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The Party's Over - Al Lutz, MiceAge.com

As the wildly successful summer of 2012 quickly morphs into the next peak season dubbed HalloweenTime, both parks had a scant two weeks when things slowed down a bit before the crowds rushed back to see Disneyland’s popular Halloween offerings and hope that the Standby line for Radiator Springs Racers was less than an hour (it wasn’t).

In this update we’ll fill you in on just how successful the DCA relaunch has been this summer, what it means for the Resort over the short term, and how the One Disney corporate mantra is taking advantage of DCA’s success to remove another little bit of unique Walt-era culture left in Anaheim.

Before we start though, lest we forget, we have a few quick notes:

  • First a special thanks goes out to Andy Castro this week for his help with the pictures we needed. He's plenty busy with his own terrific column and to take time to help out is much appreciated.

  • Second, as you may have noticed, we here at MiceAge/MiceChat have continued to morph our publishing software to a much more efficent (and hopefully less error-prone) system. Since work still continued on my version of the templates and their formatting as everyone moved to the new system, I've been continuing with the old format. This update will most likely be the last time you'll see the hand-coded method of doing it, and marks the end of an era here on the site. Hopefully we wll be able to continue to tailor the software to give you a better presentation without blending into the endless sea of lookalike wordpress blogs that the web has been turning into over the last few years.

  • Third (and finally), a few of you have been reporting glitches with your browsers and the new format. The problem is apparently hitting those with much older versions of Firefox. The solution is simple, if you're using version 3.5 and the latest release is 14 and 15, you should upgrade your software to the current version, or if your equipment can't handle that upgrade you should consider upgrading to a platform that can.

Forget the bran muffin, we'll have a more decadent Chocolate-chocolate chip muffin-top along with our cup of Joe from Kean's. Let’s get going shall we? - Al

Hot Rodding

Ever since the re-launched DCA opened on June 15th we’ve been detailing for you how the attendance patterns between the two parks had been dramatically changed and had surprised even the most optimistic projections from TDA. The goal TDA was hoping to achieve for calendar year 2012 was that DCA would increase its current annual attendance of just under 6.4 Million by 1 million visitors, taking it to a level around 7.4 million per year, and then holding that level for at least 2013. With Cars Land wildly exceeding expectations on the customer satisfaction surveys by both tourists and locals alike, DCA blew the daily attendance projections out of the water all summer long and soaked up huge crowds of people that were genuinely happy to spend all day at DCA instead of hopping back to Disneyland after a few hours.

The result of the wildly successful summer is that just a few days ago DCA crested the 7 Million attendance threshold and is now easily headed towards a 2012 figure somewhere north of 9 Million for the year, and perhaps 10 Million or more. The passing of the 7 Million milestone at the end of the summer was particularly bittersweet for many in Anaheim, as that was the original attendance estimate DCA was supposed to meet right out of the gate when it opened in early 2001.

The early attendance for DCA never came close to that, struggling to get 5 Million or less per year for much of the last decade even as they offered free child’s admission and engaged in deep discounts and constant marketing schemes as they begged people to visit DCA, while Disneyland continued to pull in ever-increasing crowds next door. But after making incremental improvements over the last few years with new rides and shows and cosmetic makeovers, Cars Land finally pushed DCA into a new league and has finally blown those infamous 2001 projections out of the water.

Rehab Reschedules

While weekdays in September and October are relatively calm at both parks, the weekends in the fall can bring some of the biggest crowds of the year before the Christmas season begins and ends the year with the two busiest weeks of all. The strong attendance, in conjunction with the changing needs of construction timelines managed by WDI, has played havoc on the rehab calendar recently.

With Indy needing more work than originally thought (after a series of short rehabs recently), the Big Thunder full rehab we first noted here was pushed back until after Christmas. Big Thunder is now scheduled to close on January 14th, 2013 and be down for most of the year, while the poor Alice rehab keeps getting bounced by the need for other Fantasyland rehabs, most recently at Storybookland. The goal with Alice now is to have it done before the new Fantasyland Theater debuts at the end of May next year.

All of those dates can change at a moment’s notice, as many folks planning a fall trip found out the hard way when Indy suddenly showed up on the calendar for a 14 week rehab this fall. It’s increasingly tough for the rehab planners, as the last four months of the year often bring over a third of the Resort’s annual attendance now. There is no slow season left.

Harrowing Holidays

As we just noted, the last four months of the year often bring over a third of the Resort’s annual attendance. When the unofficial, but extremely accurate, theme park attendance figures are released for 2012 by the Themed Entertainment Association trade group, DCA will see its annual attendance shoot up by upwards of 40% or more. Disneyland will be seeing a slight decline in attendance as it’s that “first click” of the turnstile each morning that counts, even if the visitor spends many hours of the day later at Disneyland. But the two parks combined as a single resort will see a very healthy gain from their 2011 figure, all thanks to the stunning success of Cars Land and the complete metamorphosis of Disney California Adventure.

What is still to be seen is how that crowd demographic reacts during the busy Christmas season, when Disneyland is decorated to the hilt and offers several major entertainment offerings only found during the holidays. DCA still does Christmas-Lite compared to Disneyland when it comes to decorations, attractions and entertainment, although the full Christmas treatment will be applied this November in Cars Land and on Buena Vista Street. The official DCA Christmas tree will take up residence in the small plaza in front of the Elias & Co. department store, making the Storytellers statue photo op just in front of the tree a must-have all over again for Disney fans. And while Cars Land already stuns visitors at night when the town neon and Cadillac Range lighting turns on, the character-themed Christmas overlays each location will be getting will make a return visit to Cars Land even more important, as if that land has any trouble keeping people away.

Morning magic

Disneyland is infamously overcrowded at Christmastime, and DCA has always been able to be the release valve where visitors shut out of Disneyland were forced to go wait until the Disneyland main entrance could be re-opened again to cram more sardines into the tin. With DCA able to pull in a bigger chunk of those crowds all on its own, the TDA planners are on the edge of their seat waiting to see where the crowds go this Christmas and if they can get away without having to close Disneyland due to overcrowding for the first Christmas season in years.

As proof that DCA’s re-launch has a strong foundation, when Disney’s new fiscal year starts in October they will change the Magic Morning early entry calendar to reflect four days per week of early entry at DCA, with Disneyland picking up the slack and only offering early entry the other three days per week. The early entry scheme will be aimed primarily at the hotel crowds, as their occupancy rates continue to hover well above 90% this fall, and the chance to get a head start in the morning at Radiator Springs Racers and Cars Land is now perceived to be a bigger perk than quick monorail access or an upper-floor view of the fireworks.

No Parking

Before the holiday crowds arrive, there are some tweaks and changes coming to Cars Land, most notably to the shopping options. The poorly planned but nicely themed Fastpass distribution area for Radiator Springs Racers has finally been removed, with DCA managers now acknowledging they will have to offer Fastpasses for the ride at the “temporary” area near A Bugs Land for several more years. With that space now empty, the DCA Stores team has their eye on that garage as expansion space for Ramone’s House of Body Art next door. The goal is to knock out an opening in the wall and expand Ramone’s sales floor into that space by Thanksgiving, almost doubling the square footage available for the popular adult clothing and souvenirs sold at Ramone’s.


What’s to become of the custom made Fastpass Distribution neon sign is unclear, as WDI doesn’t want to see it removed and the Stores team isn’t currently willing to kick in money from their budget to have it redesigned. That’s one of those typical corporate tug-of-wars that often erupt within Disney’s inefficient system of Imagineering vs. Operations hierarchy, but WDI will at least acknowledge that those financial battles generally turn out better in Anaheim than they do in Orlando.

The Line King

Another change triggered by the huge popularity of Cars Land and Radiator Springs Racers will be coming this winter to the Resort’s Guest Assistance Card program. The Guest Assistance Cards, or GAC’s as the Cast Members call them, are a program about 8 years old that allow those with disabilities that prevent them from being in long lines of people but don’t necessarily confine them to a wheelchair to bypass most lines at most attractions. Many people consider them a “front of line pass”, and a sub-culture of fraud and dishonesty has grown up around the program in recent years, where people with no disability whatsoever or with a vaguely undefined yet blanket condition like “claustrophobia” or a “bad back” now have a GAC. The Guest Relations team manages and distributes the GACs, and they will now post-date them for months in advance for Annual Passholders so that they have them ready to use for every casual visit for months at a time.

The result this summer was that on days with high Annual Passholder visitation rates the line of people wanting to use their GAC at Racers would completely overwhelm the attraction and create a line of 30 to 45 minutes long, clogging the Fastpass lane and demanding that the ride operators at Racers dramatically dial down the number of Fastpasses distributed each day. (And now you know why the Racers Fastpasses are all gone within 60 minutes of park opening; they are only giving out a third of the number of tickets they should be able to as they try and manage the GACs heading into the ride through the same line).


The Guest Relations team was summoned to the Racers ride entrance all summer as they tried to mitigate the problem by forcing GAC holders to return only after the length of the Standby line had lapsed, issuing them a “return time” much like a Fastpass. This process at least prevented those with GACs from just going around and around through the Fastpass line as much as they wanted, as a 45 minute Fastpass/GAC wait time is at least shorter than the two to three hour long Standby wait. The irony of a 45 minute line for people who freely acknowledge they can’t wait in line is not lost on any of the Cast Members from Guest Relations or Radiator Springs Racers.

When word of this GAC phenomenon reached DCA executives and George Kalogridis, after they demanded to know why so few Fastpasses were being given out each morning, the answer took the TDA executives by surprise. Any front-line Attractions or Guest Relations Cast Member has known the GAC program was highly abused and nearly worthless for years, but most executives had no exposure to the problem and had no idea so many GACs were being issued, often for months at a time. Some quick studies were commissioned by the Guest Relations team this summer, and it was determined that upwards of 5,000 people per day, almost all of whom were tracked as Annual Passholders, were going through the Fastpass line at Radiator Springs Racers with a GAC. At an attraction like Racers that was carrying an average of 20,000 riders per day, 5,000 of them boarding the ride with a GAC is a huge impact. After all, a GAC is valid for the disabled person, and up to five of their friends or family, so while there were often 1,500 or more valid GACs in the park at any one time that meant there were thousands more people joining the GAC card holder at an attraction.

The no line line
Disabled visitors trying to access the Racers ride with a GAC first need to stop at this podium to receive a hand-written boarding pass from a Racers CM for use an hour or two later, and then wait through the often lengthy Fastpass line.

The news that thousands and thousands of APs per day this summer had what amounted to an open Fastpass or backdoor access to any attraction at the Resort set off alarm bells in TDA, but not because of the assumption that many of the maladies were fake or overblown by the GAC holder just to get the perk of shorter lines. The TDA executives were most disturbed by the huge numbers of GACs because that would ruin their attempt to install and overlay the upcoming NextGen Fastpass or XPass concepts we’ve been telling you about for a couple of years. The entire NextGen queue project, just about to be rolled out formally later this fall in Walt Disney World, is built on fine tuned statistical models that have no leeway for huge numbers of people also trying to access the Fastpass lines at shows and attractions. With the average GAC-holding Annual Passholder essentially having an open Fastpass for any attraction at any time for their entire family, the NextGen concept would be undermined right from the start in Anaheim. Unless, of course, TDA blew up the existing GAC program and started over with something far more restrictive before NextGen arrives.

The NextGen project in Anaheim is a full 18 months behind the WDW timetable for NextGen installation. Much of the initial construction to add NextGen concepts to queues and waiting areas at Disneyland and DCA will kick off this winter and go through calendar year 2013, with a soft opening of NextGen in Anaheim by the winter of 2014. However, current construction projects at the Resort are taking NextGen into account, with data cables and physical changes already being included in current construction projects like the refurbished Fantasyland Theater and the Princess Fantasy Faire off the Hub.

The goal TDA has given the Guest Relations team is to blow up the current GAC process and come up with something far more restrictive by this winter, and then keep it on a very short leash through 2013 as TDA tries to reset the lofty expectations of those who get Guest Assistance Cards, the vast majority of whom are Annual Passholders. At the same time, Disneyland and DCA will need to take the same steps taken at WDW to limit Fastpass return times only to the actual hour printed on the ticket. NextGen concepts require rigid adherence to the programmed system, and a huge pool of people able to bypass all NextGen requirements with a Guest Assistance Card valid for the entire family simply can’t be allowed if NextGen is to succeed in Anaheim.

More Main Street

One of the other things the sudden success of DCA has pushed to the front burner is the management of those crowds around the Resort. The swelling DCA attendance has increased the numbers of park hopper tickets purchased each day and seen the numbers of Annual Passholders continue to hold very strong, not a small feat in light of the huge ticket prices increases TDA pushed through early this year in a weak economy.

While more AP price increases are coming this winter, barring some major economic shock, the old plan to improve crowd control along Main Street USA has bubbled up again. Ever since Disneyland began producing lavish fireworks shows that make heavy use of the Castle and Hub area a decade ago, the environment along Main Street at night has become more and more frantic. The plan to open up a secondary alley along the eastern flanks of Main Street is something again now being tossed around publicly and privately by both Imagineering and a long list of theme park executives in Anaheim over the last decade.

Never new
The expansion of Main Street has been on and off the to do list since the park was originally built. While one concept figured promentily in a 1962 wall map, it was gone by the 1976 version. Concepts at Disney Imagineering never die though, elements of the 1962 concept ended up built in Walt Disney World instead.

That plan is finally moving forward, much to the excitement of Walt Disney Imagineering. As it stands now, the plan would get underway in approximately two years and be completed by mid-2015. A twenty foot wide alley, themed as quite literally an authentic looking back alley behind Victorian-era Main Street, would extend from the current patio near between the Disney Showcase shop and the parade gates and end at what is currently the Baby Care Center and Make-A-Wish Lounge and First Aid building.

Babies still cry at the happiest place on earth
The current Baby Care Center is redone as expanded retail space and finished on its eastern flanks at the
end of the alley. The existing planter here becomes the alley itself and heads due south from this location.

This back storerooms of the existing Main Street shops would mostly be cut off and demolished, while the back facades of the existing Main Street buildings would be built up as themed structures with secondary doors leading into the existing retail spaces where only back walls have existed since 1955.

None of the existing shops or attractions along the east side of Main Street, including the Main Street Cinema, would be removed or significantly altered. The one exception to that would be the Main Street Cone Shop, which would take up residence in a new storefront built approximately 20 feet east of where that little ice cream window currently stands.

Cones stay, yay!
The buildings at the end of the cross street get demolished and rebuilt a bit east, as the new alley bypasses from north to south in front of them. And yes, as we noted a few years ago, a refurbished Market House is the current spot for a future Starbucks on Main Street, although that corporate agreement is famously fickle. 

WDI is looking forward to creating buildings and facades that are much more themed than some of the very basic and lightly themed facilities that are there now, many of which date from the 1950’s or 60’s. The current First Aid, for example, dates from the early 1960’s and is a cheap and simple box with only some lattice work applied to the roofline. Fresh from their work on Buena Vista Street, WDI has cooked up a design scheme that would improve the park sightlines and themed story in that area immensely.

First Aid won't heal those price hikes
The current first aid/wish lounge building, a rather bland box from the 60's,
gets turned into a taller two story building at the end of the new alley.

The new east alley would house rebuilt facilities for non-retail purposes, including a new locker location right up front near the current parade gates, an expanded and improved First Aid and Baby Care Center at the opposite end of the alley, and a new Wish Lounge for the Make-A-Wish foundation. That would create an walkway that is themed to complement Main Street USA, but houses most of the necessary customer amenities a theme park needs without being cut off by parades or fireworks crowds.

The alley would have no sidewalks or curbs (what back alley does, after all), to improve the quick flow of crowds through that area at night, freeing up more viewing space on Main Street itself. A similar concept helps Disneyland Paris with their Main Street, as each side is flanked by a long indoor arcade which helps ease congestion in the area during parades and such.

Tree stays
The current patio is where the new alley will begin and head due north. The giant ficus tree growing just over the wall will be preserved, if only to block the view of Space Mountain from the Town Square.

The new alley would also ease the flow of the crowds moving to and from the reinvigorated DCA, and it’s the increasing chances of getting green lights for major Disneyland expansion in the years ahead that has TDA now on the bandwagon as well. We’ve mentioned the Tomorrowland and Frontierland plots before, with a third major plot just to the north of Critter Country and tying in to the Frontierland expansion plot that is now joining the short list of potential expansion areas.

With TDA attempting to get Disneyland attendance and overall capacity towards the 18 Million per year mark later this decade, and with DCA now heading towards the 10 Million yearly attendance mark faster than anyone thought possible, there will be a need to move large crowds of people past the chokepoint that is Main Street USA on any average evening at fireworks time.

We need a little Christmas, right this very minute...

Taking advantage of those crowds, Disneyland Resort President George Kalogridis recently issued a memo outlining a stealthy change to a long Anaheim tradition. Without much fanfare George issued a vague memo announcing that the annual Walt Disney Company Christmas party that had been held at Disneyland each December since 1955 was effectively cancelled. We had told you last year of the rumors that the Disneyland party’s days were numbered, after it fell into the gun sights of One Disney corporate executives in Florida who wondered why Disneyland still hosted the private party, since Disney World cancelled theirs in the mid 1990’s. In a display of both jealousy and complete tone-deafness to the local culture, the executives who technically run the Anaheim operation but who are based in Orlando decreed that there would be no more company Christmas party at Disneyland.

With the release of the memo, instantly erased was 57 years of history and heritage, where Cast Members could spend one special night per year with their family in the park, as the Disney Employee Choir sang carols, dinners were served in the restaurants at half off, and the Disney CEO du jour passed out candy canes and posed for pictures on Main Street. The party was also a major event for the local Marine Corps Reserve troops, as they set up collection bins at the park entrance and arriving CM’s dropped off a toy for the Marine Corps Reserves’ famous Toys For Tots drive, a tradition Walt himself started at the Disneyland parties in 1958. The parties were always held on two nights, so that every CM could be guaranteed a chance to attend one party with their family while working the other one.

Instead of the cancelled party, the Anaheim Cast Members and their counterpart employees in Burbank and Glendale will be given an extra free admission for the year, on top of their already generous 16 family-size admissions for hourly and part-time Cast Members or the unlimited annual admissions given to salaried CM’s, tenured full-time hourly CM’s, or Burbank office employees. The admissions will be good for pretty much any time between mid-October and late February, stretching the concept of “the holidays” to include anything from Columbus Day to Valentine’s Day. And just to prove the folks in Orlando have some holiday cheer, the Anaheim CM’s will be given a coupon book with tickets to be redeemed for a free box of popcorn or a free soda pop during their random visit to celebrate “the holidays”. And who said the Grinch lives in Orlando?

Also left in the lurch is the Marine Corps Reserve, as they could always depend on the Disneyland parties to collect several thousand toys over the course of both nights, boosting their toy drive immensely. (Sensing a PR disaster in the making, George has promised to come up with some sort of replacement by November, but details are still being worked out)

The Disneyland party was harmless enough, as it fell during one of the absolute slowest times of the year; the first Monday and Tuesday in December when Thanksgiving crowds had gone and before Christmas really began. Not surprisingly, George Kalogridis fell back on the most handy of excuses in his memo, when he threw out this vague statement early in the memo; “Based on the increased popularity and changing visitation patterns of our Guests, it has become necessary to make adjustments to our operating hours in order to meet their needs while continuing to provide the legendary Guest service for which we are known.”

That line, vague as it was, might have fooled some of the cubicle drones in Burbank, who have been led to believe that the Disneyland Resort is simply now too busy to close at 6:00PM and then host an evening private party on the first Monday and Tuesday in December. But Cast Members in Anaheim immediately sensed that talking point from George just didn’t jive with the day to day operation they know so well.

For example, the day before the company Christmas party was cancelled, they had just closed Disneyland at 5:00PM on September 6th for an afterhours private party, a day that had overall attendance directly comparable to early December weekdays. Even more glaring is the fact that the extra-cost Mickey’s Halloween Parties are not only going strong this year, but continue to be scheduled on Tuesday’s and even busier Friday nights for five consecutive weeks.

Last year, the Company Christmas parties were held on two days that had attendance as follows:

Disneyland 8:00AM to 6:00PM
(Christmas party from 7:30PM to 1:00AM) – 34,000 visitors
DCA 10:00AM to 9:00PM – 12,000 visitors
Combined Attendance – 46,000

Even assuming a doubling of attendance for DCA to 25,000, the daily attendance in early December could still more than handle the early closure of Disneyland. And compared to the average resort attendance on Fridays in October, when Disneyland will close early to host extra-cost Halloween parties and force everyone without a ticket over to DCA, the first few sleepy weekdays in December look like a ghost town by comparison.

Here’s some average attendance for the Halloween private parties at Disneyland next month, in comparison;

Friday, October  5th, 2012
Disneyland 8:00AM to 7:00PM
(Halloween party 7:00PM to Mid) – 39,000 visitors
DCA 8:00AM to 11:00PM – 33,000 visitors
Combined Attendance – 72,000 day visitors
(not including 15,000 party guests arriving for just the party,
for over 95,000 combined visitors to the resort on that day)

Those Halloween parties and those types of attendance figures continue for the following three and a half weeks, until the 13 different parties conclude on Wednesday, October 31st. And yet George’s memo tried to pretend that hosting a much smaller event like the Christmas party on a less impacted weekday in early December was somehow now impossible to pull off. No one in Anaheim is buying it, and there will now be some questions going around the cubicles and offices in Burbank and Glendale too.

The truth behind cancelling the company Christmas parties is simply a drive to standardize operations between both Anaheim and Orlando, and eliminate any extra perks that Disneyland may have over the larger Walt Disney World operation. It also helps that it’s an expense TDA no longer has to shoulder for the rest of the Company employees in SoCal. But since Disney World had cancelled their parties almost twenty years ago, there was a growing sense of indignation coming out of Orlando that Disneyland was still hosting them each year.

What is never, ever explained or even dared to be mentioned is the fact that Walt Disney World offers many extra perks that Disneylanders have been asking about for years, but do not receive. There is no on-site day care for Disneyland Cast Members, and not even a discount plan offered for a local day care provider in Anaheim, while Disney World Cast Members have access to two separate and lavishly equipped day care facilities at each end of the property that can care for any Cast Member’s child between the ages of 6 weeks to 12 years old from 6:00AM to 11:00PM 365 days per year, with three meals a day served, all at highly subsidized rates.

Disney World also has a state of the art health clinic on property, with doctors, nurses, nutritionists, physical therapists, and pharmacists on staff and ready to serve the health needs of any Cast Member that walks in, for free or at huge discounts over similar services found off property. There’s even a private beach club for Disney World Cast Members called Mickey’s Retreat, with boat rentals on a lake, basketball and sand volleyball courts, tennis, two swimming pools, plus banquet rooms and party pavilions available to Cast Members and their families for free.

None of those benefits and services exists in SoCal for Disneyland Cast Members, with no current plan to offer them, but Disney World has never been challenged to shut them down or stop operating them. But the 57 year old company Christmas party at Disneyland, with the employee choir caroling on Main Street and the Marines Toys For Tots drive spreading good cheer was deemed inappropriate by the Orlando suits and simply had to be stopped.

Merry Christmas! Visa or MasterCard?

And then there’s the other shoe to drop in this Christmas crisis; the sudden (and not quite fleshed out) plan to offer the Candlelight Ceremony as a dining-package dinner show for twenty consecutive nights this December. While TDA got their horse a bit ahead of their wagon on that one, as no one had really had time to determine the operational impact of that setup on the Town Square for three weeks straight, the over-arching goal here is not just to sell dinner packages in 2012. The long term goal with this, assuming they can get the thing to work and get a reasonable number of people (mostly Annual Passholders) to buy dinner packages, is to add one last big seasonal offering to Disneyland’s already impressive menu of entertainment during the holidays.

Much like they’ve done with Halloween, the long term goal for 2013, or ’14 at the very latest, is to turn that menu of Christmas offerings into an extra-cost private party held after park hours. Going the way of Disney World’s Very Merry Christmas Party, Disneyland would bundle the existing Christmas Fantasy Parade and Believe In Holiday Magic fireworks with a performance of the Candlelight Ceremony into one big evening of entertainment. The whole up-charged product would be aimed primarily at locals and Annual Passholders, who currently flood Disneyland in huge numbers on weekends in December. The success of the Halloween parties has that entire demographic conditioned to buy such a concept, and Disneyland will need to make sure they’ve got enough extras thrown in to snag the locals. Adding a nightly performance of the iconic Candlelight Ceremony to the package is thought to be the cherry on top of the Christmas sundae.

oooooh, awww

You can bet TDA will be scrutinizing the numbers and feedback on the Candlelight concept this year, and they are scrambling to pull together a list of “celebrities” to present each night that isn’t stuck too far down the C List, if not the D Listers they sometimes end up with. The Disney employee choir, who form much of the living Christmas tree and sing the carols for the production, are currently in a bit of a panic as they try to figure out how those employees will commit to at least a majority of the twenty consecutive nights that Candlelight will be performed.

The Disney employee choir is a purely voluntary group, and none of those Cast Members are paid to be there. Since Candlelight was only one weekend it had never been a problem. But now that it stretches for three weeks straight, many of the Cast Members in the employee choir are grumbling about being expected to perform each night for free so that TDA can sell dinner packages.

As they do in Florida, TDA will probably end up kicking in a few free theme park tickets for each night they perform as an incentive. Since the employee choir’s gig at the company Christmas party was suddenly cancelled this year, at least they have the first Monday and Tuesday in December free. But the other 18 nights, they’ll be asked to perform out of the goodness of their hearts and for free theme park tickets.

Amazing what Disney asks of its employees sometimes, and how gullible and naïve they expect them to be, isn’t it? And you thought it was just us visitors they were after... ;)

Oh-kay - that should do it for today. Remember your support is vital, your donations to PayPal help keep the bills paid. We’re only here due to all of your kind efforts.

Keep in mind updates only get posted when there is something to report on, and not before. It takes time to confirm things, and even then we can only offer a snapshot of a continually evolving story. (People do change their minds you know.) Just like the happiest place on earth, patience is a virtue; the queue may take a while before you can enjoy the attraction. ;)

See you at Disneyland!

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Al Lutz may be e-mailed at [email protected] - Please keep in mind he may not be able to respond to each note personally. FTC-Mandated Disclosure: As of December 2009, bloggers are required by the Federal Trade Commission to disclose payments and freebies. Al Lutz did not receive any payments, free items, or free services from any of the parties discussed in this article. He pays for his own admission to theme parks and their associated events, unless otherwise explicitly noted.

© 2012 Al Lutz