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O.C. BUSINESS PLUS | HEARD ON THE BEAT / TOURISM

Disney Co.'s Big Cheeses Find Upscale Nibbles in Visit to Magic Kingdom

March 28, 2000|E. Scott Reckard | E. Scott Reckard covers tourism for The Times. He can be reached at (714) 966-7407 and at scott.reckard@latimes.com

It's always a major event at Disneyland when the main mouse arrives for a nibble and a look at the latest attractions, and last week's visit by Walt Disney Co. boss Michael Eisner was no exception.

A finicky eater since heart bypass surgery five years ago, Eisner can't consume standard Disneyland delicacies like the Monte Cristo sandwich--a fried ham and cheese--and bacon-wrapped asparagus spears. So what is on the menu?

When Eisner and entourage trotted down Disneyland's Main Street to put on the feed bags at Frontierland's Golden Horseshoe Saloon, a park source reports, "it was an upscale sushi dinner, per Michael's dietary requirements."

The group included Eisner No. 2 Robert Iger; Disneyland's president, Cynthia Harriss; her predecessor, Paul Pressler, now president of Disney's entire attractions unit; park designers Marty Sklar and Tony Baxter; Florida parks boss Al Weiss; and Roy Disney Jr., the corporate vice chairman. With additional lieutenants and spouses, the total was about 40.

"A memo went out basically saying, 'Stay away from Michael. He doesn't want an entourage,' " a park worker said. "From where I was watching, it looked like he already had one."

The schedule included peeks at a new Disneyland fireworks show, "Believe . . . There's Magic in the Stars"; Disney's California Adventure, a new Anaheim park scheduled to open next year; and the Grand Californian, a new hotel.

But like patrons who can't get on all the rides in a day because of long lines, the Eisner crew didn't fit everything in. Winds postponed the 7 p.m. pyrotechnics command performance, and they departed without seeing the show.

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