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Oo la la! A look at Disney in France
Disneyland Paris - Parky's Pet Peeve by Ian Parkinson

Editor's Note: A photo essay about mis-matched drain covers? Has MousePlanet gone utterly mad?

At first look it may sure seem so. But take a gander at Ian's story and photos below and ask yourself the following question - Why if it mattered so much during construction (and at such great expense) to get this kind of detailing right, why does it not matter now (when all it would take is a mere moment to fix it)?

Although drain covers may not be high on your list when it comes to thinking of how Disney used to get the details right, it is symptomatic of some of the larger problems the parks are currently facing under a management that simply no longer wishes to maintain the standard of quality that earned them their reputation.

There's a reason Disney theme parks have traditionally been industry leaders, both in attendance and revenue generation - and it was due in large part to an incredible level of detail and care that kept them a step above the local amusement parks and traveling carnivals that Walt Disney was determined to better with Disneyland and later Walt Disney World.

Whether it's mis-matched manhole covers, deteriorating attractions such as Tiki Room or Haunted Mansion at Disneyland, or the very obvious customer unfriendly budget restrictions at the new California Adventure park or Animal Kingdom in Walt Disney World, current thinking at Disney seems to be that these past levels of quality no longer need to be adhered to. Yet the company still demands higher and higher admission, merchandise and concession prices as it sets it standards even lower.

Savvy customers are beginning to question why if prices keep going up, the upkeep, attention to detail and quality of the experience keeps going down.

It's simply reducing the value of your purchase isn't it?

The magic of Disney is in the details folks, even those underfoot.

- Al Lutz


Parky’s Pet Peeve

There are many things about the maintenance and upkeep of the Disney parks that are disappointing and sometimes annoying. It is often reported on MousePlanet how our favorite attractions are in decay or unclean requiring more care and attention than they obviously receive. You only need to look at the Tiki Room in Disneyland as I did on my recent trip, to see how bad things have become.

Bearing this in mind I had a look around the Disneyland Paris to see what areas are badly in need of maintenance, and unsurprisingly I found quite a few. There are areas where paint is peeling, wood is rotting and the general quality of the park is below par, but these are not the topic of this story.

My pet peeve regarding maintenance and ‘bad show’ around the park is all about Manhole covers as we call them in the UK, or Drain covers as I think you call them in the US.

In many outside areas of the park the flooring is specially designed and finished to make the theme for the ‘land’ more realistic. This will often involve putting the floor treatment surrounding the drain cover onto the surface of the cover to make it less visible. In it’s simplest form the drain cover is finished in the same color as the surrounding area, in more complex areas patterns and multiple colors are applied. Here are a few good examples just to show they can get it right.

Parky’s Pet Peeve

Parky’s Pet Peeve

Parky’s Pet Peeve

As you can see some drain covers have patterns that are made to blend into the surrounding area only when the cover is in a specific position. The problem is these covers are never replaced correctly, making them look out of place and even more obvious than if they had no pattern at all.

It can be a pattern of cobbles with the cover turned out of alignment by many degrees, some times completely the wrong way round.

Parky’s Pet Peeve

Parky’s Pet Peeve

Parky’s Pet Peeve

Parky’s Pet Peeve

Parky’s Pet Peeve

Parky’s Pet Peeve

It could be a cover with a line across it that is not inline with the surrounding area.

Parky’s Pet Peeve

Parky’s Pet Peeve

Parky’s Pet Peeve

Parky’s Pet Peeve

Or it can simply be not quite right.

Parky’s Pet Peeve

Parky’s Pet Peeve

Parky’s Pet Peeve

Parky’s Pet Peeve

All these covers can be put back correctly, it’s just that the people who do the work have no artistic skills, or simply may not care, and therefore do not see the glaring mistake.

It seems very silly and a waste of money to me, to go to the trouble to design and finish all these covers so that they are invisible, only to find that they are not replaced correctly by the maintenance teams.

I thought that this would be a problem related only to Disneyland Paris, and that the other Disney parks would make sure that the attention to detail in their parks was beyond reproach, but I was wrong. I recently visited Disney’s California Adventure, which has only been officially open for six weeks, and what did I find? Drain covers made to blend in with the flooring, but not installed correctly, even in the newest park they can’t get it right.

It really does frustrate me to see this, I would rather they did not bother to finish the covers in any special way instead of making them even more obvious by replacing them incorrectly.

So that’s my pet peeve which is now off my chest. Why not see if you can find these kinds of problems in your Disney park, take a photograph and send it to me and I will show the best in a later story.


Ian Parkinson may be reached at ian@mouseplanet.com

 

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