Readers wrote in about the
recent story on a cast member mutiny.
|A former Disney World cast member wrote:
Thanks for the great article today on MousePlanet. I've
been curious how Cast Deployment has been going at Disneyland,
and I'm quite amused to see that the cast members have staged
a "mutiny" against it. I thought you might like to
know that, according to my sources, things aren't going much
better for CDS in Florida. Apparently, even with the
computers, the system is an absolute nightmare to run. One
source cited that the computer(s) must be constantly staffed
by at least one manager to keep the system going.
Abuses of the system (e.g., cast members circumventing
the system partially or entirely) are reportedly rampant.
Though abuses of the rotation system existed, and put an
unnecessary burden on the honest cast members, it seems that
abuses of CDS are more pervasive and destructive.
My one concern about the articleand I hope this
doesn't come to passis that it will cause TDA to clamp
down on the "mutiny." The sad fact is that Disney
management often doesn't care how well things work or don't
workthey're more concerned with the politics, as noted in
This phenomenon is not limited to CDS, or to the threat
of layoffsit's been rampant and systemic to Disney
management for a very, very long time. The string of managers,
each telling the successive levels of management that
"everything is rosy" is an all too familiar theme to
me. Unfortunately, it would be politically expedient (though
costly) to pour more money and labor into making the system
workor at least appear to work.
Regarding the "GEMS" scheduling system, I'm
not sure if this is the same system that was in place when I
worked at Disney World, but it sure sounds like it. The
difference is, that at least at WDW, they did not blindly
accept whatever the computer spit out (you want to talk about
mutiny!). They had one manager who worked on scheduling full-
time (as much as any of the managers there worked, anyway;
let's just say that I wasn't too impressed with their work
ethic). They would basically take apart the computer-generated
schedule and re-assemble it. I talked to the manager in
charge of that once, and was astounded at how poor the system
was. Having a background in software development, I knew it
could have been done much, much betterbut I was left with
the impression that the whole affair was too enshrouded in
politics to mess with it.
The other clarification I'd like to offer, is that while
Florida is not "all union," they do have to consider
seniority in scheduling. Florida workers are under contract,
and I believe the contract even covers non-union workers. Of
course, it often doesn't work out that way. I was often
scheduled with less-desirable shifts and locations, despite my
seniority. The excuse was always that "this is the best
we could do" given the intricacies of scheduling that
many people by hand.
Finally, regarding the plan to split FastPass from
attractions, I'm not so sure that this is a good thing.
Besides the potential that they will try to turn it into a
profit center in itself, I'm afraid that it will become an
operational fiasco. Perhaps things work differently in
California, but in Florida, separate departments do not work
especially well together. When you have two different
departments like this, effectively working the same
"turf," I think you're going to see a lot of
turmoil, and a lot of "the right hand doesn't know what
the left hand is doing." I can also see each department
pursuing different, and mutually-exclusive goalssuch as
FastPass pushing for greater capacity or throughput, without
regard to how operations could implement or handle such
changes. To me, this sounds like another "CDS"
fiasco in the making. Regardless, I'm sure it will be
"just wonderful" to management.
Let me start by saying this: I love your site. I am a
longtime reader, and also have enjoyed your column in
particular. That said, I am also a cast member and a skipper
Your most recent article shocked me. Was it presenting
the truth? Oh, of course. CDS has wreaked havoc upon the
Jungle Cruise, and so when after a disastrous three-day bout
with Phase Three of CDS, we found ourselves back on old
rotations, with a few modifications to preserve the CDS
illusion, we were thrilled. At last, our voices got better,
and we perked up.
But what was your purpose in spreading this to the
world? The only reason we were getting away with it is because
we were quiet about it. You KNOW this. You said as much in the
column. (I might add, that other than Tiki, which we staff, I
had no idea other attractions had dropped CDS as well, so well
was the illusion kept.) We were quiet, to keep Upper
Management from noticing, such as the bigwigs at TDA. You
acknowledge this in the opening of your piece. And you are
right that we were "content to continue (our) silent
But why on earth did you feel compelled to make a story
out of it? To prove that TDA does read MousePlanet? Well, now
we at Jungle all know they do, as our attraction is being
monitored under heavy scrutiny, and management is dropping by
to make sure we stick to the CDS game plan. Also the name of
MousePlanet and the phrase "that Internet guy" have
been on many a skipper's tongue, usually preceded and followed
by a string of expletives.
Our biggest secret? Not anymore, unfortunately. But the
damage has been done. Back to CDS we go!
Will I continue to visit this site? Probably. There are
still sections I appreciate that cannot be found elsewhere.
I'll continue to read your column. But I am appalled and
saddened by what has happened. Instead of encouraging the
company to see where it has stumbled, you made the bigwigs
look foolish for not having noticed this sooner, and made
other management HAVE to look at us, instead of passing a
blind eye, as was done before.
I hope you understand why I am writing this. I'm not
trying to sound rude and accusatory, or even angry. I'm not.
But I am sad. What was to be gained (in a journalistic,
investigative reporting sense) for any greater good by
revealing, true, one of our big secrets?
I guess all this boils down to: Why did you do it?
I'm just kinda curious, I guess.
Skipper, thanks for writing me.
Yours is the first I've heard that the story has had any effect,
albeit a negative one. I'll inquire if the CDS Police are
patrolling other attractions as well. It seems preposterous that
they would enforce CDS on Jungle, of all rides; it's the only
ride that even Disney World admits CDS is unworkable on.
Certainly my intention was not to
prove anything about MousePlanet nor to worsen cast members'
burden nor to humiliate TDA. My intention is never to insult
anyone. I have nothing against anyone at TDA. I'm sure many are
nice, well-meaning folks. They are certainly not stupid, but CDS
(at least in its varied forms at Disneyland) is.
Whenever I expose ridiculous
practices such as CDS, my intention is to encourage management
to change or improve those practices. I thought that would be
evident from all the cast member quotes critical of CDS.
Let's be honest. In a week or two,
or a month or two, when the computers finally arrive, there will
be no way to continue faking CDS. So, there were two possible
(A) David Koenig shuts up, and TDA
remains clueless as every single attraction in DL and DCA
secretly returns to rotations. All TDA knows is that cast
members are no longer complaining about CDS. TDA assumes that,
after three tries, the system finally works and cast members
have come to accept it. Then come the expensive computers,
which TDA assumes will make life even easier for cast members.
The computers force cast members to return to CDS on all
attractions and the complaints resurface. But TDA, of course,
assumes that cast members will get used to the new system in a
month or six. After all, if it worked without the benefit of
the computers, it should be a snap now!
(B) TDA learns that all the former
complaints about CDS are true and the only reason the
complaints stopped was that cast members, leads and even
managers were forced, in desperation, to circumvent the
Does Scenario B stop the computers
from arriving? Probably not. But it does lay the foundation for
improvements long-term. To my way of thinking, the sooner TDA
realizes the folly of CDS the better. Management now knows CDS
is fatally flawed. The bigwigs are not foolish for not knowing
cast members abandoned CDS. But the bigwigs would be foolish to
enforce a system they know doesn't work.
Again, I appreciate you writing. I
deeply apologize if I contributed to a more difficult work
environment. I pray some good eventually comes out of it.
|A Tomorrowland ride operator wrote:
At last someone can tell the public of the horrors of
working in attractions now. I was hired in right before CDS
and I loved my job, I still do just not as much.
In locations such as Space Mountain, some leads have
resorted to "old school" rotations because people
would be stuck in rotations for 2.5 to 3 hours. Space has the
common situation of lack of staffing (one Space cast member
works 100+ hours a week during the summer). The lead is forced
to work in rotation and cannot do any of the needed CDS
paperwork, thus forgetting other people and the sorely needed
Honestly at Star Tours, CDS is fine, but Tours is always
overstaffed, as you mentioned in your article.
Astro Orbiter is usually fine but if one person calls
sick all heck breaks loose. Soon Star Tours and Astro Orbiter
will be all one rotation, which should remedy that problem.
Autopia is a whole story on its own. When I was first
cross-trained on Autopia before CDS, it was fine. Breaks
every 45 minutes on 90 degree days were very needed, overall
it was a fun attraction to work. However, when CDS started
leads had to work with two rotations, two boards, two break
sheets. Leads would forget needed things and people would be
(and still are) in rotations for three hours and rotational
bumps would not come for 60 -90 minutes, making Autopia very
monotonousespecially on 90 degree days.
Needless to say, Autopia has about 4 to 8 shifts open
daily due to the lack of willingness to work such a horrible
attraction. Most new hires have gone well over 6 months with
no second attraction (when it is common to get a second one
after 3 to 4 months) causing at least 6 cast members and
friends of mine to quit in frustration.
Don't get me even started on why we don't ride up the
we WALK them up, making an already strenuous
job even harder labor.
Few people on Autopia have more than nine months
seniority, because anyone with any "B" or
"A" status has preferenced other attractions.
I won't even get into the countless times cast members
and guests get hurt. Morale at Auto is very, very low. With an
attraction that has 500+ labor hours a day (probably the most
in the park) with a hourly count of around 1,400 make New
Autopia a horribly inefficient ride, not to mention a waste of
space now. I wonder if Auto would still be here if Chevron
didn't pump some insane amount of money to sponsor the
I doubt with all the overtime in the park during the
summer CDS is actually saving any money.
|On the subject of "Dark
Days" Andrew Salter mused:
Some people had some strong objections to the idea of
Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure's Dark Days.
Frankly, I can't see what the trouble is all about. There are
so many ups that they make the downs a weak shout. There are
many advantages to this proposal that I hope Disney takes into
Here are some of those advantages:
First thing to do: Find a day. Actually, this is quite
an easy process. I don't think that the two parks should close
all on the same day, if DCA does, indeed, adopt the dark days
proposal. Disneyland should close on a day like Monday,
because that is a dark day for many parks, restaurants, and
theaters. That way, Disneyland would not miss out on the
business of the week. DCA should go dark on either Sunday or
Second advantage: Cleaning. The parks would have a
chance to recuperate from the week's traffic. With a day-long
dark day, the park would be able to thoroughly clean all
windows, streets, and sidewalks. The flume rides would have
time to be completely cleaned. This would improve the parks
overall appearance, and make the job for the graveyard shift
lighter and less intense.
Third advantage: Paint. The off-day would be a great
time to touch up or even repaint various scenes, buildings and
murals. Toontown especially would benefit. It would look like
a brand new park every week.
Fourth advantage: Miscellaneous Repairs. This category
includes lights, polishing, gardens and trees. All these
things would be able to have attention turned on them. Gardens
could be replanted, trees could be pruned (or removed ;) ) and
rails could be polished. This would contribute to the new look
Fifth advantage: Construction. For rides or shops being
worked on, these days could be times for the crews to step up
the speed and intensity of the construction. They could work
at whatever volume and whatever tools needed, because they
would not have to worry about "shattering the
illusion," for there would be no people there.
Sixth and most important advantage: RIDE MAINTENANCE.
All rides could get a through examination on the dark days.
These examinations could prevent more costly repairs needed if
problems arise unchecked. This would also decrease downtime
and improve reliability, increasing guest happiness.
Animatronics could be checked, cars tuned, water cleaned,
Pirates boats drained of all their splash water, and paint
touch ups all in the same day. A yearly rehab would still be
necessary, but the rehabs could be kept to a minimal amount of
time. Think of how much safer the park would be with all this
Someone commented that some park cast members
"depend on seven-day schedules to support their
families." That's fine. Such cast members can work the
maintenance days. Cast members would have the opportunity to
take a day off, but could also work these days if they needed
the money for support or whatever other reasons.
There is so much more on the upside to this. And as
"Steve's prophetic email" proves, it would be easy
to sell the idea to Disneyland fans, the general public, and
the Big Teeth at the Walt Disney Company.
If annual passholders object, here's an idea: Disney,
make Monday a blackout day on the annual pass (then open up
some other dates to make them happy).
Oh, and just a note, someone said, "As for closing
down the park a day a week, NOT A CHANCE. The Chicago Cubbies
will win a World Series before that happens." I'd like
the reader to know that currently, the Chicago Cubbies happen
to be in first place in the National League Central. Go Cubs.
Walt's original vision was to have a park that was
completely different than trashy, ordinary amusement parks
like Coney Island. He wanted a clean, safe, courteous and
happy park. That's what he accomplished while he was alive,
let's keep the dream going.
|Glen Hallstrom wrote:
I just finished reading the email you got your
"Dark Days" article. Lemme just make some comments
on the response it's getting.
As a former resident of Long Beach, I used to drive down
Willow/Katella about every six months just to go and see
what was new. And now I see what's new: No upkeep. I'm just
glad I'm not there to see this deterioration going on right in
front of my eyes.
I notice a lot of people writing in saying that the
Disney people should use the proposed dark days for
maintenance. I couldn't agree more, from what I'm seeing on
I guess what I'm trying to say is this: I find it sad
and in some way heartbreaking to see Disney fans have to resort
to practically beg the Disney folks to maintain their
It does seem sort of skewed that
customers are practically begging a company to please shut down
its place of business so the product will improve!
|Abel Pinedo wrote:
Hey, my father retired from Disneyland after 34 years in
landscaping. I can still remember that day back in the late
'70s, (not 1972 as someone commented) when my dad came home
ranting and raving about how starting very soon, the park
would be open seven days a week and how this will prevent
larger scale maintenance projects to take place during the
daylight hours. I was about 8 at the time so that would be
|Finally, Josh gushed:
Sewage in the Jungle Cruise? Sign me up for a three-hour
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.)