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A behindtheears look at Disneyland
New program to keep characters from getting clobbered
Mickey has had enough. In an effort to protect its battered costumed characters, the Disneyland Resort has launched a pilot program to educate guests on how to treat the characters and to facilitate smoother "meet and greets." Called Mickey Mouse's "Good Character" Club, the test began in Critter Country at the end of September, with plans eventually to implement the program resortwide.
This idea, explains one cast member, is to "hopefully give guests an idea of what to expect and how to visit when they are with the characters." Currently, visitors are given a little handout booklet at three locations: Pooh's Thoughtful Spot in Critter Country, the Information Board in the Hub, and Goofy's Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel. The booklets ask that the guests have their autograph books open and their pens and cameras ready before it is their turn to visit the characters, and that they be patient with the characters and other guests.
Guests are encouraged to be gentle with the characters ("Mickey and his pals love hugs, not tugs"), to stand in front of them so that they can see you, and to leave them some room to move around.
On the back of the booklet is a blank space to put a "I Have Good Character" sticker showing that they are "a member of the club." Stickers can be received from the Toonfinder at the Information board.
In time, the booklets may be distributed to guests as they enter the Main Gate. "The program is still in testing phase, but if successful, will probably extend to all the locations, and maybe a few atmosphere areas (Town Square, Frontierland, Adventureland, etc.)," he said. "I definitely think they chose to test it in Critter Country because it's a set location, which means all the guests you're going to see are in line, and it's easier to hand them out to a line, rather than a crazed mob ganging up on Mickey in Town Square."
Cast members in the Character Department have mixed feelings, but overall seem optimistic. "I hope it works" is a common refrain. More critical reaction included:
"I think we are expecting too much from the guests."
"It's about time!"
"These things should also be printed in Spanish."
"I didn't think the guests could read!"
"Another effort by the company to dumb down to the guests' level."
"The program does seem good in theory, but I'm not sure if it will work as well as they want it to," said another employee. "The cast members will now have the responsibility of handing the booklets out while also trying to keep an eye open for the characters, and the guests who don't have autographs books just use the blank space as a scrap paper for an autograph. Hopefully the program will get people to give the characters (and their hosts!) a little more courtesy and understanding when things don't go EXACTLY as planned."
A co-worker agreed: "I personally got a little excited when I read about it in a mini-memo, but after working Critter Country, it's hard to remember to hand out the booklets as well as take care of pictures with Pooh, and keep an eye out for kids trying to sneak in, etc. It will definitely take a little work to get the cast members to actually remember to hand the things out, but hopefully it will be a success."
Response to last month's article on the success of Disney's Anaheim Angels ("Heaven Sent") generated a now-moot chorus of "Go A's!," "Go Yankees!" and "Go Mariners!"
More sober-minded readers included Darryl Musick, who wrote:
I, too, would love to see the Angels over the Giants in six because that brings the celebration to Anaheim.
I'm confident that if the Angels win, a victory rally would be held at Downtown Disney with a parade through DCA. The question, though, is if the Giants win, will they parade down DCA -- or does Disney pay their fare to Disney World to keep them from being assaulted by Thunder Stix???
Asked to explain this mysterious "Dream," Ed continued:
To me, "Walt Disney's Dream" -- better yet, his ongoing vision, was to present the highest quality entertainment for the whole family at a reasonable price. Certainly a day at Edison Field would qualify more than just about anything else Disney has served up in Anaheim over the last half-dozen years.
Just because some Disneyland fans don't like baseball is no reason not to celebrate the Angels' spectacular season. Walt wasn't deterred from building Disneyland by the fact that many people who loved his movies hated amusement parks.
I don't think Disney has an obligation to please everyone with everything it does. It should have the goal of providing maximum enjoyment to the maximum number of people. And hopefully it will succeed so often that if Product A doesn't appeal to you, hopefully Product B or Product C will.
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.
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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