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MousePlanet Mailbag for August 28, 2003

We receive considerable feedback regarding our site. Although we cannot publish all of them, the following may be of interest to other readers.

Feedback for David Koenig

[Mail continues to come in after David's article about layoffs at Disney Feature Animation (“Suspended Animation,” August 14).]

First off, more bad news from the Feature Animation front, this time from France.

A Disney animator in Paris wrote:

I wanted to truly thank you for your shocking article on the Disney Feature Disaster. About two months ago the Parisian crew got their bad news after more than a year and a half of stress, false hope the studio would be bought over by another label and a training in 3-D we all took as the only way to survive in this business. The end of September the crew of 89 really talented people will receive their last paycheck!

I've been working here for (many) years now and I still can't understand why we're treated like we're pariahs.

No word of sympathy, a poor social plan, and Disney is trying to send us away with the smallest package possible. Not a word from David Stainton who ran this studio for about three years while we were churning out all of the animation of the Tarzan character with Glen Keane heading the crew.

Most of us were starting to be really good on computer, and have proven we have the potential to adapt ourselves in the 3-D field. Just to let you know how sad we are Disney is not willing to find a solution to save this unique European Studio.

Bummed in Burbank wrote:

As for 2-D, really, I think it's deader than a doornail. As you know, Disney has gutted the animation, cleanup and effects departments, which is sad, but they've also completely gutted the CAPS, Scene Planning, Camera and Scanning departments.

Right now we couldn't make one frame of 2-D animation in our building.

Everyone has come to the realization that even if Brother Bear is bigger than Nemo, it's still game over for us. And worse, with the CORE Digital, Vanguard and Shadedbox deals, as well as our own TVA—er, ah—“DisneyToon Studios” some of us wonder if all of feature animation is going to be “outsourced” to save pennies.

But the real question we're all asking is, will Katzenberg still rip off Disney if Disney isn't even made by Disney anymore? Will he make a cheaper carrier pigeon in W.W. II movie? Will he make a ripped-off animals escaping from a zoo flick?

We'll just wait and see.

As for me, I'm selling all my Disney stock soon. If it's good enough for Roy…

Eddie Pittman wrote:

Thank you for posting what's really going on at Disney animation! Although I've been watching all these layoffs for some time, I still have a hard time imagining why John Pomeroy and other great animators should put down their pencils and pick up a mouse.

Keep up the good work. Maybe one day someone (probably not Disney) will realize what a huge mistake this is and bring back 2-D.

It seems now that Walt's legacy is in the hands of Pixar—but at least they're good hands.

Norman Drew wrote:

As you've so adroitly pointed out, and as I have been espousing my entire 40 years in animation, “It ain't in the tools, it's in the soul.”

When an industry becomes top heavy with filing clerks upped via the casting couch to middle managers and VPs to the VPs; when not only the bottom line, but the top one and every one in-between (pun intended) is simply profit margin and market share, the essence of the thing is lost. There is no room for soul, nothing for the audience to resonate with. Wall-to-wall vapidity.

Profiteering pragmatists may have the skills of the strip-miner to turn around the corporate ledger, may know the price, but not the human value of what they're creating and distributing.

When creators like Nick Park on paltry budgets but with tons of loving care, who know this truth, using simple stop-motion figures create three short films and win an Oscar for each, there remains hope that the truth will prevail. In the words of Abe Lincoln, “You cannot fool all the people all the time.”

The issue is neither 2-D nor 3-D, 4-D, 5-D, pencils, string or sealing wax. Gimmickry and glossy surface values (soon we'll read movie ads featuring “new animation smell”)can snag the gullible in the short term, but what the film has to say, how deeply it touches our humanity, our soul, is the key to lasting memorability; in short, to its being loved.

Novelist John G. Hemry penned:

I (like many others) read your report on cutbacks in the ranks of Disney animators with dismay. Many of your correspondents noted that the high-profile failures which Disney animation has suffered were the result not of bad animation but of bad storytelling. I thought you might to like hear the reaction of a professional writer (novels and short fiction) to one of those failures (Atlantis). Here's what struck me when I watched that film.

The lead character of Milo was an idiot for most of the film. It's okay for a lead character to have some quirks, but Milo wasn't anyone the audience would want to identify with. He was clueless, he was a doormat, he was a screw-up—right until most of the way into the movie when he inexplicably attracted the love of a beautiful princess and somehow morphed into an action hero.

There were way too many secondary characters whose presence did nothing to advance the story but took up time and confused things. Get rid of Mole and how would it have hurt the story? Not at all. Same for the Cook. And the Secretary. When they weren't clogging up the story, those characters were busy clashing with each other. A cowboy cook and an elderly business secretary in the same story? Why? If Disney had pared the list of secondary supporting characters down to the explosives guy and the doctor the story would've been a lot cleaner. Instead, you get the image of a bunch of corporate “brains” sitting around a table saying things like “hey, let's also add an ethnic Italian teenage girl engineer!”

Moreover, the secondary characters usually failed the suspension of belief test. A teenage girl as chief engineer around the 1900s? Right. A black man who'd been trained as a doctor in the Army in the late 1800s and apparently had never felt a trace of racism? Uh-huh.

If Disney had axed most of the “supporting” cast they would have had time to tell the story better. There was a brief scene near the end, for example, when you saw how the doctor could've become a surrogate father for Milo. That would've made a great sub-story for the movie, but there wasn't any room for it because they had to stuff in scenes for every other character.

Voice talent—what idiot cast James Garner as the amoral bad-guy's voice? Just about every person knows that voice. We associate it with James Garner and the characters he's made famous. None of them are bad guys.

The action sequences were often done all wrong. Apparently Disney thought the audience wanted to see underground and underwater dogfights between aircraft. During the battle with the Kraken, the mini-subs moved like little fighter aircraft and the torpedoes moved like missiles. There's a slow-motion rhythm and beauty to underwater scenes when they're done right. You can imagine the talent behind something like Cowboy Bebop or Princess Mononoke doing a gorgeous underwater sequence with everything moving at underwater speeds in underwater ways. Instead, you got a twitch-and-shoot video game sequence that looked and felt out of place. Naturally, Disney came up with another aerial dogfight for the climatic battle. It takes real perversity to insert multiple air battles into a story set underwater and underground.

The plot was full of holes big enough to drop the city of Atlantis into. Just for example, if the Atlanteans had all been alive since the island sank, how'd they forget how to make their machines work or how to read their own writing? (More visions of corporate suits reviewing the script—“hey, then let's have a volcano explode! And then some giant robots! And everything gets covered with lava!”)

The animation in Atlantis wasn't any great shakes, but what made it a pain to watch was the awful job on the story. Compare that to a brilliant sequence like the opening song in Mulan. As the song and action proceed, the audience is introduced to the character, is told what Chinese society expects of that character, is shown how Mulan doesn't fit those expectations, and the story line rolls along toward Mulan's disastrous encounter with matchmaker. All this and some clever visual jokes as well, all at once and so smoothly done you don't even realize all that plot development has taken place while Mulan gets dolled up for the matchmaker. That's storytelling.

A friend of mine once commented about a TV series: “millions for special effects and not one cent for writers.” It appears Disney's heading down that same road.

A media maven wrote:

I was just thankful that someone finally wrote about it. There has been so little news about this in the media.

You did a very good job on this story except for a few points. First, the obvious:

1. Most of the directors at Disney (and elsewhere) have pointed to the success of Lilo & Stitch to debunk the argument that 2-D is dead. But we all know why this is ignored: 2-D is risky and calls for a lot of work, while CG is still a novelty that can easily make money.

2. David Stainton isn't actually running Feature Animation. Michael Eisner, more than ever before, has been making all of the major decisions. Eisner has been picking which features to produce and approves most (but not all) of the storyboards.

This didn't happen all at once but gradually after Jeffrey Katzenberg left, then Peter Schneider. Eisner's claims to the contrary (and the manipulation of the easily gullible L.A. Times) particularly gall most of the employees in the know. Michael was able to distance himself (with some justification) from Treasure Planet, but there is no excuse for Brother Bear or Home on the Range.

And, in still yet another sign that it's the '70s all over again, some very high placed executives are drolly calling Brother Bear the last picture to be directed by Woolie Reitherman.

Besides the above points, it is a little unfair to Disney to report the layoffs of seven character animators as some big event. Most of them were not long-time employees and typically migrate from company to company.

Now there is a whole other story and it concerns the Disney Company and the parks. MousePlanet and other fan sites keep on missing the big picture. Disney's last quarter and nine months ending June 30, 2003 were very revealing. Too revealing, with some trends possibly forming.

That parks are starting to decline again in net in a jobless recovery probably means that they are more exposed than previously believed. Some attendance is up, but ticket sales and spending are down. It should now become clear to everyone that after 9/11 would have been the time to start making cutbacks at the parks (and not nine years ago at the start of a recovery with jobs).

The company continues to mask the cost of [Disney's California Adventure park] and its Paris twin, Walt Disney Studios. The Studios have turned out to be the financial version of DCA at Disneyland Paris (which has never been a big money maker).

Disney may have to write down DCA as a loss and split it apart from Disneyland. They'll probably do it if that Tower of Terror doesn't have long-term impact and if the entire company has a very successful quarter. (Not to do this would be financial insanity, but what else is new?)

The only good news is that Pixar makes money for Disney. (Yes, that's the good news.) Unreported good news would have to include the royalties from Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySeas (pure profit).

There is plenty that could be done but everyone should take note that the lead shareholder, Roy Disney, has decided to sell shares rather than confront the problem. Can we guess what the problem is?

Email also continued to stream in about “Land Locked” (about some changes in where Disneyland cast members can work, published August 12):

Matt shared:

It is with some amusement I read cast members' complaints about the new “Land Locked” policy within Disneyland. The theme park is a gigantic company, much less Attractions itself, and each individual land has more employees than most small businesses.

Having worked at Legoland, which uses a “Land Locked” system, I've seen firsthand the need for some sort of structure and hierarchy. Legoland Attractions is divided into four different areas (six if you count the two “Grounds” areas, which unlike Disneyland, fall under the Attractions umbrella). Each has its own “Area Lead” and is basically has its own identity. During the summer, the department has contests and incentive programs to have the areas compete against eachother regarding ride capacity, cleanliness, attendance, and so on.

The point? Having structured areas that run both semi-independently (underneath the same supervisors and managers, obviously) offers far more positives to management than dozens of “Small Business Units” and employees working dozens of attractions in different areas. Supervisors and managers can more accurately see a Lead's individual working style and efficiency. They can compare areas against one another, showing which Leads are excelling while others are not.

Plenty of MCs (Model Citizens, as Legoland names its employees) have the ability to cross train in other areas or even transfer areas every six months or so.

The system is a good one. Cast members will figure this out in due time.

At least one ride operator wasn't buying. He wrote:

There are more than just a couple of hundred cast members that land locking is affecting. This is affecting all the cast members in Attractions, and here is why: Cast members from other lands with more seniority are coming over to areas where more hours are available, therefore placing the cast members that were already there in jeopardy for more hours. Cast members who spent years being able to be at two or more attractions in other lands are now being forced to drop one or more attractions just because someone in a higher position wants to make things easier on themselves.

Again, the excuse they are giving us is absurd (“so we can get to know the managers better”). I have seen at least three manager rotations in Tomorrowland alone; if they were so concerned about us getting to know the managers better, they would keep the managers posted where they are for longer periods of time. I for one could care less about knowing a manager better anyways—they care little about the cast members (for the most part, with few exceptions).

This landlock system is depriving cast members of the fun of the job by taking away the variety they used to enjoy and placing many cast members at risk of having as many hours because higher seniority cast members are naturally going to go where the most hours are available. This has caused quite a stir, believe me!

I understand your concerns and, believe me, can imagine how this will make the job less varied and less fun. And you're right. More than a couple hundred cast members will be affected, although indirectly. I should have said that a couple hundred CMs will be directly affected through the loss of attractions.

But in the end the park runs smoother. This isn't about cast members and managers getting to know each other better on a social level; it's about them getting to know each other professionally—so cast members know whom they report to, whom they're accountable to, where they belong; and so managers know who they're responsible for, and can keep track of and more accurately appraise performance, positively and negatively. Cast members doing a superior or an inferior job at many attractions across the park are less likely to be recognized for their accomplishments or failures.

Disneyland isn't a playground. It's a business that should do everything it can to operate as efficiently as possible. Certainly helping cast members to enjoy their jobs is a primary way to achieve this. But sometimes freedom must be tempered. Such as, a lot of cast members would probably enjoy rolling into work at whatever time they wanted, and working a different position each day while wearing their street clothes, having a two-hour lunch, and going home when they got tired.

And, remember, land locking is the way Disneyland operated, efficiently, for 40 years. This is one “change” you can thank Walt for.

He shot back:

I know Disneyland is not a playground, but does it have to be a prison? It's not just not being “as fun,” but this involves a loss of hours to many cast members there. And something that Disney gave them is being taken away from them.

As far as the managers are concerned, they keep rotating them anyways whether or not we are land locked! Imagine being stuck somewhere and never having the chance to go anywhere else! As for it being originally like that, keep in mind that to some extent it was, but there was west side and east side, which meant much more variety as there is now!

But why can't someone have the chance (after gaining enough seniority) to work on another attraction even if it was on the other side? This isn't too hard for them! And what if someone doesn't get along with a manager, they always have to work under them as long as the manager is land locked in that land. But, as the managers are rotated to keep them fresh, why can't we be to keep us fresh? You demean the cast members and it trickles down to our behavior, therefore losing the product!

Now, Disney doesn't care about us but they do care about the bottom line and that is money. But, if we are ticked that is going to worsen our service and if we are always stuck in the same place, then we feel we are being held against our will in one area and even the most gung-ho cast members will lose their enthusiasm after a while if they can't be anywhere else.

Again, I do understand your situation and absolutely agree there's a steep price to pay. Still, I have to believe, if implemented properly, this just makes too much sense not to do. It should have never been changed in the first place.

And, no, originally cast members were not assigned to west side or east side and given the freedom to work any ride on their half of the park. While the park did have a “west” and an “east” side, you were assigned a specific ride (say Jungle Cruise) or rotation of rides (Tiki-Treehouse) and that was your permanent home—until you transferred somewhere else.

What really galled several readers was last week's letter from reader Warren. Jim wrote:

I'm glad I don't work for Warren (“a manager for a major retailer”). While I agree with much of what he says, his statement that “excellent customer service comes from attitude, not job variety” is indicative of how clueless he is about what motivates people.

Does he not get that job variety improves attitude? Employees appreciate new challenges, new experiences, new learning situations. It keeps them engaged and fresh, and helps promote workplace longevity. At what point in Warren's career did he decide that “the ultimate goal in a customer service business is making money?”

I say, b---s---! The ultimate goal should be customer satisfaction, because if the customer is happy, the money will come. Warren's kind of thinking by the current suits at Disney is what has gotten the company in trouble.

As a theater actor, I know that having a goal of selling as many tickets as possible is not what is going to make a great production. Focusing on the best script, acting, singing, dancing, lighting, and scenery is what will bring the folks to see the show.

Disney used to understand this, as evidenced by the theater lingo—“cast member,” “on stage,” “show,” etc.—used in the parks. If people like Warren are running the “show,” it's no wonder the company is having problems, because the employees that make the magic happen for the guests who are there to make memories have been relegated to being less important than the almighty dollar.

A Disneyland ride operator added:

Hey, David! Don't look now but I think that T Irby called himself “Warren” and slipped you a response to promote his dumb ideas about land locking! (T masked the fact it was him really well by not speaking of the military!)

Let me be the first to say that Warren embodies what I think is wrong with the upper management of Disneyland Attractions. (I draw that conclusion because his comments are exactly the thoughts of our upper management.) These days someone has to speak up and say something!

Our Guest Service Managers (middle management trapped in the middle these days) know these changes are bad ideas, but have to paint their smiles on because their jobs are on thin ice as it is. Anybody that can ask with a straight face “why is variety necessary?” obviously has no idea what it's like to work in a theme park. They haven't been stuck merging the lines at Splash Mountain with three-hour standby waits, stuck keeping parents from pushing their children in front of moving Toad cars, or stuck taking verbal and physical assaults from guests at Fantasmic! Now I realize that every job has its perils, but attraction operations has a very, very high burnout factor. And there is no way the cast believes that cross-training in the area is going to be a reality, especially with yet more “budget-crunching” looming on the horizon.

My other serious concern with Warren is the notion of not treating your cast like family. (Forgive the soapbox, it's coming.) “Friendships and family are extra and not the reason for the workplace existing.” No one takes an attractions job at Disneyland to make the company money. No one. They come for the work environment and the culture. True, while some may float from attraction to attraction, the Disneyland attractions crew is a “family.” That family attitude is the difference between the Disneyland cast and the sometimes soulless corporate world, even reflected in our own company.

I myself will never stop treating my fellow cast members with the respect they deserve. A happy cast makes happy guests. Period. And the minute we stop treating each other like family, we abandon Uncle Walt's vision of the place to work, and become one of Warren's “associates” with the rest of the world. But with that, despite the negatives, Disneyland is still the best job I've ever had. And I love it with all my heart.

Feedback for the Mailbag

We ran a mailbag with a single piece last month: an open letter by Joshua Murcray to Disneyland management on how to improve the park for its upcoming 50th anniversary. We did hear from those who thought we erred in running Joshua's open fan letter, because such long and detailed lists on how to improve the park are so common. We believe we touched a nerve with our readers, however, because Joshua's letter opened the floodgates on responses that were just as impassioned as Joshua's. Ordinary as Joshua's letter might be, perhaps it represented the unseen masses who got really fired up after reading his letter.

David S. wrote:

While many of Josh's suggestions are indeed very advisable, there would be one problem with one of them. While the Rancho Del Zocalo restaurant does have several allusions to Zorro, the Zorro character is not owned by Disney. The licensed character “Zorro,” spanish for “the fox,” was created in 1919 by the writer Johnston McCulley for his serialized novel The Curse of Capistrano. More information can be found at Zorro.com.

Currently the movie license is with Sony (the makers of The Mask of Zorro with Antonio Banderas and its sequel currently under development).

I would like to see it licensed for park use to Disney as well.

Paula from New Zealand writes:

What a fabulous list of ideas that the writer has put together to improve Disneyland for the 50th birthday. For each item, I thought “yeah.” I sincerely hope that someone takes note of these fabulous ideas. Many won't cost a huge amount and could provide an huge benefit to both guests and the Disney corporation.

I've not been to Disneyland in years but am considering making the trip for the 50th anniversary. I really hope that I won't be disappointed in how much it has changed over the years.

Rick N. writes:

We all have ideas on how to improve Disneyland. Some of Joshua's ideas have been brought up before and some are new. Some I agree with and some I don't. I decided to respond to his letter with one of my own commenting on his ideas and providing a few ideas of my own.

1. Using the People Mover track as part of the Space Mountain attraction is a superb idea. I believe it's been brought up before but I understood the track could not structurally take the stress involved with the high-speed rockets. I could be wrong but I seem to recall that the track was not modified for the Rocket Rods due to budget constraints. As a result the Rocket Rods couldn't take the stress of speeding up and slowing down constantly and so never ran correctly, were never dependable and although there was always a crowd waiting to ride them they failed miserably.

2. Inoventions has also failed miserably. The only reasons people seem to go in there is to get out of the heat, get out of the rain or just don't know what they are getting into. My suggestion for this building is to move the Starcade and the Star Trader to the lower level freeing up there previous locations for another attraction. The upper level of the Inoventions building could be turned into a glass-walled (or open air) revolving restaurant. This would eliminate Redd Rockett's Pizza Port, (nothing wrong with it but two side-by-side restaurants are not needed), and free up this space for some other attraction.

3. I wholeheartedly agree with opening up the Submarines at any cost. As corny as this attraction always was it was always packed and I enjoyed it. I like the nostalgia idea but why not place this in the CircleVision Theater. The huge waiting room could be full of nostalgia and the old movie, (or perhaps a new nostalgic movie), could be shown in the theater.

4. I'm not to sure about the parade of old style characters evolving into newer incarnations as the parade progresses. Kids might ask, “What's wrong with Mickey? Why does he look like that?”

5. I like the laser tag idea in the Starcade. Since we are moving the Star Trader to the Inoventions building this area could be included here. Or perhaps the NASA exhibit could be placed in the Star Trader location and more nostalgia in the existing NASA location as part of the Circle Vision nostalgia experience.

6. I have no suggestions for the Golden Horseshoe. Joshua has a great idea.

7. However, I disagree with his ideas and views regarding Tom Sawyers Island. I've been to the island since it reopened and it is great! My boys love it. The only sad thing is the loss of the fort. I simply like to see the fort repaired and if necessary torn down and rebuilt. (And put the guns back in the towers minus trigger guards so children's fingers don't… well, you know.) No Indian village please. Although we can only see it by traveling the Rivers of America one Indian Village is enough and it probably would be criticized as not being politically correct anyway.

8. Rumor says Sleeping Beauty Castle may open up again. I hope this is true. I heard it was closed for security reasons. Well, Disneyland is a big place and if someone wanted to cause trouble and the castle is closed I think they would have no problem finding another secluded place.

9. As far as merchandise goes—much of it is garbage. Just trinkets to be bought for the kids who will toss it aside and forget about it three days later. There are many nice items available for purchase but if you want a decent souvenir then you have to shell out for it. I really have no problem with this. Once a year I let my boys pick a decent souvenir and any other visits that year they can pick a trinket. Hey, it's part of the experience.

10. I haven't been in the bank for years but think the opportunity to open an account at Disneyland would be cool. I believe originally you could do this and have Disneyland checks.

11. A real barbershop with singing barbers at Disneyland? I love it!!

12. Some additional revenue ideas might be to sell actual soundtracks of the attractions and videos and DVDs of the shows. I've seen bootleg videos of Fantasmic and Captain Eo for sale on eBay and they get a pretty penny for them.

13. Let's not get too nostalgic. Some of us old-timers have fond memories of things we once did and saw that no longer exist. Sometimes trying to relive a memory spoils that memory. I feel the best use of the Big Thunder Ranch area is to add an attraction. How about building a walkthrough cave system with large chambers, waterfalls and pathways? Make it necessary to pass through these caves to transition between Frontierland and Fantasyland.

14. My only comment on the tram spiel is, “Let's do it.”

15. I agree that it would be nice to see the Keel Boats plying the Rivers of America again. Although the rider capacity was low it added a great ambiance to the rivers.

16. No photographers please! This drives me nuts. Every tourist trap does this. For good reason I'm sure. It's a moneymaker. Go to Medieval Times, take a cruise or almost anything else touristy and somebody is taking your picture. They are always costly. I find this a bother and can do without it.

17. Maybe Joshua has a point with the Carousel but there are more important things that need to be addressed. Most people would never notice this.

18. Have you ever listened to Radio Disney? It's great! — If you're 12 years old or under. Didn't this used to be a frozen drink or ice cream stand? Change it back.

19. I haven't eaten there but I've looked at the menu at Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante. Ouch! And I doubt many people care much about a 1950s Zorro series with Guy Williams. Today we think of Zorro as Antonio Banderas.

20. Sorry, I intentionally do not buy souvenir cups and such. I don't want to carry this stuff around.

21. I could go for more ice cream.

A couple of peeves of my own.

1. There used to be a great free service at many store and souvenir locations in the park. At your request they would send your purchase up to the newsstand in front of the park and when you leave you could pick it up there. This was a great service. To repeat myself: I don't want to carry this stuff around. Unfortunately, on a recent trip I found this service to be discontinued. What you can do is take your purchase to the newsstand yourself and check it there and they will keep it for you until you leave. I nice service but kind of a hassle. Bring back the old method.

2. The Jungle Cruise skippers are no longer allowed to shoot the hippos. I miss it but can accept it. However, no longer are toy guns of any kind available for purchase in Adventureland or Frontierland. These guns were no more realistic than the multitude of space gun toys available for purchase in Tomorrowland. I'd love to see the return of the old style flintlock gun replicas for purchase. My boys hope to get one every time we go to Disneyland.

So these are my thoughts. I'm sure thousands of other people have there own ideas and hopeful wishes. I'm sure the execs at Disney listen to us (yeah right) so we will just have to wait and see what happens.

Rich L. writes:

Dear Misters Eisner and Rasulo,

Please hire Joshua W. Murcray! Hire him now and listen very carefully to his ideas. Then, simply spend a bit of your money to make his ideas reality and you may just find that he will make you lots more money.

People will notice. Lots of people. People that work on Wall Street will notice that you are re-investing in your parks. That should help your stock price. People like me will notice that you are once again trying to please your guests with actions (like renovated rides that are actually open, fresh paint, and the ability to buy things that I can't buy anywhere else on the planet). Please stop telling us through marketing or PR 'spin' that my experience was anything other than 'my' experience. Not what you want me to think I just experienced. I may be addicted to Disney, but I like to think that I have a good head on my shoulders as well.

Please hire Joshua. I don't know him, but what he wants for Disneyland is what I want for Disneyland.

R.W.M. writes:

Good day to you all, where ever you may be. I am writing in response to Mr. Murcray's open letter to Team Disney Anaheim. I am very pleased to see more and more people concerned about Disneyland's 50th birthday. There are so many ideas and most that I hear are amazing.

Though most of Mr. Murcray's ideas were well thought out and exciting some have some minor flaws.

(I hope I do not offend Mr. Murcray, I make different suggestions in hope that he may be able to think on a larger plain. Also I am just a Disneyland fan, I hold no other specialized position, I attend Disneyland Resort about fifteen times a year.)

1. I do not agree with you People Mover and Space Mountain idea. First I want to keep the People Mover track seperate from Space Mountain because I wish to have two different attractions than one huge attraction. Rocket Rods was a wonderful attractions with some flaws, if they were able to redo the track and maybe the layout they could rebuild the Rocket Rods attraction. Then after they finish Space Mountain, Disneyland will have added two updated attractions thus increasing the number of attractions in the deserted Tomorrowland.

Next, adding lightbulbs to the side of the roller coaster car would not be that exciting, safe, or efficient. Putting a lightbulb on the car means you must add powersource to the car like California Screamin' (for the music) but a power source to power a foot long black light bulb would have to be a little larger. Furthermore maintenance would have to change these lightbulbs constantly and there is halways a threat that a lightbulb could burnout and/or cause a spark which could lead to serious problem. (I know sparks by lightbulbs are rare but they happen frequent enough to scare away Disney lawyers).

2. Innoventions, your idea is great

3. You can't say, “no matter the cost” because if Disneyland loses money two things happen, no new stuff and higher ticket prices.

4. Parade and Fireworks, good ideas. I wish they would bring the Main Street Electrical Parade, get it out of DCA. Maybe spruce the parade up with fiber optics instead of light bulbs (whatever).

5. Having kids running around with guns in a dark room, that doesn't sound like a Disneyland thing.

6. There's nothing you can really do to the Golden Horseshoe. They got rid of the Revue for a reason. Billy Hill and the Variety Show still don't make it a must do for the average Disneyland goer. I say leave as is, (I love the Variety Show though).

7. Keep it simple, just spruce up the Fort and let the island keep the unwritten title, “most expensive playground.”

8. I never really cared for the Sleepy Beauty attraction, if it opens, cool; if it doesn't, whatever.

9. No suggestions.

10. No suggestions.

11. Are you seriously asking people to get their haircut at Disneyland?

12. Pictures on Matterhorn and Big Thunder are good ideas. A picture on the Haunted Mansion is really hard to do. It's to dark to take a picture and you can't use a flash because it ruins the hitchhiking ghost effect and I don't have a clue where you would put the photo station to buy the photo. Autopia and Mr. Toads is pretty cool though.

13. Big Thunder Ranch was awesome.

14. No suggestion.

15. No suggestion.

16. I personally dislike it when people stop me on my way into Disneyland. As far as I know they do make money off of it but I do not want to walk up to the hub and see a stampede of camera people around me.

17. You keep encouraging nostalgia in the park but you want to change the carrousel's cels. It's fine. Is it weird to have Sleeping Beauty cels on King Arthur's Carrousel? yes! But there isn't really a problem.

18. No suggestions.

19. There is no reason to change the name to Zorro Cantina. People eat there because of the food, not because they want to eat at a place named after the famous Zorro. Save a buck or two and keep the name the same.

20. Good idea.

21. Another good idea, but the ice cream shop is in a poor location though

Mark Z. from Oklahoma City writes:

I regard to Joshua's open letter, the People Mover track could hardly hold up with the forces generated by the Rocket Rods. He wants Space Mountain vehicles? Sorry, the tracks were not designed for such travel.

My suggestion to anyone who wants a great 50th “Disneyland” experience—go visit Walt Disney World instead. Bigger, better, and newer.

Ted G. from Tokyo writes:

Great ideas in Joshua's letter!

It's really too bad that most of us really care for Disneyland and want it to succeed and yet the current management just can't get it.

Most of the ideas are very reasonable and can be accomplished in the time frame but the current management only sees declining revenues as reasons to cutback rather than spend money to bring more people back to ultimately make more money and then profits that could lead to even more spending!

If anyone gets the chance, come see Tokyo Disneyland and Sea for great examples of the kinds of maintenance, entertainment, attention to detail and reasonable prices for food, etc. that really bring people back.

It's no surprise that they are far and beyond the most profitable of all the Disney parks. Being non-Disney owned (Oriental Land Co. owns them) has its advantages especially when it's a company that is more Disney than Disney these days!

Finally, Joshua himself contacted us again after we ran his open letter:

Dear MousePlanet,

Thank you for posting my letter… I just have already received numerous responses and a few of them have been quite rude.

In a further note I have to defend myself with the fact that people need to realize I do not have access to major research companies or insider information so some of my ideas may have already been handled or maybe inaccurate due to lack of information. This is common in most suggestions by individuals outside the companies' information networks, so please advise your readers that these are my suggestions and are subject to change based on what the company is actually able to do or have already done.

If my information is wrong it's only because I don't have the access to find out either way.

Thank you again for posting my letter and I look forward to visiting your site again.

Good Day,
Joshua W. Murcray


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