Socked Around the Clock

by David Koenig, contributing writer

Massive crowding won't be the only downside to Disneyland keeping Denny's hours this weekend—guests are being forced to pay more a little earlier than usual and cast members are being forced to park in an even wider array of off-site lots.

Admission price increases have long been an annual (and, occasionally, twice annual) event at Disney theme parks, usually timed to hit right before the anticipated start of the year's busy season. Often, that's early June (right before school lets out) or leading up to the opening of a major new attraction. But last year, the success of the 24-hour Memorial Day weekend party got annual passes renewing more quickly than expected, and the resort announced a rushed price increase days later. The decision to repeat the event this year had Disney move up its price hike to May 18 (a move tipped off by a telltale hike in ODV prices a few weeks ago).

"With the 24-hour party becoming a yearly thing, guests can probably expect a price increase before it each year," advises one cast member.

The "Rock Your Disney Side" party May 23–24 will also inconvenience cast members. On extra-busy days over the past year, guests have been allowed to park in the Katella Cast Member Lot (KCML), forcing employees to park at several different off-site lots and shuttle to the resort. During the 24-hour party, cast members who normally park at KCML will be diverted to seven different places, according to their shift start time:

  • Shifts starting before 4 a.m. park in KCML
  • Shifts from 4 to 7:30 a.m. park at Angel Stadium
  • Shifts from 7:45 to 10:30 a.m. at KCML
  • Shifts from 10:45 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. at Pumbaa Lot
  • Shifts from 3:30 to 5 p.m. at the "new" Harbor Cast Member Lot
  • Shifts from 5:15 to 6:45 p.m. at TDA (Team Disney Anaheim building)
  • Shifts from 7 to 9:45 p.m. at GardenWalk
  • Shifts from 10 p.m. to 12 a.m. at Downtown Anaheim
  • Shifts from 12:15 a.m. or later at KCML

The parking lot at Downtown Anaheim is just that—open public parking lots downtown.

The "new" Harbor lot is the site of a former RV park, at the intersection of Harbor and Ball. Unfortunately, the lot will not be a "proper" parking lot until 2015, at which time it becomes employees' permanent lot and they are evicted from KCML. The site has been hurriedly cleared and reportedly will hold less than half of the number of cars accommodated by KCML. 

"It's not the weird hours we have to work that annoys us," says one cast member, "It's being bounced around on where we have to park. We are pretty fed up over the treatment of being an afterthought. Again, TDA gave the same excuse about ‘driving to work and parking in a Cast lot is not expected or required and is just one commuting option available to Cast,' blah, blah, blah."

Calling All Cops

Former "Mouse Cops" Garry Wood, Bob McDonald, and Dennis Sackett are helping to organize Disneyland's largest-ever reunion of current and past security officers. The party is set for Saturday, June 21, at 6 p.m. in Anaheim, but the organizers need a headcount by June 10. If you're a security alumnus, email me and I'll put you in touch or get you more details.

Realityland in Paperback, Ebook

On June 2, my book Realityland: True-Life Adventures at Walt Disney World will be released for the first time in updated paperback and ebook versions. The release coincides with the formal announcement, 40 years ago this month, that Walt Disney's corporate heirs would finally begin work on EPCOT Center, a project that would fundamentally alter not only Walt Disney World, but also the Disney Company itself and the entire theme park industry. Yet it fell short of Walt's original dream—changing the world.

Originally published in hardcover in 2007, Realityland examines the entire Florida Project, from Walt's scribbling plans on napkins for a utopian city, through his successors' attempts to bring his dream to life—all the while battling thieving contractors, mutinous executives, unscrupulous corporate raiders, uncontrollable economic forces, and public relations nightmares.

Based on a decade of research and interviews with 100 Disney insiders, Realityland also reveals what it's like to work for The Mouse, what lies in the Magic Kingdom's subterranean tunnels, and how—despite extraordinary efforts to control every aspect of "the show"—everything doesn't always go according to the script.

[TDA: Team Disney Anaheim, the Disneyland corporate office located on Ball Road.]