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Rafted (continued)

A series of maneuvers then allowed the line of canoes to pass the broken down raft that was still tethered to the island.

...exciting and new...

The Blackbeard, the lone operating raft capable of rescuing park customers, was sent over and lashed to the side of the Anne Bonney, with the broken down raft serving as a bridge to the Blackbeard for the growing line of people who wanted off the island.

...come aboard...

...we're waiting for you!

The Love Raft!

With the first load of passengers finally allowed to leave the island, the Anne Bonney was towed back to the mainland dock while managers stayed on the island and offered apologies to the increasingly testy line of people waiting to be rescued.

Where's Issac?

Finally, the Columbia was allowed to pass, after sitting in the water for 20 minutes in the direct afternoon sun with a full load of passengers who had a front row seat for the drama.

Not Gopher!

It bears mentioning that the Blackbeard has also had its share of engine problems recently, but on Sunday afternoon it thankfully kept running when it was needed most.

In the grand scheme of things at Disneyland this raft breakdown could be seen as an unusual but rather minor incident that ended without injury. But the sad thing is that this was a stressful incident for the Cast Members that was also a bit scary for some of the visitors and that needn't have happened at all if TDA had stuck with the previous practice of having more than two operating rafts for visitor use.

If there had been four operating rafts available, when the Anne Bonney began having engine problems weeks ago that raft could have been pulled offline or even out of the water while a seamless attraction operation continued for the paying visitors.

But the hard working Disneyland Facilities department can only do so much with what they are given, and the temporary work on the Anne Bonney needed to keep the attraction open every day finally caught up with them on Sunday afternoon. There had been a series of meetings this past fall, with Greg Emmer in attendance, regarding purchasing a third raft for visitor use. But again the decision came down that the funding required just wasn't available for Operations to spend.

What is the most frustrating is that money often flows from these endless bi-coastal meetings, but is often spent on wasteful pet projects that no visitor will ever see, and most Cast Members will never care about. Where for decades a simple chalkboard at the Cast Member entry gates once announced the basic park operating info for the day, now the growing "Cast Communications" department has installed dozens of hanging plasma screen televisions that flash commercials for the latest tip on staying hydrated during hot weather or a reminder about the upcoming blood drive. And the commercials on these dozens of TV screens drag on for so long, that in the 10 seconds a Cast Member uses to swipe their ID card and pass through the entry area they still haven't been reminded of the park closing time for the day like the old-fashioned chalk board used to do for a fraction of the cost of a plasma screen television.

There are dozens of examples like that where Greg's fellow executives in TDA are wasting money left and right under the guise of the new "global structure," while projects and operational improvements in the parks are deferred and cancelled due to lack of funding. But when some people in TDA report to a Vice President in Orlando, and vice versa, (with lots of red-eye flights linking them together), the chain of accountability has become so muddled that all the wasteful spending goes on practically unchecked.

Meanwhile, the dingy and dirty Cast Member break rooms still haven't been remodeled, and the Cast Member cafeterias still can't serve up a decent five dollar pork chop. The Cast Member shuttles that run thousands of employees per day to the huge Katella Cast Member Parking Lot are still so run down, so understaffed, and so overcrowded, that most of the big managers working in the park have weaseled their way out of riding them altogether. Even though their workplace is inside the berm alongside the hourly folks and they should be parking alongside them in the Katella lot, many top managers have been given their own personal Segway that they use to zip backstage up to their car conveniently parked at TDA.

And that's certainly a ringing endorsement for how completely broken the Cast Member parking situation is, as the big boss flies past on a Segway while the worker bees file out the gate beneath an ignored plasma screen TV to wait in a long line for an overcrowded shuttle to their cars. And yet the entire corporate structure Rasulo has rammed into place is stacked against any real positive change, or anyone being able to stop the wasteful spending, while so many legitimate operational needs go unchecked and underfunded all over the Resort.

Greg Emmer may not have been able to fix all of the problems under Jay Rasulo's corporate structure, but he at least knew they existed and did what he could.

The real concern from folks is what happens now that Emmer won't be there to fight the good fight, even though increasingly he couldn't win. Ed Grier, who needs a teleprompter to speak in person, is considered to be completely out of touch with the daily operation of the parks and hotels. The turnover rate of hourly employees hasn't budged under him, and it still nears a yearly rate of 100% in many key operational departments. The average tenure of Cast Members working in the parks is measured in single digit months for almost every park department.

While the horrific turnover rates drag on, none of the useless ploys by the Human Resources department to market the "Disney Difference" package of employee discounts and activities as a reason why hourly Cast Members should stick around is working.

Now that the news of his resignation is sinking in at TDA, the real story here is 'who is going to replace Greg Emmer.' And what that new person will do with the long list of legitimate issues facing Anaheim as an unprecedented amount of money gets poured into the property to fix DCA's creative problems.

There are a couple of obvious candidates for Greg's job in Anaheim with the Vice Presidents that serve directly beneath him. For the most part, those two or three Vice Presidents have promising backgrounds and personalities that could continue in Greg's famous footsteps.

Alas, the wild card here is if Ed Grier brings in an outsider (or is pushed to do so), someone to be his yes man just so he can busy himself with being Jay Rasulo's yes man. This change could have more implications for Disneyland's paying customers than you might realize, so we are going to continue to look into this story and fill you in once Greg Emmer's replacement is announced.

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Oh-kay - that should do it for today. I have to finish packing.

See you at Disneyland! (If it's working that is...)

Al Lutz may be e-mailed at [email protected] - Please keep in mind he may not be able to respond to each note personally.

2008 Al Lutz

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