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MousePlanet Mailbag for July 31, 2003

We receive considerable feedback regarding our site. Periodically, we get unusually interesting or compelling correspondence from individuals who feel very strongly about one issue or another.

Today's Mailbag consists of just such a letter, written by Joshua W. Murcray and addressed to the management at the Disneyland Resort.

An Open Letter to Team Disney Anaheim

To: Whom It May Concern
From: Joshua W. Murcray
Re: Disneyland Resort

Greetings! I am writing to you in regards to the two parks at the Disneyland Resort: Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure. I have been going to Disneyland since I was 5 and I have never found anything more magical of a place than Disneyland. I even worked as a security officer during the construction of Disney's California Adventure. A unique experience which I will never forget.

However, I have been sorely disappointed about the path the executives are taking the parks down. The parks are not attracting the crowds they deserve and because of a lack of ideas the parks are slowly becoming undesirable, especially by the locals. This is not the Disney Dream. This is a degradation of the ideals Walt Disney thought he left behind and I, for one, do not wish to see it continue. So, with my passport in hand my wife and I have ventured into both parks numerous times and discussed the failings and accomplishments that both parks offer. With these in mind and a wish to see Disney do better, I have compiled a list of ideas that, I believe wholeheartedly, will re-ignite interest in the parks and spark life back into Disney.

Also, it is well-known that Disneyland will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2005 and that it doesn't look good regarding the completion of some projects or the overall atmosphere and condition of the park come that time. So I have taken my ideas and organized them in a way that if implemented soon could see a better Disneyland, and will also show guests a sneak preview of more wondrous things ahead — especially for Tomorrowland and the much-needed improvement there.

Should you wish to receive any more information regarding these ideas, please call, email, or write me. My information will be located at the bottom of this letter. Please read this carefully and give each item considerable thought. I am serious when I say that I only have Disney's best interest at heart and that I want to see Disney improve and not fall into disgrace. Thank you.

In order to be ready for 2005 many things need to be accomplished in a short amount of time. Tomorrowland, itself, is in much need of a face-lift and retooling. Since time is our major enemy right now here are some ideas that would need to be started immediately in order to be ready in time.

1. Use the track for the PeopleMover as part of the ride for Space Mountain.

Don't even slow it down when it goes outside. Paint the rockets black with glow-in-the-dark stars and names. Place foot-long, thin blacklight bulbs on the sides of each rocket giving the illusion of a stream of light shooting by. On the outside of the track, add strobe lights that track with the rocket as it goes by. This improvement will show the ever-changing theme of Tomorrowland and the future in roller coasters. This added thrill would make Space Mountain a draw to roller coaster enthusiasts around the world.

Whoever is in charge would need to take the contractors aside and tell them this idea. Then tell them that you want it up and ready for test runs no later than Halloween, 2004. Then ask them to tell you what it would take to get it done in that time. Even if they work 24 hours a day with full crews it would be worth it to make sure 2005 started with a new Space Mountain.

2. It is my understanding that many of the sponsors for Innoventions have walked away without renewing contracts and thus leading to the demise of Innoventions.

The following is my idea that may or may not be completed in time for 2005.

It is also my understanding that the idea of turning Innoventions into a walk-through the construction and creation of Disneyland is being touted about. If my idea sounds to be of better use for the Innoventions building, then consider the idea of putting the Blast from Disney's Past show in the CircleVision building.

Here is my idea for the Innoventions building:

Open a channel of communication with NASA and Hewlett-Packard (who I heard did renew their contract) about the possibility of turning Innoventions into a space training camp (at least the inside). The outside of the building will have to wait until after 2005 when it could then be redesigned to imitate an alien space station. On the inside on the rotating floors you can offer games and training exercises that real astronauts have to go through along with others that are more scaled down for children and those less actively inclined.

For instance:

  • I.Q. tests
  • balancing tests
  • a gyroscope
  • a centrifugal force lounge (will explain that in person upon request)
  • a room painted red like Mars or the Moon, with wires attached to the belt of your imitation space suit to lift you to simulate walking on Mars or the Moon
  • a mock up of the space shuttle cockpit where guests can not only pretend to be a pilot but to also have their picture taken which they could later purchase if desired
  • an apparel and merchandise store selling NASA-approved suits or jumpsuits and computer equipment and accessories by Hewlett-Packard
  • a centrifugal bike (will further explain this upon request)
  • a flight simulator; and finally
  • a room that you can rent magnetic boots and then cables are hooked on your belt to allow you to walk up a magnetic wall and onto a magnetic ceiling.

If these ideas cannot be completed before 2005 then my only other suggestion is to bring Videopolis back, but locate it within the Innoventions building to reduce the neighborhood noise factor.

3. It is my belief that there is no way for you to have everything in Tomorrowland new by 2005 so the best option to strive for some new with some renovated old for nostalgia purposes.

Example: No matter the cost, the Submarine ride must be renovated and brought up to specs in order to accommodate guests by 2005. Not only will this add much-needed ride capacity for Tomorrowland, but will open the ride to a whole new generation of Disney fans.

If my ideas for the Innoventions falls through and the Disneyland Nostalgia display is placed there then my suggestion is to reopen CircleVision with the original movie that was shown there years ago.

Also, should my ideas for Space Mountain prove to be undoable then my suggestion is to reopen the original PeopleMover. At least just for the year 2005.

4. I understand that you may already be in the works to change the parades and the fireworks show.

At least I hope you are. My suggestion is to make the parade a walking timeline. Start the parade with some of the original costumes worn during the opening of Disneyland and as the parade progresses, the costumes becomes more and more current until you end the parade with the current movies costumes and, of course, the Fab Five.

5. To continue in Tomorrowland lets head to what used to be the upstairs Arcade next to Space Mountain.

Here it was my idea to place either a Virtual Reality Den or a Lazer Tag arena. Either one you can charge for time and thus use an empty room and make money doing so.

Just to advise you that the rest of my suggestions do not concern Tomorrowland until much later in time. The suggestions you have just read are the ones most likely to be quickly completed without getting too expensive. I tried to think of most of the items needed to make sure Tomorrowland has every building full of something to do for the guests so there isn't much disappointment. The following 16 ideas can also be done before 2005 if implemented quickly. However, the need to get Tomorrowland up and running smoothly is of greater importance.

I have organized these ideas in such a way that many of them can all be worked on at the same time and some can even be completed over a single night! I have tried to arrange them by importance and necessity, but I will understand if you feel the order is slightly askew.

6. Over to Frontierland we go to the Golden Horseshoe where the only idea I have in order to spruce up for the 50th Anniversary is to bring back the original Golden Horseshoe Revue.

Not the original actors but the actual show itself. Complete with dancing girls and a live band. In case you need a moneymaking scheme to get this in the works you could sell videos or DVDs of the original show along with interviews with the original cast.

Keep Billy Hill & The Hillbillies because they are the funniest act I've ever seen, but you can make money off them by not only selling videos of them but also by putting out another CD of their songs.

7. It is known that the western fort on Tom Sawyer's Island has been taken over by termites and other little creatures and that it is unknown what to do with the situation.

My idea is to tear it down and build an Indian Village there. Complete the ensemble with Native Americans and possibly a Native American show and you will add history and culture to an island that is literally falling apart. For a moneymaking scenario, try selling food like corn-on-the-cob and fish sticks. Open a store over there with some possible authentic Indian merchandise.

8. I can sympathize with the need for greater security, however if the Sleeping Beauty Castle is not open for a walk-through, the complaints will be loud and unending.

So, idea is to place security cameras in hidden areas allowing for thorough coverage of the entire passageway and have a security officer add the Castle into his/her area to monitor.

Also add projections of background stills from the movie to project onto the walls themselves to add to the diorama and illusion. Thus showing guests that the old is still wonderful and the new just adds to it.

9. Should all fall in line and the previous ideas bear fruit at the proper time, then the number of guests will greatly increase causing the need for more merchandise. But first you need to make sure your stores will be open to accommodate them.

With that in mind you really need to reopen the stores on Main Street for the one-hour post-closing shopping time that allows guests to shop after the park has closed. It also means that the restaurants will need to go back to their normal operating hours to handle the larger volume of guests. Should you not reopen the stores for that hour then you will continue to see less sales that will dwindle schedule hours, which will dwindle sales causing a vicious cycle. Stop it now and reopen the stores for the extra hour.

The merchandise itself needs some tweaking. For instance: you have a gazillion of the Princess collection, but what happens if all I have are little boys. The selection of boys' wear is surprisingly skimpy compared to the overabundance of girls' wear. Add more boys' and maybe a tad less Princess collection.

10. You have a great chance to incorporate your company synergy by taking the Main Street Bank and turning it (without altering the decorations, storefront, or furniture) into a branch of your Partners Credit Union.

This new branch will be able to reach people from all over the world and will allow cast members from other Disney parks to cash checks, deposit money, make withdrawals, and check balances, without worrying about fees. Turning real money into Disney money can be one of the side duties of the branch personnel. Supplying financial needs to guest and cast members will increase interest in other Disney ventures, like the Disney Visa card.

11. Now, I have never been to Walt Disney World, however I do read a lot about it and while it is unfair to compare it to Disneyland I must say that one idea in particular struck my fancy and I offer it to you as a suggestion. In keeping with the semi-nostalgia feel of the 50th Anniversary theming I propose that a real barber shop with singing barbers be admitted and placed within the Main Street area.

Not only bringing in revenue to the park but adding a homelike atmosphere with a touch of the small town vibe to it. Charging money won't even cause guests to blink as they happily sit their child down and hand over whatever it takes for this precious memory.

12. To increase revenue and also to add to the collection of memories that guests can take home, an idea is to add cameras to:

  • The Matterhorn where the track ducks under the other.
  • Big Thunder Railroad as the train goes into the dark tunnel at high speed.
  • The Haunted Mansion where the hitchhiking ghost is in the Doom Buggy with you.
  • Autopia for the little ones and maybe even Mr. Toads Wild Ride just as the explosion occur.

13. Thinking back on my fond memories of Disneyland as a child I remember my teen years and the good life here at Disneyland. I remember the Farm Days, the Pig Races, and the Royal Fraternal Order of Armadillo, the Mardi Gras Parade, and especially the Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue.

Some good eatin' there! Please bring back those good ol' days! You have an entire area of the park that isn't being used but once was used for just those things. Reopen Big Thunder Ranch. While you are it you might consider bringing back the Lumberjack Contests as well. Think about this: You have an entire year to try to attract people and having a year long party means doing things in stages and not all at once.

14. Many years ago I came to Disneyland and rode the Tram to the entrance and I laughed so hard.

Why? The Tram operator at the back of the Tram had become our Parking Lot Tour Guide and Disney Trivia Master all with a sense of humor that made Disney unique even in the Parking Lot! I believe that the recorded speech given on the Tram isn't Disney. People don't listen and therefore much-needed information goes missing. A personable tour guide on the tram causes people to listen harder and retain more of the information. Get rid of the recorded speech and bring back the humor and personal touch that makes Disney special, even on the way to your car.

15. There are a lot of things about the workings of Disney that I am not aware of. For instance, I am not aware of the reasoning behind halting the Keelboat/Riverboat runs around Tom Sawyers Island.

No matter the reason, I have overheard guests at the park remarking to others about how sad that they (the Riverboats) are not running any longer. I feel the same way. If Idea #7 is completed then the Riverboat Run will have an even better tour than before. Bring back the keelboats, please. The adults that remember when they last took the tour will stand proudly by their children as they pass on the feeling to a whole new generation.

16. I have seen the photographers at the entrance to Disneyland and I have even seen one just in front of the Castle.

My compliments to whomever came up with that idea. You should expand that into other areas of the park. Place a photographer just in front of Tomorrowland. Another can go in front of Toon Town. The Haunted Mansion, at each of the Train Stations to take pictures with the engine, on Main Street at the Flagpole looking down towards the Castle, all are places where a professional photo with themselves in it will become a prized addition to a guests scrapbook. Not to mention the added revenue to the Park. On that note you also should start selling more varying types of scrapbooks and photo albums where guests can pick up their pictures.

17. Unfortunately, I too must add my complaints to others. This complaint, believe it or not, deals with the King Arthur Carrousel in Fantasyland.

I like carousels and everyone I know likes carousels, but that's not the problem. The problem is you are calling it King Arthur Carrousel, yet the cels you display on the ride are from Sleeping Beauty? I don't remember a King Arthur in Sleeping Beauty! You already have a Sleeping Beauty Castle and the Carrousel is located directly behind the Sword in the Stone, and yet it displays Sleeping Beauty? I'm sorry but I have to tell you that even if it was originally designed that way it was probably done before the movie Sword in the Stone was completed. I'm hoping so, anyway. Replace the cels with cels from the movie Sword in the Stone. I have looked and I can find no other reference to that movie except at the sword in the stone and the name of the Carrousel. So change the cels and then you will have a true King Arthur Carrousel. Just A small change and easily done, and you will have a “new” carousel to show off for the anniversary.

18. We are now heading back to Tomorrowland but not for anything major. Just a slight schedule change here and an addition there. We're heading to Radio Disney.

Something I have still not been able to hear. Probably because it is only on for a few hours a week. Increase the hours to a full 24-hour broadcast with live DJs during the day and a recorded show at night. Why go to 24 hours? For those of us who work the graveyard shift (including your own maintenance) and for those who are at the park later in the day and want to see a live radio broadcast. Play tunes from all the groups that Disney has signed and include the children's hits that have become so popular. Sporadically insert old Disney songs from the soundtracks and from around Disneyland and the other Disney Parks. Now and then have giveaways even play excerpts from Who Wants To Be A Millionaire – Play It! This kind of synergy will incorporate both parks and cause a stirring of desire in guests to go out and buy the music you play over the airwaves.

19. Over in Frontierland you have a remarkable Mexican food restaurant.

My family and I love to eat there and find it to be a meal worthy of the price. However, I am constantly puzzled as I walk into the restaurant past a wall painted with a black rider on a black horse and yet the restaurant is not called El Zorro Cantina. Why is that? You have a perfectly great way to advertise Disney TV and to interest guests in obtaining copies of the old Zorro series and you don't use it. All it takes is a name change and some paint and you have yourself an updated restaurant that does some subliminal nudging. You could even sell on VHS and DVD the old Zorro series and any other old series you can think of, right there in Frontierland. As long as the theme of the video fits with Frontierland you have yourself a great synergy moneymaking opportunity. Just for changing a name.

20. At the entrances of both parks you have a thorough security process of checking bags.

I compliment you on this for it will make my next idea easier. Since you do not seem to be allowing guests to bring in souvenir character-topper cups that they have previously bought, then you have the perfect opportunity to show you care about the guests and that you listen to their complaints and wishes. Whenever someone buys a souvenir cup let him or her know that they can get a free refill for that cup at any restaurant in the park. But do not allow the cups to travel from one park to the next. In each park offer this great deal and the cups will be sold out quickly to thirsty guests. Your sales in souvenir cups should sky rocket and truthfully you are losing any money since sodas and water is relatively cheap. This will increase sales in one area while satisfying guests in a real way. Especially during the summer!

21. On Main Street, near the lockers, about half way to the Castle there lies an unused ice cream shop that once flourished until someone parked a fruit stand out front, nearly blocking the way.

Reopen that ice cream shop. Possibly getting the company Cold Stone Creamery to sponsor it. A much-needed diversion from the heat and a great way to add to the bottom line.

Everything that you have just read has been primarily for Disneyland. Those ideas of mine are also meant to help get the park ready for the anniversary. I haven't mentioned Disney's California Adventure because that's an entirely different problem. I used to work there during the construction of the park, and while it was exciting to work for Disney, I have to admit that there weren't very many impressed cast members or guests. In fact Disneyland was known as Disney's Dream while DCA was considered Eisner's Eyesore. Not very nice, but then again, Disney said he never wanted a Ferris wheel at his park because it wasn't supposed to be a carnival or fair, but something better. Now look what you've got.

When it comes to DCA, there is a long list of things that need to be changed. Or added to it. Listening to others' ideas and after visiting the park several times, I have narrowed the list down and have just a few to share with you. If you would like, that is.

While many of ideas that I have not shared with you are long-term ideas and may take a couple of years, still others can be accomplished quite quickly and for only a small expense on your part. These, also, I would love to share with you at some point.

You see, the whole point to this letter and to these ideas is to get an interview at Disney. I want to work for Disney again. I want to be able to help get Disneyland back on its feet and to get Disney California Adventure a fighting chance. So, I'm asking for an interview with Jay Rasulo. Please let me help, or at the very least pay me for my ideas and use them. Soon! You are running out of time and all I want to do is help.

Let me know soon.

Thank you.


Joshua W. Murcray


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