Could Oriental Land Company (OLC)
really save Disney?
Take a deep breath, here we go!
|Michael J. Siebielec wrote:
Keep up the great commentary. In regard to the
suggestion that the Oriental Land Co. might be a better
management team for the Disney parks you stated, "OLC
strikes me as a company that funds quality projects out of
allegiance to its homeland audience, rather than allegiance to
preserving Walt's creative heritage."
We should be so lucky to have such thinking here in the
U.S. Your statement really points two of the topics that are
major faults of the current management. The first being that
unlike the Japanese, they believe the American audience to be
unable to distinguish real quality. That the majority of the
public will be happy with a carnival tilt-o-whirl with a
fiberglass sculpture of Winnie the Pooh on it surrounded by
some painted plywood cutouts and renamed "Pooh's Blustery
Day." And they believe these same folks will still be
dazzled by "the magic" in three years when the paint
has faded off the cutouts and Pooh's limited animation no
longer works properly. By the looks of the crowds at
Disneyland today and upcoming "attractions" being
planned (i.e., Pooh) maybe they are right.
As far as any allegiance to Walt's creative heritage,
well that is just marketing copy now. It is no longer honored
and, in fact, I believe it is seen as foolish by the
accountants and lawyers that now make what passes as
The Disney Co. now only has allegiance to profits and
profits made at the very lowest quality standard and at the
very highest markup. There desperately needs to be a changing
of the guard before what little is left of "the
magic" is stripped mined totally in the interests of
upper management bonuses and golden parachutes.
As I have said many times before things will only change
when they start losing money. I'm doing my part and have
canceled my Disney trips. There appears to be some interesting
attractions in Vegas and I will be spending my vacation money
there this year. I hope more folks will "vote with their
pocketbooks" and teach the suits in the only way they
seem to understand: lower attendance until we are given a
quality reason to return.
|A Tokyo Disney insider
I feel it necessary to clear up some misconceptions you
and your readers may have concerning the Oriental Land Co.,
and how the Tokyo Disney Resort (Tokyo Disneyland and the soon
to premiere Tokyo DisneySea) is run.
You have heard about the high standards of quality in
Tokyo Disneyland, but who controls the quality? Who enforces
Disney standards at the Tokyo Disney Resort? Disney does. Yes,
that is correct, Disney.
By virtue of a contractual agreement with OLC, Disney
has a full time, on-site team of expatriates and locally hired
Cast Members who are not only involved with managing OLC's use
of Disney intellectual property, but for enforcing, promoting,
and advancing all aspects of show quality. If you visit Tokyo
Disneyland, you may notice one of these expats walking around,
with a radio in an ear and an interpreter in tow, checking out
restaurants, attractions, merchandise, entertainment venues,
and even chatting with on-duty cast members via interpreters.
This is not a bi-monthly or even monthly event. It is a
daily routine. Why? Because this hands-on oversight is the
only guarantee of upholding Disney quality standards. If there
is any element in the guest experience that Disney feels OLC
is short changing guests, they immediately address it with the
highest levels of OLC management.
If, for example, OLC wants to cut electricity costs and
leave the heating element in the restroom air hand dryers
off (even in winter!), the Disney expat reviews the policy
change, and if he or she feels that Disney quality is being
compromised, gently (and at times not so gently) reminds OLC
of the contractual agreement, binding them to Disney's lead
in regards to quality. Then the Disney expat is actually there,
the next week, walking into the restrooms, literally getting
his hands wet, and personally making sure that the hand dryers
are using warmed air. The key here is that OLC wants to cut
costs. Plain and simple. Unchecked, OLC would cut costs,
even though they would cut into the guest experience. In that
they are no different from the Disney management team in the
The important thing is this: To OLC's way of thinking,
Disney's on-site expat team, freed as they are from any
financial constraints, would spend so lavishly on details and
quality that OLC would run itself into bankruptcy. To Disney's
way of thinking, OLC's lack of quality standards and emphasis
on higher profit margins would run Tokyo Disneyland into the
ground, since they have a history of trying to cut costs at
the expense of guest satisfaction.
But by working together, creative genius is tempered
with financial responsibility. Disney takes the lead for
advancing quality as far as can be stretched within the
realistic financial conditions defined by OLC. Whether the
impact of Disney's macro or micro-management is tangible or
not, the results are clear. Tokyo Disneyland is still the
single most visited park on Earth, and has been for quite some
Why does Tokyo Disneyland lead the world in annual
attendance? To Disney folks, it is because Disney standards
are applied (and sometimes forced) upon a benefactor who has
no choice but to follow with it's pocketbook. To OLC folks, it
is because they play a shrewd game of numbers and know how to
allocate funds and resources.
Bottom line? Tokyo Disneyland is successful because of
OLC and Disney. To credit OLC for 100% of the success
of the resort would not be correct, and would be a great disservice
to the many Disney expats and local cast members who struggle
on a daily basis to influence, suggest, and even occasionally
manipulate and force OLC to exceed guest expectations.
Perhaps the strongest points I wish to make are the
1. The Disney Theme Parks and Resorts team, when freed
from unreasonable financial constraint, is very capable of
running a successful and satisfying Theme Park. If you ever
visited Tokyo Disneyland, you couldn't help but admire it's
well-kept attractions, facilities and scenery.
Yes, OLC paid for it. Yes, an OLC-paid Cast Member did
the work, but it is Disney that makes OLC adhere to
stringent high standards. It is a Disney cast member walking
around on a daily basis, making sure that Disney policy is
being followed. The Disney "eye" for quality is
still sharp, and as long as there is money to spend on
quality, there WILL be quality.
2. Believe me, having OLC run Disney Theme Parks and
Resorts would NOT improve the situation. You wouldn't like
that. Trust me. Nobody runs a business of this sort for the
love of mankind, and OLC is no exception. Profit is the only
motive. OLC's attitude is if profit comes at the expense of
a little guest satisfaction, well, too bad for the guests
Without the Disney "checks and balances"
system which holds OLC to high quality standards, they would
be no different than Disney in the U.S., or any other
business in that regard.
To give you an idea of how closely OLC cares about the
bottom line, consider the following. Currently, theme park
cast members in the U.S. (even part-timers) are given food and
merchandise discounts when visiting the park. In addition, a
cast member need only present their ID card at the main gate
for complementary admission to the park. On top of that,
regular cast members are given Main Gate passes which allow
them a set number of complementary admissions to the parks, as
well as occasional extra passports during the holiday season.
This has the effect of improving morale and increasing pride
in the parks. It also reduces employee turnover.
Well, at Tokyo Disneyland, with OLC running the show,
there are no food or merchandise discounts for cast members
while in the park, and in fact, if a cast member wants to
visit the park, they have to pay the regular admission price.
Sure, turnover is high, but who cares? Japan is in a
recession, there is a surplus of labor, and there is
tremendous prestige for working at the "best" theme
park in the world. If OLC will do this to their own cast
members, imagine what other inroads they would make with the
guests' experience if they were left unchecked!
Promotional image of Tokyo
DisneySeas © Disney
You may have seen pictures of Tokyo DisneySea. If you
actually see it in person, I guarantee that you will lack
adjectives to adequately describe what you see. The creative
talents of Walt Disney Imagineering are alive and well. Left
to an unlimited budget, they would design the next Wonder of
the World. Failing the unlimited budget, they designed Tokyo
DisneySea ;) The key here is budget, and the key word is
Disney. OLC could never develop anything resembling Tokyo
DisneySea on their own, and I must make the further
distinction that OLC is not in the design business, at least
not on a theme park scale.
Why will Tokyo DisneySea be a smash success? Because OLC
knows that the creative genius of Disney is alive and well,
and all that is required to bring it into fruition is lots and
lots of money. In addition, OLC secretly knows that Disney, by
enforcing and advancing quality standards, will never allow
themselves to truly screw things up.
It's an interesting formula, and an interesting
relationship that has forged a Disney park that Disney would
have never, ever built on their own. At the same time, it is a
park so unique and creative that it could only have been
designed by Disney.
Perhaps the greatest, future challenge for the Disney
management team in Japan is the current state of the
U.S.-based parks and resorts. The Disney team in Japan is
finding itself more and more often enforcing quality standards
that the Disney team in the U.S. is unable to uphold. It's
getting harder to go to OLC and demand that they follow X
maintenance schedule or Y standard when the paint in Anaheim
is peeling. After all, it is hard to get OLC to adhere to
quality standards that Disney itself is not willing to follow.
Ironic, isn't it?
Thank you for the note. It's
refreshing to have someone add shading to the common
black-and-white picture (OLC/DisneySeas good, Disney/DCA
bad). I've long suspected that OLC wasn't some virtuous
benefactor who didn't care about profits, only about creating
happiness for guests and preserving Walt's legacy (aka, its
one-dimensional reputation among U.S. Disney fans).
I question, though, that Disney
deserves most of the credit for upholding the quality of Tokyo
Disneyland. Disney is not investing its resources to better
Tokyo DL, the bill is being paid by OLC due to contractual
obligations. And, after hearing about the conservative plans for
a first gate in Hong Kong, I doubt Disney is forcing OLC to
spend so lavishly on its second gate.
I suspect OLC is investing so
heavily because Disney for so many years has pounded into their
heads the message: "As long as you create and maintain
Quality Entertainment, you'll have customers standing in
line." The problem, as you admit, is Disney no longer seems
to believe its own message.
I'm sure OLC is far from perfect.
But, at least for now, I will have more praise for a company
that spends what it takes to spoil its customers, than for the
company that tells the first company how to spend its money,
then shortchanges its own customers.
Please feel free to continue trying
to set me straight on this!
In light of your last article ("All the Wrong
Moves") and to the current state of the Disney Co., I am
just baffled by its lack of understanding of Walt's initial
dream. How can they screw up such a simple thing?
Walt Disney's vision was to take the things that excite
our imagination and bring them to life. He took absolute
delight in entertaining us. Walt was always trying to figure
out how to push our buttons and we loved him for it. He
immersed himself in his work taking childlike delight in his
projects and being involved with every detail of the company
to produce a solid and beautiful product.
How many of us would love to be in charge of a company
involved in the film, television, and theme park industries?
How exciting to be paid to use our imaginations and entertain
the world. I wouldn't even need the money. I would promptly
move into Walt's apartment above the Disneyland firehouse and
spend all my time working on making the company better. How
great would that be, and could you even call it work?! I'm not
even that big of a Disney freak, but the thoughts of what I
could do with that power are very exciting. Oh, the fun I
I wonder if Mr. Eisner gets that excited about the
company? Does he even like visiting the parks? If Walt was
consumed with entertaining the world, you might expect the
same from the president of his company. Does Michael Eisner
have that same passion? For a look at how Eisner thinks I turn
to an e-mail he sent to the whole company about attending the
premiere of Aida.
To paraphrase, all he could think about during the show
is how Aida would fit in to the financial structure of the
company. His mind seemed to wander a lot during the course of
the show. He was also thinking about the current money making
success of Toy Story 2 and Who Want to Be a Millionaire. Was
he ever emotionally moved by the lovers dying on stage? Or
perhaps in their place he saw Regis asking, "Final
answer?" and dollar signs. Surely Mr. Eisner has an
imagination. I just wonder if he ever fantasizes of anything
other than financial success.
It just seems to me that the current problem with the
Disney Co. is that the administrators don't have that same
passion to entertain as Walt Disney. Which is too bad. It's
like using a magic wand for a back scratcheryou've got
something with amazing potential doing something very mundane
|A DCA cast member wrote:
Thank you for writing that article
now can you send
it off to every person in the Disney company who has anything
to do with managing?? Just a dream, I doubt that it would be
You may find it sad that a 24 year-old hourly and
several of her co-workers realize the state of things with
Disney while Disney itself does not. We have seen firsthand
the horrible idea of save now, pay big bucks later.
One example: When the Eureka parade at DCA was in rehearsals
we rented orange cones to line the parade route. (Why?
Because in most of the areas of the parade route there are
no definite boundaries viewable from a float unless there
are crowds watching. And that's an entirely different matter.)
Could we have borrowed the measly 100 or so cones from
the parking lots? Apparently not. Also the thought was that we
wouldn't need them again anytime soon. Wrong! A few months
down the line we were having rehearsals for Disney's
Electrical Parade and again had to line the route with cones.
And then the tents for the Electrical Parade Floats!
These are really flimsy constructions. Something I'd expect
to see at a one-day event. Our entire parade crew stopped
and stared with mouths open as we watched a tent being raised.
The tent roof looked like it was going to come crashing down
on the poor guys trying to get it up.
If Disney had any sense, any inkling that there might be
a large parade or two parades for DCA they should have built
us a decent float warehouse. There was plenty of room for it.
Now I can just see somewhere down the line in the near future
that those tents will be replaced by slightly better, slightly
longer lasting structures. And, of course it will just
be more money wasted
Not to mention the fact that our parade crew needs at
least an additional 3-4 people per night to coordinate float
moves between tents to get everything up to step-off in order.
Yes, the tents are different heights and the floats are
scattered around the locations out of order.
Thank you for venting. I sometimes
think if Disney would just turn the Management Pyramid on its
head and put the sweepers and dishwashers in charge and make the
executives do the real work, the company would be a lot better
Great column, if not a little sad. I too noticed on my
last visit to Disneyland in '99, things were starting to look
a little shoddy around the edges (ToonTown looks absolutely
faded out!). While most of the cast members (especially the
older ones) were still the same courteous folks I'd always
seen at the park, many of the younger ones were curt and
barely functionary. The parade was this lame, short affair
called "Disney Magic" or something and even IT
looked a little ragged. The food was expensive (and awful) and
while most of the rides were fun (notable exception: the new
Rocket Rods, which always seemed to break down as we were
approaching the platform), but the huge holes in the park,
especially the lagoon, were depressing.
The faded red paint on
Gadget's Go Coaster at Disneyland
But the one money-grubbing thing that really worked me
were the crowds. It was insane. I can understand the
park is there to turn a buck, but to have it so crowded
impedes on having a good time. Most of the time is spent being
pushed around in the crowd or waiting for something (a ride,
food, the bathroom). It just seemed like the charm was gone.
And the movies! What happened? Did Katzenberg really have
that much influence over what was going on? From live-action
duds like this year's Pearl Harbor to the constant video rehashing
of the classics (and these insipid DTV sequels), the creative
line is definitely dead. The one exception for me was this
year's Atlantis. I enjoyed its briskly told adventure and
the blend of traditional animation and CG rendered art was
The one thing I kept thinking as I watched was the same
thing another reader bought up: Wow! Here's their chance
to really fix up that lagoon area at the park with some cool
Atlantis-themed attractions! A motion simulation ride a la
the film's finale, a ride around the lagoon in the Ulysses
and see the sunken graveyard and have an encounter with the
Leviathan, a really creative queue done up like the city of
but no. This film didn't open to a $100 million
weekend, so Eisner and his bean counters probably consider
it a failure despite it generally good reviews (and everyone
I've talked to that's seen it appreciates it).
Instead we have a park that's literally fading away and
a new park that sounds like it's not living up to anyone's
expectations (I'll see for myself this October. At least it
should have the advantage of not being too crowded,
a plus for me), and a chairman of the board who sounds so
isolated from what results from his decisions that it looks
like things'll have to get worse before they get better.
Again, thanks for the great read. MousePlanet is the
|Raymond Chuang wrote:
I read with great interest your article on the decline
of Disney in the last six years. Between the failure of Go.com,
Disney's California Adventure not being a success, declining
park attendance in general, the very expensive failures of
Pearl Harbor and Atlantis: The Lost Empire, general chaos at
Disney Animation, a lot of bad publicity regarding the
"Gay Days" at Disney theme parks, and on and on, I
think it is very high time for Roy E. Disney to threaten his
resignation from the Disney board of directors.
Roy E. Disney riding
California Screamin' at the opening of California Adventure
I think there should be a group of people that should
try to convince Roy E. Disney and his allies in the Disney
organization to try to force out Michael Eisner and his
cronies from the board of directors and put a whole new team
in place that have the ability to revive the allure of the
Disney brand itself. I believe the pressure is already under
way; that's why I think Eisner will be lucky if he is still
CEO of Disney by Labor Day this year.
The very name "Disney" is probably one of the
world's most recognizable brand names, no contest. It is time
for the right management to nurture the company back to the
great heights of the early Eisner years.
I've been talking with a number of high-level producers
and directors at Disney Animation privately via email and
personally, I think a new regime that takes pride in its work
will definitely help things. Maybe the threat of resignation
by people like Don Hahn, Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale would
finally convince people major changes are needed in Disney
Mr. Koenig, I believe it is high time you start talking
with reporters at the Los Angeles Times, Daily Variety,
Hollywood Reporter, Entertainment Tonight and E! News Daily to
express your serious concerns about problems at the company;
maybe a front page LA Times article, a major story on
Entertainment Tonight and E! News Daily TV shows, or a major
article in Daily Variety or Hollywood Reporter may finally
convince the general public that Disney desperately needs
"new blood" in management to bring the company back
to its glory.
Thanks for the note. I obviously
share your concerns and will do my part in any palace coup.
My fear, though, is that the only
group with enough clout to oust Eisner would be the financial/investment
communitywhich would probably push for his replacement
to be someone even less Quality-minded and more bottom line-oriented
than Eisner (believe me, it's possible). Companies like Disney,
despite all the talk, never listen to their customers; they
only listen to the swipes of their customers' credit cards.
The Times knows my feelings on the
subject. I don't know anyone at the other outlets you mentioned,
although don't expect much coverage on E! News Dailythe
channel is owned by Disney.
|Chris Wiles wrote:
I wanted to add my $.02 to the discussion on Disney's
Decline. It appears that Eisner has never had to work in a
competitive industry. He could learn a lot by looking at the
hi-tech industry. The mistakes he is making are nothing new
and just a little research would show this.
In this time of down turn in the economy business are
pulling back and focusing on their "core
competencies." That is, they are focusing on the products
that made them successful and eliminating other products.
It is apparent to me that Disneyland was the product
that made Disney successful. The should focus on Disney
"type" products, not DCA carnival/county type
Too bad Harriss couldn't replace Eisner, I hold more
hope with her.
I noticed that in the last mailbag someone asked about
an Atlantis theme park attraction. It's obvious at this point
that Atlantis has no chance at becoming an attraction. So what
could become of that old lagoon at WDW? I fear the worst: They
fill it in with cement and build something on top. Could it
Second, about the entire Animal Kingdom fiasco: Quite
a few people on the Internet, at newspapers, and even on this
site say this could be the downfall of the Disney corporation.
Not AK exclusively, but DCA, Atlantis, and AK combined. I
think AK is a wonderful park. It's up to Disney standards.
Sure it wasn't necessary, but with the right improvements
it could be above par. By right, I mean without the carnival
attractions in Dino-Land. Disney MGM wasn't necessary either,
but it's a great park now that I consider worth visiting.
Disney has done a lot with pre-established properties
such as the studio theme park idea. The "zoo" as
people call it, can be something special as well. And can we
please stop calling it "the zoo"? (Although you have
to agree they might not have built this if they had looked at
the reason why animatronics are in the Jungle Cruise in the
first place. Both you and I know that
Third, about DCA. We all know the story. Dave, I must
ask you: Will someone ever step in? Is Paul Pressler/Michael
Eisner's reign ending soon? Not to be mean, I do love some of
the things they've done, but everything's going sour right
now. I got all excited about a second park in Anaheim until it
turned out to be DCA. Do I dare think of fifth park in WDW?
(please, don't let it be Legoland!.. please!)
Next, Don't even mention Hong Kong Disney. I thought it
would be an exciting new development. Instead it's a copy of
Disneyland, and not even a good copy of Disneyland. But it
will serve its purpose and only that: to boost tourism to Hong
Kong. Sad it couldn't be anything special. The second park
(which will come along a few years down the road) could be
another DCA if this trend continues.
I really think that Eisner has lost his taste for good
theme parks after DLP and AK. He has really lost faith in
Imagineering, has he not? He spends more time on hotels and
shops. Nobody is going to buy a DCA T-shirt if the park's
not that great. If they made quality attractions ahead of
oh never mind. It's been said before.
It's really sad when the public has a bit more common
sense then a corporation.
|A Disneyland cast member wrote:
Read your latest article. I just loved the way people
still try to stick up for DCA.
News from a friend in entertainment: management is
thinking of cutting out the second Electrical Parade in DCA,
because the park is a ghost town after the first parade, and
to cut costs.
Also, there has been some concerns over the new Mr.
Lincoln show. Guests will be wearing cordless earphones to
experience surround sound for the show. It's great. But the
concern is how to sterilize the earphones after each use (you
can catch germs from sick people) and what if the guest has
head lice? Managers say it is not a problem. Right. Share the
cancellation of Disney's proposed Team Atlantis series, Kyle
I enjoyed your recent article on MousePlanet. One thing
makes me wonder about the cancelled Atlantis show. It could
be the one thing that the beleaguered ToonDisney cable network
needs. Let me explain.
In a recent article, it was stated that Disney is having
trouble getting the viewership it desired for ToonDisney.
Which is not surprising since ToonDisney has no original
programming while virtually all of its competitors (Cartoon
Network, Nickelodeon, even the Disney Channel) have hours of
original, exclusive programs to get viewers coming back day
after day. ToonDisney can only go so far with reruns, even
with "freshening" them from time to time with shows
dropped from Saturday Morning and syndication. The network
clearly needs some original programming.
Promotional art ©
Which is why Atlantis would be such a great bargain for
the network. Most of the work has already been done, saving
the network from the expense of trying to make an original
show from scratch. They could finish the animation and have
the show ready for fall to compete with the new shows from
Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon.
Of course, this is all just a pipe dream, since I doubt
that anyone at Disney TV realizes that reruns are the root of
ToonDisney's lackluster performance and, even if they did,
they probably don't have the budget to buy more coffee for the
office, let alone finish a nearly completed cartoon series.
But one can dream, can't we?
Actually, a great deal of
preliminary work, including script writing and voice recording,
had been done, but little or no animation.
|Angered by the closure
of popular shows at Universal Studios-Hollywood, Doug
I put a link and advisory up on my site regarding
today's disturbing column. This is some really bad stuff. Down
right maddening. Dammit!
Such a slap in the face to annual passholders being
looked upon as freeloaders who don't deserve a decent show or
can't tell the difference between nothing and something. When
I first rode Super Star Limo I wrote a piece predicting just
this backwards step budget cutting at Universal. I hate to be
right on it, but it was an obvious outcome of Disney no longer
being the "rabbit" in the greyhound race.
Above all, I hate the feeling of being thought of as meat
and not being catered to as a discriminating guest. Unfortunately
there are the zillions of morons who can't tell the
difference who will pick up the slack of those who
Promotional art © Universal Studios / Dreamworks
Universal not providing content for daily visitors is
appalling and goes against the stellar history of this company.
The loss of value and content is the ultimate stupidity of
these short term money grabbers who know damn well they are
destroying the future of theme based entertainment and making
a farce of all the hard work and caring input that went before
to build a place that attracts. To paraphrase Ian Malcomb
(a Universal staple), "You do have attractions
at your attraction don't you?"
I got the same feeling when French Vivendi took over
that I had when I first got a gander at the phony smile of the
Anti-Walt. He/they don't "get it." Sickening.
I just finished reading your article regarding the
closing of shows at Universal Studios-Hollywood. I worked at
USH for approximately four years as a merchandise manager in
the early '90s.
One thing I never liked about USH, was the fact that
most of the attractions, the guest sat down and watched
something (Beetlejuice, Animal show, Flintstones-when I
worked there, the Stunt show, etc.). Even Terminator 3-D is
just a sit down show with better special effects. The tram
ride is nothing special since you are trapped inside the tram
and just look at everything.
There are three real rides in the park: Back to the
Future, Jurassic Park, and E.T. E.T is old and is the only kid
friendly ride. The other two can be quite rough and are not
kid or family friendly.
I visited USF approximately four years ago and loved it.
Everything you see on the tram at USH was a ride at USF (Jaws,
Earthquake, King Kong). E.T. was just as boring, though.
I personally feel that if USH wants to succeed, they
need to get rid of the sit down shows and build more rides.
E.T. could be replaced with a new dark ride (i.e. Spiderman at
IOA). The World of Cinemagic could also house a dark ride
especially around the Curious George character now that
Vivendi has bought the rights to it.
A roller coaster definitely would bring in the crowds.
And not a Magic Mountain type coaster. A themed roller coaster
built inside (the ET building is big enough I think).
Anyways, I think USH needs to get away from the sit down
show aspect and move into the ride business. One of the
complaints about DCA is that it has a bunch of shows. That
seems to be the problem at USH.
If I may also add, USH entertainment department might be
more profitable if it didn't pay the actors and actresses so
much money. If memory serves me correctly, these people are
allowed to belong to the SAG and can then demand higher
salaries and perks. I will always remember the characters
walking around the parks (Woody Woodpecker, etc). They would
do about a 15-20 minute show and then take an approximately
90-minute break. Talk about hard work.
If the tram tour was ever deleted, that would also save
a lot of money. The tram drivers earn top dollars. Think how
much USF saves without them. On top of that, employees are not
allowed to drive around the lot on carts or other vehicles
from the warehouses to offices or whatever. They have to be
driven by a UNION driver. If USH could just cut little things,
they might not have to close everything.
I know I went off on a lot of areas, but I hope you get
the point. USH could pack them in if they just changed their
philosophy. People for the most part know how movies are made
and they don't need to pay $43 to see it. In fact, most movies
are now computerized. "Outdoor" shots are now filmed
inside on a sound stage. USH should dig into their library and
design rides around these movies. The old movies would bring
in the older crowd and the newer movies would bring in the
younger. Shrek sounds like it will be a good franchise and USH
should not lose the opportunity to expand on it.
A Universal tram on the
I agree with some of your complaints
(too many static, sit-down shows at USH), observations (USF
enjoyable), and suggestions (add more film-themed, but not film-based
attractions). But I heartily disagree that because something
is a sit-down attraction, it is inferior or should be replaced.
I personally think USH's tram tour is (potentially, with the
right guide) the greatest attraction at any theme park in the
world, because it is real. You roll by the actual sets
from some of the greatest movies ever made.
Theme parks need a mix of attraction
types; that's one reason why Disney parks are so successful.
Islands of Adventure, as wonderful a park as it is, has more
limited potential because most of its attractions are either
strictly thrill or strictly kiddie rides.
Certainly USH could use a better mix
of sit-down attractions vs. rides, but the last thing I want is
for USH to abandon its greatest asset (a real Hollywood backlot)
as well as its proven crowd-pleasers (stunt shows) to turn into
a themed version of Magic Mountain.
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.
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