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Written by MiceAge. Posted in MiceAge Update

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Published on January 08, 2013 at 4:08 am with 89 Comments

With the flip of the calendar from 2012 to 2013, the Disneyland Resort has just closed the history book on one of the most successful years in the 58 year history of the Anaheim property. 2012 turned out to be a transformative year for the Resort; which was the plan when California Adventure originally opened in 2001 only to fall flat on its face. Heading in to 2013 the entire property has been reworked, and what type of visitors it attracts and how much money they spend and how rewarding they perceive that investment to be has all been dramatically changed for the better.  In this update we’ll fill you in on what’s ahead for at least the first few months of 2013, both creatively and logistically, as Anaheim management nervously watches the huge NextGen program roll out this winter in the Florida parks.

Unwrap that leftover cranberry muffin and cash in that coffee house gift card as we give thanks to both Andy Castro and Fishbulb for their photographic help today. Also keep in mind before we start that the biggest-ever MiceAge/MiceChat anniversary gathering has just been announced, visit this link to see all the special guests and events that are planned for it and how to book your spot at them.

Off with their heads…

The rumors have been sweeping the Internet since Christmas that an executive shuffle may be in the works for Disney’s Parks & Resorts division. What fueled the rumors in Anaheim was a visit just before Christmas where Bob Iger drove down from LA and Resorts chief Meg Crofton flew out from Florida and then holed themselves up at the hotel for a few days. There was the requisite “park walks” for Bob and Meg, with George Kalogridis acting as proud host as they shuffled through the maddening crowds of Cars Land, but the big event was in a secured board room where Bob laid out future goals for Anaheim. Chief among them was to keep the momentum of 2012 going, and also get more people staying on Disney property by pushing forward the expansion of the Disneyland Hotel with the plans we’ve told you about for the Tomorrow Tower near ESPN Zone.

Bob also had some bad news to deliver during his December visit, by presenting the news that up to a 10% reduction in headcount was expected from the Parks & Resorts division this fiscal year. The immediate plan will be to take a hard look at the bloated administration buildings in both Anaheim and Orlando, where the cubicle farms have been allowed to fatten up again in the last few years as major park expansion was underway in both DCA and Magic Kingdom Park. The front line Cast Members won’t be touched in the upcoming layoffs, and the front line management in busy hotel or theme park operations teams will also be spared. (Especially at DCA.)

But there’s a lot of folks working 9 to 5 jobs in back offices who have a connection with the daily operation of a theme park that is tenuous at best, if not entirely cut off and pointless. Here’s a tip; if your current cubicle job in TDA allowed you to take off the Christmas and/or New Year’s weeks to lounge around at home, instead of working the very busiest days of the year at the parks and hotels, then you have reason to be concerned. But if you were out in the parks or hotels working on those busy holidays away from your families (because you realize you work for a theme park and know that’s part of the gig), then your job is pretty safe.

While the HR department spends this winter determining which office drones in TDA to pick off, there’s some better news coming to the Anaheim executives. The basic principle is that any executive who was involved the last few years with the wildly successful DCA re-launch and Cars Land project will likely be getting a career promotion, in scope if not title, in 2013. And that includes DCA Vice President Mary Niven, and Disneyland President George Kalogridis.

What TDA will try to gain from the coming promotions is an increased sense of autonomy from the One Disney corporate mentality headquartered in Florida. George K. has been modestly successful since 2009 in pushing Disneyland Resort away from Orlando’s corporate hive and keeping a bit of unique personality for Anaheim. But there have been several failures on that front in the last year, most notably the cancellation of the Disney Employee Christmas Party explained with the bald-faced lie that it was due to Disneyland Park being too busy on slow attendance weekdays in early December. Overall however, Anaheim has a current crop of executives that “get it” for the most part, and VP Mary Niven and her three DCA General Managers in particular have really shined in the last few years. Anaheim should remain in good hands when that group takes a step up the corporate ladder this winter.

Passholding

Regardless who ends up in which big office, the Anaheim executives will be using this winter to further expand their plans to try and manipulate the Annual Passholder demographic to lessen their impact on daily operations. We’d told you in past updates the plans behind AP parties and special events that began rolling out in 2011, but were then largely shelved in 2012 as the whole Resort focused on the DCA re-launch last spring and summer. The AP programs are about to roll out again, and they’ll be tracking everyone who attends quite closely to determine what impacts the events may have on future AP visitation.

The first program rolling out is a just announced return of the AP Early Entry program, this time only on weekends. On weekends through the spring Annual Passholders will be able to enter the parks one hour early along with the guests from the Disneyland Resort Hotels. The AP early entry is good at DCA on Saturday mornings, and then at Disneyland on Sunday mornings. The goal here is to pull some AP visitation to the early morning hours, instead of the peak afternoon hours when they usually show up. TDA assumes that the average AP weekend visit won’t be extended past the usual three or four hours, but by getting at least a few thousand to show up in early morning the afternoon peak hours should be easier to manage.

They tried this at DCA this summer on weekdays and the number of AP’s using the option was only a few hundred per day at best. It will still be hard to get APs to get up at the crack of dawn and trek to Anaheim for their weekend visit, even if the Starbucks on Buena Vista Street is now one of the most efficient and profitable in the Starbucks empire. But at least TDA wants to try.

The second AP program arrives in February, with special “Extra Magic Hours” for Annual Passholders only offered in DCA on Thursday nights. The events will run like a typical corporate private party, with wristband distribution to identify participating APs. Once DCA closes to regular visitors at 8:00PM, the park will remain open until 11:00PM for APs only and your wristband will be your ticket to get in line for all the operating attractions. The estimated AP attendance for each night is upwards of 10,000, so the lines for Radiator Springs Racers won’t be any shorter than they normally are. But with most other park attractions also operating for the events it would be a good time to walk on to Screamin’ or Soarin’ or Tower of Terror.

What TDA will be looking at is how much time elapses between an Extra Magic Hours visit and the next return visit on a normal operating day. The goal here is to pull APs away from their typical three to four hour visits on Friday nights or Sunday afternoons, lessening the impact on Resort infrastructure, transportation and parking. If they can show that the average AP gives up on a few Friday night or Sunday afternoon visits after attending an Extra Magic Hours evening this February, then the concept would be rolled out more consistently throughout the year. And if the AP holders who attend also perceive that they are getting more bang for their buck from these events, then so much the better.

You can bet that TDA will bundle these AP events into the sketchy Limited Time Magic marketing promotion, if only to use some of the marketing department’s dollars to help promote the events. And the marketing team is happy to oblige in order to beef up the skimpy Limited Time Magic offerings and stretch the promotion’s dollars through 2013. But the upcoming AP events and Extra Magic Hours aren’t really a part of the Limited Time Magic campaign so much as they are industrial engineering experiments to see how TDA can manipulate AP visitation and the impact of Annual Passholders on the Resort overall.

The numbers game…

One of the biggest drivers of the AP events is the need to lessen the impact on the Resort’s overburdened parking situation. The past two weeks of Christmas and New Years had the highest attendance days in the Resort’s history, with multiple days pulling in combined theme park attendance between 105,000 and 110,000 per day. But while those days were extremely busy inside the theme parks, there was still leftover parking at the end of the night because the heavy tourist demographic of those two weeks arrives in full cars. Compared to the average AP visitor, who often arrives alone in their own car or with just one other passenger, the tourists make much better use of Disneyland’s 18,000+ parking spaces. Lower attendance Sundays and Friday nights in the off season, or days just before or after AP blockouts kick in, still see Resort parking maxed beyond its capacity and people are forced to park at the Anaheim Convention Center or GardenWalk. (And the parking complaints skyrocket on those days) If only previous President Ed Grier had pulled the trigger on building that eight level parking structure for the Pumbaa lot back in 2008 when he had the chance.

While parking for customers and Cast Members alike remains a complete mess and TDA cubicle dwellers spend the winter wondering who will get the axe, the news from inside the parks continues to be much more upbeat. The attendance at Disneyland this past Christmas season remained very strong, while DCA drained off an extra 10,000 per day from Disneyland while padding that with an additional 10,000 to 12,000 over last years combined numbers. The end result is that while Disneyland had 10,000 or so fewer visitors heading into that park per day, the overall Resort saw its combined daily attendance swell by 12,000 to 15,000 per day during what is always the busiest weeks of the year.

DCA was roughly doubling its daily attendance this holiday season, from the average of 19,000 per day it got in 2011 to 41,000 or more per day in 2012. So instead of Anaheim seeing the 92,000 to 95,000 daily combined attendance they were getting for Christmas 2011, in 2012 the two parks were getting between 105,000 and 110,000 visitors per day combined. And they pulled this off for most of the time without having to stop ticket sales and only a few hours of afternoon restricted access into Disneyland; a huge change from day after day of closed turnstiles and shuttered ticket booths the Resort dealt with in previous holiday seasons.

Alley ooop!

Even though they are better spread out now, those crowds at Disneyland have convinced Tom Staggs that the new backstage alley behind Main Street USA we shared with you this fall needs to happen sooner rather than later. Next week Staggs will receive a formal proposal from WDI and TDA’s industrial engineering team on the backstage alley proposal, and Tom wants to spend the money for the project now instead of waiting for fiscal year 2015 as was the original budgeting plan. The 20 foot wide alley would have a minimum of storefront facades, and instead would primarily be used for rearranged customer services like lockers, the baby care center, and first aid. The new Starbucks going in to the Market House is also helping to drive the alley project, and the latest plan is that a portion of the existing Disneyana shop would be given back to Market House better accommodate them.

The WDI team working on the project has also just realized from computer models that the alley is perfectly positioned to give a clear view of the fireworks, and would become congested with viewers and defeat the purpose of serving as a relief valve to evening overcrowding on Main Street. The solution there is to perhaps build a themed bridge over the alley at the midway point, dressed up like a Victorian era sleeping porch or veranda, to purposely block the view of the fireworks from the alley. WDI is even offering this bridge as habitable space in their proposal to Tom Staggs, perhaps to be sold as dessert viewing for the fireworks while the traffic below is able to keep walking.

One other piece of this alley project that keeps fading in and out of the equation is what to do with the Electrical Parade. When the parade was sent out to Florida almost three years ago fresh from its 2009 update and rehab, a victim of DCA’s extreme makeover and a blocked parade route, it was intended to be a temporary visit. But now with DCA more successful than even the most optimistic projections thought possible, and with TDA moving ahead with other entertainment plans for Disneyland, the infatuation with the Electrical Parade in Anaheim has ended.

Orlando management, who is notoriously gun shy about spending any real money on freshening their parks, kept passing up opportunities to add a new parade to the Magic Kingdom in time for their New Fantasyland launch in 2012. They also passed on a proposal to freshen up their mothballed SpectroMagic parade with concepts borrowed from Tokyo Disneyland’s sparkling Dreamlights Parade. And as recently as this past fall a formal conversation was held between Orlando and Anaheim management on returning the Electrical Parade to Disneyland this winter so that it could debut at Disneyland as part of the Fanasyland additions this spring and summer. But even after they spent quite a bit of money last year rewiring the Disneyland float warehouse for heavy-duty recharging stations, the sentiment from Anaheim management is now “You can keep it. “ If and when a night parade returns to Anaheim, TDA would now like it to be something completely new.

Regardless of whether or not an additional parade is in Disneyland’s immediate future, the backstage alley project behind the eastern flanks of Main Street USA is moving ahead with the formal presentation next week for Tom Staggs. Tom spent several days in Anaheim with his extended family last week, and it goes without saying that it’s refreshing to see a Parks Chairman who actually seems to enjoy visiting the theme parks he oversees. (The previous Parks Chairman could go years without a park visit, and even then it was only for tightly scripted media events).

Do as I say, Not as I do…

That said, and as nice of a guy as Staggs seems to be, it appears very disingenuous of Tom to appear on the Disney Parks Blog touting the trip planning abilities of the NextGen project when his own family park visits are, um… well, radically different.

For instance, last week Staggs’ entire family of young sons and nieces and relatives were at Disneyland for two days and were continually escorted by both a VIP Tour Guide and an executive handler who ushered them through the exits of whichever attractions or shows they chose whenever they wanted. Name or face recognition can’t be the security excuse for keeping the unknown kids and in-laws of the Chairman away from the crowds and out of lines, and Tom wasn’t even with them for much of their visit.

If visiting the parks is as easy and carefree as Tom Staggs makes it out to be in his blog posts, perhaps he’d like to volunteer his own family to give up on the special VIP treatment just once? Maybe for the next Staggs family visit they could get there early, actually plan out pulling a few Fastpasses for Racers and those Mountain rides his sons enjoy, and then wait in the regular lines at the lesser attractions? It’s probably too much to ask of a senior leader at Disney to actually use the product like their customers are expected to (and after paying an arm and a leg for it), but at least Tom shows up in Anaheim a few times per year. Next time the guy gives a glowing status report on the various NextGen offerings, remember how well he and his extended family are treated at the parks.

Tune-ups

While Anaheim and Cars Land are increasingly the hot itinerary for Disney execs and their families, there’s still some tweaking to be done in the year ahead. First up will be a phased rehab of Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree to fix the peeling paint on the ride surfaces. The swinging tractors keep scraping away the paint surfaces on the flooring there, and the recent rains didn’t help. WDI has been testing every paint product they can get their hands on legally in California, as the smog laws in Southern California mean there’s a lot of durable paint products that work well in Florida but that aren’t legal for use here. WDI thinks it finally has a solution, and they will be shutting down each half of the ride for weeks at a time this winter and spring to strip and resurface the attraction flooring.

Next up is Luigi’s Flying Tires, which suffered a distinct drop in the fun factor when the beach balls were removed at the end of the summer. John Lasseter and his favorite Imagineers aren’t giving up however, and a secret skunkworks plan has been moving quickly through the Glendale approval process to spice up the ride. The plan involves the use of sturdy remote controlled bumper car vehicles, dressed up as Guido and his pit crew, that would zip out onto the floor and begin pushing the floating tires around while spouting off funny Italian phrases during the ride cycle.

The hope is to get the tires moving around more as people still can’t seem to get the hang of how to fly them, while bringing a big dose of comic interactivity to the ride. If the secret skunkworks gets its funding later this month, Guido and his pals could show up at the tire ride by this summer. Lasseter refuses to give up on this ride, and if the Guido plan isn’t approved by Anaheim’s safety police then Lasseter will send his team back to the drawing board for another idea. Although without the beach balls the CM’s are able to run the ride more efficiently and they are getting up to 800 riders per hour now, with the ride pulling in more people per day now than many classic Fantasyland attractions do. It just needs some extra oomph.

But the rest of Cars Land has plenty of oomph, and the few tweaks they made to the land this fall paid off handsomely for the holidays. The expanded Ramone’s House of Body Art store was able to double its already healthy sales figures once it opened up floor space and an entrance across from the Racers exit at Thanksgiving. Once the NextGen project arrives in Anaheim in 2014, and completes the metamorphosis of Fastpass and trip planning in Anaheim by 2015, all of the Fastpass machines will be removed from the various attractions anyway. Most Fastpass reservations will be done online or at park kiosks and handled by your MagicBand bracelet, so the banks of machines at each ride spitting out paper tickets will become a relic from the previous decade. (Start your ticket collections now.) It was a silly mistake to try and cram Fastpass machines into the congested Racers cul-de-sac, but the quick solution to turn it into shop space has paid off nicely for TDA.

The year 2012 radically transformed the Anaheim property, and was more successful than anyone in TDA or Burbank had hoped it would be. Even the lavish Carthay Circle Theater restaurant, which had empty tables earlier this summer, has found its groove and is now a harder reservation to get many nights. Cars Land and Buena Vista Street both proved the old Walt saying that “Quality will out”, and the nicely fashioned environment of the upcoming Princess Fantasy Faire will continue that trend. It will be interesting to see how the DCA park teams keep the momentum going in 2013, and what the upcoming executive shuffle will bring to Anaheim specifically. And the NextGen program debuting in Florida this winter will be worth watching, comfortably from afar.

Careful what you wish for…

As you read all the articles about this project that are starting to appear in the mainstream media, don’t forget that the primary reason behind the RFID and other NextGen programs at Disney is to increase revenues – with the ease of use factor (the focus of the many interviews you will now see with Disney execs) really just a way to defuse any serious questions about their intensive information collection. Sure you want to book your Fastpasses ahead of time? Well the long term plan is to only offer that perk to you after you buy a vacation package at a higher tier/level of amenities. (Likewise with key dining times, reserved prime viewing spots for parades/shows/fireworks.) Of course, if a good deal of the seats for a major ride are already reserved for those that book at that higher level, it will increase the regular lines (and frustration) for those who book at the standard tier – so that’s why they are trying to plus all the queues with all these new interactive elements before this starts going into effect.

It’s evident that the cruise business and its revenue model have them looking again at how they sell the parks and resorts. As you probably know, other than walking onto the ship, just about everything else on many cruises is offered for an upcharge or extra fee. As NextGen starts to roll out on land, expect to also see seasonally adjusted admission pricing, more and more holiday events/entertainment offered as a separate ticket, and priority boarding at rides determined by what the visitor will want to pay for his room or trip package.

To be sure, Disney offers a solid product, and is (in)famous for extracting premium pricing for it. But I think it might help you better understand how this is all evolving if you look into the larger picture behind all these changes. And you have to ask yourself this, is Orlando so focused on this initiative that they are falling behind in other key areas as area competitors beef up their attraction mixes and upkeep? Yes, a wristband that allows you to breeze into a park is a nice thing; but broken down attractions, dated presentations, and no new rides to go on once you get in will sure put a damper into the best laid vacation plans.

What are your thoughts on all this? Were you not surprised by NextGen? Are you going to take advantage of an AP morning anytime soon? Add your thoughts to the conversation by scrolling down below…

Oh-kay – that should do it for today. Remember your support is vital, your donations to PayPal help keep the bills paid. We’re only here due to all of your kind efforts.

Keep in mind updates only get posted when there is something to report on, and not before. It takes time to confirm things, and even then we can only offer a snapshot of a continually evolving story. (People do change their minds you know.) Just like the happiest place on earth, patience is a virtue; the queue may take a while before you can enjoy the attraction. 😉

See you at Disneyland!



About MiceAge

The MiceAge crew was started by Al Lutz in 2003, and is committed to bringing you the inside Disney story that you just can't get anywhere else. As much as we'd all like to see more frequent rumor updates on the site, we only publish when reliable news and rumors are available to share. The MiceAge news Editor can be reached at: [email protected]

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  • dland_lover

    AP early entry means nothing to me as I’m usually busy on weekend mornings. Not to mention I live an hour away from the Parks so that would require a reeaaaalllllyyy early start to do that which is what I do Mon-Fri for work already; I’m not likely to do that on the weekend too. I need to get [i]some[/i] sleep where I can. 😆

    Still, I applaud their non-standard thinking on how to help the AP crowding and overall crowding issues they face, instead of just raising prices and/or adding blockout days.

    The Main St USA alley, and expansion of Market House into some more of its previous floor space, has me excited though. It’ll help so much in getting in/out during peak crowd times. Not to mention it’s nice to see them thinking about how the fireworks views in said alley can be limited to keep the crowds moving. Oh yeah- an entirely new nighttime parade (whenever it happens)? YES PLEASE!!!! :clap: :yea:

    With the exception of NextGen, I’m really looking forward to what’s in store for the Parks in the coming years, and what these changes will also mean for the rest of the Disney company. Exciting times, these! :))

    Thanks for the update Al. And make sure to thank your bothans profusely for the info they share. It truly is appreciated! :))

  • Trumpet

    Great Update Al

    The flying tires update sounds great, but I can’t picture how it will make the ride interesting or how they will be operated. I know they will be remote controled, but where will they be controlled from. How big are they going to be. This article has made me ask more question! Hopefully, John Lasseter will uderstand that this concept doesn’t work. With that sad, I can’t wait to see it in operation.

    Thanks Again Al

    Trumpet

    • disneyland255

      We did Luigi’s for the first time in December and the whole family loved it. We were able to maneuver our tires effortlessly. When I keep hearing how difficult these things are to maneuver I just ask myself…what are they doing wrong. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do this. I’m just confused on what makes it so difficult to move your tire.

      • ghosty4

        I agree. I like the ride a lot. And I have no problem floating around in my tire.

      • Marko50

        Wow. And I thought I was the only one. (Well, not really. Many people I’ve seen riding the Tires obviously “got it.”

        Nevertheless, thank you!

  • The First Star

    Still nervous about what NextGen pre-booking will do to sponteneity. Looks like I’m not alone…

  • mratigan

    I hope flying tiers turns out good this time

  • Eric Davis

    Great article as always… I will think good thoughts for my cubicle drone friends in Orlando! lol

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  • Malin

    Interesting article Al. I hope it will be the right people that will lose jobs in this reshuffle. A number of Orlando execs need to go that’s for sure. George is heavily rumoured to be moving to Orlando which would free his job up in Anaheim. Mary Niven could make a good president of the Resort going by the experience at DCA. That Park has never looked or felt better and that’s not just down to new attractions.

    I’m secretly kind of happy the Electrical Parade is staying in Orlando. I wanted to check this Parade out on my next trip to WDW. And Disneyland and its Guests deserve something new. Although DCA should be the park to hold a new night-time Parade. Disneyland has fireworks and Fantasmic. Lets get Steve Davison working on some ideas right now.

  • Ian P

    Not sure I agree about everything on a cruise being an up charge, in fact I think it is the opposite. On the P&O cruise we go on every year the following is always included:

    – Accommodation
    – Food – All meals in main restaurants, 24-hour buffet, daytime grills, deck barbecues, pizzerias, room service and afternoon tea
    – Entertainment- Live music, comedy and cabaret, west-end style performances, cinemas, nightclubs
    – Accommodation – En suite, air conditioned, with TV, refrigerator, tea & coffee making facilities, plus your own personal steward
    Leisure – State-of-the-art gyms, sports courts, swimming pools, whirlpool spas, saunas and steam rooms
    Children’s Clubs – Dedicated clubs for all ages, night nursery, children’s tea, discos and activities
    Transport and Taxes – All UK and overseas port taxes, plus free shuttle buses at specified ports across the globe
    – Other Activities – Quizes, most sports, many classes

    The only optional additional items are:

    – Alcohol
    – Excursions – can get away with not doing any of these
    – Shopping
    – Classes – Some classes where materials are required (art etc)
    – Sports – Some specific sports have charges, but far and few between
    – Spa / Treatments – Only to be expected really

    • jcruise86

      Good post, Ian! Thanks!

    • disneyland255

      You are right Ian. Even on the Disney Cruise Line it’s the same things that are upcharged. 95% of your cruise is paid all up front. I don’t agree with Al’s assumption on the cruise upcharge either.

  • jcruise86

    “. . . the Disneyland Resort has just closed the history book on one of the most successful years in the 58 year history of the Anaheim property. 2012 turned out to be a transformative year for the Resort. . . the entire property has been reworked, and what type of visitors it attracts and how much money they spend and how rewarding they perceive that investment to be has all been dramatically changed for the better.”

    Owwww, that Al Lutz is always so negative!

  • judearmstrong

    great update Al, big plans for the future for the resort. It’s always interesting to see and hear all of the new goings on in the park.

  • Kandace Sparkles

    Thanks for your insight Al. It should be interesting watching all of this NextGen unfold with MyMagic+ and My Disney Experience. At this time, every report I’ve heard still has the amount of FastPasses and additional offerings to remain the same regardless of package booked. More will continue to be released for Annual Passholders and non-resort day guests in the coming future. Until then, there will be electronic and paper FastPass offerings running along side each other. I think that might be more of a mess with some guests double-dipping and others not being given that opportunity, yet.

    • Unfortunately, there’s only a limited ride capacity for any given attraction. The more FastPass, FastPass+ and other access is added, the longer the standby lines become for those who don’t want to plan in advance. Some would say that the rides shouldn’t have any sort of FastPass at all. That everyone should have to wait the same length of time. I’m slowly coming around to that point of view myself.

      I think this extreme level of planning is the opposite of magic. Slapping the name “MyMagic” on it is preposterous and Orwellian. Surely that’s an irony that shouldn’t be overlooked.

      While it may end up working for some folks, the fact is that the average guest who just shows up on a lark or because they have a few days in town to spend in the parks will be left with a highly degraded experience compared to the folks who booked reservations for everything months in advance. And that might be OK in Orlando. But it sure as heck isn’t going to work in California where the bulk of the guests are locals and don’t plan anything in advance.

      I’m very concerned about Next Gen:
      – Too focused on pre-planning
      – Unequal treatment of guests
      – Unnecessary impact on lines
      – Overreach in data collection
      – A money grab

      Of course, there are some positives as well:
      – Ease of park entry
      – consolidation of all media (room keys, payment cards, fastpass, dining reservations)
      – Enhanced queues

      Honestly, we just need to look at the lines for something like Indy to see the impact. Pre FastPass, the Line for Indy was slow but you kept moving. Today, the standby line for Indy gets stuck for long periods of time and moves at an uncomfortably slow pace. If even 10 to 20 % more capacity is pulled for FastPass+, that standby line is going to be insane. Never mind the fact that instead of holding all those standby folks in the beautifully detailed queue, they are forced into the outdoor switchback instead.

      It just goes against the American ideals of equality to create different classes of guests. Yes, some folks can afford a better hotel room or a more expensive lunch, but the way they are treated should be the same, regardless of their means.

      I think Disney is headed into some choppy waters on this program and I’ll be watching the consequences very closely.

      While Disneyland is better maintained than ever, it has slowly become a bit too over-polished and lost some of its quirky charm. You might say it has been WDW-ized. Forcing MyMagic and FastPass+ on Disneyland is not likely to go over well with the massive local audience. In fact, it might just be the moment where Disney jumps the shark. It’s entirely possible to go too far, to overreach. I hope that the group-think mentality of the Disney MBAs who are pushing Next Gen isn’t leading them in the right direction for short term profits at the expense of their reputation and long term success.

      • jcruise86

        ^ What he said.

      • sonnyk155

        Dusty Sage, you could not have said it better. Creating a caste system is not the way to go. Resentment builds, and before you know it, we have civil war. People would get hurt.

      • BC_DisneyGeek

        I don’t think the number of fastpasses issued will necesscarily increase. Even if hotel guests get extra passes, they can reduce the number for everyone else equivalently, and it shouldn’t have too much of an impace due to the smaller number of Disney hotel rooms available compared to WDW.

        I’m more concerned about the increased inequality that comes with extended park hours for passholders. When I’m on vacation, I’d love to stay in DCA until 11:00 PM. Why can’t it just stay open late for everyone?

      • disneyFREAK242

        Yes. Seriously, if they are going to have Fastpass be an ‘upcharge’ for the guests who stay on property, then get rid of the whole system and delete Fastpass from use. Equal guest treatment should be a goal here.

      • disneyland255

        Dusty – I completely agree with you on every angle of this Next Gen. I have never really been a fan of Fast Pass as the standby lines have almost doubled due to them and the experience of enjoying the park and queue while waiting has been completely diminished for our rush rush mentality. No one no longer wants to wait. It’s really sad.

        All in all, I completely agree with you!

      • BeccaG

        Agreed! I love to plan but this is too much! I don’t want every day of my short trip or vacation scheduled out before I set foot on the ground and NextGen sounds that way. If Dland wants to decrease passholders this may finally do it.

      • Kidgenie

        I don’t know about Jumping the Shark, but I do think MyMagic+ and the associated FastPast+ have the high potential to become Disney’s “New Coke”. Hopefully Disney will be as quick as Coke was to recognize the mistake and go back to the original formula.

      • ayalexander

        For those that think Disney is making a mistake by getting rid of annual passholders with their seemingly poor decisions in the near future… you are absolutely right. Disney does not want 1million+ passholders at all. The idea was to make the trips for frequent visitors more convenient for them. Disney thought that if people were given a pass that would allow them on most days out of the year poeple would adopt the mentality “Not today, maybe some other day” and then the pass would pay for itself. Unfortuneately that is not the case, Disney no longer wants as many passholders as before due to the decrease in revenue that it draws. Free admission, discounts on parking, dining and merchandise and special events to please the AP’s is now turning out more costly due to numbers and frequency of AP visits. Disney hoped that by increasing the pricetag and offering little that people would be drawn off the AP light if only for a while so the Anaheim resort can balance its guests better. But there is no break, and the problem of demanding AP’s waving their “discount cards” and asking for this, that and the other is taking its toll.

        Unfortuneately, Disney cannot take away Annual Passes alltogether… they also prove to be a way to give locals (some that is) an opportunity to visit the parks often with an easier visit than the average day guest. What bothers me most about the mentality that AP’s often adopt, is the sense of VIP persona, they believe that buy purchasing a $600 ticket they deserve a number of things when in actuality after visiting the parks six times out of the year, the pass pays for itself… and yet more days are available to them. If anything annual passholders should see themselves as VUPs Very Un-important Persons in comparison to a vacationing family who pays more per day than an AP. The REAL VIPs of the resort are the visiting day guests and it bothers me that Disney doesn’t treat them as such.

      • bruingrl

        In response to this:

        “If anything annual passholders should see themselves as VUPs Very Un-important Persons in comparison to a vacationing family who pays more per day than an AP. The REAL VIPs of the resort are the visiting day guests and it bothers me that Disney doesn’t treat them as such.”

        I think a lot of APs are very aware that full-paying day guests deserve better. At least, my friends and I feel this way and I’ve witnessed a number of APs giving up prime viewing spots for shows/parades to make way for the out-of-town family who didn’t know better than to guard their spot at the front of the section from marauding last-minute line jumpers. My feeling is that I can go back to the park at any time to do whatever it is I’m doing. Those day-guests don’t get that chance, so they get first dibs.

        For example, recently, the official DL park Twitter feeds promoted the Glow With the Show reserved viewing areas for all of the evening entertainment shows. I went on one of the first nights to watch the fireworks and Fantasmic. Of course, I showed up about 15 minutes before the fireworks began and jumped right into the front of the section – because no one was standing in that area. However, five minutes later, cast members removed the “Reserved Viewing” signage and started letting non-ear wearing guests fill up the rest of the empty space at the front of the viewing area. These last-minute viewers jumped right in front of day-guests who had purchased their very expensive glowing ear hats just to sit in that section that evening, because a retail store cast member told them it would be a great experience. On top of that, some of these families had been waiting the better part of an hour to watch the show. Of course, they became upset. Actually, some of the APs became upset too. I, for one, was embarrassed. So we called over the cast member that was directing traffic right in front of us, explained what happened, and asked him to please ask the last-minute viewers to move to the back of the section – because they refused to move when we asked them to move. He said “It’s not in my power to do that. I work Jungle Cruise and am scheduled to come here at this time to help keep traffic moving. That’s all I can do.” After that, everyone wearing glowing ear hats got really upset. So the APs who had been guarding their precious spots at the front of the viewing section gave up their space for the day guests that had been waiting for over an hour. I later found out that we weren’t the only ones to do this. I spoke to other APs at Fantasmic later that night and found out they had done the exact same thing on the opposite side of the fireworks viewing area. Thankfully, when I went back a week later, the cast members had finally figured it out and they opened up the BACK of the reserved viewing area 10 minutes before showtime. Still, that night made me realize that APs don’t necessarily fit into the greedy, entitled stereotype you hear about.

        After saying all that, I also completely agree with Dusty Sage on the NextGen comments.

      • disneylandfan8

        With all the stress in my daily life, deadlines to meet, meetings to be at, etc., the thought of planning out the majority of my Disneyland Resort vacation does not appeal to me in the least. Plans change too easily when I’m on vacation, I like spontaneity.

        But I agree with Dusty Sage.

        Disney is becoming very greedy and is destroying the magic for me. With the huge jump in Annual Passes, mixed with all the extra ticket events (present and future), makes my enjoying a 4-5 day stay at the DLR a thing of the past and this saddens me.

        Well, for them, I’m one less person in the park…

  • Disneykin Kid

    For the parking problem, maybe they should offer discounts on merchandise, or a free meal to those who park with three or more people, it’s worth a try – ?

  • DisneySam

    Good update (although a little skewed to west coast operations but that is to be expected). I do feel that you are little harsh in your words for the so-called “office drones” and their possible upcoming unemployment status. Just imagine you were one of these people following this site and were to come across your statements. Unfortunately in today’s business world regular labor cutbacks are fairly common. However this is never reason to treat it casually and callously.

    • jcruise86

      I get the impression that Al has never lost a job. It can really hurt. (“He jest at scars that never felt a wound.” –Shakespeare’s Romeo)

    • TodAZ1

      “While the HR department spends this winter determining which office drones in TDA to pick off,”. Yeah – I agree with you, DisneySam. Another popular word for “office drones” is “people.” Perhaps a little more sensitivity next time, huh, Al?

    • Klutch

      I’m with Al on this one. I’ve never worked for Disney. But I have worked with a lot of “office drones” and I can’t muster much sympathy for them. Such employees typically don’t make a direct contribution to anything other than themselves. They strut around in starched shirts and blazers. They play a lot of golf. They make PowerPoint slides. They attend meetings. They send email. They go to luncheons. They print something now and then to appear busy. And, when they really feel ambitious, they create a spreadsheet completely incomprehensible to anyone but themselves and shotgun it in email to everyone. And they feel good about it.

      Such employees also have pension plans, 401K plans, stock options, company car and other perks. If they get laid off, they get severence pay. I don’t know these guys. But I sure know the type. Again, hard to muster any sympathy…

      • DisneySam

        You are grouping people together because of your bias. If you were talking about the habits of a group of people based on the color of their skin it would be considered racist. Just because you have never held that type of position does not mean you have the right to judge people who do. I can agree that sometimes within corporations there can be some redundancy with regards to certain jobs and cutbacks can be necessary. It is the insensitivity to their plight that concerns me. You should be well aware that in today’s economy layoffs can be quite harsh. I only hope you never have or have to experience such a thing.

      • Klutch

        Boy are you way off here, DisneySam. Yeah, if I was talking about people based on their skin color, it would be racist. But that has absolutely nothing at all to do with anything I said.

        What I’m saying is based purely on behavior. There’s nothing insensitive about that. American corporate culture has many people who schmooze their way into positions, step on everyone below them and accomplish nothing but self-gratification. That’s who I’m talking about. When those people get laid off, things work better and the people around them can get more accomplished.

        When it comes to office drones, their presence is more of a detriment than an asset. I’m glad to hear senior management at Disney is waking up to this fact. I just hope more corporations start doing the same thing.

        BTW, I could have such an office drone position. But I choose not to.

      • DisneySam

        O.K. Thanks for clarifying. I can see now that you have made an extensive study on American corporate culture and understand the behaviors of the common “office drone” and that in no way just your opinion (biased or otherwise). Good to know.

      • Klutch

        It’s not opinion. It’s purely observation based on over twenty years of experience with multiple corporations. And my perspective here certainly isn’t unique.

    • Westsider

      TDA was nearly empty for two weeks over Christmas and New Years…. while the parks were slammed with record crowds and all the CM’s who actually worked in the parks put in 12 hour days and were kept away from their families. If the TDA folks want to pretend they don’t work for a busy theme park, they should go get a cubicle job at an insurance firm or mortgage company in Irvine. Too many TDA workers get all the perks of working at Disneyland, but peel out of the parking structure at 4:45PM each day and never go to help the CM’s in the parks on their busiest days. It’s a culture that should change, and if layoffs are coming than so be it.

      • DisneySam

        I’m sorry but you don’t know the jobs that these people were hired to perform. Just because cast members who work in the parks or deal with guests are busy does not mean that everyone experiences the same conditions. Volunteering to put in extra hours outside of a job you were hired to do is against labor laws in many states. What would you have these people do?

      • Klutch

        DisneySam, you’re sounding like the proverbial union rep trying to defend these people. Yet, since these people aren’t union, I can’t for the life of me understand why.

        When people who supposedly work for Disneyland disappear during the busiest time of the year, there is simply no way to justify their positions. Since they are likely paid salary, and not hourly, it’s not “volunteering”.

        Sheesh, I can remember when the Disney management mantra was, “If you don’t come in on Sunday, don’t bother coming in on Monday”. In this economy, there are plenty of people willing to be team players. There’s no point in keeping office drones around.

  • Tinkbelle

    We will use the Early Entry program when we visit this spring – I’m really excited about that. We aren’t typical AP holders, though, since we are from AZ. We might even try the Thursday evening extra hours if we visit in February, although it sounds like it could be busy. Will they offer a World of Color show during that time?

    I’m not happy about NextGen. I’m already against enforcing return times on FP’s and this would take even more flexibility and spontaneity out of our vacation.

    I love the Electrical Parade and would be happy to see it come back to Anaheim.

    • disneyland255

      Disney should have been enforcing the return times for Fastpass since the beginning. I’m more than happy they’re doing it. Then people can’t save up their fastpasses and hoard up the standby lines at the end of the night.

  • bayouguy

    I am a resident of Southern California, not a tourist visiting Southern California. So, I won’t be pining for an early entrance into the parks, or eating in a restaurant (usually), or want to take home many mementos of my visits. It kind of hurts to think that Disney is second-classing me with its NextGen stuff. Maybe the Next Gen genii will block me out because I don’t spend money like other good folks do. Or Next Gen will begin to charge me for a night’s stay in my own home after a visit to Disneyland, since I didn’t reserve a Disney hotel room.
    As you can guess, I’m not enamoured with the NextGen or what will come afterwards.

  • G24T

    1. AP early entry will, at the most, only affect the attendance draw to DCA. Not that it’s going to diminish anytime soon but Cars Land is really the only reason I can see the typical AP holders from Southern California waking up for (and once they’ve had their fix what then?). People from our region just don’t want to wake up that early on their days off, it’s just how we roll I guess.

    2. Way to fail us TDA and brush off the Electrical Parade like it was an afterthought. You know, I’ve got two kids that I’d like to show the parade to at some point in their young lives.

    3. Am I correct in thinking that NexGen will mean that 90% of park visitors will not be able to take advantage of fastpass-like benefits?? Is it also safe to say that NextGen is also an initiatve to anger many AP holders into cancellation?

    4. Rooftop firework shows = the new VIP section? Also, how do you do this and keep the ADA happy?

  • Klutch

    Although a Disney cruise does include a lot of amenities without up-charges, I still like the analogy. It appears the future of Disney parks will more resemble traditional, British trans-Atlantic cruising. That is, a definite class system will be evident, which is too bad. One of the many great things about Disney parks was that once guests paid their admission, everyone was treated equally. It’s a very American, and very Disney, concept. (At least it used to be.)

    I expect we’ll see a lot of angry theme park guests who must wait in horrendously long lines while more upscale guests cruise by in the “Lexus Lane”. No doubt this NextGen stuff is stemming from research and guest feedback. But following guest feedback isn’t always a good idea.

    Sure, if you ask a bunch of families about the food the in the parks, a lot of them are going to say, “It’s too expensive! You need to put a McDonald’s in the park!”. Sounds like a good idea. But the execution several years ago was less than spectacular.

    And when you ask guests about their park experience, a lot of them are going to complain about long lines. I suspect the more upscale guests complain the loudest. They’re not accustomed to waiting in long lines. They get priority check-in and boarding at airports or they fly private jets with no waiting at all. They shop at expensive stores with no lines at the registers or they have a personal shopper take care of everything. They dine at upscale restaurants where they are regular customers and can always get a reservation or they frequent private clubs. Imagine these people suddenly being thrust into a 75 minute line for Radiator Springs Racers. Oh, the humanity! (I’m recalling a Wall Street Journal article in the 1990s about Walt Disney World. It quoted one business man who plopped his mother into a rented wheelchair for the sole purpose of avoiding lines. His best quote was, “No way was I going to wait in those lines. NO WAY!)

    Disney Coporate covets these upscale customers. They drop lots of cash on high end goods and services and really boost the profit margins. Thus, it’s no surprise that Disney will continue to tweak their offerings in favor of the proverbial upscale customer. What we’ll have to wait and see about is if rebellion from the prolitariate will have any affect on these boutique offerings.

    • jcruise86

      (This is from a 2007 post)
      My biggest objection to the Fastpass for sale is expressed by Andy Warhol in a quote I read at the Coca-Cola museum in Atlanta:

      “You know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke, and no amount of money can get you a better Coke. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good.”

  • Joshnyah

    This is great reporting at its best, I Am so excited to hear about the AP special event’s. I will be at everyone that I am invited to attend

  • eicarr

    NextGen WILL create limited magic at the park. I’ll feel like a total tool jumping through all those hoops, and will do it… but with less park vacations. I’ll have to find the cheapest Disney owned resort at a value time of year and then figure out which rides I should get the fastpasses on and on which days and at which times. Then I have to do the same with dinning but hopefully not restrooms. A day over at Knott’s will be a day of unrestricted fresh air.

    • disneyland255

      “A day over at Knott’s will be a day of unrestricted fresh air.”

      AMEN! Sometimes sticking to the old standard isn’t such a bad thing. 😉

  • ni_teach

    While I understand what they are trying to do with the “NextGen” technology, I can’t help but feel that this is all going to blow up into the faces of WDW management.

  • THE3LINGS

    I Cannot believe all of Disneys Hotels have stopped the Senior Citizens discount!!!
    Pretty soon I’m sure they will stop the Annual Pass Discounts to the Hotels also.

    NOT HAPPY

  • tooncity

    Hello Al: What’s going on with Tomorrowland, Inventions, Marvel attraction, Subs, Autopia? Any news on the purposed changes planned for this part of the original Kingdom? Wasn’t something ready fo an annoucement this month?

    Thanks for wonderful work.

    • disneyland255

      As AL says, if there is anything to report, he’ll report it. 🙂

      • tooncity

        My question is as valid as anybody else’s.
        Your self-appointed position as board police is safe & secure.

  • Asterix

    Is there any chance they could stop requiring advance reservations for weekend early entry? I’d be happy to visit the parks when it is less crowded, and early mornings are wonderful as far as I’m concerned, as well as Thursday night. I think if we could just drop in that would make the program more popular.

    I understand that the parks may want to make estimates for staffing, but isn’t there enough data already to estimate that?

    If there will be a limited number of early morning visits allowed, just hand out an info card when we visit and then flag the AP upon entry.

    • Tinkbelle

      My email from Disney says you no longer need a reservation for Early Entry.

  • Truecoat

    I’ve read that the preplanning of rides only involves 3 fastpasses at most. With so many other rides being added to the list now, it’s possible that people could choose to ride that doesn’t need fastpass. I know most will choose Space Mountain at WDW but you’ll see people picking Monsters Inc Laugh Floor also. I have also read that these fastpasses could be changed to another time or ride using the Disney smart phone ap.

    On another note, while playing with the smart phone ap, I made a reservation at the 50’s Primetime cafe with relative ease. I can change or cancel this reservation anytime and I am looking forward to my visit in March.

  • jcruise86

    Here’s a link to a Jan. 7 (yesterday) NY Times article about WDW’s new bracelets:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/07/business/media/at-disney-parks-a-bracelet-meant-to-build-loyalty-and-sales.html?pagewanted=2&ref=general&src=me
    There are over 100 comments after the article.

    This seems to be Thomas Staggs’ baby, and if it’s not 800 million well spent, it could be badly timed since he’s the current favorite to become CEO in 2015. If I were him I’d devote a lot to refurbishing WDW.

    • jcruise86

      Here is a negative comment from “Edgar” after the NY TImes article:

      “Walt Disney World has all but given up on maintaining their parks, which were once meticulously cared for. Today, multiple rides across property have effects or animatronics that don’t work and much of the parks is falling into disrepair. While some of it is small things (burnt out light bulbs everywhere you look, trash, dirty bathrooms), there are other issues like pieces of structures collapsing over guest areas (as recently happened on Splash Mountain and the Tree of Life).
      If Disney wants more of my money, they should make their parks great again by investing in new groundbreaking attractions (like Universal and Sea World are doing) and keeping the parks pristine, unique environments — Not trying to get me to spend more money by supposedly shortening lines in dilapidated 40+ year old parks.”

      If anyone had written the first paragraph in the 1970s about WDW, anyone familiar with WDW would have thought him crazy.

      • BC_DisneyGeek

        I’ve been saying this since Next Gen was announced. Attractions drive business. I’ll go to WDW to experience a new attraction. Fastpass+ might be nice, but it’s not going to draw business.

  • TodAZ1

    I love the idea of the MSEP finally, FINALLY “glowing away” for good! It’s akin to when a friend comes to visit, you have a truly amazing time together, and then it’s time to go home. The friend says “Ok, bye!” and proceeds to just stand there. Ok………..getting uncomfortable. Time to go home now.

    I shut my door on the MSEP a loooong time ago………..jeez, is it still on my porch?

    Ferris Bueller: [after the end credits] …………….You’re still here? It’s over!

  • jackinthebeanstock

    It is disappointing to hear Southern Californians will be further marginalize through NextGen – it will certainly force more to reconsider their annual investment. With all the focus on driving more AP traffic to non-peak, has TDA considered offering locals an AP with significantly more black-out dates? Given our family’s situation, I’d prefer this as an option to higher prices and giving up our passes altogether.

  • Baloo

    i hope they get going on that new parking structure so they can build a third gate already. Something that uses one of the many new properties they have and something that has theming that really take you to lands that are only possible in movies and dreams.

  • JCSkipr79

    So TDA AND Al are laboring under the same delusion that MyMagic+ is gonna fly with a clientele, that, killed MSEPs replacement in 3mos, forced the park to be fixed, forced DCA to get an extreme makeover, forced Cynthia to stop different hours for attractions, stopped Pressler from closing the Tiki Room, and then ran said people, through AL and the media, out of Anaheim. Yea right…….

  • DisneyDoll

    Being a visitor from overseas that has visited the parks on both coasts, the NextGen will really eliminate the ” magic ” from my future visits. I dare say it will be the same for most overseas guests. The idea that you have to plan your visit to the park right down to the very moment you want to take a ride on a attraction is ludicrous.

    Maybe I don’t quite get my head around the concept however I know that after visiting WDW the last few times, the Dining Plan made us really have to work months ahead of time to figure out our meals. It’s my understanding that going to these places is to take you away to some wonderful place to relax. This was not the case for us as we were always watching the time so we wouldn’t be late. I must also mention that having to be fingerprinted ” electronically ” before entering the parks made me feel very uneasy. What right do they have to do that?

  • Algernon

    Typical of today’s Disney’s apparent thinking: build a bridge to block the view of the fireworks. Do they ever say “How can people better see the fireworks (or Fantasmic for that matter)? Perhaps they had better pay attention to Disneyland’s 10,000 less visitors. And perhaps they had better pray that Las Vegas never becomes the family destination it was in the 1990’s, once again. The fact that they would even consider a “new” nightime parade as opposed to bringing the Main Street one back to Disneyland shows how much they “don’t” get it.

    There will always be people who love Coney Island, and as Disneyland slowly evolves into one, there will be people who go there–until something better comes along, by somebody who does it right.

  • Algernon

    The good news is you don’t have to go there anymore. Get a 3D monitor with 2D to 3D conversion and you can watch youtube videos of when Disneyland was good, almost like you’re there!

  • Tinkd

    I have mixed emotions on the “next gen” my instinct is that it is taking away the “magic” and equality of the guests. I was surveyed on this subject from Disney 3 or 4 years ago. I gave it mixed reviews and I’ll give it my 2 cents. For those planning a wdw trip, that is traveling by air, will only be there a limited time, ie we don’t go to Fl from Az frequently, having the advanced plans of fp, dining, sounded great. As we were always fighting for a place to eat, and barely getting thru the crowds to get the fp’s and then manuevering our way back to another atttraction to just wait in line. I thought this had it’s advantages. However the spontanity is gone, and what about taking away fp’s for those people who don’t use the next gen, will there be enough fp’s to go around? In fact a friend of mine who was also part of the survey back then, just took a family vacation and was selected to be part of the testing had this to say:
    “Our family was selected to be part of a new Fast Pass+ test while we were at WDW. We received an invitation via email before our trip. We were given a selection of attractions, days and times to receive a Fast Pass+. It turned out to be a headache for us because we discovered that it conflicted with our dining reservations. The advanced dining reservations are also a headache because you have to decide months in advance where you want to eat on what day and time. It always takes our family a long time to figure these out because we don’t know what park we want to go to on any given day. But regardless you’re forced to plan a schedule way before the trip. In order to do this we then have to go to Touring Plans.com and see what park we want to be at each day of our trip. Big headache. So now with the Fast Pass+ we had to factor in what parks, what time, etc and make sure it did not conflict with our dining reservations. Which on most days it did conflict. So then we had to go back to change our dining reservations to fit in with our Fast Pass+. It was a MAJOR ordeal. It took away from the spontenaity. We had to be on a rigid schedule which we do not like while we’re on vacation. So when I answered all the questions on the survey I told them that the Fast Pass+ can work for people who do not have dining reservations, but much too complex for those who do. They will have to link the two together if it’s going to work. ”
    Now with all of that being said, I can now appreciate how this could help our family tips to D.L from AZ. We used to be AP’s before the insane $hike, but now we just have to save longer to go less. We have extra expenses vs a locals, for the hotel, gas etc, that when I’m there I’d like to not have to fight locals(no offense meant) for fp and reservations, so I’m starting to come around to being able to preplan my fp’s and enjoy less redundant walking. I wish they just remember us travelers as we are the ones who pay the tourism tax that Anaheim gets to enjoy/use and not charge us an arm and leg for this feature. It will be interesting to see how this all works out. I enjoyed the rest of the update as well, Al didn’t seem to be too negative this time ;0

  • hulkbox

    If Disney is concerned about the parking situation, would it be possible for Disney to charge a premium for single drivers during certain hours? Would this cut down on the number of single drivers? Something similar to the carpool lane on the freeway?

    It’s just an idea. There has to be a better answer to the traffic and parking situation than just build more garages.

    • ayalexander

      actually on the busiest of days, disney does charge more… unfortunately it has given visitors the impression that disney is treating them with prejudice, a feeling in which Disney would never want a guest to feel. The only answer is to build more garages… and in any case… the number of single drivers insn’t significant enough to reduce parking problems. I feel that Disney should utilize the Toy Story lot as a new parking structure equal to, or larger than that of the Mickey and Friends garage and have some sort of peoplemover or monorail system take them to the main area of Disneyland Resort. Also, to have yet another structure put in place inside of Katella Cast Member lot for resort Cast Members seeing as their parking problems are just as bad. Cast Members find themselves waiting an hour just to exit the lot at night… and coming in the mornings… they find spaces are quite scarce. People forget that Cast Members use mostly their own vehicles and seeing as 15,000 Cast Members may be working in the resort on a single day can put a lot of parking stress on the few lot spaces available.

  • Timmy55

    Hi Al. Great update as always. See you soon in February!

  • Emily Baker

    I remember hearing Orlandians saying they would not bother hopping into the parks for a nice dinner out because the restaurants are all reserved so many months in advance that a spontaneous evening like that is not an option. I hope that’s not a result of the NextGen program coming to Anaheim! If I’m in the mood for a sit-down dinner one evening while I’m at the park, I want to be able to make that decision that day, not 6 months ahead….

  • JiminyCricketFan

    I personally believe that fastpass is a good thing, but I don’t like fastpass+. I believe that you should be able to make a reservation for a restaurant, but you should not have to pay for the privilege. I see a fastpass as the same as a reservation at a restaurant. Some just walk up and wait, others plan ahead. What is the problem is there is not enough restaurants for the demand. If all the restaurants are reserved, then there needs to be more restaurants!

    In the same way with Disneyland and DCA, they have reached capacity. They are full now. It is time to have serious plans for a third park. Trying to shoe horn more people there will only reduce the experience.

  • themur

    It doesn’t surprise me that there is a lot of skepticism on this site about a system that allows you do a lot of planning for your trip. Just about everyone on this site is an Annual Passholder and goes to the parks regularly. Planning is not part of your experience and doesn’t have to be.

    But many people going to a Disney Resort may be taking a once in a lifetime trip. We did this with our kids to Disneyworld. Coming from the West Coast it is extremely expensive – Air, Hotels, Meals, Tickets etc. When my wife and I decided we could afford a trip were were limited to a number of days. We let the kids know and then proceeded to spend the next 12 months planning our trip. The kids poured over books and stuff figuring out what they wanted to see and do. We knew we couldn’t see it all so we had to make choices.

    Fastpass was the original system that was supposed to help this (hey get a reservation for the attraction you really have to ride on this visit) but as we all know, the regular visitors figured out how the system worked best and took advantage of it and it wasn’t as helpful to the casual/once in a lifetime visitor.

    I have no problem if they want to work on ways to help people who are planning this kind of trip to make sure they make the best of it as they see it. As a regular visit to DL, I won’t use it and we will see if it impedes on my experience.

    • ayalexander

      I couldn’t agree more 🙂 ^

  • WDW1974

    Interesting read, Al, as always. … I don’t want to sound like too much of an egotist when I mention that I was the one who first stated that Georgie K would be replacing Meg on another MAGICal Disney site. You talk about him being promoted, but fail to talk about where he’d head. He isn’t replacing Staggs and he isn’t making a lateral move. I doubt very much that he’s planning on working for Shendi. So, you couple that with the fact he toured Florida Governor Rick ‘Voldemort’ Scott around New Fantasyland and it sorta speaks for itself, doesn’t it?

    (My sources aside, just look at what should be obvious.)

    Why would the DLR Prez have anything at all to do with WDW opening a relatively minor addition to one of its parks? Let alone be the exec who is schmoozing with the state’s top elected (yes, many Floridians are morons) official? While Meg and Jim MacPhee and Phil Holmes and even Tom Staggs aren’t doing so.

    I also saw your little jab at ‘Invisible’ Ed Grier over the parking fiasco, Doncha think that George could have done something about that in the past three years? Or are you going to give Ed credit for all those great things that were approved on his watch? You know the ones that George will take credit for as his doing to set up a heroic homecoming to the swamps for his swan song with Disney after a long career of playing politics like an Beltway expert?

    And have you swallowed the Pixie Dust or did you forget what a disaster Mary Niven was when she came to the resort under Cynthia and ran Food and Beverage? I don’t.

    George and Mary are just going to benefit from the work of others and great timing. George’s career has been marked by this.

    As to the cruise-line model (or the current one yes, BUT, the original appeal of cruising was that a cruise was an all inclusive vacation … a better analogy for what Disney is doing is akin to the unbundling you see the airlanes doing where they charge you for everything but oxygen), that is exactly where Disney wants to go to. And I was saying this years ago (even on this site before it sorta died beyond the DL board).

    NEXT GEN is going to be an utter disaster in O-Town as it now stands. If it makes it to Anaheim, rest assured it will be greatly modified. And I laugh at their goal to take it to Paris. All that datamining won’t fly in the EU where privacy still matters.

    And I find it grotesque that at a time of record profits and in an economy that is just starting to show signs of coming back from the greatest economic collapse of modern times that The Weatherman sees the need to cut 10% of his workforce. I don’t care if you wish to spin it that there’s too much middle management at TDA — and there well may be. But Disney will be cutting people across the board … even folks at Pixar, Marvel and LucasFilm, who must all be thrilled to be part of such a cold, cruel, calculated media giant instead of creative independent MAGIC factories that they were.

    As to the shell that is the MSEP, I don’t blame DL for not wanting it back. If it makes it down the entire parade route in one performance it is a good night.

    Oh and as a WDW guy, can I state that WDW has never been better? That’s what out new industry of social media whores say, so they must be right. Right? 😉

    ~74~

  • jcruise86

    I’ll wait a while after next-gen bracelets are imposed to give them time to try and get the kinks out or abandon them. I expect Micechat will be filled with hints on how to exploit the system so that (in some ways) we can have a better experience than others. Sigh. If we go to WDW, that is.

  • waymire01

    Our last visit was in 2010 at WDW. We spent 18 days in the parks with a family of four, stayed on site, purchased Deluxe Dining, and spent an obscene amount of money. It was our first vacation in five years and we knew we would not have the opportunity to take another trip for a few years, so we went all out. However we chose to stay at All Stars, a value resort, simply because my kids like the theming and we spend very little time at the resort, most just sleep there. I constantly had issues simply based on the fact that we stayed in value. One of the most annoying, and embarrassing, was constantly hitting a spending cap on our Key to the World for purchases in the parks. They preapprove our credit with our bank.. but our limit was so low we hit it every day, sometimes twice. We had no idea we were close until it declined, we had to step aside and call guest services, get transferred three times, have them reauthorize, and then finally pay for our items.. and the whole time twenty people are staring at you. It was humiliating, and took at least 30-45 minutes every time. I was told straight out by guest services management that our limit was solely based on our resort level, and that if we were staying in a higher level we would not only have a higher limit.. but could have an additional amount preapproved to cover our whole stay. We also got much much worse bus service, and had a terrible time getting items shipped home- I was told by the staff at the art studio that my items would be shipped home for free, then when we contacted our hotel to make arrangements at first they did not want to do it at all, and we were told we had to pay for the shipping. I called the studio and they told me they did not realize we were staying at value level. The first thing we were asked in most instances where service was offered was where we were staying, and there was a very obvious bias. I also witnessed people treated differently based on their dining plan (which is stated on your key) even though they had the same credit for the same meal that we did, we were called to our table ahead of others on a lower plan who were waiting longer several times. There was also a connection to length of stay- due to our flight schedule we had to buy one day separate from the rest of our package if we wanted dining for that day. We were issued a different color key for the large part of our vacation, than for the single day and that key most definitely meant something, cast members entire attitude changed when they saw it and we were offered perks that were not offered to others.

    Longwinded, sorry.. but my point is there already is a “class status” in the parks.. and it sucks. I got to experience both sides of the coin.. but would much rather have not had either. It’s just wrong, and with these new developments I only see it getting worse.

    • Klutch

      Wow, I didn’t realize that charging to your room was based on the level of resort. I’ve stayed at POFQ and AKL and never had a problem. I noticed no difference in the way I was treated while staying a POFQ compared to AKL. I also never had a problem sending merchandise back to our resort. At POFQ, the gift shop always had our stuff waiting for us.

      Thanks for giving me yet another reason to NOT book at a value resort. Although, I do agree that’s kinda slimey. But I guess we can expect to see an expansion of multi-tier service in the future.

      The only difference in service I’ve observed at DL is for Club 33 members. When they flash their membership cards at Disneyland shops and restaurants, not only do they get a discount, they get extra-special treatment!

    • elitepetite

      Wow! First, we have “Declining by Degrees.” Now, we have “Declining Degrees of Service.”

      One of the members of the Micechat writing staff (maybe Kevin) should research how Disney treats guests differently based on where they stay at the WDW Resort. A series of articles on this topic would be great.

  • danielz6

    I too agree with dusty…

  • Sdlipton

    Can someone explain to me where near ESPN ZONE there is room for a 4th hotel tower? I’ve looked at satellite maps and except for the wedding lawn next to Adventureland and Frontierland Towers I can not for the life of me see where there is enough room. Thanks

  • 4Apples4Disney

    I cannot believe how stupid NextGen sounds. I don’t want to make a ride reservation 6 months ahead of my visit! What kind of fun is that?

    • potc26

      I TOTALLY agree with you. I don’t know what rides I want to go on the day we get there much less months in advance. Your on vacation, in my mind means no schedules and not having to worry about being certian places at certian times.

  • livefree

    I cant take it any longer …. WHY is Cars Land such a success? I rate myself an 8 on the Disney nut scale, but it really leaves me disappointed, and thus indifferent. But …. Clearly Im wrong. Why? I see a couple of fair rides, albeit on a bigger, fancier scale and one attraction with a lot of down time. While a nice attraction, its not worth the usual wait. So, my friends … Am I missing something or this just isnt for me for some reason. How can it be SO popular?

    • Klutch

      Cars Land is a success because has something all too lacking in the recent history of Disney parks: a fun highly detailed theme. Walking into Cars Land is amazingly just like walking into Radiator Springs from the movie. It doesn’t need a bunch of E-Tickets to be fun. Just being there is fun. And the fact it has one E-ticket and a couple of minor rides makes it all the better.

      Radiator Springs Racers queue is detailed and immersive. The rock backdrop is huge and impressive. The cars zipping by at mulitple points creates a wonderful atmosphere of motion. All the characters appear. For a kid who loves the movie Cars, it’s an absolute blast. For adults who just like Disney theming, it’s a special treat. OK, so there has been some down time with the ride. This is to be expected with a brand new attraction. And someone who doesn’t visit the park often wouldn’t even be aware of this.

      It’s too bad you don’t enjoy Cars Land, livefree. If you’re cup of tea is thrill rides, head to Magic Mountain. I think Cars Land is a winner!

      • livefree

        Thanks for the thoughtful response. To be clear, I dont dislike Cars Land, just not enthralled. As I say, 2 of the attractions are fair rides, not exhibiting much imagination. But OK, Im in the minority. Carry on!

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  • darkamor

    Al Lutz and Andy Castro and Fishbulb deliver the news which all Disney Theme Park Fans will be talking about for the rest of 2013 ….

    I am all for an additional Tower @ the Disneyland Hotel (in order to accommodate more Theme Park Visitors ); provided there is additional secure parking added, also – but I am not welcome any price increases for Hotel reservations (there are still reasons I continue to stay @ Courtyard Marriott Buena Park off of Beach Blvd) …

    If there should be any layoffs in Parks & Resorts Division? Please start by getting rid of Meg Crofton! Then, do Team Disney Anaheim (& Orlando) a favor by rewarding long-term Cast Members (vs. making them feel unappreciated)! Both DCA Vice President Mary Niven, along with former Disneyland (now WDW) President George Kalogridis, have truly earned promotions (but I can’t say the same for a lot of Executives in the Parks & Resorts Division – cough, cough, please fire Meg Crofton, cough, cough)!

    I understand the logic of pushing Annual Passholders onto those who can afford it (its mainly for those who can afford to visit a Walt Disney Theme Park several times throughout the year) – but what about the demographic which continues to get the financial shaft? (You know, the hard working, but can barely afford a one day hopper pass, because we’re coming from out of State, yet still do not get offered any real discounts on park admission / hotel rooms? yeah, that demographic!) Is it so hard for the Walt Disney Executives to understand that their competitors (Knott’s, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Universal Studios Hollywood) are offering more discounts promoted to those who live out of State? (What would it take for the Parks & Resorts Division to do something about this?)

    As long as there is a push to add more Hotel Rooms (in order to accommodate more Theme Park Guests), then there is going to be a never-ending Parking Problem! So, why hasn’t Team Disney Anaheim pushed for a better Public Transit System? (or better yet, a TDA run Transit System that travels to all neighboring Hotels / Motels from Anaheim to Buena Park?) If there were continuous shuttles running every 10-15 minutes from 7am – 2am (traversing Harbor Blvd North to South, traversing Katella Avenue East to West) that were free (or low cost – say $5 round trip), I would never drive to Disneyland from my Hotel room (that $ saved would easily allow me to afford a sit-down meal inside Disneyland, or DCA)!

    I am all for alterations to Main Street USA @ Disneyland; but only if it will control the heavy crowds during Fireworks & Parades; as well as allow for a continuous means of pedestrian traffic to get to one side of Disneyland to the other side (what would the point be in altering Main Street USA if you can’t accomplish both?). Time to learn some lessons from Las Vegas Blvd (where pedestrian bridges work very well when they do not block the view of an attraction, parade, fireworks, etc – but they are still difficult for those too impaired to navigate due to the use of a wheelchair and / or electric cart). Best of luck to Tom Staggs, WDI & TDA in figuring out the right solution!

    As for the Main Street Electric Parade? Bring it back in time for Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary (2015)! Who doesn’t love nostalgia? (besides Meg Crofton (rolls eyes) That ought to give enough time to make sure the Warehouses can charge & maintain the floats (run it on nights that a new Parade honoring Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary is in operation – Park Guests can decide what days to attend!) I’m very weary of any Next-Gen so called improvements being implemented to improve (cough, cough if you can afford it, cough cough) one’s Theme Park Experience (& you can take my statements as I am not a fan of being upcharged for anything!)

    Here’s my idea for a Tune-Up in Cars Land – please do not implement half a r s e rides (please take the time to install rides that are meant to last, as well as entertain for more then 5 minutes!) If a ride, or attraction, that only last five minutes is still getting lines that are over 30 minutes (& up to 2 hours) long? Then you need to bring in Live Entertainment to draw crowds out of the long queue lines! I am all for expanding Ramone’s House of Body Art Store (one of the best shops in DCA, in my opinion), but Cars Land still suffers (like Mickey’s Toontown) for only having one main entrance / exit (would it be too hard to engineer more then one entrance / exit into Cars Land?) The more I hear about Fastpass and Trip Planning having to be reserved online (& implemented by wristbands that could be easy to be misplaced when worn by children)? The more I think I am going to continue milking “single rider” ’til the day I die (I do not like this potential upcharge for services and / or service render only via online reservations)!

    Is anyone truly a fan of Princess Fantasy Faire? (If so? I guess you weren’t a fan of live swing music and swing dancing @ the Carnation Plaza) – Boo & Hiss is all I have to say (that, & I hope this so called Faire isn’t intruding on Frontierland)! I think it’s bull schiess to expect Park Guests to schill out (get upcharged) & call it an “ease of use factor” (you can’t hide and / or deny the fact that the Walt Disney Co is willing to increase their theme park revenue by giving the hard working Park Guests who can’t afford to be upcharged up thee shaft!) Interactive Queue Lines are a nice idea (& The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure certainly needs one in DCA – along with another 3 minutes added to the ride!), but it doesn’t sugar coat the fact your “standard tier” Theme Park Guest is going to get denied a reservation to dine, a view of a parade and fireworks, a faster means of getting on a ride and / or attraction (somewhere Walt Disney is spinning in his grave knowing his original idea of a theme park for all families to enjoy has been changed into a theme park for only those who can afford it!)

    I guess you will see me @ Disneyland in 2015 (for their 60th Anniversary), unless I can’t afford the potential future upcharges required to get past the main gate!

    C J

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