Matt at Scrubbles is an unabashed fan of Disneyland. Matt brings us glad tidings:
- Paul Pressler has stepped down as CEO of Disney’s theme parks, accepting an offer at the Gap. For those who don’t know, Pressler has been a thorn in the collective sides of Disneyland fans for years, making one bad quality-cutting decision after another and trying to make the place into a cheezy, glorified mall outlet. Al Lutz’s invaluable Disneyland Information Guide has been covering these developments with a barely containable glee. Scroll down his latest update for some funny advice to Pressler’s successor – 10 Things NOT To Do.
- 1. Don’t LIE
When something is supposed to “glow away forever” – it is not supposed to come back as an emergency maneuver to boost sagging attendance at a park you missed the mark on. And you don’t sell lightbulb souvenirs that were never used, and don’t give extra performances beyond announced closing special events that you’ve already sold tickets to.
Your customers clearly understand the magical Disney lie – that things never do go away forever, but they come back new, improved and back where they are supposed to belong.
2. Don’t MESS WITH THE DISABLED
I still remember the interviews on KNX news radio with developmentally disabled crying children (living on severely restricted incomes no less) lamenting the loss of the Disneyland ticket discounts.
Visualize that famous “Scream” painting if you need a refresher here.
3. Don’t PROMISE MORE THAN YOU’LL DELIVER
You don’t sell a rehearsal as a premiere – you explain the problems up front, offer refunds or credits and diffuse the situation ahead of time. You also don’t keep a show or attraction running that numbs your audience into silence.
We won’t discuss the rumors that SuperStar Limo actually decreased rider’s IQ scores.
4. Don’t PASS OFF MOVIES AS RIDES or TORTILLAS AS ATTRACTIONS
People can sit in a theater at the local multiplex, or nowadays with a big enough TV set make their own home theater. Unless they are Michael Jackson chances are they don’t have a home version of Pirates of the Caribbean.
Tortillas are readily available without an admission charge at your local supermarket.
5. Don’t TELL YOUR CUSTOMERS HOW FISCALLY SAVVY YOU ARE
No one wants to pay full price for a half park as it is. You make it worse by bragging how cheaply you got it all done to impress the Wall St. experts.
We all know how expert those analysts really are – can you spell E-N-R-O-N?
6. Don’t IGNORE PAINT
Paint is a lot cheaper than unhappy customers who wonder why the admission prices are so high. Paint when used properly also delays expensive overhauls and repairs later on.
Paint, it’s a good thing.
7. Don’t CHEAP OUT
Usually when a new Tomorrowland is opened, you get the same number, if not a few more attractions.
That used to work quite well for Walt Disney, you may want to try it again soon, like for Disneyland’s 50th?
8. Don’t IGNORE YOUR BEST CUSTOMERS
Yes there are a few annual passholders that scare even me, and I’m a grizzled old bastard. (And there are a few pin traders that are even worse!) But the vast majority of passholders are your best ambassadors to what you sell. Get on the ball with an area affiliation discount program using the annual pass. Don’t blame the passholders when things go wrong, think out in advance what you’ll be doing and plan for things.
Don’t treat the passholders as cows to be milked, their teats are awfully sore after the last eight years.
9. Don’t LISTEN TO TOM FITZGERALD
He thinks tile murals are exciting.
10. Don’t IGNORE TONY BAXTER
Last time I checked the guy still has a better attraction track record than Tom “tile murals are exciting” Fitzgerald.
Al is looking for your suggestions as well. Check it out.
Speaking of Disneyland, my favorite ride is the Haunted House. When I was a kid growing up in Southern California, there was nothing much more exciting than going to Disneyland, especially because we went each year on the annual TRW night: no tickets for rides, no long lines, no riffraff. It was great, and there is something special about Disneyland at night, too: the mystery is more complete, the illusion of a self-contained world of joy and excitement even more effective.
Since we lived in the vicinity and had relatively easy access, all the kids I knew were Disneyland vets and experts, offering extended and detailed accounts of their favorite rides, experiences, and we were all pretty much beside ourselves with anticipation when the Haunted House was due to open in 1966. We were crushed when it didn’t open as planned due to Walt Disney’s death and various engineering and conceptual issues.
When it did open in ’68, the wait was worth it: convincing and scary on the actualization level, it was also funny and engrossing conceptually – a perfect frisson. The hologram “ghosts” were stunning and utterly convincing, as was the story behind their exploits. I haven’t been in years, but I still love the Haunted House from beginning to end with all my heart.
There is a site dedicated to the Haunted House, called DoomBuggies.com after the little tracked vehicles that spirit you through the ride (I LOVE that part at the end where you are turned toward the mirror and a ghost is sitting next to you in your “DoomBuggy” – my son didn’t: when he was 4, the ghost sitting in his lap literally scared the shit out of him, poor little guy).
There is a detailed history of the ride :
- One of Walt Disney’s ideas for Ken Anderson’s original walk-through spook house was to base the experience in New England (as the Haunted Mansion’s facade at Walt Disney World is currently themed), and the storyline may have featured Ichabod Crane’s fateful encounter with the Headless Horseman, as featured in the Disney film The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. DoomBuggies.com has obtained a file written by Ken Anderson in October of 1957, describing the effects surrounding the climax of the attraction (a close encounter with the Horseman) and how they were to be accomplished. Interestingly, many of the Haunted Mansion’s special effects utilized in the graveyard remain the same as Mr. Anderson envisioned them to this very day.
There is a stories and rumors section:
- We’ve heard various forms of this statement for years, and it’s always been an unfounded rumor (at least, to date.) The truth is that the Haunted Mansion, long a Disney theme park favorite, is not in danger of being torn down or removed. Nor are there plans underway to scrap the “Ghost Host” narrative track by Paul Frees and replace it with a track by another vocal talent, another long-standing rumor.
However, this doesn’t mean that the Walt Disney Imagineers don’t revisit the Haunted Mansion from time to time, and consider how it is aging and what might be done to keep it fresh. The 2001 “Nightmare Before Christmas Holiday” makeover is an example of this. The pet cemetery in the queue, added in the early ’90s, is another example of this. And in the mid-’80s, WDI went a little further in examing potential improvements to the ride, sketching out some ideas that were on the drawing board, Some of these are pictured below.
There is a section of interviews with the creators, an amazing behind the scenes section, a multimedia vault, and much, much more.
- Disney is now accepting reservations for the “999 Happy Haunts Ball” at Walt Disney World, scheduled for October 30, 2002. The cost has been updated to $119.99, and I gotta tell ya, this sounds like a winner. Disneyland has also officially scheduled another Haunted Mansion Holiday event for October 3, but details are sketchy at the moment. I’m not sure how they’ll top last years event, or make it significantly different. Rumor has it that there will be a concurrent display in the Disney Gallery (above POTC) regarding the Haunted Mansion, with some really cool Print on Demand offerings related to the Haunted Mansion. We’ll just have to wait and see…