The BLOGFlume-Death, Taxes, and Roy E. Disney

Knott's kills an attraction, Kennywood butts heads with borough, and Roy E. Disney hasn't a clue

Written by Russell Meyer
Published: December 26, 2004 at 10:30 PM

Extinction 12/24/04

After celebrating the debut of Silver Bullet, Knott’s Berry Farm looks to have dropped the gavel on Kingdom of the Dinosaurs. The dark ride, which has been in an increasing state of disrepair, has recently had the sign removed from the front of the attraction and trashcans blocking its entrance. The attraction featured ride vehicles similar to many Disney rides which slowly transported passengers back in time to see ancient creatures of the past. While many scenes were very similar to EPCOT’s Universe of Energy, the attraction was never nearly as popular, and seemed out of place amongst the numerous thrill rides. The ride also suffered because a number of ride vehicles were removed from what was a continuously loading ride, creating one that stopped frequently to load new passengers with bored riders sitting inside the attraction, inviting mischief. From experience, Kingdom of the Dinosaurs was not a ride you really wanted to waste your time on, as I spent about an hour waiting for this less than spectacular ride. While Cedar Fair has not announced a replacement for the attraction, let alone the extinction of Kingdom, rumors are flying from everything to a Sally dark ride to another coaster. I wouldn’t want to speculate what would be in the works for that section of the park, but I’m not sure anything big could be installed soon considering the recent expense of Silver Bullet.

More Taxes
Post Gazette 12/23/04

Kennywood Park, located just outside of Pittsburgh, PA, is becoming the crutch of West Mifflin as the council is trying to raise local taxes on all workers working in the borough. The borough currently levies a $10 occupation tax, but is looking to impose a new $52 “emergency municipal services tax.” A number of Kennywood employees are young high school students (making on average $4,500 per year), who would be severely affected by this outrageous tax increase. A similar occupation tax was applied to workers in the city of Pittsburgh, and the municipality is poised to take advantage of this disturbing precedent, which was recently approved by the state legislature. As more and more people live in areas other than where they work, cities and regions are under increasing pressure to balance their budgets by imposing these new “occupation” or “commuter” taxes. For blue collar employees, it becomes a catch-22. People can no longer afford to live where they work because of rising housing costs, and now cities are beginning to make the suburbs unattractive with commuter taxes on people seeking affordable housing. We just cannot win!

No Disney Seat
New York Times 12/27/04

In a very strange move, Roy E. Disney has asked board members to reject a proposal to grant a seat on the Walt Disney Company board to a Disney heir forever. Mr. Disney stated on his web site that he did not feel that a seat on the Disney board should be guaranteed merely because of bloodline, and that “in the interest of corporate governance,” board members should not pass the proposal introduced by Frank Wierenga, a shareholder from Pennsylvania. While many companies set aside symbolic board seats for heirs of founders and owners, it appears that Roy Disney does not feel that the seat offered in this proposal would make Disney any better. Will anything make this guy happy? It seems like all he does is complain about how every move the company makes tarnishes the name of Disney. Then, when a shareholder makes a gesture to make him and his kin once again an integral part of the direction of the company, he scoffs at the notion. Disney has made a lot of bad decisions in recent years, but Roy E. Disney has yet to make a good one since his exit from the Walt Disney Company.

Readers' Opinions

From John Franklin on December 27, 2004 at 3:05 PM
You blew it again, Russell. Disney's Animal kingdom HAD an attraction named Countdown to Extintion (now simply called Dinosaur). However, the name of the attraction at Knott's was called KINGDOM OF THE DINOSAURS. And did not just featured dinosaurs either. And people thought that only I made mistakes in these articles!
From J. Dana on December 27, 2004 at 3:20 PM
Thanks for clearing that up, John Franklin....I was a bit confused myself. Since I haven't been to Knott's in years (might be going next week, though), I thought it best to remain quiet since I couldn't know definitively. Glad to know my confusion was just that: confusion...and not just me being foggy.
From J. Dana on December 27, 2004 at 3:26 PM
Disney might do well to appoint a Disney heir to some sort of "honorary" role for as long as there are Disney heirs to appoint...however, I agree with Roy: getting on the board just because of your last name isn't the best business decision. I am all for appointing Disney kin to the honorary, non-managerial roles, however. Let's keep the name in the company, sure...but more than that, let's keep competence on the board.
From Russell Meyer on December 27, 2004 at 4:07 PM
John, thank you very much for noticing the error. The correction will be made, and I apologize to those who may have been confused by my reference to the ride by the incorrect name. As John stated, I was referring to Kingdom of the Dinosaurs at Knott's Berry Farm, not Countown to Extinction at Disney's Animal Kingdom. While I wouldn't classify the error as "blowing it, again," I do realize that the incorrect refernce may have confused many readers. I appreciate the stringent fact checking of the audience of, and I strive for perfection in every posting. I do sort through various resources when assembling a story, and unfortunately when I compossed this story, I was also reading a story about the far superior and renamed dark ride at AK. Much to my best efforts, errors do sneak through from time to time (many are caused by source errors), and I appreciate such a rapid correction so that fewer readers are confused by an error.
From James Adams on December 28, 2004 at 6:24 AM
I agree with J. Dana. Roy's decision is actually true to his gripe that Disney has board problems. Putting him on the board was most likely designed to shut him up rather than fix things. He made a good decision to not give in to the egooking. Also, this is business politics and like any politics, there are always motivation undercurrents playing a role that we are not aware of. Who knows what little deals the members are striking.

"Blowing it again" - ouch, harsh. Come on know, cut the guy some slack; this isn't the New York Times.

From Kenny Hitt on December 28, 2004 at 3:10 PM
There's also the fact that, lest ye forget, Roy is not the sole heir...I invite you to take a look over at Jim Hill's site to see the rest of the surviving members of the Disney family, many of whom could potentially usurp Roy for that family seat.

This includes his cousin Diane (Walt's daughter), whose husband, Ron Miller, was unceremoniously booted when Roy installed Eisner as CEO back in 84. What a coup it would be if SHE were to be given that seat instead of Roy...a situation I'm sure he'd like to avoid.

From Ben Mills on December 28, 2004 at 3:40 PM
RE: "Blowing it again"

Methinks someone might just be a leetle bit jealous that he's forced to comment from the sidelines with the rest of us...


From J. Dana on December 29, 2004 at 12:03 AM
To James Adams: True, The New York Times this ain't (thank God!!!), but I'm not sure I like the sentiment behind your statement. For Theme Park Insider to maintain respectability, it can't be just another theme park rumor site....therefore, when we accidentally put out false info, we need to correct it (although saying "You blew it again" is a little harsh). But don't say, "this is just Theme Park Insider; no big deal." I went to a smaller university, and it irked me to no end when someone would say something like: "jeesh, why is professor so-and-so so hard--it's not like this is Harvard." They were, in their own way, diminishing their very own education. Let's not diminish this site by adopting a second-rate attitude.

And Russell, you're doin a good job of relaying news to us...on those occasions when you knock some foul balls our way, though, no need to go into such great lengths for explanation....just say, "Oops, I messed that one up...thanks for correcting me." Nuff said. Because with two columns per week, you're bound to go foul occasionally...and we're bound to let you know. Thick skin, Russell. Thick skin. Take your medicine and move on to the next column.

From Kevin Baxter on December 30, 2004 at 9:15 PM
Considering Eisner at one time tried to get his wife a seat on the Disney board, this is clearly Roy trying to stop something like that from every happening again. Also, doesn't this scream "ploy" to anyone? Like, "Let's throw Roy a bone and maybe he'll shut up!" OR, "Then we'll be able to also create a permanent seat for whoever the biggest stockholder is!" which would be Eisner. This seems very likely to me, as he has recently made it known that he wants to be a permanent boardmember after his retirement.
From Ryan Jones on January 7, 2005 at 7:01 PM
I agree with Ben - jeesh! This is a blog, not the New York Times! Of course, I only read the corrected copy.

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