Lots of reader e-mail to catch
Here are the best of the bunch.
First off, let's talk Tiki
"Hey, I owe you a big Thank You for that Tiki
Room story! That attraction was always my granddad's
favorite, and my dad really enjoys it, too. The last time my
dad visited the park we went to the Tiki Room, of course, and
my Dad was just furious with the shape the show was in. It is
clearly obvious to anyone who has visited the attraction in
the past that it is in a terrible state of disrepair. Those
pictures posted with the story are impressive in that they
clearly show that the present state of the attraction is
criminal, considering its importance to the company and the
name of the man who still graces the entrance.
"I will be interested to hear how Disney makes good
to Dole, and how the final chapter in this story will play
"Hi! I was reading your article on the sad shape of
the Tiki Room and had a question. I went on that attraction
with my sister the year they closed down the CircleVision. There
was no mention of any Dole video adwe would have remembered
as we were bored silly waiting outside for the show to start.
When was the video put in and where is it located?
"We complained to Dole then about the poor
maintenance of the attraction. I am so glad to see they are
doing something about it!"
The Dole Screen
The film (not video, shows you how old
it is) has been there for years, probably since Dole took over
sponsoring the attraction in January 1976. It is very easy
to miss, though, since it is shown on a small rear-projection
screen in an out-of-the-way corner of the Garden. The image is
especially difficult to view in the daylight. Next time you enter
the Garden, turn right; the screen is behind the Juice Bar.
|Joe Dunn asked:
"Concerning the Tiki Room, has anyone else but me
noticed that some of the birds are missing their feet?
Tiki birds are missing
One of your photos shows a bird with no feet. I noticed
it the last time I was at Disneyland last May."
|Michael Sweeney wrote:
"Just wanted to thank you for today's article on
the Enchanted Tiki Room. I knew it was bad, but I didn't know
it was that bad! When I visited last year, I noticed they had
cut part of the show, which I suppose was a smart move, what
with walk outs and all that. I wish they would either return
the show to its splendorand really, let's admit, it is
beautiful to look at (or was)or maybe try the New
Management idea. I would hate to see the last place on earth
where you can see the original Enchanted Tiki Room vanish, but
something needs to be done. The new show in the Magic Kingdom
is fun, moves quick, and maintains some of the old show's
"I would think Dole would be livid. And even if
they dropped their sponsorship, maybe they could take the
historical route, kind of like they did with the COP in the
Magic Kingdombut then again, we know how that is going.
"Do you know anything about the Tiki Room show in
Tokyo Disneyland? Is it still a significant draw there that
Disneyland might try the Tokyo show in CA? Or maybe the show
really has had its day in the sun; did Disney put a Tiki Room
in Paris? The old audio-animatronic show has become a thing of
the past. They don't make shows like the Kitchen Kabaret and
America Sings anymore. But they were fun, weren't they? I
suppose we can just shed a tear for poor, frozen up Jose, and
pray that Dole will do something!
"Thanks to everyone at MousePlanet for at least
making the show's condition known."
Tokyo Disneyland updated its Tiki Room
show a year ago, but attendance remains lackluster. Combined with
the criticism of Disney World's irreverent update, it's no wonder
Disneyland is hesitant to invest heavily in its Tiki Room. Disneyland
Paris has no Tiki Room.
Regarding "Survey Says,"
a few regular park visitors and cast members took issue with
my likening survey takers to "parasites"
pounce on unsuspecting tourists" and, worst of all, to
"telemarketers." For the record, Disney survey takersunlike
your typical telemarketerhave always been extremely polite
|Disneyland alumnus Jeffrey
"I try to answer the guest surveys every time they
approach me and never say I'm an annual passholder. I always
give everything the worst rating possible to offset the people
who 'dumb down' the survey.
"Just think, they have never done a survey to find
out how they could improve the guest experience (though they
always claim that is exactly what they are doing), it is
simply to find out how much they can take away from the guest
experience for the same or more money."
|Eric Warren wrote:
"Your latest article coincided with an eye-opening
trip to the Disney store this weekend. I will be the first to
admit that my family has never chosen a good time to visit
Disneyland. We live out of state, and if we're lucky, we get
to the park once a year. Our past visits occurred during the
final weekends of the Main Street Electrical Parade, the
opening of the new Tommorowland, and now, the opening of DCA.
Needless to say, our visits have been during some of the most
crowded events. It's not that we plan to be there for the
event, it just happens that vacation happened to fall during
that time period, and such is the case for our next trip on
February 8th. My family has no desire to visit DCA, and
intended to spend both of our days (the 8th and 9th) at
Disneyland, with a third day at either Knott's or Universal
"We stopped by a Disney Store this past
Saturday to buy three-day flex passports. We expected a high
price, but we were told that because our visit falls on DCA's
opening day, a single three-day flex passport would be $111.
By my reckoning, that is at least a $20 increase from just a
year ago! We will save just over $10 by buying a flex passport
instead of three single day passports. We did not pay
anything, and are now scrambling to change flights so we may
be able to go either earlier in the week, or even the week
prior to DCA's opening. A final option is to not go at
"In your article, you stated that guests are now
being pounced upon by surveyors asking about value. What about
people like my family? Our voice will not be heard by
inquisitors asking about our value if we choose not to go
because of the price. We love going to Disneyland, not just
because of the atmosphere and rides, but it's family time, a
chance for us to enjoy each other's company in a place where
we enjoy being. Unfortunately, there is a price for it.
"Incidentally, just over a month ago, CNN's
Moneyline interviewed Michael Eisner. Disney's stock had
dropped a bit that week, and Eisner was there to discuss it.
Among the topics discussed was the latest price increase.
Eisner stated that he felt Disneyland offered a much better
value for its price than, say, a basketball or football game.
His reasoning was justified by the following logic: at a
sports venue, you get two or three hours of entertainment,
while, for a comparable price, you get a full day's worth of
attractions and entertainment at Disneyland.
"To me, while the logic works, it still seems
wrong. What will it take for the money counters to realize the
adverse effect of their high prices and low value? I cannot
offer any answers, aside from suggesting, much to my dismay,
that boycotting the park and high prices might be in order.
But I doubt such a tactic would work, just drive prices higher
to replace lost revenue. I fear that the Happiest Place on
Earth may become the Most Expensive Place on Earth.
"Thank you for your time. I know that you must be
awfully busy between your work, this site, and your family
responsibilities. I thoroughly enjoy your books. They have a
special place on my bookshelf. If you follow up on the Survey
article, could you please share information with us readers as
to a 'City Hall' outside of Disneyland where our concerns
would be voiced with the park?"
-I, too, worry about the escalating
prices and not just for the sake of my own pocketbook. The brunt
is taken on by out-of-towners, who have to pay the highest
prices because they usually can't take advantage of cheap annual
passes or off-season discounts for locals, yet they're forced to
endure the overwhelming crowds caused by such promotions.
See below for where to address complaintser,
I mean "concerns."
P.S. I noticed Eisner mentioned that
Disneyland is a better value than football or basketball, but
said nothing about baseball or hockey!
"I took my family (wife and six kids) to Disneyland
on Saturday, December 16. I was appalled at the huge crowds
and the long lines. I would like to write a letter to Disneyland
management. Who would I address this letter to?
"Thanks, Dave. I have enjoyed your books."
Mark, Disney won't provide
a name or an e-mail address, only to send "concerns"
c/o Guest Communications
P.O. Box 3232
Anaheim, Ca. 92803
"Idiot-proofing the Parks" Three
Finally, let's revisit
"Idiot-proofing the Parks."
|Patricia Hartman wrote:
"Unfortunately, many people now seem to think that if
something bad happens to them, someone else should pay for it.
In any conversation when someone is telling about a misfortune,
whether an injury from a fall, a dented fender, or a truly major
catastrophe, someone is bound to ask, 'Are you gonna sue?'
"Theme park operators are just highly visible and
(supposedly) easy targets. Of course, when there is actual
neglect involved, such as a spill being ignored, or a condition
that is obviously unsafe, for example a missing piece on a
restraint, then the operator should be held responsible for not
correcting the situation. But to hold Disney responsible for an
injury that resulted from standing on a ride that was never
intended to be ridden standing up is ridiculous! I've never seen
WDW's version of Splash Mountain, but judging by Splash Mountain
at Disneyland, I would think that a reasonable person would
conclude that it is dangerous to stand while riding.
"While the idea of 'idiot insurance' is an
interesting one, I doubt that this would help. If anything, it
would make some people *more* careless, and invite others to try
their hand at insurance fraud!"
|Scott Price wrote:
"I agree with many points made in the article. I just
wonder why it has taken Disney this long to react to something
that is certainly not a recent problem. Entrance gates are not a
new innovation to the theme park industry, and most major parks
have had them installed on roller coasters for many years.
Gates at Big Thunder
"Also, a reader responded with a comment about how
accessible the gate switch is to guests at Big Thunder Mountain;
however, most roller coasters have the gate controls through the
ride control system. The gates are not allowed to open unless a
train is in the station and the brake are closed. The train is
also not allowed to be dispatched with the gates open."
|Bruce Roberts wrote:
"Okay, let me see if I have this straight. Over the
last couple of months, I remember reading/hearing about the
following accidents at Disneyland or Walt Disney World:
"1. A stupid kid dangles his foot over the side of
the Big Thunder train as it is pulling into the station. His
mother is sitting right next to him and does nothing. The kid
gets his foot mangled between the train and the load platform.
You could hear him screaming all the way over in Adventureland.
This is the park's fault?
"2. A 4-year-old falls out/gets out/jumps out (we will
never know) of a Roger Rabbit ride vehicle, and gets caught
under the car following and suffers serious injury. Again, this
is the park's fault?
"3. In Florida, a grown man gets out of a moving log
on Splash Mountain, falls in the river and is killed after being
struck by the ride vehicle. Again, the park's fault?
"And now, to correct these problems (all of which were
caused by guest stupidity AND occurred inside the ride), Disneyland
is spending thousands of dollars to install pressure gates at
the entrances to rides with moving vehicles at the station load
area. And this
What??? How do you cure what
happens inside a ride, by putting gates up at the entrance?
This just not make any sense to me. I have never heard of injury
or death because someone was sooo stupid as to try to get into
a moving ride vehicle before it came to a stop in the station.
"I mean really, I know the uninformed park guests
checks their brains at the entrance to the park, but there are
cast members present all over the load area to prevent stupidity
from killing someone. And I think they do a damned good job. It
is a very hard and thankless task, and I always make sure I know
that any cast member I come across on rides (and even the
cleanup people in white) are thanked and made to know that at
least someone appreciates what they do. I have made so many
friends this way, that the few seconds of time it takes to say,
'Thank you, I appreciate what you do,' gives back rewards ten-
"Thanks for listening. And a big thank you to
all cast members who are reading this. You do a great job, and
we park fanatics love you for it."
Bruce, as you know, most of the accidents
at Disneyland are caused by the guests themselves. That doesn't
diminish Disney's desire to minimize the number of accidents nor
their legal exposure. That's why the Big Thunder gates are thereto
keep people from falling onto the track or from entering the vehicles
too early (rare instances, but it has happened before), and to
show Disney is doing everything it can to protect its guests.
The three accidents you cite
illustrate three very different causes, not solely stupidity.
The poor fellow on Splash Mountain
apparently was entirely at fault. If they sued, his family would
be hard-pressed to win in court, because there was nothing else
Disney could have done to protect him.
On the other hand, the 5-year-old boy
who lost part of his foot on Big Thunder was not stupid nor was he
dangling his foot. His car stopped at the beginning of the station
and, being 5 and being anxious, he moved his foot toward the car
opening to exit when the car suddenly restarted, smashing /
tearing his foot. Although his family did not sue, they obviously
could have argued that unsafe conditions contributed to the
As far as the 4-year-old on Roger
Rabbit, we'll probably never know if the boy fell or climbed out.
I have always maintained (and the just-released OSHA report
confirms) that the main contributing factor was that the boy was
allowed to sit near the vehicle opening, next to his brother, not
his mother. New seating requirements should eliminate this
condition in the future.
Our next batch of Ear
Mail will cover reaction to Disneyland's new "virtual
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.)