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Why doesn't the world's top theme park operator know how to operate theme parks?

GiveMeTheMusic

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
I was at Disneyland yesterday and it was a nightmare.

Hordes of people on a Thursday in October. Lines for everything - Pinocchio's queue spilled out past the carousel after 9PM. Restaurants understaffed. Smokejumpers had a line out the door at 3PM.

Disneyland was open from 8AM - 11PM, so they knew this was going to be a crowded day. Hilariously, DCA was open from 8AM - 8PM, so at 8:15PM, Disneyland got about 10x more crowded. Great work team!

Such long hours would necessitate some entertainment, right? Wrong! One performance of Soundsational, one World of Color, three Frozens. No Magical Map, no fireworks, no Fantasmic and no second performance of Soundsational or World of Color.

No nighttime entertainment in DL when the park is packed to the gills and open till 11PM is a huge mistake. Attraction lines were ridiculous (see Pinocchio above, Snow White was just as full). Sure you didn't have to navigate around show viewing areas, but instead you had to navigate around massive extended queues and gridlocked guests. Columbia was docked. Even Pooh had a solid 15 minute wait. POOH.

Everyone makes fun of MiceChat for beating the drum about execs having no idea what a real day in the park is like for regular guests, but they're absolutely right. Disneyland is a premium priced product that does not deliver a premium experience unless you go during "peak" seasons that are no longer peak. The park is delightful in July now, for example.

Despite Disneyland completely shifting its business model to making previously off-peak times peak and previously peak times off-peak, they have not shifted their scheduling or operations to match. July attendance was weak, and yet Disneyland was open from 8AM - 12AM every day with a full entertainment roster. October is miserably crowded - why isn't the park open with entertainment each day that month instead? Why don't they schedule more CMs in shops and restaurants during the week instead of Saturdays, when they all stand around looking for something to do? During the week the poor CMs are working to death with inadequate teams to support them.

HMH is too popular. If they are going to insist on using FP on that poor ride, the standby queue becomes absurd. It's the slowest moving thing I've ever seen. FP isn't much better - I waited no less than 34 minutes in the FP line for HMH yesterday. 34 minutes. I can't imagine the posted standby wait of 80 minutes was anywhere close to accurate since in the time I was going through the FP queue, the standby queue moved small amounts three times. The whole of the NOS fountain area was taken up with extended queue, and the FP return line stretched to the ride exit. Something is wrong.

Disneyland's old system of only running big entertainment during peak season/weekends is antiquated. If they want to be a resort destination, they need to start acting like one. WDW and TDR do Fantasmic every day, 365 days a year. We can't do fireworks every day at Disneyland due to local regulations, but World of Color isn't enough. Fantasmic and Magical Map should be daily at this point with the resort's attendance, and nothing is going to get better when SWGE opens and madness descends.

All of this goes hand in hand with TDA's utter failure to address parking. Years of kicking the can down the road thanks to vision-free leadership who just were looking for their next promotion, and now it's too late. It's literally too late. I don't think they could do any new structures at this point that would be ready by early 2019. Meanwhile, guests and cast suffer in insane parking arrangements that were always meant to be temporary.

As long as temporary budget wins to obtain reward bonuses are the focus of TDA suits and not the actual guest/cast experience, I'm afraid the parks will continue to slide into operational chaos. The last five years have been incredible to watch, and there's no reason to assume they'll improve - why would anything change when the numbers look good on paper? Never mind the irreparable brand damage being done, that's someone else's problem down the line.
 

Curious Constance

Well-Known Member
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I've been saying this forever. Stop making the parks miserable, or else NO ONE will spend the kind of money Disney charges to travel there.

Listen, I'm addicted to the place, and I still question the sanity of spending the money we spend to go there with the lines and headaches you almost always experience.

It's going to backfire eventually, summers will get slower and slower, until the only people showing up are the APers.
 

Darkbeer1

Well-Known Member
Any good Disneyland Tripp Planner, every Hotel/Motel in the area knows and so does Disney about UEA.

For those who don't, UEA is when Utah holds Teacher Workshops, and therefore the students get a few days off, as the teachers are away. Many joke that UEA really stands for "Utahans' Escaping for Anaheim."

That said, the entertainment staff is tough to schedule, as many have multiple jobs (Many work at both DLR and Knott's to get enough hours ) And October is the busiest month of the year for Knott's, and in recent years, has increased the amount of "performers" used in the park year round. Also many have evening classes to match the normal off-season schedule. So it is easier to add ride operators and crowd control CM's for extra hours than performers.
 

SSG

Well-Known Member
I was at Disneyland yesterday and it was a nightmare.

Hordes of people on a Thursday in October. Lines for everything - Pinocchio's queue spilled out past the carousel after 9PM. Restaurants understaffed. Smokejumpers had a line out the door at 3PM.

Disneyland was open from 8AM - 11PM, so they knew this was going to be a crowded day. Hilariously, DCA was open from 8AM - 8PM, so at 8:15PM, Disneyland got about 10x more crowded. Great work team!

Such long hours would necessitate some entertainment, right? Wrong! One performance of Soundsational, one World of Color, three Frozens. No Magical Map, no fireworks, no Fantasmic and no second performance of Soundsational or World of Color.

No nighttime entertainment in DL when the park is packed to the gills and open till 11PM is a huge mistake. Attraction lines were ridiculous (see Pinocchio above, Snow White was just as full). Sure you didn't have to navigate around show viewing areas, but instead you had to navigate around massive extended queues and gridlocked guests. Columbia was docked. Even Pooh had a solid 15 minute wait. POOH.

Everyone makes fun of MiceChat for beating the drum about execs having no idea what a real day in the park is like for regular guests, but they're absolutely right. Disneyland is a premium priced product that does not deliver a premium experience unless you go during "peak" seasons that are no longer peak. The park is delightful in July now, for example.

Despite Disneyland completely shifting its business model to making previously off-peak times peak and previously peak times off-peak, they have not shifted their scheduling or operations to match. July attendance was weak, and yet Disneyland was open from 8AM - 12AM every day with a full entertainment roster. October is miserably crowded - why isn't the park open with entertainment each day that month instead? Why don't they schedule more CMs in shops and restaurants during the week instead of Saturdays, when they all stand around looking for something to do? During the week the poor CMs are working to death with inadequate teams to support them.

HMH is too popular. If they are going to insist on using FP on that poor ride, the standby queue becomes absurd. It's the slowest moving thing I've ever seen. FP isn't much better - I waited no less than 34 minutes in the FP line for HMH yesterday. 34 minutes. I can't imagine the posted standby wait of 80 minutes was anywhere close to accurate since in the time I was going through the FP queue, the standby queue moved small amounts three times. The whole of the NOS fountain area was taken up with extended queue, and the FP return line stretched to the ride exit. Something is wrong.

Disneyland's old system of only running big entertainment during peak season/weekends is antiquated. If they want to be a resort destination, they need to start acting like one. WDW and TDR do Fantasmic every day, 365 days a year. We can't do fireworks every day at Disneyland due to local regulations, but World of Color isn't enough. Fantasmic and Magical Map should be daily at this point with the resort's attendance, and nothing is going to get better when SWGE opens and madness descends.

All of this goes hand in hand with TDA's utter failure to address parking. Years of kicking the can down the road thanks to vision-free leadership who just were looking for their next promotion, and now it's too late. It's literally too late. I don't think they could do any new structures at this point that would be ready by early 2019. Meanwhile, guests and cast suffer in insane parking arrangements that were always meant to be temporary.

As long as temporary budget wins to obtain reward bonuses are the focus of TDA suits and not the actual guest/cast experience, I'm afraid the parks will continue to slide into operational chaos. The last five years have been incredible to watch, and there's no reason to assume they'll improve - why would anything change when the numbers look good on paper? Never mind the irreparable brand damage being done, that's someone else's problem down the line.
 

George Lucas on a Bench

Well-Known Member
I've been saying for years that they are practically giving away Annual Passes. It's entirely Disney's fault that they have an affordable pass that allows millions of people in Southern California to just show up at Disneyland whenever they want because they have nothing better to do and Annual Pass visiting has become a new culture.

Every year around this time, the place implodes like the house from Poltergeist and Disney needs to remove the bodies. No, it isn't fun to be there. Yes, something should be done. Everyone criticizes Disney for being too expensive and there's no way they could do it without taking a lot of flack from the poor people that just want to go to Disneyland every day after work! Oh, wait. No one feels any sympathy for them. Proceed, Mouse!
 

Dr. Hans Reinhardt

Well-Known Member
@GiveMeTheMusic I don't buy the notion that Disney doesn't know how to run their parks or that TDA is oblivious to the poor guest experience when literally everyone on Earth is aware that Disneyland is overcrowded most of the time. If they aren't seeing it with their eyes they've definitely heard about it either from internal reporting or from their neighbors and friends.

Therefore I can only conclude that this is a deliberate business decision. Disneyland management has realized that no matter how many admission increases, lame upcharge experiences, regurgitated holiday overlays, Studio character promotions, and endless performances of old outdated parades, APs and loyal tourists will flood the place each and every day. The only question is how unbearable can they make it before enough people decide it isn't worth it. Personally I believe that barrel has no bottom.
 

GiveMeTheMusic

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Any good Disneyland Tripp Planner, every Hotel/Motel in the area knows and so does Disney about UEA.

For those who don't, UEA is when Utah holds Teacher Workshops, and therefore the students get a few days off, as the teachers are away. Many joke that UEA really stands for "Utahans' Escaping for Anaheim."

That said, the entertainment staff is tough to schedule, as many have multiple jobs (Many work at both DLR and Knott's to get enough hours ) And October is the busiest month of the year for Knott's, and in recent years, has increased the amount of "performers" used in the park year round. Also many have evening classes to match the normal off-season schedule. So it is easier to add ride operators and crowd control CM's for extra hours than performers.
Knott's isn't cannibalizing Disney's entertainment CMs, but even if they were there's an easy fix - pay more! Be competitive! Of course they won't, because CMs aren't people and Disney is just a bleeding non-profit that can barely open its doors each day.

Business needs have changed, it's time Disney changed the way it does business to keep up.
 

mickEblu

Well-Known Member
Wow, you know it's bad if Pinocchio has a long line. I've heard the UEA week was hell. I had actually planned a trip for 10/18 but changed it to 10/26 when someone here kindly reminded me of UEA. I've been an AP for over 3 years and I have only experienced a day like you describe maybe 2-3 times. The day your describing seems to be worst case scenario and not just the typical crowded day. Then again, I do try to plan my trips around crowds at all costs. Anyway, I do agree on the entertainment schedule. By now they should know that Fall is the new Summer and schedule the entertainment accordingly. There is no excuse to at least not have Mickey and the magical map playing. To have a huge theatre sitting empty on days where people are packed in like sardines is not right. Come to think of it, it's kind of a crime that Autopia is still gobbling up a solid 10 acres. I imagine it has good capacity though?
 
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mickEblu

Well-Known Member
@GiveMeTheMusic I don't buy the notion that Disney doesn't know how to run their parks or that TDA is oblivious to the poor guest experience when literally everyone on Earth is aware that Disneyland is overcrowded most of the time. If they aren't seeing it with their eyes they've definitely heard about it either from internal reporting or from their neighbors and friends.

Therefore I can only conclude that this is a deliberate business decision. Disneyland management has realized that no matter how many admission increases, lame upcharge experiences, regurgitated holiday overlays, Studio character promotions, and endless performances of old outdated parades, APs and loyal tourists will flood the place each and every day. The only question is how unbearable can they make it before enough people decide it isn't worth it. Personally I believe that barrel has no bottom.
You forgot bad Tower or Terror Overlays.
 

mickEblu

Well-Known Member
I just love how passionately you carry the torch for Tower of Terror. Basically there's nothing we can discuss that doesn't somehow lead back to ToT and Mission Breakout lol.
LOL. I appreciate the fact that you appreciate that. I mean I certainly love when someone is consistent and passionate about something even if it's annoying or something I don't agree with.
 

Travel Junkie

Well-Known Member
I've worked for fortune 500 companies and it baffles me how inept they seem at times. Picking up pennies while watching dollar bills fly over their head. The operations at some of these places is so bad and yet they continue to brings in loads of profit. I'm sure Disney is the same.

In these large companies there are multiple departments with conflicting goals. The result is the best thing isn't done for the park as a whole, but rather a department. FastPass simply shouldn't be at Disneyland or on a very limited basis. They tried expanding it before to disastrous results. Yet here they go expanding it to attractions that shouldn't have it and causing all kinds of crowd control problems. Someone probably got a raise for adding FP to HM because it increased the odds of people purchasing MaxPass.
 

disney4life2008

Well-Known Member
Disneyland is a great park. But the reality everyone in Southern California who can afford to go will do. Unlike Disney world, we have a massive national following but locals just don't care.
 

The Mur

Well-Known Member
Annual passes below anything but the highest price should be a restricted number of visits. The "pop on in" to DL thing is hard on property as well as parking. If each visit caused you to use one up people would be mindful about how to use them.
 
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