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  • [Question] Is it all a bit of a... myth?

    Since I became a Disney fan, more specifically a member of fan forums, I have been unable to escape the extremely widespread belief that Walt Disney World struggle to maintain their parks. Columns such as "Declining By Degrees" and the opinions of members who can travel to other parks in Tokyo and California and believe they have superior maintenance all seem to promote the idea that Walt Disney World is quite a deal more inferior.

    I used to believe this entirely. It made sense, I guess. But when I visited with family, I would keep my eye out. I'd stroll down Main Street, looking for the thousands of blown light bulbs - only to find zero. I would wander around the 'crumbling' Epcot, only to find it as shiny and new as I presume it had been in 1982. I don't get it.

    Right now, as we speak, the backside of Cinderella Castle is undergoing a refurb. As far as I know, there weren't gargoyles falling off onto the ground from decades of neglect, nor were there shattered windows. It's a normal touch up, the kind of thing they should be doing. However, it would seem that most people believe otherwise. I don't understand... why does WDW get so much stick from fans for being under-maintained? The parks look fantastic! I am writing this and thinking "Jeez you sound like Disney employ you", but I just feel like no one else is saying this. Disneyland's Main Street pavement recently got refurbed. Lots of exposure, applause for keeping on top of things, well done TDA. At the same time, many buildings on the Magic Kingdom's Main Street were being refurbed. Barely a whisper.

    The other day, I read a comment from someone on here - I can't remember what thread, it's killing me! - about why there is a myth of WDW's low maintenance. So it can't just be me thinking it. I am not going to say the parks are constantly sparkling 100%, because that would be wrong, but what I genuinely do believe is that the hype and fuss caused by proclamations of the end of days for WDW maintenance is vastly, vastly overblown. The parks look fantastic, and I would love to get to the bottom of this myth that they are falling apart because no one in TDO gives a damn.
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    July 2012-13 - UK Cultural Representative Cast Member at Epcot
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  • #2
    Re: Is it all a bit of a... myth?

    Depends on who you ask I guess.

    Some of the complaints I see, others I do not, I think it just comes down to perception. The hardcore fans are going to remember how great it can be but even that I think it's someone's perception of how they remember the parks were before. It's easy to notice the little things that change when you are constantly looking at something.

    The line between where Disney excelled over what other parks have to offer is starting to get thinner and thinner and I think that's what bothers people the most.

    People visited Disney for that "something" that made them superior, when things get removed, or added shows or events became a premium item, it starts to pick away from the very definition of what makes Disney great in the first place.

    So while some will focus on the light bulbs (I too haven't witnessed any blown FYI), I think its the overall value of paying that premium price and what we get in return that is starting to falter, at least, that's the case with my family.

    I recently realized that I could get an adult AND child AP ticket to Sea World, Busch Gardens, Aquatica and Adventureland Island for the same price as I'd pay for one adult AP ticket to Walt Disney World, and that's at the Florida Resident rate!

    Not to mention that while I've never been to the Overseas parks, I have been to DL/DCA and it's night and day in regards to offerings. HM overlay, IASM overlay, special fireworks etc.. the list is really endless regarding how much better its done elsewhere.

    So, as a person who grew up going to nothing but Walt Disney World I'm frequently asking myself "Why don't we have that?" "When was the last time we got something new?"

    Maintenance happens in the park all the time, I see it when I go, I'm thankful for that, truly, but there's no BIG change (outside of FL) that makes the investment worthwhile for my family to visit.

    We still enjoy ourselves when we go but the visits are farther and farther apart. I used to go 2-3 times a month, now its roughly one visit every 2-3 months. My love for the parks hasn't waned but there seems to be less reasons for me to keep coming back.

    Does that help answer your question at all?

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Is it all a bit of a... myth?

      Here is what I really think is going when it comes to all of these DLR vs. WDW threads. And I think it is more of an example of an aspect of the American culture that you may not be privy to, since you do not live in this country.

      When you get down to it, I think the whole DLR is better than WDW phenomenon is a result of the "east coast bias" which pervades American culture. East coast bias usually refers to sports, where east coast teams are given more weight and attention than west coast teams. The lopsided attention given to the Yankees and the Red Sox come to mind right now. But it can also be applied to the media and entertainment in general. American Idol is filmed in Los Angeles at 5pm so it can be shown live on the east coast. Even though this show is filmed on the west coast, the west coast is forced to see the taped version three hours later.

      I really don't think WDW's problems are necessarily that much worse than DL's problems. However I do think that the west coast may have a bit of an inferiority complex and their park was created by Walt Disney himself, so that card is always played in showing that their side is the better one.

      I hope I'm making sense but I think this is a cultural phenomenon side effect versus an actual subjective view of which resort is better.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Is it all a bit of a... myth?

        the maintenance angle is over hyped. It's a knee jerk reaction from the DLR core after all the problems they had in the 90s. WDW is in constant upkeep and it just isn't covered here.. so the myth continues and little things are blown out of porportion. What isn't overhyped is the declining of the PRODUCT itself - two separate discussions. What WDW does too much of these days is pull the product back, rather then maintain the previous level of service or offering. It's not chipping paint or lightbulbs that are the problem.. it's the very target the company is shooting for that is the problem.


        Originally posted by DisneyIPresume View Post
        When you get down to it, I think the whole DLR is better than WDW phenomenon is a result of the "east coast bias" which pervades American culture. East coast bias usually refers to sports, where east coast teams are given more weight and attention than west coast teams. The lopsided attention given to the Yankees and the Red Sox come to mind right now. But it can also be applied to the media and entertainment in general. American Idol is filmed in Los Angeles at 5pm so it can be shown live on the east coast. Even though this show is filmed on the west coast, the west coast is forced to see the taped version three hours later.
        All I can say is.. wow. I think you got the bias a bit inverted.. its more like a napoleon complex for the west coast. You've argued in the past how SoCal is the center of culture, etc too. Drop the chip off your shoulder...

        The examples you gave are not about bias - they are realities based on facts and historiy. Yankees and Red Sox? Well lets see... maybe it has something to do with the Yankees being the team with the most WS Titles? Or the fact they have more of the biggest names and personalities in the game both past and present? Or that both teams are from the beginning of baseball?

        What you see as bias is really because you are comparing items with almost 100 years worth of history that are key players in the very core of the sport... vs culture that is half of that age. These franchises have stoic histories and generations of fan base combined with they are some of the biggest personalities both on and off the field in the modern day. Of course they are going to be more in the focus then expansion teams or teams that have less prominence and persistence in the history of the game.

        And TV? well hrmm.. might it just happen to deal with the realities of the POPULATION and therefore the AUDIENCE and MONEY behind the programming? The west coast population is sparse and spread out. East coast is dense and greater. Sure Cali has a lot of people.. but beyond that it drops off like a lead balloon. Cali big market... but you're trying to put Cali up vs the entire east coast. NY+NJ+PA has the population of Cali. So not only are they matching Cali's audience, but they have the rest of the east coast too.

        Then there is the reality of time of day. If you made the show air at 11pm - no one would watch it! So doing it live in CA at prime time west coast would alienate half or more of your audience. While showing it later on tape delay, or earlier in the day on west coast doesn't stroke the ego of the west coast - its doable.

        It's not bias - its practical and driven by need the window of opportunity with your audience.
        Check out my blog - Coreplex: Rambling from inside the Grid


        Am I evil? yes, I am
        Am I evil? I am man, yes, I am

        Originally posted by sleepyjeff
        Disneyland was meant to be sipped not chug-a-lugged

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Is it all a bit of a... myth?

          Declining by degrees is not a myth. Things that were offered are not anymore with nothing to replace them. Prices have gone up on things that were there before but are offered at a lesser extent. It's happened a LOT in dining. Many things that would have been included before are now a separate cost point and have to be charged extra for.

          As for general maintenance? If it's fixable and within their maintenance budget, they're going to fix it and be damn proud of maintaining that Disney quality they're fond of. They've all gone through the training. They've probably worked there a long time back when "the Disney touch" was in its prime. But they'll maintain the small things they can and then just begrudgedly accept that bigger investment simply isn't in the budget.

          Entertainment is just way too easy to pick apart. They water down old shows from other parks and throw them together on old floats with cutback performers and cheap props. They only invest in infrastructure when they have no other choice or the executives open up a different budget for something like the pirate and princess parties.

          Attractions get maintained but it's to the level they've always been at.. The problem with that is they could be better. Rides just shuffle along in 1980's technology mediocrity until something like Haunted Mansion gets so bad that they have to acknowledge it and then it gets the big investment finally. It's a dilemma for a park that's 40 years old for sure.. the rides are going to age and you can't do much about that.

          But if it could be better, maybe it should be.. Why is Carousel of Progress still around? (rhetorical). Okay it's still around. Maybe you should install an audio system that would let you actually hear the character voices rather than still presenting it with the little speaker boxes for the AAs that they originally came with. Why is Peter Pan's Flight a dull dark ride that squeaks noisily along the ride track while a very faint chiming BGM plays lightly while Disneyland's has a loud adventurous soundtrack that enhances the ride..

          Do Disneyland's rides have many problems like that? I feel they've done a pretty good job of upgrading technology behind the scenes over the years. It's a bit hard to judge because they certainly had their bad years and there's no reason WDW couldn't just be going through the same before something dramatic happens and they decide to change course.

          I can't really remember going on rides and struggling to hear what's going on because the speakers sound blown out and not maintained but that's overly common in WDW. I guess California Screamin had that issue for a very long time. My biggest wish for Magic Kingdom would be for them to install the parade audio and lighting setup that Disneyland/DCA has. It would be money entirely spent on something unrelated to a new or better parade itself but it would go miles to making a better parade experience possible for future shows. That's gonna be hard pressed to happen when a new 2-dimensional banner with some sparkly lighting effects is considered the mother of all product orders these days.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Is it all a bit of a... myth?

            I'll agree with flynnibus that the declining of the product is separate from the declining of the maintenance.

            I do think there are some WDW declines in maintenance, so I don't think it's ALL a matter of "crying wolf." And I think they deserve to be mentioned. I will agree with the OP that the casual visitor will not see the declines - this is the whole point of "declining by degrees" - you don't notice the individual instances, but added together, there is something substantive there.

            There's a reason Tokyo is invoked as a comparison. If you visit TDR and see a billion small details that are right, a billion moments where no paint is peeling, a billion examples of minor animatronics working in a way they haven't in decades in Orlando... well, then, overall those tiny differences creates this ... "feeling" that the place is magical and fresh. Of course the casual visitor isn't going to be able to say why... but the TDR parks are better than the WDW parks, and upkeep is a major part of that.

            Back to my statement earlier that the declines in WDW deserve to be mentioned. Let's imagine a hypothetical world where the frequent visitors did NOT point out deficiencies (broken yeti, BTMRR missing rocks, missing Ellen curtains). In such a world, of course management would continue to cut the maintenance budget. That's just the way many business executives think. Absent any pushback, they think they are SUPPOSED to trim costs. It's their job to find the mythical "sweet spot" of some complaints but not too many. Obviously, I'd do it differently myself, but the main point I'm trying to make is that NOT pointing out the problems is a recipe for even more problems.

            I can show you burned out lights, though. The current champ of missing bulbs is the United Kingdom (Main Street's bulbs were 100% changed only a few months ago)
            Kevin Yee
            MiceAge Columnist

            I am the author of several Disney books:
            Jason's Disneyland Almanac - a daily history of Disneyland
            Walt Disney World Hidden History - tributes, homages, and ride remnants at WDW
            Your Day at the Magic Kingdom
            Mouse Trap
            Tokyo Disney Made Easy
            101 Things You Never Knew About Disneyland
            Magic Quizdom (The Disneyland Trivia Book)

            “The press [should be] a watchdog. Not an attack dog. Not a lapdog. A watchdog. Now, a watchdog can't be right all the time. He doesn't bark only when he sees or smells something that's dangerous. A good watchdog barks at things that are suspicious.” – Dan Rather

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Is it all a bit of a... myth?

              I have a question to add to this. I don't get to frequent WDW NEARLY as much as the majority of people in these forums and I do read a lot of negative things about upkeep and new rides and such. My question is the people who complain about things like that, are you all jaded and not enjoy yourselves in the parks? It seems like it takes a lot of effort to find things wrong, at least from the maintance perspective. I guess I just envision people who complain about this stuff going in and looking for something wrong instead of just enjoying the parks. Which I guess you can do if you frequent the parks as much as many of these people do. I won't be able to go back to WDW for another couple of years and after reading a lot of these forums I feel like I might be more aware of issues that I wouldn't have noticed before (and don't get me wrong I love reading all of this stuff so I'm not really complaining about it), but at the same time I think my excitement and love for the parks might overshadow that. Does that not happen for you guys?
              “"If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?”

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Is it all a bit of a... myth?

                I think it's a change in corporate culture that is at the root of it all. You have an operationally driven organization rather than a creatively driven one. The creative ones will rise and fall with their success - but their motivation is always to do what they think will succeed. An operationally oriented culture will do what they believe will fit the 'machine's need' and what some spreadsheet has decided will be profitable. They will spend 4x the time planning what to do, rather then just doing it. They won't take risks and they double talk and lie to each other just so they can appear to be in sync with what the borg wants. Those that can't breathe under such overhead simply shutdown or leave.

                The issue is the motivation is all wrong. This normally infects the management up high and into the director type ranks. Those below them may be motivated differently, but they are constrained by what the organization allows.

                It's a trap many corporations fall into as they grow and take on diversity rather then focusing on what they do. Companies are forced to take on diversity to appease the external demands to grow.

                In many ways - diverging many of the aspects of the parks and resorts could help focus them and return to delivering based on passion vs spreadsheets.. but they can never do that again as a public company.
                Check out my blog - Coreplex: Rambling from inside the Grid


                Am I evil? yes, I am
                Am I evil? I am man, yes, I am

                Originally posted by sleepyjeff
                Disneyland was meant to be sipped not chug-a-lugged

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Is it all a bit of a... myth?

                  Originally posted by flynnibus View Post
                  I think it's a change in corporate culture that is at the root of it all. You have an operationally driven organization rather than a creatively driven one. The creative ones will rise and fall with their success - but their motivation is always to do what they think will succeed. An operationally oriented culture will do what they believe will fit the 'machine's need' and what some spreadsheet has decided will be profitable. They will spend 4x the time planning what to do, rather then just doing it. They won't take risks and they double talk and lie to each other just so they can appear to be in sync with what the borg wants. Those that can't breathe under such overhead simply shutdown or leave.

                  The issue is the motivation is all wrong. This normally infects the management up high and into the director type ranks. Those below them may be motivated differently, but they are constrained by what the organization allows.
                  Bingo.
                  "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

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Is it all a bit of a... myth?

                    ^ Flynnibus, that was one of the best posts ever seen on MiceChat!
                    Kevin Yee
                    MiceAge Columnist

                    I am the author of several Disney books:
                    Jason's Disneyland Almanac - a daily history of Disneyland
                    Walt Disney World Hidden History - tributes, homages, and ride remnants at WDW
                    Your Day at the Magic Kingdom
                    Mouse Trap
                    Tokyo Disney Made Easy
                    101 Things You Never Knew About Disneyland
                    Magic Quizdom (The Disneyland Trivia Book)

                    “The press [should be] a watchdog. Not an attack dog. Not a lapdog. A watchdog. Now, a watchdog can't be right all the time. He doesn't bark only when he sees or smells something that's dangerous. A good watchdog barks at things that are suspicious.” – Dan Rather

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Is it all a bit of a... myth?

                      Originally posted by flynnibus View Post
                      In many ways - diverging many of the aspects of the parks and resorts could help focus them and return to delivering based on passion vs spreadsheets.. but they can never do that again as a public company.
                      Agreed 100%, as a publically traded company, it has to look good on the numbers by quarter, or else it won't succeed.
                      My Blog: http://imagineeringmind.wordpress.com

                      Parks Visited: MK - EPCOT - DHS - DAK - DL - DCA - HKDL - TDL - TDS

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Is it all a bit of a... myth?

                        I don't know if you were referring to my post in a recent DL vs. WDW thread from the other day, but I posted something similar to what you mentioned so maybe it was me. (shrugs)

                        I've been fed up lately with the thought that East Coast is somehow massively inferior. Granted, it is a bit behind the curve, but in no way is it miles behind. There is practically just as much cringeworthy malfunctions, decaying paint, broken effects, etc. in both US resorts. Thats not saying there is that much to be dissatisfied with, but you'll find a problem from time to time, no matter which property you are visiting.

                        I believed this bizarre micechat rumor for quite some time but then I actually thought about it and realized I find extremely, extremely, extremely, thin difference in upkeep.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Is it all a bit of a... myth?

                          The biggest problem with WDW is the nasty weather that contributes to the way the park looks.

                          It is a humid wreck. Moldy, rainy, foggy, and wet. How can paint dry? How can it look fresh? It smells bad at times. When you combine it with human sweat, it makes for an unpleasant park.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Is it all a bit of a... myth?

                            I don't understand this either. I love that place!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Is it all a bit of a... myth?

                              Originally posted by Mr Wiggins View Post
                              Bingo.
                              Yeah - people forget Disney failed a ton before they were financial stable. It wasn't even until 1961 I think the year was... until they got out of debt. It was only the successes inbetween the failures that floated the boat. Disney himself being creatively driven did not let the failures shy him away from what he thought he should do.. he pushed forward to be even better.. and in the long run his successes negated the failures, and the opportunity to give many of his films second chances in the theatres ultimately lead to their turnarounds and acceptance.

                              An operationally driven company will be gun shy of repeating what was percieved as a failure previously. The creative guy bets the ranch with the confidence (even if wrong) that it will pay off. That's why there are so many more starving artists then there are starving bankers

                              Originally posted by KevinYee View Post
                              ^ Flynnibus, that was one of the best posts ever seen on MiceChat!
                              Thx - unfortunately I have way too much experience with the phenomenon. :/
                              Check out my blog - Coreplex: Rambling from inside the Grid


                              Am I evil? yes, I am
                              Am I evil? I am man, yes, I am

                              Originally posted by sleepyjeff
                              Disneyland was meant to be sipped not chug-a-lugged

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Re: Is it all a bit of a... myth?

                                Originally posted by almandot View Post

                                Entertainment is just way too easy to pick apart. They water down old shows from other parks and throw them together on old floats with cutback performers and cheap props.
                                DCA. Block. Party. Bash.

                                Originally posted by almandot View Post
                                I can't really remember going on rides and struggling to hear what's going on because the speakers sound blown out and not maintained but that's overly common in WDW.
                                I've had this problem maybe four times at WDW and I was an annual/bi-annual visiter until recently. Thats hardly the amount of problems you'd imagine from such a "poor maintained resort"...

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Re: Is it all a bit of a... myth?

                                  Originally posted by StevenW View Post
                                  The biggest problem with WDW is the nasty weather that contributes to the way the park looks.

                                  It is a humid wreck. Moldy, rainy, foggy, and wet. How can paint dry? How can it look fresh? It smells bad at times. When you combine it with human sweat, it makes for an unpleasant park.
                                  They paint in the winter when it's usually dry. I know a lot of people visit the parks in the summer because that's when the kids are off, but from a weather standpoint it's really the worst time to go. I guess compared to southern California, Florida's weather would seem pretty nasty, but it's actually extremely predictable.

                                  It's also fair to assume that since this site (and the Florida parks for that matter) seems to lack the large number of local annual pass holders to keep us informed of every single piece of park maintenance minutiae. If someone here reports something broken it is within possibility that it could be repaired well before another poster on these forums swings by to note the change. I'm not saying that right now the Yeti is probably swiping people right out of the train and nobody has survived to tell the tale as part of his plan to keep riders in the dark so he can gorge himself on sweet touristy vittles. However some smaller repairs could be going unnoticed and without much commentary, like that whole castle thing.
                                  It bothers me when people selectively edit quotes to support whatever point they are trying to prove.
                                  sigpic

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Re: Is it all a bit of a... myth?

                                    Originally posted by Dapper Dan View Post
                                    However some smaller repairs could be going unnoticed and without much commentary, like that whole castle thing.
                                    Speaking of which, any idea when the scrim is coming down? My next WDW visit, the first in over 4 years, could very possibly happen this April. I already have the Fantasyland expansion ruining a part of the scenery for me, I would hate for the castle to look off.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Re: Is it all a bit of a... myth?

                                      Originally posted by flynnibus View Post
                                      I think it's a change in corporate culture that is at the root of it all. You have an operationally driven organization rather than a creatively driven one. The creative ones will rise and fall with their success - but their motivation is always to do what they think will succeed. An operationally oriented culture will do what they believe will fit the 'machine's need' and what some spreadsheet has decided will be profitable. They will spend 4x the time planning what to do, rather then just doing it. They won't take risks and they double talk and lie to each other just so they can appear to be in sync with what the borg wants. Those that can't breathe under such overhead simply shutdown or leave.

                                      The issue is the motivation is all wrong. This normally infects the management up high and into the director type ranks. Those below them may be motivated differently, but they are constrained by what the organization allows.

                                      It's a trap many corporations fall into as they grow and take on diversity rather then focusing on what they do. Companies are forced to take on diversity to appease the external demands to grow.

                                      In many ways - diverging many of the aspects of the parks and resorts could help focus them and return to delivering based on passion vs spreadsheets.. but they can never do that again as a public company.
                                      Originally posted by Mr Wiggins View Post
                                      Bingo.
                                      Originally posted by KevinYee View Post
                                      ^ Flynnibus, that was one of the best posts ever seen on MiceChat!
                                      It is a great post but IMHO its exactly what's wrong with this country and why so many companies fail in the first place, if all you're thinking about is ways to "cut costs" you'll never please the customer or provide a product worth investing in. Focus on the product, the money will come.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Re: Is it all a bit of a... myth?

                                        Originally posted by Dapper Dan View Post
                                        They paint in the winter when it's usually dry. I know a lot of people visit the parks in the summer because that's when the kids are off, but from a weather standpoint it's really the worst time to go. I guess compared to southern California, Florida's weather would seem pretty nasty, but it's actually extremely predictable.

                                        It's also fair to assume that since this site (and the Florida parks for that matter) seems to lack the large number of local annual pass holders to keep us informed of every single piece of park maintenance minutiae. If someone here reports something broken it is within possibility that it could be repaired well before another poster on these forums swings by to note the change. I'm not saying that right now the Yeti is probably swiping people right out of the train and nobody has survived to tell the tale as part of his plan to keep riders in the dark so he can gorge himself on sweet touristy vittles. However some smaller repairs could be going unnoticed and without much commentary, like that whole castle thing.
                                        Exactly, the weather here, while cool, is humidity free and PERFECT. We love this time of year because we can enjoy the state like it's meant to be enjoyed, without mosquitoes and humidity.

                                        I don't think it would be humanly possible to cover every bit of maintenance going on, even with an army of people. LOL

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