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
Readers respond to David's Voice
of Thunder, (September 10) about former Big Thunder
mechanic Bob Klostriech, who had been questioning maintenance, and
Big Thunder, for years.
As always you are there to make sure that the pot is stirred.
You crack me up. You can't tell me that you could not have known
that in light of the recent tragedy that there were going to be
I told you so's coming out of the woodwork. While
there may be some type of truth to an extent, I don't know that
they need their five minutes of fame. I think that we should let
the professional investigators do their job and not try to sway
their decisions and deceive the public due to possible disgruntled
workers. At the risk of contradicting myself, I thank you for
your open mind to others' opinions as well as the opportunity
to express them!
Thanks for writing... although I'm having trouble figuring out
if you're blasting me or not.
None of us know right now what caused this horrible accident, but
I have to think it's at least worth listening to someone who spent
more than 20 years as a coaster mechanic/supervisor at Disneyland,
witnessed and inspected after previous accidents including on Big
Thunder, and predicted that accidents of this type would begin to
occur. We don't have to agree with him, but keeping an open mind
means, at this point, neither absolving nor condemning all possible
Oh, I am definitely not blasting you! I do apologize for my spur
of the moment typing spree if you will! I enjoy your work as well
as your insights. It just seems a little odd that it just so happens
that now is the time that all this needed to know information
yesterday info comes out. If the situation was as serious
as he made it out to be ( which it seems to be now), why didn't
anyone done anything about it? Call me a little naive, as I thought
that Disney has always had our safety in mind as Cynthia Harriss
had mentioned in her email. I just hate to think that they, they
being the coaster mechanics, were right (not that he wanted to
be, I'm sure), and Disney just didn't care. The whole situation
just saddens me.
You are very correct in your response, and I honestly respect
your opinion. I guess I just needed someone to point it out me.
Thanks for clearing that up, Michelle. I did not want to miss out
on a good blasting!
Here's why nothing has changed in five years:
Disneyland either didn't think there was a problem or, worse, thought
the money they were saving was worth the risk.
The mechanics and supervisors who complained were fired or early
retired, including all three of the cast members I quoted.
Two of them filed lawsuits, one lost, one settled.
I wrote a book on the subject four years ago, which was covered
heavily by the Times, Register and other news outlets,
but dismissed by Disney.
What else could any of us have done until their predictions seem
to come true and somebody actually wants to listen?
And, no, you're not naive. Every public statement from Cynthia
Harriss and other Disneyland officials is absolutely true. And every
night little fairies clean the park with pixie dust.
A long-time cast member wrote:
Observation: It's not just Maintenance that is a problem. I would
say the systematic saving labor cost in Operations
could be causing problems as well (the Columbia accident definitely
falls in this category). It is of course way too early
so say what or who caused the Big Thunder Accident, but my primary
reaction to hearing it on the news was, I'm not surprised.
I have worked there 20 years. Over perhaps the last 10 to 12
years, the career Ops people have been pretty much
Used to be, you would get a college job there, you
could get to a pretty good hourly rate, like your job and benefits,
fun work and end up staying. You also had a pretty good chance
of climbing the ladder. A good number of those folks would end
up making a career out of it. The great thing about this was you
had a solid peer group to pass the torch to the new
These career Ops people also really cared about their
jobs. They were by far and large smart, caring people. If something
was wrong with a ride, they were not just there to push
buttons; they knew it and reported it. They were adults,
they knew the Maintenance guys, they were respected by management.
Now, you can never get there. New Union contracts have very much
capped the top rate. Benefits are a mere shadow of what they once
were. They don't qualify for retirement at all, and it's just
become a miserable place to work. Many won't hang around because
they have to live with the new management style, where all cast
members are interchangeable, you are just a number. No real chance
of promotion, they are too busy going outside for experts."
The career Ops people are now few and far between. Some have
left through attrition, some because they got sick of it, others
I can assure you, what leaves the park quality cast member wise,
is very rarely replace by new hires that of the same quality,
and with a 40 percent attrition rate of the new hires, many are
never there long enough to figure it out anyway.
What you have now, is an employee (purposeful nomenclature) that
knows (via their much more limited and paper-driven training)
you put the lap bar down and then push the button.
Making a strange noise? Why notice that? I was busy talking. Really
care? No need, I just work here.
That, my friend, is the single biggest, but rarely talked about
change in the park since the Pressler years. I have been there
20 years now, and they have managed to beat me down to the point
that now, for the first time in my career, I have a job.
What was once a career or a passion, is now just a job.
I go in to get a paycheck.
So, now I wait for the tidal management change that I have been
expecting for the last few years. It's coming, but I am amazed
at how long it's taking the suits in Burbank. I believe they are
as clueless as the ones in [Team Disney Anaheim]. It will get
better, but so far, no light at the end of the downhill tunnel.
Thanks very much. I absolutely agree with everything you've said.
My closest Disneyland friend had been, until his death, Van France
who, in our talks about and trips to the park, would alwaysthough
subtlelystress that it was the cast membersnot the rides
or the music or the costumes or the cleanliness or the candy or
anything elsebut the cast members that made the difference.
The high caliber of person hired, their length of service/job knowledge,
their depth of dedication, their true belief in what they were doing
and for whom. It's taken the elimination of that ideal to make me
realize just how right he was.
David Wotruba wrote:
I love your work and find it to be very fair, especially after
a California park visit. I live near Seattle, but in Disneyland's
35th year, I spent 21 days in the parka lot for a non-California
annual pass holder.
I love Walt, love the park, the memories and the exciting tomorrows.
We are very fortunate to have so much creativity in such a small
We are also lucky to have your energy to inform us all. Your
work is important to me. Thank you very much,
Don't thank me, just continue to work hard.
Your 61-year-old MousePlanet fan.
Two more older incidents worthy of note in the current situation:
The Monorail is the more obvious, with its brake shoe
drop earlier this year.
Rocket Rods is less so, unless you remember that the lengthy
closure after its introduction was caused by an axle drop suddenly
stopping and flipping a car, while empty during testing.
You're right, there have been literally dozens of instances of
equipment failure on attractions throughout the park.
Fortunately, none of those took a human toll.
A reader wrote:
In response to your Voice of Thunder article, give
me a break. These aren't terrorist attacks, it's a ride at Disneyland.
Predicting major catastrophes at a theme park because
of maintenance issues is a bit dramatic, don't you think? And
speculation of a tragic guest accident within a year
Is it wrong to pray for the death of all lawyers in the world?
Why can't Disneyland just have some waiver you have to acknowledge
for admittance? You walk in these gates, you assume all
You lose a finger because you slip, your fault. You knock your
head because you don't know how to watch where you're going? Your
This is going to be a great country pretty soon, where it will
be unlawful to leave your own house without the bubble wrap suit?
Yes, it is wrong to pray for the death of all lawyersbut
we can pray for their conversion!
Actually, though, are you suggesting that the Big Thunder victims
should assume liability for their injuries?
More responses to Suspended
Animation, about layoffs at Disney Animation:
Reacting to director Will Finn's rebuttal of dire predictions for
Home on the Range, one of the crew wrote:
Your article was accurate and true. I think the director doth
protest too much. I think the only reason the comparison with
The Black Cauldron is off, is that the Black Cauldron
was long awaited before its release, no one even knows, nor cares,
about Home on the Range. The Greatest American 2-D animation
studio will go out not with a bomb, but a whimper.
And for those who are looking to DreamWorks to pick up the 2-D
animation torch, dream on. DreamWorks, after Sinbad, said publicly
that they will not be making any more 2-D films, period.
Disney meanwhile dumped almost all its American traditional crew
and quietly opened a big Australian 2-D studio.
Our feckless, inept, b*ll-less,union said nothing, of course.
Your article on Disney's raping of their 2-D department sickened
me. I realized that the situation of traditional animation today
was poor, but the extent to which Eisner and his boys have carried
this absurd it's primarily successful because it's
3-D idea is so maddeningly frustrating! Their own Dinosaur
should have dispelled that myth!
I cannot fathom why the concept of a well done story
cannot be drilled into these people's air-filled skulls!
As a 19-year-old lifetime fan of traditional animation, I'm angry
and terribly saddened by this turn of events. Hasn't Disney had
enough of Michael Eisner? Doesn't anyone at Disney want
to preserve its legacy?!
Disney deserves better than this. These talented men and women
in the 2-D animation department deserve better as well. The saddest
thing is, there isn't anything any of us fans can do about it.
I'm praying for them.
And Disney classics in CG? I almost threw up.
Hopefully, Brother Bear and Home on the Range will
be big money-makers. Nothing else seems to catch Disney's attention
John Palecek wrote:
I'd like to cite an example for why there is yet hope in the
future of animation, including Disney animation. Hayao Miyazaki,
founder of Studio Ghibli, is my favorite director. His animation
studios in Japan were among the last to switch from completely
hand-drawn animation to animation incorporating artwork drawn
with a computer's help. Much of Japanese animation uses computer
graphics because it's cheaper, and it shows. Miyazaki's use of
computers is at the same high standard as his 2-D animation, and
he has a system at his studios for his 3-D and 2-D animators to
work together to make a seamless product that looks completely
Disney's recent decisions don't seem to bode well for the immediate
future of Disney animation, but when Disney is surpassed and made
irrelevant by Pixar, Studio Ghibli, Dreamworks, or whomever, maybe
it will look to these successful enterprises and see an environment
where the artists are thriving. Maybe new Disney leaders will
model that key to success in the future. In the meantime, perhaps
the animators who have spent years (or decades) building skills
at Disney should learn Japanese.
JJ Julian wrote:
Reading the Suspended Animation stuff just breaks
my heart. The stuff I've come to love from Disney has just been
killed off, all in the name of keeping Eisner's bonuses coming.
However, something struck me as I read this latest batch (of
responses). Something that made my imagination spark up.
Let's look at what we have: most of the great 2-D talent of Disney,
from locations all over the world, are out of work. Disney has
pretty much officially bowed out of 2-D, declaring it a dead art
I'm a big fan of Halloween, and this has happened before. Disney
used to do Halloween at Disneyland, used to go all out. They quit
and effectively bowed out of the Halloween business entirely.
Why? Knott's was starting to kick their behinds, really hard.
So, they gave Halloween to Knott's and focused on Christmas.
I think that can happen here. It would take someone with a lot
of capital, a great creative staff and environment, and a desire
to out-Disney Disney.
Are you thinking what I'm thinking?
I wonder if Steve Jobs and John Lasseter are interested in adding
a 2-D wing to those fabulous offices at Pixar up north...
Here's hoping they (or someone) realizes they now have
the ability to basically buy the Disney 2-D creative capability,
probably at a bargain rate, then actually kick Disney right out
of the animation business by continuing to produce their fantastic
3-D stuff as well as stellar new 2-D projects.
Feedback for Shoshana Lewin
Charlene Z writes:
My family and I are thinking about visiting Disneyland for our
third time in the new year. Unfortunately, one of our favorite
rides is Big Thunder Mountain...what is your feeling on how long
this ride will be out of commission? We were also wondering when
spring break hits in California? Would we be safe to come sometime
in the first few weeks of March or would we be fighting huge crowds?
Finally, do you know if Disney/CA continues to have fireworks,
Fantasmic and the Electric light parade on weekends even during
Thanks in advance for your response!
Usually if a ride is involved in investigation, the length of time
is totally dependent on those doing the investigating. It will also
depend on what kind of structural changesif anyare needed.
In the case of Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin, they needed to create
new ride vehicles as well as other technical repairs. Some are saying
the ride could be down for six monthsin which case it would
be operational when you and your family visited. Keep checking MousePlanet
for updates, spring is a long time from now.
As far as Spring Break goes, many schools in Southern California
are on a year-round school system, so Spring Break can hit anytime
from the end of February through the end of April. Early March can
be a mixed bag. If you want to avoid the crowds, come during the
week if you can as opposed to the weekend. On the other hand, you
might not have a chance to see as many shows as some only run on
At the moment, the fireworks and the Electrical Parade are only
scheduled for the season (Fantasmic runs on the weekends
now, but that could change) but they could decide to add some shows
in the spring (in which case it would probably be on the weekend).
Keep your fingers crossed and happy trip planning!
P.S. On an up note, The Tower of Terror at DCA should be up and
running when you visit, so if your kids aren't too small, you might
want to take the plunge.
Joshua writes about employment issues for Shoshana's Cast
Hi, my name's Joshua and I'm a former CM. I quit my job at Disneyland
in March of this year. I enjoyed it very muchI was a ride operator
for the Matterhorn. Since I heard about the new system I was very
surprised and thought it wasn't a very good idea because I liked
the old system much more. Basically just rotate, stay in your
position for a half hour till ya get bumped. I think the CMs wont
be too fond of this system. It seems like most CMs have not liked
If you would like any stories of my CM days, I'll be happy to
e-mail ya back. I have plenty.
I also have a couple questions cause my memory about being a
cast member isn't that well. My friend would like to get recruited
as a cast member and he was wondering what is the minimum age
to be hired as a CM there, if you can choose your position as
a job and if the employment center is in Disneyland. I have answered
all his questions as best and thoroughly as I can, but he's 19
and I'm 22 so he's decided to not believe me.
First off, we'd love to hear stories from CMs. Please e-mail
I'm glad you had a positive expereince even though you left.
Now, to answer your questions:
In order to work at Disneyland you have to be at least 18. Occassionally
they hire 16-year-olds, but that is food location only and it is
only during certain times of the year. You must be 21 or older to
work security or any location where alcohol is served.
You usually can't choose where in Disneyland you want to work,
but you can tell the interviewer what department you wish to be
with (Attractions, Foods, Guest Relations, Merchandise). There is
no guarantee you'll get what you request, but it does give them
some idea of where to place you.
The casting office is located in the Team Disney Anaheim building
at the corner of Cast Place/Ox and Ball roads in Anaheim (the big
green and yellow building). That is where you will go to fill out
an application and have your interview. Sometimes, Disney has a
job fair at one of the hotels, but you can always go to TDA.
Hope this helped. Tell your friend good luck.
I was wondering if you know what Disney's take is on hiring disabled
Do they promote it and enjoy doing it, or do they try to find
ways around it?
Disneyland is an equal opportunity employer, so by law they must
not discrimintate. I've seen several CMs who use wheelchairs as ticket-takers/sellers and in other positions around the resort.
Responses for Shoshana's two-part article, Sitcoms
on Vacation (part
2) in More Mouse:
Jeffrey C. writes:
Can we forget both the Brady Bunch and The Partridge
Family went to King's Island in Ohio?
Jeffrey: I also managed to miss the re-broadcast of the Special
Edna episode of the Simpsons on Sunday with their
visit to Epcot.
This time I just wanted to touch on the Disney trips. But I am
with youThe Bradys and Shirley and her brood were pioneers
in the theme park trip sitcoms (poor Jancan't she ever do
anything right?). And who can forget Itchy and Scratchy Land and
Jeffrey then wrote again, this time regarding All
Hail Synergy, Shoshona's coverage of the ABC Primetime
Weekend event at Disney's California Adventure:
I finished reading the article.
I didn't see any mention of what's missing from ABC's fall lineup
(at least as far as I can tell). The Wonderful World of Disney
has been replaced with America's Funniest Videos in the
death spot opposite 60 minutes.
By the way, in the picture of George and Constance, where is
George's arm? Is that just an optical illusion or are those two
a little closer than the public thinks?
The two biggies are The Drew Carey Show and Whose Line
Is It Anyway? Almost everything else that was on ABC at the
end of last season carries over to this seasondon't forget,
ABC was doing a lot of repeats and reality shows (i.e. Celebrity
Mole and the Family). WWOD is hoping to gain a larger
audience by being moved to Saturdaywhen even if the parents
are out, the kids are home with a babysitter and need quality programming.
As for George and Constanceit is an optical illusion.
Feedback for Lani Teshima
Regarding Lani Teshima's Smoker's
Guide to Disneyland:
Kind of ironic that smoking is no longer allowed in Disneyland
since Walt himself was quite a smoker. However, a park map would
likely provide similar information and you could have used the
Mouseplanet space to discuss something better, such as how to
get rid of Michael Eisner so (a) the parks are run by competent
people not so concerned about the costs of things like the submarine
ride; (b) the parks look better and we don't see elves growing
moss; and (c) the stock price goes to where it should be, may
somewhere around 50. Quite honestly, it would appear that most,
if not all, of the executives with better ideas have left. As
park visitors and shareholders, we're stuck with Eisner and saddled
with an underperforming ABC. I see a lot of rants about this Cynthia
Harris, however, true housecleaning should start at the top. Offer
the job to Katzenberg.
I don't normally give feedback from articles but you have caught
my eye with this smoking one. The mint tin is a great idea and
doesn't leave you with the stale smell in your pocket (yuck! I
need to quit!) Anyway what a great article thanks again!
I'm glad to hear that you got some good ideas from the article!
I didn't even think about the stale smell
butts seem to unravel very easily once it's been partially smoked.
Back when I used to smoke, I would end up with lots of tobacco bits
in my purse or pocket that way.
Thank you for your article on smoking in the parks. I am glad
that you offered some advice to the smokers as well as reminded
them of the rules in the park. I have gotten stuck in lines behind
smokers one too many times, and there is really nothing worse.
From personal experience, I have been belittled and threatened
when I have asked the person next to me to step out of line while
they smoked. They always have claimed that it was their right,
since they paid so much to get into the park. I'm sure this is
the reason that many CMs simply look the other way.
Unless it is an elaborate queue area (like Indiana Jones or
Pirates) I have seen CMs walk by and not say anything to a smoker.
I have even requested the assistance of CMs who said that they
would have to locate a manager
who never came. It is also
very common to see a smoker, walking through the park, which can
be a trickyif not dangeroussituation.
I think most smokers will agree that smoking in close quarters,
like a ride queue, is rather rude and there is no reason why someone
couldn't step away to a more open area, however I have encountered
this problem several times. Since I often have an asthmatic child
in tow, it concerns me that he is exposed to so much smoke. I
am thankful for the designated smoking areas and hope that more
smokers will be so kind as to be mindful of them and keep from
smoking other places in the parks.
James H. writes:
There's one other strategy you forgot to mention for smokers
to try when visiting DL: Quit. Use all of the inconvenience
of smoking on Disney property as just one more incentive to give
up the filthy habit. Let the peaceful, relatively stress-free
environment make it easier for you to do without. Let's face it.
How many people would take up smoking if it were called what it
really is: sucking on a burning poisonous plant?
That's definitely something worth considering. But I also know
how difficult it is for some folks to quit, and I wanted to avoid
trying to preach that line, as I think most smokers either hear
it ad nauseam, or are aware that they need to.
I guess as an incentive, quitting can definitely help boost the
travel budget with all the cigarettes you no longer have to spend
Thanks for taking the time to share your tip!
James wrote back:
Indeed. According to some experts, nicotine is actually more
addictive than heroin.
And let us not forget that Walt eventually realized that smoking
was an incredibly stupid and self-destructive thing to do, albeit
too late to prevent him from dying from it. And he stopped doing
it in view of kids, and started having the cigarettes airbrushed
out of his publicity pictures.
Feedback for Mailbag
In our September 4 Mailbag, Joy
asked about whether churros were available at Walt Disney World.
The bottom line is thatyesthere are churro carts in
WDW. But try to get everyone to agree on exactly where, and you
get lots of suggestions:
Bruce C. writes:
There is (or at least was) a churro cart at Downtown Disney,
I saw Joy's question in today's mailbag asking if churros are
sold at any of the WDW parks. Last I remember, they do. I believe
they sell them at all the parks, as well as Downtown Disney.
In response to Joy's question about the churros at Disneyland,
I went to Disneyland last year and they seem have them everywhere.
However, when I went to Disney World last month, I couldn't find
them anywhere. The food selection at Disney World is a little
different. They seem to have more popcorn and pretzels instead
of churros. However, it does have a wider selection than Disneyland
does since there are more places to eat. I also noticed that there
are more healthy things to eat like whole fresh fruit, steamed
vegetables, etc. You can view menus of the restaurants before
you go on your trip at WDW at wdwig.com.
In response to Joy's question about cinnamon churros I would
suggest that she head to the Mexico pavillion at Epcot. There
is a small stand there that serves the churros she is looking
for (as well as delicious mango margaritas!). I seem to remember
having a churro in Frontierland at the Magic Kingdom but that
was years ago.
Just got back from WDW this week. Yes there are churros. I know
for sure at Magic Kingdom and Epcot.
Even our own Mark Goldhaber piped in:
Well, if you check the menus on Deb Wills' site,
you'll find churros in three of the locations that I mentioned [Studio Catering Co. at the Studios, Cantina de San Angel at Epcot, and El Pirata y El Perico].
I can't find it at the snack sites in Animal Kingdom, despite
the fact that I know that we purchased one at the wagon in Africa
on our February trip.
Feedback for MousePlanet
Finally, we got some responses regarding our
coverage on the September 5 Big Thunder Mountail Railroad accident:
Brian S. writes:
Kudos go out to you and your Mouseplanet staff for the excellent
and unbiased coverage of the accident today (September
5) on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Your coverage is better than
any news outlet I have seen and the reporting is top notch.
I have a hard time believing that an accident such as being described
here and in such a location could have resulted in a fatality.
Certainly lots of bumps and bruises, but unless something flew
off with force (i.e. the dolphin breaking loose on the Rivers
of America several years ago), it just doen't make sense. I just
have to think back to the fact that most Disneyland fatalities
occur when a rider doesn't follow simple instructions, but it
is way too early to jump to conclusionsand this also goes
to those folks that are screaming about maintenanceuntil
the final reports come out, we can only speculate. Big Thunder
is my wife's favorite ride and one that we have enjoyed at 2 Disney
parks (California and Tokyo). We are probably looking at some
serious downtime here and more than likely modificationsif
even just to keep people in the seats! My hat goes off to Eisner
for showing the corporate face quickly and to Disney for taking
care of everyone even without all the facts. At a time when tragedy
strikes, we Disneylanders need to stand together, find the problem,
work the problem and fix the problem so Big Thunder returns.
Julia Elzie writes:
My thanks to MousePlanet and especially, Lani and Adrienne, for
the excellent, excellent coverage on the tragedy at Disneyland
and Thunder Mountain Railroad on Friday. The details and hard
work were much appreciated; the coverage is the absolute best
and most detailed available to the public. I have been searching
the major media for these kind of details and the information
was sorely lacking. I should have come to my fellow Disney enthusiasts
at the beginning. Thank you for the great work in such a heartbreaking
All the best.
Julia Elzie, MouseEarVacations.com
The Big Thunder track layout is a very nice addition to your
coverage. I've only been on WDW's version of this ride (and even
that's been quite some time), so it helped a lot to be able to
visualize it. Two thoughts, though: 1) it would be nice if the
image could be clicked, to display the full-size image. I found
the original image on Scott's site (which looks like a great site,
by the way; I'll definitely be back to look at what else he has
to offer), and I found it much easier to read than the reduced
version. 2) Since the location of the accident has been reported
now (originally we just had in a tunnel, but the tunnel
has since been identified), can someone point it out on the layout
Thanks for your excellent, and continuing coverage of this tragedy.
I am very impressed with how MousePlanet has handled this!
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