MiceAge Disneyland Update: Down The Rabbit Hole

Written by MiceAge. Posted in Disney, Disney News, Disneyland Resort, MiceAge Update

Tagged: , , , , ,

frontpagepic_KY3

Published on November 12, 2013 at 3:00 am with 108 Comments

The Disneyland Resort made it through another busy Halloween season that kicked off with the new Disability Access Service, and they’re barely taking a breath before jumping into the even busier Christmas season ahead. Bob Iger’s comment last week that “Disneyland Resort delivered record attendance in revenue and profitability” for the just ended Fiscal Year 2013 sums up how happy the Burbank masters are with Disneyland and its executives. There’s a few new things in store for Anaheim this holiday season, but the bigger story is the aggressive refurbishment schedule both parks will embark on just after the holidays in January. In this update we’ll fill you in on what to expect for the holidays, how TDA will be tweaking its new Disability Access Service for its guests and playing the Grinch with its Cast Members, and what attractions will be closed this winter and the surprising reasons why.

Got your glazed cronut, coffee brewing from Marceline’s finest? Well, what are we waiting for? There’s more news to uncover!

DAS GOOD

The big story earlier this fall was Disney’s decision to cancel its ten year old Guest Assistance Card (GAC) program and replace it with the more restrictive Disability Access Service. Now that it’s been a month, TDA executives recently had a summary meeting on the new DAS program and the consensus is that the roll out went exceedingly well and the program is working almost perfectly for the parks.

The first few days had plenty of drama, with even some local protesters appearing in the parks and on Harbor Blvd. to protest Disney’s cancellation of the old GAC system. But for their part, the TDA executives and senior managers in the parks were out in force for the first week standing alongside the hourly Cast Members and handling anyone who got too upset or began berating the hourly Cast. General Managers from both parks, as well as Directors of TDA’s safety and disabled programs teams, spent hours in the Guest Relations offices that first weekend handling the most boisterous concerns, and for that the Guest Relations Cast Members were very thankful. A few surprised and upset folks continue to complain at Guest Relations when they try to get a GAC, but for the most part the storm has passed and the park management teams are thrilled with the results, particularly at DCA where all queues are wheelchair accessible.

pic_Hor333

There are a few weak links that have been discovered in the DAS program, but the TDA executives have already committed the money to fix and tweak the DAS system further this winter. One of the changes coming to the DAS cards will involve turning on the functionality of the QR codes printed on each card. It seems some Annual Passholders have already figured out that they can get multiple DAS cards for different members of their party, thus allowing the entire party to have multiple ride stamps on multiple cards. The fix for that is activating the QR code and digitally attaching each ticket or AP for each party member to just one DAS card. Tickets and APs belonging to able bodied visitors will only be allowed to be attached to one DAS card, blocking folks from getting another DAS card with the same tickets or APs attached to it. That software upgrade is now planned to roll out later in December.

The QR code is also key to the second phase for DAS cards, which would track the next boarding time digitally instead of using a written time on the back of the card. Cast Members at the attractions and the Guest Relations kiosks are discovering DAS cards with fraudulent boarding times written in, as the DAS holder fills out their preferred rides and times themselves trying to bypass checking in at a kiosk or waiting the length of the line. With the digital downloads the times and rides would be assigned and tracked via the QR code, and a Cast Member at the attraction would scan the code with a handheld reader to validate the boarding time. That digital tracking system is planned to go live in Anaheim in 2014. Overall however, both TDA executives and front line Cast Members are very happy with the DAS program and how it has cut down on abuse and fraud while still offering services for those who need it.

TURKEY TRAFFIC

With the flawed GAC program a thing of the past, the Anaheim Resort speeds towards the busy Thanksgiving week and on to Christmas. In a complete reversal of traditional attendance patterns during the 20th Century, the busiest days in November are now the Sunday through Wednesday before Thanksgiving, when most Annual Passes are unblocked and almost all local schools are out for the entire week. Those weekdays before Thanksgiving are currently projected to see huge attendances of up to 60,000 at Disneyland and 40,000 or more at DCA. And because Annual Passholders always have a low rider-per-vehicle statistic, those days stretch the Resort’s parking and infrastructure systems to the breaking point and forces Cast Members to park at Angel Stadium.

pic1

Once Thanksgiving Day arrives however, and all the Passholder blockouts kick in, the daily attendance declines by 30,000 or more and the parks become noticeably less busy, while per capita guest spending skyrockets compared to the stingier Annual Passholders. And because it’s mostly tourists flooding the Resort that weekend, with Disney hotel occupancy levels at 95% that weekend, the parking situation lightens considerably and lines all over the parks go away as the tourists spread out to take everything in instead of focusing only on the newest or most temporary offering like the Annual Passholders do. The entire mood of the Resort changes on Thanksgiving Day and through the weekend because of that. If you absolutely must visit the Resort for Thanksgiving holiday, try to avoid the days before Thanksgiving when the Resort will be beyond crowded with APs.

RETHINKING CHRISTMAS

After Thanksgiving, the Resort shifts into peak holiday mode. For three years now TDA has been contemplating big changes to the way they operate the Christmas season. There was last year’s experiment of performing the Candlelight Ceremony nightly for weeks instead of just one weekend, and there have been endless studies and TDA strategy sessions on offering Halloween-style Christmas parties at extra cost at Disneyland in the future.

The plans for extra-cost Christmas parties have now been shelved, as TDA realizes they can’t get the idea to pencil out based on what they’ve already built up in the park over the last 15 years. With the holiday versions of Small World and Haunted Mansion drawing in many times more guests daily than the average audience for the Christmas Parade or the Holiday Believe fireworks, the industrial engineers and the marketers both convinced the TDA suits that there’s no viable way to sell the extra cost parties to savvy locals as worthwhile without massive remakes to both the parade and the fireworks. After all, you’d have to offer the existing holiday attractions to all park visitors, and could only ladle on extra entertainment for the evening parties. If and when the extra-cost Christmas parties arrive, they would need to kick off with all new versions of the nearly 20 year old Christmas parade (1994) and aging holiday fireworks show (2001). TDA is committed to spending its parade and fireworks money on the upcoming 60th Anniversary in 2015-16, so the Christmas party plans with major new entertainment will have to wait until at least 2017, if they ever do surface again at all.

The experiment with Candlelight last year has been written off as a very bad decision which cost too much money in extra labor and lost goodwill and not enough gain from dinner sales, so that’s out too.

Various TDA regimes have unwisely played around with the Candlelight tradition before, moving it to the Fantasyland Theater and trying to attach extra-cost dinner packages to it, and it never really works for them. You would think they would finally learn, or that someone of suitable importance would have enough long-term memory to tell the latest exec in TDA’s revolving-door presidential office to not mess with Candlelight. But TDA just can’t seem to learn from past mistakes when it comes to this 55 year old tradition that Walt started in 1958. For 2013, Candlelight returns to its time-tested original format and TDA’s only real worry will be the rain forecast that weekend. Let’s see how long it takes them this time to forget that lesson learned.

pic3

TDA’s big push this year is obviously the new World of Color Winter Dreams show, which is DCA’s attempt at battling the formidable one-two punch of nightly entertainment that Disneyland has during the holidays with the Christmas Parade and the Believe In Holiday Magic snowy fireworks. Winter Dreams is heavy on segments from the upcoming Frozen movie with plenty of face time for Olaf the snowman, so if that movie doesn’t do well in theaters the Winter Dreams show for 2014 will need to be reworked. Early reviews of the Winter Dreams show overall are mixed, with some observers saying the show’s pacing is very fragmented and blocky, although the Toy Story Nutcracker Suite segment is said to be genuinely charming. The Disneyland Entertainment team has also ladled the viewing area and Paradise Pier backdrop with lots of new lighting effects and techo-gimmicks to be used in the show, some of which could then be incorporated in future versions of the regular World of Color. The Winter Dreams show is planned to soft open on Thursday, with a formal debut on Friday night.

Nearby at DCA, in the Paradise Gardens food court area, another new holiday offering will formally debut on Friday. Dubbed Viva Navidad!, the area will be home to a big new street show, new menus and decorations, plus various character appearances, cooking demonstrations, bands, and Hispanic cultural activities. The street show in particular has enjoyed a huge budget from TDA, and is hosted by the Three Caballeros on a rolling bandstand and Minnie and Mickey zooming in on pedicabs. The 10 minute show will be performed daily throughout the afternoon and evening, and features dozens of dancers and street performers, a full Mariachi band as well as a troupe of Brazilian drummers, and large rolling puppets representing festive ladies from Mexico and Brazil, plus Santa and Mrs. Claus for good measure. The Viva Navidad street party show will take over the parade route from the Silly Symphony Swings to Goofy’s Sky School, as it builds itself to a rousing and rowdy rendition of Feliz Navidad backed by the dozens of dancers and live Mariachis that should prove impossible to not tap your toes to.

This new entertainment and dining offering got such a big budget from TDA because it’s being run by the team who have been trying very hard to reach out to the local Hispanic community in Southern California. The Resort’s overall attendance has grown steadily in recent years, and the domestic and international tourist business is booming in Anaheim with record numbers of foreign guests and rising hotel occupancy rates. The locals are also still well represented, with almost a Million Annual Passholders happy to pack the parks during the “off-season”, which now actually flip the traditional crowd calendars and create scenarios where the weekdays before Thanksgiving are busier than Thanksgiving weekend itself.

But the local Hispanic community has been under-represented among Disneyland’s local visitors, and for the past year TDA has been trying to reach out by hosting Disneyland booths staffed by Spanish speaking Cast Members at local Hispanic street fairs and community events. TDA will be hyping Viva Navidad extensively via Hispanic media and at local community events this month. The upcoming Three Kings Day events in Frontierland and at Viva Navidad will also be heavily marketed in an attempt to pull in more of the local Hispanic community. Remember that when you stumble across the Viva Navidad street party this weekend and marvel at the lavish budget this new holiday offering received.

With TDA going after the Hispanic community and the extra-cost Christmas parties on indefinite hold now, and with the latest Candlelight experiment a big flop, you would think that TDA could have the guts to bring back the traditional Disney Company Family Holiday Party that they cancelled last year. But there’s no way TDA will stand up to the Florida suits on that one, since the Florida version of that cherished California event was cancelled almost 20 years ago in Orlando. The big shame is the casualties of that cancelled Disneyland party this year, who are primarily needy children, families, and senior citizens in Orange County.

pic5

The Disney Company parties were always the big chance for local Marine Corps Reserve units to collect toys for their famous Toys For Tots campaign, a charity that was a personal favorite of Walt himself in the 1950’s and 60’s. Cast Members, Imagineers, and Burbank employees were all reminded to bring a new toy on the night of the parties, and the uniformed Marines would staff giant collection bins out in front of the Disneyland main entrance as thousands of toys and donations poured in on each party night. Last year however, without a company party to attend, the donations to Toys For Tots dried up completely. The local Marine Corps Reserve units were suddenly caught shorthanded after decades of huge donations from the Disneyland parties and the generous Cast Members.

TDA managers were red faced when they handed over the measly collection of toys to the Marines last year, but they somehow weren’t embarrassed enough to consider bringing back the 58 year old tradition of the Company Christmas party to Disneyland.

The answer to that embarrassment this year is an odd choice by TDA; by canceling a second major Cast Member charity steeped in tradition and mandating that everyone donate exclusively to Toys For Tots instead. In previous years over a hundred different Cast Member teams in the parks and hotels would participate in Salvation Army Adopt-A-Family campaigns in December. Specific departments like Parking or Guest Relations, or large individual location teams like the Plaza Inn or Space Mountain, would all rally around an adopted needy family or local senior citizen. The larger departments would take on multiple families, or multiple seniors, with the Salvation Army providing the first names, ages, and their wish lists of clothing sizes and hoped for toys.

Wish lists from the needy families or elderly would be posted in backstage offices and the hourly Cast Members, many of whom live modest lifestyles themselves, would collect spare change or go purchase gift items to fill the lists. TDA’s Cast Activities team would get in on the act by padding the specific gift collections with Disney plush or t-shirts pulled from stockrooms.

In an average recent year up to 200 different local families or senior citizens would be “adopted” by a various Cast Member team. Once all the gifts were collected the present-wrapping parties with potluck dinners, carols and hot cocoa in backstage offices were a big annual event for the teams around the Resort, and there are key Cast Member organizers who would gladly give their own time to make the logistics behind the massive campaign work. The wrapped gifts, all proudly bundled for specific families and seniors, would then be sent to the Salvation Army headquarters in Anaheim by trucks and handed to thankful and teary-eyed Salvation Army staffers for distribution before Christmas.

But for 2013 all Salvation Army Adopt-A-Family campaigns are now forbidden by Anaheim Cast Members. TDA has mandated that all holiday donations from any specific Cast Member or Cast Member team must go to Toys For Tots only in order for TDA executives to save face with the Marines, but without a physical presence by the Marine Corps at the entrance on company party nights to collect those toys. So instead of having a predictable source of charity to the Salvation Army where hundreds of local needy families and senior citizens would get their Christmas wish lists filled, plus the thousands of new toys and large dollar amount given to the Marine Corps Reserve on the company party nights, TDA has now effectively killed off the giving stream to both worthy charities. After shooting themselves in the foot in 2012, TDA is now aiming at its other foot for 2013.

The Cast Members, most of whom just learned of this Grinch-like policy last week, are baffled and saddened by this TDA mandate. TDA may do a wonderful job in decorating the parks for the holidays, but they are doing a horrible job in spreading the holiday spirit backstage for the Cast Members who genuinely looked forward to the chance to give back. Sadly, the TDA decision makers behind this heartless move never worked in the park (or have been stuck in a TDA office so long they forgot) and have no idea how important it was to both the CM’s and the needy in Orange County.

TDA’s sudden ban on Salvation Army Adopt-A-Family definitely needs a rethink, even if the company Christmas parties can’t return for the Cast Members. We also wish them luck in trying to gain back just a fraction of the amount that Cast Members historically donated to Toys For Tots.

REFURBLAND

With the Grinch apparently calling the shots in TDA, once the Disneyland Resort gets through those busy weeks of Christmas and New Year’s, the typical winter refurbishment calendar will kick in for Anaheim. The month of January begins with the typical short closures for Haunted Mansion and then Small World as the holiday overlays are removed. But once Haunted Mansion reopens, the west side of Disneyland will be hit with a one-two punch of refurbishments at both Pirates of the Caribbean and Splash Mountain, while Big Thunder Mountain hustles to reopen by Valentine’s Day after it’s rebuild was extended by four months due to the new fall-protection standards.

The scrims that recently went up inside Splash Mountain’s finale’ scene are also related to the toughened fall-protection standards which prevented maintenance Cast Members from accessing the upper levels of that animatronic showboat. A suitable fall-protection system was rigged up behind the scrims, and maintenance Cast Members had a few days to get back up there to tune up and activate the animatronics on those upper levels.

pic7

During the winter refurbishments at Pirates and Splash Mt. new access ways will be installed to allow permanent access to the animatronics and lighting in those older rides again. Remember, these new fall protection standards that have rebuilt the rooflines all over the parks and sent animatronics into a deep freeze are only being applied in Anaheim as TDA tries to impress California DOSH inspectors. All of these same fall-protection issues exist in the Florida parks, with some rides like Soarin’ offering an exact clone of the catwalks and access paths deemed “unsafe” in California. But Orlando execs have elected to ignore the various upgrades and rebuilds that the TDA team will continue to tackle into 2014.

On the other side of the park, January will also finally bring the refurbishment to the Alice In Wonderland dark ride. The long winding exterior track will be torn out and replaced with a wider and slightly shorter outdoor track that will hug the side of the building and provide ample room for maintenance and ride operators to walk besides parked vehicles on that outdoor track. At the same time, WDI will invade the interior of the Alice In Wonderland building and begin to lay the groundwork for the dramatic upgrades in technology and showmanship they have planned for all of the classic Fantasyland dark rides. Peter Pan’s Flight and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride are the next scheduled refurbishments in 2014 for Fantasyland after Alice, and WDI will go in big with their upgraded technology projects for those dark rides. Once all of the Fantasyland dark rides are complete with their upgrades the plan is to tout their re-launch as part of Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary celebration for 2015.

pic11

Remember that Anaheim still has eight of those classic Walt-style dark rides, from Roger Rabbit to Monsters Inc. and everything in between, while Walt Disney World now only has two of those classic rides left; Peter Pan’s Flight and Winnie the Pooh. It’s an embarrassment of dark ride riches in Anaheim, and WDI wants to keep them entertaining audiences for decades to come with these swanky upgrades.

pic11

Meanwhile, over at DCA, the refurbishment calendar will also ramp up quickly this winter. First up is the planned digital makeover we’d told you about in previous updates that is coming to Soarin’ Over California. The ride is now planned to be closed in February to have the original 13 year old 70mm film projectors swapped out for new digital projectors, and WDI execs are said to be thrilled with how the cleaned up version of the original film shot back in 1999 and 2000 looks now. Soarin’ was one of the last attractions made using film technology before the widespread switch to digital in the mid 2000’s, and WDI is excited over the prospects for this one.

The lobby area of DCA’s Animation attraction has also been closed for the past month for a switch from film to digital projectors, and later this week the attraction will soft open to demonstrate the new HD animation show in that lobby courtyard. The new images for Animation are said to be stunning and almost appear as if they are 3D and have slight animation to them just by panning the camera on a still image. The projections and interactive technology inside the Sorcerer’s Workshop part of the Animation building also got a full digital upgrade and artistic rework.

At about the time Soarin’ reopens with new digital technology, WDI will be capturing the Resort from above for a new Soarin’ attraction. As we told you back in June, the evening of Wednesday March 12th 2014 is blocked off on calendars in Glendale as the evening that helicopters mounted with HD cameras will zoom and swoop over the Disneyland Resort area filming new segments for the upcoming Soarin’ Over The World attraction for Shanghai. There’s now a proposal to launch that new film at DCA in 2015 before Shanghai Disneyland opens in early 2016. WDI and TDA would like to run the new film in one theater while the original Soarin’ film plays in the other theater, forcing visitors to choose which destinations they want to soar over.

pic_Hor

Also planned for a refurbishment this winter is one of DCA’s newest attractions; The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure. After this attraction opened to mediocre reviews in 2011, then went under the knife in 2012 to replace the cheesy CGI animation and send Ariel back to the hairdresser, it’s been plugging away in Paradise Pier. Although it rarely has a line longer than 5 minutes, the massive hourly capacity of the Omnimover system means that Mermaid consistently pulls in 2,000 or more riders per hour very reliably for 12 to 15 hour days, for 25,000 or more riders per day.

pic_Hor222

The breezy walk-on status paired with the high capacity means that the maligned Mermaid ride is still pulling in more riders per day than a lower capacity ride with a long line, like Star Tours or Indiana Jones or Radiator Springs Racers. It’s those big daily ridership numbers that helped make the case for WDI to go in and close the ride for a second time this winter, as they have more ideas to help with the lighting and overall art direction throughout the ride, particularly with the ride’s big Under The Sea musical production number. TDA’s industrial engineers salivate over the ridership numbers a modern Omnimover like Mermaid can provide a park, so WDI has been given the money for more fixes. Again.

The Mermaid rehab is scheduled to last at least a few weeks this time, and TDA is currently juggling its calendar to determine when this winter or spring will be the right time. We’ll fill you in on more about Mermaid’s makeover when those calendar decisions have been made.

Did you enjoy today’s Disneyland Update? Please take a moment to share this update with your friends and family (use any of the social links at the top of this page), it’s a great way to show your appreciation. We also encourage you to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+

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]

Browse Archived Articles by

108 Comments

Comments for MiceAge Disneyland Update: Down The Rabbit Hole are now closed.

  1. I’m glad Disney has decided against the ticketed events for Christmas. Right now Disney are pushing prices up on Tickets and Annual Passes. So it needs to give people a reason to pay these prices and not take away anything further. If it’s interested in doing more ticketed events can I suggest it addresses the Halloween Party first. That Parade is an embarrassment and Disney can do so much better…

  2. I’m curious as to what is meant by technological upgrades for Fantasyland. I’m assuming going trackless isn’t what is meant. Would they overhaul the rides and update them like Mystic Manor or is the infrastructure to small to work with?

    • I assume it means things like lighting adjustments and the architectural mapping projections they added to Snow White a couple years ago, rather than any sort of serious construction (with the exception of the outdoor ramp on Alice). It will be interesting to see how they incorporate those changes into a marketing strategy, because I don’t imagine that the general public would notice or care much about the changes

      • I tend to agree. If TDA really wants to use these enhancements as a seller for Disneyland’s 60th, they really need to do something more than just lighting enhancements.

  3. Viva Navidad means “Long Live BIRTH”

    Faux Spanish, like El Segundo, California (named for Standard Oil’s SECOND refinery.)

    • “Navidad” specifically refers to the birth of Jesus and no other. “Natividad” could mean birth, in general.

      So by that logic, Disney is actually saying, “Long live the birth of Jesus!”

      I knew they secretly hated Hanukkah. :)

  4. Yay! They’re fixing the Under the Sea sequence — which to me, with its static figures, lighting and layout, always seemed to me like it took place in a sterile Disney Store. I wish they would also fix the ending — instead of moving through a scene, it seems like you’re looking at robots on a stage. There probably isn’t room to do this without a major revamp, but it would be so much better if they removed the wedding and put a dramatic Ursula dying scene in there, like how the Snow White ride ends with the death of the witch. As it is, it is just so underwhelming.

  5. Interesting to see Ariel receive further tinkering. I’m not sure what they’ll do, but I think the two most glaring problems with the ride are unfixable from a short rehab – excessively long, featureless transitions between scenes, and no real climax scene. We meet Ursula and then next thing you know – Happy! Joy! Wedding!

    • Yep, right there with you.
      One of the coolest death of a witch scenes in the Little Mermaid film. The ride reduces that to a 2 foot tall wood or cardboard cutout of Ursula next to the wedding ship.
      Little Mermaid has less special effects than the old Pinocchio ride with the cool Monstro attack and blue fairy.
      Mermaid is almost always a walk on while Winnie and Pan are 45 minute waits. The guests have spoken.
      Newest attraction is the worst.
      We love Alice, Pinocchio, Peter Pan, Mr. Toad, Winnie the Pooh, Snow White, and even Cassey Jr. and Storybook Canal Boats.
      How do you have that history and make a worse attraction? The last part seems like they ran out of space and crammed the last 45 minutes of the film into 6 feet of track. There, done.

      • “How do you have that history and make a worse attraction?”

        Simple: instead of letting imagineers who understand that history call the shots, give the authority to CFOs, Strategic Planners and cubicles full of beancounters. Same process that gave us Disneyland’s Winnie the Pooh.

      • In defense of everyone involved with the Under the Snore attraction, they only had so much square footage to work with. It’s still a pretty sizable show building, but probably only two-thirds the size of the Haunted Mansion building, for example.

        I hope that Golden Dreams is someday released to the masses or YouTube. It was a very well-produced film, even if nothing quite captures Millennium America as creepy Whoopi Goldberg.

      • The difference is that Peter Pan has an hourly capacity of 500-600 people her hour, while Little Mermaid can do over 2000 people per hour. Since Little Mermaid can accommodate 4 times as many people per hour, wouldn’t you expect the lines at Peter Pan to be 4 times longer?

  6. Thank goodness they have a lot of refurbishments planned for early 2014. Last time I was in the park it seemed like every ride had something on it that was broken.

  7. While I appreciate the seasonal events like Viva Navidad, what I am most upset about is that the new menu completely replaces the Paradise Garden Grille menu and instead of doing this at one of the two Mexican restaurants already in the parks, it’s taking over my favorite place with unique food! No where else on property can I get a gyro or Chicken skewers with Tzatziki! I know it wasn’t the most popular food location, but I hate that they are taking away this unique restaurant in favor of more Mexican food.

    • I wouldn’t say it’s not popular. There are always a lot of people there when we eat there. The food is really good and plentiful. It better be back to normal when I am there in January or I am going to pitch a fit.

      • I just meant it doesn’t always have a long line like other places. Everytime I go, I usually only have one person in front of me, even on peak days. I have heard other guests mention that they either didn’t know about it or didn’t like the menu, so I have always worried that it’s going to get the axe in favor of another burger place or other generic theme park food.

  8. Glad to see those railings going up everywhere all over every ride and attraction.
    Was really difficult trying to get our kids to calm down and have a great vacation when all those castmembers kept falling to their death every hour. They were falling right out of the sky all over the parks. It was hard to dodge them.
    Thank goodness the good liberal government workers justified their massivly important jobs with those railings. Thousands shall be saved.
    Yeah California liberals! Sleep well tonight knowing that you mean the world to yourselves.

  9. DAS Good? Is that what Disney is saying? Because the stories I am hearing from people attempting to use this system are heartbreaking. I would encourage everyone to read them before buying the Disney party line that the new system is working. Stories are being collected at atragickingdom.com The disabled kids are now waiting LONGER than the regular lines. DAS takes 10 minutes off the wait to make up for the line you stand in to get the return time. After you then wait the length of time the non-disabled guests wait, then you go to stand in line at the Fast Pass line which can be 10-30 minutes. Doesn’t sound very accommodating to me. I only bought our DVC for my autistic son’s enjoyment. I am seriously considering selling it at this point.

    • Actually Jill, you’ve heard both positive and negative stories about the DAS at your anti-Disney hangout, but like the others on that Facebook page, you ignore the success stories that are posted. The majority of the posters there have not even attempted to use the DAS yet, and most of the ones that have tried it have gone in with the attitude (per their own accounts) that they will demand and bully the GS personnel into giving them what they want, which is unfettered alternate entrance access with little to no wait. They go in with the notion that there is no way it will work, and become so upset when Disney won’t bow to their demands that the horrible day they anticipated becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

      Yes, a couple of people have posted that they did indeed wait longer than the standard queue, but the DAS documents that this may happen. What you don’t mention is that while you’re waiting, you are free to ride other attractions with shorter wait times. This is an excellent accommodation, seeing as you have the opportunity to ride twice as many rides as the non-DAS users that have to stand in the long lines.

      Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem whatsoever with DAS users being able to ride other rides while they wait for their return time. But I would think that you would look at that as a good thing, rather than complaining that Disney isn’t accommodating you.

      The anti-DAS poutrage exhibited on that Facebook page would be funny if it weren’t for the sad fact that you’ve all allowed yourselves to be used by the owner of the page for her own publicity purposes for her business…not to mention the $1300+ (unaccountable) that you all have donated to her as she pretends to play David to Disney’s Goliath. Numerous “this just in” type posts have been shown to be incorrect, although the people that point out the inaccuracies are ignored. Incorrect information runs rampant, along with near constant threats of legal action, culminating in the dissemination of contact information for an LA slip-and-fall attorney that claims to be interested in suing Disney. Oh there’s going to be a class action suit! There’s going to be an ADA complaint! There’s going to be a DOJ investigation.

      Yeah, right.

      Bottom line is that the GAC was unsustainable, and the abuse, by both the disabled and the non-disabled, had resulted in a very negative impact for ALL guests. And contrary to what you and your buddies at the unnamed Facebook page would like to believe, Disney has an obligation to its non-disabled guests as well, not just to the disabled guests.

      If you don’t want to try the program, that is certainly your choice. However, to continue to participate in the disinformation campaign from the Facebook page the “Tragic Kingdom” (drama much?) page, when you haven’t even tried the program yet is disingenuous at best, and dishonest at worst.

      • *clap,clap,clap* Sick and tired of the whining from those who haven’t even used it yet.

      • Actually all the postings on Tragic Kingdom tumblr are of people’s experiences using the DAS and they are pretty heart breaking. I cannot speak for the FB pages you refer to but if so many forums are being created, perhaps the DAS is not a success story. I also find it notable that Autism Speaks has recently gone out of its way to distance themselves from the Disney Parks DAS.

        The most distressing part of the removal of the GAC is that Disney has undone years and years of awareness and inclusion programs by giving the impression that every disabled person is worthy of the scorn demonstrated in your tirade above.

        No one wants to be disabled. No one wants autism or to be in a wheelchair or to have down’s syndrome. The GAC allowed those people who had an abnormally tough life to have just a little bit of joy. But I don’t know one person who wouldn’t trade a GAC if it meant they would no longer be disabled.

        Your anger at the disabled community for receiving this accommodation is astounding. Is it really so horrible that those less fortunate than you received an accommodation? Are you upset that the Make-A-Wish foundation is still receiving accommodations?

        The fact that you can spew such anger at a group – the overwhelming majority of which never abused the system – says a lot about you and your character or lack thereof.

        Perhaps you are one of the few who are happy about the Toys for Tots decision. After all, there was nothing in it for you and Disney has an obligation to its customers who are not disadvantaged youth, am I right?

      • Rushin, I didn’t go on a tirade, nor am I angry. If you’re looking for tirades and anger, I suggest you go to the Facebook page associated with Tragic Kingdom. I won’t give the name of the Facebook page, because I won’t help promote the business of the woman that who owns the page.

        In particular, I have no anger for the people that need to use the DAS. As for the whiners that won’t try it, but just *know* it won’t work for them, I’m not angry at them either, just embarrassed for them.

        The GAC had a good run, and it provided years of privileged access that went above and beyond required accommodations. As such, it was a target for abuse, and it had to end. With the exception of Wish organizations, no one should be able to get on a ride without waiting. No one.

        DAS users don’t have to wait in line, they can ride other rides while waiting for their return times, so they have no reason to complain, that I can see. The complaints seem to stem from the fact that they were spoiled by years of CMs allowing abuse of the system, and now that Disney has stopped it, they’re upset that they don’t have that privileged access anymore.

        I do believe that the complainers are a small minority of the disabled population…a very loud, rude, and bully-prone minority, but a minority nonetheless. And the information that Disney sees the DAS as a success is a positive to me, as it shows that Disney is not going to cave to this very vocal, misinformed minority of the disabled.

      • I’ll send BeeGees to D’Land with my adult son who has autism and hypotonia and let him report back on not just DAS but also on the experience of getting the pass and using it with a six-foot-tall autistic man who if he gets too tired or frustrated shuts down and is a mute, angry lump for HOURS. He can also report back on the comments and stares from “normal” folks and cast members who may not realize kids with autism grow up….and still have autism.

        Even with the GAC, it was a delicate balancing act to let Joe enjoy the day (which he did! Worth every penny!) while keeping him rested, hydrated, and happy.

        It is hearing FROM PEOPLE WHO HAVE GONE THERE that not all Cast Members will give out a DAS to ADULTS if they, the non-medically trained employees, deem it not needed, that gives me pause (and a stomach ache).

        I so wish the lawyers could figure out how to get a waiver from HIPPA so folks could legally show proof of disability and just get a DAS without having to convince a non-medically trained stranger the legitimacy of their or their child’s needs. Now THAT is an invasion of privacy!

      • I feel like people are not really understanding each other here. No one is annoyed with any disabled person or their family for being eligible for either the GAC or the DAS. It those who are NOT disabled in any way who abused the system that people are angry with. I still have yet to hear from anyone who I know, who will use the new system to see what they think. But most of them are concerned and would like to hear honest appraisals of the system. I do believe that JFS has a terrific idea in allowing folks to get some sort of waiver or doctors note so they could bypass the time it takes to get the pass, or even get the pass before going to the park. No one should be going to the parks with a disabled person not knowing if they are going to be able to get a pass. I hope everyone will call and be certain of it before they go. Personally, I would love to escort an autistic child or adult through the park with a pass to see how it really works for them. I work with autistic children and totally understand their needs and behaviors. DIsney would do well to invite some parents of autistic or or kids disabled in some other way in and tour the parks with them for the day to see how that system really does function for them. The new system is kind of like a FASTPASS from what I understand. Plus you can also get an actual fastpass as well. So you should be able to double up somewhat. I hope that the tweaks coming to the system are not just to correct what people are already doing to cheat the system, but to make it easier for those who do need the extra bit of assistance.

      • JFS in IL, getting a doctor’s note listing the disability, even if it were legal, would do you no good when obtaining the DAS. You are correct when you state that CMs are not medical professionals,so a doctor’s note saying “Joe has autism” tells them nothing.

        They don’t need to know what the disability is – they need to know how the condition or disability affects the guest’s ability to stand in a regular line for the full wait time. In reading at “that” Facebook page, the people that seem to have the most problems with getting a DAS are those that a) state the disability and then just expect the CM to hand the DAS over or b) state something along the lines of “I need something like the GAC”.

        Neither of those are helpful, because a) not all people with the same disability have the same needs and b) the old GAC is gone, and they don’t have anything like it any longer.

        Stating “my child can’t wait in long lines” isn’t the way to get a DAS…the CMs need to know WHY the child can’t wait in long lines.

        Answering “Because he has autism” might get the DAS, or it might not.

        Answering “Because of his autism, he is acutely affected by the sights, sounds, smells and noises that most of us don’t even notice. All of this sensory input can be overwhelming to him, and in order to self-regulate, he needs to flap his arms, spin in circles or jump up and down, which could be a safety issue for him in a crowded line. Being able to wait outside of the regular line makes it less likely that he will become over stimulated to begin with, and if he does, he will have the space he needs to safely regulate himself” will result in getting a DAS.

        I don’t know of anyone that doesn’t believe Disney should accommodate their disabled guests. However, there has to be a balance that takes into account all guests at the park, not just the disabled ones. Under the GAC, there was no balance whatsoever. Anyone with a GAC took priority over everyone without a GAC, which was wrong, IMO.

        There is no doubt that families with disabled members, children or adults, have a much rougher life than the average non-disabled guest. But that should make no difference in a Disney park, because it isn’t up to Disney or to other guests to make up for the difficulties that disabled guests face in their daily lives. Everyone at the park is there to enjoy themselves, and it’s no more important that your son has a good time than it is that my daughter has a good time.

        Disney is attempting to restore the balance that was obliterated under GAC, and I can assure you that I’m not alone in hoping that Disney doesn’t bow to the meltdowns not of the children, but of the parents.

      • It really sounds like Disney needs to employ some specialists to be giving out the DAS and not just CAST MEMBERS.

    • @daliseurat unfortunately we are understanding people (such as BeeGees) very well. They are not upset at the abusers as much as they are upset at what they perceived as “privileged access” being given to the disabled. In reality, it was just provided access (not front of the line – I am not sure where that idea came from) to those people who reasons beyond their control would not be able to visit the park otherwise.

      It is pretty black hearted stance. I am sure people who begrudge the disabled access to a Disney Park have issues that go far beyond amusement park lines. Nonetheless, It is shocking to see just how many people feel justified to act out their aggression and unhappiness on those less fortunate than themselves

      I am one who was able to see the new DAS in practice and it is pretty dehumanizing. Probably the worst example I saw that day was a woman in a wheelchair who despite the fact that her chair could not work the twisty line, was not allowed to access a shorter line. Instead they had her wait by herself while the rest of her party waited on line. For an hour.

      Maybe the GAC wasn’t the best way to go, but certainly the DAS is becoming a worse option both in terms of accommodation to those who need it and – by Disney’s own reports – abuse by those who don’t.

      As someone who is interested in how it affects those with Autism I would suggest you contact the Autism Society of America. They have recently decided based on the large amount of negative reports has decided to try and tackle this issue.

      Disney is a huge corporation and their actions can create shockwaves. It is no longer just about GAC v DAS anymore.

    • I think that you might be only hearing the ugly stories from people who feel entitled. The good stories are the ones I been hearing. I have heard nothing but good things about the DAS! The wait times with a DAS in line are nothing, they are peanuts!

    • BtW, I have only read half of the issue with the DAS because I am new to these boards. I have seen reports floating around about some Facebook page,I have seen the page nor do i care too. I just don’t believe all the ugly stories about the DAS not working I chose not too. The good stories out weight the bad.

  10. Any word on Soarin Over the World for Epcot? What about a digital upgrade there?

  11. Wow the first DLR update in a long time that finally put a smile on my face. Well, except the Toys For Tots thing. That is sad.

    Glad to read so many attractions are finally getting some TLC.

  12. My one comment would be to add actual “real” water to Little Mermaid in DCA.

  13. The dark rides are amazing. I love them and that old nostalgia feel. Shame on WDW for letting these go away and THANK YOU Disneyland for keeping them. Hope the WoC Christmas overlay is decent.

  14. Am I the only one who really doesn’t like Olaf the Snowman?

    He’s just too goofy-looking for what otherwise seems to be a traditional Disney Princess/Hero movie. In his own Pixar film, that might not be a problem for me, but dropped in among typical human Disney characters, a wacky creature that broadly cartoonish just comes across as a little too weird for my taste.

    Plus, I just don’t like his face, and hate the idea of having to look at it all the time at the Disneyland resort.

    • Agreed.

    • There are goofy looking characters in traditional Disney princess/hero animated features. You don’t like his face? Well then don’t look at it. He’s only there for the meet and greet promo. It won’t be forever.

  15. The DAS program has NOT been a success, according to many guests with disabilities. Disney executives aren’t reporting the thousands of signatures on petitions and the hundreds of complaints they have received. There are many stories of children with disabilities unable to enjoy their day at Disneyland and having to leave after a couple of hours. Many stories of families asking for refunds on their annual passes because they are unable to go to Disneyland anymore. And there is absolutely no evidence that it has cut down on abuse since they are not asking anyone for proof of their disability. All they’ve done is crushed a lot of families’ dreams of having one of few days of joy in their lives. This issue is not over.

    • As a front line Attractions CM, I can tell you honestly that DAS has cut down on abuse. And fraud. And unfair practices.

      To CM’s who work hard to be good hosts and hostesses to all 50,000 guests in the park per day, not just the disabled guests in the park, the DAS card has been a Godsend. And I mean that literally, it has made being a good host a hundred times easier and the operation of the park is running much more smoothly. DAS stories from DCA CM’s, where every queue is wheelchair accessible, are even more glowing than Disneyland.

      • Bless you and your fellow CMs, Westsider. I would imagine that you’ve had to deal with some pretty angry people since the long-overdue elimination of the GAC. I hope that management is offering you folks the kind of top cover you need as you work to enforce the new system.

        I also hope that Disney stays committed to the DAS, and the restrictions it imposes. The GAC allowed far too much abuse, and I’m hopeful that the DAS will help provide an overall better experience for all guests.

    • Yes Judy, you have a petition against the system…a petition that was started before it was even known for certain what the new system would be.

      And from that petition, “We figure that with this new system that the family with a child with a disability will only be able to go on four – five rides in an 8 hour day. ”

      Which is about the same number that any family could go on during the same 8 hours. Plus, DAS families can go on shorter wait rides or use Fast Passes while they’re waiting for their DAS return times…which non-DAS families can’t do. And that’s fine,but to claim that the DAS is a disadvantage which will result in fewer rides than other families is incorrect. It’s true that’s it’s probably fewer rides than was afforded with the GAC FOTL access, but it is much more in line with what non-disabled guests are able to do, and that’s the way it should be.

      Disabled guests should be able to have a roughly equivalent experience to non-disabled guests, not a far superior one, as was the case with the GAC.

    • Like i said to vhagaa11, I don’t know what bad reports or stories you guys are reading.But the ones I have seen on DAS has been positive. DAS good is right!