Just Published: Theme Park Insider: 2016 Year in Review
The Walt Disney Plaza is a great nod to the big guy, especially the Carthay Circle Theater addition. This is a much more appropriate and elaborate icon than the sun or the Golden Gate Bridge. Hopefully they don’t cut corners so that the theater is replicated effectively and beautifully. Plus anything is an improvement over those hokey panoramic mountains.
Walt Disney Imagineering Blue Sky Cellar sounds great. Anything that gives insight into behind-the-scenes work is usually done quite well. Hopefully the same can be said about this attraction.
Toy Story Mania was also a great addition. It’s attractive, interactive, and fits in nicely with the Pier theme. But what about the other additions?
Hollywoodland sounds an awful lot like Disney's Hollywood Studios. Why? Because it IS Disney's Hollywood Studios – edited for content. What exactly is getting updated here? Oh, right, Playhouse Disney - Live on Stage. Fantastic. Updating a show less than eight years old for kids less than eight-years-old. I’m pretty sure the toddlers aren’t going to notice any changes in the art direction when they’re barely old enough to spell “Disney”. But I digress – the theming of the land is getting updated, too. From “Hollywood Pictures Backlot” to “Hollywoodland”. Boy, you’ll hardly recognize the place. Sure, the trolleys will now travel through, but that just means you’ll get to this mediocre land even slower. The Tower of Terror is like a bad sequel compared to the original in Orlando. Same with the Disney Animation Tour. And Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue is really bland. Perhaps Disney should have done what we usually dread and just carbon-copied the original attractions. Muppet*Vision 3D is always worth a visit, even if you can visit it elsewhere. Oh, sorry – Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular is quite good, but having only one good original attraction in a land of this size seems to be an underachievement.
Cars Land – how long did the creative geniuses in R&D take to think of that title? And why are they making a land based on Pixar’s least acclaimed film, especially when they already have a terrible land based on Pixar’s second-least acclaimed film? To be fair, there is a Cars sequel in production which could help this. And the signature raceway attraction is getting a hefty chunk of money. What bothers me is that they chose to create an entire land based on their worst franchise while some of the best films go untouched. And what will happen if the second film flops? How will an entire land stay fresh for years after the films are largely forgotten? Raul said: “The sustainability of this land has been something that Imagineers have planned on for the remainder of the next decade as it will have several bells and whistles that will make this THE premiere land in Walt Disney's California [Adventure].” How? How can the land be sustainable when the film wasn’t? And to boot, they claim they will be using the technology from Test Track to build the raceway. Good thing Test Track is so reliable or they’d be in trouble. Then there’s Luigi's Roamin' Tires, an attraction based on the extinct Flying Saucers of Tomorrowland. They removed the saucers in the ‘60s because they were slow-loading and costly to maintain, but I’m sure the new ride will fix those problems. On the other hand, Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree will be a smash hit – I’ve heard Larry the Cable Guy has a great singing voice.
Paradise Pier is getting re-themed! Oh, the Sun Wheel’s face will be replaced with a Mickey Mouse face! And Mickey the conductor will now sit atop the Orange Stinger! So it seems they’re plastering the Mouse all over the land that stands against everything Walt wanted. Except … the Mickey Mouse symbol on California Screamin’, the one half-decent ride, is getting replaced with … a huge sun symbol. So … what’s happening here? I’m confused … people were complaining about Paradise Pier because it stood against Walt’s philosophies, but the midway games are getting re-themed rather than recycled and a new show called "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color" will be played in the lagoon. So are they trying to dispel the rumors that Walt would roll over in his grave if he knew about the Pier by covering the place with Walt and his most famous creation? And, just for kicks, they’re throwing in an attraction called, “The Little Mermaid Ariel's Adventure” despite that it has nothing to do with the land in which it resides. People were also complaining that the rides, well, sucked. Good on Disney for adding Toy Story Midway Mania, but that doesn’t compensate for the fact that the other attractions still suck. Scrap the Pier. Start from scratch. I know that I didn’t find it all that ugly to begin with. It was a rather pleasant-looking site. But the midway games and crappy attractions can’t make up for that. So don’t slap a fresh coat of paint on a rusty old car – rethink it. And, for the record, California Screamin’ is Disney’s worst coaster to date. Sure, most of their “thrill rides” don’t pack much of a wallop, but at least they give you something to look at. Screamin’ is the worst of both worlds.
And, of course, the biggest question of all: WHY ARE THEY NOT SCRAPPING A BUG’S LAND?
Your thoughts? Berate me!
You have the Test Track/Radiator Springs ride system backwards. While the new Cars ride is based on Test Track, it will be a whole new system that they are fine tuning on the current ride. This new system will be the basis of Radiator Springs and will replace the current one at Test Track. Second, the reason that Cars was picked is simple economics. Cars has sold, by far, the most merchandise for Disney over any other Pixar film. This is why a sequel is coming out. The main ride looks tremendous. WDI is spending $250 million on just that one ride. That is $150 million more than they spent on Indiana Jones. I think it will be great.
Lastly, the official plans for the Hollywood Backlot haven't been fully announced. The changes there and to the Grizzly River area are part of phase 2. This will happen if the economy and the reactions to phase 1 work out. I look forward to it.
Overall I like the proposed changes. And while they will not make DCA into a perfect park, they will make the park better, and more like what we expect from Disney. Furthermore, with 1.2 billion going towards a park that initially cost $800 million to build, we know the company recognizes the problems and is trying desperately to fix them.
Also, keep in mind that over $10 billion is slated to be spent at DLR/DCA over the next ten years to improve the entire experience. There is a plan and it is moving.
One other thing that should give you hope: John Lasseter is at the Imagineering helm for most everything happening at DCA, and that guy is a genius who has never failed at anything in his professional life. And he is a Disney-phile from years gone by. I say we give him the benefit of the doubt.
One last note to ruin all my credibility: I thought BUG'S LIFE was an outstanding and highly underrated Pixar film (much better than ANTZ, btw). IMO, BUG'S LIFE ranks 4th behind THE INCREDIBLES, RATATOUILLE, and WALL*E, in my Pixar Book of Lists. Bug's Land may be lousy, but why all the venom towards the film???
It's not that I'm upset about the attractions in Cars Land. My problem is with the land itself. There are very few lands in any Disney park based solely on one franchise. When there are, the land is usually quite small, like The Seas with Nemo and Friends. I'm just confused as to why they would build an entire land focusing on Pixar's Cars when Pixar has better films out there that don't have any attractions under their name. I think that the raceway sounds great in theory, but if they're using the Test Track technology how good could it possibly be? Test Track breaks down so often it's mind-boggling (until you see who sponsors it). Now, Raul claims that this system will be new and Test Track will be reimplemented with the changes, and I hope that's the case. I'd love a source for that claim, though, as I haven't read anything on it. Additionally, it feels like they put those other two attractions (Tires/Mater) in there just so they could justify building an entire land. They certainly don't sound very original - a Country Bears-style hoedown and a Flying Saucers-based flat ride. Perhaps Radiator Springs Raceway should just serve as a standalone attraction/land.
I feel the same way about The Little Mermaid attraction. Sounds great, but why put it in the Pier? I've never heard of mermaids tied in with boardwalks before, but if they do I'll just agree that it fits and hope it works out.
When it comes to the Pier, I'll have to reiterate: Walt did not want an amusement park. Taking an Atlantic amusement park and changing the theme to a Victorian amusement park is not an improvement. I agree with Raul - the Pier is aesthetically pleasing as it is. That isn't the problem. The problem is that the attractions blow. I realize some people love California Screamin'; my distaste for it is resigned. But it seems that most guests only visit the Pier to see the coaster, then bugger off. Keeping the other mediocre attractions and changing their icons is not going to improve the riding experiences. The Sun Wheel is like a rotating chicken cage. Mulholland is a wild mouse at its lamest. If you're going to do amusement park rides, at least make them interesting. And please lose the games - those tinny microphone amps blaring "Step right up" take away from the experience.
I'm glad the Hollywood Backlot changes have not been fully announced. I was quick to judge on that and I apologize. I'm just curious as to why they're renaming it "Hollywoodland" when "Hollywood Backlot" is less lame. And I never really understood why the Monsters, Inc. attraction resided here.
James is right - a bug's life is a fantastic movie. Why, then, is the land with its theme so mediocre? I understand that tots need their playtime, but surely they should be entitled to some of that 1.2 B to improve this section. It's Tough to be a Bug is phenomenal, but everything else is poorly executed. And there really is so much you can do with that theme.
On a side note, does anyone else here find Grizzly River Rapids to be a pretty lame water ride? I was so excited to ride it, but I ended up being disappointed.
As for the "Disney knows what they're doing" thing, I agree. It's been my lifelong dream to work for them. But they're going to need to learn to do it better. Why? DUBAILAND is on the way, and it will be an entertainment metropolis twice the size of Walt Disney World. If it succeeds, many Europeans, Asians, and other travelers will no longer see the need to travel to U.S. theme parks.
I don't want to see this park fail, but I feel the billion could have been better spent. Hopefully Lasseter has the vision and delivery to make it all come together. I'm truly hoping they pull it off and put me in my place, but until then I remain skeptical of some of the changes.
And don't worry, eventually all those slow-loading, lousy midway rides will be gone from the pier, as will those blasted midway games. I think Lasseter and Co. realize that Walt did not want a carnival, and the carnival will slowly disappear. In the end Paradise Pier will be something much more elegant like WDW's Boardwalk area with a few rides. It is just going to take some time.
As for GRR, what's not to like? It is well themed, fast, long, and has a great final drop. It is better than Kali River Rapids, and better than 90% of the white water raft rides in the nation. I am not sure what else they could do except to find a new technology that allows whirlpools, launches, and maybe a loop or two!
And yes, Bug's Land needs to go. But for now, there are bigger fish to fry. They will get to it in time.
Hollywoodland sounds like a lame name, but Hollywood used to be called that. The Hollywood sign used to say "Hollywoodland" as well. So it's a step back into the past. But does Tower of Terror and Monsters Inc. fit with this theme? No, not necessarily. ToT better than Monsters, however.
Cars Land is a dull name, but it will be amazing. While Cars may not have done too well at the box office, I guarantee you that if you ask just about any boy between the ages of six and ten what his favorite Disney movie is, the answer will be Cars. I think its a great choice by Disney to create this area.
Now for Paradise Pier... I want to cry. I loved the area and the feel. I thought California Screamin' was an amazing ride. The only thing I'm glad to see changed is the removal of Maliboomer- that stuck out like a nose. And unlike Dinoland U.S.A in Florida, Paradise Pier had an attractive theme (roadside carnival? who wants that!?). I am very disappointing that they'll be switching faces on the wheel and coaster, especially since Mickey's silhoute looked so nice on California Screamin'. Mickey's face, however, looks tacky on the Ferris Wheel. I am neutral towards the midway games. While Walt was against them, they fit with the theme and I personally think he would've accepted them. Finally, with Orange Stinger, that is the only change I'm accepting, along with Mullhound Madness.
Now for Grizzly River Run... I was very disappointed. Yes, it was a fun ride, but I was expecting much more. Hopefully phase two brings that thing some glory.
Now, Disney needs to keep that franchise alive to make it viable, and I fear that waiting to 2012 to open the land makes the film's original audience too old for the land. Granted, they'll ride it and enjoy it, but they won't be as passionate for it as they would have been if they'd been 8-10 when the land debuted, as opposed to 12-14.
I'd love to see Disney bulldoze Bugs Land, then rebuild it after they'd tied up the lawyers and accountants in a back closet. Great concept. Lousy beyond belief with the execution.
I'm hoping it succeeds, but it just seemed like an odd concept.
FYI - Some parts of the "DCA Tracker" require login, but the details on the main page do not.
MiceAge posted a photo album of the Blue Sky Preview Center today. It has a lot of developer photos of the changes planned for DCA, so you might want to check it out as well.
Looking at the pictures, I am horrified to see the addition of a parachute ride in the Maliboomer's place, and the addition of not less, but more midway style arcade games. And is that a standard Waveswinger ride I see? Oh, Dear Lord! Sadly, Paradise Pier may end up being nothing more than a midway fan's mecca, despite the "vintage decorations" they are putting in place.
On the other hand, Cars Land is shaping up to be very nice.
Anyway, I'll let you make you own decisions about the previewed changes, but personally, I am a bit less optimistic than I once was.
Josh, you may now post the proverbial, "I told you so" if you want. =(
Cars Land does look rather impressive, not to mention HUGE. Anybody have an approximate area size of the new land?
And The World of Color should be spectacular, although the lagoon where it resides may not be.
As for Mull. Madness they should enclose the whole darn thing and theme it internally to make it seem faster than it is. I've heard that the new Batman ride is like this and doesn't work so well, but the Disney imagineers might be able to do something better. That is, if they insist on keeping this thing.
I have to agree that GRR was a bit of a let down, given the scope and grandeur of the whole thing. I was expecting much more, altough compared to KRR and most other rapid rides GRR is superior(Popeye & Bluto is the best).
In closing I just wanna say that I personally like DCA very much. I feel it's a nice change of pace from the mouse
and fairy tale glitz. And while it may not have it all, it
still has it's own unique feel and identity. I hope they don't change it too much. Thanks Josh for the topic and sorry for the sarcasm. Peace out.
As for GRR..........I love it. It has a wonderful drop at the end ( better than most ) and does seem quite speedy compared to some others too. I'm not suggesting that it can't be improved but it only needs a bit of tweaking here and there.
I don't think that the Pier area works particularly well though and could do with a classier approach. It's odd how Disney got it so right at Boardwalk in Orlando but failed to get anywhere near it with this. A major overhaul might be in order with Mul Mad and Orange Stinger obvious casualties.
California Screamin' was pretty lame in my eyes. It may not be for others. I feel the same about Rock 'N' Roller Coaster, Space Mountain, and Big Thunder, but they're visual elements and use of landscaping increase the thrill level and overall enjoyment significantly. Screamin', however, bored my entire family, including my very easily impressed dad of age 58.
And yes, it's a shame that considering its grandeur and exterior beauty, Grizzly falls short.
You claim that Screamin' appeals to those other than pure thrill seekers, but in what sense? The ride is nothing but pure thrills - nothing visual, and that's where it fails.
I'm not completely disappointed with Grizzly - it's still fun, but people hype it up as the best raft ride around, which seems unreasonable. Just an opinion, though.
And I also agree that from a pure fun standpoint, Screamin is pretty sweet...but it does lack theme, and is the only Disney coaster without any visual elements (RnR has 2 inversions and an equally fun launch. story and theme, and better music)...Im not sure what theme would fit into Paradise Pier...but Screamin and GRR have such potential yet lack that great element that makes Disney rides Disney
However, Tower of Terror, Toy Story Mania, Muppet Vision, Aladdin, Pixar Play Parade, the Electrical Parade, Monsters Inc, Turtle Talk, Soarin, and even Drawn to the Magic, all make up for it, and make it a very enjoyable park, and I have lots of faith that Cars Land, The Little Mermaid, and the Wonderful World of Color will all be AMAZING, and make DCA that much better
I hope Disney puts me in my place.
I also agree that without theming BTMR AND SM would be little more than carnival fare. RNRC had me "bored" after the fisrt ten seconds, theming and all. But Screamin' with no scenery, lights, monsters etc., has me smiling the whole time and is an exceptional part of DCA. MY OPINION OF COURSE.
I sure hope I get to ride with my kids when I'm 58. Kudo's to you Mr. Counsil Sr.
I don't hate the Cars movie - I haven't hated any of the Pixar movies. I did, however, find it weird to base an entire land (and a big one, at that) on one Pixar film. I also found it odd to base a land on a film that wasn't as acclaimed as the other Pixar films.
Either way, I hope it's great, but I also hope that some of the better films get more recognition in the future.
Over on MiceAge, Al Lutz has reported the following:
John Lasseter was in Anaheim yesterday for the WDI groundbreaking of Cars Land...The mega-budget Cars Land project has begun!
And we're off! DCA in 2012, here I come!
"So come on down to Crazy Dave Lowery's Cars Land Emporium and wrangle yourself up a deal!"
California Adventure relied more on lame puns and "trendy" pop culture references than real, classic, enduring theming and story telling. Certainly almost every addition or modification has improved the park, but the perception that it was a cheap, tacky park will persist until the major overhaul is complete.
Yes, I have visited DCA. If you noticed, I wrote this article almost three years ago. I didn't predict World of Color would be bad. I always expect good things from Disney's nighttime shows. I, and many others, don't dislike Paradise Pier because of its look; actually, it's rather lovely in appearance. There are two problems with the Pier:
1) The attractions mostly stink, and
2) The Pier represents an amusement park, complete with midway rides and games. Walt wanted to avoid this with Disneyland.
So, rather than scrap the Pier, they covered it with Disney imagery and added a few new attractions. While this partially solves the first problem, it completely negates the second. In fact, the new Pier looks uglier than the original installment.
Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom have their share of problems, particularly the former, but they are much more fully realized parks. California Adventure was designed to absorb crowds and produce income. Very few of its attractions are unique or worthwhile. The theme is unoriginal. Conversely, the coasters and thrill rides at Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom have fitting themes that elevate them beyond simple scream machines. The dark rides and theater attractions are mostly original and entertaining. The food is certainly better, as well.
I'm excited for the DCA updates. I wrote this thread before the concept art was released. Toy Story Mania and World of Color are clearly both excellent. However, great attractions aren't the only elements that constitute a great park.
The point was not to recreate an old pier type amusement park but relive that great old Californian life.
I would also like to add once this expansion is done, the disneyland Resort will have almost everything all four parks in WDW have conveiently in two, walking-distance parks.
In the end, if I had to choose WDW or Disneyland Resort, Disneyland Resort is the original and the best.
Here is a select list of attractions with 8+ ratings on this site that are unique to Disney World. This list does not include clones, despite that some clones from Disneyland (e.g., Pirates of the Caribbean) are obviously better than their Walt Disney World counterparts, and vice versa (e.g., Tower of Terror).
Mr. Niles is correct; Disney World is a sprawling metropolis. What it lacks in convenience, however, it makes up for with a plethora of unique dining and entertainment experiences.
But I get your point, Josh.
WDW also has a LOT more room to maneuver. And while DLR contains the original DL park, it is stuck right in the middle of Anaheim, and sadly, cannot escape that trapping no matter how hard the Imagineers try.
Still, PotC at DLR alone is worth the trip!
Walt Disney World
Tokyo Disney Resort