Thanks all who responded to my
musings on the fate of Disney's California Adventure. I'm convinced
that Disney won't let a $1.4 billion theme park, built on the most prime
lot in Anaheim, fail. Reaction also continued to stream in on last
week's article, "When Tourists Attack."
First, let's look at readers response on
| From Tony Moore:
I was very impressed with your latest article on MousePlanet.com.
I've always enjoyed reading your work, because while you bring
the negative to light, you don't blast the negative aspects
at the reader. I agree with your arguments about Disney's
I don't believe people who are critical of DCA are taking
into account MGM and the Animal Kingdom. Nor, do they take
into account the general way Disney has been building theme
parks since Euro Disneyland happened. DCA wasn't meant to
be an awesome, ground-breaking theme park and an experience
unto itself. It was meant to complement Disneyland, and keep
people in the Disneyland hotels, purchasing Disney merchandise,
and buying Disney food for another day.
I'm going to make a link from my site
to the article. -
What a depressing article! If your assumptions are correct
and DCA is financially successful, then we can officially
herald the end of an era. No longer will we be able to expect
to see grand Disney theme parks in the traditional styleat
least not in the United States. Thank goodness the Oriental
Land Company still knows how to honor Walt's vision and build
parks and attractions that are truly worthy of the Disney
|From Robert Johnson:
You made some very good points on DCA. From the start
when I have spoken on DCA with others I have said DCA is its
own weenie. When people come to Anaheim on vacation to partake
in Disney's wonders DCA will be part of that draw.
Also you are right that DCA will become a more adult park.
Here is a scenario: a family of four comes to Disneyland,
the teens go to Disneyland and the parents go over to DCA
for their fun. DCA will be a success for the first 2-5 years
of existence. After that, unless Disney upgrades the park,
it's anybody's guess. -
|From Brad L.:
Just read your article on why DCA will be a (clumsy) success.
While I begrudgingly agree with many of your points (I am
one of those who hopes DCA will fail so that we get bigger
and better for the future), I must draw attention to
your closing remarks. If DCA does succeed we may have
a more profitable park but we will never have any more better
Please tell me, do you think this is a good thing?
From the tone of your article it seems almost as if you are
hoping DCA will be a success! While this is good for shareholders,
for the average guest it will mean Six Flags banality from
here on in!
As a theme park guest, I hope for
the best possible experience for a fair price. That doesn't
mean a less ambitious park can't be wildly profitable, especially
one with all the intangibles that DCA has going for it.
In fact, I predict DCA will be
vastly more profitable than would a second gate comparable,
animatronic for animatronic, to Disneyland, with fewer shops
and 60 attractions covering 80 acres, including a dozen state-of-
the-art E-tickets. Is there a calculator big enough to estimate
how many billions it would cost to recreate Disneyland from
I did receive more suggestions as to why
FastPass seems to cause more problems at Disneyland than at Walt Disney
| From Sean Patrick Rouse:
Having experienced both FastPass in Orlando and Anaheim,
I have a theory on why FastPass leads to so much less grief
in Orlando: space.
Because the Florida parks are much more spacious, you don't
see the bottleneck issues that you see in Disneyland. It's
much easier to handle all of those folks who are not
in line. In addition, it's much easier to put the FastPass
distribution stations adjacent to the traditional entrances
to attractions, thus encouraging more people to use them.
The space issue comes to the forefront in looking at FastPass
at Disneyland's Splash Mountain. Considering that the entrance
to the Splash Mountain queue is usually next to the Haunted
Mansion, and not the actual barn, that would have been the
logical location for Splash's FastPass machines. Unfortunately,
the FastPass machines are even past the barn, so someone could
join the standby line, and have no idea that they could use
FastPass. In addition, because of the location of the FastPass
machines and the compactness of Critter Country, it just gets
crowded quickly. -
|From Cindy Stephens:
When my husband and I were at WDW last November for our honeymoon,
we did run into one problem with the FastPass system. We had
waited in the regular queue for Test Track since we'd never
been there before and wanted to see everything. As you probably
remember, the queue takes you through this room that shows
you how everything is put together and tested. You spend about
an hour or two in that room before you make your way toward
the loading area and the film, and on the way, you go right
next to a side entrance. That's where the FastPass entrance
Well, as I'd said, we'd spent over an hour in the queue,
and we had to wait while they stopped the line several times
and let a fairly substantial number of FastPass holders into
our line. We understood what was happening (again, we had
chosen to wait in the line so we'd have the entire experience),
but the family in front of us and quite a few people behind
us did not understand and were getting angrier and angrier
that so many people were let into line in front of us. The
man in front of us actually gave the CM working the FastPass
line a very difficult time, and I felt really sorry for her
and annoyed at the man that he was refusing to listen to her
even when she tried to explain.
I think the major problem with that situation is that the
FastPass line cuts directly into the regular line rather than
queueing in a different line. We did use the FastPass system
for Rock N' Roller Coaster and Space Mountain, and there weren't
the same problems there. -
I go to both parks frequently and, despite being able to
just walk on attractions (I work for Disney), often choose
to wait in line to see how the experience is holding up.
I see little of the problems you mention, except that more
people than I would have expected don't understand how the
FastPass works, or how anyone can use it. Maybe the program
and how it works needs to be made clearer. -
The mail response to your FastPass article seemed fairly
diverse. Here's one more person's opinion.
FastPass is nice for those of us who know how to use it,
but let's face the reality. Many guests just don't take the
time to read their park map or ask a cast member questions.
I myself know the agony of the uninformedmy first "FastPass
educational experience" was at WDW last summer. It is
frustratingly painful to stand in the hot sun watching others
prance on by and not know what the heck they did to earn the
right to cut in front of you. Several others behind us, also
unaware of the new system, grumbled their frustrations, as
well. Even when we figured out what it was and used it several
times (to our delight, I should add; when it works, it works),
other times it simply wasn't convenient to come back at the
FastPass return time (four and a half hours later). We found
ourselves again "grinning and bearing" as we stood
in a painfully slow standby queue while FastPassers passed
(and let's be realstandby lines are much slower after
their conversion to FastPass than in their pre-FastPass days).
Perhaps we could have taken a FastPass at 1:00 and returned
at 5:30, but this would have eliminated our option to get
a FastPass from another attraction, thereby forcing us to
wait in the second attraction's standby line. Either way,
we wait in at least one long standby line.
In response to Berrett Maynard's letter to you, I agree that
we all have a "choice" whether or not to use FastPass.
But this is more an ideal setup that Disney management is
telling its stockholders, rather than the reality of the situation.
It's really not a choice for those who don't know they have
And once you become aware of the "choice," you
realize it is often a rather limited one. And once you take
responsibility for making that choice, you realize you are
just as frustrated either way. -
|From Shannon Tennison:
I have the sad feeling that people in Orlando just have better
manners than those of us in California. I think the ratio
of out of town visitors in DL is a lot lower than WDW, and
most people in California consider Disneyland as their own
Therefore, you get more people with local ties, who think
they have a certain type of entitlement.
Either that, or all the smog has fried the center of our
brains that controls our actions. -
|From Kevin Remington:
As a former Attractions Host, the FastPass system sounds
like a recipe for disaster. Though I have yet to experience
it firsthand, it seems that FastPass was created so that Disney
could justify admitting significantly more guests per day
than they should.
In the old days, even during the busiest season, there was
a limit to admissions that was determined not only by physical
restrictions, but also by a "quality of guest experience"
standard. By all other evidence lately, it looks like FastPass
is another "raise revenue/ignore guest experience"
Apparently they don't understand the concept of "lifetime
customer value." Short sighted as usual, and makes me
want to avoid the place altogether on an upcoming trip to
California. Sad, sad, sad. -
I had to go out of my way to understand FastPass the first
time and my sister still doesn't get it. First, we heard it
printed out the time we would have been on the ride if we
stood on the regular line, and now I'm hearing different.
This system is not well explained and if you aren't a Disneyland
Freak like me, I doubt you will understand it easily. I really
don't consider FastPass something you should have to read
in your Disneyland brochure. Let's be honest here, if it were
so easy, why are we hearing so many cries of "What is
FastPass?" and "How does it work?" on BBS and
newsgroups on the Internet from recent visitors?
A point on Security: the lack of them makes me sick. I always
felt safe when I walk by the uniform in the park. Now I don't.
Half of security work is the presence of officers
that is not the case anymore. -
|From Jason Cartwright:
I have not yet experienced FastPass at Disneyland, but it
works fabulously at Walt Disney World. I was a cast member
there during Spring Semester, and I visited the parks as often
as possible. Sometimes two to three times a week. I took advantage
of FastPass almost every time.
The reaction I saw from people in the standby line usually
was not too extremely negative. Most guests are still learning
about the system. If people felt it was unfair then they usually
asked a cast member or even somebody in the FastPass line,
"Why is that line moving so much faster than this one?"
Once they understood the process, they made the decision to
use FastPass on other rides. If people in the standby line
still had a negative attitude, I felt no guilt whatsoever.
It's their own fault for not taking advantage of the system.
I think FastPass is a great way to save time standing in
line. I believe that FastPass will not cause nearly as many
problems with guests once all the bugs are worked out with
managing the lines and once the majority of guests are familiar
with it. -
|From David L.:
I have used FastPass at quite a few WDW rides, including
Kilimanjaro Safaris, in which the FastPass and standby lines
run along side each other the nearly the entire time. Nobody
in the standby line seemed to be bothered. One thing that
may have helped was there were about 5 CMs in the front of
the queue, explaining to everyone. It seems to be working
Your new section on MousePlanet is really great. Thank you
very much for writing the article! I have your first book,
and even though I have never been to Disneyland (hopefully
will visit sometime), it was awesome to read! Do you have
any plans to write a book based on Walt Disney World? Please
do, I'm sure there are tons of people who'd love to read it!!
|From Ken Coates:
Soon after FastPass was announced, I read about another type
of system on the ScreamScape.com
site from a park in the U.K. In that system you couldn't get
in line if the line was longer than 20-30 minutes. Instead
you got a pass to come back within a 10 minute window. A display
told you what time the current window was if you got a pass.
I don't recall if you could get more than one of these, but
in any case, I think this type of system would solve the attacking
tourist problem since everyone is in the same line. I think
it would be cheaper for Disney too:
(1) Only one line to maintain (less personnel). People don't
get mad about others cutting in front.
(2) Shorter queues required (less space to maintain). With
the current FastPass system, the standby line can be as long
as before FastPass.
My two cents.
P.S. I loved your "Mouse Tales" books and I hope
you get to write your third one in the trilogy. Apparently
this will have to wait for the current management to move
Ken is probably referring to quotes
in the press that I'd like to write a third "Mouse Tales,"
if the condition and operation of the park drastically improves.
I'm holding out for a happy ending.
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.)