Disney World decides against
delayed openings, plus reader mail.
Good news: Walt Disney World management has decided, for the time
being, against opening Adventureland an hour after the rest of the Magic
Kingdom opens. Apparently, planning for the "delayed open" had
become "too much of a logistics nightmare." In addition, it
wasn't shaping up to save as many labor dollars as originally anticipated,
and deemed not worth the damage it would cause upsetting both guests and
As one Magic Kingdom cast member
Closing Adventureland posed many potential problems. First of all,
cast members would have to be stationed at various positions in order to
direct guests away from that section of the park. One cast member would
have to be stationed at the Adventureland bridge, another at the
restroom "breezeway" near Diamond Horseshoe, one at the
"breezeway" near Country Bears, and another at the Caribbean
Plaza which leads to Splash Mountain from our area.
These shifts would be considered "opening" shifts, so
senior cast members would get them. And it would be absolutely no fun to
work themeither from a cast or a guest viewpoint. Have you ever
worked greeter for an attraction that's in rehab? Well, working a
position to tell guests that Adventureland is closed would be even
worse. I believe that management actually got a clue this time,
realizing that there would be as many cast complaints as guest
Secondly, cast members who are scheduled for opening shifts in
their attractions would receive at least an hour's pay lost. For
example, a senior opening shift for Jungle is 7:15 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Usually, senior cast members work their mornings at their attraction and
then end their shift working audience control for day parade. Well,
their opening shift time would change to 8:15 a.m., and they would still
be needed for parade, so their end time would remain 4 p.m. They would
lose an hour's pay, and this would cause massive fall-out for
Needless to say, news of
the planned Adventureland closures had generated negative reactions from
all camps. Reader Michael Parker wrote:
I both loved the inside info, and hated the content (lol) of your
article on Adventureland opening late in WDW. We are planning a trip to
WDW from October 18-27. One thing I noticed in your article that alarmed
me was where you stated that the TimeKeeper ride was called back into
commission because "other nearby attractions were in rehab." I
have not seen on the Disney website nor on MousePlanet, any rides that
were currently closed, or being rehab'ed in Tomorrowland, or in WDW in
general. Do you have any further information on which of these
attractions might not be open during October?
Also, I believe you said Adventureland is roped off? So if someone
wanted to head to Pirates of the Caribbean first thing, you would have
to go into Liberty Square and walk around to the attraction that way?
TimeKeeper was reopened specifically because of the rehab of Astro
Orbiter. WDW needed a place to reassign the regular Astro Orbiter crew.
I used the term "roped off" figuratively. Cast members would
have redirected guests around the land. But heading to Pirates wouldn't
have helped you. Pirates, being in Adventureland at WDW, also wouldn't
open until 10 a.m.
A Magic Kingdom cast member wrote:
I realize that Mickey's Toontown Fair doesn't open until 10 a.m.
But that sort of makes sense. Many guests don't reach that faraway land
until later in the morning anyway. They are too busy hitting their
favorite rides before they get too crowded. I also know that the Asia
area of Animal Kingdom has recently changed to a 10 a.m. opening. But
once again, it takes a little while for guests to get back there.
Adventureland, however, is right up front. I know that most guests go to
Space, Pooh, Dumbo, Splash, or Thunder first thing. But many of them are
now utilizing FastPassthey need other attractions to be open, so
that they have something to do while waiting for their FastPass to come
In the mornings, many guests head to either Splash or Thunder. But
they come back to Adventureland, because it's close by, and they would
rather ride Jungle or Pirates than see the Country Bears. Jungle and
Pirates are still E-ticket attractions by most standards as well as
nostalgic favorites, so guests always come to Adventureland after they
ride Splash or Thunder.
When Adventureland cast members find out, it should cause quite a
riff. Mostly due to the fact that it is another hour of pay gone (our
most senior cast members only make around $11 an hourthat's the
"top-out" ratewhich is quite low when compared to
employees with comparable seniority who work for other large
corporations). Some will have to work the various entrances to
Adventureland from 9 to 10 a.m., turning guests away from our area. We
already take a lot of heat from early entry guests on Monday, Thursday
and Saturday mornings, because they expect us to be open at those times,
And to top it all off, the delayed opening for Adventureland
should be in effect on October 1, the same day the WDW resort begins its
100 Years of Magic celebration. Such irony! Walt didn't personally work
on Asia, Mickey's Toontown Fair, Splash, or Thunder. But on his 100th
birthday, two of his own personal favorites, Jungle (his love for
True-Life Adventures) and Pirates (the last attraction he officially
supervised past concept stage), will not open with the rest of his
Kevin of the U.K. wrote:
I have never written to you before, but I note with interest your
comments on early closures. We have just returned from WDW. We were
there from August 16-30. I did notice quite a few attractions opening
late and closing sooner than the parks closed. On this occasion we
purchased premium annual passes (to save money next year), so I do not
feel too badly ripped off. But the parks don't just open for me, they
open for many thousands of other people. I wonder if Disney tickets are
any cheaper when visiting "off season"? I doubt it very much.
Not only do attractions have shorter hours, but they do not have
as many shows. For the two weeks we were there, there wasn't one show on
at the Castle nor at the Galaxy Theatre. I do not feel this is very fair
to Disney's paying guests. If the ticket prices are the same all year
round, why should there be any difference in operating hours or live
shows? Whilst we were there the Magic Kingdom also changed its closing
time from 10 p.m. to 7 p.m.; that's three whole hours lost and no
This was my sixth trip to WDW, and I do believe that standards are
being lowered. No longer is the show important but the money they can
save is important to Disney. During our first week this time at WDW, the
Speedway in the Magic Kingdom was using all four lanes and was quite a
lengthy line, we always said we'd go on it later, probably in our second
week. But in our second week, to keep the lines up, they reduced the
ride to only two lanes, so we never got to go on it in the end.
My visit was also during the last two weeks of our school holidays
so there were many U.K. visitors in the parks. If this was their first
time I can't help thinking they have been short-measured, big time.
I just returned from a week at WDW and ran smack into the budget
crunching. Prior to my vacation, I made lists, grouped by park, of
attractions and restaurants I wanted to try. After a morning and
afternoon at Animal Kingdomwhere I was turned away from the Lion
King show because their wheelchair area (for my mom) was fullwe
headed to the Magic Kingdom at about 7 p.m. for a light dinner and to
hit up some of the attractions not available at Disneyland. We headed
straight to the Tiki Room: Under New Management. Closed. Over to Hall of
Presidents. Either closed or maybe we just missed a show because the
doors were closed and no host in sight. A couple of the restaurants I
had marked were available only for character meals at inflated prices
(Crystal Palace, Liberty Tree Tavern) or closed.
We did get into the original Country Bear Jamboree after going up
the wrong ramp near the entrance, the host refusing to open the rope to
let us through forcing us to go down, around and up another ramp to the
other side of the rope. My fault, I suppose, but still annoying.
By the end of the show, we were hungry. Checking my list, the only
nearby restaurant was the Pirate and the Parrot. Closed. I threw away
the list. I really didn't want another hamburger, hot dog or fried
anything. Giving up, we made our way through a pre-parade crowd to
Tony's for an overpriced, but tasty meal. Tony's was not on my list. We
emerged in time for the fireworks. Later I realized I should have tried
Cinderella's Royal Table, which was on my list. Oh, well.
Although everything turned out okay, and everyone lived happily
ever after, it was a very frustrating first day in the Magic Kingdom due
to all the early closures.
Thanks for sharing your frustrations. The Magic Kingdom can't keep
temperatures and humidity under 100. They can't prevent big crowds or long
lines by locking the front gates every day at noon.
But they can avoid irritating their guests by keeping their facilities
open. Closed attractions, restaurants and shops turn huge patches of the
parks into lifeless ghost townsand suck the Magic from the Kingdom.
Another hot topic at both Disney
World and Disneyland is the Cast Deployment breaking system
(CDS). A "saddened, once proud, former cast member" in Anaheim
I have to share a story about CDS to you. I am a former cast
member, who had the now rare qualities of actually working out in the
park BEFORE getting a position in TDA. With that said, I was
interviewing for a position in the Attractions line of business, and the
manager (another external person, with no park experience) was
discussing how the position was going to focus on labor efficiencies,
and how the new CDS was going to be the answer. I immediately stopped
him and told him it won't work. Then I drew a diagram on the white board
in his office, showing how efficient a rotation is at Haunted Mansion,
which uses a "backwards" rotation that gets a person on a
break before everyone gets to their next position in the rotation. The
bottom line: you should have seen the "deer in the headlights"
look I received! Needless to say, I didn't get the job, but I wouldn't
have accepted it anyway because it was the wrong system to implement.
The reason labor has become inefficient is because they went to a
centralized scheduling system, taking schedulers out of the areas, and
sticking them into one location. And it took away control from the
managers running the attractions! I could go on forever, but what a joke
CDS is and always will be. Attractions ran great for how many years, and
many lessons were learned to incorporate the most efficient rotations
and use of labor hours for each attraction. And each attraction is
DIFFERENT! It's sad that all the years of learning and experience have
been thrown out the window for political reasons. Very sad.
An Orlando cast member rejoiced:
Thank God I no longer work in Attractions. There's no way
to implement CDS or GEMS into my new division. No rotations, and a full
time scheduling clerk make things possible.
CDS was the reason I left Attractions to pursue a better position
within the company. CDS would ALWAYS run behind schedule, and at the
time I depended on friend and family for transportation to and from
work. A lot of times, it would bump me off the clock upwards of an hour
after my shift ended. I would be stuck in the Magic Kingdom with no ride
home and a few times forced to spend the night in the tunnel.
Finally, last year, Casting called me and offered me a transfer.
This was while I was at work. Needless to say I was ecstatic.
When CDS was late in bumping me off the clock, I said to heck with it
and left. I called in sick for the next two weeks and when I returned
I started my new training.
What's sad is that one month after leaving Attractions for good,
my old area called me to ask to do some overtime. Needless to say, I
declined. I left CDS and have never looked back since.
Regarding the GEMS computerized
scheduling system also borrowed from WDW by Disneyland, former
cast member Robert wrote:
I was working at Disneyland when GEMS what first being used at DCA,
and for DCA at the time it was wonderful
at DCA had the same seniority date.
I remember vividly a scheduler said to me, "Yeah, GEMS is
great. You don't have to check for holes and seniority." At the
time I thought nothing of it, but now with your article it makes sense.
A Disneyland employee groaned:
CDS and GEMS are doing heavy damage to the ranks at the park. In
one division, they have fewer than 120 qualified, trained cast members
to handle the attractions in one certain Land. Many of the Casual
Regulars and Casual Temporaries left before the season was over, citing
the two systems kept screwing them over. Morale could not sink lower.
The latest story going around is the hours for DCA. Because the
park will be open from 10 to 6 during the weekdays in the off-season,
there is talk going around that cast members will have the option of
working 10-hour days. This will cut down on the number of cast members
working an attraction. The ride operator will open, operate and close
the attraction on his/her shift. This 4/10 plan is not confirmed,
but one of the rumors going around the resort.
It is not maintenance's fault for the condition of the park. That
small division has to worry about both parks, and with cutbacks and
people quitting, it will only get worse. Many cast members have said it
is becoming increasingly difficult to share and keep Walt's Dream. To
put it simply, David, THE PARK IS DYING!!!! We have got to get rid of
Eisner, Pressler, and Cynthia to save it (plus a dozen managers and vice
presidents in the process).
Randy McClintick echoed:
I'm 42 years old, grew up in Long Beach, and still cherish great
memories of my once a year trips to Disneyland. (Even rode by bike from
home down Katella when I was 13 or so. Didn't tell my Mom until a year
or so ago!)
I, like you and your readers, am saddened and frustrated by the
way the park is currently being managed and neglected. Hard for me to
share the enthusiasm I had as a kid with my own 8-and 5-year-old. I'm
reluctant to visit, which isn't fair to them, but feel that by
purchasing tickets, food and merchandise we're implicitly approving
management's actions (or lack of it).
I'm auctioning off my old collection of Disney News magazines on
E-bay this week. The editions are from 1969 -1979. While going through
them, I came across an article about the after hours upkeep the park
used to pride itself on. "In the summer, armed with spray cans or
paint brushes, these men retouch the walls, benches or surfaces which
may have become chipped, scratched or worn. It's necessary to cover the
handrails with quick drying paint each night".
The director of Maintenance was Ted Crowell. "We find that
cleanliness breeds cleanliness. For example, each lavatory is checked
every 20 minutes or so for supplies, operation and cleanliness."
If you don't have this magazine, I'd like to send to you as a
gift. I know you'll appreciate it.
Keep up the good work; it's very much appreciated!
I haven't seen that particular article, but it sounds similar to the
press materials and newspaper articles that used to regularly appear until
the 1980s. In fact, I used many of these eight or so years ago in writing
about the park after hours for my first book, Mouse Tales.
I agree that we should not support inferior products. The only problem
with Disney is that when they take shortcuts and provide lesser quality
entertainment, customers notice and don't spend as much on the
entertainment. Disney then uses lower sales to justify further shortcuts!
Yet another change Disneyland is
copying from WDW is spinning off FastPass into its own
division. A Disney World worker warned:
FastPass already has become its own department at WDW, and I have
not seen any positives regarding this move. Before this shift,
Attractions coordinators were responsible for inputting FastPass info
into a computer terminal. They could take care of things right away. Now
they have to radio a FastPass coordinator just to do something simple
like change the stand-by wait time. Attractions coordinators are less
empowered to run their own attractions.
Also, FastPass cast members do not know anything about the
attraction they are working, nor are they in that attraction's costume.
We have lost an element of Show by putting a FastPass cast member at
merge point near the front doors of Mansion when they are dressed in a
costume to resemble Outdoor Foods (khaki pants and a beige shirt).
And no offense to the FastPass cast members, but they do not
"perform their role" according to the attraction they are
stationed at. FastPass West takes care of Splash, Thunder, and Jungle.
FastPass North takes care of Pooh, Pan, and Mansion.
It's kind of hard to be in character when you are bouncing between
different lands. Even though I have never agreed with the idea of
FastPass from the beginning and do not particularly like working the
positions, I have to admit that I would rather have Attractions people
doing FastPass than some generic type of department.
As for the rumored possibility of
closing Disneyland and/or DCA one day a week during the
off-season, former cast member Mark Zimmer wrote:
Great columns! It is a joy to visit MousePlanet and read all the
news about the parks. It keeps those of us who have moved from Orange
County to other parts of the country well informed.
Just a quick comment about closing the parks. I worked attractions
at Disneyland from '69 to '79. When the park was closed on Monday and
Tuesday all the hosts and hostesses had the same days off. To those of
us who continue to enjoy the reunion party every five years at the
Disneyland Hotel, we wondered why most alumni club members who attend
worked the park from 1955 to about 1975. The reason: we all had the same
days off, and we did so much together on those days off.
The Disneyland Recreation Club members centered the events around
Monday and Tuesday. Long-term relationships were formedand that
continues to this day for those who had the joy of working those 5 days.
So, not only did the park get the best maintenance, the hosts and
hostesses became friends, and that made for happier attitudes toward the
I cannot get over the terrible condition of lengthy work times
mentioned in your columns. There were rare times when we might get
"stuck" at a position for an extended lunch rotationbut
for that to be an everyday event would be so frustratingand that
frustration gets taken out on the guests under some circumstances.
The only solution will be for a new CEO to take over who
understands these problems. When money takes center stage, the guests
get a bad show.
God bless you and your family. I hope you get to enjoy DisneySea
in the near future.
An Adventureland cast member added:
You are so on the mark about Dark Days. If Disney management makes
any changes to anything it will be to save money. Repairs and upkeep are
the last things on anyone's mind.
As a current cast member, I can vouch for that. My area is in such
a state of disrepair it brings tears to my eyes. If Dark Days are added,
it will be because management wants a day when they will not have to use
The Jazzman riffed:
I have been visiting the site and reading your columns, enjoying
them immensely, for some time now. I'm a former Disney Stores cast
member, and I appreciate the opportunity to find out what is really
going on "behind the curtain" at the company since I left. So
far I haven't been compelled to write, but while reading through the
last mailbag, I was struck by some of the things cast members from
Disneyland were saying regarding breaks, rotations, and so on.
While I do understand their frustration completely, as I had to
put up with "Disney management" myself (and yes, of course,
though TDS is a store in the mall and considerably smaller in scope than
the parks, the management is still the same throughout), it bothers me
that they have let it blind them to the single most important thing
about their jobs. They work at Disneyland. That fact in itself changes
the whole picture. They are not working the drive through in a fast food
place, pumping gas at a station, delivering news papers, or anything
along those lines where it is just a job. They have a job in the
Happiest Place on Earth! If they were working in a fast food place, I
can see grumbling about not getting breaks promptly or their job being
mundane and boring. But they're not. They're working attractions in the
park that Walt built.
Granted, while standing there loading guests, it may seem like 90
minutes is too long to wait for a break, but think about it. Ninety
minutes? I currently work in a job where I work eight hours before my
break (which means going home). Ninety minutes would be a dream. Even if
90 minutes were a standard, again this isn't just a standard job, it's
Disneyland. There are countless thousands, including most TDS cast
members I've known, who would give up a break altogether for the chance
to work in the park where Walt himself once roamed.
I wonder if, perhaps, the majority of cast members complaining
have forgotten about that. I'm not proposing that everyone should skip
around the park whistling "Zip A Dee Doo Dah" and pretending
that everything is perfect. Lord knows it's not. The company as a whole
has sadly lost touch with its roots, and there are, as MousePlanet
attests to, a lot of things happening that just shouldn't be. But those
things should never cloud the cast members' minds and make them forget
why they're there in the first place. When they applied to work there,
breaks every 90 minutes, rotations to "better" attractions,
etc. weren't on their minds. They were only thinking of one thing:
working at the Magic Kingdom. I know this because I do know a few park
cast members, former and current, who tell me that. They shouldn't lose
sight of that idea, because it's that idea in their head that gives the
park its magic. Yeah, Autopia may be hot, boring, and strenuous, Toon
Town may be a shadeless, faded pit, and Jungle may be over scrutinized
by "undercover" managers wearing shiny shoes, but that
shouldn't interfere with cast members' ability, and desire, to create
magic for their guests, and also for themselves.
Even when I was frustrated beyond belief with snooty nincompoop
stage managers, SOPs from the seventh layer of H#ll, and clueless guests
demanding Bugs Bunny boxers, I always reminded myself where I was, and
that timeless adage, the show must go on. I did my best, regardless of
how irritated at the company I was, to give my guests the magic moments
they expected from Disney, and keep the struggles and annoyances
backstage, away from them, because I was, after all, a Disney cast
member. I only really quit in the end because I needed to make more
money for college. I would have gladly stuck through all the BS, but
couldn't afford to financially.
So, even though it does all sound horribly idealistic, I urge
those Disneyland cast members who are upset about working a whole two
hours in a row, at an attraction they hate, to remember why they got
that job in the first place. Because it's two whole hours at a real
attraction in Disneyland! And, it's not the attraction that makes
Disneyland special, memorable or magical anyway. It's the Cast. They're
the magic, plain and simple, and when it leaves them, its gone for good.
Bravo! I agree that cast members should preserve a positive face at all
times on stage.
However, that doesn't mean that they shouldn't complain offstage about
poor or potentially dangerous working conditions. And, as covered with
pixie dust as Space Mountain and Pirates may be, it's unsafe for guests to
have cast members standing in the same position for two or three hours.
Accidents have already happened because of this.
I hope the matter is solved quickly, and agree that it should never
boil over on-stage.
Another reader asked:
Whatever happened to the magic within the cast members? Cast
member morale has been low for the past six to seven years and has been
noticed by many. What has the company done about this big problem? Do
they care? What could it be? What is going wrong?
Good questions, which I've been trying to answer for the last six to
See you all this weekend at the Bears' Farewell Performance!
You can write to David atthis link..