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Mouse Tales
A “behind–the–ears” look at Disneyland
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David Koenig
Mailbag — Week of January 15, 2002

Readers had several bold predictions for 2002 for the Disneyland Resort—as well as for Walt Disney World.


Monorail Man forecasts:

Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix
Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix

1. Haunted Mansion Holiday will return. It was good, I have no doubt in my mind Disney will return it.

2. DCA's attendance will rise. Since a lot of annual passholders will renew next year, now that all annual passes are two parks, DCA's attendance will rise.

3. 1-day admission will go up at least $1. Come on, it's gone up ever year, it should come up this year, too.

4. Flik's Fantasy Faire will be a huge flop. In the amount of time it's supposed to take them, and with "off the shelf" rides, this will become a big flop.

5. The soundtrack on Space Mountain will finally work! I've been to Disneyland six times since they "put in the soundtrack," and I haven't heard it once.

A former cast member anticipates:

DCA at night

California Adventure will continue to be a disappointment. Cast members will continue to be requested to change out of costumes into street clothes when needed to make the crowds look larger when the suits and VIP's close up.

With the new park structure park configuration the amount of time spent parking your car in the structure will be reduced.

The Paradise Cove Restaurant will be a smashing success at California Adventure. Its all-inclusive price will bring in a lot of business.

As Labor contracts across the Resort come up for renewal, Mr. Pressler will use September 11th as a excuse to not offer the employees a fair contract. This could led to pickets going up across the Resort.

Y Arriba Y Arriba in Downtown Disney will face the possibility of suspension of its liquor license by the end of the summer as the number of fights and accidents in the parking lot increase during the night when clubs night crowds clash with the House of Blues crowds exiting out at the same time. (I have worked some nights where the Anaheim Police have had to form walls to get factions out to the parking lot away from rivals at closing time.) To Disney's credit, along with the Anaheim PD they have improved this situation a lot. However, Anaheim PD cannot always maintain the level of presence I have see all the time.

Due to continued security concerns, the Double Decker busses will continue to not run in Downtown Disney for the rest of the year.

Due to Disney's hard line in labor talks, they will have a difficult time getting enough quality people to staff for the summer.

I will continue to cherish the short time of nine months I worked as a cast member for Disney Resort. (I would have continued to work if I had not had problems with unmovable Scheduling Department).

Jim foresees:

I keep reading about and hearing anecdotal stories regarding the dire straits the WDW parks are in because of staff cuts. By all accounts, cast members are dour, sour, and surly, trash cans are overflowing, and litter remains where it was dropped. Combine this with shortened hours, elimination of Early Entry, and the short-notice closing of hotels such that arriving guests sometimes don't even know where they are staying, and you have a P. R. nightmare, not to mention one seriously overwhelmed Guest Services department.

My prediction: something's gotta give, bad economy or no. Either the brass is going to wake up and smell the burned coffee and do something about it, or somebody's head is going to roll somewhere. Or maybe both. I doubt it'll be Eisner's, and I'm not naive enough to think it'll be Pressler's. Because if they don't fix it, the once Sterling reputation, which is already showing tarnish, will become downright rusty.

Calling it a "sure bet," Doug Higley predicts:

I won't be spending a nickel at the place.

Roy says:

I predict in 2002, after spending all year long rolling in his grave, Walt Disney will rise from the dead and give Paul Presser and Michael Eisner the punishment they deserve.

Which is…?

Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix
Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix

…exiling them to an eternity on Superstar Limo?

Roy responds:

That sounds good, but on the TV screens on the ride, they should eternally play Pocahontas II, Lady and the Tramp II, Little Mermaid II, and all the other lame direct-to- video sequels Eisner greenlighted.

Josh comments:

"Theme park triage."


Full-on, Kronk-like, "Niiiiiiice."

I'm afraid that you're right—Disneyland park will slip with all of the attention on California Adventure. But then, in, say, two years, Disneyland park will get a big huge campaign, along the lines of "Where the Magic Began" and junk. They might even spring to celebrate a 50th birthday. Wouldn't count on any new attractions, though. Until then, I'm not holding my breath.

In April I'm meeting my parents and brother from back East at WDW for my parents' anniversary. We haven't all been since I graduated high school in 1994. At Christmas, we were discussing what's new at the parks. We couldn't think of much. (Kali River Rapids, new Animation Building, friggin' Winnie the Pooh, that cheesy Aladdin ride, Buzz, Test Track, lack of Imagination, and that's about it.) Sad.

My prediction for 2002? Disney will only build attractions at one park… one tiny little abused park… one stinky tiny little abused park… one stinky tiny little abused park in California.

And lastly I like that you can admit that you were wrong in your 2001 predictions. It shows guts and fortitude that many other journalists don't have. Congrats.

Speaking of Florida, Stuart Newsom forecasts:

My mouse ear crystal balls are telling me these five predictions for Walt Disney World in Florida:

1. Haunted Mansion Holiday will come to Liberty Square.

With such a big success in Disneyland, and WDW management so interested in the concept, the idea will most likely come to WDW Magic Kingdom.

2. EPCOT will get tons of money, and, in turn, tons of construction walls, pumped into it.

Epcot's attendance level and revenues dropped like a stone in the past couple of months. They're already trying to bring Journey into Imagination back from the dead again, Mission: Space is still being constructed very slowly, most of the Living Seas is closed now (the Sea Cab ride with its lines and the movie are both walled off), and people are saying that Wonders of Life is next. Trying to pull Future World out of the '80s before it becomes Past World.

Photo by Sheila Hagen
Photo by Sheila Hagen

3. The Great Movie Ride will close permanently in 2002.

MGM's license is running out and it doesn't look like it's going to be renewed. The Sorcerer's Hat, I think, is a clue. Why would they build that huge hat in front of the Chinese Theater if it's going to be the same? It was the logo for Disney-MGM Studios. Sadly, now the hat is the logo…

4. Animal Kingdom will lose attendance numbers even more.

Even with all the stuff they're doing in Dinoland, it's not going to be enough. A Dumbo clone and a spinning Wild Mouse coaster is not enough to bring people back. From what I've come to understand, the Beastly Kingdom idea is coming back, complete with a coaster themed to the upcoming 2002 film Rain of Fire. Enough, but just too late.

and Finally

5. That stupid guests will indeed still exist in all WDW parks.

Not just all WDW parks, but all parks in general. No matter how dumbed-down a warning sign, no matter how many you put up, some people still won't get that these rides are complex machinery that can do extensive physical harm or kill you when these signs are not followed. "Leaving your brains at the gate" is a common thing at all parks and I think people will do stupid things on rides, or say stupid stuff, for all eternity. Cynical, I know, but true.

Just thought you would want to hear the predictions for the East Coast. Thanks for your time and wonderful stories about the Disneyland and DCA.

As for my prediction that Disney might acquire more land in Anaheim, a cast member said he has heard that the company actually is trying to dispose of some of its current holdings. He offers:

There is a rumor going around that the parcel of land once used for cast members called Orangewood Lot (on Harbor and Orangewood) will be sold off. The lot was once used as an overflow lot for cast members, but the gang activity around the area made it less than desirable for cast members parking there after dark. It did not even have permanent or proper lighting for night parking. It was eventually closed when concerns were raised.

Stay tuned to this column for even more astounding reader predictions.



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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