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Brian Bennett

WDW Trip Planning Guide Reader Feedback

by Brian Bennett

12/10/01

I've intentionally stayed away from the cutbacks issue in the last several "Notes From the World" pieces.  I still have a huge backlog of reader email about the topic, though, so in this special edition of "Notes From the World" I'm going to share some more of the feedback that I've received from the piece that was recently published on the cutbacks at WDW.  If you want to read more background you can also read through the 10/25/01 Notes From the World and 11/15/01 Notes TO the World columns.

Take note, this is NOT the most pleasant Notes From the World piece that I've ever done.  There is a lot of strong criticism of Walt Disney World here, so if you're planning a trip of your own and want to be completely aware of what value you may -- or may not -- get from WDW, read on... but if you're just trying to enjoy some Disney Magic, I'd suggest you read my old "My Favorite Things at Walt Disney World" piece instead.  ;)

Q.

Russ writes: Hi Brian, I was just reading today's column, and it reminded me about a some other points I should bring up.

Regarding the current WDW (and Disney as a whole) management: The night I received that letter under the door regarding park hours, I went back to MK and was asking cast members what they thought of the operating hour cutbacks. None had been informed of the changes, even though they were taking effect immediately. At guest services, the CM reported they had argued against discontinuing magic mornings, but were informed their opinion was not wanted. I cannot think of a better object lesson in poor management.

These problems speak to an even greater problem in the company. Disney Company used to hand out cards to CM's saying "Employees are our greatest asset", I suggest if so then "Disney management is our greatest liability". I was once a large shareholder (but wisely the vast bulk of my stock at $40/share), but I sold my interest for these reasons:

  1. Management short term thinking, higher profits today are more valuable then corporate strength tomorrow.
  2. Management belief that the consumer is stupid and will accept mediocrity.
  3. Any Management that believes it cannot learn anything from it's employees and believes that accountants are always right is doomed to fail.

As my father once taught me (he was VP of a petrochemical firm) "Price, quality, delivery, pick any two. And remember if you provide quality, and deliver it properly, timely, then price will be a minor consideration". E.g. the best deal is the one where everybody wins.

A.

Russ,

It's a shame that we can only pick two. ;) Thanks for the additional thoughts!

-

Q.

Jim Writes: I had to chuckle with one part of Disney's rebuttal to the Orlando Sentinel: "Nowhere in this article did it comment about the things we have added this year, such as four new parades, the Walt Disney: One Man's Dream attraction, the Playhouse Disney shows, and the Sorcerer Mickey Hat Icon." Four new parades??? OK, the MK one is new; but it is a replacement parade for one that needed replacing. Tapestries?? Well, uhhh, if you can call it a new parade by change one item at the beginning, mangling the music and making it shorter something new...well. Studios parade: yeah, new ok. I liked Mulan better. One in the Animal Kingdom, haven't seen it, no comment. One Man's Dream: its nice. too bad it should never have left the Magic Kingdom as The Walt Disney Story in the first place. I will give them this one though. Don't even start with that hideous hat/store that serves no purpose.

I will concede that Disney is dealing with a lot of unknowns. I will say, that even with the reduced hours, the parks are less crowded then usual by a good bit on the weekdays. I can't say that I blame them. Other then the value resorts, the ones they make their profits on are really suffering. I really think that if you have a trip planned, come and take it. Don't cancel. See how things go. Register your complaints if you aren't getting what you want. At this point, not coming will only lead to more of what is going on. The problem is that too many people have canceled because they are afraid to travel. This is a short term situation, hopefully. While I do not agree with everything they are doing, I think they are trying to avoid mass layoffs. For that, I commend them. I have a lot of friends who will not make the next cut if there are layoffs. Less hours is not great but better then no hours. I would ask that folks who were planning to come and canceled, reconsider. It may not be perfect; but I think you still find you can do just about everything you wanted. Not coming now will only lead to more closures.

A.

Jim,

I can't disagree that some of the cuts are simply necessary cost savings measures. As much as some MousePlanet readers will be astounded to hear me say this, I personally don't have a problem with the Early Entry cutback as it was always designed to be a perk for on-site guests for when the parks were busy. The parks aren't busy now, so the need for the extra time isn't really critical.

The problem is one of expectations. Some people expect Early Entry as something they get in partial compensation for paying the higher prices of staying on-site. Those folks will have to decide if the lesser value -- to them -- means staying off-site now.

One last comment on registering a complaint... don't let any cast member talk you into making a verbal complaint only! Make them get out their form and submit a written one! It's the only way to make sure that the message moves up the chain of command.

-

Q.

Joe Writes: How is Disney getting rid of all of its benefits suppose to increase theme park and resort attendance? The logic behind Disney's move fails to present itself to me. For example, I was looking into possibly returning to Disney World early next year (haven't been there for 10 years). But with news of them cutting park hours, early entry, e-ticket night benefits, etc., I will make other plans. I don't want to go to a resort where many of the benefits that people have come to expect and appreciate are eliminated. If Disney is in need of increased visitors, eliminating all the benefits of attending isn't the solution! It may save money in the short term, but will cost a lot more money in the long term. For example, the several thousand dollars I would have spent on a Disney World experience will now go elsewhere - like maybe Universal's Florida resort and Island's of Adventure.

In college, I majored in Public Relations in the early 1990's. The most important company for us to study at the time was Walt Disney because it was considered the "master of public relations." It's funny, because I don't see it cited anymore in public relations courses and textbooks.

How is it that the public relations mastery, from the company who championed the concept, could disappear in just over a decade? How does continually eliminating the customer experience equate to long term satisfaction and increased business? 

Of course there is likely an upside to all this - the ride lines should be short!

A.

Joe,

You're completely on target, I think. Some of the cuts are completely valid with the lower park crowds. I don't have a personal problem with that... but some folks that consider Early Entry and E-Ride Nights to be deciding factors as they determine where they'll stay during their vacation will have to rethink their conclusion.

-

Q.

John writesBrian, Thanks for running the letter from "Lee," the executive VP at WDW. Reading it made my blood boil.

How arrogant and puerile of this person and, by extension, Disney to blame its problems on the media. And how typical. Disney's media relations are atrocious. The company refuses to cooperate with the media and they, in turn, do the best job possible in covering the company with little information. The result is that Disney continually blames the media -- rather than its own wrong-headed decisions -- for its negative image with the public and its cast. Then to claim that only Disney can offer its cast members the "truth"!

Disney has a long history of hiding the REAL "truth" from its own employees until it is too late. Back in 1995-6, Michael Eisner continually maintained that the relationship with Michael Ovitz was good. Then he got fired. In 1999, Michael Eisner maintained that Joe Roth's position with the company was secure. Then he quit. During the abysmal run of "Light Magic," Disney publicly said the parade was well-received by park guests. Then it was dismantled. For years, Disney has said "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" in Florida was only "temporarily" closed. The attraction has never reopened. And just lately, Disney insisted that attendance at California Adventure was not a problem -- now it is too late, and the park(s) have suffered mightily. Why should anyone believe anything Disney says?

Now, in his letter, Lee says employees who were "severed" from the company had "the opportunity to make choices that were best for them and to receive a generous separation package." How on Earth is an individual's decision to resign from a job he or she loves a choice that is "best for them"? "A generous separation package"? Have you talked to anyone who received it? Hardly generous. What Disney did was shift the burden of responsibility from the company to the individual employee when reducing staff. It was a horrible decision that created misery for employees for WEEKS. Sears and Kodak announced yesterday they're laying off staff; guess how they're doing it? They're laying people off. They're taking responsibility. The actions may seem morally wrong to many of us, but at least those companies aren't trying to hide what they're doing.

Then Lee goes on to say that Disney has made "prudent decisions" when it comes to operations. What Disney is actually doing is nothing less than exploiting the horrible tragedies of Sept. 11 to justify cutting costs. Meanwhile ... it is spending FIVE BILLION DOLLARS and digging itself deeper into debt to acquire Fox Family Channel. Is it just me, or are Disney's priorities horribly out of whack here?

Lee says the articles didn't mention that there are four new parades, a new "attraction," a new show and a new "icon" (an ugly and out-of-place one, though it may be) at the parks. Excuse me? The Orlando Sentinel has covered these "developments" quite thoroughly. Their reporting has been balanced and fair. But Lee and Disney are screaming because THEY'VE BEEN CALLED ON THEIR DECISIONS. They're bad decisions. Those "attractions" he mentioned are cheap, cut-rate attempts to drive attendance ... and are MORE than offset by the closure of the Carousel of Progress, the reductions at The Living Seas and the horrible state of maintenance that The Magic Kingdom is in.

Walt Disney World has absolutely rejected any responsibility to its guests. It has bent over backward to protect its most senior employees from any real harm (Senior Vice-Presidents and higher have been picking out new company cars lately) while sacrificing its front-line employees and its guest service.

Walk around Walt Disney World and take note of how many shops and restaurants are closed, how many attractions are "temporarily" shut down, and how miserable the parks look -- perhaps not in appearance, but certainly in mood. Disney may, in fact, look a bit more like Universal lately -- because the Grinch has invaded.

Does it strike no one as highly ironic, by the way, that Disney World has undertaken dramatic (perhaps OVER reactive) cuts across the board just as it's supposed to be celebrating Walt Disney's 100th birthday? It ain't funny. It's pitiful. And it's even worse to find that executives are trying to defend these decisions as being in everyone's best interest. They're horrible, horrible decisions that are going to cost the Theme Parks & Resorts group DEARLY for a very long time.

One last observation: You responded to a reader that it was too bad he had canceled plans to visit the parks. I offer to you that perhaps MORE people should be doing that. If AP holders and Disney lovers would vote with their pocketbooks, not just their words, Disney might realize that this time they have cut too deep.

Sorry to be verbose. Had to get it off my chest!

A.

Thanks for the additional thoughts, John. I can't disagree with your assessment about visitors "voting with their pocketbooks, not just their words." I just hesitate to personally suggest to people that they do that. I'm not a boycotter by nature... I think those decisions are personal ones. I just hope that things turn around so that fewer people will feel the need to decide to not go. That was my point.

-

Q.

Marc writes: In an earlier response, Brian, you wrote, "I have to take exception to your point about folks "spending their money at better Amusement Parks." I really don't think you can find a better park than the Disney parks. I just wish Disney wasn't so hell-bent on operating them in such a mediocre fashion."

Well, that all depends on how you define better. I live in Michigan and rather then spend my money in California or Florida I can drive to any of Michigan's bordering states and visit some wonderful theme / amusement parks. This keeps the money I spend closer to home, which in many ways makes me feel better about spending it. For some reason helping Mr. Eisner and the Disney Company make even more money just doesn't make me feel good.

Some of these parks may not have the polish of Disneyland or The Magic Kingdom, but I have always been treated well and have never had a bad experience.

In my opinion Disney's management has lost sight of what Disney means and what it does well and it's showing in their domestic product. It's sad that I would have to go to France or Japan to experience the best of what Disney has to offer.

A.

Well said, Marc.

-

Q.

Steve writes: Brian, I have read your take on the cutbacks at Disney as well as the responses from various readers. I was surprised when I drove up to Epcot on Monday to find the hours changed. It was frustrating having planned out the day in my mind and having to adjust.

Now for my perspective. I was a CM for over 10 yrs, was in management and worked for Imagineering for a short while. I still have many friends at WDW mgmt and this is what they are saying. Things are very bad at WDW. Epcot's attendance is down over 25% from the already low estimates, the AK is hurting and besides weekends the Studios and the MK are slow. They have closed down entire wings and floors at the hotels. And they are saying that upper mgmt has made the decision to keep people employed at he risk of angering guests. This is coming from people who have always been honest about Disney's shortcomings and failures. One friend told me that he is proud of the way mgmt has stepped in to save jobs despite the number of guest complaints.

I understand peoples frustration about hours and shows. But lets look at some history. For many years it was not unusual for shows to have one cast and 2 dark days. It was only during the high attendance years of the mid-90's that shows went to 7 days a week. People are not missing out on any show if they plan right. They can see everything they want entertainment wise if they take the time to look at the schedules and plan accordingly.

Secondly, with the attendance the way it is you can do everything you want to do in the park with the hours available. I was at Epcot on Monday. Everything was a walk on with the exception of Test Track which was 45mins and no Fastpass, which is down while the queue is being redone. Disney's philosophy has always been that park hours are based on estimated attendance. A person should be able to enjoy x amount of attractions in y number of hours with z number of people in the park. So if z goes up then you need to increase hours so that those people can enjoy the same x number of attractions. If z (guests) goes down then you could conceivably do x number of attractions in less time.

Lastly, while peoples first reaction may be to cancel their trips I would say several things. I have stayed at most of the hotels on property and never took advantage of the early morning entry. The hotels offer so much more than just that convenience and it would be a shame not to enjoy them for everything they offer. At Port Orleans, for instance, you can fish, or rent a bike. The hotels themselves are like attractions. Secondly, by canceling your trip you are putting more Cast Members jobs in jeopardy and risk the fact that Disney may need to continue to adjust hours and attractions. It becomes a vicious cycle. Less people/more cuts. Things are bad at WDW. True!!! But not as bad as people think it is. The parks are open, attendance makes the parks easier to enjoy, there is still entertainment everywhere, One's Man Dream is excellent and it is a great time to enjoy the hotels and parks with fewer people. Please get the word out that its a great time to come.

Boy I sound like I still work there! I don't, but I think its the time to support Disney.

Thanks for a great job.

A.

Steve,

Thanks for the great note. As far as "supporting Disney," I figure that they're not a charitable organization. If they want my business then they have to give me what I want at the price I'm willing to pay. They're starting to put less and less distance between those two parameters (price and quality) and are really turning people off.

I can't disagree on the cost cutting... just that they could really do a better job of public relations on this one. Also, they need to consider cuts that do not affect the guest experience as much. Shorter park hours, to me, are not a problem... but if the park is open, the ENTIRE park should be open (in my opinion).

 

Q.

In a follow-up, Steve writes: Brian, I agree about the public relations aspect of the whole thing. It has been a nightmare. I know that Disney is quickly trying to let hotel guests know about changes. Phone calls to those who are coming very soon, snail mail to all others.

I also agree that Disney is not a charitable organization and doesn't need charity. I guess my point was Disney isn't doing too much more than it has done in the past. Attractions have in the past opened later or closed earlier than the rest of the park. Do you remember that just 4 years ago Sorcery in the Sky required that the entire back half of the Studios to close 2 hours before the performance? Also, when Epcot opened (a long time ago) the hours of Future World and World Showcase were to be approximately what they are now. Future World would open first and then World Showcase around lunch and then Future World was to close early.

Do I agree with Disney's decisions of late? Not really. I would love to have everything opened all the time. I would love to see everything running everyday. But I also think that we also need to realize that Sept 11 has hit tourism in Orlando hard. Universal has laid off 100 full time workers, Sea World is cutting entertainment and closing some shows on some days like Disney. Things are bad here and while it affects the guests experiences on some levels, it is also hitting the people in Orlando's tourism industry even more hard. Lost jobs, reduced hours, prospect of losing more jobs. A person can come to Orlando and conceivably do everything they planned to do. It may require some more work on their part to plan but they can do it. But some of the workers in our area may not recover from the financial losses that they are dealing with now.

I guess my final point is the easy thing to do is to say bad Disney for cutting back on guest services. The harder thing is to say Disney is working hard to keep its Cast Members employed but you can still come and enjoy the parks and take advantage of the great weather and reduced crowds.

Anyway, thanks for the response. Sorry to get so long winded. Just feeling a little passionate about this because it affects so many friends and family.

A.

Steve,

Thanks for your note back. I wish that the cutbacks didn't affect so many people -- just like you do. I also wish that there was no need for cutbacks in the first place!

Frankly, I think that the temporary closing of Port Orleans Resort French Quarter -- although obviously a drastic action -- is the perfect kind of response for WDW. It means that costs are cut (unfortunately, that means jobs are cut back and employees are hurt) but the quality of the experience of the guest is not adversely affected. Ultimately, that will mean that -- with continuing good word-of-mouth -- more guest will return and things can get back to normal as quickly as possible.

The way things are going now, I fear that negative word-of-mouth will greatly slow the return of guests to WDW and that will mean that a return to normal is a much longer time off than it could be otherwise.

-

Q.

Keith writes: Brian, I've been following your recent articles on the cutbacks at Walt Disney World, and your last experiences at the resort. Though disheartening, I have found your articles to be topical and very representative of the current "state of the world." Given your normally ebullient view of Walt Disney World, your experiences are especially compelling, and reflect those of many other guests.

Two things prompted me to write. First, I was surprised --even shocked-- that you weren't aware how poor working conditions can be at Disney parks. It's becoming common knowledge even among "outsiders" that for Cast Members, Disney parks are far from the "happiest place on Earth." With pay scales typically equivalent to those of fast food outlets; demanding, high-pressure work requirements; politically oppressive management; and never-ending, nerve-grinding nonsense such as "Cast Deployment", it's no wonder that despite their love of Disney and belief in Disney ideals (which is indeed the only reason many endure such conditions), it's not possible for some Cast Members to put on the "Disney face" at all times. Turnover at Walt Disney World is disastrously high for a very good reason. As more and more seasoned Cast Members find that they can no longer do their best and present "Disney magic" under such oppressive conditions, they are replaced by others for whom--during their typically short term of employment--Disney is "just a job." Add to this unpleasant mix, reduced guest-service training and reduced hours for Cast Members, and I think it's miraculous that the level of service remains even as high as it is.

The second item to which I must respond is the Orlando Sentinel-bashing response from Executive VP "Lee." I think it is commendable that you presented both sides of the story, but the fact is that the truth almost always lies in the middle. This is no exception, and despite Lee's emphatic assertion that his view is the "TRUTH" (his emphasis), it is not the whole truth. First, if the Orlando Sentinel were as willfully and maliciously reporting half-truths ("written in a way to be negative without the facts and without reporting the real story") as was asserted in this letter, we'd see a much stronger and more decisive action than writing a letter to MousePlanet. I think we're all well aware of how aggressively litigious the Walt Disney Company can be. The Sentinel may not go out of its way to report that a "cheap fix" such as the "Character Caravan" has been employed to placate those who are missing the more valuable perk of "Surprise Mornings", but that hardly makes them purveyors of spiteful negativity.

Also on the topic of "Surprise Mornings," or "Early Entry" as I more often see it called [Editor's Note: "Surprise Mornings" is the term used at the Disneyland Resort.  "Early Entry" is the term used at Walt Disney World.  In both cases, the terms refer to the early entry of a park in the morning to allow guests an extra amount of time in that park before crowd levels build to a crescendo in the early afternoon.], the Company's "research" that shows that the Character Caravan "is more important to the majority of our Resort Guests than Surprise Mornings" does not begin to reflect what I have been reading and hearing from a large number of guests. Most are outraged that the "Early Entry" perk--one of the few remaining perks for staying at a pricey Disney resort--has been eliminated. This is typical of Disney--which often reports that their "research" backs whatever it is that they want to do. If the Company truly wanted to feel the pulse of Guests' concerns, I think they would do far better to read what is being posted on message boards and forums across the Internet, than using highly targeted and often skewed surveys and other questionable "research."

I think it's also important to note that in the pre-Eisner era, every day at the parks was a virtual "Character Caravan." I very fondly remember the days when large numbers of characters freely roamed or were stationed about the park. Waiting in a long line for to gain an audience with one of a handful of characters at a "greeting location" cannot begin to capture the same feeling of surprise and joyous wonder as happening upon a character in his or her "home" in the Magic Kingdom (just like in the misleading commercials!). Of course, such ready access to characters would diminish the demand for the lucrative "character greeting meals"--but if the Company were even half as concerned about the Guest experience as this VP claims, that would not be an issue.

Regarding the Company's "voluntary" cuts in hours--I suspect and indeed have read elsewhere that this likely will become INvoluntary if their quotas are not met. Some individuals might indeed favor reduced hours for various lifestyle considerations, but I find it highly unlikely that thousands would be in such a position. If they were, they almost certainly would not have taken a full-time position to begin with.

I'm also disappointed to see that the Company is still beating the same drum about the earlier layoffs, that they were "voluntary" and they benefited the Cast Members by giving them the "opportunity to make choices that were best for them and to receive a generous separation package." The TRUTH (my emphasis) is that if the quotas for "voluntary" attrition were not met, involuntary layoffs would occur and in some cases did occur. That is hardly a "voluntary" system, when affected workers must struggle with the reality that they may be left with nothing as opposed to the (ahem) "generous" separation package. I spoke with several affected Cast Members, and the general feeling that they reported was they felt they were "under the gun." To describe these cuts as in any way voluntary or beneficial is yet another slap in the face to these individuals.

If the Company were truly concerned about "saving jobs," why not start at the top with their cuts? I haven't seen Eisner take a cut in his pay. In fact, he has repeatedly restructured his deal with the company such that his obscenely huge bonuses are virtually guaranteed.

Lastly, if the Company were truly concerned about a balance between fiscal responsibility and guest satisfaction, they would be more attuned to Guests' concerns, and to the reality that guest satisfaction directly relates to bottom-line performance.

If the Company put even a fraction of the effort that into making sensible decisions and producing a top-notch product, as they do into putting a "spin" on their poor decisions and declining quality, they wouldn't have a need to so relentlessly "spin" the "TRUTH".

P.S. I hope that, despite the considerable length of this email, you are able to include it in upcoming column. I think it's only fair to your readers to see that Disney's "truth" is hardly the whole truth. As long as the company has unfettered access to such vehicles for their propaganda, they will continue to emphasize "spin" over substance.

A.

Thanks Keith. I'll definitely get your note in sometime soon.

Q.

and in a follow-up, Keith writes: Brian, thank you so much for taking the time to personally respond to my email. I know you must get flooded with emails (especially after the recent articles), so I really appreciate your effort in responding to me personally.

I hope that strength of my statements did not in any way come across as directed at you. As I noted, I think it was the honorable and appropriate thing to do, to print the "other side" of the story. It simply galled me, though, to think that the "whole story" might not be told. I don't claim to be the sole holder of the "truth", but I do know enough to see the all-important middle ground.

What's especially interesting to me, is that this same style--in particular the emphasis on the all-caps "TRUTH" -- is something that I have seen appear on another forum. A columnist who claims to work for Disney in a sufficiently high-ranking position as to know many of the internals of the company and its decisions, frequently trumpets the word "TRUTH" (again, her/their emphasis) as though their (or Disney's) "TRUTH" is the one and only. In actuality, though there is some truth in their arguments, it's more about "spin" than anything else. As I have sufficient reason to believe that the authors of these pieces are different individuals (I'm reasonably adept at discerning writing styles, and they are somewhat different), I have to wonder if Disney is not indoctrinating or even employing these individuals to take the Disney "spin" to what they allegedly see as the "battle lines" on the Internet. Al Lutz has frequently made references to Disney officials seeing the Internet as the "enemy," (my word, not his) and I have it on very good authority from a well-informed source that Disney employs individuals to monitor and even participate in Internet discussions for the purpose of "managing" them to their favor. 

I think what is even more sad than the relentless cost-cutting and indifference to guest satisfaction under the Eisner regime, is that anyone who would not accept the status quo is considered by Disney management to be their enemy. We are the consumers, the individuals who drive and indeed should define the response of the Disney company. Instead, we are apparently perceived as in impedance to the whims of the Disney management.

This is truly a pathetic and maddening state of affairs for a company that was founded on and grown into an empire on much, much greater ideals and vision. 

Thanks again for writing, and have a great day!

A.

Keith,

You're right... I have been flooded with email on this issue. Al Lutz has told me many times in the past that he's so buried with email that he can't personally respond to each note. I'm quickly beginning to understand that situation. :)

Also, you mentioned, "I hope that strength of my statements did not in any way come across as directed at you." You needn't worry about that. I got some email that attacked me personally -- for deciding to not visit WDW again in the next year or so. I even printed one of those notes. I'm not interested in organizing any boycott of the Walt Disney Company... I just want people to be aware of the quality they'll be receiving for the money they'll be spending on any future trips.

-

Q.

Abraham writesBrian, I know you are swamped with emails complaining about Disney's cutbacks (and I agree with the readers you quote who are upset), so I don't want to make this long. I read an interesting article in the "Marketplace" section of today's Wall Street Journal (Oct. 26) entitled "Disney Launches TV Push to Lure Visitors to Its Parks." I think you should read it because it kind of upset me. In the article, it talks about all the things that Disney has added (yeah, whatever) to get people to visit the parks in California and Orlando and only mentions that "Disney is at the same time scaling back some of the entertainment at its parks, including parade and show schedules. Typically, some of that happens during the slow fall season..." It is interesting that Disney can get such a positive spin out of such a widely circulated publication like the Wall Street Journal, even when consumer sentiment seems to be overwhelmingly negative.

Maybe Disney's consumers need to take their complaints to the media. If we really wanted to put pressure on Disney now, newspapers would be a great place to get the word out to the general public, heck, Disney fans already know what's going on because we come to websites like MousePlanet. Eisner can't ignore us if we get the message out to a broader audience. 

A.

Abraham,

I think you're right about the media needing to really go after this one. Certainly the travel media (and I include MousePlanet in that category) has an obligation to let it's readers know about issues that will affect the quality of their vacation -- that's why I'm hitting this cutback issue so hard.

Of course, the Orlando Sentinel has been clear on what's going on, and all it got them was some internal criticism from Lee Cockerell, the Executive Vice President of Walt Disney World Operations. I wish someone at WDW and the Walt Disney Company would realize that they are really hurting themselves with cutting back on services.

I know of many, many tried and true WDW veterans that have canceled trips and are making other plans -- NOT because of the slowing economy, NOT because of the threats from Afghanistan, NOT because of fear of flying or travel... but simply because of the erosion of value in a Walt Disney World vacation.

-

Q.

An unnamed cast member writesAs a cast member of Walt Disney World, I was interested in your remarks about the cut backs that have taken place. I work in Guest Relations at one of the parks, so I have seen first hand not only the cuts, but also the guests feeling on them. I always remind our guests something that is very important to me and the other cast members, although WDW is cutting back, there has not been one layoff since the September 11 incident as a result of the slow attendance. As other companies are having to layoff employees I am proud of Disney that they are looking at alternatives other than lay offs. Although it might make for a happier guests to not have the cut backs, it makes for a happier guests if our casts can remain happy. And layoffs are never good at raising the morale of any employees. Although I do agree with you that it is a shame to see things get cut, I think people should want to put their money in a company that is helping out the American employees!

A.

Thanks for your note. I hadn't realized that WDW was trying so hard to keep it's cast members happy. Most of the email I've received on the matter indicate that with cut hours, "voluntary" pay cuts, and "voluntary" departures from the company that things weren't very rosy at all.

I'm glad to hear that there are some positives in there, too.

-

Q.

Shaun writesHey Brian, great site. I used to be a CM at space mountain, I left Orlando in May. Even when I was working there, things were starting to change. Timekeeper was about to close for the summer (citing low attendance: so close during the busy time?) and CM's were losing their jobs. I still have friends down there and I have been hearing most of what I read about first-hand. Let me say that I think it is horrible. The last thing Disney needs is to a) become "just another theme park" and b) have people think that they have. And they can cite whatever reason they want for the cutbacks but last year the company was listed to have $11 Billion. If I remember my history correctly, Walt started with about 11 dollars, so I can't see that they're doing all that poorly. Being as far away as I am, about the only exposure I have to Disney is the Disney Store (which is getting progressively worse) and the Disney channel, which has long since become tween-TV.

Apparently, across the board, the Walt Disney Company is slowly but surely becoming the Mike Eisner Company. Before You get the wrong Idea, Michael Eisner did some very good things for Disney when he was first hired, in my opinion. However, after the death of Frank Wells, the company has slowly sunk to the level of entertainment I expect from any "B-Movie" company, and not the power-house that it once was. The change is even apparent in their animated features. I can name two that were even watch able in the past ten years.

But the Issue at the parks is, in my opinion the worse, especially while holding the banner of "100 Years of Magic." What a fantastic Idea that was, and what a joyous celebration it could have been. I guess that brings me to my point (I know, you were wondering if I'd ever get there.) As funny as it sounds, It's not too late. Disney does still listen to their letters, and phone calls, and even e-mails. We must bombard them with disapproval, and, as you mention, approval of the things they are doing right. We must let them know exactly why this is wrong, namely because it is completely against Walt's view of spending everything he could to make a better film (or park, or channel, or anything.) They went into debt $3 million on Snow White. They grossed $8 million. Tell me this system doesn't work. Tell them.

Everyone who goes there, every one who is dissatisfied, every one period, TELL THEM WHAT IS WRONG. Disney is not now, and never has been in the business of ignoring their fans (Thank God.) And when enough letters come in, we will see a change. We will see the good old days again.

A.

Shaun,

Thanks for the note. I completely agree 100%.

As far as COP closing, I frankly don't mind that they did it. I know that a lot of purists out there would disagree... but I don't mind that stuff gets closed. I just wish something new would take it's place. That way the whole resort would stay fresh and interesting from year to year. To have the COP building sitting idle, like the 20,000 Leagues lagoon has for so many years, just takes away from the excitement of going to the park.

I hope, as you mentioned, that the company responds to the complaints of the guests.

-

Q.

and in a follow-up Shaun writes: Brian, As a side note, COP was my favorite ride. But that doesn't change the fact that old rides need to be replaced with new ones. I mean, I loved Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, but the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is an excellent attraction. COP is one of those rides that will always be around, somewhere. Walt basically built it with his bare hands. But just because it isn't at WDW anymore is no big whoop. But yeah, they'll listen, we just all have to let them know. That was the most frustrating part of working there was that every guest could think of 100 things wrong, but only one in 100 would write a note to tell us.

Keep up the good work.

-

Q.

Roger writes: Brian, Thanks for your work on this web site. It has been very helpful, unfortunately I did not pay close enough attention to your paragraph at the end "Cutbacks at the World" page "Caveat Emptor!" I was told by the Disney store personnel that I have till Nov 24th to come in and purchase the adult park hopper passes and get the $50 gift certificate which we could apply to our children's passes. I arrive at the store today and am told that they were called on Monday of this week and instructed by headquarters to pull all the promotions signs and not provide any further gift certificates, effective immediately.

I can't tell you how pissed off I am at Disney right now. Even though we are Florida residents and have been going to Disney, staying on property, for the past 10 years. We very well may cancel our reservations at the Fort Wilderness Cabins and go to Busch Gardens instead with the kids this year and perhaps for now on. Disney just comes off as cheap and greedy.

Thanks again for your continued coverage...just another example for you on how Disney is treating it's customers... or should I say perhaps it's now "lost" customers.

A.

Roger,

I'm sorry you missed the gift certificate promotion. I didn't realize that Disney was being so fickle even about in-store promotions. :(

Maybe, just maybe... Disney will get the message eventually. I just wonder how bad things have to get before they realize that their own policies are much to blame for their weak performance at the resort.

-

Q.

Kristen writes: Hi Brian, I'm a big MousePlanet fan and have especially enjoyed living vicariously through your readers you post their trip reports from Walt Disney World. Recently you had a column of readers letters to WDW in which you encouraged them to use snail mail rather than e-mail, I completely agree with you. Not to long ago (when you first posted the early entry cancellations) I wrote an e-mail to WDW wondering if this was a permanent change and if it was to be in effect during the time we were staying at the resort (December 17-24). This is the response I got:

From: WDW Guest Communications
[mailto:WDW.Guest.Communications@disney.com]
Sent: Monday, October 29, 2001 10:20 AM
Subject: Greetings from the Walt Disney World Resort

Dear Kristin,

Thank you for your e-mail to the Walt Disney World® Resort.  We appreciate the time you took to contact us. I wanted to let you know that I received your message, and am reviewing it. When we receive comments, such as yours, they are shared with various members of our organization. The input we receive from our guests lets us know what we are doing right and what we can do better. We appreciate your observations and assure you they will be taken seriously.

If you would like to discuss your message, I invite you to call me at (407) xxx-xxxx.

Sincerely,
Joseph Paris
Executive Offices
Walt Disney World® Resort

I was blown away to say the least! A complete form letter sent to me lacking any personal thought or acknowledgement of the questions I had asked in my letter! And this was from Disney?! The end all and be all in guest service?! What really cracked me up is that they essentially wanted me to pay to ask my questions again by calling them long distance. I am still debating whether to call or not. I got all my answers from MousePlanet.

One more note, we had a pretty fun time calling our travel agent when we learned that our hotel (Port Orleans French Quarter) was closed. We had booked our hotel room through Voyager (1-800-W-DISNEY) and when we saw that the hotel was closed we called right away and asked what was happening. They had no idea! No one in the entire agency had heard the news as Disney had neglected to inform them! They didn't even know that early entry had been canceled a few weeks before hand! We told them about this wonderfully informative site where we got our information, our agent called Disney, and sure enough, the hotel was closed. She was pretty disgusted with them. She said it was one thing to "be saving the company" (this is the Disney line), but the manner in which they were doing it was completely irresponsible and rude.

We called them back later when we decided what to do and she thanked us for letting them know what was going on because they had to start re-booking families that very day. It got even better when my parents called Disney (whom they had booked their room with directly) and tried to get a room in the Port Orleans Resort Riverside where we were now staying. The lady at Disney said she couldn't do it. She said that the Riverside was full and they would have to stay somewhere else. My father then called Voyager, booked the room at Riverside, and called Disney back and canceled the previous room. Disgusting.

And how did Disney try and patch things up? They offered us a great deal on any moderate hotel room, a rate so low... I found a better one on-line. Unfortunately, we will still be spending money at WDW this season, just probably not in the future. 

Thanks again for the great web site! Keep letting them know, the mouse has no clothes! ;)

A.

Thanks for your note, Kristen. I just wish you had a happier story to tell.

-

Q.

Kevin writes: Brian, I just got back from Orlando and was going to send you an email about the best way to let you know about the atrocious time we had in WDW this year. Then I read your column! I wanted your readers to know that the hours really will affect what they will be able to do in a day, so I thought I would give you that information in this email, and then you could let me know the best way to convey it. Here goes:

We go to WDW every year, but after staying onsite last year we decided we weren't going to do WDW at all this year for several reasons. One, we have grown exasperated with the snail-like pace of growth at the parks. With four parks (actually 3 1/2 which makes it worse) they should be adding REAL attractions to at least one park every year. Big hats and cheesy museum exhibits DON'T COUNT! Two, the bus system was so incompetently planned, that we felt it almost voided the benefits of staying onsite.

So this year we decided to grab a Flex Pass and do a whole bunch of Universal (our two favorite parks). Though we were bringing a friend who hadn't seen Fantasmic!, so we decided to add a day at the Studios, since it is our favorite Disney park. Plus, Millionaire was actually NEW to us! Imagine that!

Well, we got there an hour after opening and the place was a madhouse. Considering we never waited in line for anything, this clearly was due more to the poor floor plan of the park than to numbers. Still, we have gone in May and September and the park was never even HALF this full. Still, without ever waiting in a line, and with an hour lunch, we were only able to do the following:

  • Little Mermaid
  • Millionaire (twice since I was actually in the hot seat!!!)
  • Great Movie Ride
  • Walt Disney exhibit
  • Muppetvision
  • Hunchback
  • ToT (only once!)
  • Sounds Dangerous
  • Fantasmic

which makes the list of things we didn't get to see very long:

  • Animation Tour
  • Playhouse Disney
  • RnRC
  • Backstage Pass
  • Backlot Tour
  • Indy
  • Star Tours
  • Beauty and the Beast

In our previous visits we were able to do EVERYTHING in the park (even without Early Entry) except Playhouse Disney. The pathetic part is, we weren't even planning on doing half the stuff we didn't do, but had we wanted to, we would have really been screwed. How ridiculous is it that with only 2 hours wasted (plus the totally wasted hour of sitting in the Fantasmic stadium) we only saw half the park?

It was obvious to us that Disney is only focusing on those people who buy the park hoppers. Apparently those of us who desire only a one-day visit are people they can afford to do without. Considering how Disney/MGM is a park with so many shows, you'd think they'd take that into consideration when they come up with a schedule. But half of our day was spent walking from one show to another and then waiting for those shows to start. I plan on adding up how much time it would take to do every attraction in the park and I am fairly certain that number will be pretty close the number of minutes the park was actually open that day. I will let you know.

In comparison, our days at Universal Studios went smoothly. Getting to and from shows there is never a problem, even though the park is larger than Disney/MGM. Plus, they actually listed show times for smaller shows (like T-2 and Gory/Gruesome) which they have never done before. This made it extremely easy to plan the day since there was only one occasion where we would exit something and say "Oh well, we missed THAT show!"

So what am I going to do about it? Before my irritation cools, I will be writing a letter to Guest Communications. The pen is mightier than the sword! But the wallet is even mightier than the pen, and I plan on keeping mine closed when it comes to the Disney parks for AT LEAST five years. Then I will reevaluate, depending on whether they have actually built anything new in that time. Well, actually it will have to be SEVERAL any things. Recent history tells me not to be too optimistic.

A.

Kevin,

I wish yours was the only such email I've gotten on this matter. It seems like 75% of the guests that I'm hearing from are disappointed and 25% are just accepting whatever they get from WDW because they enjoy the resort so much. :(

-

Q.

Amy writesBrian, I just found your site and was horrified to find out about the cancellation of early entry and the other cutbacks. I sent the following email today:

Attention: Walt Disney World Guest Communications

I have reservations to stay on site at WDW during the first week of December, with my husband, two children and my mother-in-law and father-in-law. This will be our fourth trip to WDW. The main -- if not ONLY -- reason we pay the money to stay on site is because we want the privilege of early entry into the parks. In early October, when I made my reservations, I checked the WDW web site for park hours, and for the benefits guests receive while staying on-site. I made my plans relying on this official information.

Now apparently all of this information has changed, with no notice to me. I am seriously considering finding an off-site hotel or condo for the 6 of us, if not canceling the trip totally. I am extremely disappointed and angered by this. I know, I know, the Character Caravan will be visiting the hotels. Well, that's nice and everything, but it is absolutely not a substitute for early entry into the parks.

And what's this about shorter park hours? December is two weeks away, and you still don't have the park hours for December posted on the web site? What's up with that? In early October I printed out all of the (already shortened for off-season) park hours for December and planned our itinerary accordingly. Now I have no idea when (or if) there will be parades, fireworks, Fantasmic, or any other performance. Will the parks be open at all? We are already nervous about boarding an airplane again post-September 11, and about going through the hassles of extra security. Now I also have to worry that we will spend thousands of dollars on this vacation to find out that the parks are only open 4 hours a day and all the parades and fireworks and shows (and most of the attractions) are closed due to "budget constraints."

All the members of our family have been loyal Disney fans for many years, but we are very disappointed by Disney's decisions to discontinue early entry for WDW resort guests, to shorten park hours and to cancel or close many attractions and performances. 

Please respond to this email. I am hoping you can give me a reason to want to come to Walt Disney World again.

A.

Amy,

I just wish it wasn't necessary for us to be writing such notes to WDW.

-

Q.

Larry writes: Brian, As you know I have been trying to gather plans for many family members to make a trip next Thanksgiving to WDW. As you also know, after reading your last trip report and hearing from many people who have been recently, I was taking a step back and rethinking how to approach this trip. My main concerns had to do with the loss of early entry, the lack of services, and from some of the comments in addition to yours that I have heard, the general downturn in courtesy at WDW. It made me rethink staying on property and whether or not I wanted to even spend all 11 days there, or share time with Sea World & Universal, since only a couple of those wanting to make this trip have been there.

I sat down and emailed WDW to explain the situation, letting them know that I am a regular at WDW and this trip was being planned for a lot of people. I also queried them about the loss of Early Entry and E-Ride as well as the lessening in the quality of service.

I waited almost 3 weeks wondering why they had not mailed back, and was about to write again when out of the blue, I received a call from a very nice lady named Kelly at the main WDW office. Apparently, she is one of the head people dealing in guest relations for the whole property and due to an increase in letters coming their way she decided to call rather than mail.

I explained my issues and she informed me that they are receiving a large amount of mail from regulars who are angry about the loss of E-Ride and Early Entry. She could offer no answers, other than to say, I should keep having friends write letters to state our position. It appears it is all about the money. The reason given for the end of Early Entry is due to decreased attendance and the fact that according to their studies most people do not take advantage of it and still show up right around park opening.

I politely disagreed with the latter reason, explaining that to most regulars that is the best time to go, especially in off season, because you can knock out so much quickly and relax the rest of the day. She informed me that E-Ride was restarting and that she had two new dates as of last Friday. She apologized for the apparent downturn in service and said that they are working hard to remedy this situation.

She said that since we and some others come so often, it would be easy for us to see the erosion of service and quality. She wanted me to make sure to call her directly to make the reservations when ready and wanted to know if we had ever used the packages and how we feel they work. Apparently WDW may be thinking of eliminating some of the package options because we talked at length about what things are and are not beneficial, and what things seem to give us the most use. She also asked at length about the different resorts we had stayed at and what were our likes and dislikes. I spent almost 30 minutes on the phone chatting with her about WDW in general. She was very nice and very knowledgeable. She made very few excuses and was more than willing to talk with me about my concerns. If everyone at the WDW offices and in management are as concerned as this lady, then things should begin to get better soon. I only fear that not everyone there feels an obligation to potential, return, or new guests as she does. Only time will tell. So back to planning I go. Just an FYI. Have a great day.

A.

Thanks for letting me know, Larry.

-

Q.

Gregory writes: Hi Brian, Like many, the recent cutbacks at WDW have infuriated me. And coincidentally, all of the cutbacks affect me and the plan I have for an early December visit. So I wrote to guest services with my concerns, Primary among my concerns was the elimination of early entry and park hours cutbacks. To my surprise, I received an actual phone call from a very polite man who proceeded to explain why the cutbacks were made. He chose to explain everything from a business point of view spewing numbers and costs. He then wanted to know if he'd "won me over".

I then chose to point out that when a Disney guest is told about numbers they tend to get ticked off. I hammered home the point that Disney has previously advertised the early morning entry in to the parks as a perk to get us to stay at the resorts. Without the perk, as far as I was concerned the resorts are not a value at all. As he stammered around trying to find any words that wouldn't make me any madder, I pointed out that the core Disney audience is responsible for web pages and lots and lots of recommendations to others about Disney Vacations.

I hinted around that what I was interested in was more park time, that Disney had essentially stolen 9 hours of park time from my trip. Almost a full day. As a paid in full reserved resort guest, I expected a certain amount of respectful treatment. And to add insult to injury, I had not received any letter from Disney telling me that they were taking my favorite perk away from me. Previously I always received letters in advance telling me of any changes. This allowed me to change my  reservations if the changes were not to my liking. I pointed out that if I had arrived to find out that the early entry was canceled, I'd have demanded a refund and gone elsewhere to enjoy Universal Studios. The young man conceded I had made good points and hoped I might change my mind. At no point was I offered ANYTHING to assuage my irritation. No free tickets, meals, upgrades, nothing. And as I was not home when he originally called, I called him back and the entire call was paid for by ME.

I plan on writing again to complain about this phone call. I plan to write again if I don't not receive a letter explaining the elimination of my favorite perk. I plan to write again to complain after I get back from my trip. And unless they do SOMETHING to make up for this appalling lack of concern for WDW resort guests, I won't be staying on property again and will definitely recommend to EVERYONE that they stay off property. I've arranged dozens of WDW vacations. Those dozens recommended the same things I did. I'm not alone. So WDW better wake up and give some more intelligent thought before hacking away at so many things at once. Hopefully all the letters and calls they are getting will do some good. 

A.

Thanks for sharing your experience, Gregory. I hope WDW changes their customer service, too.

-

Q.

Sharon writes: Brian, I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your column on MousePlanet. Even though you are going through a "low period" as far as Disney is concerned please keep up the good work. I hope that you continue your column because it is one of the best and most informed that I have found. I also enjoy that it is not so pro-Disney and gives both sides of the story. I also enjoy your trip reports. My in-laws also live in Bay City and I am always amused that half of the time the worst traffic that you encounter is between Bay City and Flint on your way to FL.

I just wanted to comment that I must concur with you that what you are encountering is "Disney Lite". I just got back from WDW on Nov. 18 and we got so much less for our money that we did 3 years ago. The thing that I noticed the most was the fact that we were not tired after our day and since there was nothing to do at night we got a lot of sleep. I felt that we missed so much just because the parks were not open for very long. The parks were not crowded in fact they were very uncrowded. But we did not get very much done and in fact missed a lot of attractions just because we ran out of time. If you want to have a relaxing vacation, I would recommend that you go to WDW now, if you want to see the parks and get your moneys worth, wait.

I know that you commented on the closing of shows on certain days. To be honest the parks aren't even open long enough to see many of the shows on one day. And don't even think of going back to your hotel at any point in your day. By the time you go to your hotel and get back the park will be closed. One day my contact split in two on Splash Mountain and I had to go to First Aid to have the half that was still in my eye flushed out. I spent a couple of hours with one contact in and one contact out because if I had gone back to the hotel and changed my contacts it would have not been worth it to get back to the park because it would be closing.

I just wanted to commend you of all of your great work and to agree with what you have been saying. I will not be back to WDW during November again unless things change. I may go back sometime during the summer when I can experience the parks at somewhat the way I remember them being.

 

A.

Thanks for the note, Sharon. I hope, too, that the next trip I make to WDW that things are back to normal. So far this holiday season it still appears that things are cutback and tight.

-

Q.

Andy writes: Just a quick note: today, approximately twenty-two managers were laid off at WDW. They were all participants in the International Management Program – a sub-program of the WDW International Programs. The program is now pretty much dead. I, and many of my friends are trying to take it all in, but it is a very shocking and sad day. Considering the IMP and WDWIP were partially subsidized, it is surprising to see that the cutbacks would occur here as well.

Anyway, just thought you were the person to alert about this sort of thing…

A.

Thanks for the note, Andy.  (Editor's Note:  There's more information available on the International Management Program on the Walt Disney World International Programs Website and specific information on the International Management program at this link.)

-

Q.

Mark writes: Hey Brian, Just though I would let you know that I just got off the phone with a friend at CRO who told me that Construction on Mission Space has been Halted until further notice. thought you might like to know.

I was told a Hugh drop in earnings from the sponsor as well as a possible merger between the sponsor and another computer company insists that the whole project go back for re-branding and discussions as to weather the new board of the new merged companies feel that it's an effective use of funds at a time where such a dramatic drop in stocks. This is according to my friend who works for one of the companies in questions directors whom I called immediately after my call to CRO.. They will probably do it, they will change the budget and use a new brand name though.

A.

Thanks for the note, Mark.  It sure is a bad time for the Walt Disney Company for this to happen, though, isn't it?

-

Q.

An unnamed reader writes: Brian, the changes in the printed guidemaps at WDW are now coming so fast and furious that we're reverting back to the practice of Disneyland from years ago.  They're now providing a park map with a separate entertainment schedule (remember "Disneyland Today"?) Hopefully this will alleviate the supply problems of late November.

Last minute schedule changes will still be best obtained from the park information boards (for as long as they're still being staffed.) The WDW telephone operators and Guest Services Desks are not close enough to the parks to hear of last minute changes.

A.

Thanks. I'll make a note of the changes in an upcoming email piece

-

Q.

Teri writes: My family is planning a trip to Disney World Christmas week and if you look on Disney's site they do, indeed, have the December park hours along with parade times.

I for one am very glad for the no Early Entry days. This lets us sleep in and enjoy our vacation more. This is a trying time for some families, such as mine, my husband is in the military and is not able to join us do to current situations. I am just glad that Disney World is going to be a good distraction for my kids during a hard time. Let's me happy for what we have and make the most of it rather than constantly being critical of a company that is doing what it can to keep afloat.

A.

Thanks for your note, Teri.

The note you read that mentioned that the Disney site did not yet have December hours was written in early November when they did not yet have that information on line.

On Early Entry, I wouldn't be surprised for park hours (if not exactly a specific "Early Entry" program to be reinstated during the busiest of days during the Holidays. If demand warrants, I'm sure they'll do so.

As far as "being critical of a company that is doing what it can to keep afloat," let me just point out that the cutbacks -- instituted by the Walt Disney Company over the last several years -- are what has gotten the company into this mess in the first place. Had the company put the customer first, and not tried to nickel and dime and pinch every penny, then they would have a better product today (on both the film and theme park side) and they would be making money hand over fist. Instead, they struggle because they've repeatedly cut quality and the value to the customer.

The economic slowdown is certainly hurting the company... as a travel-oriented business (on the park side, anyway), it's not a surprise that they have a fixed cost problem. However, park traffic has been decreasing all year long and again, that goes back to the reduced quality and value that they've been selling.

I'm sorry if my opinions irritate you, but you can feel free to ignore me.

In any case, I certainly hope that you and your family have a great trip... and I trust your husband, and all of our other military heroes, will have a safe holiday season also -- even with all that is going on in the world.

-

Q.

In a follow-up, Teri adds: Brian, I just received your e-mail. I do not usually ignore people's opinions. Everyone is entitled.

Disney has the right to run their company as they see fit. If people do not like how it is done they do not have to go to their theme parks or buy their merchandise.

I just think if you are going to be a vacation planning site for people like my family that are looking forward to our trip, we do not want to hear how horrible Disney is. They are there to provide a service to us for a price. I hope this has taught them and us a lesson on how to handle different circumstances. Thank you for listening and responding.

A.

Teri,

It is never my intent to simply tell you "how horrible Disney is." Rather, I want to make you aware of what you're going to get for the money you're going to spend.

If you went on your trip expecting nothing but great value and an absolutely perfect experience, but then *did* experience some disappointment, then I wouldn't be doing my job. You stated, "They are there to provide a service to us for a price." I agree. Now, having read some of MousePlanet's pages you have a better understanding of what you'll get for that premium price you'll pay. If you're satisfied with that value, then I'm sure you'll have a great trip and thoroughly enjoy yourself because you're prepared... and you know exactly what to expect. So, whether you agree with my commentary on the cutbacks, I have done my job. Now, if only I could get paid for doing my job...  ;)

As far as this teaching anyone a lesson, I don't quite understand what you mean. The Walt Disney Company certainly hasn't learned a thing from the cutbacks yet. Hopefully they will soon...

-

Q.

I just can't end on a down note, so here's Kathi's note that I just recently received: Hi, Brian... We've just returned fro WDW for a week long stay over Thanksgiving. We stayed at the concierge at Polynesian. I can not say enough about their service, friendliness and helpfulness! Sure I noticed some changes since July and April but what has not changed? I never ran into a CM who was short with us or anything but Disney nice. As for the end of early entry.. I'll take the character caravan any day. At the Poly we had a full hour of all the main characters such as Minnie, Mickey, Pluto, etc.. There were no lines to see them. I found magic every where I turned! It was more difficult to get into the resort hotels and a license was required but what's wrong with being safe? Disney value is still in the quality of the shows, food, souvenirs and their treatment of their guests. They are a business not just there for our enjoyment as we like to think. If the cutbacks help put them on more stable ground in the long run we will all benefit. I'm going back in April and have booked the cruise too. Long live Disney!

A.

Kathi,

I'm sure that the cutbacks will help the company in the short term. It's the long term that I'm concerned about. I'd rather they IMPROVE quality because that will make people want to come back... not cut back for short term savings.

In any case, I'm very, very glad that you had a great trip! I've heard several good reports of late, so maybe things aren't as bad now as they were during my most recent visit.

Well, I hope you enjoyed the reader feedback for the WDW Trip Planning Guide!  Feed free to send more questions or comments to brian@mouseplanet.com!

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I've always gotten email about the WDW Trip Planning Guide, but since we added the feedback form to the site several months ago, the number of questions has increased dramatically!  I do my best to answer each and every question personally, but I've noticed that a lot of the questions are asked again and again.  The question that one person asks might very well be the question that someone else is wondering about.  Thus this page!

So...I'll post reader email and feedback every once in a while, because the question someone else asks might be the same one you're thinking about yourself!

 

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