by Brian Bennett
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
From the World and 11/15/01
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.
| 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:
- Management short term thinking,
higher profits today are more valuable then corporate strength
- Management belief that the consumer
is stupid and will accept mediocrity.
- 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.
It's a shame that we can only pick two. ;) Thanks for the
| 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
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.
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
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
|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
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
Of course there is likely an upside
to all this - the ride lines should be short!
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.
|John writes: Brian,
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
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
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!
|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.
|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.
|Well said, Marc.
|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.
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
|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
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
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.
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
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.
|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
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
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"
|Thanks Keith. I'll definitely get
your note in sometime soon.
|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
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!
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.
|Abraham writes: Brian,
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.
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
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.
|An unnamed cast member writes:
As 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!
|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
I'm glad to hear that there are some positives in there,
|Shaun writes: Hey
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.
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.
|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
Keep up the good work.
|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.
I'm sorry you missed the gift certificate promotion. I didn't
realize that Disney was being so fickle even about in-store
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.
|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
Sent: Monday, October 29, 2001 10:20 AM
Subject: Greetings from the Walt Disney World Resort
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)
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
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! ;)
|Thanks for your note, Kristen. I
just wish you had a happier story to tell.
|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
- ToT (only once!)
- Sounds Dangerous
which makes the list of things we didn't
get to see very long:
- Animation Tour
- Playhouse Disney
- Backstage Pass
- Backlot Tour
- 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.
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. :(
|Amy writes: Brian,
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.
I just wish it wasn't necessary for us to be writing such
notes to WDW.
|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
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
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.
|Thanks for letting me know, Larry.
|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.
|Thanks for sharing your experience,
Gregory. I hope WDW changes their customer service, too.
|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.
|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.
|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
Anyway, just thought you were the person
to alert about this sort of thing…
|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
|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.
|Thanks for the note, Mark.
It sure is a bad time for the Walt Disney Company for this to
happen, though, isn't it?
|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.
|Thanks. I'll make a note of the changes
in an upcoming email piece
|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.
|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
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.
|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
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...
|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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org!
Brian Bennett's Disney Trip Planner
Click here to see
some awesome WDW pieces that have run on MousePlanet recently!
here to check out the rest of Brian's Archive, including all of the previously
published "Notes From the World" pieces!
always gotten email about the WDW Trip Planning Guide, but since we added
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!
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!