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N-E-S-T-L-E-S; Time to go with all the rest

Speaking of sponsorships, we'd told you about the shaky ground the once vast Nestle' sponsorship was on at Disneyland. Since we last updated you on that, the sponsorship deal has begun to formally disintegrate and Nestle' brand logos are now disappearing from all over Disneyland property. The Disneyland Kennel Club is no longer sponsored by Friskies, which was a brand owned by Nestle'.

Dog food?
Guess where the sponsor's logo was.

Just a few weeks ago the French Market Restaurant in New Orleans Square lost its decades old sponsorship by Stouffers, which is also a brand name owned by corporate giant Nestle'. For you younger readers, Stouffers was a brand that had various sponsorships in Disneyland dating back to the early 1960's, predating their corporate takeover by Nestle' in 1973.

Dog food?
The Tiki Room was going to be sponsored by Stouffers
when it was originally planned to be a restaurant.

But with Nestle' on the way out, Stouffers goes too, and Disneyland loses a sponsor of 45 years. Ironically, it was their takeover of Stouffers in 1973 that first got Nestle' a corporate presence inside Disney parks.

Finally, better food.

Thus far, the Disneyland place-names Carnation Cafe and Carnation Plaza Gardens are still safe. Even though Carnation Ice Cream, yet another Nestle' owned brand, is now off the menu, the Disney lawyers have come to a tentative agreement with Nestle' that the names have historical significance that outweighs their association with a specific ice cream once served there.

Mickey, Can You Hear Me?

If any of these changes bother you enough to go fill out a comment card at Disneyland's guest relations office in City Hall, you need not bother. In late July all Guest Relations offices in Disneyland and DCA stopped allowing any visitor to fill out a comment card or leave any comment in writing. Whether it's a compliment about a great Jungle Cruise skipper, or a complaint about cold gumbo in New Orleans Square, you can no longer write anything down at Disneyland Guest Relations. Believe it or not, this new decree comes from Disney's legal department who was getting tired of being threatened with lawsuits from angry park visitors upset about something they had put on a complaint form at City Hall.

Lawsuits, mainly coming out of the Florida parks, had begun to pester the Burbank legal team from issues ranging from the placement of popcorn wagons, to the installation of major E Ticket attractions like Soarin'. When a visitor filled out a comment form and wrote things like "You shouldn't have so many popcorn wagons cluttering the walkways around parade time", and then returned on a future visit and found the walkways near the parade route moving smoothly they would rush home and tell their lawyer that Disney took my operational suggestion but didn't pay me. The lawyer would smell blood in the water and fire up a lawsuit claiming Disney changed their procedures based on their clients suggestion and owed their client consultant fees.

The pen...

A similar suit was attempted by someone who had enjoyed riding Soarin' Over California at DCA in 2001, and then filled out a comment card at Epcot's Guest Relations desk in 2002 suggesting that Disney bring the popular ride to Florida. Once Soarin' was added to The Land pavilion at Epcot in '05, the visitor was convinced it was his written suggestion that put the idea in management's head to add Soarin' to the park, and he demanded he be compensated for the idea.

So, to avoid any ability to formally accept written suggestions, comments, or criticism of park policy or operation, the lawyers have removed the ability to leave any written comment at Guest Relations. Instead, the Guest Relations hosts and hostesses that staff that busy desk will only take verbal comments, whether good or bad. The Guest Relations office then compiles a list of the comments and phones the manager or department mentioned in the comment. The comments are given verbally over the phone, and the list of comments are then shredded in the back office throughout the day.

Nothing is allowed to be emailed or sent in inter-office mail to anyone, as the communication all needs to stay entirely verbal. The ability for City Hall Cast Members to even jot down notes or names of Cast Members was even a problem for Disney's legal department, but it was deemed acceptable only when the shredders were installed and Guest Relations management agreed to monitor the process.

...stops here!

If a visitor absolutely insists on writing a letter, the Guest Relations CM's can give the park visitor the snail mail address for Disney's corporate legal office, and that's when the real fun begins. Assuming the park visitor actually takes the time to write a letter the old fashioned way and send it to Burbank, the letter is opened by hand and scanned by a small batallion of office drones in cubicles, and when the letter contains a phrase or sentence that mentions a visit to a Disney park, it is folded closed. Once closed, the visitors letter is attached to a form letter that politely informs the reader that this correspondence has been formally rejected by Disney for liability reasons and has been returned to the sender without further acknowledgement of the company.

The form letter and the visitor's original letter are then stuffed into a larger envelope, and the packet is returned to the sender via regular mail. The whole thing should prove to be pretty frustrating for anyone complaining about cold gumbo or swarms of vending carts, but at least the lawyers can breathe easier.

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2008 Al Lutz

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