MiceAge Update: Disneyland’s Great Space Safety Race

Written by MiceAge. Posted in Disneyland Resort, MiceAge Update

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Published on April 23, 2013 at 3:30 am with 65 Comments

The past 10 days has been a trying time for Disneyland, with an embarrassing $230,000 fine from DOSH for the injury of an outside contractor cleaning the Space Mountain roof last year, the sudden closures of some of the Resort’s most popular E Ticket attractions on a Saturday morning, and a ham-fisted response by TDA executives that left almost everyone in the dark about what was going on. In this update we’ll give you some context behind just what DOSH said should happen versus what Disney executives did all on their own, and why the exact same safety issues in cloned attractions in Florida don’t seem to matter. We’ll also fill you in on the upcoming Monstrous Summer marketing campaign and it’s 24 Hour Party kickoff at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, plus what the new Disneyland Resort president Michael Colglazier will and won’t be saying in his “Salaried Business Update” in the Hyperion Theater tomorrow.

Got that Mtn Dew Kickstart chilled and ready?  Is the Hot-Pocket a nice golden brown?  Then let’s explore the latest from a frantic Disneyland Resort . . .

A Tale of Two Standards

For the past 10 years the Disneyland Resort, along with all other permanent amusement parks in California, has been subject to inspection and thorough review by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH). The DOSH inspections of every theme park ride in Anaheim occur twice annually, and cover everything from training paperwork to overnight maintenance procedures to the way a Cast Member extends their hand to help disembarking passengers from a Jungle Cruise boat. There are a few Anaheim attractions that don’t qualify for DOSH inspections, most notably all the theater attractions and autonomous vehicles like the Horseless Carriages on Main Street or the Davy Crockett Canoes in Critter Country. But there are over 50 attractions in Anaheim that do qualify for oversight from DOSH, and each one has at least two inspections per calendar year, one that is planned a year in advance and one that is a “surprise inspection” and that happens randomly without warning. In addition, any time a park guest is injured on an attraction enough to warrant a visit to a hospital, the DOSH inspectors arrive and inspect the paperwork collected from the incident and then go out to the attraction and re-inspect the situation that led to the injury, even though it almost always involves a guest who slipped on their own, wasn’t watching what they were doing, or had a pre-existing condition and didn’t heed the safety signage.

The result is that there are DOSH inspectors on Disneyland Resort property examining attractions nearly every business day of the year (government workers don’t do weekends or holidays, remember). And over the years the relationship between those DOSH inspectors and the Anaheim management has become quite friendly and comfortable. But business is business, and when an outside contractor cleaning the Space Mountain roof last November fell and injured himself, the investigation was thorough and a big fine was in order. But what happened next is where the normal, rational system of safety checks and balances seemed to go off the rails.

During the investigation of the Space Mountain incident, it quickly became apparent that a new safety standard applied to new construction in California wasn’t being met by many of Disneyland’s older rides and facilities. That new standard as applied by DOSH states that any walkway that has more than a 30 inch drop off one side must have either double handrails at 42 inches high, or a walkway more than six feet wide, or an approved safety harness system for anyone traveling along that walkway. The one exception to that rule is if the drop leads to water that is less than four feet deep, then the water is considered adequate fall protection and a narrow walkway is exempt from that standard (which is exactly why Pirates of the Caribbean and Grizzly River Run have been allowed to remain operational).

But Disneyland’s own safety engineering department had spent the last few months compiling a short list of attractions that likely didn’t meet that new safety standard, most of which were the Resort’s big coasters plus a few unique ride systems like Soarin’ Over California and the Submarine Voyage. And last Friday when DOSH issued their findings from the November accident and slapped Disneyland with a $230,000 fine, TDA’s safety team swung into action and quickly identified which attractions must be closed immediately to perform in-house inspections and assessments. The result was that on Saturday morning, Cast Members arrived to open up their rides only to find the locations locked down and off limits. Even the opening park managers were left scratching their heads as there had been no warning from TDA and no communication to the park guests pouring in on a busy Saturday morning.

It’s important to realize that these closures were not mandated by DOSH, as the older facilities are grandfathered in to the previous walkway standards. But in Disney’s new “safety culture” that is the height of fashion with trendy executives, it was considered gutsy and bold to close other attractions that don’t meet the modern standard, even though DOSH had been inspecting those facilities for years and had cleared them for daily operation. What wasn’t considered at all was the timing of these closures and the impact it would have on paying customers arriving in the morning. But once the call had been made late Friday night to shut the rides down it became politically incorrect to back off that decision made in the name of safety, and Soarin’, Space Mountain and the Matterhorn all remained closed for the weekend (with the Matterhorn reopening one half of the attraction on Sunday), while several other E Ticket attractions were delayed in opening by hours as their inspections wrapped up on Saturday morning.

Also included in the Friday night mandate was that all ladders in use at the Resort must have double hand-rails and traditional a-frame ladders are now forbidden. The Custodial team was hit hard by that one, and dozens of new ladders had to be rush-ordered while the ladder tasks of cleaning light fixtures or big windows were suspended. And the entertainment team was suddenly forbidden from using the custom-built ladder with one handrail that is used to get Aladdin up onto the big rolling elephant for his triumphant ride through the Hyperion Theater in that popular show. And so for the next week burned out light bulbs went unchanged, cleaning anything more than five feet off the ground was halted, and entertainment shows were altered or had entire scenes cut.

Confusion reigned both Onstage and Backstage last weekend, as the TDA suits refused to offer any real information to the lower park managers, and paying guests arrived to find over a half dozen popular attractions suddenly closed and they took their frustration out on the confused front line CM’s.

While they kept the park CM’s and the paying guests in the dark, TDA executives at least knew this was a big deal and were holding a series of conference calls while Parks chief Meg Crofton flew out from Florida on Saturday to personally tour the closed rides and their fall protection measures. The most glaring issues were with emergency evacuation walkways at Space Mountain and Matterhorn, and the catwalks used at Soarin’ Over California to perform routine maintenance on the brake assemblies on the flying theater’s uppermost seating carriages. The Matterhorn was the first to get clearance to reopen, when it was decided that for the time being Cast Members would no longer walk the entire length of track when opening the ride each morning, but instead would stand in safe zones and simply do a visual check down the track into the areas with improper walkways (where CM’s have been walking daily since 1959, and where DOSH inspectors have been walking alongside those CM’s annually for a decade).

Soarin’ Over California was trickier, since the brake assemblies that keep the massive pivoting arms locked in place during the film must be serviced and inspected each night. There was a basic catwalk and harness process in place for that work up near the theater ceiling, but the walkways only had one handrail or simply didn’t meet the new standard. And again, DOSH inspectors had been shadowing and observing that exact overnight maintenance work in those areas during their annual inspections for the past decade.

A rushed installation of new equipment allowed Soarin’ to only be closed for a week, but the real story here is the fact that the other version of Soarin’ cloned and installed at Epcot back in 2005 uses the exact same access procedures to those upper brake assemblies. And yet the Epcot version of Soarin’ remained in daily operation throughout the DCA closure, even though Florida executives from Meg Crofton on down were aware of the similarities between the cloned attractions. The answer there is simple; Florida’s state government doesn’t have any regulated oversight of Walt Disney World’s theme park attractions, and no state regulator from Tallahassee will ever get a chance to inspect Epcot’s Soarin’ attraction without a major injury accident.

The other factor in closing DCA’s Soarin’ while Epcot’s clone was allowed to operate is the issue of park ride capacity. All of WDW’s theme parks have razor thin margins for error when it comes to park ride capacity, after several decades of closing more attractions than they open and instead running the theme parks until the wee hours of the morning in the guise of “Extra Magic Hours”, all in order to carve out more daily ride capacity without the expense of building new rides. While the DCA version of Soarin’ has each theater closed at least a week once per year for screen cleaning and cosmetic maintenance, the Epcot version of Soarin’ goes year after year without a major refurbishment because they simply can’t afford to close even one theater at a time in that park with precious few rides. In Anaheim, however, as upsetting as it was to have several E Tickets closed suddenly on a Saturday, the parks got by and still raked in decent daily ride capacity with all the 60+ other operating attractions. It may have been uncomfortable for the paying customers and the CM’s in Anaheim, but it still looked acceptable on a spreadsheet Monday morning. The executive “safety culture” only extends so far, and closing Soarin’ at Epcot would require major planning and considerable cost to minimize that lost ride capacity even if it was planned far in advance, much less without warning on a sunny Saturday morning.

But it’s Disneyland’s Space Mountain that faces the biggest challenges in this mess. The walkways and stairwells inside the dome that access the various brake zones and evacuation platforms were all newly built in 2004 when that attraction was closed for its complete rebuild from April, 2003 to July, 2005. However, the new track was an exact duplicate of the 1977 track, and most of those rebuilt walkways and platforms still use the original 1970’s dimensions. And those simply don’t meet the new codes, as TDA now insists on living up to. But after a week of consultation, TDA is realizing getting the 1977 track up to snuff would require rebuilding the track entirely and changing the angle and location of twists and turns in the track itself, which means an entirely new Space Mountain would have to be designed and built from scratch, a project that would take years and millions of dollars. So instead, TDA is taking a similar approach to the way they handled the Matterhorn, and are now trying to determine if temporary safety rails and a different way of resetting all the brake zones each morning or after a routine downtime could allow the coaster to reopen this spring.

As if all that weren’t enough of a headache, last Thursday the DOSH inspectors arrived at TDA and announced they had just received a complaint from an Anaheim Cast Member who felt the evacuation zones on California Screamin’ were unsafe, even though Screamin’ had been inspected by TDA’s engineers the week before and was delayed in opening on Saturday morning. The DOSH inspectors were escorted over to California Screamin’, and at 1:45 P.M. the coaster was shut down for the night and a thorough inspection of the trackside walkways began. The focus was in a few key areas, specifically the narrow walkway along the waterside launch, as well as the most notorious of brake zones, Brake Zone Six, located on a very narrow catwalk above the boardwalk rooftops.


Attractions Cast Members routinely go to those areas to reset brake zones and open the attraction each day. DOSH found that those areas don’t technically meet the new standard, but they agreed with TDA that a series of small fixes and retraining of all CM’s would satisfy the grandfathered status of California Screamin’. After a rushed “Update Training” was rolled out the next morning to all CM’s trained on California Screamin’, the big coaster was allowed to reopen Friday afternoon. And yet again, these types of evacuation platforms and narrow trackside walkways exist at many other coasters in the Disney empire, but only the facilities in California are being considered for immediate updates and changes to their operation for now. The sudden closures imposed by executives, new safety equipment, and rushed retraining are politically correct in California, but not to be spoken of in Florida it seems. It’s as if Meg Crofton and her TDA executives don’t realize that many maintenance and operations CM’s travel or work between the two properties and know intimately that the same issues in California exist in even greater number in Florida.

The Colglazier Show

Amidst all those headaches, most of it self-imposed by a small group of executives, Michael Colglazier will finally be hosting his formal debut to the salaried ranks in Anaheim. Tomorrow, Michael will host two sessions of his Salaried Business Update, a sort of annual “State of the Resort” speech in the Hyperion Theater that we’d told you about in the last update. He’ll likely have to acknowledge the recent ride closures and explain away (or ignore) the inconsistencies between the two coasts in a flurry of trendy corporate buzzwords while subtly bragging about the “safety culture” at Disney Parks & Resorts. But the rest of his Salaried Business Update will focus on two things, hyping the skyrocketing visitor spending and satisfaction ratings the Disneyland Resort has been getting since Cars Land opened, and doing a bit of soft selling of his genuinely warm personality and his leadership goals for the Resort during his short 3 year stay in Anaheim. Michael will also allow Anaheim’s Entertainment Department to give an overview of the new Mickey & The Magical Lamp stage show coming next month to the Fantasyland Theater. Throw in mandatory mentions of how fabulous the SoCal climate is compared to Florida and how “honored” or “humbled” he is to work in the original park that Walt built, and that about sums up Michael’s key talking points for his presentation tomorrow.

It’s been said before, but Michael was promoted from the least visited theme park in WDW with the most notorious state of affairs when it comes to questionable maintenance and declining showmanship standards. He’ll really need to prove to the Hyperion audience that he’s up to the task of maintaining Anaheim’s superior showmanship and won’t try to lead Anaheim down its previously-travelled path of reduced maintenance and lowered standards.

Monstrous Hangover

There’s a few things Michael likely won’t be able to announce on Wednesday, simply because they won’t be rolled out until Thursday at a media event in Orlando. Most notable is the Thursday morning announcement of this summer’s Monstrous Summer marketing campaign that we’ve told you about previously. The big kickoff is the 24 hour party coming Memorial Day weekend, and it’s being labeled the Monstrous Summer All Nighter. The overnight party May 24th and 25th will be co-branded as part of the Limited Time Magic campaign for 2013, while Monstrous Summer is simply the summer campaign meant to help the floundering Limited Time Magic concept. At least it makes sense to the marketing folks.

In WDW, the overnight event will be held at the Magic Kingdom Park only. But in Anaheim the event will be held from 6:00 A.M. to 6:00 A.M. at both Disneyland and DCA, in order to prevent the overcrowding and near-riot that happened late at night during the poorly planned One More Disney Day event last February. 105,000 people got into the two parks in Anaheim during the last 24 hour party, with tens of thousands of additional people who were stuck on gridlocked streets and backed up freeways giving up before they could park their cars. For this latest event they are planning on 125,000 people showing up. The parking and transportation logistics will be the most critical part of this event, and CM’s will be asked to park overnight at Anaheim Stadium and be bussed in (if the buses don’t get stuck in the gridlock on Katella for hours, like several CM shuttles did last year).

Michael might be able to hint at a few smaller things coming as part of the Monstrous Summer campaign, like the reworked Monsters Inc. float unit in DCA’s Pixar Play Parade, themed to Monsters University from the new film. A new pop-up merchandise location themed to Monsters University will also be installed for the summer near the Monsters Inc. dark ride in DCA. But Michael won’t be breathing a word of the longer-term plan we’d told you about to recreate Monstropolis in that corner of DCA, with a Door Coaster thrill ride being built where MuppetVision and Stage 17 are now, with the monorail zipping through the new Monstropolis skyline.

A Whole New Depp

Michael probably also won’t be able to announce the big movie premiere coming to DCA in June for the new Lone Ranger movie from the Walt Disney Studios. It’s no secret that the Burbank bosses love to debut big-budget summer movies at Disneyland, after the Anaheim park successfully hosted four different premieres for the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise over the last decade. Now it will be DCA’s turn at the premiere party scene, since that park’s fortunes have made a noticeable 180 degree turnaround in the last year.

The Lone Ranger movie premiere will be held more traditionally in the 2,000 seat Hyperion Theater, instead of outdoors like the Pirates premieres. But the event will be just as lavish and star-studded as the Pirates premieres were, and DCA’s fabulous new Buena Vista Street will be able to host its first red-carpet celebrity arrival perfectly themed to the golden age of Hollywood. And you can bet that MuppetVision will be turned into a temporary preview center for the new film this June. They really do need to put that old 3-D attraction out of its misery. Let’s hope the overall Monstropolis plan to turn the existing Hollywood & Dine building into a “flex space” allows them a more neutral facility to host these temporary movie attractions, plus the indoor game room for the latest dance party.


Oh-kay – that should do it for today. We look forward to hearing your thoughts about the great race to reopen Space and the planned activities for the Monstrous Summer. After the last all night party on Leap Day, would you be up to do it all over again on Memorial Day Weekend?

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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  • eicarr

    I wonder how much they save with “outside” cleaning contractors? I feel safer with these inspections going on and like every park guest I saw interviewed on the news… I support ride closures till a safe working environment is provided for Californians.

    I wish they were talking about a Mystic Manor ride instead of a Monsters inc coasters(not a fan of coasters, the movie, and the current ride through a dull town and sushi resturaunt). But I guess they need a large area/attraction to eat up the new massive DCA crowds.

  • I’m so glad to hear that the latest movie premiere will be at the Hyperion and not on the Rivers of America!

    I’m having a hard time getting excited about the 24 hour event at the parks. But I wasn’t excited about the last one either and it was a huge success.

    Since the all night event will be held on a holiday weekend, my guess is they are purposely trying to break the all time resort attendance record.

    • Jayce

      I did the 24 hour leap year day (the morning until early afternoon was actually very nice) but I’m not so sure about this one. My cousin’s pass expired along with a few other friends, maybe I can talk my brother into it again though the crowds this time will be even worse. They should enact pass blockouts though deluxe though it’ll still be crazy 😛

    • goofymon

      “All of WDW’s theme parks have razor thin margins for error when it comes to park ride capacity, after several decades of closing more attractions than they open” How can WDW have spent several decades doing that yet the Magic Kingdom has been open for 4 decades and in that time 3 new parks have opened?

  • Susan Hughes

    It bothers me that a stupid park guest who injures themself by being…stupid…prompts an inspection by DOSH. One child was injured when he was playing by in iron exit gate to an attraction. The parents were to blame for not watching their kid, and the guests exiting the ride were to blame for swinging the gate open without looking. But Disney is the one that gets in trouble.

    • MrTour

      Yes, we are tampering with the evolution process by standing in the way of Social Darwinism!

    • It’s not that simple. The parks do need to be stupid-proofed, as you can’t count on guests to be paying attention at all times when there is so much pixie dust to distract them.

      We want the parks to be as safe as possible. It doesn’t do the guests or Disney any good if there is a perception that you can be easily injured. Disney is doing a really good job dealing with safety concerns, they just aren’t always quick about the cosmetic aspects (as evidenced by the Alice tarps).

      • MrTour

        I’m not saying the parks should not be as safe as they can be. Something as simple as a handrail can be deadly if someone sits on one and falls and cracks their head…but we don’t remove the rails because of this. And if someone is under the influence of alcohol or a drug and hops a fence and gets killed by doing so, is that Disney’s fault?

        I am just curious if we can compare not just Anaheim to Florida, but to Paris, Tokyo and Hong Kong. Are there more or less back stage safety provisions at these parks, and how does the injury rate compare?

      • StevenW

        “And if someone is under the influence of alcohol or a drug and hops a fence and gets killed by doing so, is that Disney’s fault?”

        If this is what you’re concerned about, it is the cost of doing business. This is why companies get insurance to protect them from the unknowns.

        Anyways, the hopping of the fence and being under the influence is enough to shift some of the responsibility to the “tresspasser”.

      • grrandram

        So what Disney should do is, when a guest walks through the turnstile they immediately proceed to the bubble wrap area where each guest will be wrapped from head to toe in bubble wrap. That’s the best way to keep people safe. If they fall down, hit their heads or fall into the abyss, the bubble wrap will make sure that the guest’s visit to Disneyland or Disney California Adventure is not ruined and they will have many happy memories for years to come. It’s bureaucracy in action. More railings will keep people safe. Give me a break. Those railings on Alice in Wonderland look awful and they ruin the aesthetics. The newly installed railings on the Matterhorn look stupid. Because parents let their kids run amok and do not watch them, they get hurt. Employees working rides like Space Mountain and California Screamin’ have to wake up and pay attention to what they are doing. Stop daydreaming. Stop goofing around. Clumsy people need not apply.

    • calsig31

      It’s not as simple as “because a guest was stupid, Disney gets in trouble”. If there is an incident, it needs to be reviewed to see if it was truly the fault of the park goer, or Disney being lax on a safety measure. If it was truly at the fault of the consumer and Disney could not have forseen or prevented the injury, then Disney is not penalized. However, the incident must be looked into before this could adequately be determined.

    • aquaboi77

      When you train at Disney you learn their motto: Safety First…not magic first, not wish-fulfillment, but safety, and for good reason. I get irritated when people complain about the inspections, we should definitely err on the side of safety.

    • ralfrick

      The laws that mandate these inspections, the ones that have only been going on for a decade, were a direct result of the 1998 Columbia death, the first in park history that wasn’t the fault of a guest or natural causes. Disney’s response, including reports of cleaning the scene before any outside agencies were given access, prompted new legislation.

  • MickeysImagination

    Safety standards are a pain in the collective rump. However, they are necessary for a variety of reasons, and to the top of that list is that people are people.

    Now after having read numerous reports regarding the situation at Disneyland, I have come to the following conclusion, Disney is covering all bases. Despite the fact that DOSH has said okay to the grandfathering of older sites, that does not mean they will be allowed to remain in that state forever. Additionally, there may have been recommendations by DOSH and after the fine Disney chose to act. From my experience (and it is extensive in this area), the larger clients (like Disney) will opt for a swift response, thus stopping production leaving employees and clients in the dark, causing vendors and maintenance into a high gear frenzy until a satisfactory solution is implemented.

    A recent personal experience from a large client was quite similar. Here we had a well oiled large scale site that the safety department was most pleased. Then corporate rotated safety teams between plants. The new safety agreeing that what was currently good, would not be good enough going forward. They immediately shut down a $350 million dollar facility, while they combed the plant for things to change. For my equipment, there were numerous changes that they “plussed” to the point where the operators are no longer as productive. This all in the name of CYA.

    In the end, are we any safer? Hard to tell, because people are people.

    -Justin

  • Gregg Condon

    I’m just not at all excited for The Lone Ranger.

    Wonder how it’s going to look with all those “celebrities” walking up the ugly outdoor catwalks at Hyperion to get to the upper levels. Of course, all the A-Listers will be on the bottom level.

    • I glad you said that. I’m not excited about it either and I feel sort of bad about that because I know I ‘should’ be. Disney bringing back the Lone Ranger is a really big deal. But all I see is Johnny Depp in kabuki makeup . . . again. 😉

  • JiminyCricketFan

    The premiers of Pirates of the Caribbean in Disneyland seem to fit. With the Columbia and all the wonderful buildings of New Orleans Sq. around, it seemed like the perfect atmosphere for that kind of movie. The Hyperion theater, however, seems like a very ugly place to have a premier. There is nothing “Old West” about the area. And there is nothing glamorous about walking up those long stairs to the upper levels. While DCA may have had a facelift over the last year, that area still remains the ugly, cheap original DCA.

  • Captain Pitchfork

    Thank you MICECHAT for announcing the 24hr party at Disneyland. I had not heard of this through any other media. You guys touched on this in a previous column and I jumped at the chance to reserve a room on the “Disney Strip” Harbor blvd. We stayed this past weekend at the Tropicana Inn and had reservations for May 24th through 26th for the same. However, bed bugs eating my wife alive this weekend in room 129 prompted our cancellation and rescheduling to the Ramada Main Gate for the 24 hr event. Tropicana Inn management had no acceptable response to our complaints and after years of loyalty to the location with no discounts or perks and an admittedly lousy continental breakfast we will never stay there again.
    Whew…… enough of my soapbox!

    • martinjbell1986

      We just booked for the Ramada Main Gate too. Never stayed there before so hopefully it’s good.

      • SoarinMatt

        Stayed there two years ago for Gay Days. It’s pretty clean.

  • scarymouse

    Very interesting article, Clears a lot of things up on what went on. Its a toss up for me on the safety issues. If there are real safety issues of course they should be addressed, but if have been no problems for years, it seems like they would have been on the keep this quiet scenario.And just fix the problems one at a time, ride to ride. Its curious that they took this tactic and shut down all the e- tickets at the same time. Everyone already knows they are safety savvy , and they do everything by the book .Since they always are trying to squeeze the extra dollar out of every inch of their real estate, it seems that this would have hurt their wallets or egos whichever is bigger.I’m just glad its not going on when I’m visiting the parks,and feel sorry for the folks who are having to put up with all of this.Let’s hope the Magic returns soon.

  • dano4

    I’m checking into Bay Lake Tower for ten nights on May 24th. I wonder how crazy it is going to be. Can’t wait!

  • StevenW

    The solution to the DOSH regulation is actually already there. “an approved safety harness system for anyone traveling along that walkway” They would add a harness system that attached the CM to the rail. This means the rails must have an extra bar or wire to support the safety harness system. This is significantly cheaper than redoing Space Mountain.

  • Big D

    The mandate at every large corporation for the past 10 – 15 years has been to do everything possible to limit liability, and that trumps everything else. The old adage about the customer is always right went out the window with the McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit, and now the number one most important thing to any executive is to not get sued. So I’m sure that a lot of the ride closures has to do with avoiding a lawsuit. However, I can also attest that Disney does train their cast members that safety comes first, even above show or guest satisfaction. So I’m going to guess that the recent ride closures are probably a result of both of those things, some people saying the rides should be closed and enhanced because safety is more important than guest satisfaction, and some people saying it because they want to avoid potential lawsuits. And it probably is the right thing to do even if some of them have been operating for decades without having that kind of problem. Think of some of the high profile deaths that have occurred at Disneyland like the girl from America Sings or the guest in line for the Columbia. Both of those attractions had operated just fine for a long time before things went wrong one day.

  • chesirecat

    I’m glad that Disney is addressing safety issues as simply letting grandfathered attractions rely on previous standards isn’t doing all you can do safety wise. DLR makes a lot of $$ each year, they can afford to put some of that cash into safety refurbs. Given past accidents, with guest and castmembers, I applaud Disney for taking this step. Aside from the human injury factor, having a sterling safety reputation is important for any family theme park.

    I can’t help but notice that this update uses the label, “paying customer” probably half a dozen times . . . Yes, guests are paying customers, but it isn’t printed anywhere on the ticket that Disney must have such and such an E-Ticket open, and when the issue is safety, safety has to come first so Disney has a right, and a responsibility, to move quickly. I really don’t like the talk blaming OSHA and Disney for the closures. If an APer who has ridden Space 576 times doesn’t get to in the next month or so, it isn’t some tragedy as DLR has tons of rides.

    WDW does have ride capacity issues, nice that the article brought this up, the new FastPass system is a way to ration what rides have survived closure over the years.

    I don’t get this snippet from the article regarding Colglazier,

    “He’ll really need to prove to the Hyperion audience that he’s up to the task of maintaining Anaheim’s superior showmanship and won’t try to lead Anaheim down its previously-travelled path of reduced maintenance and lowered standards.”

    Why does the President of DLR have to prove something to his subordinates at a castmember/TDA meeting? He’ll be judged on the results, which includes making sure no embarrassing accidents happen and that DLR makes money . . . and at any rate, he won’t be judged by employees below his pay grade, that’s just not how big corporations work. I think the MiceChat crew wants him to prove to the APers that he won’t lead DLR down a “path of reduced maintenance and lowered standards”, far enough, no doubt fans will be watching.

    • Westsider

      I don’t think you understand how CM’s think. We judge anyone from Florida, and judge them intensely. We’ve seen what Floridians have done with their place out in Orlando, and we don’t want that to happen here. Judging is a Disneyland CM art form, and we’re very good at it.

  • David Mercury

    I hope to be in the parks next month. For safety’s sake I think I’ll just walk around and view all of these potential deathtraps from a respectable distance. Maybe, if I’m feeling a little daring toward the end of the day, I’ll throw caution to the winds and risk “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.”

    • DobbysCloset

      Thank you for bringing a smile to an otherwise grim morning’s reading.

  • bayouguy

    1. I’m definitely not planning any WDW trips after reading how safety has taken an extreme back seat to profits.
    2. I’m for safety so I’ll take the time to let Disneyland do whatever it takes.

    • Please don’t get the impression that WDW isn’t safe. It IS safe. They just aren’t applying the same standard to the exact same rides because Florida doesn’t inspect the attractions like California does.

      It is my firm belief that Disney does whatever it can these days to make sure that rides are safe for guests. However, they may be a bit safer for Cast Members (the ones who have to walk those tracks and rails) in California than in Florida because of DOSH.

      • dsnygrl13

        We were just at WDW last week and stayed at the Port Orleans Riverside resort. When coming out of the lounge area, I started to use the handrail going down the stairs. The handrail was loose and almost came off in my hands. We reported it immediately to a cast member who apologized. We were told that the railing had been in that same state of disrepair for several years now and that maintenance had been notified numerous times, but that it had never been fixed. While our stay there was a joy and we were treated like royalty and everything else was spit and polish, I have to wonder why they refuse to address a safety issue.

  • bearytrek

    I’m not sure if its been addressed before, but I haven’t seen the Al Lutz’s byline in the last few posts (the column has now become MiceAge Update)…has Al retired?

  • almandot

    If Disneyland chooses to voluntarily fix something on a California ride that DOSH said was fine as-is in the name of safety, and then somebody in Florida gets injured over the same issue that WDW chose to ignore because they aren’t state-regulated there, does that make them negligent?

    • SoarinMatt

      Yes, yes it does.

    • grrandram

      I would say no. California laws do not apply in Florida.

  • lighttragic

    so these twenty four hour events will they be doing roving closing times like last time to make sure the attractions will be open the next morning or will we have dosh /osha show up and make changes in the middle of the night

  • steveracer

    Isn’t there a Grad Nite Event on May 24th? So a 24 hr event mixed in with a Grad Nite event, how is that going to work?. Grad Nites are now park hoppers with the exclusive “dance party” at DCA between 10pm – 3am. Is Disney going to “kick out” 24 hr guest so the Grads can have DCA all to themselves, like it was billed to be, or will Disney again be giving away a return pass to DCA to the Grads for a ruined event. (I chaperoned last year when on our Grad Nite visit, DCA was closed for the Cars Land Media Event. So no park hopper option for us. Our school received free return passes to DCA . The “dance party” part was at DL in 2012.)

  • mickeyandme67

    I wonder if visually inspecting track from an approved “safety zone”, without the traditional track walk, is safer for the rider of the attraction? It may be safer for the cast member, but it seems to be a shoddy fix for those who actually are riding an un-walked, un-inspected track. I’m no expert mind you, but from reading the article, I wonder…

  • brian11811

    They should fill in Paradise Bay area with cement, then put padding on it in case a cast member falls off the launch area of screaming. Heaven forbid they get wet. Thats over four feet of water, they might actually have to SWIM if they fell it. Thats not safe.

    Does anyone else feel less safe now that they are not walking the track? How is that adding to safety?

    • brian11811

      Thats sarcasm by the way.

  • brian11811

    Oh, also. I was at the last 24 hour event. Never again.

    • SpectroMan

      I’m with you. Even with both parks open, not in a million years.

  • themur

    If a state regulatory agency is assessing fines (fines which can be appealed and abated) it isn’t prudent to ignore them. Might they have overreacted? Sure. Might DOSH have thrown out lots of fines that may not have truly been appropriate; possible as well. California is a regulatory mess. Can’t reasonably compare Florida and California in their reaction. They exist in “different worlds.” If they want to take time to address (in this case) worker safety I applaud it. If it was the other way I am sure there would be many complaining that Disney has no regard for safety and only cares about profits.

    Overall on the article, as you noted last time Al has health issues and is stepping back a bit (and I wish him all the best) but let’s leave his style to him and how about the “MiceAge team” find their own voice for these updates.

  • DobbysCloset

    My deepest concern is the potential disruption to the lives of Cast Members for corporate reasons. Rough enough to have to deal with guests on a good day. Suits get paid whether rides are open or not. CMs at the low end of the wage scale deserve safety as much as anyone, but have the most to lose through arbitrary ride closure. I am thinking it would be nice to have a cartoon called “Goofy Visits The Disneyland Resort.” If there are any potential safety hazards, Goofy will find them!

    I suppose having chosen this as my morning first reading makes me an Official Disneyland Nerd, alas…

  • jcruise86

    Where does the $230,000 fine money go?
    I hope DOSH doesn’t become like a speedtrap town, where the incentive to increase revenue becomes a central goal.
    Where SHOULD the money go?

  • DarTheBucsFan

    So instead, TDA is taking a similar approach to the way they handled the Matterhorn, and are now trying to determine if temporary safety rails and a different way of resetting all the brake zones each morning or after a routine downtime could allow the coaster to reopen this spring.

    We are already in spring, does this mean Spring 2014?? Anyone??

    • grrandram

      Yeah. I saw too. It’s almost summer.

  • 3rdshiftCM

    I’m hopping the 24hr party will somehow end on the 25-26 since we arrive at WDW on the 25, that would be an awesome way to start our belated Honeymoon

    The plan as of now is to head to DL late early Friday night and then head to the LAX around 4-5am.

  • Tinkbelle

    My hope for Monstropolis is that they will scrap that whole idea and come up with something better.

    I bet another reason why they are having the screening in DCA is BTMRR is not really presentable right now – especially with that huge crane sticking up over ROA.

    I met Michael Colgazier yesterday in the breezeway between the new Princess Fantasy Faire and Zocalo. He seemed like a nice guy. I wish I had been quicker on my feet and thought about bringing up a couple of my concerns/suggestions to him. It isn’t often that you have the ear of Disneyland’s president. At least we got a picture with him. I asked him how he was enjoying being Disneyland’s new president and he responded, “Are you kidding me?” hehe… safe answer.

    • He’s an honestly nice guy. Really hope he can pull off the job. I think he can.

    • grrandram

      I don’t understand his answer. That sounds like a rude answer. He probably didn’t know. Yeah, it is rare you have the ear of Disneyland’s president and you got a picture.

  • 4Apples4Disney

    So..a state agency shows up and fines Disneyland. Disneyland pays the state agency, only to start the process all over again.

  • Johnny

    Al, you seem a bit angry about the closings. Do you disagree that the changes should be made, or are you upset because Disneyland must report to the State of California and WDW only has to report to itself?

    • HollywoodF1

      Disneyland reports to Cal/ OSHA and WDW reports to OSHA. WDW is not quite its own country.

    • grrandram

      It isn’t like Disneyland and Disney California Adventure are traveling carnivals. They are safe. They could make the parks completely 100% safe and someone would still get hurt. Unfortunately when someone gets hurt, they see it as a chance for a windfall. It’s not about safety, it’s about lawsuits.

  • HollywoodF1

    Your statement about existing attractions being grandfathered is 100% wrong. There is no provision for grandfathering in the regulations. Unfortunately, much of your article is built on that erroneous assumption.

    I suggest you read the citations on the DOSH website to fill in some of the holes in your understanding of this topic.

  • BandM

    Seems like a lot of legal hoopla just for something that wouldn’t/doesn’t happen in other states. I can’t really recall a decent ejector airtime coaster in Cali and I think the sometimes ridiculous laws have something to do with that.

  • Diznehound

    What frustrates me the most is that Disneyland safety standards have deteriorated to the point where all these ride closures became necessary in the first place. If they had at least begun the changes that OSHA mandated in their first inspection, when the problems were first noted, they probably wouldn’t have had this kind of reaction (from OSHA AND Park Guests) now. Instead they chose to ignore it and as such were hit with a heavy fine and some very disappointed guests.(I was one of them). The constant comparison in this article between WDW and Disneyland amazes me- it’s obvious why Florida is not subject to the same standards of inspection as California- WE”RE IN AN EARTHQUAKE ZONE!- We need to have safety standards that go above and beyond the codes. Hopefully, Mr. Colglazier will see fit to do a better job here than he apparently has in Florida-Otherwise we may well see our beloved Disneyland run into the ground beyond all hope of reclamation. Disneyland is not a place where high paying customers should experience things going wrong. The reason I’m (reluctantly) willing to pay $700 per year is for the kind of perfection and “experiences you can’t get anywhere else” to quote the cast member on the phone- Not to show up with high expectations of a Magical Vacation with Walt’s original Pixie Dust AAAA Standards and be treated to ride closures with no explanations and (after the fact) learn of safety hazards that have been there during my last 5 visits. I’m not disloyal, by any means- just disallusioned.

  • Praisejesus

    If Disney updates to the current regulations, every time they are updated…. They will never open another new ride. They will have to close all of the rides that are currently open too. Grandfathering, exists because of this. Some responsibility rests with the guests in the park. You can never prevent everything. We might as well live in a plastic bubble. Safety is priority yes, yes, yes, but lets not over do it. Oh, silly me, if we lived in plastic bubbles, we could suffocate. Scratch that idea.

  • CaliforniaDreaming

    One thing to bear in mind is that as the economic engine of the region (particularly in the 1970s), local government has basically rolled over for Disney in central Florida. The company has local taxing and zoning powers on the land surrounding WDW, just to name a few examples. Without getting too political, there’s also the fact that Florida voters have been influenced by a certain aversion to government regulation that tends to color the entire Southeastern US, and elect leaders who reflect that fact. Add those things together, and it makes sense that WDW would be subject to less stringent safety requirements than DLR.

    I feel safe at both resorts. Any implication that WDW is a death trap by comparison to DLR would be completely wrong-headed. Disney does a great job of proactively recognizing potential safety issues in Florida, and deals with them. Under normal conditions, you have no reason to fear for your safety in either place. But it is nice (to me anyway) to know that Disney has someone looking over their shoulders in Cali, and are subject to requirements that consider safety standards in situations that go beyond normal conditions. Maybe they overreacted closing all those rides at once, but really, so what? If one guest or CM is protected in the future by changes to the infrastructure or protocol that result from this, it’s nothing but positive.

  • Tinkd

    count me out for the memorial day party, I wouldn’t touch the parks with a 10 foot pole, I’m always looking to avoid the crowds…

    Thanx for the update, it’s nice to be able to put some info with the closures. Still not sure why it took them so long, that they were fined so heavily, that stills says negligence to me.

  • jtamura69

    I’m sorry to say but it’s hard to protect people from their own stupidity.

  • jl925sanders

    Last week I read through the inspection reports and the proposed fines. The inspections were done in November 2012 by DOSH and Disney addressed the issues just prior to the DOSH deadline to comply. What’s up with that? Some issues appear to be simple fixes as demonstrated by the short time the attractions were closed, others were more complex and require more time. But, they’ve had 120 days to plan the fix, why the panic now? I’d lay it on poor management and sack anyone who could or would not get the job done. Disney operates in a dynamic environment, when important things don’t get done you get people in place who will do the job.

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