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  • [Question] "We Must Operate the Attractions Until They Fail"

    I have heard that this phrase was uttered by a former Disneyland Executive who worked during the Paul Pressler era. His utterance had fateful repercussions, in that it was quoted during the investigation into the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad fatal accident. Despite numerous Google searches and search terms, I am unable to 1) determine the validity of the quote and 2) the Disneyland Executive to whom it is attributed. Can my fellow MiceChatters help?
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  • #2
    Re: "We Must Operate the Attractions Until They Fail"

    I really doubt anyone would say something so careless. He would have to be the epitome the careless evil corporate businessman or made the statement after kicking back a few.

    That's a crazy statement if true. Hopefully it isn't.
    This is my signature. There are many like it but this one is mine.

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    • #3
      Re: "We Must Operate the Attractions Until They Fail"

      Originally posted by DJM View Post
      I really doubt anyone would say something so careless. He would have to be the epitome the careless evil corporate businessman or made the statement after kicking back a few.

      That's a crazy statement if true. Hopefully it isn't.
      Incredibly careless, to be sure, but considering the way things are, I wouldn't be surprised if someone did actually say that.


      I haven't heard about this before so I have no idea, but I'm very curious. Here's hoping someone can shed a little more light on the subject.




      Comment


      • #4
        Re: "We Must Operate the Attractions Until They Fail"

        It was said by Paul Pressler, and witnessed by at least three employees.


        From the Los Angeles Times, November 9, 2003:

        Disney Ride Upkeep Assailed

        Longtime workers at the amusement park say a push for efficiency has affected safety.

        As state investigators probe why a wheel assembly came off a ride at Disneyland in a fatal September crash, many park workers worry that a six-year cost-cutting effort to make ride maintenance more efficient is ultimately to blame.

        ...Nine visitors have died in ride-related accidents at Disneyland since the park opened in 1955, in most cases because of their own mistakes. The two fatalities that occurred after 1997, however, were in accidents in which maintenance arose as an issue for investigators -- including the recent crash on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. A nonfatal accident in 2000 that injured nine on Space Mountain occurred after a bolt broke on a wheel assembly.

        "I have a lot of loyalty to Disneyland, but I feel that somebody's got to say something about how they're operating out there," said Bob Penfield, who worked on the park's rides from opening day until his retirement as a supervisor in 1997. "When Disneyland opened, safety was the No. 1 thing. Now they say that today too. But I think over time, profit became more important."

        Another worker, in an interview with state investigators after a parkgoer was killed in 1998 by an iron cleat that broke off the Columbia sailing ship, said the change in maintenance procedures made it difficult to get rides fixed quickly. He and a second worker told investigators that wood around the cleat was weak, though this was never formally identified as a cause of the accident.

        "The climate that we're operating in here has changed dramatically in the last few years," said veteran ride operator [Name Of Cast Member Removed], according to a recording of his interview with investigators. "I am one that calls routinely every week for things to get repaired, and normally they aren't repaired." [Name Removed] still works at the park. He would not comment for this story.

        In one instance, [Name Removed] told investigators, a railing collapsed on a bridge leading to the Columbia. He said he was forced to close the attraction because maintenance had no carpenters to fix the railing. And when a worker finally arrived, it was a machinist who left the rotting wood intact and made a makeshift fix with metal.

        Before 1997, [Name Removed] told inspectors, each ride had its own maintenance crew and supervisor. "People were just sitting in the back just waiting for something to happen," he said. "Everything was maintained in such pristine condition, we never had to think about anything deteriorating."

        ...The change at Disneyland was overseen by Paul Pressler, a former toy industry executive and former chief of Walt Disney Co.'s retail stores who became the park's president in late 1994. By the time he was promoted to head the company's theme-park division seven years later, Pressler earned a reputation as a cost-cutter who cared deeply about Disney's stock price.

        There's nothing wrong with saving money," said Mike Goodwin, a maintenance supervisor whose went to work at Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park after his job at Disneyland was eliminated in 1997. "But not at the expense of your prime objective, which is to keep the place running safely."

        ...Goodwin recalled a confrontation that typifies the old thinking and the new: Bob Klostriech, a supervisor who was fired in 1999, was quizzed by a McKinsey consultant who was reviewing records for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Why, the consultant asked, do you inspect the lap bars daily? The records show they never fail.

        "Klostriech called him an idiot," said Goodwin, who witnessed the exchange. Klostriech, he said, told the consultant: "The reason they don't fail is because we check them every night."

        Goodwin and others say maintenance workers once padded the margin of safety at Disneyland by replacing parts before they showed signs of wear.

        In 2000, a bolt broke on a Space Mountain wheel assembly, causing the accident that injured nine. In a deposition given in a lawsuit against Disneyland, Klostriech's supervisor, Scott Smith, described the role cost plays today in the preventive maintenance of parts.

        "If the consequences of failure involve risk to health or safety, you are compelled to develop a mitigation strategy," he said. How far Disneyland goes to prevent any other "functional failure," he added, is "completely a financial question."

        Smith's description echoed a comment that three workers say Pressler made in January 1998 during an impromptu visit to the Disneyland Railroad's workshop.

        "He said, 'We have to ride these rides to failure to save money,' " said David O'Neill, a train operator who has worked at the park since 1957 and was among those present.

        "I was surprised anyone would say that."


        "Disneyland is often called a magic kingdom because
        it combines fantasy and history, adventure and learning,
        together with every variety of recreation and fun,
        designed to appeal to everyone."

        - Walt Disney

        "Disneyland is all about turning movies into rides."
        - Michael Eisner

        "It's very symbiotic."
        - Bob Chapek

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: "We Must Operate the Attractions Until They Fail"

          That's it -- many thanks, Mr. Wiggins! For some reason, I was under the impression that is was one of Pressler's underlings...
          sigpic

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          • #6
            Re: "We Must Operate the Attractions Until They Fail"

            Originally posted by DoctorQ9 View Post
            That's it -- many thanks, Mr. Wiggins! For some reason, I was under the impression that is was one of Pressler's underlings...
            It's not an unwarranted impression. Eisner's demand that Disneyland deliver double-digit profits was the foundation on which Paul Pressler was promoted to Park president. To deliver Eisner's profits, Pressler closed rides, shuttered restaurants, and slashed maintenance and training budgets. Pressler's policies were enforced by T. Irby and other senior and junior VPs. And so on, all the way down the rickety, rotten ladder.
            Last edited by Mr Wiggins; 04-08-2012, 03:18 PM.
            "Disneyland is often called a magic kingdom because
            it combines fantasy and history, adventure and learning,
            together with every variety of recreation and fun,
            designed to appeal to everyone."

            - Walt Disney

            "Disneyland is all about turning movies into rides."
            - Michael Eisner

            "It's very symbiotic."
            - Bob Chapek

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: "We Must Operate the Attractions Until They Fail"

              ORDDU: It is precisely this reason that my sisters and I loathe Mr. Pressler for having had an attitude such as that. It led to the death of the innocents. As far as we are concerned, this makes him guilty of manslaughter and he should be in prison.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: "We Must Operate the Attractions Until They Fail"

                Originally posted by DJM View Post
                I really doubt anyone would say something so careless. He would have to be the epitome the careless evil corporate businessman or made the statement after kicking back a few.

                That's a crazy statement if true. Hopefully it isn't.
                Sadly it's true, and it's not the result of inebriation--just coldblooded, psychopathic greed. :greedy: That's why I called him Paul "blood on my hands" Pressler in another recent thread, by the way. To be fair, however, he was hardly the only Disney executive or consultant with blood on his/her hands.

                Originally posted by DoctorQ9 View Post
                That's it -- many thanks, Mr. Wiggins! For some reason, I was under the impression that is was one of Pressler's underlings...
                A lot of the "new guard" at the time had a similar mindset. For that matter, look at the McKinsey consultant's attitude toward preventative maintenance (in the LA Times article), the implication being that he'd only do something about parts failures after they occur. No consideration whatsoever was given to the potential consequences of allowing things like lapbars to fail--it's all about numbers to these rats, not living human beings and their safety. Those who disagreed too loudly were fired, and they tended to be the most experienced and knowledgeable employees.

                Frankly, Disneyland was in a downward spiral with this style of management--a very dark time indeed, for this and DCA 1.0. I don't recall where now, but I do recall predicting that deaths that were all Disneyland's fault would happen when rides are deliberately run to the point of mechanical failure, and ride operators receive inadequate training and supervision--certain safety-critical things that should never go wrong, due to preventative maintenance and training, start going wrong, and that's when people start getting seriously hurt and killed. With the benefit of hindsight, it seems obvious now, but at the time even I thought that I was being a little melodramatic; unfortunately, that didn't turn out to be the case.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: "We Must Operate the Attractions Until They Fail"

                  Originally posted by Mr Wiggins View Post
                  It's not an unwarranted impression. Eisner's demand that Disneyland deliver double-digit profits was the foundation on which Paul Pressler was promoted to Park president. Pressler's determination to slash maintenance and training budgets was enforced by T. Irby, among other VPs. And so on, all the way down the rickety, rotten ladder.
                  While things have improved, and focus on maintenance has increased, their overall financial strategy is still to defer maintenance as long as possible. Critical safety issues are dealt with faster, but non critical maintenance can still be pushed off as long as possible, as evidenced with chipping paint, burnt out lights and longer 101 downtimes. Those issues (which were often dealt with overnight when they appeared) were part of the "replace before failure" strategy that the old park management stood by.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: "We Must Operate the Attractions Until They Fail"

                    I hope this isn't what WDW is leading to with all the stories I've read on here about how things are just switched off when they don't work any longer.


                    http://www.amazon.com/Rent-A-Cops-ebook/dp/B00CGP2Y8S/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1367081996&sr=8-1&keywords=rentacops



                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: "We Must Operate the Attractions Until They Fail"

                      Was the powerpoint slide"If it is good enough for Six flags..." an actual presentation?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: "We Must Operate the Attractions Until They Fail"

                        Originally posted by DoctorQ9 View Post
                        I have heard that this phrase was uttered by a former Disneyland Executive who worked during the Paul Pressler era. His utterance had fateful repercussions, in that it was quoted during the investigation into the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad fatal accident. Despite numerous Google searches and search terms, I am unable to 1) determine the validity of the quote and 2) the Disneyland Executive to whom it is attributed. Can my fellow MiceChatters help?
                        It was said at one time by a guy in upper management the maintenance guys called him "T". Sorry I don't remember exactly what his full name was. This was back in a time just prior to DCA opening.
                        This idea of "run it till it broke" did not last long.
                        These days you should see what these facilities maintenance types have to go thru on a nightly basis to get a ride ready for guests. From what I see no guests really have to be worried about quality of work as the inspections and work done by them on a nightly basis is quite astounding. Now when it comes to light bulbs, i'll agree that they take a backseat these days but it has been getting better lately.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: "We Must Operate the Attractions Until They Fail"

                          Originally posted by Spongeocto4 View Post
                          Was the powerpoint slide"If it is good enough for Six flags..." an actual presentation?
                          According to some very good sources, yes.



                          ---------- Post added 04-07-2012 at 08:27 PM ----------

                          Originally posted by insider67 View Post
                          It was said at one time by a guy in upper management the maintenance guys called him "T". Sorry I don't remember exactly what his full name was. This was back in a time just prior to DCA opening.
                          It was said by Paul Pressler in 1998.


                          Originally posted by insider67 View Post
                          This idea of "run it till it broke" did not last long.
                          Unfortunately, it lasted almost a decade -- from soon after the beginning of Pressler's reign as president of Disneyland in 1994, through Cynthia Harriss' replacement of him. It didn't really begin to turn around until Matt Ouimet replaced Cynthia in 2003.
                          Last edited by Mr Wiggins; 04-07-2012, 09:27 PM.
                          "Disneyland is often called a magic kingdom because
                          it combines fantasy and history, adventure and learning,
                          together with every variety of recreation and fun,
                          designed to appeal to everyone."

                          - Walt Disney

                          "Disneyland is all about turning movies into rides."
                          - Michael Eisner

                          "It's very symbiotic."
                          - Bob Chapek

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: "We Must Operate the Attractions Until They Fail"

                            Thanks for the link Mr Wiggins. I am VERY glad either quotes are not used today. While I do not like attractions closed for refurbishment, at least they receiving attention and fixed.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: "We Must Operate the Attractions Until They Fail"

                              Originally posted by TONY THE BEAT View Post
                              I hope this isn't what WDW is leading to with all the stories I've read on here about how things are just switched off when they don't work any longer.
                              Don't hold me to this, but I think they've learned the hard way by now that safety-critical systems, at least, must be given thorough preventative maintenance. Everything else, on the other hand, still usually gets put off for long periods of time.

                              Originally posted by insider67 View Post
                              It was said at one time by a guy in upper management the maintenance guys called him "T". Sorry I don't remember exactly what his full name was. This was back in a time just prior to DCA opening.
                              It was probably T. Irby.

                              Originally posted by insider67 View Post
                              This idea of "run it till it broke" did not last long.
                              More than long enough....

                              Originally posted by insider67 View Post
                              Now when it comes to light bulbs, i'll agree that they take a backseat these days but it has been getting better lately.
                              I've seen some burnt-out bulbs at Disneyland remain unreplaced for months on end. Each one must require a mountain of paperwork and an army of accountants, with dozens of handsomely-paid executives signing off on the work order as soon as they each get back from vacation or patting themselves on the back. No wonder they don't like replacing light bulbs--the total cost must be astronomical, like $89000 each or something, and that's bad for their stock options (money right out of their own pockets!). They probably take twice as long to replace nuts (as in hardware ), and three times as long after that to get the nuts painted brown or green or whatever so that they don't stick out like sore thumbs amid what's left of the theming.

                              It would only take me seconds to do any of these chores, but I guess that's why I'll never be a high-level executive for a multi-billion-dollar corporation--I'm just not bright enough to do what it takes to be successful.

                              Originally posted by Spongeocto4 View Post
                              Thanks for the link Mr Wiggins. I am VERY glad either quotes are not used today. While I do not like attractions closed for refurbishment, at least they receiving attention and fixed.
                              It'd be nice to have more fixing going on outside of major refurbishment periods, though. Burnt-out light bulbs and small spots of peeling paint reflect poorly on the park and company, and are so easy to address--very cost-effective in the long run, too, but I'm too dumb to be an executive, so what do I know?

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Re: "We Must Operate the Attractions Until They Fail"

                                So, is this mind set beginning to creep back? Splash Mountain seems to have developed some problems which have gone unrepaired. It begins with small things, then becomes large problems.
                                I am old. But still love Disneyland.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Re: "We Must Operate the Attractions Until They Fail"

                                  I still remember when the head of maintenance back then I think his name was Irby? Was asked by the news media about the Thunder Mountain incident and he just shrugged it off saying "When your dealing with this many people and this technology one has to expect casualties". I remember my jaw dropping when I heard that. What a loon.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Re: "We Must Operate the Attractions Until They Fail"

                                    Originally posted by Mr Wiggins View Post
                                    It was said by Paul Pressler, and witnessed by at least three employees.


                                    From the Los Angeles Times, November 9, 2003:

                                    Disney Ride Upkeep Assailed

                                    Longtime workers at the amusement park say a push for efficiency has affected safety.

                                    [...]


                                    Thanks for the article
                                    Quote by Al:
                                    To that end I'd like the Internet community to join me in reminding the Disney company that "it all started with Walt." As you can see below we've created some T-shirts, plus a few simple graphics that you can copy and paste into your websites to let folks know how you feel.
                                    -Al Lutz


                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Re: "We Must Operate the Attractions Until They Fail"

                                      Originally posted by Witches of Morva View Post
                                      ORDDU: It is precisely this reason that my sisters and I loathe Mr. Pressler for having had an attitude such as that. It led to the death of the innocents. As far as we are concerned, this makes him guilty of manslaughter and he should be in prison.
                                      Very well said. Thank you!

                                      The only thing we can be thankful with these two, Paul Pressler and Cynthia Harriss, is that after they left Disney they had a downward spiral in their careers. They were both booted quite publicly and painfully from The Gap after they destroyed that American iconic company too, and their careers have never recovered.

                                      Cynthia Harriss couldn't find work for years after she was fired from The Gap, then she worked for a very small mall chain that declared banktrupcy a year after she arrived. She hasn't worked in over a year.

                                      Paul Pressler is a minor player in a financial consulting firm in New York, and his last big claim to fame was investing some money in a small chain of dry-bar hairdo salons in shopping malls. He has fallen quite painfully from his previous gigs as Chairman or CEO of big companies and glamorous divisions.

                                      Pressler and Harriss may not have ended up in prison for manslaughter like they should have, but their careers have nosedived into the mud since they left Disneyland a shambles. I like to think Walt is up there pulling a few strings to make that happen. If it isn't Walt, someone certainly has cursed them after they nearly destroyed Disneyland.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Re: "We Must Operate the Attractions Until They Fail"

                                        Originally posted by Mr Wiggins View Post
                                        According to some very good sources, yes.
                                        Great link.
                                        Some great information
                                        and a great read.

                                        Thanks for posting!!
                                        Quote by Al:
                                        To that end I'd like the Internet community to join me in reminding the Disney company that "it all started with Walt." As you can see below we've created some T-shirts, plus a few simple graphics that you can copy and paste into your websites to let folks know how you feel.
                                        -Al Lutz


                                        Comment

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