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.


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.


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. Generally, you'll find a new MiceAge news update from Al and crew once or twice a month on Tuesdays. 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 some sleep where I can. :lol:

    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


    • 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.

    • Dusty Sage

      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.