Disneyland Park Updateby Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, staff writer
Update for February 13-20, 2006
Go directly to: News & Views | Current Refurbishment/Attraction Closures | Park Events | Discounts/Promotions | Park Schedule/Blockout Dates
The labor situation at Disneyland isn't necessarily getting any better, despite a true off-season finally setting in at Disneyland for the last few weeks. Now that just about every cast member is working extra shifts every week, a new edict from management has some Disneyland cast members upset about even more changes to human resources policies affecting hourly employees.
In meetings this past week, which included what one CM referred to as a "belittling demonstration of how to use a time clock," cast members learned that they would no longer be allowed to "give away" scheduled shifts. Cast members may still trade days off with another cast member, but may no longer simply give up the hours to another CM.
While some cast members characterize this policy change as "stupid" or worse, Disney appears to be making the change to prevent part-time employees from earning a de facto full-time status by taking on hours originally assigned to full-time employees. According to cast members familiar with staffing, it is not unusual for part-time employees to wind up working 5 or even 6 days a week by taking a shift from one or more full-time cast members. Presently, Disney classifies hourly employees as full-time if they work at least 32 each week, meaning that a cast member scheduled for 40 hours can give away one shift every week and still qualify as full time. Conversely, a part-time cast member scheduled for 24 hours a week could easily move themselves into the full-time category by picking up just one extra shift a week. Under the new policy, trading shifts rather than giving them away results in neither an increase or decrease in scheduled hours for each employee. Full-time cast members will be required to actually work their scheduled hours, and it is less likely that a part-time employee can earn full-time status by picking up dropped shifts.
The reason that this is important to Disney management is that the company grants status and benefits to cast members based on the number of hours they average over a specific period of time, and the staffing shortages of last fall saw many a part-time cast member working well in excess of 40 hours a week. California law also grants additional protections, including unemployment benefits, to employees who meet their employer's definition of full time status. In other words, two employees working 32 hours per week is more expensive for Disney than one employee working 40 and another working 24.
As with the furor over the increased enforcement of the park's attendance policy, this controversy may have full-time employees outside of Disneyland sectors scratching their heads. Most companies require their full-time hourly employees to actually work full time; many require employees to use vacation or sick time to make up for missed hours. But given that Disneyland will meet with the unions representing a large number of their cast members in the coming weeks to hammer out a new contract, some CMseven those who support the new policyquestion the wisdom of making a change that is likely to be unpopular with the CMs who will have to ratify the new agreement. Regardless of whether the change is reasonable, people are never happy about changes that make things more restrictive.
This chatter just adds to the noise about a possible strike after the labor agreement between Disneyland and the United Food & Commercial Workers union expires on March 15. UFCW members at DCA have been working under an expired agreement since last year and having both contracts expired at the same time is seen as a bargaining position for the union. While an immediate strike (if one happens) is unlikely, it wouldn't be suprising to see either side play for press attention on March 10, when focus will be on the Walt Disney Company's annual shareholder meeting that day.
Meanwhile, much to their annoyance, managers around the park at the Team Disney Anaheim corporate offices are being cross-trained on various essential park duties to try and cover for an absent work force.
Happy belated birthday
It hardly seemed worth noting in last week's park update, but a few people asked about it. So let it here be noted that February 8 was the fifth anniversary of Disney's California Adventure. It didn't seem worth noting to us because we knew it would hardly be worth noting to Disney, and we're never sure what tone should be taken when noting the passage of time at DCA. When a park has so obviously underperformed as DCA has, celebratory hardly seems right and yet many of us actually like DCA so mourning the lost parking lot certainly isn't appropriate either.
There are a few people to be found wandering around in Hollywood Picture Backlot. Photo by David Michael.
As for Disney, they hardly noted the day with a simple announcement at park opening. Photos show why nothing more was necessary. There's nothing more embarrassing than throwing a party and having nobody show up. It certainly should be noted that a Wednesday morning in early February is never a good day to go looking for a crowd at Disneyland (Space Mountain was practically a walk-on) and that the narrower walkways of Disneyland can create the appearance of more people than are actually present. But still. There was essentially nobody at DCA that morning and everybody could have been given a slice of birthday cake using a large sheet cake from Safeway.
Goofy still ends up looking a bit lonely, though. Photo by David Michael.
However, if you'd like to spend a bit of time reflecting on five years of DCA, frequent photo contributor David Michael did a long write-up touring DCA and the changes of the last half-decade on our message board. Check it out (link).
It seems like hardly anybody makes it all the way into the back areas of the park.
Dancing with the Stars
ABC's surprise primetime success, Dancing with the Stars, made an unannounced visit to Disneyland yesterday. The show was there to tape a dance performance by pseudo-celebrity Drew Lachey and his dance partner Cheryl Burke.
Lachey and Burke strut their stuff for an audience in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. Photo by David Michael.
Continuing Pirates reaction
Now that it is official that elements from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies will be added to the Pirates of the Caribbean rides at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, everybody is sharing their opinion on whether this is a good thing, a bad thing, or simply a wait-and-see thing. Last ride gatherings are being organized and others are calling for signs of goodbye to be placed at the ride or minor protests to be staged. Even the Los Angeles Times felt compelled to share their opinion in a Sunday editorial lamenting the changes. Here's a key paragraph:
The ride will certainly continue to thrill, or at least amuse, when Johnny Depp joins the cast. But makeup and dreadlocks aside, Jack Sparrow's face is easily identified as that of a modern movie star. Among the swarthy animatronic commoners, Depp's mug will collapse the decades of history that would have reminded riders of why exactly Pirateshowever hokey and out of datewas evocative enough to win stamps of approval from both Walt Disney himself and modern-day moviegoers.
We'd like to hear from you. So send us a letter sharing your thoughts on all of this or just share significant memories of one of Disneyland's most revered and unique attractions. Please be sure to share your name in case we print your thoughts.
Smoke free hotels
As of March 1, 2006, the Disneyland and Paradise Pier Hotels will join the Grand Californian Hotel as a smoke-free environment. None of the more than 2,200 hotel rooms on Disney property will allow smoking and violation of these rules could result in serious surcharges on your room bill. According to Disney spokespeople this decision is not political, but simply represents the fact that these days they rarely get requests for smoking rooms and the ability to ensure that non-smokers will have a smoke-free room is a greater benefit than being able to provide rooms to smokers.
It is expected that the rules at the Disneyland Hotel and Paradise Pier Hotel will be similar to those at the Grand Californian (which has been smoke-free since it opened) and this means no smoking on balconies or any outdoor areas other than those designated for smoking. The smoking areas inside the parks are not affected by this decision and for now all of the Disney run hotels at Walt Disney World continue to offer smoking rooms. The Swan Hotel at Walt Disney World are part of the Westin chain of hotels and is affected by that chain's decision last month to go completely smoke-free at all of its properties.
For those who read last week's Park Update before we were able to correct it, the Siren's Cove enhancement at Walt Disney World that we reported was a hoax. Multiple people at MousePlanet were contacted by different sources, all claiming to be passing along artwork for a poster to be handed out to park visitors advertising a previously unannounced enhancement to the attraction. We have determined that it was not a piece of Disney artwork, and we removed it from the site before the end of the day on Monday. We apologize for allowing it to be published here.
This and that...
...as of March 10, the Cove Bar at DCA (attached to Ariel's Grotto) will begin operating seven days a week. It will open at noon daily and stay open until 5:30 or one hour before park closing, whichever is later.
...the Lilly Belle private car on the Disneyland Railroad is now in full-time service but appears to be currently available to only Club 33 members, VIPs and others with good connections. Early word was that a ride on this historic car would be added to the Walk in Walt's Steps guided tour, but so far that hasn't happened (though it could change at any time). Even if you can't ride, feel free to ask the railroad cast members about the Lilly Belle or any of the trains. While you may find their equal out in the park you'll not find a group of cast members more proud of their attraction.
...an unusual promotion for Disneyland began last week. If you make a purchase of $50 or more at a participating store, you can purchase a 50th Anniversary tote bag for $5 (plus). To qualify, your purchase must be at least $50 before tax and after any discounts. Limit four tote bags per person. Participating stores are: Emporium, Disney Showcase, Disney Clothiers, The Star Trader, Gag Factory, Pioneer Mercantile, Pooh Corner, Greetings from California, Treasures in Paradise, Tees, Hat's, & Tattoos, World of Disney, Mickey in Paradise (Paradise Pier Hotel), and Fantasia (Disneyland Hotel). Promotion lasts as long as the supply of tote bags do.
The dimensions of the tote back are roughly 13.5" wide, 10" tall, and 5.5" thick. Photo © Disney.
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- Snow White, An Enchanted Musical closed. On hiatus during off season; expected to return for final season in summer 2006.
- Goofy's Bounce House. Closed permanently as of January 8, 2005. Will be replaced with outdoor toddler playground.
At the now-defunct Goofy's Bounce House, resurfacing of the garden area seems to be mostly complete. Photo by David Michael.
- Haunted Mansion closes January 18 March 9 for removal of the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay and more extensive refurbishments.
- Parade of Dreams dark March 1 - March 2. Reason unknown but likely there will be construction along the parade route that makes it impossible to perform.
- Pirates of the Caribbean closed March 6 June 24, 2006, for major refurbishment and show updates. Must reopen in time for Pirates of the Caribben: Dead Man's Chest in late June (movies opens nationally July 7).
- Blue Bayou Restaurant closed March 6 June 16, 2006 for the duration of the Pirates of the Caribbean closure.
- Cafe Orleans Restaurant rumored to close March 6 June 16, 2006, for redesign into full service restaurant.
- Disneyland Monorail goes into shuttle mode (one way trips only) January 2006. Complete closure for station redesign will not happen until later in 2006.
- River Belle Terrace unofficially to close in September or October 2006 for complete redesign into larger two-story restaurant.
- Bengal BBQ rumored to close permanently in September or October 2006 to provide room for expansion of River Belle Terrace.
- Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage is currently under construction and will open sometime in 2007.
Disney's California Adventure
- Department of Untapped Hilarity (D.U.H.) on hiatus. Might return for the 2006 summer season.
- Redwood Creek Challenge Trail closed January 3 February 28, 2006, for major refurbishment.
Now that the monorail is in shuttle mode allowing heavy equipment to move into the lagoon, signs are beginning to appear of the next stage of construction. Photo by David Michael.
Someone has been through and spray painted several areas where work is to be done. Photo by David Michael.
Note: Refurbishment schedules are estimates only. All information is subject to change without notice. To get the most recent updates, call Disneyland at (714) 7817290.
If you know of any events, official or unofficial, that should be listed here, let us know.
- Free Crispitos at Rancho del Zocalo with annual pass. Entire month of February. Free Crispitos dessert (tortilla chips flavored with cinnamon sugar) with the purchase of an adult entree and beverage.
- Lady and the Tramp at the El Capitan. From February 2 - 14. On opening night (February 2) the 7:00 p.m. show will include a panel discussion about the movie though no list has been released of panel members. Tickets can be ordered here.
- Robert Olzewski release of Astro Orbitor and Mark Twain Riverboat figures. February 18 at Disneyana (link).
- Discounted Lady and the Tramp DVD. February 28 - March 16. Purchase DVD at Emporium, 20th Century Music, Off the Page, Greetings from California, or World of Disney for $5 off regular price of $24.99.
- Walt Disney Company annual shareholders' meeting. March 10. Begins at 10:00 a.m. (doors open at 9:00 a.m.) at Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, California. Attendance is limited to shareholder (as of January 9, 2006) and one guest. Attendance is on a first-come, first-served basis and is limited by seating capacity of Arrowhead Pond. Registration begins at 8:00 a.m and registrants must show photo ID. If you own stock through a brokerage account you must provide a statement showing such. Cameras and other recording equipment are not allowed (link, PDF).
- Walt Disney Classics Collection Spring Premiere Event. March 24-26. Unknown what else will be available but the leading item will be a limited edition (4,000) Stitch scultpure at World of Disney (link).
This 4.5" Stitch sculpture will be released March 14. Photo © Disney.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest premiere: Details unknown but the world premiere is again expected to be held in Disneyland's New Orleans Square. The movie opens July 7 and the premiere will be up to two weeks prior to that.
- Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend. September 15-17. For more information and registration see the official Web site (link, warning: horribly annoying embedded music)
DCA: Disney's California Adventure
Annual Pass blockout dates:
- SL Southern California Select Annual Pass
- SC Southern California Annual Pass
- DX Deluxe Annual Pass
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Visit our Annual Passholders Blockout Dates 2006 page to see more dates. You can see future calendar schedules at Disneyland. As always, specifics are subject to change without notice (or occasionally, without us noticing) so when information conflicts between what is presented here and that presented by Disney, it is best to assume Disney's information is correct.
Entertainment schedule: Go directly to the Disneyland Resort schedule for this week at Disneyland.com here.