Disney strengthens corporate governance, says holiday attendance was best ever

Posted Wednesday, January 7, 2004 10:43 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Walt Disney Co.'s board of directors, which has come under fire for being too close to management, took another step Tuesday to strengthen its corporate governance guidelines. A new code of conduct precludes board members from being independent if they have close ties to company business. Also, CEO Michael Eisner says that the Orlando parks posted their best day and week ever for attendance over the holidays, and that this indicates improvements in the year ahead.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2004 10:51 AM
So they had great holiday attendance huh?

Well, in typical Disney fashion, they react to that by issuing a holiday memo to all cast members that work outside the park divisions saying their cast member i.d.s will no longer allow them access to the parks.

I LOVE the Disney parks. But when I attended in November, there was an obvious amount of terribly disgruntled employees. I can name at least 5 times I overheard cast members complaining and gossiping about the poor state of employee affairs right in front of guests. That wreaks of a much bigger problem than low attendance.

I'm happy that attendance was up, but IMO there issues internally that are affecting the overall guest experience. Happy employees mean happy guests... and happy guests mean returning guests... that should be the real focus.

Shaggy

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Wednesday, January 7, 2004 11:52 AM
Doo-doo rolls downhill...
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Wednesday, January 7, 2004 12:05 PM
There have always been certain blackout periods for cast members (ie Christmas, Spring Break). Is the memo you refer to shaggy in addition to those dates?
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Wednesday, January 7, 2004 12:38 PM
Yes, it is in addition to blackout dates. Basically, cast members that do not work at the parks will not have gate access any longer. They must now rely on the pair of freebie one-day tickets that cast members get twice a year.

Sucks

Shaggy

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Wednesday, January 7, 2004 3:57 PM
The letter all CM's got basically said the it is and has been the policy of The Walt Disney Company to NOT grant access to any of their parks based upon your employment with the company. Thus your Cast Member ID's will NOT gain you admittance to any Walt Disney Property or Theme Park at any time. Only the 1 day comp passes and Silver Passes (for management) will be honored for non park employees, and Front Gate passes (with a limited number of uses) will be honored for park employees.

In other words he's trying to make even the employees of the park pay for admittance. Not to mention how he just got any Disney Store CM still working for the company to quit since this was one of the few things that made it worth working for the Mouse. This will of course drive the Disney Store's further into dispair and make his justification for selling them off (back to Paul Presler and the Gap, God, we can't get away from him) that much more easy, since the board will see how poorly the Stores are doing.

I will concur that the feeling inside the company is one of despair from the front line CM’s, Shaggy is correct in his statement Happy employees mean happy guests... and happy guests mean returning guests... that should be the real focus.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2004 6:08 PM
Unless you live relatively nearby one of these parks, is this that big of a deal? How often would the Disney Store CMs in Ann Arbor make it to Florida anyway?
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Wednesday, January 7, 2004 9:20 PM
As someone who's currently in Orlando doing the parks, I can definitely confirm the reports. It's been absolutely jam packed down here. It's not just good in comparison to the past few bad years, they've been breaking records and everything - Epcot broke their all-time record on New Years Eve, and Universal have been super packed up until today.I don't see how Cast Members should have some God-given right to access the parks.

I can fully understand them giving tickets as rewards for noted performance or whatnot, but because they work there shouldn't mean they're automatically entitled to get into the park. Complain about long hours or low wages, but it's just wrong to b**** about something that can't be seen as anything other than a privilage.

I understand that keeping staff happy is really the first step to success, but how about earning your privilage of entering the park, through dedicated and courteous service to the guests in the park?

You say they give two free tickets every six months anyway, so what's the big worry? You're pretty well a freak if you need to go to WDW more than twice a year. And surely a Cast Member of all people knows how to do all four parks in a day - it's not exactly difficult either, even on a relatively busy day.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2004 11:08 PM
You miss the point. It was never made clear to those that took jobs as cast members that it was only a "privilage."

If you look at Disney Store Cast Members in particular, they are paid ridiculously low wages, and most take the job because of the discount and admission it gains them to the parks. Even the "discount" isn't really worth mentioning, why any sale price beats a CM discount.

As it stands now, a trip to a Disney park is not worthwhile to a DS cast member, expecially since they cannot afford to pay the regular admission price on what they earn working for the mouse. Yet they are expected to be able to "sell" the parks and talk with guests in detail about them. After all, the Disney Store sells hoppers and annual passes.

So it's the age old problem of cutting off thir mouse noses despite their mouse faces.

Shaggy

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Thursday, January 8, 2004 9:05 AM
the Disney parks are the best in the industry. Im glad that they are having and attendance hike. This will insure that they wont cheese out on the theming of "Everest HA HA
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Thursday, January 8, 2004 9:49 AM
Shaggy: I see where you're coming from, and completely agree with you about the ridiculous pay (even for retail) DS offers. But for people in large parts of the country, the big expense isn't necessarily admission...for example, my family of four is going to disneyland in Feb. Approximate budgets are:

flight: $300x4
hotel: $115/night (taxes included)
food: $80/day (at least---that's only $20 per person per day)
souvenirs: lord only knows
admission: $105 per person

So, for the seven nights/six days we'll be there, this trip will easily run up $3000, of which admission is not even 15%. True, admission to Orlando is much more expensive, but so are flights for this time of year. So while it's a higher percentage, it's not *that* much higher. Also true, this is not the cheapest hotel one can possibly stay in, but with two kids under 6, I'd prefer to have some space. ;)

To be fair, we're flying on frequent flyer miles, and using AmEx membership rewards points to pay for the hotel, so the fractional cost of our admission is quite a bit higher.

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Thursday, January 8, 2004 6:22 PM
>>>>>I can fully understand them giving tickets as rewards for noted performance or whatnot, but because they work there shouldn't mean they're automatically entitled to get into the park. Complain about long hours or low wages, but it's just wrong to b**** about something that can't be seen as anything other than a privilage.

Well the problem is that the admission just isn't a privilage, it was the pay for working at the store. Almost every CM in my store has a professional job outside the store (Electrical Engineer, CPA, Health Specilist, Lawyer, or they're in a relationship where their SO is in some sort of high paying job), the only one's not like this are the managers, and/or the high school help. We all took the Disney Standards very seriously, we believed in Walt's idea's, and accepted that the pay was the admission to the parks and the discounts on the hotel rooms while in Florida.

I can say I've made it to Florida numerous times, and only had to shell out $500 to $600 dollars for food, transportation, and such, the rest was made up with the "back pay" of admission. In one week of my regular job, I will make more than a month at the Disney Store working two or three days a week; and the work at The Disney Store is harder in many ways, at least physically.

If you go and ask anyone about working retail, and why they would do it, the answer is almost always the "perks" of the job, not the actual take home pay. People remodeling houses get jobs at Home Depot to get the discounts, teenagers in clothing stores for the discounts, Disney Freaks go to the Disney Store for the admission to the parks, and to be near other weird people. (Why come to Coasterbuzz if not to share to company of other people that ARNAR describes so well (and it must be bad that I fit into both groups))

Disney also doesn't reward anyone for outstanding work, or give you bonuses, that's still a Disney idea, (except for that Greedy SOB at the top of the cheese chain) you always give your 110%, always make every guest happy, and are dedicated to giving the best 'magicial' service you can to everyone.

Plus the "free tickets" are not the hopper tickets you're thinking of that you get, we basicly get ONE 4 day hopper ticket a year, sent as four seperate pieces of media each good only for ONE DAY, ONLY for one person, and on top of that they EXPIRE within two years of issue.... So I, by MYSELF could go to the park for one FOUR day period ONCE a year on the tickets that the company gives us. to say I'm a freak to go more implies that you who have a season pass to a park MUST be a freak, since you must go to that park more than twice a year with your pass... Think about the logic there...

And since I make it to Orlando 2 to 4 times a year, becuase of my other business, or vacation, or just wanting somewhere to go where it warm and not snowing, then a midwesterner can make it there more than once a year. And being a Disney fan, and a CM , and Married to a CM that I met while working for Disney, I guess I expect some respect back from the Mouse for supporting, advertising, visiting, spending on him (The Disney in our house is overwhelming), and working hard for him, to not screw me over to fill Michaels greedy pockets.....

The question of What Would Walt Do Still Stands....


I understand that keeping staff happy is really the first step to success, but how about earning your privilage of entering the park, through dedicated and courteous service to the guests in the park?

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