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Turning Point: Disney Goes Cheap With Toy Story Land

Toy Story Land was poorly designed

Image: DisneyThese words aren’t ones I’ve said of Disney since, well, Disney California Adventure and the opening of DinoLand U.S.A. The conclusion is impossible to ignore, though. Cracks already appeared after only a few months of operation. During the first year, a staggering number of things have gone wrong.

Here are but a few examples:

  • the tables and chairs at Woody’s Lunch Box are in such disrepair that they would sell for a dollar at a yard sale
  • the paint has already cracked in several areas, and pieces have fallen off of decorative elements
  • Slinky Dog Dash had to add covers to hide unexpected wear-and-tear issues with the slinky coils
  • the individual ride carts lost their tails after a matter of weeks
  • some of the trash receptacles look like they got swept up in a hurricane and landed awkwardly

Why hasn’t Disney moved to repair any of these issues? The problem is systemic. Disney reduced the budget of Toy Story Land right around the time that they announced Star Wars Land. Understandably, that themed land has become the focus of Hollywood Studios. This change in strategy has come with predictable fallout. Toy Story Land became a secondary project.

Image: DisneyWith everyone working to perfect it, Toy Story Land fell by the wayside. With every resource dedicated to Galaxy’s Edge, repairs at Toy Story Land are low in priority. At some point, Disney will get to it, but they’ve left their park in a decidedly un-Disney state in the interim. And the cost-cutting exists beyond this one themed land…

Going lean

Image: DisneyIn the big data era, corporations have developed new tactics to enhance revenue. One of the most troubling strategies is to get lean. It’s when businesses attempt to employ the fewest employees needed to operate effectively. In most instances, the quality of work decreases as stressed out workers become more error-prone. Also, essential assignments tend to fall through the cracks.

Why do I mention this with Disney? They’ve had several high-profile instances of layoffs in recent years. In one memorable example, they were unsuccessfully sued by former employees forced to train their replacements. Some of these layoffs have specifically targeted performing cast members.

In 2016, Disney laid off a third of the Citizens of Hollywood. These performers act in the shows on the streets of the theme park. They’re wildly popular, but Disney has targeted them multiple times in recent years. The corporation also did a reorganization in 2018 that led to layoffs, with 4,000 (!) more expected after the Fox/Disney merger. This seems to mention that Disney’s had record profits in consecutive years, with the theme park division anchoring the entire company. Yes, Disney’s earning more while providing less. That’s not opinion but an indisputable fact.

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