MiceAge Disneyland Update: Parties, Parking, and Planned Projects

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Published on September 17, 2013 at 3:00 am with 260 Comments

The post-summer off season of low crowds at Disneyland Resort lasted only two weeks, and after the crazy Friday the 13th Villains event Disneyland has crashed into its wildly popular HalloweenTime season before it shifts almost immediately into Christmas mode in early November. While Team Disney Anaheim keeps their cards close to their vest on Burbank’s orders regarding big new rides about to begin construction in DCA and Tomorrowland, there are still some big changes coming to the parks in the next month. In this update we’ll fill you in on what’s ahead this fall, why there are only three more weeks to use a Guest Assistance Card (GAC) in the American parks, and why TDA is suddenly fine tuning their Resort parking strategy.

Got that freshly spun tuft of candy corn colored cotton candy in your sticky hands?  Have your Pumpkin Spice Latte poured?  Then let’s get this Disneyland update started. . .

The Good, The Bad, and the Unlucky

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Before we tell you about the termination of the Guest Assistance Card program, it seems appropriate to fill in a bit on the backstory behind that overcrowded Friday the 13th event last Friday night. The concept was dreamed up by the One Disney marketing team as a bi-coastal Limited Time Magic offering. At Disneyland it also coincided with the first day of Haunted Mansion Holiday and Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy, which is historically a very busy Friday evening anyway as the Annual Passholders all flood in after work to check out the seasonal overlays. Each property was allowed some leeway in what they could do, and the Disneyland entertainment team landed on the two dance parties and as many Villains characters in the park as they could find CM’s to staff properly. Ladle this concept with the usual marketing hype and a 1:00AM closing time for Disneyland, and judging by the online reviews people either loved it (Villains!) or hated it (Crowds!).

Disneyland Resort got hammered by those crowds on Friday evening, with the attendance at both parks basically tripling in size between mid afternoon and late evening. Between 10:00PM and Midnight alone, an additional 5,000 Annual Passholders arrived at Disneyland after fighting late night traffic around Anaheim and finally finding a parking space at the GardenWalk mall. The numbers for that day tell the story:

Disneyland Attendance on Friday the 13th
55,000 Total Guests, of whom 36,000 were Annual Passholders

Disney California Adventure Attendance on Friday the 13th
30,000 Total Guests, of whom 19,000 were Annual Passholders

Total Resort Attendance
85,000 Total Guests, of whom 55,000 were Annual Passholders

Compared to an average busy summer day six weeks ago, when an 80,000 combined attendance was average but only 12,000 of those are Annual Passholders due to summer blockouts, the Friday night frenzy caused by Annual Passholders is a uniquely off-season phenomenon.

In TDA’s defense, they pulled out every trick they had to get as much parking as was available and to keep off-duty CMs away. Earlier this summer TDA made Friday the 13th a blockout day for Cast Member sign-in passes, and Disneyland’s parking team went into the event planning for New Years Eve crowds with every tram and bus and satellite parking lot they have pressed into service and staffed to the max, with extra Anaheim traffic cops staffed at TDA’s expense at major intersections.

But out at Walt Disney Worlnd, the TDO team failed to think of blocking Cast Member passes and they had a parking strategy that was based on just an average busy weekend. The result in WDW was that thousands of Cast Members and their families descended on Hollywood Studios to get in for free, and the parking situation and traffic logistics quickly fell apart at the seams. TDO’s lack of logistics planning needs to take a lot of the blame for this one, and it doesn’t help that via “The Hub” intranet website they continually encourage Florida Cast Members to return to property on their day off by touting free park admission and discounted recreational activities on WDW property. Whereas in Anaheim, TDA rarely encourages CM’s to come back to Resort property on their off time and instead touts CM discounts at the much wider range of cultural and entertainment options throughout Southern California.

One thing that the WDW team did right was to keep the executives in the parks and let them experience the madness first hand. DHS Vice President Dan Cockerell was in the park the whole night watching the drama unfold, and he pitched in with Guest Relations to personally take complaints and help where he could. It is executives sticking around on a Friday night to see the mess their team caused that can prevent this from happening again.

Contrast that to Disneyland, where most executives left last Friday evening and went home, missing the overcrowded park venues and gridlocked surface streets and backed up freeway off ramps that usually play out on Friday evenings. The TDA executives routinely rely on daily reports from lower level park duty managers to summarize the operation, and the summaries provided last Friday were quick to puff up the positives, ignore the negatives, and gloss over the hassles and massive lines that most park guests encountered. It’s a classic case of corporate C.Y.A., and it would be a refreshing change if these reports from Anaheim’s middle management were honest and clear in their assessment of the huge hassles and long lines created by these events. Or better yet, just have a Vice President or two stick around to try and exit the Santa Ana Freeway at 6:00PM on a Friday night and then fight for a parking spot. (Those Gold Sticker spaces reserved for executives behind Rainforest Café would be off limits in that experiment.)

DAS all Folks!

With HalloweenTime now kicked off, it’s onward to the next bit of drama set to play out inside the parks in both California and Florida. The existing Guest Assistance Card (GAC) program is set to be discontinued and replaced with a new system on Wednesday, October 9th at Disneyland and DCA. As we’ve outlined for you before, after years of revolving door executives not wanting to get near the GAC issue, the rampant fraud inherent in the 10 year old GAC program was brought to an embarrassing light via an expose on The Today Show last May. Only then did the executives on both coasts admit that something finally had to be done, and the existing Guest Assistance Card will cease to exist on October 9th.

In its place will be an entirely new program called the Disabled Assistance System (DAS). The DAS will work similarly to the “return passes” issued at popular rides like Star Tours 2.0 and Radiator Springs Racers, where currently a GAC holder gets a Fastpass-style return time hand written on a card based on the current Standby wait time. But with DAS, that concept will be rolled out to several dozen high-wait attractions in Anaheim. Instead of going to the actual ride to get a return card, a DAS holder will report to one of several Guest Relations kiosks that will be set up around the parks, with a current plan to have four kiosks in Disneyland (Fantasyland alone gets their own kiosk) and three kiosks in DCA. The DAS holder will present their card and tell the Guest Relations CM which attraction they want to ride, the CM will look at the current wait time via the official Disney Mobile Magic app on an iPad, and will then write out a return time for that attraction and subtract 10 or 15 minutes to make up for the travel time to and from the kiosk.
Only one ride reservation on a DAS card can be made at a time, so if the current wait for Space Mountain is 90 minutes and your return time is written for 75 minutes later, a DAS holder will not get another return time printed on their DAS until the first one has expired. A person with a DAS card could go and do anything else in the park in the meantime; watch a parade, see a show, have lunch, go on low-wait time attractions, pull a regular Fastpass for any other attraction, etc. But only one ride time can be reserved at a time with DAS, unlike the existing GAC which serves as basically an open Fastpass for any Fastpass lane in the park or an access card to go up the exit on any other type of attraction. The DAS changes that quite dramatically.

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The DAS cards will be issued only at Guest Relations offices in both parks, and the DAS kiosks are only for checking in for a specific ride. There will be no different stamps on the DAS like the current GAC with its half dozen stamp codes; you will either be issued a DAS or you will be instructed to use a wheelchair or other aid for your mobility issue. DAS will only be issued for one day at a time, although folks who can prove they are staying at a hotel for a few days could get a DAS dated for a short length of stay.

The person who is disabled and who has the DAS issued to them will also have their digital photo taken at Guest Relations, and the photo will be printed on the front of the DAS card and used by CM’s at the attractions to confirm that the DAS holder is actually going on the ride. The photos will prevent a current form of abuse, whereby one member of a party gets a GAC issued to them but then insists to the CM’s that they don’t want to ride they just want their children or friends to go in through the exit and skip the line while they wait nearby on a bench. Or worse, children or others in the party are coached into telling the CM’s that they are the person listed who was issued the GAC. To use a DAS, the person the DAS is issued to must be present at the kiosk and at the attraction and must go on the ride for the DAS privilege to work for the rest of the party.

There are more radical changes in DCA, where all queues and park facilities meet ADA requirements for wheelchair accessibility. In DCA, a person in a wheelchair or ECV won’t receive any extra courtesies or services beyond those visitors who are not in a wheelchair. People visiting DCA in wheelchairs likely won’t qualify for a DAS, and will now experience the park as everyone else does, including waiting in Standby lines and juggling Fastpass return times. The task of implementing that culture change will be more intense in Anaheim than Orlando as there are currently 55 attractions at Disneyland Resort that use a ride vehicle, and about 35 of those have wheelchair accessible queues. Comparatively, there are a total of 46 attractions at Walt Disney World’s four parks combined that use a ride vehicle, and 38 of those have wheelchair accessible queues. There are more rides overall at Disneyland Resort compared to WDW, and more of them in Anaheim are not wheelchair accessible.

At Disneyland Park there are 20 rides that have been identified as non-wheelchair accessible, and at those 20 rides an accommodation of going through the exit or a Fastpass lane will be offered to those in wheelchairs. A person in a wheelchair doesn’t need a DAS to get access at those attractions, thereby limiting the issuing of DAS cards in that park. Disneyland’s operations teams are studying ways to restore the wheelchair accessibility designed into the queues of some newer rides, like Indiana Jones, to allow a DCA-style equity to exist at as many Disneyland rides as possible. It should be noted that the work implementing DAS, which has had lots of executive involvement from both coasts, has now generated serious discussion in TDA on creating a five-year plan of capital expenditure to go in to those older rides and retrofit them with wheelchair accessible queues. But that’s still a few years away.

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The goal behind DAS is to still offer service to those who may need it, but to also eliminate the wild excesses of the GAC system which operated on most days and on most rides as an unlimited Fastpass card and/or a backdoor pass to slip in via the exit with a much shorter wait. The one exception to the DAS program is made for Make-A-Wish children. A new Genie lanyard has been created for Make-A-Wish children that will act like an unlimited Fastpass and instant backdoor access card (basically the same thing as the current GAC with the “green light” stamp on it), and it will be sent to the families just before their visit directly from the Make-A-Wish headquarters in Phoenix. The Make-A-Wish cards won’t be kept on Disney property, at the specific request of Disney to avoid any ability to use that courtesy for anyone other than qualified Make-A-Wish visitors.

Guest Relations and Attractions Cast Members in both parks have already been scheduled classroom training for the DAS program through late September and early October. The Guest Relations team will get the most intensive training day, as they’ll be on the front lines of this new system as they try and reel in expectations of Annual Passholders used to having a GAC with easy access to any ride they wanted. Staffing for Guest Relations is being beefed up as much as possible beginning with roll-out day on Wednesday, October 9th, and the Security department has also been asked to help staff officers in Guest Relations centers in Disneyland and DCA to help with anyone who may get verbally abusive or threaten violence against those Guest Relations CM’s doling out the more restrictive DAS cards.

The real day to watch will be Friday, October 11th, two days after DAS begins and the first day when 25,000+ Annual Passholders show up in the evening. This is going to be ugly for at least a few weeks, everyone agrees on that. It helps that the exact same program is being rolled out at WDW at the same time, and that finally there are several senior executives supporting the program. It will be interesting to see how strong the executives stand behind the DAS program when the inevitable ugly media stories begin showing up on the local news and online, or heaven forbid if the CM’s in the parks really start taking serious verbal or physical abuse.

A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrowland

While October will feature quite a few upset folks in the parks, there’s still good news headed to Anaheim this fall. DCA Vice President Mary Niven has instructed her operations teams to go full speed ahead on their strategizing over WDI’s plans for Monstropolis and the Door Coaster back in the corner of Hollywood Studios, as Burbank bosses have quietly nodded that the check for the new project will clear the bank just as soon as the new fiscal year starts in October. Meanwhile, Disneyland Vice President Jon Storbeck is keeping his strategic planners on the path to a virtual Death Star landing in Tomorrowland, with a two-phase approach still favored to get some of the “placemaking” done prior to the 60th Anniversary in ’15, with the rest opening after the 60th and bookended by the Monstropolis opening in early 2017. The recent “play tests” conducted by WDI in the Golden Horseshoe were an important part of that planning for Tomorrowland, as WDI and Disneyland’s operations teams are curious to see how they can get WDI’s plans for a rowdy night in a Tatooine cantina to work with theme park guests. And you can bet there’s lots of food and drink and merch sales piled on to the fun in that interactive cantina attraction planned for Tomorrowland.

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Captain EO is also heading to extinction, but Burbank caught wind of TDA’s plans to close the increasingly irrelevant show for a fake “reburbishment” this month in order to save some labor dollars at the end of the fiscal year. Burbank bosses and an important clique in Glendale’s WDI headquarters want to make the most of their newly acquired Star Wars property, and the parks announcement is a key part of that.

Burbank was upset that if EO was closed for a refurbishment, fans would be able to see what was really its permanent closure in advance of a replacement announcement, and they told TDA to back off and just eat the extra labor hours. So the Captain EO fake refurbishment was shelved, and the show will stay open until the Star Wars plans are announced. Don’t forget, there’s the first D23 Expo Japan being held at Tokyo Disneyland on October 12th thru the 14th, and Tokyo’s Tomorrowland not only has an underused Captain EO show but also has an aesthetic that has been screaming out for an update for over a decade. Bob Iger and Tom Staggs are both scheduled to fly over to Japan for that D23 Expo and make a few announcements about the parks, and perhaps also mention a galaxy far, far away.

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But those announcements are still a month out. And in the meantime the current exhibit at the Blue Sky Cellar touting last spring’s debut of the Fantasy Faire is looking more and more useless. The Blue Sky Cellar is currently planned to shut down and go into mothballs with the new fiscal year on October 1st, and then wait until the Monstropolis or Star Wars announcement is made so that WDI can stage a new exhibit there in 2014. Those Guest Relations CM’s that staff the Cellar will be needed elsewhere in October to help roll out the DAS program anyway, but if you are a fan of the Blue Sky Cellar a September visit to get your fix is advisable.

PARKS and Resorts

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With the stealthy plans for more Anaheim expansion this decade, TDA has gone back to the drawing board on a parking expansion for the Resort area. The latest news was Disney’s acquisition of a big chunk of property on the corner of Ball Road and Harbor Blvd., as the current site of an old service station and an RV park. The plan is to turn this lot into 1,500 spaces of Cast Member parking, thus opening up breathing room to begin construction on a multi-level parking garage and streetcar station on the existing Pumbaa parking lot. A portion of that Pumbaa lot had to be turned over to Cast Members in early 2012, when the Resort went on a hiring binge in advance of DCA’s grand reopening. There are 1,400 spaces in the Pumbaa lot, and they are now available for CM’s as an alternate to the infamous Katella Cast Member Lot (KCML) south of GardenWalk.

KCML has been in operation since late 1998, and requires CM’s to wait in long lines to take a rag tag fleet of smelly standing-room-only shuttle buses to and from KCML. Although when wait times for the KCML shuttle exceed 20 minutes on peak days, many CM’s just end up walking the 1.5 miles to or from the park anyway. And at least the opening of GardenWalk in ’08 created a bit of a shortcut for them. The experience of KCML parking is so disliked by CM’s, that several thousand CM’s per day now voluntarily park in the Pumbaa lot and then walk a round trip of up to two miles to and from their work locations inside Disneyland or DCA. And these are front line CM’s working in the park on their feet all day, they aren’t walking to and from a cushy desk job.

The Pumbaa lot

The Pumbaa lot

On busy days this past summer, the 1,400 space Pumbaa lot was often filled to capacity during the first and second shifts. Parking in Pumbaa sends those CM’s trudging back to their car down Harbor Blvd. and side streets late at night after their shifts, but the female CM’s try to walk in groups and have become street savvy to avoid the various panhandlers and con artists that lurk in the shadows there after park closing. But for most park Cast Members that darkened hike at the end of a long day spent on their feet is a better scenario than dealing with the indignity and hassle of the dreaded KCML shuttle.
TDA now realizes they have more CM’s than they know what to do with, but before they can seriously barter with the city of Anaheim over how to best use the Pumbaa lot, and some connected property Disney also owns, they will have to find more CM parking. They are already using small overflow lots across Harbor Blvd. much closer than Pumbaa to park a few hundred white collar Cast Members who work in the original Administration Building inside Disneyland’s berm. But those auxiliary lots are being snapped up by hotel developers, as a new hotel building boom hits the Disneyland Resort District this year and next.

There are currently a dozen new hotels under construction or planned to get underway this winter in the Resort District around Disneyland; from a swanky Westin and Hyatt House on Katella, to a boutique Hotel Indigo, to mid-range motor inns like the Marriott Courtyard about to be built on the current Administration Building parking lot. The unfortunate thing is that the new CM parking structure on Ball Road will be even further from the parks than KCML is, so packed shuttle rides are looming in the future for the CM’s that have escaped to Pumbaa.


MiceChat Podcast: The Great Disney Geek-Out

Doug Barnes and Dusty Sage jump head first into the cave of Disney wonders and return with quite a few gems to share from the recent D23 Expo. But what did Disney do that actually made Dusty cry? It’s a touching moment and a reminder why so many of us are true Disney fans. This show is for the Disney fan in all of you and well worth a listen.

Direct Link | iTunes Link

 


Oh-KAY, that wraps things up for this update. But there is still plenty of news coming soon enough.

Did you survive Friday the 13th in the parks? Have thoughts about the replacement of the GAC program? Looking forward to Tomorrowland updates finally being rolled out?

If you enjoyed today’s update, please be sure to share with your friends on Facebook and Twitter and leave us a comment below.

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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Comments for MiceAge Disneyland Update: Parties, Parking, and Planned Projects are now closed.

  1. Yes! No more unlimited FastPass!!!

    • You mean no more, “Lazy cheating ass cut to the front of the line” Cards.

      • It makes me sick to think of all the able bodied healthy people throwing a fit because some unfortunate disabled people are occasionally given a break that the rest aren’t given. When the issue with people hiring the disabled in order to take advantage of the GAC cards became public, I was outraged at first, but then when I discussed it with my husband, he said “what’s the problem? a person with special needs got a free trip to Disney and maybe earned a little extra cash. Being disabled is NOT CHEAP!!” He is and was right. We know from experience. We have a special needs child with multiple issues having had over 100 surgeries in her short life just to stay alive. We would NEVER take her to Disney. Even when she got her wish Disney was never an option, there are not enough things for her to be able to enjoy to warrant the trip. With the new system not only would it not be worth it, it would be impossible. But hey, we have to make things “FAIR” for the able bodied healthy people of the world. We can’t let them feel slighted in the least. It doesn’t matter that people that have a disability are slighted or short changed their entire lives. The non disabled person takes an awful lot for granted. I pray those of you with the negative attitudes toward giving a break to a special needs person NEVER has to deal with the trials they do. I pray you always know health and happiness. I also pray you open your minds and your hearts to those who don’t have the advantages you were born with. Just because you don’t physically or mentally understand does not mean you have to be hateful or jealous. The special needs people you are jealous of do not blame you because you don’t suffer daily the way they do.

      • As someone who had to spend some time in a wheelchair due to cancer, I can understand how some of you feel, but before you panic, you need to read the entire policy. Disney is offering a second type of pass for people who have family members with severe issues. I’m sad that this might be inconvenient to you, but both healthy and handicapped guests pay for the right to have equal and fair access to the attractions and we must work together and be patient to help stop the abuse of the current system.

        I applaud Disney’s efforts to stop the abuse of people who cut the line with their family or friends when their issues are either not that bad or non-existent. Please be patient with Disney as they work with the new system and stop the abuse while providing help for guests who really need help.

  2. WDW opperations can be badly organised and its the biggest difference you’ll notice between that and the guys on the West Coast. Although in situations like the Friday the 13th event. Its a unique one off and so its hard to predict planning and organisation for the Event when you simply don’t know how many will show up. From an entertainment point of view I think DHS wiped the floor with DL modest dance parties. And great to see Dan Cockerell out and about interacting and personally handling Guests complaints. Evidence that some WDW Management care deeply about the Park experience. I truly hope this is not the last time we see a Villains Event at Disney. But I think Disneyland really did get upstaged this time around by the team out in Orlando despite the mayhem.

    The DAS issue sounds fair to me and Disney were given no option after people were caught abusing the system. I do feel sorry for the few people that do need to use the system and do so fairly for the further inconvinience caused but I hope these people realise why the GAC had to change and will accept it rather then taking it out on the Cast Members with threatening behavior. Its a classic situation of people ruining it for others through selfish greed and “me me me” atitudes.

    I’m excited with the future of the Disneyland Resort. The Monsters Inc Coaster will provide another exciting addition to the Park after Cars Land. I do have to ask if construction will have an impact on the Mad T Party’s which are a nice night-time experience. The Star Wars additions all sound great and won’t be sad to see Captain EO go once and for all. Although it would be smart of Disney to make a big deal out of its closure and offer the movie for fans on DVD.

    • I never see anyone bring this up, so I will: I have always been creeped out by Michael Jackson being in Disney parks. Yes, he was acquitted during his trial but since his death more allegations have come up about inappropriate relationships with children. I don’t like going to a Disney park and having my kids ask why Michael Jackson is there with that Captain EO. I’d just rather this attraction go to Yesterdayland and not have Michael Jackson be a part of our family trips to Disney.

      • Sounds like a good opportunity to teach your kids about “innocent until proven guilty”. And how convenient is it for allegations to come up after he’s dead and therefore has no way to defend himself?

      • Ya or the millions of dollars and 39 worldwide charities he supported or the many kids he helped cope with cancer.

      • What a lot of people fail to do when it comes to Michael Jackson is knowing how to separate the man from the music.

        Yeah his personal life was MESSED UP (and a lot of that can probably be blamed on how he was raised – his father was a tyrant). No denying that.

        But professionally, the guy was a a mega hit-maker. He made some amazing music and was a great entertainer. he dominated a good part of the 80s and his career was at its peak when Captain EO was made. THAT is the MJ I see when I go to Captain EO… the singer/dancer/entertainer extraordinaire, the self-proclaimed “King of Pop” (I hate that he called himself that but I digress).

      • Well that’s a great example to set for children, to teach them that unfounded rumors and allegations should be believed and people who are accused should be judged based on those rumors, even after they are proven innocent.

        People lay out allegations that Walt Disney was a racist and an anti-Semite. Those are just as false as the disproven claims against Michael, so how do you talk to your kids about the allegations against Walt when you take them to a park that he created?

        Heck, Pirates of the Caribbean is an attraction actually based on the looting, pillaging, murder, and other violence that pirates actually DID perpetuate. They auction off women right there in the attraction. They shoot at each other. They tie up poor Carlos and dunk him in the well, shooting at the lady who tells him to keep his mouth shut about where the treasure is. They burn down the entire city, destroying the homes of everyone who lives there. You’re OK with all of this, but a dancing space captain bothers you because the actor who plays him was once accused (and acquitted) of something?

        There’s also an Iron Man exhibit in Innoventions. You do know that Robert Downey, Jr. was arrested while in possession of heroin, crack cocaine, and a .357 Magnum. He broke into a neighbor’s house and passed out in their bed. He once told a judge “It’s like I’ve got a shotgun in my mouth with my finger on the trigger, and I like the taste of the gun metal.” You’re not complaining about that, but you ARE complaining about the guy in Captain EO who was acquitted of any wrongdoing.

        Captain EO’s time will come before long, and I’ll be sad to see it go. I really hope it’s still there for my next trip in November so I can see it in the Magic Eye Theater one last time. I just don’t see the logic of closing it before a replacement is even announced just because you don’t want to have to explain to your kids why it’s OK for some people who actually committed real crimes to be represented at the parks, but not OK, in your mind, for other people who were acquitted of any wrongdoing to be there.

      • I feel very sorry for you that you feel that way about the lead star of Captain EO.
        The fact that he was found Not Guilty on all counts in a court of law, that previously 2 grand juries and the FBI found Zero evidence of the allegations made against him, the obvious false allegations made by Wade Robson who previously testified under oath that OTHER people who made false allegations involving himself and Michael were completely and outrageously false, refuting each alleged act in great detail, now he’s in financial trouble he now makes allegations himself to file monetary claims – these facts should have been the end of any ill thoughts against a man who is listed in the Guiness Book of Records as the most charitable celebrity, made a place at his own Ranch for poor and sick inner city kids to experience a fun park, animals and nature who never would normally had that chance.
        A man who was the most successful American Entertainer and Artist on Earth. Who inspired and continues to inspire many people to make the world a better place, to change things that are not right, to protect children and give them a voice, to fight injustice and racism and abuse, to protect nature and the Earth against environmental damage and catastrophe.
        The media have a vested interest in making up and perpetuating untrue and horrific stories about THAT man who did so much good. That is how they sell and get advertisers money. Lurid tales and controversy makes money, but the price is someone’s life and image. And sadly people buy these publications and watch these shows over and over again, and believe what they see and read, when in reality, they are being played for fools and they’re pockets emptied. And a good man suffered for no reason of goodness.

      • I so agree with you, B&BsMom. His presence there turns my stomach, and I am thrilled to hear that he will soon be gone from DL for good. I am still puzzled, as well, about who that attraction appeals to. My kids and all their friends — and I mean ALL their friends in both New York and California (we have lived in both states) — have long been the first to pull out an MJ joke when the time is right, and the first to make clear that though decidedly talented, the guy has always given them the creeps. Like you said, time for Yesterland, EO!

  3. I have a question that I hope is not too obvious, but I just don’t understand why they have those administration buildings right behind Disneyland. It feels like that’s such wasted space and could be used for expansion of the park. Why do those executives need to be there?

    From what I have learned following this site and others, the TDA executives don’t set foot in the parks much. They think they are better than the parks cast members and have a lot of actual disdain for the parks. So why not put these people in offices in Glendale? Why do they need to be in Anaheim when they hate being there and they don’t want anything to do with the parks?

    Moving the white-collar office workers to Glendale seems like it would free up all kinds of space. Most of these people seem to be pretty rich so I doubt they even live in Anaheim. Why not have them located somewhere else?

    • Although they may spend a lot of time locked up in their building, most people at TDA also spend a lot of time in the parks, visiting multiple times each week for observations and such. Moving them off site would only make these visits more difficult and infrequent, making the out-of-touch problems even worse

    • The wealthier TDA execs usually live in Newport Beach or Irvine, or other surrounding areas that are a lot closer and a lot nicer than Glendale.

    • Glendale is mostly Consumer Products, anyway. It’s full of hippies that figure out how to sell your daughter more princess crap. I had some job interviews there once. Really fascinating place.

      I have no problem with the big green building being where it is. It’s wedged right up against the freeway. Disney would never build actual park space that close to a loud freeway.

    • Painting with a broad brush here admittedly, but it’s all valid…

      TDA workers aren’t wealthy, and Disneyland executives have a lower pay scale than a similar VP at some Irvine company in pharmaceuticals or finance or automobiles. The top TDA execs are comfortably upper-middle class for SoCal, that’s as good as it gets in TDA. They just don’t like walking in the park because the Guests bug them and ask them questions and it’s just annoying.

      TDA is full people who prefer the safety and comfort of their grey cubicle or windowless office, pushing paper and attending meetings about topics that have little to no impact on real CM’s working with real Guests. But most are not the top talent in their field and thus they don’t earn lavish salaries. The TDA parking structure is full of older Hondas and Fords whose owners live in apartments or 1970′s tract homes and older bungalows in Garden Grove or Orange, with an occasional leased Lexus or leased BMW being driven by an upper level leader to their over-mortgaged shoebox tract home in Irvine or Anaheim Hills.

      The people in TDA aren’t wealthy, nor are they the tops in their field (if they were, they’d go work for more money at pharmaceutical or finance companies in Irvine Spectrum or Fashion Island office towers). They are simply white collar working joes who have mild disdain for the theme park and its inhabitants south of their building.

    • I’ve questioned it many times. Not that I think they would ever expand the actual park right up to the edge of the freeway, but actual CM backstage space could be expanded up to that area, freeing up the northern bit of Disneyland as expansion space.

      I also really, really question why the TDA building needs to be that big. I just can’t fathom that the resort could fill a 300,000 square foot building with “managers” who aren’t really CM’s helping run the onstage functions. A couple of years ago, Al Lutz mentioned that TDA really trimmed themselves into a much simpler, leaner organization. In which case, I suspect a lot of that massive building is empty – and hence wasted space.

      • Believe me… there is no such thing as wasted space or empty cubicles backstage on the Disneyland side.

    • To your point about Crohn’s Disease, you are WAY off base. Everyone has different experience with Crohn’s. My stepfather has had 17 surgeries on his bowels. He no longer has a lower intestine. To say his experience would be the same as your husband’s is ridiculous. You do not know everything there is to know about Crohn’s, so why make a generalization?

      Every person with a disability may experience similar symptoms to different degrees or they may not experience the same symptoms at all.

      You cannot say that man can easily wait in line without issue. Perhaps in his condition, standing for any length of time could be a trigger for his symptoms.

      It’s ignorant and it is careless to say that just because YOUR husband wouldn’t need to run to the bathroom except during a flare up means that everyone else with Crohn’s would be the same.

    • 10 Things You Should Know About the Folks in TDA

      I’m not sure I’ll be able to clear the air, because so many people have such firmly set, yet unfounded opinions about what goes on inside the big yellow building behind Disneyland. Here’s a little insight, and I implore you to believe that these facts are the truth about a lucky group of dedicated Cast Members who hide in plain sight.

      1. We are all in the park daily, both while the park is open, and before it is open, but never after. Why not after? Because “after” doesn’t exist– we are always either open, or getting ready to open.
      2. For lack of a stronger word for our feelings– we love the the Disneyland Resort. We love our Cast at all levels. We love our product. We are obsessed with our product, and believe in it with a zeal that approaches religious fanaticism. The idea that we are disdainful about Disneyland is misguided and hurtful, and when you think about it, doesn’t really make any sense. Of course we care. When you’re in the Resort, you’re inundated in innumerable evidence of it.
      3. We are a part of a machine of profound complexity and incredible dynamism. Our Show is a movie that is shot most of the day, every day, continually, from tens of thousands of cameras, that is to say, the eyes of our Guests; all running filming editors, all running continuously, all in real time.
      4. In addition to the Show’s needs, we have human needs that we must also attend to– our thousands of Cast, and our tens of thousands of Guests every day. And these needs are as important as they are unpredictable; yet we try to anticipate and accommodate these needs.
      5. We operate under a microscope that few people ever know. If we make a misstep, it appears on over 2000 news outlets. Regulators find us fascinating, and watch us like hawks. And our Guests notice…everything. Pursuing perfection under this kind of scrutiny borders on insanity– but we try, nonetheless; because we believe in a product. And this pursuit requires work. Lots of work. Lots and lots and lots of work.
      6. We try to amuse you with novelty. We do it for the same reasons we do anything else. And novelty is inherently, well, new. So we don’t know what’s going to happen. We always hope that we can foresee as much as possible, but we would also hope that our Guests will appreciate that the fun of novelty is the unknown, and that we are not going to all this effort to disappoint.
      7. I am surrounded by hundreds of people at TDA, all of whom are exceptionally talented. The feeling is like being a neuron in a huge brain. We are extraordinarily collaborative. It’s the core of our success: the beehive of TDA lives and dies by communication. We need that building, because it gives us each other. We’re not hiding any more than a group of chefs hides in a kitchen.
      8. All of the people I work with feel very lucky to have been chosen for their roles among innumerable candidates. We appreciate our jobs as much as we love them. We all have the utmost respect and humility for our custodianship of our slice of the Magic.
      9. We interact with the Cast and Guests in the Resort constantly– frequently unknown to any of them. Walt used to tell his Imagineers to get down to the park a couple times a month to experience the Guest perspective. Since we’re just behind the curtain, we are in the thick of it all the time. And we are, because we love it. All of it.
      10. If we weren’t in the yellow building, we’d be Annual Passholders. We know that we do is a calling and we are all zealots. You should see our offices– it’s like a museum of all things Disneyland. We surround ourselves with our product because we believe in it.

      Please accept that there is a degree of mystery to what we do. The opaqueness of our jobs contributes to the product. I cannot innumerate details of my contribution to this Resort because the integrity of our product depends on it. The downside to the shroud is that it leads the imaginations of our Guests to wonder at our purpose, and our intentions. I can attest that we feel like guardian angels for Disneyland, and we take our roles that seriously. It is my hope that you will not let your presumptions about our jobs or our intentions mislead you from our true objective.

      What I’m trying to convey is that we not only dedicate our emotion for to Walt’s dream, but our effort and our time, indeed, an enormous part of our lives. And all of this because we believe in a concept, the dream of a genius, that succeeds to an extraordinary degree at providing the most important product in the world– Happiness.

      • I got to say it. I believe Darth Vader gave that same speech during the Death Star launching ceremony. Sorry I thought it was funny.

  4. The land recently bought by Disney isn’t the last RV park in Anaheim. The Anaheim Harbor RV Park is right across Harbor Blvd from the site in question, and appears to still be in operation
    https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&ll=33.818884,-117.914522&spn=0.004876,0.008841&t=h&z=17

  5. “Wheelchair accessible.”

    My son is in a wheelchair and obviously handicapped. If you’re not in a wheelchair you don’t go through the exit. Period. The reason you don’t go in the regular line is because the wheelchair won’t fit. Limit the number of guests to 4, not 6. If the wheelchair fits in the regular line then you wait in line.

    • Scott,

      Your response is narrow-sighted, ignorant, and completely rude. I have Crohn’s disease and cannot be trapped in a queue or very, VERY bad things can happen for myself and those around me if I can’t run to a restroom within a few seconds. Imagine being trapped in the Indy Bat Cave queue when that happens. I cannot wait in a line, and it disturbs me when someone looks at me in perfect physical condition pulling out my GAC. I can run and walk and am young, but that doesn’t mean I don’t need assistance.

      Your son, frankly, can use ADA lines just fine. So please don’t assume that your situation entitles you to a GAC. It’s actually the opposite in many cases, especially at DCA.

      • Crohn’s is a horrible disease and I’m sorry you have it. Are you able to ride some of the longer attractions like Pirates or the Submarines? Bathrooms aren’t accessible while you’re on those rides so if a line is fifteen minutes or less (like those rides are) would you be okay waiting in line?

      • Ex-widi,

        My husband has Crohn’s and what you’ve said here is not accurate about the condition. If a person is in remission, waiting in line is fine. My husband has flare-ups occasionally but his doctor puts him on a steroid course until he is in remission. He does not require any special accommodations ever. If he’s in flare-up, he can be incapacitated…but he would never go to a place like Disneyland if he’s in a flare-up. He’s just too sick to enjoy himself out in public for that long of a time if it’s in flare-up.

        I don’t see how you can ride the rides but not wait in line. Waiting in line is easier on someone in a Crohn’s flare-up than being on a ride. Being jostled around on the Indy ride would be impossible to take during a Crohn’s flare-up.

        I don’t think your representation of Crohn’s is very accurate. It’s certainly not anything like my husband’s experience with the disease.

      • What I’ve found is that the adrenaline rush of being on an attraction usually carries me through the ride. I’m nervous and tend to sit near exit rows during theater shows, but on attractions I ‘empty out’ before riding and the adrenaline rush keeps me ok for awhile. The problem is that you can’t ‘empty’, wait in an hour line, then duck out to ‘empty’ again just before getting on. Waiting in a long line is like taking Ex-Lax for a Crohn’s patient, you just sit there nervous for an hour worried you’ll need to leave, that you’ll have a problem once you get on the vehicle, etc.

        As far as the second description of Crohn’s, it’s a variable disease that affects people in a broadly differing fashion of severity/symptoms. I generally don’t have bad flares, but due to a resection (removal of intestine sections) I have a general urgency when it’s time. During a flare, I wouldn’t hit up an attraction of any type – agreed. But I have a low grade constancy to my symptoms rather than a flare/healthy cycle. So for the bulk of the time the GAC makes a huge difference for me.

        As a side note, I like the changes to the system. They’re fair and reasonable, and I tend to think that the people complaining are either gaming the system and are crying their free ride is over, or people in wheelchairs who are perfectly capable of waiting in an ADA line and have a sense of entitlement about line jumping.

      • “Your response is narrow-sighted, ignorant, and completely rude. I have Crohn’s disease and cannot be trapped in a queue or very, VERY bad things can happen for myself and those around me if I can’t run to a restroom within a few seconds. Imagine being trapped in the Indy Bat Cave queue when that happens…..”

        Aren’t you pretty much trapped back in the Indy queue no matter what way you’ve gone in? It’s a long walk out of there regardless of which way you’ve entered the attraction.

        Regardless, like I said, my son is in a wheel chair, blind and with some behavour issues. The best solution for lines at Disneyland? Don’t go on crowded days! And if it is more crowded than expected, use Fastpass and generally go on rides like Mark Twain or Mr. Lincoln.

      • Good news you qualify for the DAS. You just don’t get immediate access now. Get used to it those days are over. Unless you can prove some sort of laws are broken because of it looks like you out of luck.

  6. I’m still not pumped about the Monstropols mini-land, as it has zilch to do with Hollywood, in general, and represents Disney’s increasing reliance on Pixar for marquee franchises. There wouldn’t even be the half-baked Monsters, Inc. ride if Superstar Limo hadn’t been such a colossal disaster (though in a way, we must honor it for being hands-down the worst Disney attraction ever built. Please challenge me on that! I’m curious about others).

    I really wish they could think of something more worthwhile for the space, and I stand by my desire to somehow see Mystic Manor built in the area, but with an old Hollywood mansion vibe. Granted, that might be a bit too close geographically and thematically to Tower of Terror, but I still prefer it to a door coaster. Are we that out of ideas?

    • I thought the rumor was that a Mystic Manor clone would be coming to Paradise Pier in the future and called ‘Museum of the Weird’. I though that instead of having it themed to Mystic Manor they would theme it to the Museum of the Weird, like it was a fortune teller’s shop or something on the Pier.

      That Pier is just so ugly and tacky…but they could make it cool if they made it full of weird things and brought some magic to it. Like it was enchanted. Right now, it’s just rides they bought from a catalog and some minimal theming that is just ugly. That Paradise Pier hotel is one of the ugliest things I’ve ever seen Disney built.

      As for the worst attraction Disney ever built, I think they did a really ugly job with the Gummi Bears boats. Remember those? They were boats that were minimally themed to be a boat ride to Gummi Glen in the 80s. And it all looked like a high school drama department did the plywood cutouts of the bears and the scenery. Just horrible.

      • Disney didn’t build the Paradise Pier hotel. From the Disney Wiki:

        “Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel is a hotel at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. The Paradise Pier opened in 1984 as the Emerald Hotel of Anaheim, eventually becoming the Pan Pacific Hotel. In 1995, Disney purchased the hotel and changed the hotel’s name to Disneyland Pacific Hotel. In 2001, the hotel acquired its current name, as the hotel overlooks Paradise Pier at the then-newly-opened Disney’s California Adventure.”

        And if you thought the Gummi Bear Boats were minimally themed, you should have seen them before (and after, I guess) when they were just the Motorboat Ride. The Gummi Bear Boats overlay was never meant to be permanent.

      • Echoing Marko – Disney didn’t build the hotel.

        I hardly even classify the Gummi Glen thing as a real attraction. They just propped up cardboard cutouts on the Motorboat Cruise. Definitely half-a**ed, but I have never really viewed that as a fully-envisioned attraction.

      • Motor Boat Cruise to Gummi Glen was perhaps more themed than Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Rescue Ranger’s Raceway–which was Fantasyland Autopia with some signage–and not really much else. All the Afternoon Avenue offerings were sparse, light and — fun. If you, like me, were still watching Disney Afternoon and Disney’s Saturday morning cartoons.

        But Superstar Limo has no competition. None.

      • Stayed at the hotel once when it was the Pan Pacific. It was such a bad experience, we vowed to never stay there again.
        A few years back we booked a room at Paradise Pier with DVC points because there was no other Disney lodging available with points. We were quite surprised with what Disney had done with the hotel, both inside and out. The pool area is lacking compared to the other DLR housing, but that too is better than before Disney took over the hotel. My grandson likes the beach theme of the hotel and my husband likes the ease of getting to DCA entrance from Paradise over DLH. (Shorter walk.) Of course, we all prefer to use our points at VGC, but that’s not always possible.
        So, even though it is a real ho-hum property for Disney, Disney did do some nice improvements over the original. Although, we have wondered why Disney hasn’t taken over some of the surrounding parking area to due a major refurb to the hotel and make it a true Disney resort. Lost parking spaces could be made up by building a parking structure.

  7. I applaud Disney for finally tackling a tough issue like GAC. This new system seems more fair.

    • Maybe you should spend some time in a wheelchair, sitting in the sun, and I’m not talking about for a few days, try a month. Or maybe try being the parent of a child with autism or some other life-changing condition, or maybe their sibling.
      Going to Disneyland and utilizing the Exit was one of the ONLY “benefits” to my other children having a brother with special needs.
      There were other options to “fixing” their broken system. I wish I would have known about this before purchasing airline tickets so my kids could see their NAVY Dad in Florida and celebrate his 50th birthday. The idea of going to Disney World like we planned is very discouraging. :(

      • Disabled assistance should be about equal access, no special access. It’s certainly not about rewarding siblings of disabled people.

  8. Here’s a question, though – what if the person in the wheelchair is more than physically disabled? What if there are mental issues at play and having them wait in a queue with everyone else might cause problems or outbursts? The easy answer is to say that that person probably just shouldn’t come to Disneyland, but guests are guests. Heck, I have a cousin with slight autism and he gets super antsy in queues and such. He can walk just fine, but making him wait for stuff causes problems.

    Glad the GAC thing is being resolved. Just thought I’d posit that question for you.

    • That person would likely qualify for a DAS.

      • Dusty, forgive my ignorance with the GAC stuff. I was under the assumption that with the new rules, GAC would only be of use on attractions that lack a wheelchair-friendly queue. Isn’t the overall mission to make every ride’s queue wheelchair-friendly, thus rendering GAC a moot point? If so, my original question still stands.

    • Yeah… here’s the thing. My son is autistic with Sensory Processing Disorder, Tourette’s Syndrome, ADHD and is prone to frequent, violent outbursts. He’s been to Disneyland -four times- and has had a great time with the assistance of the GAC. Now they’re changing all of his expectations, and asking him to wait in hour-long queues?

      I’ll just let the cast members deal with him when he has a meltdown because it’s too hot, or he’s too wet, or it’s too noisy, or there’s a smell he doesn’t like.

      Getting him on and off the rides quickly is important to his comfort and safety, and the comfort and safety of others. It sounds like they have focused the new program on physical handicaps, not mental disabilities.

      We’re going in the first week of December… I hope it’s not as big a disaster for us as it sounds like it’s going to be.

      • I believe that he would qualify for the new card.

      • We don’t know everything about this program yet. I’m sure that Disney has made provisions for guests with needs such as your son’s. We’ll share more when we have the full program details. We are painting with a broad brush above based upon what was explained to us. Don’t become alarmed just yet. I have a feeling you’ll be just fine.

      • I understand your frustration, but why be mad at the cast members. The people who screwed the system up by abusing it are the ones you should be upset with.

      • He would most likely qualify for DAS, which as described in the article gives you FP return times so you can use FP queue or exits. It’s just not unlimited like before, you can only do one at a time, and always collect FP while you wait for your return time on the DAS card.

      • The DAS card would serve the same as a FastPass for all attractions, from my understanding. You just have to wait your turn doing other activities and you and your son won’t be restricted to having to wait in a queue line. The DAS card is a happy medium, they actually have a similar system in place at Universal Hollywood. We have used it several times and it’s wonderful and FAIR! Everyone waits their turn it just depends on where you wait (whether in line or not). My cousin has violent outbursts (ADHD and Tourette’s) and my uncle avoided bringing him to theme parks because he was worried what might happen in line. We utilized the GAC card with no problem. If your son is fine while using the GAC card he will be fine using the DAS card. The only difference is you will no longer be able to just flash the card and walk on to an attraction.

      • I completely agree. Those with hidden disabilities are going to be the most affected.

        Until families of typical children are affected by the massive meltdowns of atypical children having to wait in line with all kinds of sensory stimuli (these are not temper tantrums due to children not getting their way, people), every parent of a typical child is clapping their hands and shouting “It’s FAIR now!”

        Once they start realizing how unpleasant it is to wait in line with a child thrashing his body down on the ground or screaming at the top of his lungs due to sensory overload… perhaps because someone got too close to him, had on strong cologne or another child started singing joyfully and it bothered him… then maybe they will see and feel compassion for the parents of atypicals with hidden disabilities. Then maybe they will finally see why your atypical child who may appear physically “normal” needs that separate line.

        Until that day, that day when the disabilities of our children begin to infringe on the rights of typical children because they are in too close proximity… these parents of typical children will rejoice that things are more “fair” this way.

        It’s so sad that the abusers of the system have ruined it for those who truly benefited from the GAC.

      • Also… it is a hindrance for those with a physical disability (mild or otherwise) to have to walk to the kiosks every time they want to go on another attraction before then walking to the ride. It is like people with disabilities are being punished for all those who abused the system beforehand.

      • I am very disappointed with Disney for the elimination of the GAC. My daughter has cerebral palsy, ADHD, and vision problems. Disneyland is her favorite place to go. The card was a god send at the park. Lines for her are impossible. We also use the vision impaired stamp for shows and parades. It is a wonderful thing when she can actually see whats going on. I am ashamed that Disney would do this to the thousands of genuinely disabled people. I feel like they are discriminating against a very large population of people. I can’t believe this would fly with the disabled persons act.
        They need to figure out how to adjust for mental disabilities as well.

      • Several people have mentioned having to wait in line. With the new DAS, if you can’t wait in line, then you will NOT have to wait in line, you will still have to wait, but not in line.

        For people who can’t wait in line, it is like there is a “FASTPASS” for every ride in the park. You can only have one “FASTPASS” at a time.

      • We just booked airline tickets for WDW in February so my kids could see their Dad who is stationed in Florida. I probably wouldn’t have done that had I known about this change.
        I’ve been to a park that uses this same type of “system” It is by NO MEANS “Fair” or “Equal”. We had to get a “return” time and then go find something to do where my son would be comfortable. Keep in mind that there was not enough time to go wait in line and get something to eat and then walk all the way back to the attraction. I swore I would never go back to that park because of the way he was treated.
        This past weekend, we went to another park, having been there a few years ago, I felt comfortable that we could get some benefit out of going. However, they have implemented this “system” as well. I generally avoid this park because of the terrain and the difficulty getting him and his wheelchair up/down steep hills. So if the “return time” wasn’t bad enough, they “double-booked” us and had someone else showing up at the same time, and then someone crowded! He didn’t get to ride that ride. :(
        This just breaks my heart, especially for families with smaller children. Fortunately my son is 22 and is pretty strong, although, I wish some of these people who think it’s fair, try sitting in a wheelchair for a month.

      • This is really sad and I don not see me being able to my son to Disneyland again. My son has some severe disabilities both physical and neurological (7 diagnosis) but is not in a wheelchair. Usually 3-4 hours is his max before having to leave. While I do support adding a picture to the pass so that it can not be used by others, doing away with the whole program is not the answer. With the new program, not only would I have to take my severely disabled child to stand in line a kiosk but then get him to the ride to wait and guessing wait again with everyone else who returned. Then go all the way back to a kiosk for another stamp get him to walk all the way back the way we came to stop and wait again. It already takes me 5 times longer than most people to get him to walk through the park. It is really hard for him to walk through the park without freezing up or stopping with his limited mobility. What may be a 10 minute walk for some is a good 30 for us. Disneyland is already a TON of walking for him and now going back and forth from kiosk-ride-kiosk-ride in crowds will not be tolerable at all. If warmer at all he will then become very sick due to certain medications. His challenges already scare many people waiting in lines, which we do when he can. Because he is also non verbal his meltdowns are the only way he has to communicate. The worst part is that it appears my husband can not even go to the kiosk and get the stamp while I go wait indoors with our special needs child and his sibling. We have to drag him with us back and forth to wait at the kiosk. The 1 hour wait will be the time it takes to walk back and forth to the attractions. This makes me very sad because my son already misses out on almost EVERYTHING, he doesn’t get invited to parties, and the one thing he still enjoyed was Disneyland a few times a year. Upon our last visit to Disneyland I was told by a cast member when she saw my son was that “every child deserves to enjoy the magic of Disneyland” but that won’t be the case for him any longer. It won’t be the Happiest Place on Earth for sure.

      • I want Disneyland to be fun for everyone and feel sure that by the time of your visit the new program will have a safe way for you guys to enjoy the park.

        Waiting in an hour-long queue alone makes me a little panicky what with my anxiety disability. The Service Dog can’t go on all the rides; he’ll get to stay behind in a crate on some of them and have his own meltdown. The CM’s I am sure will do their best when they alert to your son’s needs, just as they’ll watch Dobby for me for four minutes so I can go on Indy.

        Change is hard but if people were abusing the system we do need to change it to protect it for those who need it.

  9. I’m surprised no mention was made of the closing of the Court of Angels in New Orleans Square.

    • We’ve covered it multiple times in multiple columns. It’s very sad, but old news.

  10. Don’t know why but when I read the section on GAC being out to pasture I starting singing on my head “ding dong the GAC is dead the GAC is dead ding dong the GAC is finally dead lol, I like the new concept of the DAS

  11. Thanks for the update.

    It is interesting to read (here and elsewhere) about the different takes on how well Friday the 13th went off on either coast.

    The new DAS sounds so incredibly fair that I hope management doesn’t back down from the changes. Kudos to Disney for spending time to come up with a reasonable replacement for GAC.

    I have been eagerly waiting for news on a Tomorrowland update for years now, and waiting another month isn’t too bad… although it feels like it is.

    And like Mr Parker, I too would have liked to have seen something about the closing of the Court of Angels: far and away this change is one of the most disappointing things I’ve heard from DL in a while.

  12. “…the rest opening after the 60th and bookended by the Monstropolis opening in early 2017″

    2017? 4 1/2 yrs to build a fancy roller coaster? That’s ridiculous. Universal will outbuild them many times over in that period.

    • Does this really surprise you? We know that WDI works on very long timelines, the Seven Dwarves mine coaster is a prime example. Meanwhile, Uni will likely open up a few new things in much less time.

    • Harry Potter should be open by then, or around the same time.

      I really hope Monstropolis doesn’t happen.

      • Even the Harry Potter kid is tired of being Harry Potter. It will be interesting to see how long Harry Potter remains relevant.

      • Lost Boy,
        Maybe as long as Snow White, Pinocchio, Star Wars, Little Mermaid, etc. Harry Potter already outlasted Avatar. WDW is still really going to try to push that corpse up the hill.
        I know it is embarrassing trying to defend WDW the last 10 years but you can’t make them better by wishing Universal didn’t exist.
        Imagine how bad WDW would be treating you if Universal didn’t exist.

  13. With the new DAS system replacing GAC if the only thing I need to do is to avoid stairs do I still get a “return time” or can I wait in line, like I currently do, and then tell the CM at the front that I need to use the elevator? This works for all but I think 3 attractions (BTMRR, Spalsh, & Space).

    • If you can’t do stairs, you’d need a DAS. Rides without stairs won’t be a problem for you and you won’t need to schedule them. But, to ride an attraction with stairs in the queue, you’d need to visit one of the DAS kiosks (at least from what we know so far).

  14. So I’m a little confused on the DAS, if people in wheelchairs don’t qualify, then who exactly does?

    • If you are in a wheelchair you don’t qualify for special treatment at rides with wheelchair-accessible queues. Just enter wheelchair-accesible Standby line, or get a Fastpass if the ride offers it. This is mainly at all DCA rides, and newer or remodeled stuff at Disneyland.

    • Children with autism, people with Crohns Disease…a ton of disabilities that the GAC accommodates that don’t have a thing to do with mobility.

    • People that can’t stay in line for long periods of time, qualify for DAS. Example, crohn’s, autism, mental disabilities, others.

  15. Hoping the new DAS works well and does not cause people who really need it more difficulty. For those confused about why someone without a wheelchair would need one, many people with varying types of disabilities need them. My son has autism, and standing in a crowded line of people causes unbelievable anxiety and over-stimulation. For some kids and adults with autism, this is almost unbearable. I would ask people to consider that it may seem “unfair” to you for people with disabilities to go to the front of the line; however, is it fair that something as simple as standing in a line is so difficult? Also, most individuals with autism cannot handle an entire day at Disneyland–the hours have to be cut short. We are paying full price, but there is just no way that our kids can go the hours that others can. I’m frankly disgusted that people were abusing the system the way they were, so I’m trying to be optimistic that the new system will work. Fingers crossed!!

    • I don’t think any of our readers would begrudge you the access you need. The issue that Disney is trying to address is the abuse of the system by people who don’t need it and making the system more fair for those who do need it. You’ll still be able to access attractions without waiting in lines, you will just have to visit that attraction at the time they tell you.

      If someone who is not disabled is able to ride approximately 5 or 6 attractions on a busy day, it would reason that someone with a disability should be able to ride the same number (more or less). That means creating a time for disabled guests to return to the attraction to ride with no wait. That’s fair. It’s almost like Fastpass.

      While I’m sure there will be LOTS of little issues that need to be worked out with the new system once it goes live, I’m THRILLED that Disney was able to create a program which is an honest attempt to fix a very broken system but still address the needs of the folks who honestly need assistance (like your son).

      • I agree that the issue needed to be addressed, but I have received many glares from uninformed guests in the parks for using the GAC in the past. I had noted several comments above wondering “who else” would need a GAC other than those physically handicapped, so was just trying to let people know that not all handicaps are obvious/visible. I applaud Disney Parks for being accommodating and do hope that the new system works well for all.

      • It really isn’t like FASTPASS. If you aren’t a person with a special needs child you have no idea how hard it might be to go do something else, and then make it back at your appointed time. ESPECIALLY in a wheelchair on crowded days. I hate to say it, but most guests are very rude and usually walk right in front of my son or place their butt in his face. :(

      • The problem is that these people with special needs don’t get to ride the same 5 or 6 rides as the average healthy person. No under the new system they will not have to wait in line for the registered ride and can therefore in theory do something else while they wait. The problem is, they can only register for one ride at a time. So, yes they could ride the same number of rides in a day as a healthy person, in the same amount of time. But most special needs people can not spend the same amount of time at the park as a healthy person. For example: My special needs daughter would only be able to physically handle being in the park for maybe 3 hours, and with the heat that would be pushing it. So if you go by their example when we got there we would go to a kiosk, register her for a ride, find some way to kill time for about an hour, then go back to the ride to wait for her turn to ride. taking up approximately 75 minutes. After the ride we go back to the kiosk to register for another ride. If the wait time is about the same, that would mean we have spent around 3 hours for her to ride two rides. At that point in time we would have to leave so that I could take care of her physical needs, give her her medications, and get her out of her wheelchair for a bit (too much time in her chair at one time creates other health issues). Which basically means I would have to pay full price for her and myself to get into the park, pay for parking, and spend a small fortune on water to keep her hydrated all so she could ride two rides. So I would spend 202.36 for her to get to ride 2 rides. I am sorry but the park and their rides just are not worth that.

    • My grandmother once told me “You don’t owe ANYONE an explanation.” If you need assistance then ask, no, demand it! I started noticing that several people I knew were getting this card that had no ailments (admittedly so) but because they knew a guest relations cast member or lied about why they needed it and were able to get it! I was livid and disgusted with this realization.

    • My daughter also has Autism and can not tolerate the long crowded lines, she also has hip dysplasia and can’t walk long distances so we use a wheelchair at Disney, if we see a line is not to long we don’t use the pass and have never taken advantage of it.
      We are also paying full price and some days she can only tolerate maybe 3 hours in the park and we always go when it’s not a busy time of the year so who are we hurting?? To have to go sign up for a ride and come back at a certain time is most likely not going to work for her.
      I must say that the abuse of the pass certainly also lays upon the Disney staff and or policies because every time we have got a pass I have always brought a Doctor, Therapist note and diagnosis paper work and the staff barely even glance at the first note and never even flip the page to see the others. You can not tell my daughter is disabled by just looking at her and we have had enough grief from the park visitors over it and now Disney wants to make it impossible for her to enjoy what typical children do, it is so unfair.
      We have been buying annual passes for 15 years (before she was even born) but this will certainly change that.
      SHAME on you Disney!!!!

      • Just a comment that Annual Passes are not the same as paying “full price”.

      • I don’t see a problem with the DAS. You don’t need to stand in line. You’ll return to the fastpass return line at the indicated time on your DAS. Disney thought about your type of cases too. Will you give it a try before you say bad things about Disney?

      • I agree with you. I think the people who think this is a great system for people with autism really don’t know anything about autism.

        We took “proof” with us to WDW as well until we figured out that they aren’t supposed to look at it, or ask for it, but what they’re asking from us now is much worse than having to bring medical records or a doctor’s letter.

        A few people are saying that we should just give the new system a chance and that we won’t have to wait in line and we’ll have our alternate wait, so what’s the problem?

        There’s no point in explaining to anyone who doesn’t understand autism. How could they understand it? I just hope that Disney has someone helping them make decisions who does understand.

      • If you are staying in the park only 3 hours I bet you are not paying just a days admission. I bet you have an annual pass that allows you at least 200 plus days per year.

    • I’m sure it will work out for you. It will be just like a fastpass. No waiting in line. You’ll return to the fastpass return line at the time indicated on your DAS. Seems simple to me.

      • I agree that it will work out fine for her. I would guess at the Kiosk a Friendly CM will help you choose among different rides, evaluate the waiting time and the “commute” and plan a special day for a special child.

        As an Adult with a non-visible disability that makes me react to Stimulation and Crowds, I advocate for myself. I’ve gotten a lot of flack over the Service Dog despite the value I get from it when I get panicky on my own.

        Federal law spells out the definitions of and needs for equal access for physically and mentally disabled people. I would guess that like Service Dog civil law there’s no need to present documentation of one’s disability — in fact, under the law, asking for it is a violation of one’s federal civil rights. When one asks for a Reasonable Accommodation for a Disability to allow one to use a public facility in the same way of others, one does have to give a reason and documentation. So my guess is that Disney’s lawyers have something in mind here to make this project work for those who need it.

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