Readers had even more bold
predictions for 2002 for the Disneyland Resortas well as for Walt
|Don Hoekman writes:
Here are my top 10 predictions for Disneyland 2002:
10. A replacement for the submarine ride is finally
9. A show about Walt Disney is unveiled, complete with
an animatronic version of Walt himself.
8. Rocket Rods is replaced with futuristic cars,
sponsored by Ford or GM.
7. DCA constructs several observation towers in the
shape of life-size giant redwood trees.
6. To conserve park space, Disney announces the first
completely underground roller coaster, themed around Journey
to the Center of the Earth.
5. DCA unveils a ride simulating a super fast journey up
the coast, following Highway 1 and 101.
4. The third Anaheim park is announced: Disney's
Beautiful Earth, celebrating oceans, rainforests, and natural
3. An underground shuttle ride is unveiled, which will
ferry people between Disneyland and DCA for $5.
2. DCA begins work on a ride which flies over a
miniature Disney World to encourage Californians to visit WDW.
1. All the above is scrapped in favor of building a
Tilt-A-Whirl at DCA.
I want to visit your imaginary theme
I'm Going to Hoekman World!
|Will Coleman writes:
I'm a former Disneyland/Disney Store cast member whosadlyfeels
extraordinarily cynical and bitter about the ways the company
Okay, I'll take you up on your challenge for Disneyland
predictions. I should warn you, though, that I'm feeling a bit
nasty this afternoon. Sorry in advance.
(1) Fresh from the success of the Holiday version of the
Haunted Mansion, Disneyland execs decide to retheme another
classic attraction as a way to save money and pretend that
they have a totally new ride. Anticipation runs high and the
marketing team revs into high gear to promote "It's a
Small WorldSo He Can't HIDE!!" Animatronic dolls of
Osama Bin Laden are added to the tableaux inside the
attraction, and the boats are outfitted with light guns
suspiciously similar in design to those from the Buzz
Lightyear attraction in WDW. Guests will be encouraged to rack
up points by shooting the Bin Ladens, but will be docked
(pardon the boating pun) points for shooting any of the other
dolls. Despite weak protests from Alice Davis, Disney plunges
full-tilt into the new idea until a justifiably vocal group of
Afghan-American Disney collectors decides NOT to attend the
highly priced, pre-opening sneak peek pin and merchandise
collecting dinner party. Realizing that such a lack of income
for the company would be intolerable, the plan is scrapped.
Interestingly, the new version of the song, "It's a Small
World, Gosh Darn It!", can still be purchased in the
Tomorrowland Disc Burning facility.
(2) Imagineers are given the task of "plussing"
the park by reworking some aspects of the fairly weak
Innoventions attraction of Disneyland's Tomorrowland.
Management concludes that guests are probably
"bored" or "turned off" by happy visions
of a future using corporate technology and the Imagineers are
given the green light to design a much more frightening
attraction in which the guests are now at the mercy of
impersonalized, corporate and/or alien machinery which
threatens the guests in a terrifying way. Everybody agrees
that this is much more in the true spirit of Tomorrowland. One
Imagineer goes on record as saying that she feels that
"This is what Walt would have wanted."
(3) A church group successfully sues Disneyland claiming
that each its members had deliberately NOT looked into Mara's
eye on Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye.
When the jury studies the videotape, they rule in the group's
favor and demand that Disneyland give each memberas
promisedthe ability to see into the future.
(4) Fewer and fewer people go on Pirates of the
Caribbean. This is a shame, because it's really beautiful.
(5) A new nighttime parade, "Electro-Fiber-Optic-Mega-Spectro-Fantasma-Glow-Jamboree-Magic,"
(6) "Mickey's Toontown" is renamed
"Mickey's Chipped Paint and Lack of Maintenance
Town!" (Note the official exclamation point). A
commemorative pin is released to celebrate and there is a riot
near It's a Small World as pin collectors begin attacking one
another in their attempts to secure one. Security is unequal
to the task, as most of them have been diverted to guarding
the Tortilla machine in DCA (a clever false alarm called in by
a canny pin collector).
(7) In a new first for the park, a guest complains of
breathing difficulties. He claims that there ought to be signs
around which remind him to inhale and exhale (apparently he'd
forgotten). The beleaguered graphics department puts it on its
"to do" list. One cast member is fired on the
grounds that he forgot to inform a guest that she ought to
(8) In an effort to pretend that it has more cool
attractions, DCA introduces FastPass to the Tortilla Machine.
The presence of the extra security guards surrounding the
attraction seems to support this notion and it becomes the
most popular section of the park!
(9) Medical journals are abuzz with a new ocular
disorder which apparently causes people to see Mickey Mouse's
head all over the place where, in fact, no such thing was ever
intended. One tech-savvy doctor tries a mass-cure via the
Internet, reasoning with many inflicted people via message
boards, but is flamed to death. And finally,
(10) Guests are encouraged to "Clean up after
yourself!" in a new program which will award somebody
with a collectable pin (Mickey in a white outfit pushing a
dustbroom) if they can provide photographic evidence that they
put something in a park trash can. While the program seems
expensive, the park actually saves a wacky lot of money in
that it can finally eliminate the street sweeper position
entirely. Plus, the park does seem a little more clean, oddly
Well, that was fun. I'd just like to say that I'm not
normally this mean. Really, I can be quite nice.
I just remember a time in which guests at Disneyland
were treated with a lot more respect, and in which the park
was a really inspiring and cool place to go.
|Jeff DeWitt anticipates:
I'm surprised no one predicted this: Pin trading will
grind to a halt in 2002 both at Disneyland and WDW. Disney's
cash cow will cease to exist.
Wow! Is this an educated guess or
Educated guess. I'm a pin trader from Disneyland, and my
wife and I see the signs of it losing it's luster. What we see
1. Limited Edition Pins that used to sell out instantly
now either take time to sell out or don't (witness all the
Halloween pins still on the racks), not to mention how dismal
any DCA pin sells.
2. Fewer traders than there used to be. It's become an
insider's network with pretty much the same people there every
week. It's become impossible for newcomers to get into
3. Overkilltoo many pins and the prices keep going
up. It's become too expensive of a hobby for many people. Just
look at all the Electrical Parade pins from DCA. The cheap
ones didn't sell well, but the prices keep going up. $15.50
for a pin? Too much!
My wife and I have decided that as of January 1, we were
no longer buying any more pins. We would trade with what we
have for anything we like, but we are not going to purchase
any more. We spent December finishing up any sets we had
started, and we were very close to completely doing that (I
still need a couple of Pirates pins and Name Tag pins, but
I've almost finished that by trading through www.pinpics.com)
There are many others that we have encountered that have
made the same decisions as us. They stopped collecting with
the first of the year.
Granted, I don't think it will "grind to a
halt" like I said, but I do think by the end of summer,
it will be only a hardcore few still involved. Too many of us
have burnt out from the endless lines, constant drain on
resources, and stingy and selfish traders and greedy eBayers.
It will be much like the beanies as the craze will have
subsided and only a few people will still really be into it.
|Kevin Baxter looks ahead:
I have one BIG, BOLD prediction:
Animal Kingdom, Disney/MGM and possibly even Epcot will
draw fewer customers than either Universal Studios Florida
or Islands of Adventure. Disney has done their part to make
this happen by doing as little as possible in all three parks:
- Dinorama at Animal Kingdom will flop like a freshly-caught
fish. How can you advertise a Mouse coaster and expect people
to flock to it? How can you advertise a new coaster without
showing it and NOT have people angry that what you built doesn't
- Disney/MGM may have the halfhearted Walt Disney thing,
but cutbacks have affected this park the most and visitors
will be most irritated by the time restraints here than at
the other parks. Plus, half the park has just gotten really
Photo by Sheila Hagen
- Epcot has done nothing recently but ruin beloved things
and close other things down at a rapid rate. [The] Space [attraction]
won't happen until next year, which is the one thing Disney
has in the works that will bring people back into WDW. People
know 2003 is the year to visit, so 2002 will just be a year
Of course, this attendance shift will only happen if Universal
follows through on the rumored Scorpion King coaster in USF
(Universal Studios-Florida) and the Spiderman-like Jeep safari
in IOA (Islands of Adventure). USF fell just short of those
parks in 2001, while losing nearly a million visitors. Epcot
lost a million and a half. If these parks continue to bleed
while the Universal parks go into turnaround, Disney will
have themselves a public relations nightmare. Then maybe the
cheapness will end!
|Ali Kimmel foresees:
My predictions for the year 2002 probably won't be too
happy, but lets see:
(1) Cheap sequels will finally decline.
Return to Neverland will initially have a good opening
weekend, simply because small children will beg their parents
to see it, and some might just be curious. But after that
first weekend, it will be a total disappointment.
Then Cinderella II will arrive on video, and it will
have lukewarm sales. Disney will finally start to get the idea
that people really don't want sequels of the classics
not before they release Pinocchio 2: Free Monstro.
(2) Theme park lawsuits will start to rise.
Whether it's the parks' fault or not, lawsuits will
rise. While out-of-court settlements will still be the popular
choice, lawsuits against ride safety and discrimination will
(3) Despite a better-than-normal season, Disney will do
their best to sell the Angels.
The Angels will have a good year. This will probably be
one of the best things that happens for the Disney
Corporation. Yet the rumors and gossip will fly that Disney
wants to sell.
I'm getting psychic's block. Wait
Nope, that's it for tonight. Thanks.
My Predictions for 2002:
1. Things will continue to go downhillespecially for
Disneylandand all the "quick fixes" for DCA just
ain't gonna cut it, from my point of view.
One needs to spend money to make moneynot penny
pinch. They might have an influx of "new" visitors,
but good luck on repeat business. I think the
"regulars" are miffed, too. I know I am.
2. My family, who lives in Seattle and has taken three
trips to the Disneyland Resort in a year and a half, will not
be returning until they get their heads out from where the sun
They took away my favorite perkearly entryand
during my last visit I was appalled at a cast members' behavior
towards me. (He was rude to me, told me, "No, you can't
sit in the back seat of the Thunder Mountain train, not even
if you wait," and then when I decided not to ride because
I was in shock, myself, my husband and my stepson were told
to walk across the tracks to get out.)
You may be thinking that I was one of those
"difficult" guests, but truly I was not rude, just
very disappointed and I could not believe that I was told to
do something that could have gotten me or my family hurt. I
did speak with a supervisor, but I didn't want to go on the
ride anymore after that incident. I feel like some of the
magic is missing for me. I have always encountered very
friendly, and very accommodating cast members in the past. I
guess they are not happy either, and it shows.
3. DCA will be pushed in everyone's face (even more than
they are now).
When I was there, I felt they were "pushing
me" to spend time in DCAand almost forcing me out of
Disneyland. I didn't appreciate it.
|Kevin Kenney predicts:
(1) Blast! disappears by the end of February, with its
possible reappearance for the summer months in doubt.
(2) The statue of Disney and Mickey in the central
circle of Disneyland will be replaced by one of Pressler with
his foot pressing on Mickey's throat. Eisner will be shown in
the background, pockets stuffed with cash, moving up and down
as a simple piston animation. Walt will appear to one side,
spinning in his grave (slowly enough to be recognizable, but
slowly increasing in speed).
(3) The state of California will take control of
Disneyland resort, citing mismanagement leading to the willful
destruction of the state's tourism industry. Disney will be
fined a few hundred million, and the operation of the parks
and the fine will be handed to Oriental Land Co. Ltd., who
will be given 100% of any increase in the parks' profits for
the next 10 years.
(4) If (3) doesn't occur, Disneyland Resort closes on
Disneyland's 50th anniversary, due to declining attendance
caused by the complete lack of new attractions of any merit,
continuing merchandising snafus, and the increasing frequency
of accidents (and their ancillary lawsuits) caused by
long-term lack of adequate maintenance.
|On a darker note, Ryan Mayo
Someone is going to get hurt or killed exiting the Lion
King Tram in the small parking lot.
The first stop, after leaving the Main Gate, they let
people exit the tram to the left. They must walk across the
opposing lane of tram traffic and guess what? The tram coming
the other way does not always yield to the off-loading tram.
So you hear, "Please stay seated until we come to a
complete stop," then the tram stops. People start to
stand up, and here comes a tram in the other direction. A
frantic voice over the P.A. yells, "Don't exit, don't
Please keep in mind this is at closing and the tram
coming in the other direction is empty, so it just zooms on
by. I sat back and watched this happen twice. I brought this
to the attention of a tram cast member and got the "mind
your own business" attitude.
This is just one of many unsafe situations I have seen
at the park. I hope I get an F-on this prediction.
|Jeffrey Keeney shares:
One prediction I know will come true is that the two
annual passholders in this household will NOT be renewing.
After much consideration, it was determined that with shorter
winter hours and even shorter summer hours, the value was not
all that valuable. Over the past four years we have seen the
park get dirtier and cast members lack enthusiasm.
The other passholder in this household is a former cast
member who quit after seeing leads that didn't care about
fellow cast members or the park.
I have talked to several others who will also not be
renewing. Disney is starting to rear its ugly greedy head, and
it is my belief that the public is starting see it as such. A
shame that what was once the Happiest Place on Earth is now a
Dirty, Greed Mongering, Tarnished, Desperate, Poorly Ran Place
Lest we forget all the direct-to-video sequel rip-offs,
and poorly thought out quick fixes for DCA
Luminaria? Yes, I know. It was rather less than memorable,
|Susan Schaar notes:
I just finished reading the 2002 predictions, and even
without the benefit of being a California or Florida resident
with frequent access to the Disney parks, the observations all
seemed like no-brainers to me. Which is to say, I agree with
them; except for one idea that I see repeatedly on
MousePlanet, and it goes something like, "Eventually
things will get so bad that even Pressler/Eisner will be
forced to look at their mess and take appropriate action to
clean it up."
Well, actually, no. Sadly, that notion is incorrect on
many levels, beginning with the assumption that at their core,
Michael Eisner and Paul Pressler ARE good businessmen. Neither
is, and that includes their track records in the 1980s which
were, quite simply, flukes. Yes, flukes.
Eisner's success with Disney was a combination of downsizing
(a relatively new concept born during the end of the Reagan
era), which is a no-lose way of boosting company cash-flow
to show short-term increases in stock value, along with Frank
Wells' willingness to reinvest time, money and effort into
the animation department (which Eisner wanted to eliminate).
Eisner generated some cash for the company, but it was Wells
(and Jeffrey Katzenberg) who restored the company's reputation
for quality entertainment, and it is the Disney reputation
(and past innovations) that have provided the company with
its long-term viability. When Wells (the heart) died
and Katzenberg (the talent) left, only Eisner (the accountant)
remained. And we see what happens when a one-dimensional force
goes unchecked. Without the creative and caring counter-balances,
the Disney empire is exactly right back where it was in the
early '80s when Eisner came on board. Which is as a faltering
company surviving on reputation alone.
And Pressler's previous success with the Disney Store
is even easier to explain, which is that TDS was a novel retail
concept born into a booming economy. Consumers had money to
spend, and never before had Disney-related merchandise been
so available to them. The franchise would have succeeded no
matter who was in charge. That Pressler was promoted to head
of Disneyland and promptly used his merchandising "savvy"
to eliminate all theme park-specific souvenirs from
the resort was immediate testament to his ineptness at consumer
/ retail affairs.
Okay, now to my original point, which is that of course
Eisner and Pressler will not volunteer to correct the problems
brought on through years of mindless cost-cutting and short-sighted
decision-making (along with criminal neglect). People who
do not understand the problemsor even acknowledge any
problems existare certainly not going to be the ones
to solve them (look at Congress, for example). Eisner will
not resign "for the good of the company"not
even with his golden parachute; nor will Pressler examine
the success of Tokyo's DisneySeasor even Disneyland
in the mid-'90sfor lessons on improving guest experience
and thus generating REVENUE through merchandising.
Disney fans speak of boycotts and letter-writing campaigns
and guest-satisfaction surveys, and I submit that those tactics
are absolutely worthless under current Disney management,
because it does not care. At all. It does not
see any intrinsic value in satisfied customers. It only cares
about satisfying (bamboozling) the stockholders, which
brings me, finally, to my point, which is this: you must reach
the stockholders, en masse, to affect any change in
leadership. The stockholders must be shaken from their complacency
into taking back their proxy votes and ousting Michael Eisner.
You would think that a 50% drop in the value of Disney
stock over the past couple of years would be enough of a
wake-up call, but Eisner has been able to sweet-talk his way
out of responsibility with well-polished snake-oil pitches,
and who is out there to contradict him in front of the
Why, the consumers who dictate the value of the stock,
of course. But how? There is a way. Eisner has an Achilles
heel, and it is this: bad publicity. Truly BAD publicity,
and plenty of it. Perhaps no other company has ever relied
on its reputation as much as Disney; therefore, no other company
is as susceptible to negative public image as Disney. And
the way you generate public interest in a story is, of course,
to get the media involved, which really isn't all that hard.
Eisner may control ABC, but that leaves many other networks
to cover "the disintegration of an empire built by Walt
Disney, American Icon." And the way to interest the media
is to show them a scandal, which is why boycotting Disney
parks won't work (it's too passive), but striking the
parks will. I mean an actual customer strike, with
picket-lines and signs and the whole bit.
Think it through. Strike for a day or two, and Orange
County news might cover it; but strike for a week or two,
and the national media WILL pick up on it. How about a few
well-worded soundbites from those on the front lines? How
about showing the media-heads a little chart comparing live
entertainment from 1995 with live entertainment today? Demonstrate
how admission prices have gone up while entertainment options
have disappeared. Pictures are worth a thousand words, so
how about showing them a photo-essay from Al's "Disneyland
Blues" pages? Contrast Tokyo DisneySeas with California
Adventure; be sure to bring up the resounding success being
enjoyed by TDS, even though Japan's economy has been in a
recession for years. (It would help to have little bar-charts
showing that the cost-cutting and down-sizing were going on
long before 9-11, as that has become the perennial
excuse for all corporate lay-offs in the past four months,
and would certainly be Disney's excuse as well.)
Journalists have short attention spans, but in this new
age of hyper-patriotism, I would think the decimation of All-American
landmarks like Disneyland would merit a feature or two (it
would also tie in nicely with any piece examining how endless
corporate downsizing eventually becomes a money-loser
for the company and contributes to the kind of national recession
we are now in, and were in before 9-11). Even people
who have never been to Disneyland and no longer watch Disney
animation would be appalled at the lack of consideration and
respect being used to maintain Walt Disney's empire.
Anyway, that is how you reach Disney stockholders
with the truth of why their share value has plunged
(unless someone out there has the shareholder address list
for a mass-mailing effort), and that is how you hold
Michael Eisner's feet to the flames. We can run around pointing
out that the emperor is not wearing any clothes, but no one
will believe it until they see it on TV. Perception is reality,
and it is time to change the perception of Disney stockholders.
Otherwise, well, the weeds will continue to grow in the Storybookland
Canal, the paint will continue to fade in Toontown, the Haunted
Mansion will succumb to woodrot, and ESPN/FFN merchandise
will show up in the Emporium.
Well, gee, if you made it this far, thanks for reading.
I would be interested in your opinion on this.
I, sadly, agree that Disney the
Company could not care less about its guests. It cares only
about its guests' pocketbooks, and decided several years ago
that instead of reaching said pocketbooks the old fashioned way
(by pleasing the customer), it was quicker and easier to
blatantly grab them while the guest was hypnotized, staring at
Therefore, I also agree that nothing
outside of a spreadsheet will make Disney change its way, no
matter how loudly customers complain or how faded past glories
I don't know that I'd label Eisner
and Pressler's past successes "flukes." By the early
1980s, quality Disney products had become scarce, creating pent-up
demand. Disney fans were starved for something new, so much
so that even Fox and the Hound was a hit! Making quality
Disney products abundant (animation, TV shows, feature
films, E-ticket attractions, themed hotels, Disney stores, merchandise)
was guaranteed to succeed
at least in the short term.
Until the pent-up demand was sated, and customers became more
discriminating. Obviously, the numbers on Atlantis and
DCA show we're getting there.
Disney's knee-jerk reaction has been
to cut back further and further, which aids profits margins in
the short-term but cheapens the products in the long-term. While
Disney should be fiscally responsible, I think the solution lies
in the preceding paragraph: Stress Quality Over Quantity. Don't
open up a Disney theme park on every street corner, but when you
do open one, make it good (see Tokyo DisneySeas). Don't release
three animated features a year; one (if it's a Lilo and Stich)
will be plenty. Get a good product and THEN market the heck out
I wish you luck in your shareholder
revolt. I just fear that Disney stock is held by so many small
investors that organizing a coup may be impossible.
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.)