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More Mouse Tales: A Closer Peek Backstage at Disneyland Paperback – June, 2002
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More Mouse Tales jumps ahead in time. While Mouse Tales focuses primarily on the early days of Disneyland, More Mouse Tales is a study in the contemporary workday experience at Disneyland. With more of a demand to make profit, cutbacks at every turn make the Happiest Place on Earth a little less happy.
I will never understand why upper management insists on bringing in outside "efficiency experts" to tell them how to run their businesses. The consultants only cause problems by viewing the bottom line through their own tunnel vision, and the company suffers. Disneyland is no exception. Koenig goes at length into problems that arose from mismanagement around the maintenance staff when shifts were moved around in an effort to drive workers out on their own to avoid firing them. Doing work at night in certain areas led to failures and even accidents because the people who knew their jobs were told by outsiders to do them a different way.
Koening also discusses Disneyland's own little extortion plot when they'd ask people caught shoplifting to hand over a fine to avoid arrest.
One of the more interesting sections of the book mentions that there was a time when the shops in Disneyland held very unique items, but management decided since the big sellers were T-shirts and key chains, that they'd make the same items available in every store and get rid of the more original products. This is something that I've definitely noticed over the years. There was once a time when a visit to Disneyland would result in a very special souvenir to remember the visit. The stores in New Orleans were different than the stores in Frontier Land. Now everything is junk merchandise branded with the Disneyland name. Sadly, shopping at the park is not the draw that it once was.
More Mouse Tales holds a copyright of 1999 and 2002. Koenig makes a few references to California Adventure and the initial lack of public interest in the park. I'd like to see an update or a third edition of Mouse Tales explaining how all of that was originally envisioned and then handled when attendance was so low.
All in all, an interesting book, but not very surprising when you realize that beyond the facade that Disneyland is trying to create for visitors, it is at heart a business. That realization kind of takes the shine off of the brass.
Many people will like reading about Disneyland's goofs and glitches. For me, finding out about these problems made me appreciate how special that place is--that Disneyland manages to function at all is a miracle. Disneyland manages to operate more smoothly than other theme parks and amusement parks.
Here is the human face of Disneyland. Disney magic is created by people: we humans have our vices. These people are quite capable of creating imperfect magic--that includes cast members, the crew behind the scenes, management, Disney executives, the Anaheim Police Department, other government officials, and don't forget over twelve million guests annually! It's a wonder that the place hasn't fallen off the end of the world! Like any place else, Disneyland has its share of problems. Personnel policies disliked at Disneyland are industry standard. Walt Disney didn't want to develop just another dirty amusement park or travelling carnival--and the key to avoiding the "carny" atmosphere was to hire quality people and treat them well. Treat your work force like trash and they'll act like trash. Word will get around and your company soon will have to hire trash because nobody else will work for you. Disneyland hasn't gotten that bad--not by a long shot--but this summer they're having problems in their food service department.
These stories are referenced at the end of the book. Since much of Koenig's information is from the open press, it is easy to verify. I like having an index. I used the information in Koenig's books to maximize my fun at Disneyland. Knowing what to watch out for helps reduce the misery of long lines and other minor problems.
So, when's David Koenig comming out with his fourth book?
Personally, I fit in with the last two questions. I have visited Disneyland numerous times and everytime I've always asked myself and (to their annoyance) my family how did the Disney company make such a place. This same question is often asked by an audience member watching a magic show -- how did s/he created the illusion? Well, this book reads like a truthful tabloid. Sounds like a contradiction? It's not.
While I was reading this book I felt like I had picked up the latest issue of a weekly tabloid that proudly read on the front cover "Ex-employee of Disney tells all!" But this story is truth, unlike the majority of the tabloids, I'm sure. If you wanted to know how Disneyland works, read this book. I was laughing and enjoying the reading from cover to cover. Being an ex-amusement park employee myself (Legoland, CA. for over a year) I could related to a lot of the stories that were told by Disneland employees (or I should say cast members). This book will give you a new perspective about the mouse and his land. I think it's a very good read!
Make sure you read the first book "Mouse Tales: A Behind-the-Ears Look At Disneyland" in addition to this one.