Disney rededicates its California Adventure theme park
Published: June 15, 2012 at 9:04 AM
Disney CEO Bob Iger rededicated the company's Disney California Adventure theme park this morning, as thousands of fans awaited their chance to see the results of the park's $1-billion, five-year transformation.
The creative team behind the most recent additions to DCA: Imagineer Kathy Mangum, John Lasseter, and Imagineer Lisa Girolami, before the ceremony
Fans started lining up Thursday afternoon for the grand re-opening, but a super-early arrival wasn't essential to claim space in the park at its opening.
Though the waiting crowd filled the Disneyland Resort's drop-off lot on Harbor by 11pm last night, by 6am the resort's esplanade between the two parks was only two-thirds full, and Disney admitted most of those fans into Buena Vista Street in time for the 8am ceremony. (You would have a had a better view by remaining in the esplanade and watching it on the giant screen Disney had erected there.)
After the short ceremony, where Iger was joined by Mickey and Minnie Mouse, as well as hundreds of costumed Disney California Adventure cast members, the crew from Cars Land's Radiator Springs Racers walked the crowd back to the park's new land.
With the Goodyear blimp overhead
Within half an hour, the wait already was pushing an hour, but the early crowd didn't match the throng that swarmed Disneyland last summer for the opening of Star Tours: The Adventures Continue.
We'll have video of the opening ceremony later today, and I hope that any Theme Park Insider readers visiting California Adventure today (or this weekend) will share their experiences in the comments.
Radiator Springs Racers went down for about an hour around 9:30, backing up the queue through Cars Land. Late arrivals (perhaps encouraged by reports of the lighter-than-feared crowd) also packed into the area, and by noon, Radiator Springs Racers was reporting an estimated six-hour wait. I'm wondering what the crowd will be like when people get off work this evening and think about heading to the park.
I think the popularity of theme park related franchises is clear at this point: Harry Potter > Star Wars > Cars. (FWIW, I'm guessing Avatar beats Cars, but not Star Wars at this point.)
It's hard for me to judge Transformers vs. Cars because I can't isolated the Disney vs. Universal influence there. (Plus, I wasn't at the Transformers opening in LA.) Harry Potter is with Universal, but it was by so far the most popular premiere that the Universal market-share/fanbase disadvantage versus Disney didn't matter.
I was at IOA the day Harry Potter first opened and it was crazy. I was interested to see how this opening would be against that one, and it seems as if the crowds for Cars aren't as immense as the ones for HP. Regardless the crowds are huge and will be for a long time to come.
Shelf life may not be a comparable issue. Waterworld was a popular show at USH long after the movie's near instantaneous flop. Sorry to hear others feel these CARS movies were dismal but they have a good enough following to be likable and very "Disney". Also, the Muppets were stale for quite some time but I always saw people going to the Muppet Show at DCA. Fun is fun, and evaluations of what should have been fun based on box office turnout is another thing.
The crowds will only get worse as the annual pass holder blackouts end this Sunday... 1 million more locals will descend en masse.
From all the glowing reviews I have read, it looks like Disney has a real winner on its hands with Cars Land and the whole DCA rebirth in general. I don't know when I will get to visit this great "new" park, but I can't wait to do so!
Southern California annual passholders were able to visit the parks today for the first time since the opening, and the crowd's been the largest yet. The Deluxe APers also were blocked yesterday, though they were able to visit on the 15th.
The SoCal AP'ers will remain eligible to visit tomorrow and Tuesday, then they are blocked until next Sunday, when they can visit through Thursday the 28th. At that point, the SoCal APers are done for the summer - until Aug. 20, when the SoCal Select AP'ers come back, too. The Deluxe APers are blocked every Saturday between now and Aug. 19, as well as on July 4. Premium APs are good every day.
With Fourth of July week visitors hitting the park starting June 30, I expect Cars Land crowds to settle down starting July 9 and remain pretty much constant until blowing up again on Aug 20 and through Labor Day weekend.
That said, this Wednesday and Thursday might not be too bad. They'll definitely be the best days this week to go.
I went back this evening to experience Cars Land at night. It's truly amazing. My twitter feed has some photos. (@theadtraylor)
Upon arrival around 6pm, Racers was at a 200 minute wait (3:20). The queue did not stretch down the highway as it did opening day. There were quite a few times as the cars came racer down the camel back stretch that they weren't racing. Not sure what was causing this, but it happened more and more as the night went on.
Rode the Red Car Trolley. It has 4 stops, Buena Vista Street, Carthay Circle, Animation Bldg (Departure Only), and Hollywood Tower Hotel. I advise getting on the trolley at either Buena Vista or Hotel. Each car can accommodate 20 riders, therefore some have to get off at Carthay in order for others to hop on.
I'll be back for the last trip of the summer (SoCal blockouts) on June 28th for a AP showing of "Glow with Show" WOC.
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