the small restroom maintenance because they don't want to wait. Things like replacing mirrors and toilet paper holders.

New Year's a hard ticket now

The news now trickling out of the park is that New Years Eve will be a special ticketed event. The park will close at 3 PM and reopen later for only 35,000 people!

Many agree this will help solve the problems with overcrowding, but no one wants to even think just how much it will cost. Like someone who told me said, (considering just how much they may charge), "they better well have some damn good entertainment!" Or thaw Walt I would imagine. ;)

Can't buy them at the park!

I was swamped with requests for info about the Disneyland items that only the Disney Gallery offers that I had posted about. Thanks to the magic of my new camera [Gawd, I love that thing] here are some quick photos of what they look like. [My original post about the items also follows.]

An old-style Autopia car tape dispenser [$20].

 Autopia tape dispenser

The car is part of a Disneyland desk set - with [not pictured] a Skyway pencil holder [old style round gondola design - about $30] and a Moonliner three-pen holder. Also not pictured were wonderfully huge mugs with Disneyland and Tomorrowland motifs. There is also a Disneyland wall map mousepad - which I had only seen at the Walt Disney CD-ROM event in the opera house last year was there [$18] it is a copy of one of the first Sam McKim maps, from 1957.

Autopia License paper weight

This is my most treasured find, a Richfield Disneyland Autopia Driver's License engraved on a glass paperweight rectangle [$28] neat huh?

I have been asking the folks in both the Disney Gallery and the Disneyana shop at the park about this stuff since the day I begun to hear it was available at the Disney Gallery in the Main St. Place Mall in Santa Ana.

Now - why would Disneyland NOT want to sell us this stuff? Until I saw it at the studio this week, it was NOWHERE to be found at the park. Of course with all the traffic headaches now around Disneyland, the Santa Ana mall is about the last place I can get to on my Sunday visits down there.

IMHO - it's missing the boat like this that causes them lots of little problems that add up to big shortfalls. How can they make the huge profits demanded of them if they won't carry this stuff. I can imagine not only fans of the park, but people looking for some upscale souvenirs would love this stuff too.

I swear, it's like they don't want to take your money sometimes, even as they hike prices up and up. ;)

More about the Plaza Inn rehab / other food locations

Someone wrote me about the rehab after reading the last update and having seen the plans for it.

I must say it is the most beautiful restaurant we have had in a long time! And that is not just propaganda from my end. It is different, yet some how looks the same, very subliminal. The design was sent to the original architect who drew off of Walt's design and he was floored!

He was supposed to have said [and I quote my source] "This is better than mine. Walt would be proud." He also mentioned that he and Walt wanted to incorporate some of the ideas going in now, but it was too progressive and expensive for the old days.

Hopefully locations in New Orleans Square will get the same treatment soon. The hope is all the restaurants will get a makeover. French Market and Riverbelle in particular will get expensive ones. The Market may end up with an atrium patio or second story. There are a couple of different plans around being looked at.

From the Disneyland Hotel I found out the following

Back in December Bib Overalls and brightly colored T-Shirts where ordered for all the CM's to wear during the duration of the rehab there. Here's what has happened, a good example of the left hand not knowing what the right is doing.

The front desk CM's started wearing them right after the first of the year. All other CM's took theirs home to wash them and get them ready to wear.

Someone decided that the look of the Bibs was not professional enough for the CM's to wear. Perhaps this could be a certain lady who used to be in retail? So now all hotel CM's who were supposed to wear the new construction fashions are not going to wear them. They are back to their official costumes.

I don't know what they are doing with the bibs and T's but seeing as most either wore them or at least washed them they can not be returned to the vendor. [Al's note: Sheesh, maybe this take home policy for costumes wasn't so great an idea.] This would normally not be a big deal, but with the hotel going over budget for the rehab you'd think they would not be wasting money like this!

Who ever was responsible for ordering these unattractive (and I do mean that, they were basic carpenter bibs, beige in color with a basic plain T-shirt), ought to be pounding the pavement looking for their next place of employment. It just seems to me when the budget is so tight and the park could use more funds to increase rehabs or not have CM's replace light bulbs - well, no one should be throwing money away on a not very well thought out costume change for DLH CM's.

Not earth shattering - but thought I would share:)

Sign pollution? Egad

Here's what execs come up with when they sit in TDA too long. I got this note and just shook my head.

As I look at the DisneylandBlues site and see the problems at the Park that need to be focused on I can't help but shake my head at what I keep hearing that upper management thinks are the "real" problems facing the park.

One problem people who work out in the park have continually run into lately is something called Sign Pollution. (You know you live in the nineties when you're talking about something as inane Sign Pollution) Anyway, it is felt by the folks in power that the Park has too many signs, that signs confuse people and should be eliminated.

A sign to tell guests when the attraction opens? NO, there is no budget for new signs. A sign to tell guests that the attraction has already closed for the evening? NO, there is no budget for new signs. A sign to tell visitors that this is the exit and not the entrance? NO, no more budget for new signs.

So, given some time they will effectively solve the horrible Sign Pollution problem and all the visitors will be eternally grateful, I'm sure.

My mouth is agape folks.

No perks for you! You're not a suit!

The headaches at WDI continue, from a recent e-mail.

Now Ken Wong has decreed that there will be no more project team jackets, hats, etc. Also, there will be no more working lunches where the project buys lunch. I don't know why they think they're going to keep the morale up. It sure doesn't make you want to do them any favors.

Ken said that they actually got a bigger budget this year, [confirmed in a recent memo quoted in the Register] but that WDI would have to tighten their belts. I don't know where they're putting all that money.

I've also heard that those working on DCA are REALLY starting to hurt. The DCA team is really afraid to actually even talk about what's going on. And I'm talking some of the MAJOR creative people on the team.

Wong has told people that Eisner nailed him after the fourth 'failure' last year. If he did that, I can't imagine what he's going to do about DCA. That's going to be the biggest failure Disney's produced. There's going to be some major head chopping when that opens. I could imagine that most everyone involved probably would bail before too long.

It's just another example where they will continue with a bad concept rather than accept that it's a bad idea and change directions. Since everyone is keeping hush-hush and afraid to talk about it, it's hard to find out what's happening. But those from DCA who are also involved with other projects around the park are really uptight about maintaining the schedule and not allowing design to continue past the proper phase.

Well, something is going to have to happen soon. If it takes another bad quarter, people just getting fed up with their attitude, bad responses to some of their recent bad ideas, or mass defections, sooner or later it's all going to fall apart. Memos or not.

In WDW each park is getting $150 million, but Disneyland doesn't get anything. They cut back on perks, make everyone 'tighten their belts', and then build ABC a new facility down the street. Something is going to have to force some changes in thinking.

Cubicles don't shut out the rest of the world, or the company, I guess. 

Trying to get Autopia to work

For everyone who asked, I found out that the Sub / Monorail area will be kept clear in the upcoming rehab so there won't be any interference with any future changes for the Subs. Basically, if the Subs don't have anything done to them, it won't be because of the Autopia.

Having to deal with schedule, managers, etc. Disneyland's financial business types are demanding that the queue layout be equivalent to the one they have currently even though with the new design, it's totally impossible and inefficient. You wonder.

A final note on ODV

Sometime when you're in the Park early, go by an unopened lemonade wagon and take a whiff. The decomposing lemonade smells like an old barf. Custodial was called by the ODV folks all the time to clean up vomit, then they told them that it was their old lemonade making that smell.

ODV and the products they sell are one of the major reasons the Park isn't as clean as it used to be. Custodial staffing wasn't allowed to increase along with ODV's staffing creating an imbalance that they just can not keep up with.


D-I-G [Disneyland Info Guide] Update 2/16/99 - For whom the troll bellows...

Ok gang, it's been an unpleasant couple of weeks online for me [thanks to some trolls] - and that, along with some incredible amounts of info that need to be processed [i.e. fact checked] means the update has taken way too much longer than it should to be completed. Hopefully the breadth of it this time around will make up for it.

Oh I wish I was an Oscar Meyer Hot Dog [instead]

First of all - let's wrap up the discussion about the hot dog mess. [Which I talked about a few updates ago.] I am still awaiting a two page document from the County of Orange Health Care Agency coming to me via the mail. Once it arrives, I will post a copy to my site so you can read through it.

Someone who was kind enough to give me a quick run down on it has told me that:

a] yes, Disneyland acknowledged that this incident happened 

b] they tried to downplay it as much as they could, and

c] they assured the department that it would never happen again.

I was glad to hear that last part to say the least. If you were concerned about hot dogs from vending carts in the past because of the update, things should be fine now and I wouldn't hesitate in saying not to worry about them anymore. The manager behind all this - I still do NOT have kind thoughts for.

When the rundown was given to me, I also heard generally about how the park handles things. The Health Care Agency has a track record of everything, and for the most part, reading though the inspections and such, they feel the park does make every effort to do things correctly. That was good news. It's too bad this info is not available to the general public in an easy to access manner [via the web?] - it would only serve to show the park does make diligent efforts.

The only other file of major concern at the Health Care Agency is one on Club 33 - where interestingly enough the park has been battling a very big rat infestation. It's been kept a close eye on - and everyone involved from the Agency feels Disneyland is making strong efforts to handle it.

One of the reasons for the Club problem was given as Ivy covering part of the building [and providing a way for the rodents to get in]. My own other guess is the fact that the building below it [including Pirates] with its huge waterways and hidden areas inside also doesn't make it easy for them to deal with it.

No food facility no matter where it is located is always perfect - but overall people looking at these documents feel the park works hard to make sure things do get done well in this area.

I only wish attraction injury information were as easily obtainable.

About upkeep, and some insight as to why things have seemingly got so bad:

The word is that T. Irby [the guy in charge of doing maintenance at Disneyland] was removed from the park via ambulance on Mon. 2-8 due to irregular heart rhythms. Another manager had been taken away the previous Fri. 2-5 for heart problems as well. The conventional wisdom on this from people who are in the department is that the stress of trying to get the job done without the resources to function got to them both.

A chronic complaint from folks inside the department is that they are not getting materials to build new parts. For instance pieces being removed from Fantasmic now that would normally be replaced during a refit, are only being inspected for cracks and returned to use. Due to the lack of materials, some guys have little to do during their shifts. People working on the facilities for the show are hoping for the best, but quite frankly are expecting some major breakdowns this spring and summer - which would of course shut the show down during [most probably] a busy time of the season.

Also, it seems that fairly recently ALL of the machine shop people were put on third (graveyard) shift for a time. During this period no one was on the clock to receive materials from the suppliers when it was purchased, so they went for weeks without any stock to work with just because somebody in management thought it would be a good idea to have them on that shift. This was something people were using as an example as to why the music in Space Mt. isn't working - they can't fix it because they don't have the parts and it took forever to order them.

Lastly, Someone who has been out of the department for 6-7 years has returned to manage things until T can come back (maybe 2-3 weeks). No one did catch his name but he may have been T's predecessor.

The park is undergoing some HUGE renovations - there are walls everywhere. The Columbia is walled off, and scaffolding is up all around it, the Twain is back behind in the river where the Indian Village is and is also finally getting its boiler replaced and the overhaul it needs so badly.

The Columbia is receiving a complete rehab. Rigging, woodwork, paint, metalwork, varnish and show props are all being replaced and refurbished. A new engine is also being installed and the rolling brow on the Frontierland dock is being rebuilt. This is the biggest rehab since it was overhauled for Fantasmic!, and certainly an about-face from the two week quickie rehab that was originally scheduled for this winter. The complete Twain rehab is ongoing.

The park is rightly concerned that if they don't bring these two up to past standards, they will receive criticism, so they are working hard to make sure everything is done as well as it could be. The whole sad thing about this is that it took the accident on Christmas Eve to bring this effort forward - it really pointed out just how much they had neglected things. And of course all that putting off of the major rehabs only made it so both boats finally had to go down at the same time shutting down the river in effect.

What is that sound you hear?

Now let's talk about something that raised an eyebrow with me - and may to you also. I don't think this may be bad stuff - but I honestly do not see why this was done. See what you think.

As I understand it, all CM’s whom work on Columbia and Mark Twain have had those attraction’s job knowledge records erased from their files. Officially, there is no one at Disneyland now who can operate those two rides. Even the Trainers have had their job knowledge taken off their files.

Later this year, everyone will all be "retrained" on the two big boats. Everyone will have to go through a full training again so that they can properly staff those two rides. The Trainers for both boats and a couple other guys who will be needed to drive the boats for Fantasmic! rehearsals later in Feb. will be the first CM’s retrained.

The word is that a committee from WDI, Show Quality Standards and Disneyland Safety department should have a series of meetings with the Trainers to establish a new set of Standard Operating Procedures for the mass retraining for both boats. Needless to say, that will all be quite an undertaking.

As I understand, some people were going through training files and yanking out all the Columbia and Twain training information and shredding it all. It’s all gone. Even old spiels, and cheesy "fun facts" along with historical information. There is now nothing to train people with, even if they wanted to, from the old files. Also all the old Keelboats stuff and the stuff about the Canoes too got shredded.

I would THINK with all that has gone down - instead of shredding everything, the park should keep it on hand as a reference somewhere. If nothing else to establish a history for the attraction that can be referred to when not only writing new safety procedures, but in reviewing new incidents and seeing if they had any past similar ones that they could learn from. One thing the shredding accomplished was that if the state does enact new regulations with oversight on the park, none of this past material would be available to them.

So you see why I find the whole thing, well, a little odd? Yes, it may be right to want to start from scratch to do things right, but why the shredding of the files? Locking them away somewhere would have accomplished the same thing - and maintained a history that could be referred to. Without knowing exactly who asked for this and why it came about, it is hard to know what the real reason was for it. And that does trouble me folks.

A big thanks to all the different folks who help out with the above.

The Canoes are returning!

Now back to some good news. The Rivercraft attractions department has been FLOODED with training hours, and even with the unprecedented massive retraining they couldn’t possibly use them all. (People tell me they have absolutely no idea where those hours came from, since before the accident they didn’t have enough hours to train all the asst. managers, which may have been what caused the problem.)

So those hours are being shifted to Canoes for the summer. There’s enough left over to have the Canoes run about six hours a day for the whole summer season! The word is the CMs who deal with them are ecstatic. So, the park will be retraining about 100 CM’s on the two big boats in late winter and early spring with the biggest training budget the west side of the park has seen in a long time. (I understand it will be an even bigger effort than Indy got in early ‘95.) Then with all the leftover hours they will be padding the schedule with Canoe shifts starting around Memorial Day.

Ah, changes…

Also seen and reported back on were models and sketches of other projects currently underway like the Hooks Pointe restaurant and the new Peter Pan pool area over at the Hotel. As well as Main St. re-paving, Plaza Gardens, Plaza Inn, a altered version of the politically corrected "chase scene" from Pirates (that no one knows nothing about), etc…

And in one corner were several pictures of the new Pooh flume ride where the Country Bears used to be. You will apparently ride thru in floating honey pots and pass basic scenes from the Pooh stories. The exterior of the ride uses the same entrance and exit portals to the Bears Playhouse, but with lots of very colorful Pooh-themed accessories and accouterments placed all over that corner of Critter Country.

What struck the viewer the most is how much it’s palette clashed with the subtler earth tones of Splash Mt. and the rest of rustic Critter Country. Maybe they’ll tone down the color scheme by fiscal year 2000, the year people are being told it would be installed. This looked like a major dark ride along the lines of a watery Roger Rabbit. I would bet if construction began in late ‘99, it could open for summer ‘01.

Yo, boo-hoo-hoo…

Meanwhile, I guess the budgets being now poured into the boats have moved the Pirates rehab until next fiscal year. On park wag joked with me that "we should be really good at evacuating guests out of boats by July." In the meantime all the stuff you've been reading about Pirates having show problems will only intensify.

Let's talk some numbers here: Over a third of show lighting is off or down in the caverns, and treasure scene. Out of five waterfalls, only three work. Canons are out of synch. Anamatronic animals have exposed wires [not dangerous, they should just be hidden]. Many of the clouds no longer work - the discs with the effect are still spinning, but with burned out lightbulbs. All of this stuff is nothing major to fix I might add - light bulbs, pool pumps for the falls, speakers that are blown etc.

Trademark elements are missing, such as the dog alongside the minstrels that howls along. According to someone who used to work on the attraction - just using the 1980's guidelines the attraction should NOT be operating - all the percentages noted in the guide are superseded way beyond under current conditions.

Paul Yeargin - who is in charge of all attractions operations - has gone on record as saying that all of Disneyland's showcase attractions [Pirates, Mansion, etc] will be kept at optimal levels. BUT smaller ones, such as Tiki Room, the Bears any of the dark rides, will only be kept up to minimum standards to keep them operational. He feels they just aren't important enough I guess. So now you at least know when you see things that are not working in the Tiki Room, it's because a decision was made, by Yeargin, that they need not be fixed.

Pirates will get a one week rehab sometime in March, way too short a time to do all the necessary work to bring the show standards back up. They will probably only get to the ride system, and blow off and the other show elements. In October they will then probably take it down for three weeks. By the way, both Matterhorn [which was up this past weekend] and the Golden Horseshoe [which is still down] were delayed due to the finding of asbestos, which threw off their returns.

Yeargin is really hung up on visitor throughput on rides - he's a numbers guy only that sadly doesn't understand there is more to it than that when putting on a show named Disneyland. He finds no problem in keeping rides such as Pirates open, at less than optimal quality, just to maintain the ride numbers he has been requested to do so. That attitude, and an upkeep budget shot to holes with the unexpected major boat rehabs mean you will see a LOT of downtime on the attractions this summer, not a way to keep customers happy if you ask me. Heck even if they did try to fix things, would they have the parts? They are trying to push as much back as they can to the next fiscal year.

Matterhorn problems?

I got this note, and cannot get anyone to tell me otherwise about the info in it. The source is reliable enough. It merits a read, you decide what it may be:

I have some info regarding why Disney wants to keep the lawmakers at bay... I was speaking to one of the Metalworkers working on the Matterhorn. He went on to say he no longer will or allows his family to ride the attraction. He said if OSHA was involved it would be closed down.

Why should I believe him? Well, he said the superstructure is so rusted through that his air gun (or something similar) was "shooting through the structure" (again, something like that).

So, I proceeded to explain that Disney is in the process of rebuilding the ride over the past 13 years. "They are not addressing it fast enough," he said, and added that there were too many areas that have no support. He said the track is great, but that the structure is shot. He basically said, that if any regulatory agency investigated they would close it down in a second.

You worry about seat belts, I say, maybe there are more of these "40 year-old rotting hulks" in the closet that is keeping Disney from permitting investigation." If the Matterhorn is rotting away, they would not want the state inspecting, lest they close it down, this would generate more guest complaints, bad press, and more loss of revenue.

What if this particular 'rotting' is evident in Space, Treehouse or any number of attractions? They wouldn't want to have the state close down even more attractions. Conversely, they wouldn't want to have to spend a couple of hundred million just to refurbish, if they can leverage it out over a decade.

Let's hope they address these problems, if this is the case here, and get them fixed sooner rather than later - I don't want to comment on this more than that, you can understand why.

Meet me down on Main St.

One of the many construction walls up around the park is at Plaza Inn. Someone was kind enough to let me know what was up with the facility, it sounds great so far:

I wanted to let you know that the changes in the Plaza Inn will include a revamping of the menu. Additionally there will be salad and pasta bar islands, about where the entrances to the rest rooms are now. Yes the rest rooms are being removed for an expansion of the rest rooms next to Star Tours. It will improve things, but it is considered a disappointment for three reasons.

First because these were the only elegant rest room's accessible to the general public (I used them every time I was in the park). Second the old joke leads used to tell trainees will now be gone (Walt and Roy are still with us their remains are sealed within these two beautiful polished urns that stand before the service areas), and finally Lillian Disney decorated the place and many love her taste and selections.

There will be one long food service line instead of two. No more negotiating those goofy corners, but the brass will be missed if they replace it. However, the line "dish ups" will not miss polishing it every morning. The pay stations will be on your way to the dining areas and the drinks will be self-serve. The bus tubs from at least the north side of the Plaza Inn will be on a conveyor.

"The Pit" - the center service area (behind the line) - is history. Prime rib and baked potatoes with all the fixings, child's hamburgers and chicken tenders, spaghetti and French rolls, and scrambled eggs were at one time served from "The Pit". It was also the close that every "runner" hated to have because it was difficult (unless you were good at it then you were a star). Now all that is served from the pit is the chicken tenders and scrambled eggs. The pit was also where the line lead used to hang out and keep his or her break schedule. It will be a six-month rehab, which places the re-opening at early to mid June.

So you know, the roof work is being done because the thing is shot. This major rehab seems in fact instigated by the roof. And I think that the upgrades are being done because of the Plaza Inn's location, service capacity and the kitchens dual role in serving more guests (500 per hour under the old design) and cast members than any other location in the park. There is also a wonderful bakery in the back. Furthermore, the kitchen also makes items for other locations and is a major supplier for catered events and the turn up of new locations.

The Plaza Inn (formerly the Little Red Wagon) can do everything; and because of the above it only makes sense to upgrade it in this fashion. If it is done right you will get more for your buck and it will not feel like a Sizzler. I hope they will bring back the Prime Rib and serve it in the same fashion as at Goofy's Kitchen.

To add some more info to this kind person's update, I heard the Pavilion across the way will never open again I understand, it is not even in the budget any longer.

A conversation with a security officer

Someone sent me the following conversation notes they kept in mind while talking to a security officer. They remembered the following from their discussion:

1) The security officer is called daily by DL to come in when he is not scheduled to work. He actually screens his calls now to avoid working so much. He said security was *grossly* understaffed.

2) He said when he works the security position at First Aid his shift consists of doing nothing more than siting in a back room watching TV, until a nurse needs him to accompany her to the site of a problem. He told me he was glad we came along as he had only left the TV twice that night for very short times and we was tired of watching TV and bored.

3) He said he had only been a CM in security for 4 months and he had been hired directly into the position with no previous experience. He said most security was hired directly into their positions without experience nor previous experience in other areas in the park.

4) He told me only 20% of all security was full time. And most security officers are teachers who were hired because of their availability.

5) He said he's done some odd things in the last 4 months like guard a mound of dirt one night (I wanted to ask about that one but I was afraid he might clam up if I did). He usually drives the parking lot though, during graveyard.

6) I mentioned I had heard that Westward Ho had been vandalized. He said that workers had left out paint. And that, after hours, the wagon was painted with names. He said they feel it was Cast Members and they are still investigating it.

Interesting huh?

Neverland may just be that at the Hotel

Apparently there is more to the sudden extension of Monorail Cafe and Neon Cactus' life spans at the hotel. Here are two scenarios, [and other info floating around], all that I have to identify as rumors from various sources:

1) Apparently, the state came in and red-tagged the roof at Shipyard Inn, and the plumbing which has been soldered consistently with lead, and now they must replace the roof, structures, and plumbing. [All of which was not included in the budget.] Apparently they had planned on slapping a coat of paint, some cutouts, etc and call it a complete renovation as they did with Tomorrowland. They were not planning on re-building the structures and the state is forcing them to.

Or:
   
2) The hotel is [Tony] Baxter's project. Can you sense the fear yet? Apparently the overall budget was three million. It has already run, as planned, two million over. So, those in charge went to Eisner and asked for the money. He gave it to them. NOW they are almost a million over again, and they are scared to go back to Eisner. So, they are re-contracting the project, to get a lower bid. Sounds a lot like Tomorrowland, no?

If true, don't trust most of the renderings of the expansion
[Al's note: located along the marina] can you say snip, snip?

So it looks like 1999 will be putting in show buildings and basic structures, and the year 2000 will mean detailing, paint jobs, etc.

Makes you wonder about the overruns that will happen in California Adventures, Grand Californian, Pacific [Al's note: An earlier D-I-G update indicated the DL Pacific Hotel is receiving an extensive new façade along the lines of a circus tent motif.], DisneyQuest, Monorail Station, etc which they haven't even started yet. They are running out of time.

Things do appear slow out there don't they?

A reader named Charles was kind enough to write me with the following:

When I was at DL a few weeks ago I stayed at the DL Hotel overlooking the construction there. To shoot off a roll of film, I did a poor-man's panoramic photo out the room window (a lot of individual shots). I just got the film, and so scanned and assembled the panorama shot showing the construction going on there.

I figured that there was a slight chance you might be interested in it. Take a look -- if you really like it, you're more than welcome to use it on your web site! The photo is HERE.

You may want to stop by his site, it's a neat view, and I want to thank you Charles for offering it.

Paul Pressler gets to poke fun at Al

I got the following from a kind soul at the park. Seems during Pressler's farewell party they wanted to acknowledge the Promote Paul site in some way:

Early one morning Paul Pressler and his VP's had a pancake farewell party. This party was to introduce Cynthia Harris to the Park officially. They roasted Paul, the show was quite amusing. The first hour was to consume pancakes and a strawberry / blueberry yogurt and then the entertainment. After all that, coming down the isle was Paul with two look-a-like Secret service people (dressed in trench coats and dark sunglasses). When Paul finished his speech, they started the roast.

O.K. Al this is the part you want to hear. One of the skits was where a nerd comes out and announces the park finally promoted Paul. He had nerdy glasses, was all dressed in a kind of 50 look, along with a brief case. Funny. He also mentioned the Promote Paul Pressler site. The final words out of him were that they should promote Paul all the way to the top where he wouldn't have to make any decisions. All in all it was very entertaining. Hope you enjoy the mention.

Seems the skits had a life beyond the pancake breakfast, another note came afterwards with the following info:

They have been showing a video that was made of the party in various locations throughout the park for those, like myself, who may have missed it. I never had the time to watch it (either on my way to work or heading home), but I did spot something of interest once.

Mind you, I missed the beginning of the sketch, so can’t verify if they ever actually named anything or anyone. Anyway, here’s what I saw: On stage, a guy was talking to the audience about finally getting Pressler out of the park. He was dressed as a stereotypical nerd, with horn-rimmed glasses, plaid vest, white button-down shirt, etc. In one hand he had a copy of the Extra! flyer about Paul’s promotion and in the other was a small case, which I assume was supposed to be a laptop.

He went for a bit, saying how great it was that Paul was finally ousted from the Park. It appears as if he was celebrating that a campaign (apparently his) to promote Paul had been successful. He was very happy as he read the flyer, then seemed surprised and slightly dismayed that Paul’s new job still placed him in charge of DL, in addition to the other parks.

I believe he replied with something akin to: "Well, that’s okay—we’ll just push to have him promoted again! We’ll get Paul so high up in the company in the company that he can’t affect anything!" At this point one of the security members came over to escort him off the stage, but not before the man could also call out, "See you on the web!".

If they really were spoofing you and your site, I think they shot themselves in the foot. After all, parody only works if people recognize the object being parodied. And if the entire Cast of Disneyland did get the joke, the current management is probably more than slightly upset at how well-known this site had become.

Well, if Paul got a laugh out of it, great. More power to the guy, he's had a tough time in running the park, and now he gets all of them to watch over. I don't envy that spot for a moment. :)

DCA quickies

Confirming some postings - no one has clue as to when DCA is going to open to the public. Downtown Disney is being pushed to open by the beginning of Christmas season 2000, but since a lot of that hasn’t gotten out of the design stage yet, nobody knows if that target is realistic. December 1, 2000, may be the target date, but those are for sneak previews/television remotes for the media and not the public. A decent guess would be soft opening spring 2001 for DCA, but nobody knows for sure at this time.

About the bench photo

Rightly so online I was criticized for taking a picture of a damaged bench at the park in the hub last Sunday [2/14] for the DisneylandBlues addition to the D-I-G site.

The reason I got the criticism was because someone had suggested they wanted me to photograph the bench as they had found it, and they promptly took a loose bolt out and moved a slat askew for me to take the photo.

Doing this put me in a difficult spot - in that I wanted to show that photo online so you can see how this bench was found, [with an explanation that it was originally found that way, but not at the time of the shot]. But at the same time I did not want to post anything online that can be considered staged. You can see where it is a problem.

After a lot of thought, and very kind e-mails to me with much advice from folks, I've come to the conclusion that the fair way to handle this for the park is NOT to post the picture, and just tell you what happened. [And hope they fix the thing before someone does get hurt on it.]

The bench was reported more than a few times in the past week I might add - and the whole thing came up because the person who suggested it was just as frustrated as I was that nothing had been done to fix something any child could have been hurt on. It should go without saying that if the bench had been fixed, no one could have been possibly hurt, or need we have thought about taking a photo of it.

I do feel you need to know these things so you can judge what I report in the proper perspective. I regret that anyone may have thought we were trying to do anything but just call attention to a very real problem the park had apparently put on a back burner.

I surely expect after this the park will point even more fingers at me in every way possible to discredit what I've been doing - but let's face it, that's nothing new since I've begun these reports. [You should hear some of the things they say. ;) ]

The suggestion by a poster [Dave] on the newsgroup that we were getting a "trophy" photo for the DisneylandBlues site was, I can assure you, the furthest from my mind. I trust you the reader will understand I was concerned someone could be getting hurt on this thing, and that was primary, even if the photo could possibly be seen as not right. Thank you in advance for understanding. It will not happen again.

Bet you never knew running this site was just like editing a paper or magazine did you? ;)

That's it for now, hope your next visit isn't too far off.

Thanks!
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D-I-G [Disneyland Info Guide] Update 2/16/99 - For whom the troll bellows...

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