Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Disneyland Resort as an Organization

As I've mentioned before (and you can see here in my post listing 1,000 Cast Members and lessees), the thesaurus goes beyond just documenting the public parts of Disneyland, but attempts to encompass the entire operation, including Guest, Cast, and Imagineering perspectives. So, I'm attempting to track the organizational structure of the Park/Resort through the years. This can be a bit daunting at times because Disney (especially modern Disney) loves to rearrange and move functions around, and I'm operating with incomplete information. Rarely do I have a complete organizational snapshot at any point in time.

This October 1959 Disneyland, Inc. division responsibilities chart provides very valuable information, but is just the tip of the iceberg:

It only provides the division directors, not any lower managers, and does not provide information on the finer distinctions (such as all of the various shops to be found under "Maintenance"). But mostly I don't even have this level of information, and just have to document each of the departments and divisions as I find them, and periodically assess what I know. For instance, here Janitorial is part of Construction & Maintenance (which became simply the Maintenance division sometime in the 1960s). In 1973, it was part of Operations, and in 1975 part of General Services. Today it's known as Custodial (a change which I believe occurred in the mid-1970s) and is part of Guest Services.

The best sources for this information are Disneyland Lines, particularly those which include feature articles on various departments or have lists of service anniversaries or committees which draw from around the Park, and Park telephone directories. My plan is to do the best I can with the information from these sources, and hopefully in the future run it past some people who have great familiarity with the organizational Resort over the decades.

As I was looking through the June 1993 directory, I was struck by just how many people were working off-site. The original Disneyland Administration Building consisted of two houses from the property joined together in the East Service Area, behind Main Street, U.S.A.--one of the houses belonging to Ron Dominguez's family. Seen here is the building as modeled in the model of 1955 Disneyland currently on display in the Opera House:

A larger Administration Building was constructed nearby in 1966, also housing the Primeval World Diorama. (According to a 1984 Cast Member training book, The Spirit of Disneyland, Walt Disney rejected an expensive admin building, stating "There isn't going to be any administration building. The public isn't coming here to see an administration building." It's not clear from when this quotation dates, but the large administration building was built under Walt's leadership.)

By the 1980s the Park had outgrown that Administration Building. In early 1985, Disneyland purchased the site of the Global Van Lines building. Global Van Lines had used this building, north of the Park and along the Santa Ana Freeway, as its western regional headquarters before moving it to Orange:

As Disneyland began contemplating expansion in the 1980s, it also recognized the importance of a new administration building. In 1987, in what Disneyland spokesman Bob Roth described as a "temporary move," Entertainment, Marketing, Finance, and Disneyland International moved into leases offices in the Plaza Alicante at 300 Plaza Alicante, Garden Grove, just down Harbor Boulevard from Disneyland. An April 1988 account of the move in the Orange County Register said the new building should be finished by the end of a three-year lease. While the Cast Members decorated their new digs to make it feel like home, one CM commented that they sometimes didn't get to the Park for several days. When Jack Lindquist was named President of Disneyland in October 1990, he said in regards to the Cast Members scattered in area offices, "I don't even know where they all are."

Disneyland didn't select an architect for the new administration building--Frank O. Gehry--until December 1992. Below is a graphic illustrating where Disneyland had Cast Members working circa June 1993, using an October 1995 photo as the base:

The immediate Operations staff remained on site, of course, as did the Facilities, Engineering and Construction personnel. The Administration Building still housed Administration, Public Relations, Costuming, Legal, Cast Activities, Broadcast Services, and Security/Fire. Publicity and Vista-United were on the second floor of the Opera House. Some parts of Entertainment were in the America Sings building (such as Show Operations and Stage Management). The Walt Disney Travel Company was over at the Disneyland Hotel, as it had been since its formation in 1972.

Disneyland had a small presence at the Pacific Inland Bank, 888 S. West Street, Anaheim (now 888 S. Disneyland Drive); on the second floor were offices for the Purchasing Office, Walt Disney Specialty Products, and Contract Administration. Disneyland also rented out a couple of floors at Stadium Towers, 2400 Katella Avenue, Anaheim, housing operations related to Human Relations functions. On the 12th floor were Labor Relations and Wage & Salary Administration, while the 8th floor contained Cast Communications, the Disney University, Personnel Records, Guest Claims, Workers' Compensation, and related departments.

But the greatest number of Cast Members ended up at the Plaza Alicante, 300 Plaza Alicante, Garden Grove, somewhat more than a mile down Harbor Boulevard from Disneyland. All or most of the Finance, Marketing, and Entertainment divisions ended up here, and Disneyland had space rented on all but the 9th floor (that I can tell). These are some of the departments found on the various floors:
  • 1st: Business Process Reengineering; Queen Mary Finance
  • 2nd: Finance Division: Accounting Department; Finance Administration; General Ledger; Planning & Analysis
  • 3rd: Finance Division: Accounts Receivable; Inventory Accounting
  • 4th: Finance Division: Capital Development-West Coast Finance; Facility Finance; Industrial Engineering
  • 4th: Entertainment Division: Entertainment Art; Choreography; Music Department; Show Development/Directors
  • 5th: Disneyland International; Euro Disney; TDL Finance; Walt Disney Attractions Documentation
  • 6th: Marketing Division: Advertising; Creative Services; Promotions; Marketing Special Projects; Vista Advertising
  • 6th: Entertainment Division: College Music Program; Music Library; Entertainment Special Events; Talent Booking; Guest Talent Development
  • 7th: Marketing Division: Marketing Administration; Alumni Club; Ambassador Program; Magic Kingdom Club; Magic Years Club; Corporate Alliance; Synergy; Disney News Magazine
  • 8th: College Relations
  • 10th: Attraction Sales; Convention Sales; Corporate Sales; Private Parties; Grad Nites
Following the naming scheme established with the corporate headquarters (Team Disney Burbank) and Walt Disney World (Team Disney Orlando), the new administration building was known as Team Disney Anaheim when it opened in February 1996. People sometimes complain that management who work at TDA don't get out into the Parks, and so make decisions divorced from the Guests and any personal connection to how things are in the field. Surely there are some Cast Members like that, just as there must have been some who went to the old Administration Building and didn't go into the Park. But having the main administrative functions consolidated in one location, on property, is a huge improvement over the scattered way things were in the late 1980s into the mid-1990s. I'd be interested to find out how this Cast dispersal interacted with concurrent efforts to expand and form the Disneyland Resort. If anybody reading this blog worked off-site, I'd be very interested to hear your perspective on how efficiently Disneyland functioned during this time.


Major Pepperidge said...

Wow, lots of great, well-organized information!

Do you know when the Dominguez home was finally destroyed? I've always wished there were some better photos of that early version of the Administration Building.

Unknown said...

Fantastic post!

I admire the tenacity of your research skills.

Jason Schultz said...

Major: The Dominguez house was destroyed in 1966. The Fall 2005 "E" Ticket (#43) probably has the best photos of the first Admin Building, including recollections by Ron Dominguez and photos of it being destroyed!

Anonymous said...

How about a New Post? - Jiminy (vdt)

Bob Cowan said...

An odd organizational chart that puts the Board of Directors as reporting to Walt Disney. Certainly gives a new meaning to a "Walt-centric" organization.... :)

Anonymous said...

Yes! I was one of those people. From 1990-1995, I was a 'floating' clerical/administrative assistant, hence, I worked in every conceivable office pertaining to Disneyland. Very few offices were grand or showy as a lot of them had been built during the park's infancy and I don't think the founders themselves had any idea how hugely popular the park would be become -- or how many resulting back-of-house employees/Cast Members there would be (and how much room we would all require).

Some offices were trailer rentals (behind Haunted Mansion and Splash Mountain). Many were/are on the second stories of the park (Adventureland houses offices above the Bengal Barbecue/River Belle Terrace/Adventureland shops). Some offices were/are below ground. Fantasyland's offices are entirely subterranean. My desk was directly below the Pinocchio attraction's unload area, so I could hear the ride vehicles cycling around and around all day. I was assured that in the event of a destructive earthquake AKA "The Big One" that the Dumbo and Storybook attractions would most likely flood our office, but only about calf deep so wading up and out to safety would be a cinch.

Some offices were/are freestanding buildings. For example, the Main Street offices were housed above City Hall and were adjacent to Walt's private apartment over the Main Street Fire Station. I always loved shifts there, as there was no better seat on Earth for parades and the Candlelight Procession during the holidays. My office there looked out onto the steam train area just as it pulled out of the Main Street station. (The best seat for "Fantasmic!" incidentally was perched on the Adventureland office toilet. A private seat with your own private window covered only by a sheer curtain.) The fanciest office by far, was housed in the "America the Beautiful" (now Buzz Lightyear) building. It had a wonderfully mid-century vibe, including a full kitchen (great at lunch/dinner time!). As I understand it, its superiority to the other area offices was due to the fact that Walt agreed to build the executives from Sunkist (an early Disneyland corporate sponsor) a nice gathering place where they could bring business associates or family members to impress and entertain them backstage. Long after Sunkist pulled out of the park, the rest of us got to enjoy the perks of that office.

I also worked off site at the Alicante Princess (now the Hyatt Regency Orange County), as well as in the building near the Angel Stadium and the travel company at the Disneyland Hotel. While I enjoyed the occasional change of scenery, I always felt detached in these locations. Even though Disney art adorned the walls and we all adhered to the dress codes and donned name tags, I missed being at the park and was always happy to return. Most of my shifts were at the park and those were five very happy years wherein I taught orientations to newly-hired cast members in the Disney University (when it was located in the old Administration Building and we could hear the screech of the Grand Canyon's pterodactyl through the walls). Sometimes when we had very large groups of new hires, we would teach class in the Carousel of Progress building, which was also great fun (this was pre-Innoventions and the theaters weren't being used).

But the best part of those five years was meeting my future husband who was a foreman on Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones, Splash Mountain, and other attractions on the west side of the park. He would come up to my office under the guise of "grabbing a cup of coffee" (I later learned he didn't even like coffee; just the cute secretary in the office). Twenty-four years later we're still together and grateful for Disneyland bringing us together.