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  1. #1

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    6/22: Less Thunder

    Kevin notes the neglect at Big Thunder Mountain, More... Discuss it all here...

    DIRECT ARTICLE LINK: Less Thunder - MiceAge.com
    "Politics is the profession whereby the inevitable is made to seem a great human achievement" - Quentin Crisp

  2. #2

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    Re: 6/22: Less Thunder

    Nice article Kevin. I would make these comments:

    1. Big Thunder Wear and Tear. Yeah, it looks like WDW's Big Thunder is not being kept up as well as it should be. However, some of the fixes are relatively major and might need to be done when Big Thunder closes for a major refurb. For example, the broken rock section of the wall probably requires engineers to get a look at it for hours at a time, preferably during the day. To do the fix while the ride is in service would require Disney to pay some pretty bucks for overtime at night. (I'm guessing that this specialized fix is beyond the amount of time where it could easily be done in one night). As far as the water geysers at the exit go, are you sure Disney didn't shut them down because people were getting soaked and they were afraid about accidents? Again, Disney might not have a "geyser technician" on hand to fix this problem, and they might be waiting for a major refurb to fix some of the stuff. The growing vine on the rock fascade does look bad, and I would figure that the horticulturists would take care of this, the plant aspect of the show is very well maintained in Disneyland as I'm sure you know.

    2. Tortuga closing early. This is really bad show. Walt wanted all of the restaurants in Disneyland open if the park was open. Period. Because this is good hospitality and it makes guests want to return. Once when I was in DCA during noon I had trouble finding a place to buy a soda as some places were closed. I think the problem is that the restaurant department head(s) have a budget, and they get points for staying in that budget, and if they decide to close to save some bucks, then they do. Unfortunately, there isn't a quality control department which grasps the big picture, but what you have is a lot of little private fiefdoms.

    Consider this though, I found an article in business week (How Disney Works to Win Repeat Customers - BusinessWeek) which encourages businesses to use the Team Disney Orlando method for getting repeat business. Disney strategy is:

    1. Train employees to be respectful of all customers, including children.

    I guess this didn't happen when the Tortuga manager told guests to buzz off when the restaurant was closing early.

    2.
    Make waiting in line an entertaining experience.

    I guess this is why they are adding interactive stuff to the notoriously long Peter Pan ride line.

    3. Be "show-ready."

    Poor up keep of the rides means that they aren't as show ready as some would like.

    4. Keep the show on stage


    5.
    Encourage your team to be "assertively friendly."

    Even though Disney is still assumed to be an industry leader, it is easy to see how even Disney ethics can slip.
    Last edited by chesirecat; 06-22-2011 at 01:53 AM.

  3. #3

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    Re: 6/22: Less Thunder

    I think it must be easy for TDO to shrug off these bad show elements as essentially they're managing a working city. Who cares if one or two elements in one part of the city doesn't work. As long as the city continues to operate and makes money, life is good - right? WRONG!

    As I posted in the comments of Kevin's last entry, our family just returned from WDW and pledged not to return for a few years. Previously we were going about twice a year. The bad show elements are overwhelming, yes, especially for a Disney dweeb like me. But then you factor in the crowds, increased ticket prices, tired attractions, and bad cast attitudes and well, you start thinking of other vacation options.

    All of this attention to interactive queues. To quote Jim Hill - Why for? We were in stand-by for Pooh and my 5 and 7 year old were still bored. There seemed to be so much line cutting with the now wider aisles for the queue, that we eventually bailed on the ride! TDO needs to step it up in a major way. Fantasyland expansion is a nice idea, but more is needed. (Hasn't Disney already tried the circus theme, at least twice (DL and EP)? Both times it failed! And stale old EPCOT - don't get me started!)

    Here's my idea. SWAP TDO FOR TDA. And for the love of Walt, MOVE TONY BAXTER TO ORLANDO. I bet you that then we'll finally see some positive change!
    Last edited by dolewhipdude; 06-22-2011 at 06:37 AM.

  4. #4

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    Re: 6/22: Less Thunder

    Thanks for the update, Kevin. While I was one who voted to keep the text version, I still enjoy your video updates. So what if you have to work harder? We Disneyphiles NEED as much information as possible!

    I do want to say one thing about the BTMRR drape. l agree with you that enough little things that go wrong add up to an overall bad experience, and we (meaning you!) need to keep Disney's feet to the fire. But this picture that you keep showing on your updates isn't a very good representation of the actual drape. Most folks aren't going to aim a flash at the drape and see it in all its horror. Yes, I saw it on my last trip a month or so ago. But I was looking for it. If I didn't know it was there, I probably would never have seen it. Do they need to fix it? Absolutely. Is it as bad as the pics you've shown? No way.

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    Re: 6/22: Less Thunder

    Quote Originally Posted by dolewhipdude View Post
    I think it must be easy for TDO to shrug off these bad show elements as essentially they're managing a working city. Who cares if one or two elements in one part of the city doesn't work. As long as the city continues to operate and makes money, life is good - right? WRONG!

    As I posted in the comments of Kevin's last entry, our family just returned from WDW and pledged not to return for a few years. Previously we were going about twice a year. The bad show elements are overwhelming, yes, especially for a Disney dweeb like me. But then you factor in the crowds, increased ticket prices, tired attractions, and bad cast attitudes and well, you start thinking of other vacation options.

    All of this attention to interactive queues. To quote Jim Hill - Why for? We were in stand-by for Pooh and my 5 and 7 year old were still bored. There seemed to be so much line cutting with the now wider aisles for the queue, that we eventually bailed on the ride! TDO needs to step it up in a major way. Fantasyland expansion is a nice idea, but more is needed. (Hasn't Disney already tried the circus theme, at least twice (DL and EP)? Both times it failed! And stale old EPCOT - don't get me started!)

    Here's my idea. SWAP TDO FOR TDA. And for the love of Walt, MOVE TONY BAXTER TO ORLANDO. I bet you that then we'll finally see some positive change!

    Did you just write this message for me? We took our kids down to WDW (ages 1, 7, & 7) two weeks ago and our feelings were identical to yours. It all starts with the Disney Parks branding and goes down from there. I noticed right away the earthquake scene not working on Big Thunder Railroad, other attractions right in the vicinity such as the Country Bears was simply embarrassing to watch as the show was in such poor condition. You literally couldn't hear them at times.

    My wife and I lived in Orlando from the end of the 90's until the middle of last decade and the decline in quality at WDW in staggering. Countless rude cast members, it was unreal. We're ditching our one or two trip a year to WDW agenda, as well. We're actually going down to Universal later in the year and we'll try a whole trip with them.

    BTW- Did you go to any of the sit-down restaurants? We noticed, that besides the fact the menus were nearly identical throughout the property, even the menus were the same generic design with just the change of name at the top and a little bit of art separating them from the others of the same type of establishment.

    WDW has been Walmart-ized. Same garbage merchandise everywhere, the endless forced "magical" branding. The place has been turned into the prime spot to force so called memories for families, no spontaneity. Imagine if the characters were actually just randomly roaming around the parks, not having appointments, and assigned spots.

    We can only hope that once the DCA expansion is complete that management will start looking at numbers and their property in Florida and get people like Tony Baxter (if we were only so lucky) and John Lasseter involved.

  6. #6

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    Re: 6/22: Less Thunder

    It's to bad that TDO seems not to care about the maintenance of Big Thunder and other WDW attractions.
    Last edited by jpg391; 06-22-2011 at 09:05 AM.
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    Re: 6/22: Less Thunder

    Is the issue with the BTMRR cross-ties a recent development?

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    Re: 6/22: Less Thunder

    You know, I thought the Big Thunder track looked a bit odd when I saw it from the steamboat and train, but I couldn't put my finger on why.

    I appreciate that they might not be able to fix the missing rock inside until a scheduled major refurb, but they honestly could find a better mask for it until then. No, it's not AS noticeable in-ride as it is in pictures, but I find it hard to believe that the same company that makes those elaborate construction scrims can't come up with smething a little better than a black drape.

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    Re: 6/22: Less Thunder

    I just got back from WDW on Monday after a nine day trip. (Wow, it was HOT!) Here's a few things I noticed since my last trip:

    Spaceship Earth:
    Why is the paperboy near the printing presss turned around backwards so he is facing the wall?

    Ellen's Energy Adventure:
    The color matching between all of the film screens is very bad. One of them is WAY off. Those prints need to be remade!

    Test Track:
    In the furthest briefing room from the queue the audio is really distorted.
    The robots in the corrosion room were no longer moving and just pathetically spraying in one place.
    The oil pan stamping machine in the post-show area wasn't working.

    Living With the Land:
    There are some screens to the left right before you exit out into the greenhouse. The narration there is very loud and it continued as we were leaving and hearing the next narration as you enter the greenhouse so we couldn't really understand either one.

    Country Bear Jamboree:
    At the end the curtain on Big Al closed way too slowly and late so that when you hear the "oomph" and banging pots the curtain was still partially open and you could see Big Al just frozen there staring at you.

  10. #10

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    Re: 6/22: Less Thunder

    Quote Originally Posted by number719 View Post
    Spaceship Earth:
    Why is the paperboy near the printing presss turned around backwards so he is facing the wall?
    I'd read this somewhere else, so I made sure to check it out this time. There's a painted scene on the wall there, so he's actually facing down a dark street. But if the street isn't painted clearly enough, then it's a problem!

  11. #11

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    Re: 6/22: Less Thunder

    Actually, you cant quote me on this about the geysers but I don't believe it is because they are broken per say. The issue I heard they had is that instead of pumping water directly from the lake to use in the geysers, Disney hooked them up to the main water system. Using fresh water for these geysers with no way to recapture and reuse it was apparently to large of a waste of fresh water and money so they cut the effect. Want to help me out with this Kevin?

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    Wink Re: 6/22: Less Thunder

    Quote Originally Posted by dolewhipdude View Post

    Fantasyland expansion is a nice idea, but more is needed. (Hasn't Disney already tried the circus theme, at least twice (DL and EP)?
    Though Kevin's observations about poor upkeep are well received, the fact that the Fantasyland expansion is going ahead makes up for a lot in my mind. I would rather have the FLE and a couple of broken ride effects than everything running perfectly but nothing new. i can't wait to ride the Seven Dwafts ride, though I know it will be a couple of years.

    Concerning the "circus theme", it actually work pretty well in Disneyland where you have three rides grouped close together: Dumbo, Casey Jr. Circus Train, and Storybook Land Canal boats. Well, you maybe heard that the "Circusland" is going to be called Storybook Circus land. Which kinda begs the question: Will a Casey Jr. Train and Storbybook land canal boats be added at some point in the future?

  13. #13

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    Re: 6/22: Less Thunder

    Interesting info on the geysers. Yes, please find out more if you can!
    Kevin Yee
    MiceAge Columnist

    I am the author of several Disney books:
    Jason's Disneyland Almanac - a daily history of Disneyland
    Walt Disney World Hidden History - tributes, homages, and ride remnants at WDW
    Your Day at the Magic Kingdom
    Mouse Trap
    Tokyo Disney Made Easy
    101 Things You Never Knew About Disneyland
    Magic Quizdom (The Disneyland Trivia Book)

    “The press [should be] a watchdog. Not an attack dog. Not a lapdog. A watchdog. Now, a watchdog can't be right all the time. He doesn't bark only when he sees or smells something that's dangerous. A good watchdog barks at things that are suspicious.” – Dan Rather

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    Re: 6/22: Less Thunder

    Quote Originally Posted by alphac2005 View Post
    Did you just write this message for me? We took our kids down to WDW (ages 1, 7, & 7) two weeks ago and our feelings were identical to yours. It all starts with the Disney Parks branding and goes down from there. I noticed right away the earthquake scene not working on Big Thunder Railroad, other attractions right in the vicinity such as the Country Bears was simply embarrassing to watch as the show was in such poor condition. You literally couldn't hear them at times.

    My wife and I lived in Orlando from the end of the 90's until the middle of last decade and the decline in quality at WDW in staggering. Countless rude cast members, it was unreal. We're ditching our one or two trip a year to WDW agenda, as well. We're actually going down to Universal later in the year and we'll try a whole trip with them.

    BTW- Did you go to any of the sit-down restaurants? We noticed, that besides the fact the menus were nearly identical throughout the property, even the menus were the same generic design with just the change of name at the top and a little bit of art separating them from the others of the same type of establishment.

    WDW has been Walmart-ized. Same garbage merchandise everywhere, the endless forced "magical" branding. The place has been turned into the prime spot to force so called memories for families, no spontaneity. Imagine if the characters were actually just randomly roaming around the parks, not having appointments, and assigned spots.

    We can only hope that once the DCA expansion is complete that management will start looking at numbers and their property in Florida and get people like Tony Baxter (if we were only so lucky) and John Lasseter involved.
    Great post, alphac2005, or should I call you. . . Tony Baxter?

    I've written this before, but if word gets out that Disney World has been or is going downhill and then fewer people travel there, I know I will be annoyed when Disney attributes this to changing consumer preferences in entertainment.

    What I don't get it how come Disney's biggest shareholder, Steve Jobs, can be so brilliant about design for computers, and so absolutely apparently uninvolved at Walt Disney World. Let's change the name to Steve Jobs World for just five years to see if that doesn't inspire him to "inspire" the folks at Disney. Steve, please dump Iger at Staggs ASAP!

    It was JUST announced that Al Weiss is resigning. I'm not sure what he actually did. His job sounded similar to Tom Staggs'. I guess he was involved in the amazing new cruise ships, but a few Walt Disney World fans might not be too upset he's leaving. He looks like a nice guy in the picture I saw.

    Here are some WDW leaders:
    President, Walt Disney World Resort – Meg Crofton
    Senior Vice President of Operations and Next Generation Experiences, Walt Disney World Resort – Jim MacPhee
    Senior Vice President of Operations, Sales, and Alliance Development, Walt Disney World Resort — George Aguel
    Vice President, Magic Kingdom — Phil Holmes
    Vice President, Epcot — Dan Cockerell
    Vice President, Disney's Hollywood Studios – Rilous Carter
    Vice President, Disney's Animal Kingdom — Michael Colglazier
    Last edited by jcruise86; 06-22-2011 at 04:45 PM.

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    Re: 6/22: Less Thunder

    I must confess in the past I have sometimes thought Kevin was a little too picky and harsh, but I've also diligently read his defenses and understand where he's coming from. In addition, as Kevin has continued to publish articles pointing out more and more shortcomings on the part of TDO, I have come to be a full believer that even more pressure needs to be put on the Florida folks to both uphold the company legacy and standards, but also to deliver the value expected for the premium theme park experience of which they boast. Keep up the heat, Kevin! Let's make sure our voices are heart - my family is planning a rather epic trip next summer and I want it to be every thing we're hoping for.

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