Wednesday, July 18, 2007

What would you do with a Billion Dollars?

Honor Hunter, of Blue Sky Disney, has just posted a great bit of information that is piggybacking off a great article written by Al Lutz over at MouseAge.

It seems that the "powers that be" who oversea the budgetary requests for the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim have approved a very large sum of money to be used to upgrade Disney's California Adventure.  That sum of money rings in at a heft sum of somewhere around 1 Billion dollars (yes, that is billion with a 'b').  That is a lot of zeros.

It offers up the question what would you do with a billion dollars and could use it to improve the second gate at Disneyland.   Well, Al Lutz's article at MouseAge entitled Resurrections & Returns provides a lot of details and more importantly opinions.

In addition, the aforementioned Honor Hunter adds some more details to the mix in his Blue Sky Alert-America (Anaheim): California Dreaming... 

So, in a nutshell, what is on the drawing board:

  • Re-imaging of the entire boardwalk area of California Adventure into something of a more Victorian-era beachside flair
  • Re-naming the towers and conference space at the Disneyland Hotel
  • A renewed tie to LucasFilm projects which may result in a Star Tour upgrade and/or another tie-in to the Indiana Jones franchise
  • Disney Vacation Club (DVC) resort!
  • The list goes on

For me, a DVC Member, I am most excited about there finally being substantiated rumors of a DVC resort going to the West Coast park.  I have family who lives near Anaheim and it would be nice to be able to use my DVC points to be able to secure excellent accommodations at the park so that I don't have to pay (or make my relatives feel like they have to pay) for the room

In Al Lutz's article he expresses the much debated topic of how to go about doing this.  If you read enough, you know what is being proposed is much more than a simple nip/tuck.  It's more in line with a recently canceled ABC Program Extreme Makeover.  From the sounds of what is planned, those people who have graced the grounds of Disney's California Adventure will not recognize the park after they are done with it.  This puppy is getting hair plugs, liposuction, crowns and LASIK eye surgery.  When the curtain is pulled away, it sounds like jaws will be dropping.

This hasn't been the first time Disney has promised the moon and given us something quick short.  Something not even breaking the Earth's gravity.  The difference is that there seems to be people in charge now who actually care about  Disney.  Who care about Walt's original vision.

But, I would be remiss if I didn't put my curmudgeon opinion into the mix.  After all, I am the grump.

I don't care if Disney throws 1 million, 1 billion, or 1 trillion dollars at the problem and produces the most slick, most technologically advanced theme park that can be put out there.  I don't care if they re-invent the theme park with this windfall sum of money.  If they don't solve the biggest problem facing Disneyland, it will be all for naught.

What problem is that you are asking?  If you've been to Disneyland and had the opportunity to be able to compare it to other Disney resorts you will know what I'm talking about........

CUSTOMER SERVICE!!!!

It is the opinion of this grump that the service levels at Disneyland are atrocious.  On page 4 of Al Lutz's article he attempts to explain why this is so and, as usual, it seems to be the misguided and misaligned goals of  Human Resources department. 

I'm often amazed at how quickly companies that rely almost entirely on the good will that is generated from good word of mouth and good customer service quickly throw the quality of their customer service out the window.  A very good day at the parks can be quickly ruined by a badly chosen action by a Cast Member.  Conversely, a terrible day or even a terrible trip can be turned completely around by a well chosen action or series of actions by a concerned Cast Member.

As was told to me by one of the Concierges at the Animal Kingdom Lodge at Walt Disney World, it doesn't matter if Disney is directly responsible for the things that go wrong to one of our guests, if we don't do something to try and alleviate the affect it is having on their trip, their memories will make the tie to Disney.

 

To sum up.....

I am excited to hear about the amount of money being earmarked for Disney's California Adventure.  I will be chomping at the bit to purchase a DVC add-on for the Disneyland DVC.  But, if they don't improve the quality of customer service over at that park, the bragging about this possibly be turning into the best 2nd gate since EPCOT will quickly fizzle away.

Hopefully, some of that $1 Billion will be devoted to giving Human Resources (aka Casting) a swift kick in the butt and realign them with what made Disneyland the "Happiest place on Earth".  And I'm sure that didn't just apply to the guests in Walt's opinion.  I'm sure he meant it to also apply to his employees, his Cast Members.

1 comment:

Biblioadonis aka George said...

I am not sure how I feel about a stellar park in Anaheim. Granted, I know it is a good thing--for the Disney Company and for us Disney fans.

But seriously, I love going to Walt Disney World. I plan a yearly trip and the family has a great time. But knowing there is an amazing park all the way across the country that is going to cost me more money to visit, I'm not sure if I will go as often to both coasts.

And will this put a schism in Disney fan's itineraries? Will this lessen attendance at Walt Disney World?

If I have to plan a trip to Disneyland every three years, I'm sure that other people will do something similar.

Am I really complaining? Or is it just the Grump effect!