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  1. #1

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    PARK REPORT CARD - An occasional but knowledgeable visitor's DLR scorecard

    After every game, my favorite football team's chatboard posts a report card critically grading each squad's performance. Rather than just another trip report, I thought I'd do the same for DLR after my 3 days' visit last week.



    ENTERTAINMENT: A-
    Voices of Liberty, Minnie's Fly Girls (with the lip-moving, eye-blinking Minnie), Dapper Dans, WoC, Fantasmic, Mad T, Goofy's Instant Concert, the new venue for Billy Hill, Soundsational and Pixar parades, Phineas & Ferb, the fireworks, News Boys, BV Street characters...all are stellar. What a turnaround the Entertainment folks have achieved since the dark daze of Light Magic etc.

    Uncharacteristically, DLR entertainment was the highlight of my trip.

    SHOPPING/RETAIL: B
    Cars Land seems to have regained some area-specific merchandise quickly and the BV Street store doors were wide open again. The regrettable Candy store hostile takeover of the Penny Arcade is not as unwelcome as is the loss of being able to play its Disneyland Organ ..which is the death of an institution originating in 1955. (This needs to be memorialized on Yesterland.) Now it gathers dust taking up "precious" retail space; it'll be removed during the next remodel I'm sorry to wager.

    But in general, stores were attractively stocked and merchandise well-displayed throughout both parks (and Downtown) and the CMs in them struck me as happy and super helpful.

    The magicians in the Magic Shop were delightful as usual...but note: they're subcontractors and not CMs. I've wondered for a while now whether Starbucks knew about that precedent?

    LODGING: TBD
    Didn't stay in a Disney property this trip. Care to offer your own grade here if you were there last week?

    PARKING: TBD
    Never used the parking lot or trams this trip either. Care to offer your own grade here if you were there last week?

    ATTRACTIONS: D
    Wow, where to begin?

    DLR attractions have become like Seattle weather: when it's working well it's wonderful, otherwise it's awful. But who moves to Seattle for the weather? In just 2 days of casual meandering (not trying to "do" everything), the breakdowns encountered were STAGGERING: Indy (of course), Jungle Cruise (yes, Jungle Cruise), Space Mountain (twice), GRR, Star Tours 2, Racers (thrice), Buzz, Silly Symphony, HM, PoC, Splash Mountain, Soarin' and Pooh. It's as if MG Dewitt T. Irby, Jr. is still at TDA (shudder). Can Al use his inside contacts to glean some ride downtime info??? The MTBF (mean-time between failures) rate of DLR attractions is shrinking terribly.

    Among the problems with breakdowns is that Fastpass holders over-accumulate during up-time. At GRR the FP Return line stretched to Redwood Creek Challenge Trail and doubled part way back. At Space Mt, the FP Return line stretched almost to the entrance of Pizza Port. At Soarin' the FP Return line curled to near the front of Taste Pilots' Grill. The Racers FP Distribution line at 8am already stretched past Carthay and closed for the day by 8:25am. (By the way, Racers didn't open until 11am that morning.) Then at HTT and Racers later in the evening, they enforced the FP closing time printed on the passes! Guests with FPs were turned away from both attractions and angrily went to Standby queues or left.

    Worse is the effect that that has on the Stand-by line - horrendous! I haven't been in an FP attraction's Standby queue in years but I took the plunge and waited in Space Mountain's. I was ABSOLUTELY APPALLED at what I saw: because the line barely moves at even a crawl, guests' behavior goes downhill fast. I saw kids running up the sides of the slanted planter walls over Cpt. EO roof, climbing to the top, slipping falling, scraping themselves, parents playing chasing games with smaller children in the open area, teenagers wrestling, playing tag, sitting on (and in one case) breaking the queue chains, twirling a queue chain around and smacking the head of a toddler further back in line, splashing people at the drinking fountains, sitting on the railings, throwing things onto guests exiting to Cpt. EO and the Starcade.

    The posted wait time was 45 minutes but was 80. You used to be able to set your watches by the wait time posted at the start of a line...no longer.

    Does Tony Baxter or John Lasseter ever use a Standby queue?!?

    I work the FP system very well and benefit from it tremendously, but I think it's worth resurrecting an old debate: DUMP THE FASTPASS SYSTEM. There is NO way the average queue time for the average guest on the average day is reduced...which entirely defeats its purpose. Is FP a legacy of the Pressler era??? (Because APs were blacked out, we repeatedly ran into guests who hadn't a clue about FPs. One family asked me if they had to pay extra to use that "line next to ours that doesn't have anybody in it.")

    Quiz: What's the most heavily themed queue in DLR?
    Answer: Indy.
    But hey, you wouldn't know that because the extensive queue is now just a lengthy walk in an empty hallway below the train tracks in order to allow for FPs. Now masses of people stack up outside the temple entrance which often creates further mobs at the Indy entrance which further congests an already crowded Adventureland...near the entrance to the treehouse which complicates matters yet further.

    Lose FP and Single rider. DLR is a family show filled with adventures, not an carney park full of rides.

    Anecdote: GRR loading stopped when 3 guests without shoes were about to board a raft. The posted wait time was 80 minutes and the FP return line was about 15. Nevertheless, the turntable halted as they sat down by their raft, fished socks and shoes out of their bags, and eventually got them on. Rafts accumulated at the turntable or were held before their drops, while everyone watched them put on their shoes. Guests overhead in the standby queue started hassling them, making them flustered, embarrassed and fumbling.

    Does this seem like the Happiest Place On Earth to you?

    FOOD SERVICE: C+
    Business schools teach that a retail backlog equates to lost revenue, because approximately a third to half as many people as there are in the line are choosing not to wait.

    Case in point: twice I saw the dole whip line stretch back almost to the Tiki Room exit stairs. Why?!? There are only 4 products sold there; how hard could it be to speed up the process of giving them out? Add one more machine and 2 CMs and they could quintuple its profits, reduce Adventureland's congestion and increase people's happiness. Can't they better predict that the number of say, pineapple spears sold today at 2pm will be near what it was that time on the same day a week ago and prepare better?

    There are only a few types of sundaes sold at the Golden Horseshoe...why does each fulfillment feel like it's a custom-order and take FOREVER??? And what was all the fuss about training the Starbucks CMs?!? (They were dismal...I even gave them a second try a day later out of disbelief they could be so poor.) Has anyone ever been served by a speedy ODV CM?

    We tend to harp about how profit-centric TDA has become, lamenting that it often translates to a lack of investment. For crying out loud, make some minmal investments in speeding up food order delivery and you will dramatically increase profits.

    You get my point. Food quality will never please everybody, so at least make the service unquestionably great.

    Highlights: At Carnation Cafe Oscar Martinez paid our table a lengthy, amiable visit and told us stories about Disneyland's early days. Also, 1901 feels like you're a guest in the living room of Walt & Lillian's Holmby Hills house after a ride on Walt's backyard train. Carthay's cuisine is pretentious, but the place will give Napa Rose a run for the money.

    PARK MAINTENANCE/CONDITION: A-
    Remember this era?: DISNEYLAND INFORMATION GUIDE - DisneylandBlues DLR is definitely NOT declining by degrees (although Splash Mountain is starting to echo its Orlando counterpart's woes). DCA has improved by leaps and bounds of course and Disneyland is in a fine fettle. Clean and fresh nearly everywhere. Still too many popcorn lights out on Main Street, too many queue railings with peeled off paint, too many dried gum splotches on the esplanade paver stones, and so on, but wow, what a place! It still really has such magic.




    Any categories that I missed which still need a grade?


    P.S. - My quintessential moment for the week came passing a guest by Soarin's exit and overheard him say on his phone "You're throwing away your money if you come here during the summer." We know that's not true when you learn how to make DLR work for you, but think how much that kind of word-of-mouth kills the effectiveness of TDA's huge marketing budget.
    Last edited by vnormth; 08-01-2012 at 02:16 PM.

  2. #2

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    Re: PARK REPORT CARD - An occasional but knowledgeable visitor's DLR scorecard

    Sounds like you hit the bad luck run on attraction break downs. I agree though it may be time for fastpass to go. Did you get coffee at the FFP cafe at DCA or from a ODV coffee cart? The only Starbucks is in the FFP cafe so if you went to a cart you did not get Starbucks trained CM although I agree the pace of most ODV CM's is way too slow.
    I am happy to hear you enjoyed the entertainment offerings I too agree they have greatly improved.
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  3. #3

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    Re: PARK REPORT CARD - An occasional but knowledgeable visitor's DLR scorecard

    Quote Originally Posted by vnormth View Post
    The regrettable Candy store hostile takeover of the Penny Arcade is not as unwelcome as is the loss of being able to play its Disneyland Organ ..which is the death of an institution originating in 1955. (This needs to be memorialized on Yesterland.) Now it gathers dust taking up "precious" retail space; it'll be removed during the next remodel I'm sorry to wager.
    It plays approximately every twelve minutes, for free. All that was removed was the console that offered a selection of tunes (which always seemed to be broken).

  4. #4

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    Re: PARK REPORT CARD - An occasional but knowledgeable visitor's DLR scorecard

    I'm curious, how were the actual attractions themselves and not their lines/ breakdown frequency?

  5. #5

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    Re: PARK REPORT CARD - An occasional but knowledgeable visitor's DLR scorecard

    Well I love your honest report but have you sent it to DL? I have to say they do ask for surveys and this seems like it would be more beneficial for Disney to understand the frustrations of their park goers so they can make adjustments.

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    Re: PARK REPORT CARD - An occasional but knowledgeable visitor's DLR scorecard

    Jungle Cruise is down because it is getting new bumpers.

    Riots Near Disneyland and Jungle Cruise News

  7. #7

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    Re: PARK REPORT CARD - An occasional but knowledgeable visitor's DLR scorecard

    I disagree about the fast passes every time I go they seem to work and people make it seem worst then it actually is I bet 99.9% of people would wish fast pass was back if they were taken out IMHO but great honest Report card (hopefully I diddnt offend anyone and I dont want this to become a fast pass debate thread)

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  8. #8

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    Re: PARK REPORT CARD - An occasional but knowledgeable visitor's DLR scorecard

    Quote Originally Posted by mickdaddy View Post
    Did you get coffee at the FFP cafe at DCA or from a ODV coffee cart?
    Thanks for confirming! Yes, I did indeed make it a special point to go inside the Pig Cafe. I don't think the ODV coffee sales can use a SBUX cup, but I may be wrong.

    Anyway, yes, no doubt about it...it was inside FFP both times.

    ---------- Post added 07-31-2012 at 09:24 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by 999mal View Post
    Jungle Cruise is down because it is getting new bumpers.
    Sorry, no. This was before JC was closed for the mesh install. There were lots of people waiting in long lines for the attraction (including me) and they halted operations, giving the dreaded "we don't know when we'll be sending boats out into the jungle again" spiel.

    ---------- Post added 07-31-2012 at 09:25 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by dictionary View Post
    Well I love your honest report but have you sent it to DL? I have to say they do ask for surveys and this seems like it would be more beneficial for Disney to understand the frustrations of their park goers so they can make adjustments.
    Great idea. Typically I assume they'll round-file it, but it's worth sending. Thanks.

    ---------- Post added 07-31-2012 at 09:27 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by frollofan View Post
    I'm curious, how were the actual attractions themselves and not their lines/ breakdown frequency?
    Like I said, the attractions - when operating - are unbeatable. (Caveat: I haven't yet been on Transformers or Hogwarts).

    Thanks for asking! (and I hope you agree.)

    ---------- Post added 07-31-2012 at 09:33 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael808702 View Post
    I disagree about the fast passes every time I go they seem to work and people make it seem worst then it actually is I bet 99.9% of people would wish fast pass was back if they were taken out IMHO but great honest Report card (hopefully I diddnt offend anyone and I dont want this to become a fast pass debate thread)
    No offense taken at all!

    Well, I certainly know that *I* would miss it, but I care enough about those frustrated guests' experience and the deterioration of the perceived value of whether each attraction is deemed "worth it" when exiting after a long queue, that I'd sacrifice it.

    Do you think you'd value the FP system as much if/when they begin enforcing the expiration time as at WDW now?

    But you're totally right: please forgive me, let's not exhume the FP debate(s).

    And...I just gotta ask: Is Duffy really your third fav character???

    ---------- Post added 07-31-2012 at 09:43 PM ----------

    @dfan07 - THANKS for that great news about the Organ!!!
    Last edited by vnormth; 07-31-2012 at 01:46 PM.

  9. #9

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    Re: PARK REPORT CARD - An occasional but knowledgeable visitor's DLR scorecard

    Thats disappointing to hear the pig starbucks is not up to par I had high hopes for that location and my coffee fix.
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    Re: PARK REPORT CARD - An occasional but knowledgeable visitor's DLR scorecard

    Quote Originally Posted by mickdaddy View Post
    Thats disappointing to hear the pig starbucks is not up to par I had high hopes for that location and my coffee fix.
    Well the coffee/latte itself was up-to-par and comparable to that from any other SBUX...the order-taking and order-making was haphazard and slow.

    How hard is "grande skinny vanilla latte"??? I've ordered it literally hundreds of times at other SBUX stores, but you'll have to explain every word's meaning to them in DCA...and then, sadly, still point out to the barista that she should use the non-fat milk pitcher.

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    Re: PARK REPORT CARD - An occasional but knowledgeable visitor's DLR scorecard

    Quote Originally Posted by vnormth View Post
    Well the coffee/latte itself was up-to-par and comparable to that from any other SBUX...the order-taking and order-making was haphazard and slow.

    How hard is "grande skinny vanilla latte"??? I've ordered it literally hundreds of times at other SBUX stores, but you'll have to explain every word's meaning to them in DCA.
    Good to hear on the coffee might take some time to work the kinks out of the ordering. (Hopefully)
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  12. #12

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    Re: PARK REPORT CARD - An occasional but knowledgeable visitor's DLR scorecard

    I personally can't stand the Voices of Liberty (judging from the show I went to). Yeah they can sing and all that stuff. I wish they kept it to just that But they were trying to be satirical, instead of being patriotic. One of them (I think the leader) made a snarky remark about Arizona for some reason. Very tastless in my opinion. I guess the WDW one is so much better and classier.

    News Boys and the Phineas & Ferb are just painfully bad! The talking mickey was cool though.

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    Re: PARK REPORT CARD - An occasional but knowledgeable visitor's DLR scorecard

    Quote Originally Posted by ducktalesfan5555 View Post
    I personally can't stand the Voices of Liberty (judging from the show I went to). Yeah they can sing and all that stuff. I wish they kept it to just that But they were trying to be satirical, instead of being patriotic. One of them (I think the leader) made a snarky remark about Arizona for some reason. Very tastless in my opinion.
    Wow! If that's what they did during your performance then I'd feel the same way too. The show I saw was nothing but patriotic Americana, including a salute to the armed forces where veterans in the audience were invited to stand and receive appreciation and applause.

    Phineas & Ferb is just a guilty pleasure...extremely dorky and dumb if you take it on the wrong level, but - like the cartoon - if you keep a sly tongue-in-cheek throughout, you can't help but break out into a wide grin.

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    Re: PARK REPORT CARD - An occasional but knowledgeable visitor's DLR scorecard

    I'm starting to dislike fastpass. For stand-by queuers, they'll have to wait for a longer time than the approx. waiting time! For fast-passers, it's no problem since they zip pass the stand by line and go directly to the boarding station without big human traffic. But, fast pass lines make the waiting longer and that is a bad thing. Yes, I agree it's time to retire the fastpass system and just stick to good ol' waiting.

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    Re: PARK REPORT CARD - An occasional but knowledgeable visitor's DLR scorecard

    Quote Originally Posted by vnormth View Post


    ATTRACTIONS: D
    Wow, where to begin?

    DLR attractions have become like Seattle weather: when it's working well it's wonderful, otherwise it's awful. But who moves to Seattle for the weather? In just 2 days of casual meandering (not trying to "do" everything), the breakdowns encountered were STAGGERING: Indy (of course), Jungle Cruise (yes, Jungle Cruise), Space Mountain (twice), GRR, Star Tours 2, Racers (thrice), Buzz, Silly Symphony, HM, PoC, Splash Mountain, Soarin' and Pooh. It's as if MG Dewitt T. Irby, Jr. is still at TDA (shudder). Can Al use his inside contacts to glean some ride downtime info??? The MTBF (mean-time between failures) rate of DLR attractions is shrinking terribly.

    Among the problems with breakdowns is that Fastpass holders over-accumulate during up-time. At GRR the FP Return line stretched to Redwood Creek Challenge Trail and doubled part way back. At Space Mt, the FP Return line stretched almost to the entrance of Pizza Port. At Soarin' the FP Return line curled to near the front of Taste Pilots' Grill. The Racers FP Distribution line at 8am already stretched past Carthay and closed for the day by 8:25am. (By the way, Racers didn't open until 11am that morning.) Then at HTT and Racers later in the evening, they enforced the FP closing time printed on the passes! Guests with FPs were turned away from both attractions and angrily went to Standby queues or left.
    This really resonates with me. Last time I brought the family to DCA, the first four attractions we chose were all "down". I mean, right off the bat! Four! The average guest only goes to five attractions in a day!

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