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Al Lutz
Archived D-I-G Update
D-I-G [Disneyland Info Guide] Update 4/15/99 - Catching up

Let's start with the problems Disneyland seems to still be having financially - there are new things cropping up that will continue to affect the unique qualities the park has - and that current management seems rather blind to all of it.

It all comes out in the wash…

Let's start with the issue of costumes, the rumors are running rampant again that minimally themed "area costumes" are on the way. This awful, heart-breaking rumor has been going around for about a year now, and lately it has sprung back to life.

The other day a costuming manager with a roll of her eyes was overheard telling people that "we wouldn’t have to worry about that too much longer" about how hard it’s been lately to get the right sizes of things like the Haunted Mansion costume.

This person went on to elaborate about the planned Land "area costumes" that have been proposed and could be taken home daily by CMs. The way this works is that each Land or area would have a basic slacks/shirt combo, [khaki / polo shirt?] and different major attractions or work locations may have one "layover" piece that would be themed to that location. The "layover" piece would stay at the park, but the slacks and shirt would belong to the CM’s and would be worn to and from work each day.

Along with the person who was kind enough to fill me in on this, I agree that the costumes are a vital part of Disneyland. If they go the way of the Skyway and Submarine Voyage, I’m not sure what will continue to set Disneyland apart from the rest of the industry. What they’ve already done to Tomorrowland and Innoventions costumes is what you would expect of a mall or department store - not a Disney showplace.

This long-running rumor continues to gather steam as more and more leaks out from the TDA building out back.

Yo Ho, Yo Ho, a Y2K life for me…

A new "Emergency Preparedness Director" at the park plans for worst-case scenarios. According to more than a few folks, his plan next New Year’s Eve is to cycle out all the major attractions around at 11:00 pm and keep them clear of visitors until an All Call is made at some point after midnight. So people should know right now that they shouldn’t plan on ringing in the new year while riding their favorite Disneyland ride. It should be noted that Pirates in particular is notorious for problematic evacuations, so there is concern about it this New Years Eve.

Again, as I understand it, the plan is to limit the number of New Year’s Eve visitors to around 35,000 (it may change) and have lots of entertainment to keep everyone occupied after 11:00 pm or so when a lot of the bigger rides close down indefinitely. Interesting isn’t it?

Just as this update was about to go up online, I got the following message elaborating on the park's Y2K plans a bit more.

Disneyland now has a "Y2K Answer Line" set up. A call was made to ask the straightforward question "Are the Park's ride control systems Y2K compliant?" of the official source. The answer back from the charming Y2K hostess was "We're pretty sure most of them are. WDI and Information Services have been doing testing on all Park ride control systems, and they are fairly confident that most date sensitive systems are compliant."

The hostess was then asked if she could discuss the current plans to cycle out most attractions and clear them of visitors well before midnight. She said that was indeed the current plan, and that Disneyland will be in constant contact with WDW during the 31st and that the park here will have the advantage of having a three-hour head start on any apparent problems that first develop at the WDW attractions.

Apparently the concept of closing most attractions before midnight is a precaution being taken not only because the rides are run by computers, but because Edison [the local power company] has told them that it can't one-hundred-percent guarantee that the electricity won't shut off at 12:01 am. The hostess also mentioned the "huge fireworks and entertainment" that the park was going to have to keep everyone occupied once the rides all close down around 11:00 pm.

[Just please let it be something other than Kevin Nealon and that bad Motown act last year on the River stage please. What WAS the connection between those two acts anyway? I never got the drift of that underwhelmingly odd combination.]

So remember folks, no rides at Disneyland from 11 pm on.

Burning ears - and such big ones too…

I understand from quite a few people at the park that Paul Yeargin and some of the other managers have mentioned "the Internet" several times now in recent talks.

(Yeargin as a matter of fact has been spending a lot of time lately in the Park. That’s a complete 180 from his first year on the job! People wonder if Cynthia or someone said something to him post-Columbia?)

Yes, Yeargin, TDA and area Managers are fully aware of the alt.disney.disneyland newsgroup [ADD] and are being kept abreast of what’s being said online, if they aren’t actually reading it themselves. The recent [and dead on accurate] Ginger-X post detailing the show problems at Pirates REALLY created quite a stir with both Yeargin and facilities dept it appears!  Not because they needed to fix anything [they just don't want to] but because the info got out.

I understand also that WDI has also been using some of the fan sites to point out problems that should be fixed at the park. A good sign of some progress is the use of digital Mavica cameras to document problems, so that repair folks are handed inkjet printouts of exactly what needs fixing.

it's a small world and Toontown both are noted as needing paint jobs - Toontown in particular is supposed to be getting a whole new color scheme, but the budgets don't seem to be forthcoming yet to complete anything. They do understand now that the hot glue they used on small world to attach all those lights with is now dripping brown as it ages.

Setting sail on the Rivers of America…

OK, time for some good news.

The Twain returns to crusing the Rivers of America after the cosmetic rehab it is getting in mid June.

Paul Yeargin has been quoted as saying "We’re going to have a fully operating River again soon!" He made the news official about the Canoes returning by telling people that they will come back. Someone then questioned him about that whole thing and he lamely said "You know, we were always going to bring them back eventually. We just can’t be afraid to experiment with our product mix. And now I understand how important the Cast Member Canoe Races are to everybody." Then Yeargin said it again, "We are getting a full River back!"

Someone then asked "And the Keelboats too?" And Paul goes "The what boats?" (no joke folks). After a quick refresher on what a Keelboat is, Paul admitted those won’t be back in ‘99. The impression Paul gave to people he talked to was they should feel lucky and privileged to still have any boats at all operating on the River.

[I wonder why the man cannot be bothered to read up on the park or its history so he knows what the heck he is managing there - they do keep copies of the Nickel Tour on property for goodness sake.]

The Columbia [as I've mentioned before] looks terrific. There is a new control panel that is much more informative as to the status of the boat’s performance than the old 1980’s version. There is a new computer controlled system that monitors warnings about the level of Natural Gas in the air in the event of a leak, and a triple-safe emergency shutoff system replaces the older system that was just double-safe. It’s just a better boat all around  A lot of cash has been spent and it shows.

The downstairs hasn’t been worked on much as far as rehab and it’s still torn up. But the Fantasmic CM’s are so tough on the downstairs, and they may still be working on the engine room, so it won’t be spruced up until it gets closer to letting visitors onboard.

[To clarify the news I had on my site before about Fantasmic being delayed - it was due to the boats and the waiting for the OSHA report by the legal department at the park. They didn't want the boats running at all - and were asking that they be delayed until the report was made available to the park.

Rumors abounded that the report might not have been ready until mid-summer, hence a delay in the return of Fantasmic. Cynthia Harriss had the ability to override this decision - which she did, and the show returned for the last part of spring break as was documented by folks online. Unfortunately, I couldn't update the site fast enough to reflect that change.]

So anyway, the Twain has started it's long overdue cosmetic rehab by wasting no time by crews stripping all the hand railings, windows, doors, and ornamentation off of it. The word from CMs who work there is that they hope to have the Columbia back by Memorial Day, and the Twain by June 18th.

But still no word yet on a date for the Canoes. Memorial Day? Mid-June when the park goes to Midnight closings? July 4th? Who knows. Wags remark that the Canoe payroll alone must just be giving Yeargin an ulcer! :)

It ISN'T about the magic anymore, honest…

Yeargin has also confirmed what I have long suspected in what he now keeps telling CMs in that "you’re never going to have a 100% experience" at Disneyland anymore when it comes to show quality. "It’s just not possible." he says, "But there is a Capital Improvement Plan in place to ensure Disneyland is in pristine condition by 2005."

I’m sure you’ve heard that 2005 date before, they like to throw that around a lot lately. He did tell some CMs however that Cynthia Harriss has been able to send more funds to show improvements for this fiscal year, but Pirate’s isn’t on the list yet. So the show quality in major attractions will continue to suffer.

It's interesting to continue to hear from some of the facilities folks why sending the maintenance to third shift a couple years ago was so damaging to the park. Now the current plan, according to what some foremen are telling workers, is to "send 40 percent of the craftsmen (Facilities CMs) to the new park, but not to replace them at Disneyland." That means in another twelve to eighteen months Disneyland itself will only have 60% of the Facilities CMs they currently have. So it looks like things will only get worse instead of better it seems.

Gotta save those pennies for that billion-dollar paycheck for Eisner huh?

Silly talk...

It seems that many suits in the TDA [Team Disney Anaheim] building out back have way too much time on their hands - since they really try to avoid going out into the park like the plague it appears.

One of the silly things they work on back there is coming up with new "terms" to "clarify" memos and such that are then fired out to the underlings in the park. 

One of those memos made the Times recently, it was so full of execu-speak nonsense that people just laughed at it, it was so bad.  Yeargin went around and tried to explain it to CMs as a "mistake - it was never intended for distribution out in the park." "Yeah sure" was the reaction from the bemused folks though.

But don't think that was the only example. No sirreee. Now that they are on a roll with this kind of nonsense simple terms are no longer allowed to used - terms such as "to be discussed, thought about for awhile, then passed out to the workers." 

Nope.  Now they "bubble up concepts," put them "in the parking lot for a bit, to perk for awhile" then they "cascade them out to the park." [And this is a direct quote folks!]

Imagine grown people talking like that. No wonder CMs can't take park management seriously.

I guess the incredible amount of new staff that they now have [doubled and tripled up in cubicles] in that yellow hulk of a building out back now means they can't afford some critical staffing in the actual park eh? 

See the follow up on this below...

Who cares about safety...

It seems that finance guy Byron Pollitt has told the folks in Guest Control to cut their payroll by 50% by Memorial Day. The GC people are currently fighting for only a 33% cut.

With a 33% cut they will take out A LOT of Fantasmic positions. Also they will eliminate the parade street crossover from the Hub to the Tomorrowland entrance and the crossover from the Opera House to Disney Showcase.

It will just make it harder to get around in those areas at parade time, and if you are just an occasional visitor who doesn’t know the Park all that well it will be mildly frustrating.

With a 33% cut, the goal of Guest Control will be "managed chaos" and to just prevent any violent fights or shouting matches from breaking out amongst guests. [Instead of the present Guest Control mission which is to "preserve the dignity and pleasant atmosphere of the Park" even with thousands of people jammed into one area for an event.]

If GC gets cut by the desired 50%, the results will be more along the lines of Light Magic crowd control nightmares, with sporadic scuffles and pushing matches, especially on busy summer days and weekends.

I guess visitor safety is still on a back burner to budget - even after the problems this past year?

Tarzan swings in early…

WDI has now "promised" that the Treehouse will now be open June 19th, the day after the movie premieres, instead of on July 30th (and that was going to be pushed up to July 4th). We’ll just have to see I guess. But the word is area managers might [as was said very funnily to some CMs] "kick some Imagineering butt if that damn tree isn’t open June 19th."

So what happens when you don't have a major new attraction to push this summer? …

You push Virtual Queuing, that's what! Expect the Florida parks to perfect it, just in time for Universal's big push for Islands of Adventure, then Disneyland will add it to the ad campaign this year to try and take a little edge off of Universal's new T-2 / 3-D push and LegoLand's continuing success.

It was really developed not out of the kindness of their hearts, but to keep folks shopping and dining instead of in line all day. The ad push will focus on a tag line that basically says "NO MORE LINES! We've eliminated the number one complaint you have about Disney parks!

CM's parking problems…

It appears to many CMs that the traffic and parking only seem to be getting worse as the park heads towards summer. They have fenced off about a fourth of the CM Parking Lot to be used as a "staging area" (for DCA rides and construction pieces) and lots of CM’s are really starting to grumble.

Parade schedules…

This appears to be the latest timetable for parades thru 2001:

Next year a new parade for the 45th anniversary. It is currently scheduled to be a night parade, with a new day parade based on next year's animated movie. [Although if this summer doesn’t turn out to be a complete disaster for parade Guest Control with only two Mulan parades a day, [see below] the day parade will be probably be cut from the budget. And they will just go with the 45th Anniversary parade with a two-show set up like they are doing with Mulan right now.]

Then the new "Millenium" parade shows up for 2001 using slightly reworked Light Magic floats along with a gaggle of smaller units in-between the big ones. This MAY be our promised LM replacement sadly enough.

As was related to me, Disneyland is supposed to be stuck with those Light Magic units whether they like it or not and the Entertainment people have to figure out a way to make do with them. As I understood it, it’s sort of Disneyland’s punishment by corporate for wasting so much of the Company’s money and causing so much embarrassment with LM.

Cynthia is supposed to be trying to charm her way out of those units and pawn them off on another Park because the Entertainment dept. has truly convinced her that they are just completely unusable at Disneyland, they are just too big for the little Park. But her charm is not doing much with the money guys, yet. ;)

If WDW is Lady Tremaine, is Disneyland then Cinderella? …

From a "FAB" [ ;) ] conversation I had online:

"I have sad news for DL, happy for WDW. They are getting Atlantis."

I responded with: "And we get more trash in our lagoon? :("

The response back was, "...that about sums it up."

WDI, DCA, all those initials give everyone headaches…

Ken Wong has been telling people that Eisner got on him after the fourth ‘failure’ last year. It is said people internally can’t imagine what he’s going to do about DCA. Many feel that’s going to be the biggest failure Disney’s produced, with some major head chopping when that opens. I am guessing here that most everyone involved may bail before too long. "Just another example where they will continue with a bad concept rather than accept that it’s a bad idea and change directions." I was told.

The Paradise Pier area and Grizzly raft ride at DCA is coming right along with foundations and infrastructure. [Keep checking the photos on my DCA preview site.] I was told "Wish I could say the same for the Hotel, Mall and the rest of the Park. Seeing as how they can build a carnival almost overnight in a Wal-Mart parking lot, I’m sure the Paradise Pier area won’t take much longer though." The Hotel seems to be also going full bore - they of course want all the money making elements all done ahead of time.

They are supposed to take CMs on a construction tour of DCA later this Spring to try and get them excited about the new park. But the word is so far that "no one is looking forward to getting a promotion and becoming the Assistant Manager of the Scrambler or Tilt-A-Whirl."

I don't blame them - even if they are accelerating phase two.

The hotel Pan pool redo is now being eyed for a August or September open, instead of this Spring as was promised.

Did you hear about the computer problems at Florida? ...

Here's a tidbit from WDW:

"It seems Windows NT updated all the clocks on all the food registers automatically for Daylight Savings and that caused the whole system to crash. They had to do everything manually for the whole day, and it was busy. Every restaurant at the major theme parks was affected. They gave everyone three hours overtime and something on their record congratulating them for sticking through it. Imagine having to write up all those orders manually!"

No wonder it's the happiest place on earth...

Here's something interesting - did you know a porn star works at Disneyland?

I don't know who it is yet - or where they are at - but I will certainly keep my eyes peeled.

While we are on the that subject, below is an excerpt from an interview with a rather infamous porn star that was done online not too long ago.  It seems the person in question is a big fan of Disneyland and is an Annual Passholder:

Q. What are your favorite rides at Disneyland?

A. It’s hard for me to answer that one, I go every other week, but I’d have to say Matterhorn, Thunder Mountain, and of course my fav Splash Mountain. It’s a great place to get a mini vacation in, in a day.

I always eat at the Blue Bayou, great steaks and pork loin, and I love the people there (the cast members as they are called) as they are always very nice. I really liked the Latin guy pulling earthquake (character from the Hercules parade) - great face and calves.

I’m going on a little too much, thank you for the question, but I will say to anyone who’s at Disneyland including the cast, if you see me there and you want to say "Hello" please do. I always see cast members and guests looking, but they’re afraid to come up. I don’t bite and I welcome the conversation.

And no, I will not tell you who this is. All I can say is that it is up on the net somewhere, and you can probably find it as easily as I did. :)

Amazing the pull this happy place has on all types of folks, isn't it? ;)

See you at the park.

Thanks!
 

 

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