Year of a Million Taggers
While the DCA extreme makeover gets underway, and more TLC is lavished on
Disneyland's aging attractions, the TDA executive team still has their hands
full with plenty of problems plaguing the daily operation of the parks and
hotels. That embarrassingly high turnover rate that has edged over 100% annually
for many departments is still there. The Casting Center in TDA is still
scheduling an endless series of Job Fairs through the fall as the thousands of
CM's they hired over the summer quit or are fired after just a few weeks or
months on the job.
The new Dia de los Muertos theme in
Frontierland was mentioned in
Spanish-speaking media outlets in the continuing Hispanic marketing strategy.
Disneyland is paying on the very low end of the pay scale for Orange County
jobs, and the pressure cooker that is Disneyland with 45,000 customers in the
park usually scares the new hires away after just a few weeks on the job. The
smart ones stick around the full 30 days required for them to get their 250
dollar hiring bonus, and then they quit or just stop coming in for their shifts.
And worse yet, the minimum wage in California is set to raise to $8 an hour in
three months, which will put most Disneyland jobs at just 20 to 40 cents more
than the minimum wage.
As is typical of TDA for the past 10 years, their response has been to call
for yet another round of focus groups and surveys to be drafted this fall to
determine just why it is that their turnover rate is so horrible and why most of
the applicants coming in to Casting are so bad. You can't make this stuff up
folks. The response here from TDA's Human Resources department makes the daily
Dilbert cartoon look like their how-to manual. The few tenured CM's still
working out in the parks, and there are a few left, stare in horror at the new
CM's and the lowered standards they bring with them. But TDA has yet to do
anything about it, except pay it lip service and fire up another round of focus
groups to talk about what might be causing the continuing personnel problems.
The same thing they did in 2006, and 2005, and 2002, and 2000, and 1998.
Miss Pumpkin and friends spice up Halloween on
What's worse is that the management around the Resort can't get any of the
executives to acknowledge the pain they are going through, and the writing on
the wall that the turnover problem represents. And by writing on the wall, we
don't necessarily mean the increasing graffiti that is popping up all over
backstage as the new CM's have taken to tagging the bathrooms, hallways and
break rooms they pass through. To their credit, the Custodial department is now
trying to clean away the tagging as soon as it appears, but it's increasingly a
The appearance of gang-like graffiti is the most shocking to the tenured Cast
Members, as Disneyland behind-the-scenes was always a close family of friends
who took pride in where they worked. That feeling of pride doesn't exist
anymore, and certainly not with the types of Cast Members that are working there
for 4 to 10 weeks at a time before they quit or get fired. But with so many
bathroom stalls and break room walls to tag, why stay just four weeks? Why not
make it eight or ten?
The Candy Corn Acres theme was chosen for
DCA's entrance because it all can easily
be moved to the farm area for next year when the area is under construction.
We've tried to lay off the guy for the past few months, honestly we have, but
the complete absence of Ed Grier in the operation of the parks and hotels is now
at its most glaring. There's just no nice way to say this. Ed is never seen
inside the parks aside from scripted media events, and he's only rarely at the
hotels when a fellow executive from Burbank or Orlando is in town for a lunch
Now if the latest round of rumors about Jay Rasulo's departure pans out this
fall, again the question of how long Ed sticks around will have to come up. (As
well as the only slightly less pointless Meg Crofton out in Orlando) But when Ed
Grier leaves TDA to spend more time with his family, let's hope his replacement
is someone who fesses up to the horrific retention and morale problem amongst
the Cast Members he or she will be leading.
John Lasseter, Tony Baxter and Bob Weiss have plenty of great stuff coming to
Anaheim in the next five years. The person in charge of TDA should be taking
much better care of the folks who will staff all of it. You shouldn't need
another focus group to figure that out.
The "bats" entry arch returns to the Tower of
Terror for Halloween.
DoMs: Bad for the Brand
They pop up for all businesses, big or small, industrial or entertainment.
They claim to love the product so much that they feel they have to blindly support it no
matter how reasoned or legitimate any criticism of it may be. Like busy bees,
they flit from forum to forum online making life unpleasant for those that even
begin to offer an opinion different from their unquestioning "must be positive"
view, and Lord help those who feel it can be done better.
These are the Defenders of Mediocrity, or DoMs for short. And they are the
single most damaging thing that can happen to the Disney brand.
You've seen their postings: Light Magic? They loved it, it was the best show
they never saw because they only heard the MP3 or saw it on YouTube. Rocket
Rods? What a great ride, not everything needs to be themed, the red light bulbs
were wonderful! Deteriorating Attractions? Walt Disney was wrong about keeping
up the exterior, the peeling paint and broken ride elements fit right into the
Haunted Mansion theme. DCA? Isn't it swell it's so uncrowded and it has one good
ride? Epcot's 25th? Wow, the fans got a slapped together ceremony, and they
should be thankful for it and the two boxes of merchandise they offered! etc...
The hat from the Orlando studios park seems
apt for this group.
It's well known the Disney company keeps an close eye online, and more than a
few times the immediate and unsparingly honest feedback for their latest
offerings has resulted in refinements, reworkings and even the rare shutdown of
a show or ride. But the gushing DoM fan postings supporting a product that is of
a lower quality than what Disney should offer get monitored too - and more than
a few times they have been used to try to convince the higher-ups that customers
don't care or notice.
The people who care about quality at Disney are very encouraged by the sea
change in management at the company, from Iger on down. Unlike the latter of the
two decades under Eisner, or the 10 years with Pressler there is a lot being
done right nowadays. But there are still those DoM postings that get printed out
by those more concerned about budgets or cutbacks that worry some of the folks
spearheading the renaissance going on right now. Walt Disney World in particular
suffers from the incredible amount of damage these DoMs can inflict - those
little salvos praising the poorest quality shows or attractions can hold back
those who want to improve the offerings out there.
How can those who care be helped? All they ask is that if you see a DoM
posting making excuses for a botched product or service, that you take a few
moments to respond to it. Take a minute to post how important the higher
standards Disney is usually known for justify their premium pricing, and that
the best quality product is important to you. It doesn't need in any way to be a
putdown, it just needs to be honest about what can be done better.
It can give those who care a weapon (in the form of a counterpoint) in their
quest to up the quality of what the Mouse offers. And even DoMs will ultimately
benefit by getting a better product that they can gush even more about.