Friday, October 14, 2016

Are you Ready for Halloween?

The answer to the question/song is, YES! But Disneyland Operations isn't...find out why below!

Hi, everyone!

Monday my family (specifically my mother, grandmother and her younger brother, my Uncle Memo, from the previous blog post) and I went to the Halloween party.  Of course, we rode other attractions, but I'll keep it to the Halloween-ness today.

Decor, as usual, is out.

So, we stopped in the Showcase and they still had some 60th anniversary merchandise.  Though I saw about a day or so later on Micechat it had switched to Christmas merch. Talk about a fat turnover!

But I saw these and had a question...what the HECK are they? Too thick to be a lanyard...and I didn't see these belt-like things the entire 60th.  What's up here?

The Showcase always has great in period decor to the holidays.

All the bunting gives a nice tinge to Main Street.

Haunted Mansion Holiday, of course, had a long wait. You hit that weird period where people are coming in for the party and day guests are trying to get the ride in before they're shoo-ed gently out of the park.

TIP: party guests are allowed in starting at 3. Make use of all the time you have. Come in while day guests are still in the park, EAT and do Haunted Mansion Holiday so you're not stuck trying to do it during the party and waste the time you have.

So, while waiting in line, I remembered we had these gravestones put up, but the names are interesting. I see a Wathel in there, in reference to Imagineer Wathel Rogers, and Phineas Pock, a character inside the attraction, but otherwise the names were not as recognizable.  So, I'm kind of wondering what the deal is.  It's interesting to make use of that space where people technically can't go.  I suppose after the holiday overlay gets packed up, we'll see....

Sorry, I didn't get as great a shot of the new addition to the Mansion, Sally, as I thought I would.  I hadn't told my mother she'd been added, so I wanted to see her reaction.

I have to say, she's a beautiful figure! Just looks so perfect, and I adore her foot kicked up behind her as you go by, watching her beloved Jack. So sweet!

Party Time
This year, you could start to check in at 3.  Since we were in the park earlier (my uncle got to the park in the morning, and therefore was parked in the Toy Story lot. This is a good reminder, don't do that!) we did have to do the check-in, thankfully available in Frontierland.

Unfortunately, the check-in station is subject to unorganized families (seriously, don't shove your double wide stroller through to talk to a cast member!) and people wondering why they're being kicked out of the park so early. It took a little time, I feel they could have utilized the space better, but it was nice to not have to go ALL the way back to the front of the park to get our wristbands and trick or treat bags (featuring Moana and Beauty and the Beast).

Now, personally, my favorite Treat Trails are the ones that go inside or utilize what seems like a small amount of space. The Golden Horseshoe is one of them.

Inside, they had a fabulous set up in the spirit of the season (despite the stacks of treats behind the bar. Please, just hand me the box of Pirate Booty and I'd be good all night!).

These skeletons were really...adorable? Can skeletons be adorable? Cute? Fun? You know what I mean! Having their own little vignettes....

Outside, in Frontierland, is the Halloween Tree as imagined by Ray Bradbury, renowned author and friend to Walt Disney. The light was a little funky to get a picture of the plaque, but it's such a nice delicate touch to the whole season.

OK, I just love these balloons...balloons? floaty things? Decorations of Ghost and Pumpkin Mickey.  They're a perfect emblem of the season in a happy, non-spider way.

The Main Street Cinema, however, did have a few fake spiders.  Not cool, Main Street Cinema. I had to watch the cartoon with more interest than usual to mentally avoid them...

It was a little crowded to get pictures but in the Pirate-palooza area, Donald, Chip and Dale were all available for pictures in Pirate costumes.  They were very cute, but the place where the line started was unclear and potentially interweaving into the Treat Trail.

Pumpkin Mickey!

Disneyland Ops FAIL

Ok, I'm going to take a little break from the cuteness to discuss a real problem here.
The first parade was at 8:30 with the fireworks at 9:30.

My party decided to find a spot for the parade and take team further treat trails and attractions. We asked TWO separate Cast Members about the benches on Main Street.  We asked if they'd be moved forward, as often happened with Paint the Night.  Both cast members said they might, but if they hadn't by now, they wouldn't be.  But we should worry because the guests sitting in front of us would be seated.

So, not long before the Headless Horseman made his way down Main Street, another cast member told everyone on our portion of the street to STAND UP.  Well, most refused to do so, and I actually felt bad for the one family who stood until the parade started because they were confused, receiving conflicting information.  Five minutes later, the Cast Member came back to remind people to stand and we asked Why.  He informed us, "That's what I was told." Most of the people in front of us elected to sit, so as not to disrupt our view. But those who stood, to my right, made it difficult for me to take proper pictures of the Horseman or the Parade itself.

Now, Disney has some of the finest minds working for it, in all departments.  And yet, they can't come up with a consistent enough policy for parades and fireworks? Really?

The idea of making everyone stand when everyone would have had a good view sitting made no sense whatsoever.

And this isn't the first time we've had issues with parade control. Now Disney seems to be striving to have people packed in for parades, fireworks, and "nighttime spectaculars", but they don't seem to want to deal with crowd or communication with the front line CMs.

I think Disneyland Ops needs to take the Paint the Night hiatus and figure something consistent out.
Between the mistreatment of the Tower of Terror, the survey circulating proposing a 3 month blackout period when a new attraction opens, and the mismanagement of crowds in the parks, Disney is continuing to alienate its customers.  And with Universal stepping up their game so well, Management should be doing whatever possible to keep fans happy, lest they fall in for the siren song of butterbeer.

(And, AutoCorrect needs to cool it on the word butterbeer!)

So, this shot above is one of the best I could get of the Headless Horseman.  I agree he's quite a sight. Of all the things imported from Orlando, I'm glad this came. From our spot in the hub, he actually turned and made several passes, giving you a good chance to see him.

But the parade itself....meh. The music was kind of odd.  They need to cut that intro.  It was just confusing.

I loved the Nightmare Before Christmas emphasis. The Mayor's car was larger than I anticipated.

I'm also please The Shadow Man from Princess and the Frog gets a little more action during Halloween.

Disney's getting fond of the tower float to end a parade....not saying it's bad, it's just interesting.

And here's the haul for the night (pre-trading, save for the Peep I immediately handed over to my mother, who prefers them.) Frankly, you do better on a night at Disneyland than I think I did most of my childhood!

Overall, the party is great as usual, I do recommend it, but make sure you have a game plan going in. 

Do you want to ride attractions? My uncle and I were able to shove in a ride on Star Tours between the parade and fireworks. 

Treat Trails more your game? While we didn't do the ToonTown pre-party, the previous year they did it, it was cute...don't know if it was entirely worth the time.

Characters? This is probably the toughest part. I don't think I've done more than one character stop per party, and haven't in the past two years. Not since I hugged Roger Rabbit at the last ToonTown pre-party...

Also, for APs, go ahead and do the special stop for Annual Passholders....we got a lot of treats, a nice tote bag (do it early and use the bag for all the treat trails!) and a keychain for Doctor Strange....but seeing as I'm not a Marvel fan, this keychain may be up for grabs in a future contest. Keep reading and I'll cook up something! 

Also, the AP special treat station was back in Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, and they used the auditorium space to show Halloween themed cartoons.  A great place to kick back for a moment or two.

Again, my real issue is with the Operations Department. In general, and during the party, they really need to get their act together. 

Happy Halloween Month, everyone! 

In a few more days, I'm going to finally review the Build-a-Bear version of Elliot from Pete's Dragon, and use the film to discuss Disney's approach to reboots. 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Can I Use that Curse Word now? Tower of Terror....Again.

Alright, hello everyone.

I didn't think I was going to do another blog post on the Tower of Terror, but Disney has forced my hand and I NEED to speak up about this.  I am currently incensed at what I witnessed yesterday, and I feel obligated to share it.

So, my mother and I took my Aunt's two daughters to DCA in the afternoon.  The baby, now 6, needed her birthday button.  And the elder, Naomi, now 13, and I had a mission to get her on the Tower of Terror before Disney rethemes it for Guardians of the Galaxy.  I think I made my feelings plain in my previous blog. (

So, we each split off, my mom taking Olivia towards the Little Mermaid attraction, Naomi and myself to the Tower.

First, yes, the sign is gone. Plus, there is scaffolding on the side of the building. Visible to guests. Now, if you follow me on Twitter, again, my feelings on this removal of the sign have also been made clear.  It's insulting to the guests.  Did it honestly not occur to management that the aesthetics of the attraction contributes to the experience? Or did they care? I assume the answer is the latter at this point.

Tower of Scaffolding. 

So, around 2:09 we got int the 65 minute wait. (I verified these times with text messages to my mother, by the way). And of course there is a bit of a wait because people want to ride it before it closes.  We eventually make it to the boiler room and are directed up the stairs.  Now, if memory serves there are three elevator shafts and two floors, so that totals six separate elevator cars to accommodate guests. I didn't get to see how many were running downstairs but upstairs....only ONE.  1/3 of the capacity. I think we waited as long inside as we did outside. It was just after 4pm when we got out of the ride.  That's right. TWO HOURS.

Can I just unscrew this and take it with me NOW?

Now, Disneyland management...what could be the cause of all this?  For starters, I believe it was Micechat that reported one mine shaft being down while Disney installs the tech upgrades to the attraction.  Now, that doesn't really make sense to me because why would you risk accidentally damaging anything between January and May when this monstrosity debuts... But TWO shafts down? The attraction is operating at 33% capacity when you know for a fact people are coming to experience the attraction for the last time? When you have ENCOURAGED people to come and "celebrate" with singers, and merchandise*?

*While leaving down Hollywoodland, I spied a cast member dragging a luggage rack full of "Final Check Out" shirts and boxes of merch to the shop at the exit of Tower of Terror.

And yet, Disney seems to be doing whatever possible to thumb their noses at their stakeholders, the APs.

For those who need a little clarification, there is a difference between Shareholder value of a company and stakeholder value.   SHAREholder's are of course those who have purchased a financial share in your company, while STAKEholders are those who, as customers/clients/etc. share in the fortunes of the company in a different way.  I'd argue the APs are part of the stakeholders, and at this point, Disney is spitting on them with how they are managing this attraction closure. (Thank you, Len Testa, from for introducing me to this theory. It's right on the money.)

OK, Disney, I get it, you're trying to be "relevant". Because that's worked before.... (pause while we all come up with examples).  AND, like the Main Street Electrical Parade, you are trying to monetize the change. (Because, yeah, that parade is never coming back....).  But if you needed SO much time to destroy, PARDON!, re-theme the attraction, why didn't you JUST close it? You need to discourage visitors from visiting by running at minimum capacity, further inflating the wait times?

To top things off, in the past two weeks, Disney has been posting photos and video of the model for Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout! for the public to see, completely ignoring the backlash for the Tower of Terror.  This utterly tone-deaf response is appalling.  I don't know that I really have any words for it.  Disgusting, offensive....rude....ok maybe a few words.

While I understand Disney is a company that can technically do anything they want to their parks, this response and the continued response to the Tower of Terror lazy re-theme has gone entirely against the philosophy of the company.  Disney, YOU are alienating your customers...vociferously. What's next? Is Bob Chapek going to stand outside the Tower and throw tomatoes at anyone leaving the attraction with a smile on their face?

And I'm sorry to be harping on this, everyone, but to physically witness the treatment this attraction, and fans of it, are receiving, is beneath Disney. It seems they also wish to ruin their own reputation as a haven away from the world.

Shame on you, Disney.

God Bless the Silver Lake Sisters for their professionalism.

However, when the Silver Lake Sisters aren't performing, things look regrettably, already more blank.

Outside was a window display too cute to leave undocumented. 

It's such a shame little details like this will also go by the wayside for the loud and garish.

Luigi's Rollicking Roadsters

And just to add a little levity to the post, here's some of Luigi's.  The re-imagining of the attraction is just adorable, leaving the original queue in all its splendor.

I just love the new story and all the little dancing cars.  It's a delight to watch while you wait.  And quite infectious.  I know my family's cars weren't the only vehicles with its riders dancing along. It's the opposite of the Tower of Terror debacle, it's a well Imagineered ride that allows riders to forget their troubles while they ride.

That's it for tonight.  See you all real soon! Stay tuned for another post tomorrow, and one Wednesday after I head to Mickey's Halloween party on Monday.