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Disneyland’s itching for more bad publicity

Cory at BoingBoing links to another story of a ‘rogue’ tour guide, this time author and Disneyland historian Dave
Koenig, being asked not to give tours on Disney property. Does Disneyland really need all this bad publicity? Who is making the decisions up there, Goofy?

I agree that Disney has the right to control tour groups on
their property (unless, of course, the courts find that they’re a public forum
like shopping malls). Disney does allow some tour groups to work the site
freely. Japanese tour groups come all the time. There are bus tours that stop
at the park and are often led through the park by someone holding a flag (or a
light sword *ugh*). They both take money for their tours of the park, no
different than Jim Hill, Dave Koenig, Michelle Smith, or John Clark used to.
The only difference is the message. The people who are taking the Jim
Hill-esque tours want more in depth details than you can get on a Disney
sponsored tour or a tour bus tour. (I’ve been on both versions of the Walk in
Walt’s Footsteps tour and both came no where close to the detail John Clark’s
tour gave.) Almost all this information is out there to be had without taking
the tour. E-tickets, POV magazines, Jim Hill’s own website, Dave’s books, etc.
But there is no substitution for being in the park at the place where the story
was originated.

What if the tour was part of a College Course on the history
of themeparks? Would they prevent the professor from bringing her students into
the park and showing them Disneyland ’s history? (link to
just such a class ) What if the class was offered online except for the tour portion? How is that
different from an author offering the tour?

It’s a small number of people who are at all interested in
this stuff; probably just in the thousands. So the market is too small for
Disney to care about it. What Disney must be worried about is the message. They
just don’t want these stories getting out. But as I said above, the genie is
already out of the bottle. Even if some stories have not yet been told, there
is no way they can prevent someone from doing an audio tour and releasing it as
a podcast or CD (heck, I’ve thought about doing that myself).

So the information is going to get out there anyway. The
question is why not show your support as a company for these fans who care such
much about your product, the park, and help out the rogue tour guides. Give
them access to a guest relations host who will escort them through the park and
deal with guests not on the tour who may have questions. That host can then
help the tour guide know what is acceptable to talk about in the park and what
isn’t. (IE, don’t give away security secrets, encourage illegal activities,

But don’t lie to your customer and tell them the tour you
offer is the same, it’s not. Don’t frustrate your customer’s attempt to enjoy
your product just because they’re not using the way you originally intended. Don’t
turn off your biggest fans because they’re the ones who spread the Disney virus
around and infect new fans. Without the new fans, well, you’d be out of a job.

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2 thoughts on “Disneyland’s itching for more bad publicity”

  1. I have a quesiton about Disneyland archives. My sister and I almost “grew up in the park”, because our father worked for the local paper. We were featured in some newspaper spreads as youngssters riding on Dumbo etc. I was wondering if Disney has an official historian or a collection of early publicity. I’m coming down in December, because yes, I’m going to be 50 too. Thanks for the interesting blog. I’ve always been fascinated with the interworkings of the park like the alleged underground robotics etc.

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