Monday, January 22, 2007

Walking in Walt's Footsteps (Part 2)



"You guys get down there at least twice a month. For God's sake, don't eat off the lot. Stay there... lunch with the guests... talk to them."
-Walt Disney

For the sake of argument, let’s assume you’ve been given a reasonable level of influence at the Disney Theme Parks. You immediately decide to take on the guest experience on a regular basis. For your first on-the-job visit to Anaheim you decide to only address your experiences leading up to your entry into Disneyland’s Main Street, having recognized that this is the very experience a vast majority of the Executives within Walt Disney Parks and Resorts choose to bypass.

What would be some of the things you would encounter?

You have always understood that waiting in lines at Disneyland is one of the most oft heard guest complaints on record. What you didn’t fully realize is that the waiting game begins well before entering the park. In addition, you're shocked by exactly how many of these lines there are; five in all, with each wait feeling more substantial than the last, especially if you’re arriving with the morning rush.

The first line is for the entrance to the parking lot/structure. Unlike the lines inside the Park, this one asks you to surrender $11.00 for a regular vehicle. Your first impression of the “Disney Magic” is decidedly less than magical.


Relying on cones and Cast Members, having been stripped of your common sense approach to finding the best space available, you secure your spot and leave your vehicle. Immediately you take note of the land of enchantment Disney designers have laid out for your all important initial greeting (and later farewell) at the Disneyland Resort. If first impressions count for everything, this one leaves much to be desired.

In the case of the Mickey & Friends parking structure, it is cold, unpainted concrete surfaces and sticky stained floors often littered with trash. Off-model Disney characters adorn pillars to categorize which level you’re on. If you’re fortunate enough to be in the minority parked close to the escalators, you have access to trash cans and a brief walk to the trams, but the rest must traverse a near endless dark maze of cars while on their way to that location. Even with the Parking Lot days of yore, frequent tram stop locations guaranteed a short walk for anyone not willing or capable of making the longer journey on foot. You are bewildered by why that is not an option for guests anymore.


The second line you encounter is for the tram itself. Other than open spaces between planters, you are immediately struck by the lack of order here. Guests are left to proactively ascertain which horde of fellow guests is grouped smaller, and then join them. For those with a wheelchair or a stroller, their options are narrowed, and the line they’re required to join is larger and slower.


The third queue is at the security checkpoints. Camping out here for a while, you immediately recognize how extremely rare it is to find all queues being utilized at any given time. The crowds squeezing in to this bottleneck are numerous and, once again, there is no perceived structure or conformity to rules here. If you do not create intentional organization, chaos becomes the common default and chaos is what is too often present here. You are struck by the irony of it all, being that this is the one spot at the Disney Resort that should work overtime to put guests at ease but instead seems to actively solicit anxiety, frustration and sometimes even anger.


Photo courtesy Mouseplanet.com

The fourth location is the ticket booths. Fortunately, these locations have a change in approach, as the queue is a chained switchback. More care is taken here, as you are about to be asked for a very large sum of money depending on the size of the group, $63.00 being the smallest amount an adult could expect to pay here for entrance into Disneyland. Still, this is often one of the longer pre-entrance lines and it is served up without shade and without a clear sight line of the very Park(s) you’re shelling out for. In addition, nothing has been done here to assure guests that their monetary sacrifice is well worth the wondrous day of joy and happiness ahead of them.


The fifth and last line is for entrance into the theme park itself. You are immediately aware of what a zoo this area is. Just like the lines for the parking lot tram there’s no clear sense of where to queue up. Where’s a friendly Cast Member guiding guests into the least filled line? Why aren’t all entry points being utilized? Having already spent upwards of 30-60 minutes waiting in lines, having to traverse a several acre mass of anxious hyper-caffeinated guests only to end up in yet another line is not your idea of a dream coming true.


Photo courtesy Mouseplanet.com

Finally passing through the turnstiles you pause to search for Mickey, Minnie or even Tweedle-Dee. No such luck. Instead you take note of a very serious minded survey taker and a somewhat pushy photographer.

Regardless, you have finally arrived inside the Happiest Place on Earth, thrilled to be wrapped up in the real land of Disney, honored to be entrusted with spearheading proactive change at the park; to be truly ‘walking in Walt’s footsteps’.

You close up your note pad and decide to take a quick bathroom break before heading to lunch.

Spotting the restrooms by City Hall, you head on over and get in line.

69 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ouch. You perception is painfully accurate. We visit once a year, perhaps this is the reason. Given the perceived riches, perhaps the Mouse could, for a little while, not presume the advantage of the little people. We who preach the Gospel of Walt to the dispassionate, unbelieving and unconverted hoards would adore being treated as He always assumed we would, but for the one weekend we save all year for...

Epcot82 said...

You've made only one erroneous assumption: That an executive coming in to Disney Theme Parks & Resorts would be told to, encouraged or even take the initiative to visit Disneyland (or any of the parks) like a regular guest.

We've all seen 'em: The folks in button-down cotton shirts, semi-stylish skirts and conspicuous sunglasses, usually talking on a cell phone or holding a pile of papers while looking very earnest, as if they are Cast Members you can't bother.

I worked at Disney for a number of years. In that time, I never once met a park employee who would visit the park on his or her own -- without guests in tow -- on a Saturday afternoon just to see what the experience is like. Quite the contrary: It became Disney style not to go unless Uncle Fred and Aunt Frieda were in town, then you tried to scram as soon as you got 'em through the gates. Of course, with your Silver Pass, you bypass things like paying for parking, waiting in the ticket lines and even queueing with general guests for entry to the park. No, sir, you used all the perks you possibly could ... all to do everything you could to avoid having to experience the park like a "normal" guest.

Wouldn't it be great if Disney required every employee to visit the park on one Saturday or Sunday a month and file a "quality report"? All management employees in Anaheim and Lake Buena Vista should be subject to such a requirement (and all directors and above in Burbank). Boy, that would change some attitudes real fast ... force 'em to be treated like crap and see if the parks don't face some mighty negative criticism! Suddenly, the annual passholders would look downright mild in their complaints. Ha!

Anonymous said...

GREAT ARTICLE! You know, entering the park from the Disneyland Hotel is no better. You have to traverse the cacophony of "citywalk" like eyesores (the mall area) with blaring AWFUL top 40 teeny bopper music. I suppose the best part is there are RARELY any lines. No one's there.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your post! I really do hope that someone with some influence in the ThemePark division reads your very important and true observations. There is a serious lack of magic here and there are solutions that could be implemented, for the parking structure

Perhaps a lowpower radio station with signs notifying guests to tune into live fun park information while waiting in the car lines prior to entering the parking structure

I would suggest regularly cleaning the floors (at least once a week or Month)

Somehow create more order to the lines in the Tram loading area.

In the security zone create a entry line for quicker entry to guests without strollers and bags.

Staff and open more ticket windows,

Staff and open more park entrance gates, there are many available gates please utilize them.

Alex said...

I just visited Disneyland and can confirm this. Actually, I had to wait in six different lines-- I had to drive past two parking booths for some reason. Driving northbound on Interstate 5 and exiting for the park, I lined up to buy my parking ticket, then after driving several hundred feet, I arrived at a traffic light (Harbor Blvd) and had to line up again to show my ticket at another booth before entering the parking lot!

moochie said...

Brilliant post. It's absolutely unbelievable how right on this is. I laughed out loud at the photographer bit. They are so bad, that I've actually started to feel sorry for them. Talk about ruining the entrance. They hit you as soon as you come in and then again in the middle of Main St. What a shame. Disneyland, please come home!

Bruce said...

It's good to see a comment about the awful lack of theming in the parking structure. This has been a pet peeve of mine since I first visited the park in 1999. I couldn't believe that this was our first taste of Disney magic. No theming, dirty floors and poor Cast Members in McDonald's colored costumes. Yuck!

Just a little care and attention could make the parking structure so much more inviting. As it stands the parking structure says Disney is bland, dirty and utilitarian when it should be saying, "you are about to enter the most magical place on Earth."

Anonymous said...

Everything I have read in the past two years suggest the lines as much more monstrous as they have ever been in the past- I can't imagine anyone even wanting to enter a Disney Park with the current tales of crowding and lines.

I have not visited DisneyLand since the early 90's, nor DisneyWorld since the mid seventies (E Tickets were still used then). I can't imagine their popularity (always there) has necessarily increased that much in that much time. Maybe Crowd Control has gotten much worse?

Anonymous said...

The one place I have to disagree with you is the complaint about the cast members directing us toward a parking space somehow depriving us of the freedom to choose our own space. You're not serious about that, are you? All throughout the rest of this post, you point out how the default position with no one to establish order is chaos. Driving back and forth along the aisles of the Mickey and Friends parking structure searching for an empty space would be my personal version of hell. I remember even as a little kid being amazed at how well-managed the Disneyland parking lot was. And is.

Keith said...

The comments here are well stated, but the truth is that this is nothing new. The only thing different is the security checkpoint. The old parking lot was not themed any better than the current structure, and say what you will about the parking structure, it does make it easier to find your car and exit (ask anyone who remembers the old free-for-all exit.)
There were disorganized lines for trams before, the ticket booths didn't have shade before, there was a long, disorganized line to get in before.
I'm not an apologist for the current management team, but these are problems that have always existed, even when Walt was around.

Anonymous said...

I've got a feeling its just as bad at euro disney. I went for work last september and because it was a works conference we were only allowed in set bits of the park out of hours for our after work entertainment. If you can go this way it is the best. There are no queues. I guess I was just lucky to have the opportunity. I would not go otherwise.

Mojave33 said...

As an AP holder, I have a different take on these lines, since I come to DL more often and generally arrive later, maybe.

The parking lot lines have never been long for me. Some drivers seem intent on following everyone else into the longest one. I admit, the parking structure could be a bit cleaner, but it's only a few minutes walk to the escalators, no big deal.

The tram lines are a no-brainer. Everyone bunches up in the closest, biggest lines for some reason. Just use basic observation and some common sense and pick the smallest bunch away from the escalators. I always get on the first tram.

Security lines never seem that long. Don't need to buy a ticket.

Finally, at the main gate, just use common sense. EVERYONE seems to go to the first line they see, like sheep following each other. Just work your way to the far right lines and you're in the gate in 5 min. I have to admit, they could open a few more gates. That's the one thing that bugs me.

Look busy and look away once you enter and you'll never be stopped for a survey or a photo.

I'd say it takes 20 min from the Katella exit to inside the game, half of that time spent in the tram line and tram ride.

Phil Shaffer said...

I am not an employee, but a semi frequent guest. Your perceptions are on target. Beyond that I want to say that I am very impressed with the dedication that the people here have to the functioning of the company. This makes me want to come back.

Anonymous said...

I love Disneyland Paris... why? Because of its nominal popularity compared to its Cali grandpa. Lines are shorter, it feels less crushing to enter, there's actually space to appreciate theming... Disneyland starts to feel less like a destination and more like a project... this post nails it and my European wife visited with me once and said never again- she loves theme parks but despises ordeals and DL has become one...

kcnole said...

This has been one of my biggest complaints of Disney management for years. Many of them seem to hate going into the parks. How can I ever expect someone in management to understand what the magic truly is, how to develop it, and how to protect it if they aren't actually in the park experiencing it on at least a monthly basis.

It's always been my one unattainable goal to one day be the CEO of Disney. My first mandate would be that every executive must visit the park once a month and do it like a normal guest. They must go in plain clothes, they must park in the structures, or sometimes stay in the hotels. They must go through all the lines everyone else does, and they must spend at least 5 hours in the park using the restroom facilities there, eating onsite, waiting in queues and using fastpass like all the guests.

Like others have said. I bet management would have a different view of the parks then.

Anonymous said...

It's too expensive.

All this could be forgiven if it were half the price, but I think that if it were fixed the price would actually go up.

Sorry, but Disney parks are god-awful, stressful, cheesy, depressing money traps.

rik said...

Spot on post here. We used to be annual passport holders, and the worst part of our almost weekly experience was actually getting inside the park. I had never really considered how terrible the experience really was until you "lined" everything up together...ouch. Totally void of any of the magic or care that Disney is theoretically so famous for.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with the poster above. I stayed at the Disney Hotel specifically to avoid the lines, and I loved it. I got on the monorail and was whisked to the back of the park well ahead of the regular 'guests' and was able to jump on the Star Wars tour on the first ride of the day. In fact, I rode five popular back-of-the-park rides before the crowds coming from Main Street even became a problem.

Anonymous said...

In the wonderful book Disney War, the author points out how when Walt was running the show, that every executive picked up any paper/trash they saw and put it in the garbage. It was a matter of pride. And every exec competed to show how much they were aware of the park cleanliness.

Sounds like that story needs to be retold.

Dick said...

Why would anyone put themselves through this? I took my kids when Orlando first opened and found the experience so bad, I have never gone back.

Anonymous said...

It is true that the Silver Pass gives you free parking though you have to park with everyone else. There's no reserved parking for cast members. The Silver Pass DOES NOT, however, allow you to skip lines anywhere at the Park. Cast Members stand in the same lines as every other guest. The only thing that allows you to skip lines is the unlimited FastPass which has to have a VP signature and approval of the head of the resort. It is rarely, rarely given to anyone.

Ryan said...

Hmm, Disneyland sounds like it sucks. I visit Disney World once or twice a month with my kids. We roll straight up to the parking gates, park over by handicapped parking (my son doesn't ride on the Tram), walk to the boat, either wait for it to arrive or stroll on, get through the bag check in under a minute, and go through the turnstiles in record time. Seriously, it takes about 30-45 minutes from the time we park to stroll through the front gates. Even less time at Epcot, MGM or Animal Kingdom.

I worked there in my youth, so I am pretty jaded to the "magic" of the Magic Kingdom, but my kids enjoy themselves well enough.

Already this year, "Mickey" has bought us several buckets of popcorn, as part of the year of a bajillion wishes, or whatever.

I just wish we had Mr. Toad's Wild Ride....

Anonymous said...

"Off-model characters?" And which might those be, Mr. Blackwell?

Anonymous said...

This is the first post to ever literally make me laugh out loud...I mean, lol. ;) You struck a cord with me when you mentioned your eventual emergence into the park itself. Survey takers and photographers.

I halfway understand the logic behind having the photographer at the main gate. This is the point and time in your day that your going to look your best. At this point, your hair is still combed, your make-up is still straight, you haven't sweat to the degree your going to and your little children are all wide awake. Who wants to pay 10+ dollars for a picture of sweaty, disheveled sleeping kids?

But then, who wants to pay 10+ dollars for a picture, period...er, question mark? Plus, it's still obtrusive. Once you've gone through the hell and high water of the parking lot, and gone through the equally painful experience of calculating the ticket price (it never seems like it's going to be THAT much until the Cast Member tells you your total), after all that effort and time spent, which can very easily turn into 1 to 2 hours, and you've FINALLY set foot on the other side of that magic gate, the castle, the sphere, the Chinese Theater beckoning you to enter this magical land, now you want me to stop to take a picture that isn't even complimentary?

The surveyors are even worse. It's the same experience as I described above, only this time your effectively being stopped to engage in a some idle small talk. "So, where you from? How long you plan on staying? Are these all your kids? Do you have an innie or an outie?"

And the terrible thing about this and the parking problems is that most, if not all of it, is relatively easy to fix. And considerably more lucrative.

More tram stops doesn't only mean less congestion in the parking lot or structures. It also translates into greater influx of visitors within fewer hours. To be honest, I'm surprised this element of the Guest experience hasn't been taken more seriously because of that fact.

Of course, this could be Walt's influence on my thinking again. He was the first one to figure out and apply the theory that the more elaborate your surroundings, the more likely your going to stick around to enjoy it. The more you stick around to enjoy it, the more often your going to purchase food and gifts while your there. So you can now, not only charge at the gate since the entire experience is an attraction, but you can generate more income from the the increased stay time of your guests.

The same principle applies with regard to parking and the main gate. The faster you cycle your guests through the front door, the longer their stay time is going be. Nowadays its a given that your going to spend the entire day a theme park, it no longer necessary to try and convince them. As a result, most families plan to start the day early so they can maximize their stay time at the parks and get their full money's worth. The sooner you get your guest through the gate, the sooner their going to start spending, be it breakfast, a rain parka, film, or other necessity. How annoying is it to leave so many hours early just so you can catch breakfast, only for it to be closer to lunch when you finally get inside? Getting your Guests into that gate earlier means the more Guests who are going to be around for breakfast, lunch and dinner as opposed to just lunch and dinner. That has to a be sizable profit margin alone.

I suppose this is yet another aspect of Walt's style of business sense that just doesn't congeal in the minds of modern day businessmen. Oddly enough, it strikes most people as common sense. The whole point of a theme park is to get people to have a good time while there (and you consider yourself "there" long before you enter the front gate.) Maximize the experience of these people, and the more forgiving they'll be when they have to pay at the front gate. The more giving they'll be at the cash registers when they do get through the gate. The more likely they'll be to come back to that gate and do it all over again, and with far more frequency. Disney's current stance is yet another instance of late 20th, early 21st century theories of capitalizing on your returns, rather then capitalizing on your returns; the return of your guest any time soon.

Anonymous said...

the parking structure, bland? As compared to the hightly decorative high tension power lines in the mythical parking lot of yore?

Oh, how I miss that e-ticket run to get to a tram dodging car doors and Aunt Mable and the stroller of death in the old Eyore lot.

And it was so nice in Walt's day that he personally made sure that no one had to sit in traffic on Harbor for 20 minutes trying to get into the lot.

While this site has brought up many things that are valid critiques of Disney, this one almost borders on teh absurd.

Mike said...

In a spirit of "how this should be done", check out Universal's parking structure in Orlando - it's huge; not really themed but still impressive; and there's no tram to walk - just a fairly nice stroll to the gates.

Jon said...

If I'm not mistaken there are two lines before you park your car. One at the old parking lot, where you buy the $11 ticket. The other is across the street at the new parking structure where you show your ticket and actually park your car. In between is a short jaunt on a public street, where the more experienced guests skip the first booth and cut in line for the second.

Jon said...

If I'm not mistaken there are two lines before you park your car. One at the old parking lot, where you buy the $11 ticket. The other is across the street at the new parking structure where you show your ticket and actually park your car. In between is a short jaunt on a public street, where the more experienced guests skip the first booth and cut in line for the second.

Shane said...

Excellent article! I grew up with the "Mouse" in Florida and on the subject of lines they now have a "Fast Pass" at Disney World where you can 'skip' the line by paying extra $$$. Now call me crazy but if they can do that can't they reduce the waiting time by better crowd management?

Shane

Anonymous said...

Seriously, there is a reality distortion field in effect here. On this blog, which I must say I seriously doubt is actually written by "Pixar and Disney employees" because of the frequent inaccuracies, there is often a wistfully toned post wishing the park could just be that perfectly fucntioning, seamlessly magical place it was when Walt was alive.

It's complete bollocks. There have been missteps and mistakes literally every day since the park opened and it hasn't stopped it from being the favorite destination of millions. There has ALWAYS been something that could be done better.

Now, I'll grant you, in the Pressler era things went south in a considerable way. but at present the park is in the best shape it's been in years. It's no more perfect than it was in Walt's day. In some ways is is worse, and in some ways better. But this pining for the glory days of the old parking lot, which is ridiculous, or the wonderfully traffic-free approaches to the park, etc., etc., are absolutely absurd.

There have ALWAYS been lines. Your points in re: the main gate entrance -- and the fact that despite park management knowing full well from the parking numbers how many people are on their way to the gate, there never seem to be enough gates open -- are well taken. But inside the park, the reality is that quite simply, the park was not built to support the often crushing numbers of guests admitted. Secondly, there are staffing concerns. Disneyland pays barely more than minimum wage for the most important job in the place. The one person who is going to represent the whole of the Disney corporation -- the ticket taker, the attractions CM -- is the lowest paid and least respected perosn in the whole organization. Thus it is difficult to staff positions adequately, much less with committed enthusiastic CM's. We should be grateful to those CMs who do make a difference for Guests every day, who make a special moment happen. They are increasingly rare. Frankly I don't care about waiting in lines if the EXPERIENCE of the attraction is worth it. But if I am going to wait in Tower of Terror while a bunch of underpaid teens pay no mind to the theming of the experience and stand around bullshitting about their girlfriends, I am gonna have a problem with that. (Guess what often happens).

But in fact, I rarely wait in lines. I plan my day and use FastPass and manage to get on every attraction I wish to. Worts case scenario, on a really crowded day, single rider is a great opton and often if I am with someone we will be able to get on together.

I simply goggle at people who will wait in a 2-hour line for Indy, for example. I simply so not understand it, that so many people cannot figure out how to use FastPass.

One more thing. I tire of this depcition of Disney as some kind of monolithic entity designed to deprive people of their cash. Naturally they are in business to make money. But the company, and especially in some ways Disneyland, is made up of people. Many of them have been caretakers of the park for 30 years or more. Contrary to other comments here, many of them visit the park regularly. I know because my wife is a CM and we visit the park at least a couple of time a month. So I am sick and tired of hearing this BS about how people who work at Disneyland don't care about the guests. Even the lamest employee I have met cares about little else. So please, unless you have some personal experience, stop speculating.

Mr Banks said...

To anonymous above.

If you only knew.

If

you

only

knew.

Anonymous said...

Most of the article is uncomfortably accurate. I've blushed a little to realize that it hadn't even occured to me there are all those lines to wait in prior to entering the park.

One exception I have to take is with parking. I can't complain about the fee, because as an annual passholder that is included for me. But I do have to point out that Disney has crowd control to a science.

Have you been to other parks like the San Diego Zoo, Knotts, etc? Where parking is left to your own. I have seen people circling the same three front rows of cars in hopes to get the closest space possible. All this does is create confusion and heavy traffic that is often dangerous for pedistrains.

If being in the front row of the parking lot was the most important thing to you - get to the park at least an hour before it opens. Then you can have that all important space. Should rising at 3am for this special parking not appeal to you, take the space at the back and deal with it.

And another thing - what is wrong with having to walk to the tram? And as you correctly pointed out the tram is nothing but chaos anyways, why not walk to the front of the park? This strikes me as a typical American complaint - walking.

If you are unable to make that walk then Disney can accomodate you. If you have a disabled placard you don't end up parking at the back of the garage, miles from the elevator. And, regardless of having a placard or not, if you approach any Cast Member and explain the situation, a nice white van will come and pick up the party and deliver you to the front of the park. I know this from experience, my mother and a few other family members are disabled.

But for those healthy people, do good for your heart and body and walk. Walk from the back of the garage to the tram - and even better skip the tram with it's horrible gas fumes and walk to the front of the park.

After all, did you not expect to have to walk or stand while in the park?

Ted said...

I'm also an annual passholder and I COMPLETELY agree with what you are saying, HOWEVER, I'm not sure how they could make it better.
There are some of the obvious (open more gates, open more ticket booths, bring in more staff, etc), but that isn't going to make THAT much of a difference.
Some people are comparing DL to WDW, but that is NOT a fair comparision. WDW is larger than the city of San Francisco, BUT DL is tiny in comparision. WDW has the room to be more creative, BUT DL has had to "shoe-horn" this into an EXISTING (and VERY built out area). For those of you who don't live in Orange County (DLs home county), there are more people in the OC than in 21 other STATES. Almost 3 MILLION!!

I thought that MAYBE a moving sidewalk inside the parking garage would be nice, IF you had to park far from the elevators.

This is DEFINITELY a post where I would like the author and others to post how THEY would make it different (better) without tearing the whole thing down and starting over.

John said...

My chief complaints about the parking garage have to do with its layout and parking. Both are conducted with efficiency in mind, but only as far as keeping Disney's labor costs low. A few more cast members and a second tram stop (at the back side of the parking lot) and you'd be providing much better service to guests.

For instance, it seems that no matter how crowded the park is going to be that day, they always park a complete level before moving to open another section. If your timing is wrong you could be parked in the far corner of the parking lot having as long a walk as from the back section of the old parking lot to the main entrance, but without the benefit of a tram. Then when you approach the tram you see all those empty spots that would have walking 1/10th the distance. Frustrating in the morning, exhausting at night. To not have tram service for these people parked in the way back is a shame.

On days with low attendance, only the front section of each floor should be parked each day making for shorter walks for all guests at the start and end of the days. If this means more CMs then so be it, but it also means happier guests.

The layout of parking in each garage also strikes me as weird. I always have to do two complete circles, once when entering and once when leaving. If they reversed the direction of the paint on the ground for the car spots, they would all be pointing to the exit rather than having to drive through pedestrians and making a complete circuit to leave. Having two tram loading zones would also work with this situation.

Ideally, the parking garage would have been built with redundant peoplemovers (even just a moving carpet like at Universal Orlando) bringing people directly to the tram or even better the front gate.

But that's the sort of planning we expected from the Old Disney, not the new company. We have to learn to live with disappointment.

Nolly said...

I've been to Disneyland twice and DCA once in the past year. On all three occasions, I had to deal with only two of these lines -- security and the actual entrance, and they were never long enough to annoy me.

I bought my tickets ahead of time, not at the park. I left my car at my hotel and either took an ART bus or walked to the the park when I was staying close enough.

I did use FastPass, but could not always get passes for the rides I wanted. Still, the only time I wasn't able to ride everything I wanted at least once was the third trip, in August, when I used a twilight ticket (good after 4PM, purchased through the event I was in the area to attend). It was the end of Bats Day in the Park, and it was summer, and my time was limited, so I didn't expect to get to everything.

Anonymous said...

If only I knew WHAT, Mr. Banks? Please, enlighten me. If you have a specific beef with my remarks then by all means take me to task. But spare me the cryptic know-it-all routine. It's all too common amongst Disneyphiles of ANY stripe.

Quite frankly this blog seems to be little more than a bunch of Jim Hill-style bitching about how bad everything is, with very, very little in the way of "tenable practical solutions."

Couple this with at best a rose-colored hindsight of bygone days when absolutely everything at Disneyland worked perfectly and there was no such thing as a moment's dissatisfaction on anyone's part and it's a recipe for worthless bloviating.

Yes, things can be better. Always can -- otherwise what's the point? Let's hear some actual ideas rather than this repetitive kvetching.

And really, you aren't suggesting that congested traffic, unpleasant parking experiences and waiting in lines were never part of this cotton-candy fantasy memory of Disneyland you've cooked up? Please.

As to CMs. There are rotten ones and good ones. Just like in any huge, huge enterprise. My wife, bless her, is one of the good ones. She is in management and fights the good fight with a vengeance. And there are allies in this fight, and then there are those who can't be bothered. But this relentless tarring of every management CM with the same brush ("The folks in button-down cotton shirts, semi-stylish skirts and conspicuous sunglasses, usually talking on a cell phone or holding a pile of papers while looking very earnest, as if they are Cast Members you can't bother") is tiresome in the extreme, and more than a little insulting to the hundreds of CMs who bust their tushies working long hours every day trying to make DL a better place for the guests. (And who, by the way, visit the park often as guests.)

I have yet to see a "practical, tenable" post on this blog to address the many grievances or wistful yearnings for the bygone days of fantasy. What I do see is a bunch of cynical nonsense that seems more like it's coming from a place of personal bitterness and less from the perspective of running Disneyland not as some kind of charity organization dedicated to making people happy (as if that's what Walt's goal was), but as a business whose product is the customer's happiness. Two thoroughly different concepts, and the latter must be at the forefront for ANY remedy to be "practcial and tenable" in ANY respect.

Anonymous said...

I visited DL after a 10-year absence. I was very disappointed in the changes to how a driver from San Diego enters the park. I even got a little disoriented and ended up coming in from the North. Maybe that was a blessing. The approach to the parking ticket booths was chaotic, because with all the columns the visitor can't see the layout. My wife commented snarkily about how a $63 ticket should include parking. The garage is unattractive and claustrophobic. Maybe it is normal for parking structures, but the original parking lot, power lines or no power lines, at least was out doors. The old open lot had easier access to trams. It looked to me that you could be far enough from the escalator that a tram would be needed to get you from your car to the escalator. A comment above mentioned walking from the car to the gate, but I looked for a way to walk and it is not clear how you would. You certainly wouldn't walk the roadway the trams use. When we got off the tram, I had no idea where I was supposed to go next. The old layout, and the layout I remember from Magic Mountain in 2001, clearly indicates that you have to deal with the ticket seller and then deal with the actual entrance. The new DL layout suggests that buying a ticket is optional.

If you want to argue that the system was always bad, then let's say it went from bad to worse. It was like being in a foreign country among inhospitable hosts, until we finally got to the ticket booth.

It was my wife's first visit and it was her birthday, and the staff did a few things that made the day special for her and I can't say anything without mentioning that.

Anonymous said...

Since when is it a company's responsibility to point out shorter lines? When you go to the grocery store, gas station or any other place, it has always been your own responsibility to choose what line to wait in. Most people choose the shortest line, and no one expects anyone to help them figure out which one it is. Some of these comments are valid, but I can't agree that it's Disney's fault if visitors can't manage to observe that there are several lines to choose from, and choose the shortest line.

Mr Banks said...

To anonymous above,

It certainly isn't a company's responsibility to point out shorter lines but it is certainly a courtesty; a courtesy I was asked to perform when I worked at Epcot Center back when it opened.

If grocery stores can open up more registers as a courtesy to shoppers, Disney should at least assist guests with finding the shortest lines available. It's just courtesy.

Little Nemo said...

"You know, entering the park from the Disneyland Hotel is no better. You have to traverse the cacophony of "citywalk" like eyesores (the mall area) with blaring AWFUL top 40 teeny bopper music."

THANK YOU to the person who wrote this above. I agree completely.

I live in New Mexico, and last year my sister from Minnesota came to visit. We spontaneously decided to drive to Disneyland because we hadn't been there together in decades. (We lived in San Bernardino as kids.) We enjoyed the experience, but Downtown Disney was definitely NOT a good start-off to the day.

That incredibly loud, irritating pop music actually started to give us headaches, and put us in grouchy, irritable moods. We wanted to look into a few of the shops, but that music literally drove us away. We couldn't get out of Downtown Disney fast enough.

That music is so far from setting a timeless "Disney" atmosphere that when we got to the more pleasant and cheerful music in front of Disneyland, out of earshot of the Downtown speakers, my sister said, "Thank god."

Why can't they simply let people wander in SILENCE? Why must they destory the anticipation and pleasure of going to Disneyland with something that can be heard on any radio, in any mall, at any time?

The Polsons said...

"If only I knew WHAT, Mr. Banks? Please, enlighten me. If you have a specific beef with my remarks then by all means take me to task. But spare me the cryptic know-it-all routine. It's all too common amongst Disneyphiles of ANY stripe."

...said someone named "anonymous"... LOL

Julian Drews said...

Here's an idea. Have the tram lines also function as a security checkpoint. Then make available onboard keypads capable of letting guests purchase tickets en-route. Then have the trams disembark between California Adventure and Disneyland.

So simple.

And add moving sidewalks from the parking garage to tram loading that offers guests an entertaining kinetic animated diorama while moving; something visually inventive and exciting that gets guests excited about the experience to come; something worth the $11.00 they just shelled out.

Here's to the future!

Anonymous said...

What I always found interesting with this blog is the inability to accept that change only happens with demand. Perhaps its confusing knowing that a few thousand of your Disney online-pals share similar experiences. Step back from the general internet consensus and start looking at a bigger picture. Disneyland is one of the most successful theme parks in the world. When you're on top, change happens slowly. Change is fueled by competition. I have yet to see any theme park overcome the issues brought up here. Especially none on the sale of Disneyland. Disney should take the lead, but with so many visitors still coming, despite these flaws, there is little incentive.

Look at the momentum in the park created by CMs, guests, and office politics. Do you really expect these simple changes to happen? Many people are willing to forget the photographer, the tram line, and the parking garage the moment they lay eyes on the castle. Disney has most guests ending their days on a good note, thus erasing or lessening their initial frustrations.

One final note. I love the fact that you're able to call out Disney on their faults. Most people that write about Disney only have positive things to say. I feel that by exposing a problem you're bring attention to something that needs help. My beef comes up when you leave us hanging. There is absolutely no imagineering going on here. No imagination is being used to find solutions. Sure, you make great arguments as to why something is broken but with little follow-up. Its hard to believe that someone that takes so much time to find flaws doesn't simultaneously look for solutions. Shouldn't a blog titled "Re-Imagineering" do what its named after?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:
>>>...there is often a wistfully toned post wishing the park could just be that perfectly functioning, seamlessly magical place it was when Walt was alive.<<<

Forgive me, but is there something wrong with that? Is that a criticism? Because it's comparable to telling a caner patient that he makes wistfully toned comments wishing his health could be the perfectly functioning organ it was before he got sick. Somehow, I don't see what could possible be wrong with the desire for something to be as good as it once was.


Anonymous said:
>>>It's complete bollocks. There have been missteps and mistakes literally every day since the park opened and it hasn't stopped it from being the favorite destination of millions. There has ALWAYS been something that could be done better.<<<

I'll echo what I said at Epcot82's blog. "Success of a product is not tantamount to the correctness or usefulness of that product."

Disney will continue to generate income for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that so many of us have our hearts and memories tied up in the parks and the fun that can still be had there. It is the rub of loving Disney for what it was, even though we hate what it's slowly turning into. It's like falling in love with a good person, only for an illness to slowly take them away. You don't stop loving the person, but you hate what the disease is turning them into.

Add to that, Disney is an established brand name with a long history and arms woven into many facets of big business. It would be very difficult for Disney to fail due to that fact. Not to mention, who’s Disney's competition? If Disney management stood still and let the parks sit and rot for the next twenty years, it would still take that long for its only real competition, Universal, to totally steal it's foothold.

The "everybody does it and their still making millions" argument means nothing held against our complaints. Disney management makes money by resting on the laurels of their predecessor. Not by doing anything special, nor by preserving what made Disney great to begin with. Its not as good as it could be. It's not as good as it used to be. It's not showing any signs of trying to be better. It’s a money making machine that’s slowly loosing its soul. And, I'm sorry, that's just unacceptable.


Anonymous said:
>>>It's no more perfect than it was in Walt's day. In some ways is is worse, and in some ways better. But this pining for the glory days of the old parking lot, which is ridiculous, or the wonderfully traffic-free approaches to the park, etc., etc., are absolutely absurd.<<<

I always marvel when some of you become incensed because this blog and some of its readers don't like the parking arrangements. But, once again, I need to point out that we're focusing on the little things that add up and affect the whole.

Disney lovers, like myself, look at things from the perspective of, not just a Disney employee, but Walt Disney himself. We try to see things through his eyes and wonder what he might have done differently. And as the CEO of the most popular and largest themed industry on the planet, I don't have the luxury of disregarding the parking lots, just because I think their unimportant. Well, maybe I can ignore them. I'll ignore them because it's not my problem.

Wait, that's how Disney management thinks. Not how Walt would have. The parking lot, the bathrooms, the trash cans, every little piece of minutia adds up. Observing and caring for the little things, in most cultures, has always been lauded and cultivated as a virtue. How exactly is that absurd?


Anonymous said:
>>>But in fact, I rarely wait in lines. I plan my day and use FastPass and manage to get on every attraction I wish to. Worts case scenario, on a really crowded day, single rider is a great opton and often if I am with someone we will be able to get on together.<<<

And that presumes that we all have that luxury. I have a physically disabled child and as a result, I can cut most lines without having to Fast Pass at all. Some places I can Parent Swap and use the Fast Pass line without ever having to get a Fast Pass ticket. Does this change a thing to the million other people in the park with me? Not everyone cares to ride alone. Not everyone can ride alone. A family of three will no doubt have entirety different needs and difficulties than a young dating couple. The focus of management should be on maximizing the experience of all potential Guest groups.

However, this particular article wasn’t even about lines in the park. It was about lines to the park, which can be unbearably long and disorganized and chew up a sizable portion of a Guest’s stay time. If you don’t recall it being better in Walt’s day then that’s fine, and more then likely a subjective viewpoint. But there’s not doubt that it could be much better now. That a little careful thought could make it smoother. More tram stops. More Cast Members in the parking area directing, guiding, cleaning. Hey, maybe even decorate the interior of the darn thing. It’s the favorite destination place of millions, right? So don’t tell me they couldn’t afford it.


Anonymous said:
>>>One more thing. I tire of this depcition of Disney as some kind of monolithic entity designed to deprive people of their cash. Naturally they are in business to make money. But the company, and especially in some ways Disneyland, is made up of people. Many of them have been caretakers of the park for 30 years or more. Contrary to other comments here, many of them visit the park regularly. I know because my wife is a CM and we visit the park at least a couple of time a month. So I am sick and tired of hearing this BS about how people who work at Disneyland don't care about the guests. Even the lamest employee I have met cares about little else. So please, unless you have some personal experience, stop speculating.<<<

I have never once seen this blog blindly attack all Disney Cast Members as one faceless, uncaring entity. Your comment makes no sense in context with the statements made in this, and most other, blog articles. Disney management is who is being criticized here. It’s been widely acknowledged that there are still long time Cast Members who have kept the light on in the respective parks for many years. But it has also been pointed out that their influence is all but faded and that their numbers are dwindling. If anyone has ever complained about a Disney Cast Member (which, I believe, you just did in a previous paragraph) then it’s directly connected to the missteps of management who underpays and fails to reward those employees. Walt had a tenet that basically said if your employees are happy, then they’ll treat the guest well.


Anonymous said:
>>>But this relentless tarring of every management CM with the same brush ("The folks in button-down cotton shirts, semi-stylish skirts and conspicuous sunglasses, usually talking on a cell phone or holding a pile of papers while looking very earnest, as if they are Cast Members you can't bother") is tiresome in the extreme, and more than a little insulting to the hundreds of CMs who bust their tushies working long hours every day trying to make DL a better place for the guests. (And who, by the way, visit the park often as guests.)<<<

Again, this article said nothing about Cast Members not attending the park. It pointed out that management failed to do what Walt used to instruct them to do. Go in through the front gate, and spend the day as a normal person, not a VIP. How you translated that as an attack on all CMs is beyond me.


Anonymous said:
>>>I have yet to see a "practical, tenable" post on this blog to address the many grievances or wistful yearnings for the bygone days of fantasy. What I do see is a bunch of cynical nonsense that seems more like it's coming from a place of personal bitterness and less from the perspective of running Disneyland not as some kind of charity organization dedicated to making people happy (as if that's what Walt's goal was), but as a business whose product is the customer's happiness. Two thoroughly different concepts, and the latter must be at the forefront for ANY remedy to be "practcial and tenable" in ANY respect. <<<

Then you miss the point entirely. The solution to any problem begins with a spotlight on that problem. There are many, many problems to spotlight. First thing is first. I’ve milked this metaphor before and I have no qualms about milking it again. Diagnoses always takes place before treatment. You can’t cure a patient if you don’t know what’s wrong with him. You’ve got to shine a light on and examine the symptoms, and that can take time with someone very ill. Disney is an extraordinarily sick patient.

John Howard said...

Disneyland sounds like it sucks. I go to DisneyWorld several times a year, and don't have much of a problem with any of this. There's almost never any wait to get into the parking lot. I don't ride the trams because it's almost always easier to walk. The ticket center at the Magic Kingdom is like a ghost town these days, what with all the other, better options for getting tickets ahead of time, and unless you get there right at opening time, the wait to get into the park isn't that bad.

The only line you mentioned that I have a problem with is the security check, and not because it's particularly long as much as bacause it is completely useless. I don't know how many times I've walked through there with a fanny pack, or small backpack that no one ever even asked to look at, or bags stored in the bottom of my son's stroller that no one cared about looking in. And even the bags they do check, they open up and poke around a little with a wooden stick in a manner which can't even pretend to be able to ascertain whether or not what I'm carrying is dangerous to anyone.

Ted said...

To Juilan Drews above: (clever username by the way)
I like your idea about the moving sidewalk and diarama, but the tram lines as security checkpoint wouldn't work because the security checkpoints check the people coming from Mickey and Friends AND Downtown Disney, the Hotels, etc.
Also, thank you for providing SOLUTIONS and NOT just complaints.

And for those that are complaining about the parking garage: it is VERY large (I heard the largest in the Western hemisphere) and I HAVE parked in the farthest corner opposite the escalators. BUT compared to other parking garages, it is MUCH more efficent and less of a pain. Again, I'm sure that DL would have LIKED to keep ground parking (see Downtown Disney's parking), BUT is a parking lot an efficent use of space when you have SO little space to begin with?

Laura Moncur said...

You're being unfair and it has been far too long since you looked at Disneyland with a child's eyes. Back in August of last year, I wrote an entry about our parking experience:

Starling Travel » Parking At Disneyland

You didn't even notice or give credit for the awesome escalators that mostly go down in the morning and mostly go up in the evening.

Bad form, Jiminy, bad form.

David said...

While I agree that the parking structure could be a little more, er, magical, I prefer it over the large outdoor parking lot.

I'm now living in Orlando and I hate to park in one of the paved parking lots, walk under the hot Florida sun to a tram stop and wait for it. Then when it's time to leave, you have to enter your burning hot car.

The parking structure at DL provides protection from the elements, it's a nice perk! That's one of the reasons why sometimes I choose to visit the Universal Resort instead, nice shaded parking spaces.

PARISINJUNE said...

To anonymous-
the cryptic know-it-all routine..a bunch of Jim Hill bitching when everything worked perfectly.. are we really suggesting that congestic traffic...

FYI. Dreams cost money--LOTS OF IT! And where has this pathetic management team been the past several years when there was over $400 BILLION of liquid equity floating around wallstreet looking for a home and Iger managed to secure NONE of it for our company. Now these managers want to keep raising ticket prices among other things and you think that we are just "bitching" about parking garages? --And as far as Paul Pressler goes--he's no longer CEO of Gap and his goofy crew is jumping ship. Unfortunately, we are still stuck with many of his crappy staff here. And as to the comment about good cast members and bad ones--we shouldn't have bad ones. They should be screened properly from the get go.

Ian said...

I've never visited the land of the Diz, but some friends of mine are avid (rabid?) fans.

After reading this article I can't help but feel that like many big corporations, Disney isn't afraid to cut whatever corner they can in order to better their profit margins, all the while taking their customers for granted.

If a company can treat people (inc. my friends) like cattle and still have them clamoring to throw their money at the park then maybe this is exactly how we ought to be treated. Why treat people with respect when they don't demand it?

Moo.

Anonymous said...

Since when is it a company's responsibility to point out shorter lines? When you go to the grocery store, gas station or any other place, it has always been your own responsibility to choose what line to wait in.

Apparently you have never shopped at Trader Joes. Both locations that I have visited both have this service. It's a fairly pleasant feature for a grocery store, and does add to the overall sense of concern for the customer.

And in regard to getting the executives to visit the park to see what it's really like and making improvements - if you do succeed in getting that to happen - perhaps the next step would be getting them to watch some of the their modern era films or listen to their own branded radio stations. I think they would improve quite a bit if decision-making adults knew how bad some of them really are.

Anonymous said...

So, Disneyland back in the old days would have given us a moving sidewalk to get from our cars to the escalators to the tram? How does this square with the actual reality, in which Walt gave us a big asphalt lot with power lines overhead and a tram? Look, I appreciate that you're always looking for ways to make things better, but you're holding up Walt to to be some kind of mythical God of Family Entertainment. You're not going to get a personal rickshaw driver to escort you from your car to the front gate without paying through the nose for it.

Anonymous said...

Adam Villani said:
>>>So, Disneyland back in the old days would have given us a moving sidewalk to get from our cars to the escalators to the tram? How does this square with the actual reality, in which Walt gave us a big asphalt lot with power lines overhead and a tram?<<<

Who else, in a major capacity, was using trams to shuttle their guests from the parking lot to the front gate in Walt's day? In World they took you to the monorails which carried you over the lot and around the lake. That was unheard of, and certainly an innovation of the time.

It's a matter of context. You may focus on the trams as something unimpressive, but only because parks utilize a tram system the world over now. But it was innovative for the times it was initially created. What about today?

Walt's trams were something most people had never seen before. As a kid I loved the tram because to me it was like jumping on a ride from the word go. It was park element that no other park had thought to offer. A ride in something unique from the car door to the front door.

Today, we're offered nothing more unique then a lot of long lines and a parking garage no more impressive then the one at my local shopping mall. Hardly innovative. Hardly groundbreaking.

What we want to see is something at least as innovative for our times as the tram and monorail systems were for Walt's. It's unfair that posters keep pointing to the old lot and power lines and tram, when it's only mundane compared to what Disney is capable of today. And that's kind of the point. Their capable of so much more.

PARISINJUNE said...

If I had one day to be in charge, I'd say your approach is too narrow. You are focusing on A pathway, when in reality there are many. I've never encountered these problems, why- because when I was an AP holder we studied the busiest times and altered our route. The longest line I ever stood in was 10 minutes. We always walked and enjoyed the neighboring business shops/ hotels...
But if I were to change things, it would be focus. Two categories: Hotel guests and AP guests. Shuffle time slots. Bring back the romance to hotel occupancy, so much so that the locals will even want to stay for a get away weekend. Flowers in guests rooms as they arrive,the morning paper--get the local businesses involved by letting them supply the flowers with Disney specially designing their company labels attached to the baskets... Bring back the allure to the orange grove market that once graced the town. Because of limited space of the parks, work with surrounding hotels to offer special sevices as they use their bussing facilities. Shuffle time slots for guests so everyone isn't arriving at any one given time. Offer single rider advantage passes for groups at specific rides and times so they can ride as a group and then schedule a special dining event for them. You get the idea? Remember, magic is in the small things. I can't tell you how many time the damn escalator at the Monorail wasn't working. Makes me pissy!
The lines at the main gate wouldn't be that bad if there was more shade at DCA, palm trees or something, a water fountain-anything. On extremely hot days all you here in line is complaining because many guests have small children. It's a New Orleans type disaster. And the best I can say on the parking lot is use Walt's latin tag on weeds approach until proper staging is done. Disney is a different company today, much, much ,mcuh larger. You can not keep expecting everyone to get into one single file line to get in the door. And the parks are bigger than E-ticket attractions. Use it to your advantage.

Anonymous said...

>>>
Somehow, I don't see what could possible be wrong with the desire for something to be as good as it once was.
<<<

That's just it -- IT WASN'T. That is exacty my point. You are trying to get Disneyland to conform to an ideal it never matched. A place where parking lots were lands of wonder, all the theming was perfectly conceived, the attractions were all wonderful and pleasing to all who visited, and nobody ever had a bad time or anything, really, to complain about.

To extend your analogy, a suppose there is nothing wrong to wish your friend had super powers even though he was born without them. But since he wasn't and never had them, there is no point in judging him on his lack thereof. It is ridiculous.

Furthermore -- again, the stated mission of this blog is to provide "tenable solutions" to problems at DL. Not an endless spew of bitching and quite frankly often ill-informed bitching at that. Mr. Banks, for example, is a Pixar story artist. This means that I am almost certainly a huge fan of his work, and I have no doubt (and I say this without sarcasm) he is an insanely creative chap. However, this does not equate to a knowledge of theme park design and management, nor do I suspect he was actually a witness to the days of wine and roses he dwells upon so fulsomely in these pages.

In short -- Disneyland was never the perfect place this blog so often seems to pose it as. Honestly, it really wasn't, even though it may have been to your wondering 6-year-old eyes the first time you went.

>>>
Diagnoses always takes place before treatment.
<<<

Well that's assuming the treatment is ever forthcoming. How about it, so-called re-imagineers? How about a post with suggestions, and not just portentious bitching?

As to Parisinjune:
>>>
And where has this pathetic management team been the past several years when there was over $400 BILLION of liquid equity floating around wallstreet looking for a home and Iger managed to secure NONE of it for our company.
<<<

Apparently the millions spent on refurbishments for the 50th. The difference between the park under Pressler/Harris and under Rasulo/Ouimet was gigantic, a night and day improvement. Not perfect, but huge. I could waste your time with a detailed list of little details that have been repaired or improved upon since what even the lowliest paint shop worker calls "the dark times" but maybe you can observe some of these things for yourself.

Time will tell what Ed will do.

As to Iger, it's absurd to point a finger at him for not putting any money into the resort, especially with the 800+ million Iger has supposedly approved for the DCA plasemaking/total rehab alone -- which moves forward from the (correct) asumption that DCA was put together on the cheap and crappily themed.

Bob Iger's been running the company for, what, around a year? Not even? Let's give the guy a little benefit of the doubt.

Honestly, I've had enough of this whole thread. I will only sum up my thoughts one more time as follows:

This blog often commits the error of painting the old days at Disneyland as some kind of perfect world where everything worked just perfectly, and then judges today's park by comparing it to these supposed days of wine and roses. IN fact, DL has always had it failings, much as any enterprise of this size, ambition, and in Walt's day (sometimes overeaching) vision. The record suggetss that Walt himself was not ever satisfied. The park entered a very dark period under Eisner, and only in the last couple of years has been showing signs of renewed life.

Therefore, constructive criticism based on the REAL Disneyland, and not this imaginary once-perfect land of happiness, is valuable; but if merely pointing out things that don't work as well as they could (or at all) is the real mission of this blog (as it certainly seems to be from most of the entries) then why don't you change the mission statement to reflect that. Seriously. Just pointing out things is not a diagnosis. Pointing out things, assessing them, and proposing the scope of remedies is more like it. Get to it.

Mr Banks said...

For the record, I personally agree that the original parking lot was not a field of wine and roses. It was a daunting place that was far from pleasing to the eye.

But the process leading up to your day at Disneyland (which is what this post was all about) was considerably better back in the 60's, 70's and 80's, three decades I'm actually familiar with on a personal level.

And for the record, I'm not the writer for this blog entry, though I find it a wonderful and worthy addition; the debate it's generated is priceless.

As for tenable, practical solutions- if solutions aren't obvious, (and most of them are glaringly so) then the debate and discussion here in comments will do the job just fine. As most of the participants in this blog are also gainfully employed by Disney it's also a conflict of interest issue.

Overall, though, let me help you out here. There's a rudimentary philosophy that the Disney parks were founded on. Over the last couple decades that philosophy has been aggressively dismissed. Our job here at Re-Imagineering has been to remind the readers of what that was, one bite sized peice at a time.

The timing of this discussion and debate is also crucial. The direction of imagineering during the Eisner years was running headlong to hopeless. But with new leadership the fate of Imagineering isn't quite so hopeless anymore. It's time to air out the egos and let Imagineers get back to being the leaders of the theme park business once again, not the followers.

And so the debate showcased here at Re-Imagineering during this pivital time is incredibly inspiring, thoughful and helpful.

For those of you who have participated in the debate with integrity and professionalism I thank you. For those of you who have belittled, dismissed and taunted, I thank you not so much.

Now, back to work.

Tongaroa said...

I would have contributed to this discussion earlier but I was too busy working for the Walt Disney Company trying to provide tenable solutions to some of the problems I have some small influence over.

You know, Disneyland was not perfect in Walt’s day, but given the financial resources of the company at the time, it was the absolute best it could be. Today that is far from true, which is why this blog is needed.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said
>>>That's just it -- IT WASN'T. That is exacty my point. You are trying to get Disneyland to conform to an ideal it never matched. A place where parking lots were lands of wonder, all the theming was perfectly conceived, the attractions were all wonderful and pleasing to all who visited, and nobody ever had a bad time or anything, really, to complain about.<<<

If I may, here is the portion of my quote you commented on: "Somehow, I don't see what could possible be wrong with the desire for something to be as good as it once was."

For the record, never did I, nor anyone else, imply that Walt's Disneyland was Superman. I implied that Walt's Disneyland was healthy.

If you look at my last post you'll see where I point out that it's a matter of context with the times. Walt's and Imagineering's ideas for the old parking lot may not be great by today's standards, but they were innovative for that era. What we want is something innovative for our era. Walt wasn't perfect by any means, but he always strove for it. That's not what today's Disney does.

>>>Well that's assuming the treatment is ever forthcoming. How about it, so-called re-imagineers? How about a post with suggestions, and not just portentious bitching?<<<

How about the first paragraph of this post: "You guys get down there at least twice a month. For God's sake, don't eat off the lot. Stay there... lunch with the guests... talk to them."

Simple. Elegant. Doable. And the solution to fixing every complaint made in this thread.

Oh yeah. Tenable.

Mr Banks said...

And also for the record, I love this Digital Jedi guy. Infact, I think everyone at Re-Imagineering loves this guy. He really should work for the company. Talk about someone 'getting it'.

captain schnemo said...

I don't understand why it matters if there was a tram or a flaming moat filled with fire-proof crocodiles in Walt's day.

The point of the article is that there is a problem now.

As for solutions, the easy ones were implied by the author and have been mentioned in this thread...simple crowd control would allow the current resources to be used much more efficiently.

Not as nice as Universal Orlando's moving sidewalk, but considerably cheaper. With a little witchcraft, they might even get the crowd controllers to smile.

If it requires opening a few more turnstiles, I don't think a couple more minimum wage workers are going to break the bank.

If there must be surveys, how about questioning people in line for attractions? It will give guests something to do to pass the time.

Jiminy Cricket said...

Fascinating responses. For those that are content with the current guest experience in regards to arrival at the Disneyland Resort, I only hope to exceed your expectations once this is all re-imagineered in the near future.

Anonymous said...

"You guys get down there at least twice a month. For God's sake, don't eat off the lot. Stay there... lunch with the guests... talk to them."

Some do....some really really do. And they don't wear button-down shirts, and they don't have pressed skirts, and you won't see them on cellphones with a stack of papers in their hands.

In fact, you don't even know they are there. And they're trying to make a difference as best they can, even though they don't always have the direct authority to do so.

Anonymous said...

Mickey and Friends solution ...think people mover! People Movers around the outside perimeter of each level, with stops at three corners and the elevators!No trams in the way , optional for those who enjoy the walk, brief stops for loading and unloading with a magical rail the rises when the vehicles are full..but its ok the next one is clearly in view.
Possibly some wonderful Disneyland music to set the tone for the day and Wishes music to relax us all on the ride to return to our cars.
Also cant blame Disney for security checks unfortunatley due to past historical events it has become the way of life. If everyone was prepared when aproaching the check point , purses and mamouth diaper bags, back packs etc.. open things would go a bit quicker, photographers at entrances ...a simple "No thanks.." will do. Buying tickets if you must at the gate... have your order ready to go and your cash or credit card out and ready to go also. Hemming and Hawing and wallet and purse searching takes a lot of time. Being a good park guest can speed things along so can politeness to the CM's. It does make for a more magical experience.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:
>>>"You guys get down there at least twice a month. For God's sake, don't eat off the lot. Stay there... lunch with the guests... talk to them."

Some do....some really really do. And they don't wear button-down shirts, and they don't have pressed skirts, and you won't see them on cellphones with a stack of papers in their hands.

In fact, you don't even know they are there. And they're trying to make a difference as best they can, even though they don't always have the direct authority to do so.
<<<

And right there is the essence of our problem. What we need is for the people with the direct authority to do so, to go down there and get their hands dirty with the rest of the Guests.

It's wonderful that there are people within the corporation still trying to foment change. It's a testament to what Disney once was and could be again. But "The folks in button-down cotton shirts, semi-stylish skirts and conspicuous sunglasses..." that Epcot82 alluded to are not those people. Likely they were not the people Walt was talking directly to either. The folks that we're speaking of and the folks who need to follow the above principle are the ones with the actual power to do something practical with the lesson once learned.

Anonymous said...

Greeters were always the first to get the axe when the mandate from Eisner came down to cut the budget. Although they are *CRITICAL* to creating that certain sense of arrival at whichever park you were visiting or the specific attractions.

Travis said...

Where should the magic begin?

In "the old days", it WAS the parking lot. Yeah, it was just a parking lot, but no matter where you parked, you could see the Disneyland entrance, flags beconing. The parking lot employees made sure you had a sense that all was well.

---

Today, the parking is more of an adventure. You pay the fee, and a friendly, but rushed employee gives you instructions which you forget while you're trying to figure out where you're supposed to go. There is excitement when the large tour bus runs the red light, just missing your vehicle, while you're still trying to understand that you're supposed to cross the street to get to the parking structure.

You then make your way into the unremarkable parking structure - the echoing of the car alarms mixed with sub-wofer enhanced rap music adds intensity to the atmosphere. Amazingly, you find a space to park without the help of a single human.

After taking a few minutes to discover the escalator, which, naturally, is out of order, you make your way down the stairs to the tram, where you have fun with your friends trying to figure out just what the tram operator, who hasn't been told that if you hold the microphone too close to your mouth, nobody can understand you, is saying.

The adventure continues as you're dumped into the middle of a shopping mall, where the sounds of old songs, carefully chosen so that everyone is equally annoyed by the selection, rattles your eardrums at a level, also carefully chosen to be below the threshold of pain, but loud enough so nobody else can be annoyed by complaining or conversation.

You realize, that since you've made it this far, you're now ready to begin your day of entertainment at Disneyland, or Disney's California Adventure....

2ndrodeo said...

As I did say in Part 1, you have worded it even better in this post. Very recently, we have noticed positive changes in a couple of these areas at DL. The parking crew seems to be bigger, and back to actually guiding guests instead of pointing them in the direction they need to turn (away from the obvious wall in front of them).
Most of the fixes don't even require much imagination or creativity. Even many malls have colorful, decorated, easy to find again floors to their parking structures. Simple stanchions to make defined lines at the security check and turnstiles would take away much of the confusion of where the lines actually are, and how many lines there are. Signs that let guests know that they are going through a security check would help. Signs as soon as guests get off of the tram would let them know that they are to get off there (we've heard people ask, and seen them stay on it, not knowing they have arrived at the only stop), and directional - to let them know which way the park entrances are, and which way Downtown Disney is would be a great help. Better sight lines at the ticket booths, or a CM watching and directing would help them see when a window is available (since they can't be seen from the line). The number of turnstiles open at a time, and more, as there are more guests (yes, like most grocery stores do already) would help hugely. More staffing would be so worth the money it would cost to pay them, and increasing all of their pay (as it used to be competitive, to actually attract people that wanted to work in the park - foods was known for paying significantly more than out in the "other world") would help to make better, happier CM's (generally known as a good business practice), and make them feel appreciated, which translates to a better guest experience, which translates to the bottom line... Bringing back the AP turnstiles could help to ease the burden of huge lines - even if there are many more than there used to be, signs that could be changed at each turnstile could be flexible as the need was there. Suggesting to the surveyists, that they maybe step back from the turnstile a couple of feet might ease the congestion of trying to get your whole party through before being bombarded with "why are you here?" questions, and maybe some relevant questions, too.

Next stop (still before actually doing anything) is the lockers. Why is it that last week they were: $6.00 for small, $7.00 for large and this week: $7.00 small and $10.00 large? That is a huge jump in literally just a week. I know this is not the doings of WDI, but it goes along with the rest of the beginning of the day experience.

Mr. Banks, digitaljedi, others along the same lines: well put come-backs.

Anon w/ CM wife: Thank her and others like her for upholding the traditions and values of what it is all supposed to be. Allow room for improvements and for others who are trying to do the same, to make these comments, suggestions, criticisms... toward making it a better place for everyone.

Anyone who doesn't like what they see at this blog: Don't read it! No one is forcing you to, and sure not forcing you to participate.

RideMan said...

Oh, wow! What a description of the absolutely hellacious process that is getting into Disneyland these days! And think how simply some of it could be fixed!

For starters, if the surface parking lot is full and therefore effectively closed, why is an attendant standing there blocking traffic and collecting fees, only to shunt vehicles all the way through the lot, out onto an unmarked public street, leaving drivers to wonder why they just paid $11 to *not* park their cars. Why not send that guy home, erect a set of cones in the lot to direct traffic, put up a sign that says, "This way to the parking garage -->" and speed things along that way. On a related note, what genius decided that $11 was a good price for parking? Avoiding for the moment the fact that when you're collecting $60+ per person for admission and that the parking lot and structure do not serve any other facilities (therefore you don't need to discourage people from parking there for some other business) the parking really ought to be "free"...why is the parking price not set at a price consistent with available cash? Isn't $10 enough? I remember when a Certain Other Park changed from $5 parking to $6 parking the immediate result was a two-mile-long back-up on the access road just because of the sudden need to make change. Isn't Disney smart enough to understand this? $10 parking makes for faster moving, shorter lines. $0 parking could almost eliminate the line entirely.

Why is the location of the tram stop not obvious from any location within the garage? Why are the spaces closest to the escalators not the first spaces filled on each level (instead of the last)?

Why are the trams not more frequent? Why are the tram stops not more clearly marked? Where there are two stacked tram stops, why does a worker not manage the traffic flow and guarantee that both tram stops get relatively equal service?

Why are the tram stops so short of the park entrance? Why is there a security checkpoint, anyway? Why are there any ticket booths not staffed, given that this is where the park makes most of its money? And why is Disney so backward that of all the major park operators, they are the ones who do the least to encourage you to buy your ticket online in advance, print it at home, and skip the ticket booth altogether? Heck, some major parks are bulldozing their ticket booths, they have been so successful with encouraging pre-sales of various types.

I visit a lot of parks, and Disneyland is without a doubt the one that takes the most time and effort to actually get into, from the time I bring my car on site to the time I finally start walking down the midway. Why is it that Disneyland has so much trouble with such a basic operation?

Anonymous said...

I don't know. I usually go on off-peak hours/days so I don't experience much of this. I once left my house at 8:50 and managed to get into the park on time for the 9:25 fireworks with time to spare, and a great spot to view them from too.

I NEVER go to Disneyland in the Summer and I think I enjoy the park that much more because of it.