An Insider's look at the Disney's California Adventure changes
This week I am debuting a new weekly feature on Theme Park Insider: Tuesday Park Visit. Each Tuesday between now and next spring, I'll bring you an in-depth look at a popular theme park attraction, restaurant or personality, to help those folks who live outside SoCal and Central Florida to get their off-season theme park fix.
Since I live in Southern California, that will be my focus, though I am planning to fly to Orlando a couple times between now and next spring to look in at the Central Florida theme parks, too. This week, I'm starting with a look at Walt Disney Imagineering's "Blue Sky Cellar" at Disney's California Adventure.
This is the new "preview center" for WDI's rehab of Disneyland's second gate, detailing the plans that have been known to Internet readers for more than a year. I'll forgive the curious name for the center ("sky" and "cellar" - huh?), which appropriately reflects the conundrums that have plagued this park since before it opened. (A themed look, or a contemporary one? Family friendly, or adult oriented? Disney quality, or off-the-shelf carny rides?)
The Blue Sky Cellar stands in the old Seasons of the Vine building behind Grizzly Peak, just up the path from DCA's entrance.
Walk inside, and you'll find a cozy display of concept art, scale models and a looped film detailing the planned changes and additions to California Adventure.
Cast members mingle, offering to answer your questions, giving this location what I'm guessing is the largest current cast member-to-guest ratio for any attraction at any Disney theme park. ;-) Hey, that's a good thing. Kudos to Disney for staffing this place right.
Here's the concept board for the retheming of Paradise Pier, already underway with this summer's debut of Toy Story Midway Mania. The sketches here show the revamp of the Orange Stinger wave swinger as "Silly Symphony Swings," complete with Conductor Mickey on top.
Here's the scale model for the new look Paradise Pier, complete with Mickey replacing the Sun Wheel:
Compare that to the same view, in real life, that I snapped this morning:
One problem with DCA that Disney's Imagineers won't be able to fix is the park's orientation. Entering the park from the north, opposite of Disneyland - where you enter from the south, leaves you shooting into the sunlight when taking pictures of many DCA sights.
In addition to the Paradise Pier changes, Disney will retheme Mulholland Madness as Goofy's Flight School, evoking the Goofy Barnstormer coaster at Florida's Magic Kingdom, though the DCA ride will retain its current Wild Mouse track. Disney's also tearing down the Maliboomer space shot and replacing the Golden Dreams theater with a Little Mermaid dark ride. (Previously discussed here and here.)
But my son was drawn immediately to the concept art for Cars Land, debuting (in his opinion) in way-too-far-off 2012.
The image that interested me though, was this one of the planned new DCA entrance:
Hmmm... does that, um, look familiar?
Disney reps said that the new design for the front entrance of California Adventure isn't final (indeed, no concept art ever is... until the final blueprints are drawn up). But the use of the Disney's Hollywood Studios main gate design further demonstrates that the concepts of these two parks are converging: 1920s Hollywood meets today's Pixar animation with a few themed thrills mixed in.
Take a look at the "new" DCA map, as shown on the Screening Room wall at the Blue Sky Cellar:
... and compare it with today's DCA guidemap:
Will these changes and additions work? I hope so. Cars Land looks like a blast. You won't find a bigger fan of historic L.A. than me, either. (Heck, I'd love for Disney to find a way to fit a Philippe's in here somewhere.) As Los Angeles is tearing down its past, I find a smidgen of comfort in being able to see a bit of the "old" L.A. down the road in Anaheim.
From looking at the model, to me at least, even though the changes to Paradise Pier arent major, it does look better and more "Disney-like"
That new map shows how substantial Cars Land will be, and, I think, how it will be the make-or-break attraction for DCA going forward. I can see now how it will take three-plus years to build.
wow, i had no clue it opened already- i cant wait until they redo the whole park- finally!!!!
Kudos Robert for making this a weekly item. I will look forward to seeing what places of interest you bring during the "off" season for us park fanatics. .
The Little Mermaid ride will be crucial, as well. If they do it right, it will be the only great dark ride in all of DCA (Monsters Inc. is a pretty good dark ride, not a great one).
Robert, some things I would like to see as you travel are picture updates of the various construction efforts underway at all the major SoCal/Orlando parks. Pictures of Harry Potter at IOA, Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit at USF, the Space Mountain refurb at MK (beginning in January), Manta at SWO, Transformers at USH, and of course, the continued efforts to bring DCA up to snuff as a park bearing the Disney moniker.
I like the throwback theme. I've been calling for someone to really do it for a couple of years now because A) I think it can lend beautifully towards themes, and B) I like history. There are a couple of instances of early 1900's theming on a smaller scale at Silver Dollar City and Kennywood, and there are parks that have maintained many of their buildings from that era (Rye Playland, Lakeside Park at Denver), but nobody has really gone all out. The one thing I hope is that it doesn't turn out cheesy and cartoonish.
Anyone ever notice that the current map has the shape of Grizzly Peak? Hard to tell with the one here, but find one that isn't cut off on the right side.
Yeah I saw that too Marc. Maybe its because they don't want Grizzly Peak to be the emblem of the park, as it is now, but just a mountain there to add more environment.
Cool sounds like a better theme park now, but one question does anyone think the ferris wheel was moved in the new concept photo. It looks over about like 10 ft from where it is presently to me.
I think it just seems that way because of the painting. Its not to scale.
I'm not fond of the 1920's movie cinema style entry gates. They seem out of place for a park themed to California. ( Yes, yes, I know California has a rich movie industry but 1920's art deco for a California park?... ) The rest of it looks great. This is looking like a park I'd actually like to go to. I can't tell, is the Bug's Life 3D theatre gone? God, I hope not.
I really like the idea of a 1920's LA/Hollywood theme for the entry plaza, and I dont think it'll be too cartoonish....Disney did a great job doing this for DHS, where both Sunset Blvd and Hollywood Blvd recreate Hollywood in that era (The Carthay Circle and Hollywood Tower Hotel and all the shops) very realistically, yet not too realistic that its boring...thats one thing Disney does great: the stylized versions of historic architecture that draws more upon collective memories and feelings associated with the era than actual architecture, creating some of the best themed areas of any parks, such as Main St, Fronteirland, New Orleans Square, Liberty Square, and Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards
We just missed the opening of Blue Sky Cellar last week. We were in the park on Wednesday, and it appeared they were doing a media event or VIP event. We were on the Segway tour, and were told the attraction would officially open on Friday or Saturday, so a little of bad luck on our part. California Adventure has never really bothered me as much as it has others, but I've only been to the park a few times. It's certainly much improved these days with TOT, Toy Story Mania, and Monster's Inc., and the improvements will certainly make the park even better.
My understanding is that the Bugs' Life theater goes away to make room for Cathay Circle. But the front entry plans are the most tentative of all the changes, I was told.
There are supposed to be two more rides added to Cars Land besides the E-ticket, Radiator Springs Racers: Tow Mater's Junkyard Jamboree and Luigi's Roamin' Tires. Anyone have guesses as to what they might be? From the look of things, their footprints are very small, and I fear a couple more dressed up midway rides may be in the works. Say it ain't so...
Luigi's Roaming Tires is going to be a new version of the old Flying Saucers at Disneyland...which for a B or C Ticket Attraction isnt all that bad
Thanks for the info, Corey. Do you know how Disney hopes to overcome the low rider capacity of the original Flying Saucer attraction? I can see huge bottlenecks at this slow loader unless they have some new technology at work. Anyway, here is a
Ha - Robert, you had the same thought as I did regarding the entrance. It's mentioned in the "The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly" thread. It furthers my opinion that the DCA rehash is just a spillover from DHS.
We were also told when we were there last week that the letters "CALIFORNIA" were history.
Looking at the concept art pics of the new saucer ride, I would imagine the way they intend to overcome low rider capacity is to build two of them next to each other. That pic on the link looks like there's two next to each other, divided by a fence wall.
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