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  1. #1

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    Has Tokyo Disney Resort Had It's Management Nightmares?

    Disneyland Resort went through its Paul Pressler and Cynthia Harris management-from-Hell period. From this side of the Pacific, it seems that Tokyo Disney Resort has never suffered from poor management and bad decisions.

    Is this accurate? Or did Tokyo have a period of suffering?

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    Re: Has Tokyo Disney Resort Had It's Management Nightmares?

    Tokyo Disney is owned & operated by the Oriental Land Company (OLC), they pay Disney a licensing fee. So, since Disney does not own the Tokyo parks, they didn't have to deal with Pressler/Harriss and their horrible management.

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    Re: Has Tokyo Disney Resort Had It's Management Nightmares?

    The licensing deals are rather strict and prevent the Oriental Land Company from operating their Resort like Disney operates their own parks in the US.

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    Re: Has Tokyo Disney Resort Had It's Management Nightmares?

    Quote Originally Posted by aimster View Post
    Tokyo Disney is owned & operated by the Oriental Land Company (OLC), they pay Disney a licensing fee. So, since Disney does not own the Tokyo parks, they didn't have to deal with Pressler/Harriss and their horrible management.
    Who owns, operates and manages TDR was not the question. The question was if there were ever periods of perceived "poor management" at TDR, regardless of who owns and operates the resort.

    Quote Originally Posted by lazyboy97O View Post
    The licensing deals are rather strict and prevent the Oriental Land Company from operating their Resort like Disney operates their own parks in the US.
    Again, the rules and any restrictions that may be in place in the licensing agreement and how they affect TDR operations isn't the question.

    Few would argue that the Pressler/Harris era at Disneyland wasn't a low period for the resort from many different aspects. It was the opinion of many Guests and CMs alike that DLR suffered from poor maintenance, lack of addition of quality attractions, low CM morale, too much focus on merchandising, etc.

    There have been other DLR management regimes that have been considered to be "poor" by some people, depending on their judging criteria.

    Judgment and criticism of the parks is and always has been an subjective matter. The Pressler/Harris era just happened to be the most universally disliked management period.

    So to address TDR and OLC regarding this topic, you have to realize that judging of a resorts operation is for the most part a perceived opinion. Depending on who is passing judgment, the perception can and will vary widely.

    Has there been an era at TDR where OLC's management of the resort was universally perceived to be poor? In my opinion, the answer is no. Have there been and are there negative opinions out there about past and present poor management by OLC. Definitely yes!

    Foreign Guest to TDR tend to almost always have a very positive opinion of TDR, myself included. This has a lot to do with the fact that foreign visitors view the resort differently than the locals/annual passholders. There are plenty of complaints I hear from the locals about how OLC operates the resort. Just like we in the US complain about DLR and WDW, the Japanese complain about how OLC does or doesn't do things to improve the resort. Complaints range from general park operations to attractions and entertainment.

    Common complaints are... CMs are too strict regarding crowd control for parades and shows, parades and shows aren't updated every year, new show quality is being cut back (e.g. lack of castle stage shows), there is a lack of new attractions going into the parks, etc. For a foreigner that visits once every few years these complaints seem minor. But for a Japanese annual passholder that visit multiple times a year every year, these complaints are more valid.

    If you know and talk to CMs of TDR, you will learn there are many complaints about OLC management from their perspective. There exists very similar complaints to those of the US Disney Parks CMs, and some complaints that are completely unique to OLC CMs. The fact is, there are negative opinions held by some about how OLC treats their CMs. Some of the complaints are poor pay, complaints about scheduling and hours, and not having any front gate privileges whatsoever. TDR CMs have to pay to enter their own park if they aren't working. They also don't have any agreement with the other Disney Parks in the world regarding front gate privileges.

    Due to this forum not having large Japanese participation, we just don't hear about them that much.

    I know the second part of my post doesn't apply to the OPs question, but I did want to share that opinions and perceptions of resort management are subjective and are largely based on who is doing the judging.
    Last edited by Roger55; 07-21-2013 at 09:03 AM.

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    Re: Has Tokyo Disney Resort Had It's Management Nightmares?

    Quote Originally Posted by Roger55 View Post
    Who owns, operates and manages TDR was not the question. The question was if there were ever periods of perceived "poor management" at TDR, regardless of who owns and operates the resort.



    Again, the rules and any restrictions that may be in place in the licensing agreement and how they affect TDR operations isn't the question.

    Few would argue that the Pressler/Harris era at Disneyland wasn't a low period for the resort from many different aspects. It was the opinion of many Guests and CMs alike that DLR suffered from poor maintenance, lack of addition of quality attractions, low CM morale, too much focus on merchandising, etc.
    Thank you, Roger55 -- you got exactly what I was looking for!

    So, once again, has the Tokyo Disney Resort ever had a spate of poor management?

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    Re: Has Tokyo Disney Resort Had It's Management Nightmares?

    It's going through one right now!!!


    Unfortunately if someone like myself speaks up against it then your accused of being dramatic or my favourite one "it doesn't matter because your not the target audience". Over the last 10 years I have seen plenty to be concern over in regards to the current Management structure. Unfortunately if you speak out against it you get the predictable WDW argument thrown back in your face. I recall several years back a float breaking apart which could have quite easily injured many people. This was brushed aside by the US Fan Boys as a minor incident. When I first visited attractions were all in perfect condition. Now days is common to see some effects not working. Seasonal Parades were offered new every year and not just every three years. The OLC are just as bad as the WDC when it comes to managing its parks. Only like someone once said to me the OLC hide it better. Oh and for the most part Disney seem to respect and treat its Cast Members with better working conditions and privileges like Roger pointed out in the above post.

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    Re: Has Tokyo Disney Resort Had It's Management Nightmares?

    "The OLC are just as bad as the WDC when it comes to managing its parks. "

    That is ridiculous and plainly false!
    Born in a shoebox and making the most of it.

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    Re: Has Tokyo Disney Resort Had It's Management Nightmares?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fukai View Post
    "The OLC are just as bad as the WDC when it comes to managing its parks. "

    That is ridiculous and plainly false!
    I have to second this. Although TDR management decisions over the past several years have been trending towards a more cost conscious mode of operating, I don't think it is fair to say their management of the parks is just as bad as the WDC.

    There is always room for improvement. TDR quality has dropped in recent years. But TDR quality was waaaay above the US parks to begin with.

    TDR still continues to offer a significantly higher quality of entertainment, merchandise, food services, park maintenance and resort operations than DLR and WDW.

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    Re: Has Tokyo Disney Resort Had It's Management Nightmares?

    Higher quality and more variety, but there are signs of a more money-oriented model. I wonder if it's necessity, though? ZED and the closure in 2011 must have been costly, plus all the cutbacks of TDS 10th. There's a lot of new stuff happening, too, though. It feels more like a flux than a lull, and nothing yet convinces me that there's been a significant shift in operating fundamentals prioritizing profits over guest experience. When folks criticize the WDC, it seems to be about exactly that.

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    Re: Has Tokyo Disney Resort Had It's Management Nightmares?

    TDR still continues to offer a significantly higher quality of entertainment, merchandise, food services, park maintenance and resort operations than DLR and WDW.
    Which you end up paying much more for as a result. What's the cost for an Annual Passport now days? Over $800.00 and that doesn't include all the discounts you get vs the other Disney Parks. I also question the comment about having a higher quality of entertainment. Aladdin at DCA is just as good as anything TDR has in regards to stage shows. The new Mickey and the Magical Map is far more advance then the ageing shows like One Man's Dream II and Minnie Oh Minnie. I can't talk about WDW (Don't Visit) but I'd say the maintenance of attractions to be exactly the same as it is in Disneyland vs Tokyo Disney Resort. The food at Disneyland has greatly improved in recent years and when in comparison with both price, quality and size of the product then Disneyland wins. In regards to merchandise yeah TDR has a better product. But you usually have to pay much more for it! And as someone who's visited over recent years I'd say that cost has gone up massively in that time. If you want to believe it or not but I stand by my earlier comments that the WDC is not any worst then OLC its just the OLC is able to hide it much better. I also think if you visited the parks on a weekly basis you'd see it more then just a couple of Annual trips each year.

  11. #11

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    Re: Has Tokyo Disney Resort Had It's Management Nightmares?

    What matters is what the guests see. As a guest at Tokyo´s Disneyland and Disneysea you will see the very best that Disney could ever offer. It looks and smells new, CMs are polite and everything is done with great attention to detail.

    At WDW most rides has atleast one or three missing effects or major errors, all rides can break down at any time and new rides come very seldom.

    At DLP nothing ever works as it should, the parks show terrible signs of neglect. Walkways sometimes stink of feces from leaking pipes and uncleaned toilets, CM´s are sometimes very rude, guests are allowed to urinate and smoke wherever they feel like and rides have multiple missing effects and signs of age. Disneyland Paris gets fewer attractions each year due to bad management.
    To most Disneypark fans the resort fails to live up to expectations in most ways due to cutbacks and horrible ways to keep the parks going.

    OLC is not that bad after all...
    Last edited by TimmyTimmyTimmy; 07-23-2013 at 03:12 AM.
    The world according me: http://www.youtube.com/user/TimmyME

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    Re: Has Tokyo Disney Resort Had It's Management Nightmares?

    Malin, I'll agree completely that the lack of bonuses for AP-holders at TDR is really frustrating. We still have to pay full price for Funderful Fan Club membership. Also, there are no longer gifts with Funderful membership, and lately even the in-park bonuses for Funderful members require a purchase of some kind. We get presents at the Member's Party, but we pay for it, too. Every one of those has been excellent, though, both in terms of gifts and the event itself. I'd rather pay a little more for a whole lot of wonderful, but I do often wish there were more "perks" to having the AP.

    AP-holders haven't even had so much as a "shopping rally" with even the chance to "earn" AP bonuses (by spending more money, of course!). I think the last one was in January 2012, and it was limited to TDL. The last one at TDS was in 2010. There was some kind of Christmas shopping campaign in 2008 that was for everyone, not just AP-holders, I think. I hope they do a Resort-wide rally for either Halloween or Christmas this year. It's not the same as discounts, but it's better than no bonuses at all. It seems like there usually is a "Magic Rally" for major anniversaries, so maybe we'll get one soon!

  13. #13

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    Re: Has Tokyo Disney Resort Had It's Management Nightmares?

    Kudos on going above and beyond to make a point. However, omitting certain facts and injecting personal opinions as a way to make a point doesn't present a very balance perspective for those not in the know.

    Quote Originally Posted by Malin View Post
    Which you end up paying much more for as a result. What's the cost for an Annual Passport now days? Over $800.00 and that doesn't include all the discounts you get vs the other Disney Parks.
    DLR Premium AP - $669
    WDW AP - $609
    WDW Premium AP - $729
    TDR Two Park AP - $800

    DLR Four Day Ticket- $230
    DLR Four Day Parkhopper Ticket - $265
    WDW Four Day Magic your Way - $279 +$59 for parkhopping
    TDR Four Day Passport (Last two days Parkhopping) - $160

    Statement takes on a different meaning when one looks at all the other pricing and not just the AP prices.

    Quote Originally Posted by Malin View Post
    I also question the comment about having a higher quality of entertainment. Aladdin at DCA is just as good as anything TDR has in regards to stage shows. The new Mickey and the Magical Map is far more advance then the ageing shows like One Man's Dream II and Minnie Oh Minnie.
    This is a very subjective matter so almost any opinion is valid. I'd just like to say that the seasonal entertainment at TDR is viewed by many as more elaborate and even though it ONLY changes every three years or so, that far exceeds the refress of the Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Part, Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Part at WDW and Mickey's Halloween Party and Christmast Fantasy event at DLR. TDR also has seasonal spring and summer entertainment offerings.

    Anyone not familiar with TDR parades and shows should YouTube Legend of Mythica, Fantasmic!, Big Band Beat, Mystic Rythms, Happiness Is Here parade, Jubiliation (ended), Electrical Parade Drealights and any of the Christmas or Halloween shows at TDL and TDS to form their own opinion about entertainment quality.

    Quote Originally Posted by Malin View Post
    I can't talk about WDW (Don't Visit) but I'd say the maintenance of attractions to be exactly the same as it is in Disneyland vs Tokyo Disney Resort.
    I can't comment on the maitenance procedures, but I can share that my opinion that TDR exceeds the US parks on overal park appearance from a cleanliness, paint, and horticulture perspective. Over the years, it does seem to me that there are more maintenace related accidents at the US Parks than at TDR for what that's worth.

    Quote Originally Posted by Malin View Post
    The food at Disneyland has greatly improved in recent years and when in comparison with both price, quality and size of the product then Disneyland wins.
    While I will not be so bold to state my opinion as fact, I will say the DLR food has been on the rise. I still feel that TDR is above the US Parks but again, this is just an opinion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Malin View Post
    In regards to merchandise yeah TDR has a better product. But you usually have to pay much more for it! And as someone who's visited over recent years I'd say that cost has gone up massively in that time.
    I'm not familiar with the quality measurement based on consumer cost.

    Quote Originally Posted by Malin View Post
    If you want to believe it or not but I stand by my earlier comments that the WDC is not any worst then OLC its just the OLC is able to hide it much better. I also think if you visited the parks on a weekly basis you'd see it more then just a couple of Annual trips each year.
    This is a matter of opinon of which I can not agree with or refute.

  14. #14

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    Re: Has Tokyo Disney Resort Had It's Management Nightmares?

    We could compare facts and figures on the prices all day. Like for instance mentioning that the US Disney Park passes also include full access to the Monorail system. TDR charges a separate rate for this service. The WDW prices also offer a very unfair comparison because many of the passes offer 7-10-14 days and include access to all for parks, plus water parks and a number of other benefits. Plus if like myself you book accommodation in a package you instantly get free dining and $100.00 which instantly adds further value to your vacation. I'm not aware of the TDR offering similar packages. But this is down to each individual Resort offering rates and packages to match Consumer demand. From my understanding the vast majority of Guests are from the same region. And most have AP's. Reason why the 4 day passes offer better value is that the OLC are counting on these people to book vacation packages which include hotel rooms. It's an added incentive to try and bring in more tourist from the other regions of Japan. Anyone who's traveled outside of Tokyo can tell you how aggressive the marketing promotions are for the Resorts. These include ticket sales in convenience stores to massive posters in the major train stations. Yes it's wrong to point out only the AP prices but even the other passes while cheaper in price are this way for a very good reason. The fact Disney makes a cut on the gate sales also seems to suggest why OLC use other alternatives to collect revenue out of people. A few days at the Resort can quite easily cost the same as a week in Anaheim or Orlando when you add on merchandise and food sales. Anyway this particular discussion can swing backwards and forwards but doesn't alter the fact that a lot of the AP guys are frustrated with the cutbacks to entertainment. Plus the fact the Resort offers no discounts on parking, merchandise or food.

    The seasonal entertainment are provided to sell merchandise and increase food sales. Plus bring in crowds during what are usually quieter times. This has unfortunately been reduced at TDR recently. And while WDW bring out the same entertainment each year at a cost to the Guest. You are provided parades, Fireworks and Stage Shows. To me it's a further decline in the TDR operation. But if it was not for the fact it sells millions in merchandise I could quite easily see them charge a ticket for the event. The advantage Japan has over the US parks is higher spending.

    Mythica, Dreamlights and Happiness are all quality productions. I can't dispute this and don't recall doing so either. But if people were to take a look at One Man Dreams II, A Table Is Waiting and Minnie Oh Minnie vs some of the recent shows in Disneyland like Aladdin and Magical Map. I think people would view the US Parks stage show offerings as a better standard of show compared to these shows. And certainly up there with the other greats like Big Band Beat and Rhythms.

    I don't recall the last park accident in the US. But I know TDR has had a few incidents over the years. The last one being the Raging Spirits incident which was put down to a lack of training and poor procedure.

    Again this is all just opinion and not fact. I don't believe the current Management at OLC are doing the best it possibly could for the parks. But again the current structure has changed and its not all there fault. I guess credit must go to the OLC for not only cutting cost of expensive entertainment. But also providing continued growth and positive numbers. I suspect despite no new Castle Show this year we will still see a record breaking year for them.

  15. #15

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    Re: Has Tokyo Disney Resort Had It's Management Nightmares?

    Quote Originally Posted by DoctorQ9 View Post
    Disneyland Resort went through its Paul Pressler and Cynthia Harris management-from-Hell period. From this side of the Pacific, it seems that Tokyo Disney Resort has never suffered from poor management and bad decisions.

    Is this accurate? Or did Tokyo have a period of suffering?
    I could write a very, very long answer to this, but I'm just going to keep it down to the basics.

    There are some who have an almost religious reverence for the Tokyo Disney Resort and Oriental Land Company. For quite a while, OLC essentially earned the sentiment, but, it all began to change in 1996. OLC went public in order to raise the funds for DisneySea. Long story short, there had always been a tug-of-war between the bold dreamers (like Kawasaki Chiharu and then Takahashi Masatomo) and the profit obsessed, bean-counting executives, especially those of Mitsusi Fudosan. If most Mitsui Fudosan executives had their way when Takahashi san was first negotiating with Walt Disney Productions, Maihama would have been just another housing development.

    The dreamers lost their leader when Takahashi san passed away in 2000. His loss, the forces at Mitsusi Fudosan, and the pressure to please stockholders (most of them extremely large institutional investors like banks and insurance companies) have lead to a cultural change at OLC, to a much more bottom-line driven approach. Nothing changes quickly in this country (Japan). It's a cultural thing. So, even with those forces at play that I mentioned, it still took a few years for that change to reach its tipping point, for the money men to fully take the reins. It happened 2007, just after the the fifth anniversary of DisneySea. Despite it opening six years after his death, I see DisneySea's Tower of Terror as the final note of the thirty year long Takahashi Masatomo era.

    The cosmetic problem of peeling paint, which, sadly, is now quite common, especially at Tokyo Disneyland, and a substantial increase in attraction downtimes are the least of the problems that have manifested in recent years. Budgets have been whittled down in all areas of maintenance. For example, not only does the slurry look awful, but it becomes slick when wet in many area due to lack of maintenance. Also, wooden bridges which use abrasive strips to prevent slipping have worn away and have not been replaced. It rains here, a lot. Guests are falling, often. Executives at OLC are well aware of it. Reports to managers about the problems from attraction, merchandise, and food service cast result in no action. In another recent example of cutback related incident, just two days ago a female guest was injured at Mediterranean Harbor during a performance of "Minnie's Tropical Splash" when she was hit by a loose part of an elevated speaker assembly that was dislodged by one of the high-powered water hoses used to soak the audience.

    (A note about the term "cast": For those who don't know, the terms "cast" - casuto - and "member" - memba - are commonly used to refer to those who work at TDR, not "cast member" or "CM" - I normally use "cast.")

    The wages they pay to cast are a disgrace. The starting wage for most cast is 1000 yen (roughly$10) an hour and not only have there been no increases in years, it was actually lowered a few years ago. Cast who take on increased responsibility, becoming a "trainer," a "lead," or a "leader," for example, receive no additional compensation. They will work their hearts out and are lucky to receive an annual pay increase of only five yen (a nickel more an hour). The cast who continue to provide excellent service do it not because of management, but despite them. They are, for the most part, young women who have a love for Disney, a love of their favorite Disney character, and a drive to live up to the Disney standard as they see it. OLC exploits that love to pad their bottom line, paying them barely enough to live on, not giving them free access to the parks (they're given two tickets every three months and the occasional couple of additional tickets when a new attraction opens) and a "Thanks Day" that takes place in one of the parks on an evening every February.

    The low wage has the effect of lowing the number of applicants, lowering the standard for acceptance, very often preventing someone who is best suited for a certain role from taking that role because they must be assigned to a location only because it's the most shorthanded. Having to work with new cast who don't take their responsibility seriously and/or are simply not well suited to the location they've been assigned has lead to not only in increased turnover in the newly hired cast, but also in the veteran cast who reach the end of there rope from stress of having to deal with them (Raging Spirits ...), in addition to the low wage and lack of appreciation they receive from management.


    There's really much more to all of this, but I tried to write what is really just the beginning of an answer to your quite relevant question. The Tokyo Disney Resort's "management nightmare" started a few years ago, we're deep in it right now, and it's hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel. I do believe there's a light there, though. There's only so long they're going to be able to continue riding on their reputation of the past. Hopefully the loss of life won't be involved, as it was at Disneyland ... I know more than one former cast who left and more than one who plans to leave because they don't want to be there when the cuts lead to someone being seriously injured or killed.

    Kagami san is old. My hope is that his successor will be that right man at the right time; that he will follow in the proud footsteps of Walt Disney, Kawasaki Chiharu, and Takahashi Masatomo.

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