Disneyland was not the happiest place on Earth for at least one former employee, and he’s seeking hundreds of others who feel the same way. Reykeel Zorio this week slapped Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and finance data services Walt Disney Worldwide Services with a class action complaint, alleging he was ripped off by Disney for unpaid vacation, unpaid wages and other monies. Claiming that the class members “exceed five hundred (500) persons,” Zorio’s complaint seeking a jury trial was filed yesterday in LA Superior Court (read it here). It presently seeks less than $75,000 for Zorio and the other class members individually. However, add that all up and you get a hefty figure around $37.5 million that’s being sought from the House of Mouse.
The three-claim class action seeking certification is intended to cover all former nonexempt employees who worked at Disneyland Park, Disney’s California Adventure Theme Park, Disneyland Hotel, Disney Grand Californian Hotel, Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel and Downtown Disney from 2010-2014. Zorio was hired by Disney Worldwide Services in November 2011 and was “transferred” to Disneyland. His first day of work there was November 26 that year. The 11-page complaint does not state when he left the company, but it alleges violation of labor code for denial of vacation wages, violation of labor code for unpaid wages at discharge and violation of business and practices.
Zorio’s complaint also says that a class action is the best action because … Read More »
Disneyland visitors won’t be saving much bank now that Disney has once again raised the cost of admission. Today the price of a one-day, one park ticket for visitors 10 years and older increased $4 to $96, with the cost of a Disneyland/California Adventures Park-Hopper shooting up to $150 from $137 for adults. Disney also bumped up prices for SoCal Select (+$10 to $289), Deluxe (+$20 to $519), Premium (+$30 to $699), and Premier (+$50 to $1,029) passes. To control swelling crowds the company has suspended new sales of its SoCal Annual Passport which allows local weekend access, although current SoCal pass holders and those whose passes expired in the last three months may still renew. “Like any business, we periodically evaluate our pricing and make adjustments based on a variety of factors,” said Media Relations Director Suzi Brown. “A ticket to our theme parks represents a great value, particularly when you look at the breadth and quality of attractions and entertainment we offer and the special moments guests experience with our cast…Due to the popularity of our Annual Pass Program — and to preserve the Guest experience for our Annual Passholders and all Guests — future sales of all Annual Passes will be subject to availability.” Around this time last year Disney hiked ticket prices to its California and Florida parks.
The local TV networks went into quake mode tonight — but not immediately. KCBS, KNBC and KABC continued with their regular 9 PM programming after a magnitude 5.1 earthquake struck the Southland at 9:09 PM. KCAL 9 did go live with news within about 15 minutes, and one of its co-anchors was Kent Shockneck — who famously doing a live newscast on KNBC when the 5.9 1987 Whittier Narrows quake struck and promptly got under his newsdesk. (Relive video of that incident below). Interestingly, tonight’s temblor occurred on same thrust fault that caused the ’87 quake, according to preliminary data. For their part, the three network O&Os went to their news teams by 10 PM — pre-empting The Insider on CBS, Hannibal on NBC and 20/20 on ABC. Fox 11 went with its regular 10 PM newscast.
This was the second small-to-moderate earthquake to strike the Greater Los Angeles area in less than two weeks. Disneyland shut down its rides after the main quake, which was followed by a series of more than a half-dozen aftershocks ranging in magnitude from 2.6 to 3.6. This is standard protocol for the Anaheim theme park, which is less than 10 miles from La Habra, the epicenter of the main temblor. Disneyland typically cycles through its attraction after a quake hits then inspects them after parkgoers have disembarked. … Read More »
Something didn’t smell right today at the happiest place on Earth. A strange odor at Disneyland saw four theme park cast members taken to local hospitals earlier Friday, according to the Anaheim Fire Department. The first responders arrived on the scene this afternoon after the employees complained of nausea. Turned out that paint odors were the culprit. The painting was in a backstage location on the theme park property and wasn’t anywhere near visitors, I’ve learned. “The 4 employees were transported for precautionary measures,” tweeted Anaheim Fire Rescue. The incident did not cause any other disruption at Disneyland and the theme park never closed. To that end, Disneyland will be staying open for business as usual today.
Randy Moore’s buzzy Sundance thriller was shot in secret in Disney parks with a distinctly non-Disneyfied tale of dread and paranoia in the happiest place on Earth. The distribution trifecta of Producers Distribution Agency (PDA), Abramorama, and FilmBuff will release Escape From Tomorrow in theaters on October 11 as well as on VOD and digital platforms, although nobody’s yet talking about how the pic’s skirting Disney’s legal muscle. Check out the first trailer:
Your wallet will feel a little lighter than you might have expected next time you visit Disney‘s theme parks in California or Florida. Yesterday the company raised the prices for single-day and annual tickets — something it typically does each year. It now costs $92 (+5.7%) for those over 10 to enter Disneyland or Disney California Adventure Park, and parking costs $16 (+6.7%). If you want to visit both parks then it will cost $137 (+9.6%). An annual ticket usable almost any day runs $669 (+3.1%). And it takes $95 (+6.7%) to experience the Magic Kingdom at Orlando’s Walt Disney World. The increase there comes about two weeks after Universal Orlando raised its one-day price to $92 (+3.4%) for either Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure, or $128 (+3.2%) for both. Disney Premier Passport — which offers anytime admission to any of its parks in California or Florida — now costs $979 (+15.3%). “Like any business, we evaluate and adjust our pricing based on a variety of factors,” says Disney spokesman Bryan Malenius. “A ticket to our theme parks represents a great value, particularly when you look at the breadth and quality of attractions and entertainment we offer and the special moments guests experience with our Cast.” Morgan Stanley analyst Benjamin Swinburne says that recent increases in attendance “helped alleviate investor skepticism” about the company’s ability to increase profit margins at its parks.
The Disney parks PR folks are having a rotten week. The day after a small dry-ice bomb exploded at Disneyland in Anaheim, a woman and her grandson found a loaded pistol on the Dinosaur ride at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Grandma turned the Cobra .380 automatic over to park authorities, who called Orange County Sheriffs. When deputies found its owner, 44-year-old Angelo Lista, in the park, he told them he realized the gun was missing several minutes after he’d left the ride. Lista — who has a concealed-weapon permit — said he didn’t realize that Disney doesn’t allow park visitors to pack heat, assuming that the checkpoint patrons go through before entry is merely to check bags for weapons and explosives. He later told deputies that the piece “just slipped out” of his pocket “as a result of the ride being extremely bumpy”.
2ND UPDATE, 1:08 PM: A 22-year-old Disneyland employee was arrested on suspicion of dropping a dry-ice bomb into a trash can at Mickey’s Toontown Tuesday night, prompting a brief evacuation of the area, Anaheim police Sgt. Bob Dunn said. Christian Barnes, an outdoor vendor at the park, is being held on $1 million bail. Barnes is cooperating with investigators and indicated that the blast was an isolated incident “with unanticipated impacts”, Dunn said. No one was hurt but the blast prompted the evacuation of Toontown for about three hours while authorities investigated. The rest of the park remained open.
UPDATE, 9 PM TUESDAY:Mickey’s Toontown has reopened to park visitors after the Orange County Sheriff’s Department bomb squad determined it was dry ice that exploded in a trash can. No one was hurt. The sheriff’s department is investigating.
PREVIOUS: 6:45 PM TUESDAY: A small explosion was reported in or near a trash can at Disneyland‘s Toontown tonight, prompting an evacuation of the immediate area, said Anaheim Police Sgt. Bob Dunn. The incident was reported at about 5:30. Dunn says an initial investigation determined the small blast may have been caused by dry ice and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department bomb squad was en route to confirm. Dunn says only Mickey’s Toontown was evacuated and the rest of the park remained open. No injuries were reported.
Disneyland reps insist the closures of Space Mountain, Soarin’ Over California, and The Matterhorn are unrelated to the safety of park guests. But the shutdowns coming in the wake of a CAL/OSHA safety citation could spook some patrons of the Happiest Place On Earth, where last November a contractor employee was seriously injured in a fall while performing maintenance on Space Mountain. CAL/OSHA issued its inspection citation of the incident on Friday, including penalties totaling $234K for violations ranging from out of date fire extinguishers to the lack of sufficient support lines and unsafe conditions involved in November’s accident. Saturday the attractions were voluntarily closed for review of internal safety protocols for employees and contractors, Disneyland Media Relations Director Suzi Brown told Deadline. The Matterhorn reopened Sunday but the other two rides remain closed.
EXCLUSIVE: Disney has feature film plans for Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, one of its longest-running theme park rides. The studio has set iconic commercials and video director Pete Candeland to develop a live-action/CGI mix feature that will bring to life a theme park ride that originated in Disneyland on its opening in 1955. The twisting, turning ride was also popular at Walt Disney World in Florida, but the geniuses at the park closed the ride in 1998 and replaced it with The Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh, which by comparison is a 10-minute nap for parents. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride is based on Disney’s adaptation of The Wind In The Willows. Tron: Legacy producer Justin Springer will produce Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and the studio is looking for a writer to draft the plot into a film. Disney, which turned its Pirates Of The Caribbean attraction into a billion-dollar feature franchise, has a version of 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea with David Fincher among several percolating projects inspired by theme park attractions.
The Verve-repped Candeland is best known for his work with animation and for creating and directing the music videos for The Gorillaz. He also worked with Paul McCartney to create a cinematic opening to The Beatles Rock Band for Harmonix. Catch that opening below:
The Mouse is roaring in China. On Tuesday, The Walt Disney Company announced it had entered a partnership with the culture ministry and Chinese internet giant Tencent to develop the country’s animation business. Today, it has emerged that Shanghai Shendi Group, the operator of Disney’s planned Shanghai Disneyland, has secured a $2 billion loan for construction of the park.
The loan deal for the new Disneyland was signed on Tuesday and falls under a framework that Shendi agreed to in May with 12 banks including China Development Bank, Shanghai Pudong Development Bank and the Bank of Communications, according to ShanghaiDaily.com. (A groundbreaking ceremony for the resort was held in April last year.) Shanghai Shendi Group vice president Shao Xiaoyun said the project will receive two syndicated loans with plans to develop the theme park as well as a tourism district in the surrounding area to be known as the Shanghai International Tourism Zone. The second phase of the loan will go towards an estimated $714 million cost to build the tourism area, according to ShanghaiDaily. The total cost of the park is estimated at $3.9 billion, according to Reuters. Read More »
It’s a nice problem to have if you’re the Walt Disney Co — but not if you’re trying to visit the Anaheim theme parks. I’m told that both yesterday and today Disneyland began turning away would-be visitors within hours of opening and then redirected them to California Adventure until that park reached capacity, too. Sounds like The Happiest Place On Earth could be the grumpiest judging by this alert which the Disneyland Twitter site has been sending out regularly:
Disneyland Resort extremely popular today. Disneyland and Disney California Adventure access temporarily limited.
UPDATE: Luke Y Thompsonreports from Comic-Con 2010 today: Walt Disney Studios ended the TRON panel with a surprise: the logo of Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion ride! The green drawing of a ghost was shown along with some of the spiel from the ride. The audience is asked who it thinks the perfect director would be. Crowd yells out “Tim Burton,” but goes crazy when Guillermo Del Toro comes out! He says he’s nervous because it’s a Disney panel, which limits his vocabulary. He says he has ridden the ride at least once a year since he was a kid, and notes he always felt there were more story possibilities than just a horror movie. That said, “the scary will be scary. We’re being true to the spirit of the original Imagineers… We are not returning Eddie Murphy’s call.” It will be shot in 3D, live-action, and the Hatbox Ghost is the pivotal character.
End panel, for real this time.
SAN DIEGO, Calif. – July 22, 2010 –Guillermo del Toro surprised the 6,500 fans gathered today at Comic-Con with the announcement that he is currently developing a new film for The Walt Disney Studios based on the classic Disney theme park attraction, The Haunted Mansion.
“Dark imagery is an integral part of the Walt Disney legacy. After all, Disney himself was the father of some really chilling moments and characters –