View Full Version : Are Walt's Fears Coming True?

exDS vet
09-25-2003, 08:34 PM
As I read some of the many posts about the condition of the parks at DLR and WDW, I started thinking about Walt Disney taking his girls to the local park on "Daddy's Day" and observing the surroundings. When he dreamed up Disneyland, we wanted a very clean park that did not have any of the characteristics of the amusement parks and carnivals from those days.

I remember when they used to paint the buildings on Main St. all of the time. If you noticed a light bulb burnt out at the penny arcade on Monday and it was replaced by Tuesday. I remember my first visit to WDW in 1997. I was blown away at how incredibly well-maintained the roads were that led to the parks. The grass was perfect and there were no dead trees or branches laying around.

I remember being at Disneyland on my birthday, May 4, 2001. My partner and I were heading to BTMRR from Splash MTN. We took a detour for 10 minutes and went into the Walt Disney Gallery. When we resumed our journey to BTMRR, the 40 year old tree next to the Mark Twain/Columbia dock had just fallen down, injuring 29 people. I loved that spot and was just moments from possibly being one of those victims.

I must admit that I have not seen the overflowing trash cans that some have talked about. I rarely see dirty restrooms. The paint at times does appear to be worn.

In 1982, we visited DL with some family. We all rode BTMRR and my aunt and cousin got an extra thrill. Throughout the entire ride, their lap bar was not locked. They held on for dear life and at the end they were whiter than Snow ;)

As much as we all like to believe that our beloved Disney parks are perfect, the reality is that they are only "practically perfect in every way." Accidents indeed happen, and unfortunately some things can be overlooked. Our Disney parks are also a major target for the press. Do you think a similar roller coaster accident at a Six Flags or Universal park would have received this much press? I don't. Within 30 minutes of the tree falling at DL, we counted six news helicopters hovering above Frontierland. The noise made it sound like we were being attacked. Those helicopters stayed there for nearly two hours. During commute time on a Friday!

On subsequent visits to WDW, the grounds have not been nearly as clean as that first visit. But they are clean none the less. I don't think Disney has sunken to those levels that Walt strived to avoid, but I do believe that they need to get back to basics and return to the level of greatness that they created.

09-25-2003, 08:46 PM
I can only compare WDW from 1995 till now, and I can honestly say I haven't notice a difference in the park cleanliness. After parades there is always a mess along the curbs, but it is quickly cleaned up- some feel too quickly if the Bradley Hoovermatics interfer with "the last kiss". Next time you spend a week in the parks - one where you never leave The World - on your last day, just before you check out of your room, look at the bottom of your sneakers. When you get home,after travelling thru the real world, look at them again. You'll be amazed.

09-25-2003, 09:24 PM
Viking -


I was at Epcot 2 weeks ago & thought the park was as clean as I had ever seen it.

The army of "sweeping lemmings" was out in force and doing a magnificent job.

Personally, I tire of the "Disney is going to h*** in a handbasket"
philosophy continually espoused by some.

I've been literally HUNDREDS of times, & find it just as enjoyable (& clean) as the first trip...........................

09-25-2003, 09:35 PM
I just spent 3 different days at WDW, This past Wednesday, last Sunday, and last Tuesday, and since I am not a fan of Ei$ners, I actually look for things that are not of Disney quality. Our first trip was in 1988, and if I have to compare then to now, I would have to say that overall, things are being well taken care of at the resort. Sure, there are things that need to be fixed here and there, but since we go several times a month, we have noticed that things do not stay broken or in dissrepair from one trip to another. The property has become so huge and complex, there are bound to be things in need of repair, but I believe that because of it's size, the occasional thing here and there can be overlooked, but they usually get to it once it's discovered. Nobody's perfect!

09-25-2003, 10:03 PM
Originally posted by mitros
The property has become so huge and complex, there are bound to be things in need of repair, but I believe that because of it's size, the occasional thing here and there can be overlooked, but they usually get to it once it's discovered. Nobody's perfect!

I am surprised by your comments, and those of others on this thread. I am certainly not a person who goes to Disney to look for flaws, but I cannot help but notice that there are a significant number of serious problems, particularly at the Magic Kingdom, which are often not taken care of for weeks or even months.

- paint on Aladdin's carpets is peeling
- paint peeling on switchback queue rails
- plastic cracked and pieces missing on the "shields" in the queue of Peter Pan
- moldy rafts on Splash Mountain, large quantities of gum stuck along the track, jumping rabbit animatronic frequently not working
- It's a small World ice skater puppet frequently broken
- Rock n' Roller Coaster queue has wallpaper ripped off
- Test Track barrier test car hasn't worked for over a year
- Kilimanjaro Safaris - chasing jeep frequently not working

These may not be significant problems, but they do exist and reflect poorly on the state of the parks. At least that's my opinion.

09-25-2003, 10:39 PM
I will have to stand by what I said. I don't take a magnifying glass when I go into the parks and look for a lot of little stuff. I go to mostly enjoy myself, although I do notice things that are occasionaly wrong. Compared to most other theme parks and other similar venues, WDW is doing a decent job of keeping things in shape. IMHO. Also, as far as cleanliness goes, Disney has it all above other theme parks.

09-26-2003, 07:50 AM
There are, of course, two ways of looking at Disney's current maintenance program...leaving aside the Big Thunder problem for the moment.

One is the way Mitros looked at it, from the perspective of other parks and other tourist attractions/resorts. On that glance, Disney obviously comes out way ahead.

But as the Baron would tell you, Disney has never been compared to other parks or resorts or malls or whatever. Disney competes with the memories Walt gave us, and its own PR machine, which has had numerous authorized, and, wink-wink, unauthorized looks at its cleanliness standards.

Read the Seven Keys to success, or the Birnbaum guides, or any other behind the scenes look at the parks.

You'll see that Disney prides itself on doing things so well that people don't even notice they are done. For instance, Disney used to do all painting after hours, but now you will see routine maintenance with guests milling around. That I have witnessed myself in 2001 when they were repainting the walls of the walkway in the Castle forecourt.

Not surprisingly, I'm in the second camp, that says that the Disney parks must do more than a decent job of keeping the place clean and well-maintained.

Luckily for me, I don't remember trash everywhere or burnt out lightbulbs, but that's probably because I'm wearing beige-colored glasses right now. ;)

09-26-2003, 12:21 PM
PM to Sir Larry:


09-26-2003, 02:14 PM
Larry has nailed it on this one.

Compared to most, if not all, other parks, Disney is doing a fine job on cleanliness/maintenance/presentation. (Certainly at WDW they seem to be... DL maybe a different story)

But they have slipped when compared to their own previously high standards.

One can argue that doesn't really matter by saying you aren't looking for those minor details, but that doesn't mean they haven't slipped. It just means they haven't slipped in areas that are important to you.

But to those who do notice such things, it is important. Further, its disappointing to those of us who became fans of Disney because of their philosophy that no detail was too small. It didn't matter if most people didn't notice it. They took care of it anyway. Mitros, there's nothing wrong with you because you don't notice some chipping paint, but the point is, Disney used to not care whether you noticed it or not.

Further, when a company such as Disney starts making decisions by asking if guests REALLY care about something, instead of asking if its consistent with Disney's product philosophy, it can't help but to cause problems

09-26-2003, 02:38 PM
I'm curious Matt,

When you go to WDW, do you intentionally look for the defects,the chips,the peeling ? And if so, did you do the same thing back in the "glory days" when you went, before the advent of discussion boards where every flaw is discussed for all eternity ?

Maybe I'm just not convinced that The World was perfect prior to some ME timeline. All I know is that I don't go looking for defects and they don't jump out and catch my attention. Other posters here have made similar statements that all is still well with the World. I'm not saying either side of the arguement is wrong, but I think a lot of it has to do with how critical one choses to be and even to some extent what agenda they bring to this board.

09-26-2003, 05:01 PM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by KNWVIKING
When you go to WDW, do you intentionally look for the defects,the chips,the peeling ?

I am talking about DL now, but it is hard to go there and NOT see the deterioration, whether you are looking for it or not. When the centerpiece of the park is no longer pink, but almost white, it is hard not to notice.

I have said this before, my parents went with me in 2000, they had not been since they stopped taking me back in 1980. All they could talk about was how dirty it looked. These are people who could care less one way or another about Disney. (My mother still says she never should have taken me in the first place, now that she sees what it has done to me :o ) But all they could comment on was the chipping paint, and the state of the whole park in general. What a shame, is all they said. SO I don't think it is just us die-harders that notice. When 60 year old's who haven't gone in 20 years and had no interest in DL, notices, that's bad.

09-26-2003, 05:09 PM
..I've only been to DL once -2002- and while I'll admit it appeared tired I wouldn't agree that it was dirty. To me, litter,dirt,messy,etc will stand out like a sore thumb where as peeling paint and the occassional burned out bulb are virtually invisible. WDW on the other hand - with the exception of Odysee (sp) in Epcot - does not appear tired in the least.

Peter Pirate
09-26-2003, 05:33 PM
My first two trips to DL were summer of 2002 & summer of 2003. Aside from the mess that IS Tomorrowland I failed to notice the deterioration. Of course I was mesmerized with the feeling of just being there, I'll admit.

I agree with Viking to quite an extent on what is being looked at today versus the past. It certainly has been mentioned by me and many others that the advent of the internet and these discussion boards have certainly brought "things" to the forefront like never before and honestly how can we know if there wasn't a core of regulars back in 1979 (pick a date) that felt the same way...That things aren't what they used to be, after all this is a very normal and often repeated phrase used by the upwardly aging...But to be sure there was no open forum to discuss this.

I'm certainly not suggesting that things are not worse today than yesterday for I believe they are, but it is still only my impression from looking at things that fit into my personal sphere of reference over the course of my life.

09-26-2003, 07:00 PM

While I agree that the parks don't have trash lying everywhere, when things start to look "tired", or run down, they can appear "dirty" My father said back in the old days, the sweepers would stand next to you and wait for you to throw something down and they would scoop it before it ever touched the ground. He said they would follow you around, waiting. Of course he was exaggerating a bit, but I also don't think he was too far from the truth. The last couple of times I have been, it seems as though trash cans and the like are not as urgent to the staff as they once were.

"but it is still only my impression from looking at things that fit into my personal sphere of reference over the course of my life."

Mr. Pirate,
That is all any of us can do. That is why I thought it was important that my parents said that. Their first time going was in the 50's, I believe. But they didn't start going regularly until the 70's to take me. They would take me 4-5 times a year from about 1975 to about 1980, maybe 1982. They never went back after that, until the 2000 trip. Viking thinks peeling paint and the likes, does not stick out like a aore thumb. But to these people who had not been there for 20 years, it obviously did. It was the first thing they noticed.

And while you bring it up, why does WDW get so much more attention than DL? I know they make TONS more money, but that is sad they are letting the original fade like they are.

09-26-2003, 07:34 PM
I don't agree that the Disney parks are so far ahead when it comes to cleanliness. We saw no dirt whatsoever at Sea World or Universal and I did see a little at WDW. I experienced messy bathrooms at WDW which is no big deal to me as busy as a theme park gets but it's still a strange sight at WDW.

What really struck me was the sight of painters in Universal working away while visitors walked around them. Such a sight would have considered a fiasco at WDW at one time but now it's common there too.

09-26-2003, 07:41 PM
Its really kind of a toss up to me though in some cases. Many people here have complained emphatically about the vacuums coming out before the park closes.

Well - I can't say its my favorite thing, but during a recent trip (May) we were sitting along the Partners area benches and were thankful to see them. The trash was unbelievable - spilled drinks, ice cream, pop corn - I've never seen such complete disregard for cleanliness - of course this was by guests. I was much more content to have the vacuums there taking care of it than I would have been to stay there and sit in the middle of it until closing so as to avoid seeing the vacuums.

There are certainly cosmetic issues that need to be addressed and definitely guest behavior issues that are hard to combat. I'm not blaming it all on guests, but it absolutely plays a role.

One thing we were saddened to see was that the did finally replace that old gargoyle post in HM - the last one that had been so worn down from people running their hands over it as they turned the corner - it was almost completely smooth. Over labor day it was gone and a brang new one in its place. Kind of broke my heart - it was like tradition to rub the old one before you step into your doombuggy! I wonder what they did with it - that is definitely a keepsake I'd love to have!

09-27-2003, 02:17 AM
Re: the vacuums. In the good old days, an army of hand sweepers would follow a parade. That I can deal with.

Noisy vacuums are for stores to use to chase you out at closing time. I guess if that's what the MK wants to do at the end of the day then they do a good job at it, but I still wish I could find out what the "kiss goodnight" was supposed to be without being drowned out by the noise. They might as well just not run it anymore if they don't want you to enjoy the late evening.

"Magic" does not include deafing noise.

09-27-2003, 05:43 PM
I didn't think they were that "deafening", but then again people have different opinions on what "magic" consists of in the first place. The vacuums ruined some magic for you - they didn't bother me a bit - no loss of magic if you will.

Nothing to do with "rose colored glasses" or whatever anyone else wants to attribute it to - the vacuums don't bother me. I do get depressed riding around the people mover seeing how badly Tomorrowland needs to be painted and polished.

exDS vet
09-27-2003, 06:15 PM
Since my original post "Are Walt's Fears Coming True?" many of you have compared DL with the MK. When it comes to trash and custodial things, I guess both parks have issues. But when it comes to maintenence issues, specifically on the cosmetic side, you should expect DL to have more issues. After all, we are talking about a park that is almost 50 years old. The buildings on Main Street are a perfect example.

Several other areas of the park have been updated over the years, but there is always room for additional improvements. Does anybody remember the time when Disneyland was actually closed on Mondays and Tuesdays? I'll bet they got a lot of things done back then.

As for WDW, my experience was that the parks seemed cleanest during the major "year long" events like the 25th anniversary and Millenium celebrations. In between those events and since, was when things appeared to become relaxed. I still maintain that these resorts are kept up much better than other parks.

09-29-2003, 02:21 PM
Melissa, this is why I (and maybe some others) have a difficult time connecting with you at times... Its a perfectly reasonable position for you to not be bothered by loud vacuums. We're all different, etc, etc, etc.

But what I honestly cannot understand, is how you would not realize that loud vacuums ARE going to bother significant numbers of people.

You mentioned the need for Tomorrowland to be painted and polished... You know what? Honestly, I didn't even notice that last time, and we rode it three times. So, I can say it didn't bother me. But if its true that it does need paint and polish, then it doesn't really matter to me if I saw it or not. It would be a problem because its not how Disney is supposed to do things.

Vike, this leads into what you asked me...

When you go to WDW, do you intentionally look for the defects,the chips,the peeling?
No. The last couple of trips, I've told myself that I will actually look for this type of stuff more, but then when I get there, I forget. So I'm sure I miss a lot of it, because its just not what I'm focusing on when I'm there.

But I still see some of it. Further, the fact that I personally didn't see or notice a particular problem doesn't have anything to do with whether I think its ok or not. The point is, the philosophy has changed (not really in dispute, is it?). The only argument seems to be that it hasn't changed enough to impact "my" vacation, so it doesn't matter.

Regarding agendas... yeah, I have one. I don't like the philosophy shift, and would like to see it change.

Beyond that, nothing.

How 'bout you?

09-29-2003, 04:16 PM
***"Regarding agendas... yeah, I have one. I don't like the philosophy shift, and would like to see it change.

Beyond that, nothing.

How 'bout you?"***

Actually no. I have no agenda to prove or anyone else's to disprove. And for the time being I'm just going to let the "agenda" word disappear.

09-29-2003, 06:27 PM
Matt - that is my point exactly. I never said it didn't bother other people - just that different things bother different people. I never said that it wasn't a legitimate complaint for another person. Tomorrowland's condition bothers me - doesn't bother you - same thing.

My point all along has been that different people experience things differently. One persons irritant eg: closing of the platform at the CR during fireworks to non-California Grill patrons - is another persons extra pixie dust.

09-29-2003, 07:33 PM
One persons irritant...is another persons extra pixie dust. I get what you are saying, its just that rarely is the situation as simple as that. Like you, I'm disappointed in the lack of manners shown by other guests at times, and how that can create a big mess. Given the options of leaving the garbage be, or using the machines, I'd have to agree that the machines are the better choice. But as has been pointed out, there's other options besides those two...

Disney is choosing the lesser of two evils, instead of finding a solution that fits with the classic Disney philosophy. I'll admit that with the CG situation, the answer is not as apparent as it is with the vacuums, but I have no doubt that Disney has some people smarter than me who would love to come-up with better solutions to some of these types of challenges. They just need more opportunity to do so.

09-29-2003, 10:49 PM
the fact that with so many more people on this earth & so many people able to visit WDW and the econcoy being as it is...something has to give..

hubby & I took our first trip (honeymoon) in 1975...only MK was opened...it was pure magic....subsequently, we have gone back 14 or more times. mostly with kids...each year we see somewhat of a decline. My kids hate the fact that carousel of progress, alien, timekeeper are all shut down...

but you know what I say>>>>>

I am so thankful that they were able to see them at least once...

do I find WDW a little more greedy, do I see a little more maintenance needed to be done....heck yeah!!!

but on the same token....do I feel the magic when I walk down main street in MK for the first time of my trip???

and the answer is absolutely,positively yes.......
so when all is said and done....say what you will. no other place brings you back home or gives you that special feeling...

so I will keep returning until I find it different.

just my 2 cents guys

09-30-2003, 12:09 AM
My opinion, I still have my POixie Dusted Rose Colored Glasses. I see that there is a gradual decline in the maintenance. I also see things like them working during the day (and not at night). I see some buildings starting to look like they need repair, but there is no excuse for having a tree fall over and injure several people. Not at Disney, Not at Six Flags, Heck, Not in any city.

I haven't been to DL since I was a teenager, and I don't expect to be able to remember the difference (DW and I are going there for Halloween). But I am aware of the original philosophy.

Additionally, I think the crowds at WDW are bigger than they were 10 years ago, and that coupled with the fact that a lot of people care less about things like littering than they used to. (I remember when you wore a suit on an airplane). I am not sure if the people sweeping up could do an effective job like they used to.

JMHO, I try to ignore the sweepers and such (until I get back home and post my rantings...)


09-30-2003, 04:20 PM
The fact is that money makes "the world" - including Walt Disney World - go 'round. If WDW doesn't have the money, they need to make the most of what they have. Whether we want to admit it or not, I'm sure that Disney is suffering somewhat in this economy like everyone else. Therefore, they have to find ways to cut corners.

They may have to close less visited attractions (COP, Timekeeper) and only open then and have someone manning them (and pay them) when they will have more attendees. They may have to choose opening areas of the park after the rest of the park opens (e.g. Adventureland). I'm sure they looked at the numbers and saw that there were not many people riding the attractions in this land when the park first opens. Admit it - you run to Space Mountain or Splash Mountain or somewhere in Fantasyland when you first arrive at MK. Adventureland probably got hardly any visitors until 10 am anyway. Now you don't have dozens of people sitting around getting paid for doing nothing because no one is there to demand it.

They may also have to change the way they do maintenance. Daytime crews to maintain the parks (painters, etc) are cheaper than nightime crews. Have you ever called a plumber at night or on the weekend and compared that to daytime hours during the week?

If you have fewer cleaners that come out while guests are still there instead of waiting until the park closes, they will be off the clock sooner and therefore cost less.

This is what it boils down to. WDW's philosophy has always been to provide magic to the masses. I don't think that has changed. They may have had to change the amount of that magic and the way they provide it due to limited resources but I honestly believe that if we are patient, WDW will return to their earlier practices of painting and cleaning during the night and having an army of sweepers to clean up after you before you make a mess. In the meantime, find the good (and great) in what WDW has to offer and enjoy it.

09-30-2003, 09:24 PM
Thanks for your comments lfontaine, but the problem with your theory is that Disney was making these same types of changes (like reducing hours) when the economy was good. They just accelerated when the economy went bad. Further, they have continued now that the downward trend in the economy has stabalized.

09-30-2003, 09:53 PM
Excellent point, matt.

10-01-2003, 08:36 AM
Matt, you are right, it seems that once one of these cost saving measures is accepted, it never goes back to "Walts Way".

or as the Baron Might Say..This translates to More money for Ei$ner...



10-01-2003, 07:13 PM
the problem with your theory is that Disney was making these same types of changes (like reducing hours) when the economy was goodLeave us not forget also that the parks, as a division of the Walt Disney Co., generally make money each year. The problem is that the company bleeds off those profits to cover the less profitable divisions (ABC, Go.com, etc.).

When Walt & Roy were running things, they only had the two divisions: Film & Parks. It's a different world now.


10-05-2003, 07:32 PM
Going back to the original OP's post mentioning bathrooms, here below is a part of my trip report from thsi past July -

Public bathrooms next to Morocco were the worst I have ever seen at WDW. Iím guessing at least 15 stalls? None had toilet paper, several were clogged, no paper towels and trash piled on the floor from days ago? My mom and I were totally blown away. My dad hunted down a CM and they called for someone to come clean. What a mess! Very disappointing! Thank goodness IllumiNations lit back up my life! LOL Great, great show. It gives me the chills each time. Just love that music!

Note I did email WDw and they did call me at hoem to apologize. really, I just wanted to alert them cause it was quite heart breaking.

10-07-2003, 09:29 AM
I do not understand why people go to such great lengths to look for problems when they are on vacation. I could have complained last year because my son got sick while we were in Disney. It was his first visit to Disney. We had to take him to the Hospital and then my wife got sick then me. It was a very bad end of a vacation. But do you know what happened? I, in my exausted state, spoke to a cast member. his name was George.

George listened to me vent and appologised for my misfortune. He didn't stop there He asked for my room number. Later on that night when George got off of work he came to our room. My son was lying on the couch sick as a dog. My wife was there too. George brought my son a stuffed Eyor and a get well pin. He said no one should loose out on the Magic. My son hugged that doll and still sleeps with it today. My wife cryed and I just couldn't beleave what they did. Thats why I go back to Disney every year. Thats why I don't look for chipped paint or a branch that fell. I go because they welcome you home and they mean it.

So to all of you ney sayers about the condition of Disney back off!!! You don't have chipped paint in your home? You don't leave your garbage out? or your bed not made? Get over it!!! Your on vacation don't sweat the small stuff. :crazy:

10-07-2003, 09:40 AM
I do not understand why people go to such great lengths to look for problems when they are on vacation.

Hey, I love WDW, too and your story was very touching. BUT...
I was not looking for problems. Not looking to go into one of the most digusting bathrooms I've ever been into and much less at WDW for goodness sake! I'm not overstating by saying it was absoluetly GROSS!
I understand paint peeling under the hot Florida sun here and there but to see a bathroom in that condition is unacceptabel for the money we pay to go there.
There is no doubt in all the times I've been to say that WDW is slipping. I ahte it, but it is a FACT. I'll still go, actaully we just joined DVc this year, but I'm not so blinded by my love for WDw that I can't see there are soem definite cutbacks to the way thry run the place and unfortunately these cutbacks have had a negative impact on the cleanliness of the parks.

10-07-2003, 11:36 AM
Buzzlight, I think you will find that this place has some of the most devout Disney Fans that you can find. People who are new to these boards sometimes think that we hate Disney. You will find that it isn't a few little things that are noticed; it is a gradual decline in the way the parks are kept and the treatment of guests. We do not (most of us at least) go into the parks to look for little things to post here. We do, however point out major things like a tree falling down at DL and injuring several guests, or the severe wood rot on the castle there.

You will also find that several CM's are here as well.

My point, just because we are a little critical doesn't mean that we are nit-picking, it means we are concerned.

lenshanem, Someone sent me this link a while ago, and it has made a huge difference in my typing skills...


10-07-2003, 11:45 AM
I am sorry guys,

I misunderstood the thread. I am new to this site. I feel really bad right now. I have become a disney nut after my wife and I met. She is a CM as well.

10-07-2003, 12:07 PM
No offense taken, I just wanted to set you straght. I am in car#1 as well (see carpools defined on the Rumors Board http://disboards.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=229074 )

BTW, Welcome!!!


10-07-2003, 09:15 PM
Thanks ohanafamily. I'm gonna go back and check that site out when my kids aren't crwaling all over me!

Buzzlight, yes, welcoem to the boards. I hoep you understand what I was trying to convey. Never want to sound mean.