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A “behind–the–ears” look at Disneyland
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David Koenig
Snooping Around — A peek at possible projects

Every day bright ideas are being hatched—and scrapped—backstage at Disneyland.

I asked a few Disneyland sources to keep their eyes peeled for clues to coming changes at the park.

As for the upcoming holiday parade…

An Entertainment Division insider reports:

Apparently, the Christmas Fantasy Parade will not have the Homecoming unit this year. Go figure? This parade appears to be getting shorter with every passing season! Oh well, another cutback!

The return of Fantasmic!

Although rumors have been swirling that Fantasmic! may never return from its extended hiatus, engineers currently are working on several redesigns of problem equipment. A maintenance man added:

I also know that a major piece of equipment is in the shop being rebuilt. Event Services has been approached to add the Fantasmic! equipment to a planned New Year's special show. Event Services has declined due to the costs involved, but this indicates that no equipment is being removed permanently. Considering the current fiscal conditions at Disney in general, if Fantasmic! were going to go away for good, no money would be spent on any of this.

Another cast member reports that "to save money and time, the barges used in Fantasmic! are now being cannibalized for the ones to be used in the DCA lagoon show (LuminAria)."

Remember the Rocket Rods?

Similarly, some stubbornly hold out hope that Rocket Rods may one day return in a different form—and possibly at a different park. As one cast member confirmed:

There is a Rocket Rod on a trailer behind the Pony Farm, all bagged and weather-proofed. All major sub-assemblies appear to be in place, and it looks ready to roll. No one on the Facilities crew worked on this vehicle since the ride closed, and at last count, no vehicles were in running condition.

No one knows where it is going, or why, but might this be the start of the rumored move of Rocket Rods to Florida?

King Arthur loses a few horses …

Talk is that during the carousel's next rehab, several horses will be removed to accommodate wheelchair passengers. Several long-time park employees are furious that Disneyland would "desecrate" the ride and, worse, jeopardize its longevity. As one wrote:

Disneyland Park has one of four remaining Grand Carrousels in (I believe) the WORLD! It was built about 140 years ago, and cared for since installation at the park by some of the finest craftsmen I've had the privilege of knowing. King Arthur's Carousel being where it is cements the concept of fun for the entire family Walt always wanted.

Several horses are being removed to accommodate some area for wheelchair equipped guests. While their riding is welcomed, the carousel was not designed to take the weight of chairs. Information suggests it is suspended from the top, not supported from the bottom. Balance is crucial, otherwise the carousel spins like an unbalanced top. Since the structure is made of wood, extra support will be required to provide the necessary strength. Will the rotating bearings tolerate the extra weight and stress? Not likely.

To make matters worse, an attempt is afoot to place controls to make the carousel stop at exactly the same place to allow wheelchair guests to board. Again, the mechanical stresses will be tremendous.

One needs to ask why all this is happening. ADA is a poor excuse (sorry) since ADA applies to new construction, not existing ones. To make the carousel available to all is another attempt at political correctness, and we can see what this has done to Pirates.

Post-holiday nightmares…

Disneyland's maintenance department is worried that the Haunted Mansion's temporary makeover may have permanent consequences. A workman claims:

Feedback around the park about Nightmare Before Christmas is generally favorable, but the Mansion will never be the same again! Too many things were changed with no documentation to go back now!

Watch for the condition of the Nightmare animated figures to deteriorate quickly. Facilities cast members are under orders NOT to make any repairs, and that any such repairs will be done by the vendor. This is in spite of numerous problems that the Facilities crew knows about and can fix. Response by the vendor is slack at best.

Bad jokes…

Word is that several of the phony anthrax scares at the park recently recent are suspected to be cast member hoaxes. In fact, three cast members were arrested by federal authorities over two different pranks. In one of the incidents, an insider reports,

Someone dumped a packet of coffee creamer on a table, then left a note with "anthrax" written on it. The FBI was called, and two (Facilities cast members) were tabbed as 'the culprits' because they were there at the time, and walked out. It's not clear that these two were involved, but they are the ones suffering the consequences. A memo from Paul Pressler has been distributed announcing a no-tolerance policy for this kind of thing.

Big restorations coming?

Imagineering has been out at the park in force lately, evaluating classic attractions for possible refurbishment and upgrades. As one cast member noted:

Lately, Imagineers have been roaming around the park and taking note of the park's poor condition. What they are doing is making a wish list of things that need to be addressed for the park's 50th anniversary.

While it's nice that Imagineering is taking note, they realize it will all come down to budget. And T Irby is not making any points with them on how the park's maintenance is slipping.

Disneyland 101…

Finally, from the "Some Managers Just Don't Get It" Department, the following exchange took place recently at a shop on Main Street: A clerk was walking around the store, striking up conversations with shoppers when a lead tapped him on the shoulder. "What are you doing?" the lead asked.

"I'm talking to the guests," the clerk answered.

"Well," the lead chastised, "it's bad show to just stand around and do nothing. We're not paying you to stand around, you know."

The clerk seemed incredulous but, to avoid making a scene onstage, began dutifully folding sweaters.

Someone needs to crack open their old "Disney Way" handbook and reread the chapter on "Your Job Is To Create Happiness."


You can write to David atthis link..

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Koenig is the senior editor of the 80-year-old business journal, The Merchant Magazine.

After receiving his degree in journalism from California State University, Fullerton (aka Cal State Disneyland), he began years of research for his first book, Mouse Tales: A Behind-the-Ears Look at Disneyland (1994), which he followed with Mouse Under Glass: Secrets of Disney Animation & Theme Parks (1997, revised 2001) and More Mouse Tales: A Closer Peek Backstage at Disneyland (1999); all titles published by Bonaventure Press.

He lives in Aliso Viejo, California, with his lovely wife, Laura, their wonderful son, Zachary, and their adorable daughter, Rebecca.

You can contact David here.

LINKS

Click here to go to David's main page for a list of archived articles.

Visit MouseShoppe to purchase copies of David's books. (Clicking on the link opens a new window.)

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