Readers commented on
several recent columns
|Many of us praised the
Imagineers in 1992 for the vibrant colors of Mickey's Toontown
and a few years ago for the lush pastels of the refurbished It's
a Small World facade. Then, as the facades faded, we blamed
Disneyland's maintenance department for neglect.
Maybe we were pointing fingers in
the wrong directions
As Jeffrey Woodson offered:
As a manufacturing engineer, I have to deal with
materials, styles and part numbers as a part of my daily life.
I am also a Disneyland fanatic, and have been since I was old
enough to remember riding the pale blue trams from far reaches
of the parking lot. My heart pains to see such unintelligent,
misguided decisions happening to Disneyland.
Is there a way to legally "institutionalize" a
private enterprise in this country? Require them to submit to
a board of "users," i.e., elected public
chairpersons? Wishful thinking.
My big pain is this: The latest business blunders
regarding PAINT! Not the lack thereof, but the extravagant and
preposterous use of the medium. Hear me out. What was the
color of the beautiful, mid-century Modern Tomorrowland? As it
gleamed in the afternoon sun, as Space Mountain was alive with
the California sunset burning across it? What color was the
Small World masterpiece of kinetic sculpture? You got it
was WHITE! One beautiful part number, one SKU, bought by the
truckload; the least expensive of all colors.
What have the rocket scientists done? Created a
maintenance nightmare! They started with Small World years
before. Okay, a few pastels, but the white was still nicer,
but now the catastrophe. How many custom mixed, metallic
pigmented (heavy and EXPENSIVE!) colors are there now? It must
take a small warehouse to store and create the hideous colors
that have settled on Tomorrowland like a sludge.
What about Space Mountain glowing in the dawn? Sorry, it
has been caked in a deadening, light-sucking pseudo-rust.
Materials aside, what kind of schematic or documentation the
color scheme must have. What logistics it must take to keep
the thing maintained. In this age, with all their cutbacks and
profiteering practices, who in their right mind could have
condoned such a thing? It baffles the mind. The entire park
could have a new coat for what it's gonna cost keeping that
Tomorrowland in shape once a year.
Walt was not so dumb. White paint, by the truckload. Oh
yeah, aluminum facades and stainless steel railings as well.
the cut-rate Lead Party ("Leftovers for the Leads"),
surprisingly, more readers defended than criticized the park.
No offense to the employees at Disneyland or DCA, but
they should be happy that at least something was tried to
raise their spirits. There are millions of workers out there
who aren't even given a handshake for the hard work they do.
In fact, there are many people out there who don't want
appreciation: their satisfaction is doing the job they were
Just because these people work for the Disney Company
they seem to think things will be different. Well, right now,
Disney is another corporation struggling to keep its head
above water due inside and outside problems.
|Mike Phillips wrote:
I have read Mouse Tales and More Mouse Tales and found
them very enjoyable, but I am very disappointed that you can
only find negative things to write about these days. It seems
you constantly rip on Disney management while sucking up to
the cast members. I work for a large corporation and I hate
whiners. I commend the cast members who refused to say
anything negative about the "lead party."
I do agree with many things you write, but it would be
nice to hear some positive remarks occasionally. After the
September 11 tragedy, MousePlanet had a decidedly brighter
view of the park, now I guess we are back to the
"old" way of doing things. again, I think you are an
excellent writer and I like much of the information you
provide, I just with you would provide it in a more positive
Thanks for writing, Mike. I
appreciate all feedback.
Believe me, I would love to deliver
more positive news. And when I hear it, I'll report it. My
intention is always to report accurately and interestingly.
As for the Lead Party, I also
commend those who tried to find good in the party. But the fact
is, even they were unable to find any good in it. I doubt there
was anyone of the several thousand who attended and helped stage
the event who doesn't wish the whole thing never happened. And
everyone will acknowledge the problem was Disney's providing a
budget of less than a buck a head.
Hopefully, brighter days are ahead.
I read your article concerning the attempt at a party
for leads at DCA. Unfortunate, but not surprising.
I just wanted to pass along a note: one of the folks you
interviewed stated that other large companies would be
mortified to see how Disney treats its lower and middle
management layers. Well, that's not an educated comment. I
come from the tech vendor world (AOL, Sun, IBM, etc.), and I
will tell you that for the last two years or so it has been
the same here.
Christmas parties are a few bucks a person thrown our
way, no other appreciation events. They even canceled the
annual Sales Kickoff meetings this year. This is a time when
you hear the company message, get pumped up for a new year,
and are able to share war stories with others from around the
world. Well, these past years it was done via satellite --
except for the high level directors and above. Vegas, Napa,
Chicago, New Orleans, seems there's enough budget there
|Doug Ly, "disgruntled two-park
premium pass holder and long-time premium pass holder,"
It was with sad heart that I read what Disney management
tried to perform for their leads. But unfortunately it is
becoming all the more familiar elsewhere in the corporate
world. My company currently caters everything to upper
management and nothing to the lowly employee. At this time of
year we have no money for even an employee anniversary lunch.
Yet upper management and middle management all get their fat
bonuses at the end of the year. It is very sad.
What Disney is currently doing is appalling, and I think
Disney needs to do the following things:
First, Disney should not open a park in Beijing. For one
thing 99.999% of the population will never be able to afford
the entry fee. I was just there last year and only tourists
visit the tourist attractions. The locals only go to T Square,
temples and sacred sites because they are cheap or free.
Second, Disney should not even think of a third gate in
Anaheim until DCA is changed and Disneyland is brought up to
the standard it is supposed to be. Disneyland was the first
park and should be THE standard in the Disney chain of parks.
We should not be getting a third or second rate Pooh
attraction. We should be getting an attraction which will
equal or surpass Tokyo's version. All the attractions should
be cleaned up and updated in technology. Once this is done I
may consider renewing my annual two-park pass. But as things
are going I will not renew this coming year. I know many who
will not renewing as well.
Third, Disney should rethink its cable strategy and just
get back to basics. Currently there is nothing on the Disney
Channel I while I am at home. I would rather see the old
Disney Reels from the '50s and '60s than reruns of shows just
from the past few years. The morning shows are fine, for I
know kids who love it. The Fox Family Channel purchase, I
believe, will not bring Disney any more money. WHY? I
currently have 5 HBOs, I only watch one of them for I am tired
of the repeats on the other HBOs.
And lastly, Disney needs to take the parks out of the
accountants' hands. I can guarantee you that the accounting
department always has a lavish party for themselves. They
control the money and I can guarantee that a portion goes to
their annual parties. Happens at my place of employment.
|Mia Winn wrote:
First, I have to admit that I LOVED reading your books,
and I love reading your articles on MousePlanet.
I was raised in Anaheim, and always knew it was bedtime
by the 9:30 p.m. fireworks display outside my window. So,
needless to say I have been a Disney fanatic since I was a
small child. Disney has always had that magical power over me
even now, 25 years laterI get that same giddy feeling
when I enter the front gates.
So, for me, I have always LOVED cast member gossip and
general "backstage" voyeuristic peeks into the
internal workings of Disneylandand Disney as a whole --
and your books and articles certainly dish it!! :) Thank you!
And now to the reason that I am writing
I have been reading about the break schedule, which
seems to be peeving a fair amount of cast members, and I
wanted to comment about how I have seen it in action.
Two weeks ago, my husband and I went to Disneyland, and
were pleasantly surprised to see such low attendance (I guess
the kids were all back in school, and so there weren't many
vacationers left). Since there were no lines (literally, we
waited less than 3 minutes for any attraction -the walk
around the turnstiles and ropes took longer than the wait to
be seated!) we went on all of the attractions that we normally
skip. One of these was the Autopia cars. While we were waiting
to be assigned a car, one of the cast members began to yell
across the lane at another associate about her break time
being late, and she began to threaten to quit.
I thought this was rude to carry on in front of the park
guests (as there were less than five of us in line, she could
have easily gotten us all situated, and then discussed her
issues with her break time). I also thought it unfair that she
turned her sour mood to the guests in line. She was very short
tempered and curt to everyone, sighing and rolling her eyes,
as if it was a burden to tell us which car to board. As she
hastily assigned us to a car, she yelled across to her
co-worker that she was 50 minutes overdue for her 15 minute
break, and that she was giving "them" three minutes
and then she would walk out of the park.
My point being, that not only the cast members are
affected by this break schedule. They are passing their
frustration and anger off to the guests. Which can be awkward
to deal with, because as patrons, we expect the
"Disney" happy staff with the sing song voices and
cheerful smiles. Perhaps at other amusement parks, we don't
care, because we don't expect to be woo'ed and coddled
at Disneyland it almost makes you sad.
As for the breaking schedule, it's
at its worst on Autopia and has driven cast members away by the
Still, the hostess you saw should
have been fired on the spot. I don't care how short-handed you
are. This person has no business working at Disneyland. An
attraction runs better short one operator than it does with a
|As for the benefits of possibly shutting the
parks down one day a week, a Disneyland maintenance man
Read your latest article with great interest. Got up to
the point where you discuss why maintenance might be improved
with a weekly shutdown day.
A. It's true that wear and tear would be reduced. On
this point we agree.
The financial benefits of not having to replace parts
from European vendors (many of whom are going bankrupt, and
with no replacement vendor readily available!) as often speaks
B. Facilities WON'T have "greater access" --
we already have the ultimate access thanks to putting everyone
on third shift! Upper management is adamantly against efforts
by area and team managers to move any crew to daylight hours
for any reason. It took lots feedback from the contractors,
who were having big problems on the latest Matterhorn rehab,
to get that crew reassigned to days for the duration!
This situation is the norm. Cast members on third,
contractors on days. They even get to do work in the park when
it's open, just like we could NEVER do!
C. Repainting is already done during daylight hours, but
before park operating hours. When the "move everyone to
Third Shift" change happened, the painters were included.
Due to the lack of sunlight, and the heavy nighttime humidity,
the painters were unable to do their work until the sun was up
long enough to dry up some of the mist. They couldn't match
the colors with the lighting provided by the management
(fluorescent drop lights), and the humidity prevented the
paint from drying until well after park opening, leading to
guest complaints and rework.
Someone finally ran the numbers, and found that costs
had increased, so some of the painters were returned to
daylight hours. In most cases all they can do is touch-up
work. These reasons contribute to why the parks look like they
D. As for the crafts not getting in each other's way as
much, see reply B. It would be necessary also to move PARTS of
each crew to varying hours, as machinists require support from
electricians and sound techs for work to get done. The
building crafts, sheet metal, carpenters, etc., would also be
moved for support reasons. The result? WE'D BE BACK WHERE WE
STARTED! This above all cannot be allowed to happen, as the
question would arise: "Why did this happen in the first
place, and at what cost?" (Millions!)
I have worked at the park when days closed were the
norm, and it was advantageous in that we could do more
involved repairs and adjustments than we can now. But then, we
had the support of management in maintaining a stock of spare
parts and equipment, and in hiring qualified, and trained
personnel instead of whatever warm body is willing to work for
substandard wages on third shift and no weekend days off! It's
REAL difficult to train someone who is falling asleep on their
feet while you describe how you WOULD make a repair if you had
|Finally, all the reader mail in
response to the Top Attractions at Disney World's Magic Kingdom
revolved around one ride: the Mickey Mouse Revue. As one reader,
Love your books as well as your website. The latest
story, about the Magic Kingdom's popular attractions, was
particularly interesting. Times certainly have changed. I
never got to see the Mickey Mouse Revuemy first visit to
Walt Disney World was in 1983. I had (and still have) a pop-
up Walt Disney World book that featured the show. I remember
looking for the show and never finding it.
Anyway, there is a rumor going around that the theater
that once housed the show (and Legend of the Lion King, which
had not yet opened on my last visit in 1994) will be home to a
show that is similar to Revue called Mickey's Philharmagic,
but instead of animatronics it will be a 3-D show. Hopefully
it will have SOME animatronics. I'm just guessing that it will
be similar to Fantasmic, with good fighting evil (maybe Bad
Pete tries to mess up the show). You'd think they'd try to tie
this in to the "House of Mouse" show on ABCwith
all sorts of Disney characters mingling together.
Anyway, keep up the great work!
For everyone curious about Mickey's
Philharmagic, I went to the Orlando Weekly columnist who
broke news of the attraction last month. He describes the
attraction as a 3-D movie with in-theater special effects, a la
Honey, I Shrunk the Audience only more "aggressively
kid-friendly." The proposed storyline: "A computer
generated riff on Fantasia's "Sorcerer's
Apprentice" sequence. The Mouse somehow supposedly get a
hold of this wizard's wand / baton that allows him to
direct a phantom orchestra and demonstrate the magic of music.
But thenof courseSOMETHING GOES TERRIBLY WRONG!!"
Although the show is planned for the
old Mickey Mouse Revue facility, evidently there are few other
similarities between the two shows. No animatronic figures. No
The attraction was originally
supposed to debut at Hong Kong Disneyland in spring 2005, but
instead may open at Disney World by October 2003 as the
centerpiece of a property-wide celebration of Mickey's 75th
birthday. If the attraction ever makes it to Anaheim, possible
sites include the old CircleVision theater, the Tomorrowland
Theater (replacing Honey, I Shrunk the Audience), or as an
add-on to DCA's Magic of Disney Animation attraction.
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.)