An Interview with Disneyland Resort President Cynthia Harriss - Part Two
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Cynthia Harriss was named to the top position at Disneyland and given the title of Executive Vice President in January 1999. In December 1999 she was promoted to President of the Disneyland Resort. Since that time she's overseen the expansion of the Disneyland Resort including Disney's California Adventure.
LaughingPlace.com editor Doobie Moseley had the opportunity to interview Harriss in her office on September 13th (prior to the opening of a bug's land and Haunted Mansion Holiday and prior to Paul Pressler's leaving Disney) about a number of subjects related to the Disneyland Resort. Below is the second half of this interview. If you missed it, click for Part One
LaughingPlace.com: When I’m at the park I definitely see people having a great time. One of the things I personally always felt that’s hurt the park is for two years, while it was being built, the visible aspect of it was Paradise Pier. And I heard people who thought that was DCA. Do you think you need to do a better job of getting the word out on exactly what California Adventure is?
The Power of Blast!
Cynthia Harriss: Totally. Totally. I think you’re 100 percent right. Here’s the thing: If you stand and talk to people who have visited the park they come out and they tell you "I love it." As you know, Soarin’ - they look at me and say "oh my gosh can I go on it five times? I loved it." When we had Blast (they'd say) "I loved Blast" or the Millionaire show, they just had a great time. They had a great dinner and all those kind of things. But unfortunately there’s word of mouth out there, and people don’t try it then they never know. So what we’re going to do is do everything that we can to get the right message out about what’s here and let people make their own choices and decisions once they come here. I would say overwhelmingly, when people come here, yes, they have a fabulous time. So all we have to do is get the word out and we appreciate very much the fact that you’re a great fan and continue to let the guests know what’s really here and all the cool stuff that’s going on because they love it once they get here. So, I think you’re right.
LP: Hindsight being 20/20, are there a couple of things that you wish you had done differently?
CH: Let’s see. I think, looking in hindsight, how we go out and spread the message about what’s here. I think there are things that we do differently today. If we would have been smart enough to do it then, I guess we would have done it. But I think it’s more about communicating. I think to show more about what is actually in the Resort, show more of the wonderful things that we have here and to show more of it specifically, to get that out. These are some things we are actually going to do is this holiday. You’ll see in the newspaper a couple of big, beautiful supplements that will tell everything that’s going on here. Events will be not just in our local papers but in all of our travel markets. We also have our vacation video that is available to any guest that wants to have one. It’s free. All they have to do is call our 800 number. We’re putting (the 800 number) now in all our ads because we know that’s the easiest way, because if you can sit there watching the video for 25 minutes and see it, it’s better than trying to do it in a quick ad. I think we’ve just recognized it’s more long form to show and I think that’s the challenge we have. There’s so much here you can’t get it in a commercial. You can’t get it in a snippet. We just have to be more creative with ways to get that out.
LP: It's a very different park for Disney.