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Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, editor
Disney apologizes, Resort events, Artists at Work - 7/27/01

Disney Apologizes

In this age of electronic media, it seems that every mistake, big or little, made by the Walt Disney Company will eventually find its way onto the Internet. The issue of the 46th Anniversary Map and Pin promotion, hosted at Disneyland from July 15 to July 22nd, was no exception. Just hours after the first pins were sold on the 15th, unhappy customers began posting to various discussion boards about the poor quality of the pins and problems they had encountered when attempting to exchange their damaged pins for undamaged ones.

A large number of pins had pits, scratches, and discoloration  - even fingerprints in the wet enamel.
A large number of pins had pits, scratches, and discoloration - even fingerprints in the wet enamel.

The subject was even brought up at the Creative Advisory Council meeting the following day. At that meeting, the merchants said they were terribly embarrassed and upset by the situation. They assured those of us in attendance that they would get to the bottom of the issue, and "make it right" for all of the guests who received poor quality pins. It looks like they have made good on that promise-a little bird slipped this letter into my e-mail box yesterday.

July 26, 2001

Dear Disney Collectors,

We would like to begin by thanking you for your continued support of our Merchandise Special Events held at the Disneyland Resort. We truly appreciate your understanding of the issues that arose during the recent 46th Anniversary Celebration "Set Sail on a Tour of Disneyland Park" event and our decision to end the event a week prior to the date published in our announcement. Certainly it is never our intention to cause our Guests disappointment. Please be assured that we will continue to evaluate our processes for future events based upon feedback such as yours.

We understand that many of you expressed your concern regarding the quality of the pins produced for this event, and we assure you that the right steps are being taken to ensure that better quality control will be implemented in the future. Exceeding the expectations of our Guests is very important and comments from our Guests are always appreciated and will continue to be a valuable tool for our operation.

As always, our goal at the Disneyland Resort, is to always provide an exceptional level of quality entertainment. While we realize that it is impossible to please everyone at all times with the decisions that are made, it is always our objective to provide quality merchandise and great Guest experiences.

We wish to thank you, once again, for your continued support and look forward to seeing you at future Merchandise Special Events.

Sincerely,
Carmen Bauza, Vice President
Merchandise, Disneyland Resort

The same little bird also informed me that the merchandise staff believes that they have addressed the concerns of guests who already purchased pins and that those guests who received damaged pins have already exchanged them. Of course, if you happen to have pins that you still want to exchange, you should let the park know right away.

I have to applaud the merchants for recognizing the problem quickly, for making an effort to correct it as soon as possible, and for doing this all publicly. Unfortunately, this meant ending the promotion early, but that's certainly preferable to selling inferior pins. This action is also a stark contrast to similar situations such as the Pirates event and Electrical Parade Annual Passholder party, where unhappy guests were dealt with in private. It really demonstrates the power of the medium, and shows that Disney can even benefit from the constant coverage. Upset guests found a forum to air their complaints, and Disney can use the same channels to make amends.


Disneyland Resort Events

Promotional photo © 2001 Disneyland Resort
Promotional photo © 2001 Disneyland Resort

Just a little correction to the information Al presented yesterday about the Haunted Mansion Holiday event in October. The $2000 Haunted Mansion dinners will be hosted on October 1st and 2nd, 2001. The split Enchanted Evening, offering two different package options, will happen on October 3rd. The Haunted Mansion Holiday attraction is scheduled to open to the public on October 5th. Keep checking this column for the latest information about this event - it's sure to be a... scream!

Also, for you Soap Opera fans, here's a distillation of the Disney press release about the upcoming appearances of actors from both Port Charles and General Hospital on August Fridays at California Adventure:

Taking a break from the daily passion and intrigue of their TV roles, stars of the ABC daytime dramas "General Hospital" and "Port Charles" will be meeting their fans in person on Fridays this August at the ABC Soap Opera Bistro in the new Disney's California Adventureœ at the Disneyland¬ Resort in Southern California.

Each Friday, August 3 through 24, four different stars will greet guests, sign autographs and mingle with diners and visitors in the soap opera-themed restaurant. In addition to their appearances in the Bistro, each star will participate in two 90-minute autograph sessions, scheduled between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. At 4:30 p.m. each Friday, the stars of the day will appear in a 30-minute Question & Answer session on the stage of the Hyperion Theater, near ABC Soap Opera Bistro.

Appearing on Friday, August 3, will be "General Hospital" regulars Rebecca Herbst (Elizabeth Webber), Jacob Young (Lucky Spencer), Chad Brannon (Zander Smith) and Jensen Buchanan (Melissa Bedford). August 10 will spotlight Jacklyn Zeman (Bobbie Spencer on "General Hospital") Tamara Braun (Carly Corinthos on "General Hospital"), Julie Pinson (Dr. Eve Lambert on "Port Charles") and Thorsten Kaye (Ian Thornhart on "Port Charles").

The August 17 stars will be Wally Kurth (Ned Ashton on "General Hospital"), Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis Davis on "General Hospital"), Kelly Monaco (Livvie Locke on "Port Charles") and Brian Presley (Jack Ramsey on "Port Charles").

Rounding out the "Star-Studded Fridays" schedule on August 24 will be Marisa Ramirez (Gia Campbell on "General Hospital"), Coltin Scott (Nikolas Cassadine on "General Hospital"), Erin Hershey (Alison Barrington on "Port Charles") and Kiko Ellsworth (Jamal Woods on "Port Charles").

Keep in mind, as always, paid admission is required to participate in any of the above events. We'll keep you posted on any changes, and if any merchandise is offered as a part of this event.


Artists at Work

When you think of a Disneyland souvenir, you probably think of the usual items: plush, candy, T-shirts, etc. All of these are great, and can serve to remind you of the great time you had at Disneyland. But what if you want something a little more personal; something that puts you in the souvenir? Head over to New Orleans Square where you will find many unique alternatives to yet another baseball cap.

Rubio Arts, a Florida company that operates concessions at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland, has three locations in New Orleans Square. Their most visible stand has to be the parasol cart, located between the French Market and Cafe Orleans.

Bright parasols beckon you, even from a distance.
Bright parasols beckon you, even from a distance.

Parasols are frilly umbrellas used to deflect sun rather than rain. The cart offers two sizes of parasols in five colors. Choosing the size and color is the easy part - choosing what to put on it is tough.

Rainbows and puppies and bears, oh my!
Rainbows and puppies and bears, oh my!

The price of the parasol ($9 for the mini and $15 for the large) includes your name and flowers painted on four panels. Additional designs are available for an extra $5 per panel. These designs can include cats, whales, horses, frogs, butterflies, and dozens of other patterns.

Handmade, just for you.
Handmade, just for you.

Once you place your order, the parasol painter goes to work. Using tubes of fabric paint, your chosen design is applied by hand. The paint requires about two hours to dry, so you are invited to return later in the day to collect your treasure.

Caricatures or Disneyland Scenes, rendered in watercolor for your pleasure.
Caricatures or Disneyland Scenes, rendered in watercolor for your pleasure.

Further back in New Orleans Square there are two groups of artists waiting to capture your portrait. Artists at the first cart, located across from Pieces of Eight, specialize in watercolor portraits and scenic art. For just $15, you can take home a hand- painted watercolor portrait of yourself, rendered in a cartoon caricature style on an art board pre-printed with the New Orleans Square logo.

Portraits are finished in under ten minutes.
Portraits are finished in under ten minutes.

I'm not fond of caricature art, but I have found something really great at this cart. The Scenic Art paintings are like coloring books for grown ups, but they are pretty and unique. The art board is preprinted in black and white with one of several scenes from New Orleans Square. An artist then adds color to the line drawing with watercolor paint.

A black and white sketch is transformed...
A black and white sketch is transformed...

... into a colorful souvenir
... into a colorful souvenir

While everyone starts with the same canvas, each artist produces a unique finished product. You can see from the two examples above, there is a lot of room for interpretation in those drawings. At just $24 they are a great deal.

Fine art portraits, rendered in pastels.
Fine art portraits, rendered in pastels.

If you want a more formal portrait from your Disneyland visit, head deeper into New Orleans Square. There, half hidden under an arch next to Le Ornament Magique, you will find another colony of artists, this time specializing in more realistic pastel portraits. A profile portrait is $15 per person, while a full-face portrait is $30 per person.

I talked with the Rubio Arts manager at the pastel area, and asked a bit about the company. She said the parasol cart and the pastel artists have been at Disneyland since 1986. The watercolor cart is a more recent addition and it has been very well received.

I asked where she finds the artists - did they recruit at art schools, place ads? She laughed and said that the artists find them and that she hasn't had to advertise to fill a position in years. Artists are also promoted from other positions. For example, the artist painting the parasols during my visit said that she was originally hired as a cashier. When one of the painters quit, she was approached to take the position. Her managers had noticed how pretty her writing was on the daily paperwork and thought she would be a good candidate. Seven years later she's still painting away.

Next time you find yourself wandering through the shops in the back alleys of New Orleans Square take a moment to look at the variety of souvenirs available outside the stores. It is these small carts and their handmade offerings that help give the area its rich flavor.


Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Adrienne here.

Artists at Work

ABOUT THE EDITOR

Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix is the super-shopper behind MouseShoppe, your personal and unofficial shopping service for the Disneyland Resort, and the owner of CharmingShoppe, a Disney collectibles store located in Anaheim.

In addition to scouring the park to find you the latest and greatest merchandise, she keeps you updated on all of the merchandise events happening in the parks.

If you want to talk to her about this column, merchandise, or events, contact her here.

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